Politics Critical Digest: 6.12.11
Mihir Sharma, The Age of Seth, Caravan, 1.12.11
Jay Panda, Restoring the House, The Indian Express, 6.12.11
Arghya Sengupta, Liability Rules Leave Very Little Recourse, The Hindu, 1.12.11
Huma Yusuf, In the Realm of Fear, The Dawn, 5.12.11
Bruce Riedel, A New Pakistan Policy, The New York Times, 14.10.11
In a country where most things, from the wearing of helmets by pillion riders on a motor-bike to the fare charged by the auto rickshaw-wallah are intensely political and politicised in nature, it is shocking that the supposed fount of India’s democratic politics, the Parliament, seems to be in permanent paralysis. Given this state of our nation, this political round-up focuses in equal measure on the politics of everyday life in India, the non-politics that characterises the nation state and on Pakistan, which, one hopes, can rediscover some hidden reserve of democratic politics and extricate itself from the morass it finds itself in currently.
No one captures the politics of everyday life in the new, shining India as well as Mihir Sharma in his fascinating expose of adman-cum-fixer-cum-bouncer-at-the-gates-of-the-who’s-who, Suhel Seth. The awesome power of networks, the cultivation of friends in high places, the veneer of providing celebrity branding and even the brash and impudent Agony Aunt columns every week make Seth who he is today. And unfortunately, as Sharma says, India what it is today.
Today, India is in a political rut. As the parliamentary logjam continues into its second week, the inane spectacle of MPs trooping into Parliament only to scream at the top of their voices and troop out immediately thereafter, their day’s work having been done, continues to play like a broken record, day after day. One of the MPs, Jay Panda, argues in his piece, that what needs to be done, is to change the archaic rules based on which the Parliament functions. Persuasively argued Mr. Panda, but perhaps looking inwards into the hearts and minds of parliamentarians themselves, may be more useful.
One of the crucial things Parliament should have done instead of log-jamming was to scrutinise the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011, brought out by the government last month. In an alarming sequel to the long drama of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Liability Act, which took place last year, the government has passed a set of rules that fly in the face of Parliament, India’s public policy and good sense. In this piece in the Hindu, I argue why these Rules are dangerous and deserves Parliament’s immediate attention.
Finally, no round-up of India’s national politics is complete without a brief look at Pakistan, our troubled neighbour, when they have had such a momentous week. With the NATO strike killing 24 Pakistani soldiers, and President Obama’s long delay in offering condolences, though not an apology, NY Times columnist Bruce Riedel’s bold argument for a new and revised policy of containment to be followed by the USA in Pakistan seems to be in effect. Riedel argues, in a piece, that is certain to increase in relevance, that the USA must place its need to take out hostile terrorists over its desire to have friendly relations with what he considers to be a duplicitous Pakistani Army. But what about the effects on Pakistani society? Huma Yusuf in Dawn alerts us to the chilling nature of extremism in Pakistan, and how the NATO airstrikes are the latest excuse to rein in individual freedom in Pakistan.
Indians wait and watch.