The huge stink raised by the Indian press , the TV channels and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) regarding the pat-down of Indian diplomats, Meera Shankar and Hardeep Puri, has not abated.
However, it has me wondering about the many ordinary passengers and travellers of Indian or South Asian descent who are subjected to similar humiliation and who silently and stoically bear it simply because they do not know whom to complain to and how to make their voices heard.
I admit to a stab of vicarious delight that our representatives are unwittingly made aware of the ground realities.
Am I alone in feeling this way?
Quote of the day:
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. – Abraham Maslow
The latest Wikileaks or CableGate revelations have left very few parts of the globe untouched.
The sheer volume of the dispatches leaked (made by American diplomats and members of their diplomatic corps) makes comment inevitable and at the same time nigh impossible.
The media storm raised here in India is about how the US has heaped scorn on India’s preparedness for launching a quick assault on Pakistan. The code-named “Cold Start” policy is a non-starter according to the (ugly) American.
I do not wish to comment on what India’s response should be.
What I would like to suggest is that we should be rational ,reasoned and measured in our approach to the stories that have surfaced and will surface over the next few days. If Wikileaks believe that their only motive was transparency, then they have to be disabused of that notion. This attempt of theirs smacks of bravado, fool-hardiness and an attempt to prove their credibility by discrediting their opponents. Yes, for some reason, America-bashing appears to be their favourite pastime. Not that it hasn’t been so everywhere else, but then that’s the kind of knee-jerk reaction Big Brother evokes.
India should not be unaware of this; whether we like it or not, we are a regional Big Brother to our South Asian neighbours. A lovable, cuddly one we would like to believe but to be truthful, there is no such thing in international politics.
Wikileaks can be useful to provoke thought , more significantly thought translated into action. But everything should be taken with a pinch of salt!
We should be aware that cables by their nature are reactionary and informal. They are not reports air-brushed and put before one’s superiors after thorough analysis and fact-checking. They are spur-of-the-moment, coloured,shaped and hued by personalities, quirks and proximity to significant events and persons. It is easy to be overwhelmed by calamity or catastrophe, even personal ones. No person is immune to being human.Would you like your private opinions and thoughts broadcast to members of the general public? How do you think that will make you appear?
Would you rather have the Americans and others (including India) rely on satellites and technology alone for intelligence gathering?
“A diplomat is a person who lies abroad for his country”. This statement makes no mention of lying to one’s nation, does it?
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The second Meter Jam organized on the 12th of October, 2010, did not quite take off in its offline avatar.
The harried office-goers blithely ignored all entreaties to boycott the rude auto and taxi drivers.
Social activism needs to be planned and there seemed to be no plan B.
The commuters seemed to ask the question: “Yes, we know that the rickshaw and taxi pliers are cheats, rude and ill-mannered and have no or little consideration for their customer’s needs. But tell us why should we punish ourselves to punish them? Are we masochistic? Can you provide us some alternative mode of transportation? Do you think that reaching late to work is going to be excused by our superiors when we say we took the bus so that Meter Jam could be a resounding success?”
The only sliver was the Mulund drive which saw a dozen vehicles put into use for car-pooling. Now, that’s a plan!
Social activism that ignores the ground realities will be a dodo!
Lest, you think I am being harsh on the organizers, let me tell you that I have no liking for the rickshaw drivers’ autocratic ways.
I have suffered doctored meters, have been refused several times and have resorted to verbal abuse and complaints to book erring drivers.
But to expect just altruistic motives to win the day is unreal!
India is no utopia!
The Marathi middle class has responded with schizophrenic duality — reaping the benefits of globalization while being unable to adjust to the retreat of its language in the face of the growing influence/assault of English (thanks to globalization) and Hindi (thanks to waves of immigrants). The old working class neighborhoods in central Mumbai have been torn down and replaced with high rises and malls. The alienation here is palpable as jobless youth are ready to vent their anger on immigrants.It is this confused middle class and alienated working class that has been won over by Raj Thackeray’s mesmerizing oratory and nativist political programme.
I would be devil’s advocate again but unfortunately it is the members of these very same parties who go around collecting hafta from all the small shopkeepers,kirana shops, fishmongers and vegetable vendors! What kind of a dream can they provide the Marathi Manoos? The term to be used is exploitation!
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Full report of the Managerial Economics project by Linus, Eraclis & Marios here.
What is a conflict of interest?
Wikipedia defines a conflict of interest as outlined below:
There exist 2 variants of capitalism: Individual Capitalism and Communitarian Capitalism.
Individual Capitalism is epitomized by the United States. Japan , at the other extreme, exhibits a form of communitarian capitalism.
The 2 tables below outline the differences between the 2 systems.
MAJOR CONCEPTS & ASSUMPTIONS
UNDERLYING THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM
CONCEPTS & ASSUMPTIONS
PURE COMMUNITARIAN CAPITALISM*
PURE INDIVIDUALISTIC CAPITALISM
|How to optimize the performance of a system:||Cooperation at all levels will optimize the system.||Competition at all levels will optimize the system.|
|The key driving force in the economy:||The desire to build for the future.||The desire for current consumption and leisure.|
|Motivation for work:||Work provides utility. Individuals live to work.||Work provides disutility. Individuals work to live.|
|Responsibility for skills and training prior to employment:||Responsibility of society. Strong high schools and apprenticeship programs.||Responsibility of the individual beyond relatively weak high schools. Few apprenticeship programs.|
|Relationship between government and business:||Government supports and cooperates with business to optimize the system.||Government regulates business to promote competition. Click for Summary of the 2001 and 2005 ASCE Report cards on U.S. Infrastructure.|
|Government policy:||Promote growth in supply.||Promote growth in demand.|
MAJOR BUSINESS CONCEPTS ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES
So where do you think BRIC/BASIC countries place themselves?
The bill proposes that one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies would be reserved for women over the next 15 years i.e. the next 3 general elections, assuming that elections take place every 5 years which in turn supposes stable governments at the centre and in each state over the next 15 years.
As the article suggests, it would seem that rotation of Lok Sabha and assembly seats over the next 15 years is the only way to ensure an equitable and fair distribution of seats to women. That does not answer the more important question as to the quality of women candidates since it is a well-known fact that politicians who are debarred from contesting for various reasons, have made it a practice to have their wives, daughters and relatives contest instead. Rabri Devi, the spouse of Laloo Prasad Yadav , is an instance of this kind of cynical approach to the rule of law in politics and governance.
This is not to say that the law passed is not commendable. What we cannot commend however is the rule of cynicism towards governance in this country. It is the 90% of politicians that give the remaining 10% a bad name. How true of Indian politics!
An interesting side-effect of this law will be that politicians will be forced to vacate their seats in favor of women politicians if their seat is the one selected for reservation in that election year. Will this imply that stalwarts will now either contest from the Rajya Sabha or other constituencies? Note that a politician can contest from more than one constituency to ensure that he/she is a member of the newly elected Parliament or assembly. Or will this ensure that politicians will now spend more time building good-will for their party during their time spent in office rather than building their own image?
Will parties build in accountability for incumbent politicians when their party loses the next election or will women politicians be made the scapegoats if the party loses the incumbent seat? This, of course, pre-supposes that seats will not be allocated to family members of the weaker(?) sex?
All said, change is good, but cynical change or change that just follows the letter of the law and not the spirit is well , just lip service and very easily seen through!
Have a great weekend!
Quote of the day:
Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality. – George Santayana