Colonel ( Dr.) Anil Athale
As the year comes to an end, PM Dr. Manmohan Singh has plenty of reasons to give a smile of satisfaction. For on the Foreign policy front the country has indeed entered a new era. The year has also been remarkable for some startling developments on the domestic front, not all necessarily positive. But all in all, it was indeed a remarkable year that will go down as very significant landmark in our recent history.
Emerging Indo-US Partnership.
The most important event of the year indeed was the remarkable consensus with which the Indo-US Civil Nuclear co-operation bill was passed by the US Congress. That it was a lame duck session with impending Democratic control next year made no difference to the passage is remarkable. This shows the bi-partisan support for the emerging ‘Indo-US partnership’ (words used by President Bush last week when he signed the bill into a law).
Many analysts have likened this
step to the ‘Shanghai Declaration’ signed by President Nixon and Premier Chou
En Lie in 1972. The resemblance to that event is indeed uncanny. With this the
Chinese and US signalled the end of Cold War hostility and emergence of a new
‘alliance’ directed against another ‘evil’ empire, that of the
The criticism by the retired
scientists is a little more serious. But none of them have the broader picture
in view……that this finally ends
The much touted Chinese industrial revolution owes much to the generous American technology exports and capital. In 1982 an Indian diplomat had asked an American as to why the Super computer is being denied to India while being given to China even without any treaty, the American had smiled and told him that with China they do not need any guarantee ( hinting that the anti- Soviet Union attitude of China was guarantee enough). If there is some truth in the idea that the US indeed wishes to make India balance China, that is guarantee enough that there will be no curbs on Indian military nuclear programme, any number of clauses in the Indo-US deal notwithstanding.
Fortunately, while many in
Indo- Pak Peace Process Back on Track.
The train bomb blasts in July
this year were seen as a major setback to peace process by many including me. Infact, through the columns of rediff
I had publicly dis-associated myself from it. None
accused the Pak govt or Musharraf of any direct
involvement in that dastardly act, but the onus was very much on Pak to prove
that it was NOT an act of ‘omission’ , that is failure to curb the terrorists
operating on its soil. Even more seriously, there seem to have been no movement
in addressing the ‘root cause’ of Indo Pak problem, ie
It was in 1987, I had through our
embassy, obtained the Pakistani Urdu text books ( printed
This issue was again taken up by
me with Prof A. H. Nayyar of
Along with the protection of
women bill ( that removes the injustice to victims of
rape) these are clear signs that General Musharraf is
serious about peace process with
Challenges in 2007.
It will be naïve to expect smooth
The Domestic Scene.
The greatest achievement of the
country in this year was the sustained economic growth. Despite the obdurate
Left snapping at his feet, the PM kept on course for economic development. On
top of the sustained rate of growth exceeding 7 % last year, the economy grew
by over 8% this year. Prof Raj Krishna’s ‘Hindu Rate
of Growth’ seems to have settled at over 8%.........such is the Indian
‘inertia’ that despite political change, this growth rate now seems unstoppable
and irreversible. There is much truth in Dr. ManMohan
Singh’s assertion that a high rate of economic growth will solve many of our
problems. Having come to power (accidentally) on the slogan of ‘India whining’ as opposed to
‘India shining’ the UPA seems to reluctantly accept
that it has actually retained the growth momentum. The
question now being asked the world over in not whether
If I were to be in charge of a news channel et al, I would have chosen the ‘Indian Judiciary’ as the institution of the year! Sending a Union Minister to jail for life, the Judiciary has sent a powerful message to the criminals in Politics that they are NOT above the law. One prays for more strength to their elbows.
But even greater has been the ( much delayed) emphasis on punishing the witnesses giving
false evidence or turning ‘hostile’. No other factor had distorted the judicial
system as much as blatant lying by eyewitnesses. Invariably it happens in cases
where the rich and the famous are involved. So be it a case of drunken driving
of BMW by a son of an Industrialist in
There is a simple suggestion to
the Judiciary, order the police to produce bank records of all these ‘Hostile’
witnesses…….I am sure the judges will be able to establish a clear co-relation
between the retraction of testimony and swelling bank balance! It needs to be
emphasized that in other countries like the
The panic amongst the politicos is palpable! A particularly vocal Left MP went to town by asserting that the Parliament is ‘supreme’ on a TV channel! But the PYTs ( Pretty Young Things) conducting these ‘tamashas’ did not have the knowledge to point out to this august MP that Indian Parliament is NOT like the British one……..in case of India sovereignty rests with the People and the constitution that we the people have given ourselves……For instance the British Parliament can literally pass any Law, NOT so the Indian Parliament that has to operate within the parameters set by the constitution.
That brings us to the disastrous ‘Quota’ mania that has engulfed our system of late. None can object to the affirmative action in case of the truly meritorious but poor and lacking resources so as to usher in true egalitarianism. But pray what is the justice in CMs offspring studying in the most expensive schools getting ‘quota’ ? Much of the urban unrest amongst the Dalits and even Naxalism in tribal areas is due to the distortion that has crept in the affirmative action. For instance having studied the Naxalite problem in Chhattisgarh, one found that NOT a single ( genuine) Gond tribal from there has been able to benefit due to quotas that have been virtually monopolised by the advanced Tribals from the North East!
About the quota for the so called ‘backwards’ the less said the better. I was in army at the time that the VP Singh ( the self styled ‘messiah’) ushered in the ‘mandalization’. My battalion had the so called upper caste Jawans in rank and file but in 1980s out of the 12 officers of the battalion, half or 6 were from the so called ‘backward’ community! So we had the bizarre situation of the better paid, educated and socially advanced officers children getting ‘concession’ and ‘quota’ while a poor Jawan’s children, with meagre means, less education and in lower social order, were regarded as ‘forward’! There are countless such examples of distortion and injustice that the timid politicos of all parties want to perpetuate.
In the coming year the Judiciary will have to intervene and correct this distortion. As the PM has often pointed out that challenge of Naxalism is a major problem, then he ought to also see the co-relation between ‘creamy layer’ hogging the quota benefits and poor and deserving being left high and dry and taking to violence!
The ‘Sachar Committee’ report was another disaster brought about by cynical politicians. There is absolutely no doubt that Muslims are proportionately less in jobs and are backward. But the solution proposed by Sachar is worse than the disease. I have in earlier article in rediff asked a simple question……..Mr Sachar must find out the proportion of Muslim employees in Muslim owned giant companies like WIPRO, Wockhardt, Cipla and Himalyan Drugs…….He will find that the situation is NOT much different there! That leads one to the question, are these Muslim owners ‘discriminating’ against their own co-religionists?
would have opened his eyes a little he would have found that the proportion of
literacy and education amongst the Indian Muslims matches with the figures for