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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Suggested Weekend Reading

A collection of writings related to India's socio-political issues that made headlines this week.

"Finally, the very fact that a person as well known as Sanjay Dutt was convicted is a powerful argument for the fundamental fairness of the Indian legal system. The faith of the aam aadmi in India’s institutions is already shaky and needs to be nurtured and protected. A pardon for Sanjay Dutt would not only be a travesty , it would affirm that justice in India can be short-circuited by the rich and powerful. That is a dangerous message in an era of all round cyncism and the Indian establishment should think carefully about its own credibility and the urgent need to maintain trust in the system."
This opinion piece links to a few more interesting columns. Don't miss them
"Currently, the domestic industry was allowed to fully participate in defence manufacture, but very limited orders were placed on them. “Understandably, in the absence of their being able to source high-end technologies, it is unrealistic to expect them to make state-of-the-art equipment. Encouraging foreign defence manufacturers to establish manufacturing bases in India will provide a platform for transfer of high-end technology and will also catalyse the growth of domestic manufacturing,” he noted."
"The Minister said that during his interactions with leading defence manufacturers and during the recent state visits of the British Prime Minister and the French President they expressed strong desire to invest in defence manufacturing in India. “Globally, the defence sector has been the harbinger of new technologies and has contributed significantly to job creation. The U.S. and the EU allow 100 per cent FDI in defence manufacturing with security issues being addressed through verification and clearance procedures.”"
This is something I strongly believe is the right way for India to reduce its defence imports while at the same time bridge the technology gap between Indian industries & their international counterparts, leapfrogging into contemporary practices,
"One avenue to encourage competition through tangible, practical Indian private sector participation would be to allow foreign collaborators to acquire stakes higher than the 26% currently permitted, with the desired number being pegged at anything between 74 to even 100 per cent . Such a policy isn't without precedence - the widely lauded supersonic BrahMos Cruise Missile was the product of a collaboration where the Russian entity has a 49.5% stake. When an experienced foreign company is allowed to invest more in its collaboration with the less experienced Indian company, it would have that much more riding on its shoulder to ensure the success of its collaboration. Such high-stake hand-holding of the Indian company would eventually allow India to arrive at a position where it no longer would have to look for imports to meet 70% of its defence requirements, as is the case now."
"Rahul Gandhi appears to have learned his lessons from his mother’s successful playbook, to wit: the pronouncements rejecting any desire for a post or authority. The Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh model of governance was a consummate political move but it was no act of renunciation. Sonia Gandhi remains the paramount leader of the Congress party and her word is the law as far as the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is concerned. Mrs. Gandhi acts as India ‘Socialist Godmother’s as Sadanand Dhume recently put it in the Wall Street Journal—intervening in policy debates while pointedly refusing to assume any responsibility for governance. She plays the Santa Claus bestowing new gifts on India’s poor while the economist Prime Minister is left scrambling to pay the bills. Indeed, Sonia Gandhi has remained the Congress president continuously since 1998 and if and when she gives up her position, she is only likely to be succeeded by her son. In that sense, Sonia Gandhi has understood India better than many who still maintain that she draws her inspiration from distant lands. She has instinctively grasped that this ancient civilization remains strangely ambivalent towards power; preferring to embrace those who remain outwardly reluctant to wear the crown."
"The government machinery was on an overdrive to ensure that the focus of wrongdoing remained on Air Marshal Tyagi. In this it was supported by a section of pliable and subverted media. It alleged that the Air Marshal and some of his relatives received Rs.70 lacs for tweaking the technical parameters of the VVIP helicopter in favour of AgustaWestland. The truth of the matter is that in November 2003, it was the then Principal Secretary to PM, Mr. Brijesh Mishra, who had observed that the stipulated operating ceiling of 6000 meters had led to the undesirable single vendor situation wherein the EC-225 of Eurocopter France would be the only bidder. He argued that very rarely, the VVIPs have to travel to Siachen Glacier. Mr. Mishra's logic was robust and cannot be faulted. To blame Air Marshal Tyagi for manipulating the parameters is therefore a criminal conspiracy. He did not do it, even though a Chief of Air Staff as a technical expert is very much within his rights to 'recommend' suitable parameters. He is after all not a post-office. It is reiterated that the Air Chief is not an 'approving authority' but only a 'recommending authority'."
"Why is it normal to question the integrity and worth of all members of the Nehru-Gandhi political family, including and especially her late husband Rajiv, but not politically correct to question Sonia? Every political leader has been pilloried in India, and in most democracies. Pilloried for being stupid, unfit to rule and worse; yet, such questions are not raised with regard to Sonia. Our free press can make mincemeat of even decent politicians (Manmohan Singh has been variously described as spineless, a night-watchman following orders, Mumble Singh and worse) and yet the press has never even demanded that the chairperson of the Congress for 15 years hold a press conference in a language of her choosing - English, Hindi or Italian."
"Deadliest among all of them, appears in the form of a false claim, “We respect all religions.” No, we don’t, it is untrue. We make fun of Hindu deities both in private conversations and in the public. We humiliate Ahmedis and their spiritual leaders without any remorse and call Shiites with absurd epithets audaciously. But, a general proclamation of respect becomes a great talking point if this argument is not rebutted timely with reality. Not only that it is not true as discussed, it is so inflammatory that it will inevitably lead to violent consequences. “In return, we expect all the minorities to respect ours.” Now you know the bottom line, “If they don’t, we have the right to ‘defend’ our faith.” And all of us know the true meaning of ‘defend ourselves,’ right?"
A common thread observed in all such articles penned by Pakistanis that are self-critical, is that he/she is, invariably, based outside the country at the time of the writing. Guess, no one is all too enthused about the prospect of becoming a Saleem Shahzad redux.