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October - November 2008

Political News

From Far & Near: Topics of Interest

by Bhupendra Gandhi

Could Gujarat bomb blasts be a state sponsored terrorism?

It may bagger beliefs if some one even remotely thinks that these bomb blasts in Jaipur, Bangalore and Amdavad, all BJP ruled states, may be linked in some ways with the Central Government in New Delhi, carried out with the knowledge if not the blessings of the Congress led UPA government.

But in the murky world of the Indian political cesspit nothing is impossible and one can not blame the public for thinking worse of this inept and power hungry UPA Government where even Laluji is considered a saint in the making!

Looking at the systematically dismantling of Anti-Terror Legislation and the lenient rather benevolent attitude of the UPA government towards convicted terrorists, it does not inspire trust or confidence in the UPA government who would like to hold on to power at any cost, by any means, fair of foul.

This has become the norm in Indian politics where vote bank counts more than honesty and patriotism. Even MPs with RSS background are not avert, immune to changing sides. Sankarsinh Vaghella and geriatric Keshubhai Patel are the prime example, who have lost all respect and became a laughing stock at the last Gujarat Assembly elections.

Since the removal of POTA legislation which has deprived State Governments of the laws and means to fight terrorism, Gujarat and Rajasthan Legislative Assemblies have passed their own anti-terrorist legislations. Gujarat legislated the Gujarat Control of Organized Crime (GUJCOC) bill which is awaiting presidential approval since June 2004. But unfortunately, the President, under pressure from the Central Government, has refused to sign these bills that would turn them into laws and allow States to act effectively against terrorists. Yet President is supposed to be neutral! No wonder people question whether democracy is a blessing or a curse in disguise!

Gujarat has, in Narendra Modi, one of the most dynamic, patriotic and efficient Chief Minister in the Indian Union. While meeting the PM Shri Manmohan Singh in Amdavad, after the bomb blasts, Modi drew his attention to the earlier communications he had with the PM, urging him to strengthen the security environment, to eliminate terrorists’ safe haven, their organizational and logistical, financial capabilities and to adopt zero tolerance towards terrorists and terrorism. Till now, he has taken no action.

The recent spates of bombings in various cities are not the isolated incidents, carried out by individual groups. But these are well organized and well executed acts aimed at weakening the will of the people and to apply breaks to the industrial and economic advancement India is enjoying for a decade or two. The next target is to eliminate industrialists like Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis and their likes who are the brains and organizations that provide, fuel the economic growth engine and create the wealth.

Modi has outlined a master plan that would involve fencing off the border with Pakistan, fast patrol boats to guard the coastline and settlement of Jawans on the border to stop infiltration that is ripe and unchecked. Perhaps the PM is too preoccupied to worry about security.

An optimistic person will consider every blast as an opportunity to bring Hindus out of slumber and create an opening for closer relations between Hindus and Muslims. A failure will lead to segregation and creation of ghettos that will harm the most underprivileged.

The development in various cities and states throughout Bharat is already following into the footpaths of the American pattern, a huge walled housing estate with Fort Knox like security where an entrance is guarded by armed security personals. Only the residents, on most part belonging to a particular sect with valid security, ID cards are allowed in.

Some 30 bombs planted in Surat which failed to go off, are accredited to the local Muslims who like to create tension between the two communities. Yet Surat boasts a significant Daudi Bhora Muslim community who are as law abiding as Hindus. It is time the Gujarat government takes on board these members of the Muslim communities, Daudi Bhora, Ismailis, Ahmedia and other Muslims who are loyal citizens of Bharat and many even support BJP and CM Narendra Modi.

The statement from Mr. Gheewala, General Secretary of Indian Muslim Association of Leicester is a welcome gesture. Now we need practical support and steely determination to defeat terrorists so that all Indians can live in peace and harmony.

War mongering West revives cold war atmosphere

When young and inexperienced Mr. David Miliband was handed over the prime job, portfolio of Foreign Secretary, perhaps more out of gratitude than experience and ability, as he supported Mr. Gordon Brown for the PM job, I had my misgivings. We needed a Foreign Secretary who would understand and deal with Russia in a sensible way rather than act like a bull in a China shop when dealing with the Balkan crisis, as this is the most sensitive and tinder spot that may ignite and turn the whole region into a bush-fire that may be difficult to extinguish.

While the French President and German Chancellor went to Moscow to discuss the Balkan crisis with the main influential party, our Foreign Secretary ignored the main players who could make the difference and instead saw it fit to visit Georgia and Ukraine to build up an anti Russian alliance to isolate and humiliate this proud nation in a typical cold war diplomacy. Perhaps he was doing the dirty work on behalf of President Bush of America.

When Mr. Miliband threatened Russia with isolation and economic boycott, the newly elected President of Russia, Mr. Medvedev laughed it off as a product of sick imagination from an inexperienced politician.

When Mr. Miliband says that East European countries should be free to join NATO military alliance, allowing America to build missile silos right on the border of Russia, I could not help but wonder how America would react if Russia carries out similar manoeuvres in Cuba!

No one should forget that America threatened an all out nuclear attack on the old Soviet Union when it wanted to locate its missiles in Cuba. Would Britain tolerate Russian missile bases in Irish Republic or the Channel Islands?

What the West should be doing is to encourage Eastern European countries to integrate economically with the West, be part of EU but not NATO. It was gracious of Russia to allow Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to be free and independent, although some of these nations have up to 40% population of Russian origin who would like to cede and be independent or merge with Russia.

When Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev the sensible and courageous leader, of USSR who dismantled the Soviet Empire. He did it, firmly believing, that, with Communist threat in abeyance, the West would reciprocate this gesture and allow new Russia to live in peace and harmony with the West. Commenting on the Georgia crisis, he compared it with the Cuban crisis and grudgingly supported the Russian stance as a matter of pride and security for his country.

Instead of being a partner in peace, the war mongering West, especially America, with Britain in tandem, is on the warpath, trying to establish a new world order, with unprovoked war, attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, Kosovo and perhaps on Iran as well in not too distant future, trying to control oil and other mineral wealth with brutal force. This is gun-boat diplomacy Britain used so successfully when building the empire in the 16th and 17th century.

Looking at the defence budget or rather the war chest of America, £340 billion and Europe, £155 billion, West dwarfs Russia’s defence budget of just £20 billion. China spent more on staging Olympic Games. But Russia outnumbers West ten to one in having nuclear warheads and much more active and reserve troops, tanks and armoured vehicles.

Russia has just tested a missile, a new version of their old ICBM that could reach any part of the world, armed with multiple nuclear war heads. If the West would like to reignite the cold war, Russia is definitely in a mood to oblige them.

After Georgia, the next flash point will be Ukraine where Russia has a naval base and a large proportion of the population is of Russian origin who would oppose Ukraine becoming part of West’s military alliance. The lease on the base expires in 2017 and Ukraine has already made it clear that it would not renew it. It would certainly become a flash point if NATO tries to move in and take over the base on Russia’s doorstep.

We all know that the real threat to us will come from terrorism and not Russia. So why create a second front and weaken our resolve to fight terrorism. God help us if Russia decides to join forces with Taliban, Iran and actively support terrorism. A cornered Russia will be a dangerous Russia and it would not be in our interest to antagonize Russia beyond breaking point. I hope Mr. Miliband would be more diplomatic and wise before it is too late, as France and Germany, with their softly softly approach are hovering like vultures to take over our commercial and economic interests if we fallout with Russia.

Why does India go to bed hungry?

India may be the second or third if we take the tiny state of United Arab Emirate (UAE) as the fastest growing economy in the world but it still has to go a long way before India becomes a civilized, highly educated modern nation where every one has, at least one square meal a day and a roof over one’s head, the bare essentials that we in the West take it for granted.

Even today, after more than sixty years of independence, some 30% of the people of India fail to get proper meal and necessary nourishment. Many sleep on the footpath, under bridges and flyovers and in filthy backyards over flowing with sewage and rats. When you consider that India has a population of some 1.2 billion, 30% represent a lot of people.

While certain States, like Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka and Rajasthan have made tremendous economic progress, there are some states, like Bihar, West Bengal, Utter Pradesh and Tamil Nadu which have either stood still or even gone backward since independence, especially Bihar and West Bengal.

In pre-independent India, Bengal was considered the cradle of civilization, most articulate, educated and prosperous state that gave Bharat cream of human excellence, sons like of Subashchandra Bose, the Nobel literary prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Bankim Chandra Chatterji who gave the nation the patriotic song Vande Mataram, and numerous writers, poets, scientists, musicians and noble sons that played a major part in the struggle for independence.

With the influx of Bangladeshi migrants with the blessings of the Communist State Government, who considered them as their vote bank, Bangladeshis now form some 35% of the total population, compared to just 3% in 1947, the state is over populated and under developed with the successive communist government more loyal to China than to India.

It is the timidity of the people of West Bengal who have tolerated, indeed supported this state government that is corrupt from top to bottom, who worship and admire Mao more than Mahatma, Bose or Sardar. The saying “what you sow, so you reap” is most appropriate in the case of West Bengal. It is difficult to have sympathy for the people of West Bengal as their wounds are self inflicted.

According to the latest figures published by the Global Hunger Index 2007 (GHI) from the United Nation’s International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India badly lags behind China and even Pakistan, although India has improved its standing with a score of 25:04 on the index compared to 33:75 in 1990. China and Pakistan rank much higher out of 118 countries that are officially listed on the GHI.

As usual, China has made a remarkable progress, improving her standing from 20:05 in 1980s to 12:77 in 1990 and now it stands at 8:37, a tremendous improvement, in par with the standard attained by most East European countries.

The index takes into account under nourishment, prevalence of underweight and growth in children and the mortality rate amongst the children under five years old. The main reason for the fall of the mortality rate among the children is China’s one child policy that makes a child the most valuable, treasured member of the family.

Worldwide some 855 million people go hungry according to the index, although the real figure is much higher, in the region of 1:2 billion, as many countries either fail to provide any figure or try to hide the true nature of the calamity. These figures do not contain the data from war-torn countries of Africa and Asia, like Somalia, Eritrea, Senegal, Iraq and many more where hunger is epidemic.

Surprisingly, countries like Libya, Singapore and South Korea are top of the list, with the lowest score of just 0:87 which is better than most European countries!

Although India regularly attains the annual growth of 9%, it is insignificant compared to China’s 12% to 15% growth. One reason for India lagging behind China is the cumbersome democracy that allows the corrupt politicians, bleeding heart social workers, religious fanatics, ambulance chasing lawyers and judges and terrorists who put every kind of obstacles in the way of peace and progress. Individually, Indians (Hindus, Jains, Sikhs) are the most tenacious, hard working, peace loving and highly educated people whose work ethic and economic contribution is admired and appreciated throughout the world.

India is also wasting billions of hard earned revenue on pilgrimage and religious subsidies, caste, dynastic and vote bank politics that should have gone to improve infrastructure, education, agriculture, health care and poverty eradication. None of these obstacles exist in China where the totalitarian form of government is in complete charge, thus building infrastructure takes less time and budget compared to India.

According to the latest figure published by the Swiss Financial Services, Indian nationals top the list with some $1.3 billion deposited in Swiss accounts, compared to just $65 millions by the Chinese and $435 million by Russians. Indian individual nationals have more money in Swiss accounts than the rest of the world put together! It would be interesting to know the names of these plunderers of national wealth! But alas, the Swiss laws do not allow to break the code of secrecy, the complete protection it gives to looters and plunderers.

We, living in the West, when visit India, we only see the glitter and glamour. Mercifully we are shielded from the worse ghettos and poverty that may put us off visiting our motherland.

India has the widest gap in income and living standard between the rich and the poor, that no civilized nation would tolerate.

The leaders and politicians have let Indian people down. How I wish every Indian State has an enterprising Chief Minister like Modi who has been instrumental in raising living standard and pace of development in Gujarat. Yet, there is no shortage of Indian politicians who would like to see Modi bite the dust by fair or foul.

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