Manmohan Breaks His Silence on Koodankulum Nuclear Reactor

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Dr Manmohan Singh is a highly sombre politician who does not wage verbal blitzkriegs against his detractors (unlike his Congress colleagues in the Union Cabinet) but on the issue of the protests being held against the Koodankulum Nuclear Power Station in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Dr Singh has come out with all guns blazing and has launched an unprecedented verbal tirade against the protestors by accusing them of being funded by American and Scandinavian NGO’s who are not appreciative of India’s growing energy needs and demands.

Dr Singh’s remarks have come at a time when India and the United States are further deepening their ties. Is Manmohan’s argument factually fallible or has he actually spoken out the truth? The comments are sure to raise a political stir in the coming few days but Manmohan’s benevolence towards Russia (The power station at Koodankulum is a Russian creation) might be seen by many policy makers in Washington as malevolence towards the United States. However by means of his outright comments, Manmohan has once again shown everyone that he is the person occupying the driver’s seat and is capable of taking tough decisions.

Controlled Democracy

Many television channels have been debating on the need for India to move towards a controlled democracy ever since the same views were expressed by a former Malaysian strongman and were endorsed by Mr Farooq Abdullah, Union Minster for Renewable Energy and a member of the First Family of Jammu & Kashmir.

I find the term ‘controlled democracy’ ambiguous because I feel that all democracies (especially genuine democracies to be a lot more precise and to distinguish the term democracy from a banana republic) are always controlled in nature. Unwarranted power, uncontrolled authority and lack of accountability are terms which are alien to democracy. These are terms which are intrinsic features of an autocracy or a communist regime. Those are political setups where a single person or a single party commands absolute control and rules over the land with an iron fist.

In a democracy no individual or institution enjoys what we call ‘total supremacy’. Accountability is an irreplaceable feature of a democracy and it is injected in the system by means of appropriate and necessary checks and balances signifying control to ensure elimination of commotion and dictatorship. An elected representative of the Government is accountable to the people and hence has to stand for re-election after a stipulated period of time. He is made to test the strength of the ballot. All agencies, bodies, departments, institutions are answerable to the Ministry which oversees their functioning. The Ministry is ultimately under the guidance of the Executive. The Executive is accountable to the Parliament which controls its nerves. Every decision inside the Parliament is made by means of consensus building and majority support, not by the will of an individual.

In a democracy people are guaranteed certain rights which are judicially enforceable but they are not absolute in nature. They are subject to limitations dictated upon by the law of the land. It applies to all freedoms be it the Freedom of Speech & Expression or the Freedom to Assemble freely or the Freedom to Profess any Profession. The private sector co-exists in our democracy along with the public sector and it also follows the norms of ‘government controlling’ by making public its financial records. Now the Government has even given them a responsibility by the name of corporate social responsibility which makes them work for the needy by means of the resources at their disposal. Even the Parliament doesn’t get away without being scrutinized. The Judiciary has the power to scrutinize legislations passed by the Parliament and to determine whether they are in consonance with the constitution or not.

In our democracy we have division of power between the Legislature (Law making body), Executive (Governing & law implementing body) and Judiciary (Body to ensure fairness and justice). The Indian State is a federal state where there is complete demarcation of power between the Centre and the States. It has appropriately and repeatedly been decentralized. Indian democracy is one of the best examples of controlled democracy in the world. We don’t even have a single supra or omnipotent institution nor do we have a single religious body having the power to veto legislations in the name of spirituality. Our pluralistic form of parliamentary democracy signifies control in a democracy. India is already what people call a ‘controlled democracy’ and hence there is no need to raise the question of creating a controlled democracy.

Pseudo Poor Sympathizers & F1

I was just going through the newspaper when I came across an ample number of brickbats in connection to the Indian Grand Prix being held in Greater Noida. The criticizers whose opprobrium was highly venomous argued that the Indian Establishment should stop spending money on such activities as they are western ways of recreation and a status symbol sport for the elite.

They said they should instead spend the money of the State exchequer on poverty alleviation. What I fail to realize is that why can’t these pseudo-poor sympathizers realize that India is aiming for inclusive growth which implies all around development? On one hand we are doing our bit to alleviate poverty and eradicate unemployment by enacting schemes like the MNREGA and on the other, we are trying to showcase our strength and emergence on the global scale by hosting events like the F1. Development is a simple word having positive as well as negative implications. What the establishment has done is going to give way to positive development but such pessimistic takes being published in leading dailies will lead to only ‘negative developments’.

Team Anna’s Tryst with BJP

In a press conference, Anna Hazare has made public his future plan of action. Anna categorically stated that if the Congress led UPA government fails to get his version of the Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of the Parliament, he will embark on a tour of all the poll bound states and campaign against the Congress. He further stated that he plans to launch a fast in Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, three days prior to the Election Day in case the worse happens.

He further urged voters in Hisar Lok Sabha Constituency of Haryana which is scheduled for by-polls to not vote for the candidate representing the Congress because his party has deliberately delayed the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill. What is strange is the fact that Anna and Team Anna has tactically singled out the Congress as the party to be attacked and to be blamed for the entire ‘Delay Lokpal fiasco’ at a time when no party in the country is willing to lend full proof support to his version of the bill. Even the BJP which happens to be the prime opposition party of India and a supporter of Team Anna doesn’t support the Jan Lokpal Bill in its present form. Very strategically and opportunistically the BJP stated that it supports the Jan Lokpal Bill but with amendments. This vindicates the fact that the BJP is trying to politically hijack Anna’s movement and is trading its guns in coordination with Anna’s movement but the truth is that they themselves are not in full support of Anna’s version of the bill.

What remains to be seen is how will Anna react and deal with the BJP. Team Anna has been very reluctant to accept any amendments to its version of the bill. It has taken a maximus stand and refuses to budge, bend, reach out or compromise. Will Team Anna claim the BJP’s support at a time even when the BJP doesn’t support its stand fully or will Team Anna launch an accelerated attack even on the BJP for failing to lend unconditional support to its bill?

 

Use of Social Networking in Social Movements

Traversing down the memory lane, somewhere around the year 2000, the world had begun to reap the real dividends of globalization. The explosion of the dot com bubble in the United States happened to be a major milestone in the history of the human race. During this time, the competition amongst various powerhouses driving the market rapidly intensified and corporations began to post record profits. With phenomenal economic success being achieved and with an eye towards greater growth, work hours became lengthier and jobs became more challenging. It was at this point in time when concerns were being raised over the future of the social wellness of the human race but just when things started appearing blurred, what unleashed next happened to be the most dominating and bizarre byproduct of the dot com bubble which stormed the entire world like a whirlwind. The birth of social networking sites like MySpace, Hi5, Bebo, Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and a host of other such sites reiterated and reestablished the fact that social interaction and communication are and will always be irreplaceable, irremovable and indelible aspects of the life of humans during their prolonged stay on Earth. On one hand, de-regulation and globalization cornered people in their offices and on the other hand social networking sites helped individuals in giving birth to another life of theirs on a platform popularly referred to as the virtual world. Features ranging from posting messages and content to sharing photos and videos became immensely popular within no time. For how long will this juggernaut or bandwagon of social networking sites go on is up to tech-soothsayers to prophesize but the current obsession of the masses to such sites vindicates the fact that these sites are here to stay.

While the initial portion of this article kick-started with a mentioning of the benefits courtesy globalization, what is going to link this article with its latter portion is a sort of a reality check which exposes the evils of globalization which served as a lead up to a number of tumultuous events. The global financial recession was propelled because of the actions of a numbered few but its repercussions were felt everywhere. Economies plunged one after the other and nobody was spared. Companies crashed, jobs got jeopardized and the entire world economy was battered. People in several countries suffered because of this mayhem and what doubled their fury was the inaction and incompetence of ruling regimes and governing governments. It was time for retribution and what resulted were popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya along with popular anti-corruption movements in India and other parts of the world. Social networking sites played a pivotal role in such movements and their laudable as well as condemnable use in such movements is going to be described ahead.

 Social or political movements generate because of the convergence of the growing dissent of the people. Social media helps in the organization of such events. A simple message clearly indicating the date, time and venue of a gathering or a protest is read and seen by millions who eventually turn up. Social networking sites are ready made centres of idea propagation because of their mass appeal. To make any movement a success one needs to mobilize support and for that what needs to be ensured is that the objective of the movement is clearly brought forth the public. Social networking sites are used by all and leaders have rightly exploited certain features of these sites to the benefit of their movement. The blogging feature of such sites helps individuals to provide lengthy descriptions of their movements, ideologies and objectives. In case the article is thought provoking, it becomes a net sensation within due time, spreads from user to user and resonates worldwide. There is no denying that even today, a world which claims to be a self appointed protector of democracy and liberty happens to indulge in widespread censoring of the press. In many countries, the government commands an absolute control over the media which results in the press becoming the spokesperson and mouthpiece of the government. In such political set ups, social media emerges as an unbiased, independent platform which helps people broadcast their views freely and hence in case of a social movement it helps people to express opprobrium openly and encourage others to voice opposition against injustice which ultimately leads to a strong show of solidarity. It also helps in exposing government brutality as videos of government clampdowns on protestors are openly posted to invoke anger among others.

It’s pretty evident that social media is a very powerful tool and in instances pertaining to social movements it helps in communicating information, organizing protests, mobilizing greater support by serving as a base for free propagation of ideas, exposing government brutalities and wrongdoings, providing a platform for opprobrium and expression of independent opinions etc. But it isn’t utilized in the most positive way always. This technological asset is used in the most improper way when messages are passed urging anti-social elements to collectively pour into a place and create a ruckus. While social net working sites were used as a weapon by Tunisians and Egyptians to peacefully topple dictatorial regimes, rascals and scoundrels in England mis-utilized them to organize crimes, spread riots and looting. Every product has its set of pros and cons and social networking sites happen to be no exception. The use of social networking websites in such an extensive way, sometimes productive and sometimes unproductive, proves that people don’t just use such sites as a substitute for physical interactions with their friends and acquaintances.