Lokpal: Whom to blame?

Did Government actually want voting to take place? Government knew bill would not be passed if put to vote but at the same time, it didn't want to be termed as a loser. Government was not opposed to bill, why should it be! The biggest problem it faced was it could not convince its own Members of Parliament. Trinamool Congress was firm on opposing the bill in Rajya Sabha as it was not in favour of having Lokayuktas in states. Sixteen of its MPs were missing in Lok Sabha on Tuesday when they were needed the most. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who never gets quite, lost his tongue in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was seen sitting like an idol with no expressions on face. They were the observers waiting for time to pass and that’s what happened. No voting could take place. House was adjourned sine die. It was a win-win situation for all. BJP didn’t want such a bill to be passed. Government saved itself from shameful defeat. Team Anna was also happy as it was always opposed to Government version of bill. After the bill was passed in Lok Sabha, started the blame game, with Congress charging BJP of double standards and Sonia coming out with statement in her Italian accent, ”BJP ka asli chehra deka” (We saw real face of BJP). This was well responded by Sushma Swaraj in her statement that it was not responsibility of BJP to fulfill Rahul Gandhi’s and Arun Jaitley saying in Rajya Sabha that Government had choreographed the proceedings such that there is no time left for voting. Government is not just accountable to people of India. India in May 2011 ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption. India ranks 95 among 183 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which is only a reflection of India’s poor performance on corruption. Lokpal Bill was first introduced in 1968 in Lok Sabha and passed in 1969 but died due to dissolution of House. Legislation was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 2001 but it could never survive. Manmohan Singh, in 2004, assured that his UPA Government would enact the bill but that situation has not come yet even after 7 years. Who knows the future of Lokpal! Poor Lokpal!

Why Anna failed to gather enough support this time?

Anna has so far fasted four times. His first fast was at Jantar Mantar in April which went on for five days. His second fast was in Ramlila Maidan in August for 12 days. Third fast was a day long fast at Jantar Mantar on Dec 11. And the latest one was in MMRDA ground in Mumbai which started on Dec 27 and was to end on Dec 29 but had to be called off on Dec 28. Why is it that Anna had to call off fast a day before pre decided date? Probably, Anna has realized that same thing will not be taken with same enthusiasm every time by people. The 12 days fast of August was the most successful one with people from all walks of life coming down to the streets and protesting against corruption. More than one lac people had gathered in Ramlila Maidan in August. This gathering had supporters from different states of India. Public March happened everywhere in the country. Every person of team Anna was clean and pure then gradually many episodes came up. Arvind Kejriwal cought up in the controversy of violating bond rules by quitting the service before completing three years of service after going on a study leave on full pay leading him to pay Rs 9,27,787 to income Tax department. Kiran Bedi accused of presenting inflated air travel bills to her hosts then Arvind Kejriwal coming forward with a statement that Kiran Bedi should not have done so and that had he been in Kiran Bedi’s place, he would not have done that. At a point team Anna appeared divided. Kiran Bedi didn’t accept the mistake she had committed. If she wanted money for poor kids, she should have asked for donation in open, why she had to give inflated bills to her hosts! It was a compulsory donation that she had taken from her hosts. Not acceptable to people! Secondly, what was the logic behind fast of Dec 11 when Parliament was in session and working towards bringing Lokpal Bill? People are not against Anna, they are against the ways now being adopted by team Anna. To People, team Anna appears to be building undue pressure on government. It’s not giving them chance to perform. Lets see how much effective his campaign in poll bounds states would be!!

Indo Pak talk on CBMs from today (Dec 26, 2011)

India and Pakistan have begun Confidence Building Measures (CBM) talk in Islamabad today. The talk is resumed after four years. Today’s talk would focus on conventional CBMs including issues related to Jammu and Kashmir, Cross LoC trade and travel, Missile tests etc are to be discussed today. Nuclear issues would be discussed in tomorrow’s meeting. The 10 member Indian delegation is led by D. Bala Verma, Director General (Disarmament and International Security Affairs). Pakistan delegation is lead by Additional Secretary Munawar Saeed Bhatti (formerly deputy high commissioner in India). On January 1, 2012 India and Pakistan will again exchange lists of nuclear installations, probably the oldest India-Pak CBM that has survived.

Anna to fast again from Dec 27

Anna Hazare will fast again from tomorrow Dec 27, 2011 for three days in MMRDA ground of Mumbai over weak Lokpal Bill. Fast would be followed by “Jail bharo” agitation. So far more than 1 lac people have registered to be part of Jail Bharo agitation. After Anna returns from Mumbai, he would stage dharna outside Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi residence. They have demanded to make CBI independent and non partisan. CBI is believed to be manipulated and so its investigation is also influenced. Anna recently launched an attack on P. Chidambaram saying, “Had Lokpal bill been in place, P. Chidambaram would have been in Jail”. Several Congress politicians have caught up in war of words with Anna. Team Anna has decided to campaign against Congress in five poll bound states— Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab if Government fails to bring out strong Lokpal Bill. Anna went on his first five-day fast in April at Jantar Mantar, followed by second and most successful 12 days fast in August in Ramlila Maidan. A day long fast was also observed at Jantar Mantar on Dec 11. Parliament winter session has been extended for three days. It would conclude on Dec 29. Lokpal Bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament on Dec 27.

China strategy: One Pearl at a Time

The Chinese government has already adopted a “string of pearls” strategy for the Indian Ocean, which consists of setting up a series of ports in friendly countries along the ocean’s northern seaboard.China has had a hand in building or refurbishing several geo-strategically-located ports in the region. In Pakistan, ports at Gwadar and Karachi have undergone extensive improvements and dredging by Chinese companies, as well as the construction of a new highway connecting them. China further modernized or constructed ports belonging to Bangladesh, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritania, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. This includes the $1 billion Sri Lankan port at Hambantota, which is a strategic six nautical miles from major sea lanes between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. China has also capitalized on a 1992 agreement with Myanmar for the construction of ports at Small and Great Coco Islands in return for the modernization of Myanmar’s navy.In addition, Chinese firms constructed or modernized ports at Sittwe, Kyuakpu, Mergui and Hainggyi Island. Soon after India announced its decision to go ahead with oil exploration in South China Sea with Vietnam, China on Saturday (SEP 17, 2011) said it would expand its exploration of 10,000 sq km of seabed in southwest Indian Ocean. This was announced as part of its 2011-2015 oceanic development policy.China’s application for deep-sea mining licence in central Indian Ocean has been cleared by an international body, leaving the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs concerned. They fear Beijing may use it as “an excuse to operate their warships in this area”. With China’s acquisition of several new nuclear-powered attack submarines and additional diesel-electric submarines, and also the introduction of an aircraft carrier (the Shi Lang), the PLA navy may choose to establish a longer-term, sustained presence in the Indian Ocean, in part to help safeguard its Sea line of Communications. India has also carefully cultivated ties with the countries of the Indian Ocean rim, including Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles, and Madagascar, providing these countries with naval support, such as offshore naval patrol vessels and staff and training.

Chinese monks attend Buddhist Congregation organized by New Delhi

Despite crackdown by China, Chinese monks attended Buddhist congregation organized by New Delhi. Religion has no boundaries. When China can’t control its own people, how can it impose restriction on India or other countries! It is believed Chinese monks came here on tourist visa either singly or in groups. This congregation was attended by around 800 delegates from major Buddhist nations of Asia. Heads of Buddhist organization from Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Laos, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Japan and central Asian republics attended the event.
India Pakistan GDP
Year 2000 US$ is taken as the base value of India and Pakistan currency. Source: World Bank

China can't 'arm twist' India

India has shown to China that it can not pressurize India in any way. India is not small country which would come under China's pressure. Yesterday (Dec 01, 2011) West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan was present when Dalai Lama was addressing public in Kolkata. China called off Indo-China 15th round of border talks scheduled for Nov 28, 2011 because of Buddhist Conference organisation on the same day which had Dalai Lama involved in it. China doesn't seem to believe falling of these two events on same days as coincidence. Also It asked India to call of the congregation which was to be addressed by Dalai Lama. The event was co-organised by Public Diplomacy division of the Ministry of External Affairs. India respects sovereignty of its partner countries but no country should try to impose its say on India. South Africa which is a trading partner of China kept on delaying visa to Dalai Lama to maintain the good relation that Beijing has with ruling African National Congress. Dalai Lama was to attend 80th birthday of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a fellow Nobel peace prize winner. This was the second time Dalai Lama could not honour invitation to South Africa by Tutu after failing to make it to a meeting in 2010.
India - Pakistan GDP growth rate
Based on World Bank figures