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Saturday, November 24, 2012

The hindu Editorial -Mamata scores, for Manmohan

From the very beginning, the no-confidence motion against the United Progressive Alliance government mooted by the Trinamool Congress was doomed to fail. A constituent of the UPA until recently, it was unrealistic for the Trinamool to have hoped the opposition would rally behind it. The Left parties, especially, saw the move as an opportunistic tactic designed to gain political mileage in West Bengal, where they too have high stakes. The main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, realised that a no-trust motion would have had less chance of being carried through in the Lok Sabha than a resolution on the Foreign Direct Investment under Rule 184 entailing voting. For one, a no-trust move would have immediately prompted all the constituents and backers of the UPA to close ranks and ward off the threat to the government. But about FDI in multi-brand retail, many of the UPA partners such as the DMK hold strong reservations as do supporting parties such as the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Even those not keen on unseating the government might thus feel pressured to vote against the government on a resolution against FDI in retail, a politically contentious issue. For the BJP, the less ambitious course held out more hope. Without the prospect of an alliance in West Bengal, the principal opposition party would have sensed no advantage in sailing with the Trinamool on this issue. As the Trinamool attempt to move the motion failed for want of the requisite numbers, another motion of no-confidence will have to wait for at least six more months. But, in the calculations of the BJP and the Left parties, this is a better outcome than the government surviving a no-confidence motion and emerging stronger with claims of Parliament’s endorsement for its policies and programmes.
Sadly, the Trinamool does not seem to have learnt much from the fiasco. Eager to be in the spotlight, the party had decided to move a no-confidence motion without consulting others. Mamata Banerjee now claims the Trinamool’s failed effort exposes the opposition parties that did not support the motion, but this is hardly any consolation. Ms Banerjee was hoping to project the Trinamool as the prime mover of all things, but such short-sighted tactics showed up her party as hot-headed and tactless. Given the composition of the current Lok Sabha, an alternative to a Congress-led government is almost impossible. And parties such as the SP and the BSP do not want to be seen as helping the BJP even if they were to topple the UPA government. While the government might have to face some more embarrassing situations, its survival is not in question in the immediate future.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Left demand Discuss FDI in Retail under Rules That Entail Voting

THIS forthcoming winter session of the parliament comes in the background of growing political uncertainties. The much publicised major cabinet reshuffle did not evoke any sense of confidence that the UPA-2 government is determined to tackle the major issues confronting our peoples’ livelihoods. Allegations of corruption and scams continue to rock the coalition leader, the Congress party. The coalition itself is precariously placed, with the ally from Bengal having withdrawn and the ally from the South virtually sulking and refusing to join in the cabinet reshuffle.

Its majority in the Lok Sabha now depends on the outside support of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP. On the other hand, the principal opposition party appears to be in a disarray with its president itself continuing in office becoming increasingly untenable in the face of alleged corruption charges. How these uncertainties will unfold will determine whether this session can hold the government accountable for its acts of omission and commission and force it to take tangible measures to provide relief measures to the people.

The intersession period since the last washed out monsoon session of parliament saw widespread protests against the government’s decision to permit FDI in multi-brand retail sector.  On an earlier occasion, during the budget session, the then finance minister, who is now the president of India,  had assured the parliament that the government will operationalise this decision only after wide ranging consultations with all the stakeholders and try to build a consensus. The government, however, betraying its own assurances to parliament, has decided to unilaterally proceed with the implementation of this decision.

This was met with widespread protests by a cross section of political parties.  The call for a ‘national hartal’ given by the Left parties along with the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam, the Janata Dal (S) and the Biju Janata Dal was received with enthusiasm by the  people across the country.  In Delhi, the leaders of all these eight parties courted arrest protesting against this decision.  Simultaneously, on the same day, September 20, the All India Federation of Retail Trade Associations had given a call for a ‘Bharat bandh’.  An important UPA ally from the South, DMK, openly announced its opposition to this move.  So did the AIADMK as well.  Numerically, the strength of all these parties put together constitutes a majority in both the houses of parliament.

It is under these circumstances that the CPI(M) leaders in both the houses of parliament served notices, under rules that entail voting, for a motion disapproving this decision of the government.  Forcing the government to accept such a discussion, under the relevant rules, and deciding to a vote would have decisively frustrated the government’s efforts to allow FDI to prise open our markets and access our resources for its profits at the expense of our people.  This strategy would have effectively cornered this UPA-2 government and prevented it from going ahead with such anti-people reforms.

As opposed to this strategy, some political parties, particularly the UPA-2’s now estranged ally, the Trinamool Congress, has floated the idea of moving a no-confidence motion against the government. Now, a no-confidence motion is not an issue-specific motion.  Usually, such motions are considered when sufficient members in the Lok Sabha, belonging to various opposition parties, can be mustered to ensure the possibility of carrying this motion.  In the event that the no-confidence motion is unable to be carried in the Lok Sabha, then the government gets not only a reprieve but also the opportunity to interpret this vote as an endorsement of all its policies and its governance.  Contrary to the requirement of preventing the government from carrying forward anti-people measures, the government would be provided with the opportunity to impose further such measures invoking the Lok Sabha’s endorsement as its legitimity.

In the current scenario, when both the SP and the BSP continue with their outside support to the government, the prospects of carrying the no-confidence motion is very remote.  Moving any such motion in the present context is to provide an escape route to the government, instead of making it accountable to the parliament and people. The tactics adopted by the Trinamool Congress, thus, serve the interests of not only saving this government but to provide it with a legitimacy to carry forward such anti-people neo-liberal economic reforms. The Trinamool Congress will, thus, be acting as the B-team of the Congress.

The Congress party, on its part, is preparing to prevent any discussion in the parliament under rules that entail voting.  The union commerce minister has claimed that executive decisions of the government have never been subjected to parliamentary discussions under rules that entail voting.  When it was pointed out that on the March 1, 2001, under the NDA government led by Atal Behari Vajpayee, a motion moved by then CPI(M) MP, Rupchand Pal, disapproving the proposed disinvestment of Bharat Aluminium Co. Ltd. (Balco) was admitted and discussed and voted upon under a rule that entailed voting, the parliamentary affairs minister is seeking to negate any such precedent by stating that the Balco disinvestment was a ‘stand alone’ issue and not a policy decided by the union cabinet!

This is a very strange logic, indeed.  The Congress party had, on that occasion, supported the CPI(M) motion which was defeated by 239 votes against 154.  Leading the Congress support to the CPI(M) motion, Priyaranjan Das Munshi, in that debate said, “Disinvestment and privatisation are two different things.  If the equity participation of a management is 51 per cent, it is not disinvestment, it is total privatisation”. Clearly, the Congress then was talking about the NDA’s policy of privatisation as opposed to a ‘stand alone’ case of disinvestment.  These are the facts.  The Congress party cannot rely on falsification now to deny the parliament its right to discuss and vote upon such an issue as FDI in retail trade which has a vital bearing on the livelihood of at least a fifth of our country’s population.

Further, a public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court on this issue of FDI in retail trade.  It is only after the apex court’s intervention that the RBI issued a notification amending the regulations to permit FDI in multi-brand retail trade. This has been gazetted on October 30. The court further stated that there is no reason to fear that the government will not place these amendments in parliament. Hence, it further opined that since the parliament session is to begin, this appeal should wait for its decision on the matter.  Similarly, at the time of Balco disinvestment, the Delhi High Court also reposed their faith on the parliament while dealing with the writ petition, then.

In this connection, Priyaranjan Das Munshi said, “Both the judges reposed their faith on the parliament. They said that since the matter is in parliament, let them complete the session, then we will react. This is the respect shown by the judiciary to parliament. How parliament should react?  Should we fight for discussion under Rule 184 and 193?  Should we be swayed by the jugglery of Arun Jaitley, linking the Balco deal with the world economy and with the revival of all sick units? I think the parliament in its traditional morality should stand and respond that we reject this deal and we demand a JPC.  It is not a matter of politics between the Congress and the NDA; and between CPI(M) and the NDA. It is not a matter to score points with the NDA partners. It is a matter of parliament’s own wisdom before the nation. How should we react to this situation?”

It is in this very same spirit that the government should agree for a discussion under rules that entail voting and let the parliament decide on this matter.  In the final analysis, the ultimate sovereignty under our constitution rests with the people of India and this is exercised by their elected representatives in the parliament.  The sanctity of our constitutional scheme of things cannot be allowed to be undermined.
(November 21, 2012

FDI -सरकार का बचाव बेदम है।

FDI  पर हमारे देश में जो विरोध है वह कोई नया  नहीं है। विपक्ष के संसद में बहस के बाद वोटिंग की मांग पर सरकार का कहना है की हर कार्यकारी फैसले पर संसद की राय लेना सविधान के अनुसार जरूरी नही है। परन्तु क्या मामला इतना सीधा है, जितना सरकार दिखाने की कोशिश कर  रही है।हमारी सरकार पर बहुत दिन से देशी और विदेशी उद्योगपतियों का दबाव था की सरकार FDI रिटेल में 51% की मंजूरी दे।परन्तु देश के अंदर इसके भारी विरोध को देखते हुए सरकार इसे लागु नहीं कर पा  रही थी।पिछली बार सरकार ने जब इसे लागु करने की कोशिश की तो संसद और संसद के बाहर इसका भारी विरोध हुआ।यहाँ तक की सरकार के अंदर शामिल उसके कुछ सहयोगी भी इसके खिलाफ खड़े हो गये।तब सरकार ने संसद में कहा  की वो इस फैसले को सभी STAKE HOLDER से बात करने के बाद और एक बड़ी सहमती के बाद ही इसे लागु करेगी। सरकार के इस बयान पर मार्क्सवादी नेता सीताराम येचुरी ने विशेष रूप से पूछा की क्या STAKE HOLDERS में पोलिटिकल पार्टियाँ भी शामिल हैं,तो सरकार ने कहा की हाँ इसमें पोलिटिकल पार्टियाँ और राज्य सरकारें दोनों शामिल हैं।
                          उसके बाद सरकार ने बिना पोलिटिकल पार्टियों और बगैर राज्य सरकारों से बात किये इसे लागु करने का फैसला कर दिया।सरकार ने यह जल्दबाजी अपने आप को आर्थिक सुधारों के और तथाकथित उदारीकरण के तरफदार दिखाने के लिए की।अब सवाल केवल यह नही रह गया है की यह फैसला किसके हित में है या किसके खिलाफ है,बल्कि एक नया सवाल खड़ा हो गया है की क्या सरकार संसद में दिए गये अपने बयान को इस तरह अनदेखा कर  सकती है? अगर सरकार इस तरह संसद की उपेक्षा करेगी तो कई समस्याएँ खड़ी हो जाएँगी।अब सरकार ने किस किस पार्टी से बात की , और किस किस राज्य सरकार से बात की, यह तो संसद में वोटिंग से ही पता चल सकता है।
                        दूसरी तरफ एक ऐसे फैसले को जिसके विरोध में भारत बंद तक हो चूका है,केवल एक कार्यकारी फैसला कहना देश को गुमराह करने वाली बात है।सरकार संसद में दिए गये अपने बयान से मुकर नही सकती। इस सवाल पर सरकार को संसद में पूरी बहस करवाने के साथ ही वोटिंग भी करवानी चाहिए ताकि पता चल सके की देश का कितना हिस्सा इसके साथ है,और कितना हिस्सा इसके खिलाफ है।और अगर बहुमत इसके खिलाफ होता है तो तुरंत इसे वापिस लेना चाहिए। देश किसी एक पार्टी या कुछ उद्योगपतियों की जायदाद नही है।

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bharat Sangeet Utsav from today

Carnatica and Sri Krishna Sweets are back this year with the annual L&T Bharat Sangeet Utsav, which will be held from November 20 to 25 at Sarojini Auditorium of Kikkani School (off Brooke Bond Road).
The festival begins with a vocal recital by Nithyasree Mahadevan. The final day on November 25 will be marked by carnatic vocal recital by M. Balamuralikrishna, who will also be conferred with the title Bharata Sangeeta Kovidha. Bharata Natya Seva Niratha will be conferred on S. Saraswathi of Vipanchee Natyalaya by Swami Dayanandha Saraswathi of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam.
P. Unnikrishnan, Vijay Siva, Gayathri Venkatraghavan, Sangeetha Sivakumar and Abhishek Raghuram are among the other performers.
The fusion and jugalbandhi segments consist of Sriram Parasuram and Anoordha Sriram and Carnatica Brothers K.N. Shashikiran and P. Ganesh with world percussion maestro Mark Stone from the U.S., who is on his first visit to India, the organisers said in a press release. “The uniqueness of this years’ programme is that we will present ragam, thalam and pallavi in English, but by retaining the essential carnatic flavour,” Mr. Shashikiran said. “This is to help Mr. Stone and some others understand easily,” he said.
In the dance section, there will be performances by Vipanchee Natyalaya and Abhayasa Academy of Dance.
The internet radio will air the concerts live. For details, contact: 94440 18269 / 98400 15013.

An authentic Indian fascism--Praveen Swami

The Shiv Sena chief gave voice to a Nazi impulse in Indian politics — one that poses an ever-growing threat to our Republic
“Fascism”, wrote the great Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci, in a treatise Balasaheb Keshav Thackeray likely never read but demonstrated a robust grasp of through his lifetime, “has presented itself as the anti-party; has opened its gates to all applicants; has with its promise of impunity enabled a formless multitude to cover over the savage outpourings of passions, hatreds and desires with a varnish of vague and nebulous political ideals. Fascism has thus become a question of social mores: it has become identified with the barbaric and anti-social psychology of certain strata of the Italian people which have not yet been modified by a new tradition, by education, by living together in a well-ordered and well-administered state”.
Ever since Thackeray’s passing, many of India’s most influential voices have joined in the kind of lamentation normally reserved for saints and movie stars. Ajay Devgn described him as “a man of vision”; Ram Gopal Varma as “the true epitome of power”. Amitabh Bachchan “admired his grit”; Lata Mangeshkar felt “orphaned”. Even President Pranab Mukherjee felt compelled to describe Thackeray’s death as an “irreparable loss”. The harshest word grovelling television reporters seemed able to summon was “divisive”.
It is tempting to attribute this nauseous chorus to fear or obsequiousness. Yet, there is a deeper pathology at work. In 1967, Thackeray told the newspaper Navakal: “It is a Hitler that is needed in India today”. This is the legacy India’s reliably anti-republican elite has joined in mourning.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why I can’t pay tribute to Thackeray--Markandey Katju

His bhumiputra theory flies in the face of our Constitution and works against the unity needed to ensure development
Muppadhu kodi mugamudayal
Enil maipuram ondrudayal
Ival Seppumozhi padhinetudayal
Enil Sindhanai ondrudayal
(This Bharatmata has 30 crore faces
But her body is one
She speaks 18 languages
But her thought is one)
Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi
Bhedad gana vinauyanti bhinnah supajapah paraih
Tasmat samghatayogesu prayateran ganah sada
(Republics have been destroyed because of internal divisions among the people;
Hence a republic should always strive to achieve unity and good relations among the people)
Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, chapter 108, shloka 14
Tesam anyonyabhinnanam svauaktim anutisthatam
Nigrahah panditaih karyah ksipram eva pradhanatah
(Therefore the wise authorities should crush the separatist forces trying to assert their strength)
Mahabharat, Shanti Parva, 108:26
Political leaders, film stars, cricketers, etc. are all falling over one another to pay tribute to the late Bal Thackeray. Amidst this plethora of accolades and plaudits pouring in from the high and mighty, I humbly wish to register my vote of dissent.
I know of the maxim De mortuis nil nisi bonum (of the dead speak only good), but I regret I cannot, since I regard the interest of my country above observance of civil proprieties.
What is Bal Thackeray’s legacy?
It is the anti-national ‘sons of the soil’ (bhumiputra) theory.
Article 1(1) of the Indian Constitution states: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.”
Thus, India is not a confederation but a union.
Article 19 (1) (e) states: “All citizens shall have the right — to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India.”
Thus, it is a fundamental right of a Gujarati, south Indian, Bihari, U.P.ite, or person from any other part of India to migrate to Maharashtra and settle down there, just as it is of Maharashtrians to settle down in any part of India (though there are some restrictions in J&K, and some North-East States, due to historical reasons).
The bhumiputra theory states that Maharashtra essentially belongs to Marathi people, while Gujaratis, south Indians, north Indians, etc. are outsiders. This is in the teeth of Articles 1(1) and 19(1)(e) of the Constitution. India is one nation, and hence non-Maharashtrians cannot be treated as outsiders in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena created by Thackeray attacked south Indians in the 1960s and 70s, and vandalised their restaurants and homes. In 2008, Biharis and U.P.ites living in Mumbai (the bhaiyyas who eke out a livelihood as milk and newspaper vendors, taxi drivers etc.) were described as infiltrators and attacked, their taxis smashed, and several beaten up. Muslims were also vilified
This, of course, created a vote bank for Thackeray based on hatred (as had Hitler, of whom Thackeray was an admirer), and how does it matter if the country breaks up and is Balkanised?
Apart from the objection to the ‘sons of the soil’ theory for being anti-national and unconstitutional, there is an even more basic objection, which may rebound on Thackeray’s own people.
India is broadly a country of immigrants (like North America) and 92-93 per cent of the people living in India today are not the original inhabitants but descendants of immigrants who came mainly from the north-west seeking a comfortable life in the sub-continent (see the article ‘What is India?’ on my blog and the video on the website ).
The original inhabitants (the real bhumiputra) of India are the pre-Dravidian tribals, known as Adivasis (the Bhils, Gonds, Santhals, Todas, etc.) who are only 7-8 per cent of our population today.
Hence if the bhumiputra theory is seriously implemented, 92-93 per cent of Maharashtrians (including, perhaps, the Thackeray family) may have to be regarded as outsiders and treated accordingly. The only real bhumiputra in Maharashtra are the Bhils and other tribals, who are only 7-8 per cent of the population of Maharashtra.
Several separatist and fissiparous forces are at work in India today (including the bhumiputra theory). All patriotic people must combat these forces.
Why must we remain united? We must remain united because only a massive modern industry can generate the huge wealth we require for the welfare of our people — agriculture alone cannot do this — and modern industry requires a huge market. Only a united India can provide the huge market for the modern industry we must create to abolish poverty, unemployment and other social evils, and to provide for the huge health care and modern education systems we must set up if we wish to come to the front ranks of the most advanced countries.
Hence I regret I cannot pay any tribute to Mr. Bal Thackeray.
(Markandey Katju is Chairman, Press Council of India.)