Friday, March 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


EDITORIALS

Punjab’s turnaround signals
THE latest medical bulletin on Punjab finances is encouraging. There are clear signs that conditions are stabilising compared to the disquieting sense of deterioration last year. This has encouraged Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh, who is nursing the longailing patient back to health, to drop the idea of a radical surgery; he now prescribes hypnotherapy — restoring self-confidence and allowing the built-in corrective system to take over.

Fuel under fire
ANY rise in the price of an essential consumer item is bound to hurt the poor and those belonging to the lower middle class. The recent increase in the cost of fertiliser and Public Distribution System (PDS) rice is enough to cause anger and anguish in these segments. Farmers, particularly, do not know from where to get enough money to buy costly fertilisers.

FRANKLY SPEAKING

USA's CHANGING "VISION" OF INDIA
A diplomatic triumph for New Delhi
by Hari Jaisingh

NOTWITHSTANDING half-hearted intelligence signals to the contrary, political circles thought that Pakistan would stay its bloody hand during the visit of President Bill Clinton to India and avoid the sensational murders of innocent civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. This assessment has proven wrong. Thirtyfive people in Anantnag district and all Sikhs — were shot in cold blood after they were asked to line up. No militant organisation has so far claimed responsibility for this dastardly act.


EARLIER ARTICLES
 
OPINION

Pinochet case: An expose of British duplicity
by V. Gangadhar

THE transformation was remarkable. For several months, former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, under house arrest in London, had appeared drugged and listless while a London court pondered the legal issue whether he could be extradited to Spain to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

WORLD IN FOCUS

The new bubble can burst
by M.S.N. Menon
A
NEW era is upon us — of wealth without work. And with it, Wall Street has triumphed. Speculators have triumphed. And finance capital has triumphed. Economic activity is no more about work and production. It has become a “net” game. Its goal is not welfare, but multiplication of capital. Trillions and ever more trilliions. For what purpose? Only to multiply them anew. But it is largely paper money. It can disappear as fast as it came.


75 years ago

March 24, 1925
The Government and the Liberals
THE rapidity with which the process of disillusionment of the Liberals in India has been proceeding makes one hopeful that before long there will again be one party and only one in India apart from the Government, the party of the Motherland.



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Punjab’s turnaround signals

THE latest medical bulletin on Punjab finances is encouraging. There are clear signs that conditions are stabilising compared to the disquieting sense of deterioration last year. This has encouraged Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh, who is nursing the longailing patient back to health, to drop the idea of a radical surgery; he now prescribes hypnotherapy — restoring self-confidence and allowing the built-in corrective system to take over. He should succeed on the basis of the state’s annual budget projections and proposals. On the revenue side sales tax collection is set to jump to Rs 3000 crore from less than Rs 1500 crore in 1998-99. Considering the mounting leakages over the years, a reversal of the trend and by a spectacular 100 per cent in two years is both curative and hope-inducing. Sales tax collection is not entirely an administrative affair; there is regular political interference. This explains why the country’s richest state with the highest per capita income records one of the lowest tax revenue-gross domestic product ratio — just 2.7 per cent. The Finance Minister wants to step up sales tax collection and he deserves unstinted support of his Cabinet colleagues so that the ruling alliance faces the electorate in two year time with a creditable record card. Winning an election is all about the index of feel good factor among ordinary voters and a healthy public finance is of great help here, at least in shutting out media harangue. The other side of the same effort is to cut down expenditure and here there are puffy clouds around the proposals. Capt Kanwaljit Singh has appointed a commission but past experience shows that it merely recycles old ideas which had often turned toxic because of earlier rejection. He also wants to put to test the time-tested theory of freezing recruitment and offering tempting terms of voluntary retirement (VR). The first has a loophole, “except where it is functionally unavoidable”, which will come handy to secure a government job to close kin, hangers-on and bribe-givers; the Minister will soon be surprised to find many low level jobs becoming essential! The second method normally fails unless VR from one post is linked to a climb to another. In Indian society a job is a way of profitably spending one’s time and retirement is therefore seen as banishment to joyless desert.

While wishing the energetic Finance Minister all luck, it is necessary to compliment him on the subtle but highly significant shift in the philosophy of budget making. He is set to change the role of the government from that of a policy-maker and enforcing authority to being just a facilitator. In other words, the government identifies a sector needing assistance and another which can benefit and ensures an agreement of mutual help between them. He has imposed a 10 paise cess on every litre of milk passing through processing plants to fund research in dairy and lifestock sectors. The old 10 per cent additional sales tax has been converted into a cess of the same percentage to the newly set- up social security fund to help senior citizens, widows, the disabled and destitute children. It is a splendid idea as no Punjabi worth his or her salt will cheat any of these categories of fellow Punjabis. In fact this factor should be the key slogan in an anti-tax cheating advertisement campaign. Other revenue raising measures are attempts at rationalising or modernising the very concept and with some enthusiasm from the staff, should produce happy results. A similar “withdrawal symptom” is visible in Capt Kanwaljit Singh’s blueprint to revive road transport as a profit-making proposition. No more buying of buses; the government will hire private buses and merely run them on a contract basis. Old and loss-making routes will be bunched together and routes making lot of losses will be opened to private individuals. All this, it should be hoped, without causing inconvenience to the not-so-rich travellers. That is a tough task, and only Punjab can take up the challenge. More than the stunning innovation of placing the clinical report on the health of public finance in the assembly and hence before the people, the striking point of the budget is the new role cast on the political masters of the economy in the new millennium. They should cease to be politicians when tackling economic issues and the Finance Minister has opted to bite the bullet. For this reason alone he deserves support and praise.
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Fuel under fire

ANY rise in the price of an essential consumer item is bound to hurt the poor and those belonging to the lower middle class. The recent increase in the cost of fertiliser and Public Distribution System (PDS) rice is enough to cause anger and anguish in these segments. Farmers, particularly, do not know from where to get enough money to buy costly fertilisers. Rice is the staple food for most of them. The announcement made on Wednesday night by the Union Government to the effect that LPG would cost Rs 51 per cylinder more and the price of kerosene would be more than doubled has come as a big blow to the common man. LPG has become an indispensable fuel and the average citizen is unable to understand the logic offered by the Government. The Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, has said that the oil pool account deficit is heavy and there is no escape from a steep price rise. Even after the increase in the selling price of PDS kerosene and LPG, the deficit at the current price level is estimated to go up from about Rs 6,300 crore on March 31 this year to Rs 13,670 crore by March 31, 2001. Without a price hike, the deficit would rise to Rs 19,000 crore. The subsidy on LPG, Mr Naik says, was quite high even after bringing it down from Rs 162 to Rs 132 per cylinder. The annual subsidy in the current year on PDS kerosene was estimated at Rs 8,120 crore. On domestic LPG, it could be Rs 4,730 crore. At the prevalent crude oil price, the subsidy would reach Rs 11,000 crore for kerosene and Rs 7,000 crore for LPG during 2000-01 unless the prices were revised.

The decision to increase the prices of petroleum products was not endorsed by all the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), for instance, was not represented at the Cabinet Committee meeting called specifically to discuss the price rise. The Minister's view that a deviation had been made from the Cabinet decision to keep diesel on import price parity to protect the interests of the consumers would, in no way, cheer the consumers of LPG and kerosene. Of course, there are other valid reasons for fixing higher prices for kerosene and cooking gas. The world price of crude oil has spurted from Rs 3,210 per tonne in February last year to Rs 8,120 per tonne in March 2000. It means an increase of 155 per cent. The oil import bill is seen rising to Rs 59,000 crore as against Rs 54,000 crore. It has to be remembered that in the market system, there is a continuous adjustment between cost and price. The Government, says the Minister, has to bear the burden of the subsidy and when it is unable to do so, it has to be prepared to bear the blame.

The housewife is outraged at the sudden post-Budget hike. For her, statistical logic does not carry much conviction. The rise in the crude oil price in the international market and the mounting burden of subsidy at home are formidable factors. It is common knowledge that much of the subsidised kerosene is used for adulteration. The targeted group is a small beneficiary. But subsidised LPG is a major drag on the Government's scarce resources. User charges have to be levied on various services like electricity, water and transport to avoid wastage and to ensure their proper use. The Central and State Governments have to be bailed out. But the poor consumer knows only one thing. He wants to buy LPG and kerosene at reasonable and affordable price. The shock given to him is surely severe. Absorbability is the primary psychological requirement in such a situation. The TDP has told the Government that the hike should have been effected in a phased manner. The single-stroke and burdensome raise would not be acceptable to the common man. A section of the Tamil Maanila Congress has demanded that the DMK should withdraw its nominees from the Union Ministry to register its protest against the pro-rich move. The AIADMK has sought the withdrawal of the new dispensation forthwith and called it a "robbery". It is not easy for the Central Government to convince the inflation-hit populace. The move, howsoever logically defended, would not be bearable. It should be put on the roll back list.
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USA's CHANGING "VISION" OF INDIA
A diplomatic triumph for New Delhi
by Hari Jaisingh

NOTWITHSTANDING half-hearted intelligence signals to the contrary, political circles thought that Pakistan would stay its bloody hand during the visit of President Bill Clinton to India and avoid the sensational murders of innocent civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. This assessment has proven wrong. Thirtyfive people in Anantnag district and all Sikhs — were shot in cold blood after they were asked to line up. No militant organisation has so far claimed responsibility for this dastardly act. It is no secret that several militant outfits operate freely in the valley and beyond under the overall control of the ISI. Many such bodies are controlled by foreign mercenaries. These facts are known to the Americans.

At his press briefing, the National Security Adviser, Mr Brajesh Mishra, identified two organisations for the killings. These are: Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen. They are known to enjoy the patronage of the military regime in Islamabad, especially of the ISI. Interestingly, even the USA has declared them as terrorist organisations. The point of interest here is whether the Anantnag killings had the approval of the highest authority in Pakistan or not. Going by past experience, Pakistan’s official hand must have been very much around, though there are occasional reports that certain mercenary groups act on their own. We shall have to wait for some time to know all facts about these gruesome murders.

The moot point is: Was this barbaric act meant to highlight the Kashmir dispute and the “very dangerous situation” prevailing in the region? Perhaps. These calculations have, however, gone awry. President Clinton is outraged, which is why he told his hosts bluntly that “we certainly share your outrage and heartbreak over last night’s (Monday’s) brutal attack in Kashmir. It reminds us of what suffering this conflict has caused in India”. Candid words indeed!

The USA knows that the two organisations responsible for the killings are terrorist outfits of foreign and Pakistani mercenaries with a brutal record. In fact, they are quite close to Osama bin Laden, Saudi fundamentalist leader.

The sense of outrage felt by President Clinton can already be seen in the shift in US position on the sub-continent. President Clinton says — and it is an endorsement of India’s point of view — that it is pointless to have any dialogue with Pakistan while the present killings and violence continue and while the Line of Control (LoC) is being violated. He told the press that no dialogue “is possible unless the Line of Control is respected and the violence stopped”.

These are the very conditions India has been demanding while seeking the resumption of a dialogue with Pakistan. Endorsement of these points by the US President is, in a way, a victory for India. In fact, President Clinton’s visit can easily be hailed as India’s diplomatic triumph. Full marks to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The US President was categorical about his four beliefs on the Kashmir Issue. He called for

(i) Restraint by both sides;

(ii) Respect for the Line of Control by Pakistan;

(iii) Renewal of the dialogue (in which violence must stop);

(iv) No military solution.

These are significant pre-conditions for a dialogue with Pakistan.

Prime Minister Vajpayee has ruled out a war. He has said that India believes in a peaceful solution, but he has also made it clear that New Delhi has the means and the will to deal with Islamabad. He could not have made these remarks in the presence of Mr Clinton unless he wanted to give notice to America that India’s patience is not unlimited.

As the US President is against a military solution, it is to be assumed that he disapproves of the proxy war. Whether he will succeed in persuading the military regime to give up this disastrous path is a different matter. As for renewal of the dialogue, the ball is in Pakistan’s court. The dialogue cannot be resumed unless Islamabad learns to respect the Line of Control and stops playing with the lives of innocent citizens. It must put a stop to trans-border terrorism.

The message from New Delhi is loud and clear. General Musharraf does not have many options. He is surely not in a position to dictate terms to the USA. Those days of blackmail are practically over. However, if he has chosen to defy Washington, President Clinton has enough means at his disposal to force compliance.

Washington should have no reservation on the nature of troubles in Kashmir unleashed by Pakistan. It is no liberation war as Islamabad wants the world to believe. It is a proxy war imposed on this country by Islamabad. It is a jehad — a holy war — waged against India by the forces of Islamic fundamentalism.

It is no secret that these fundamentalists are acting outside all civilised norms, which include international laws. As such, India can feel free to deal with the situation as it deems fit. And the priority in this regard has to be smashing of the training camps run by Islamabad in occupied Kashmir areas as well as inside Pakistan.

Ever since the Kargil debacle, the Pakistani authorities have stepped up the proxy war and it is a fact that it has had some success in this area because Islamabad has of late been using the trained Mujahideen who had fought in Afghanistan. There is certainly some method in their approach. Till now the militants target was the Hindu population. Already most of the Pandits are out of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is, however, for the first time that the attack this time was on the Sikhs. The Sikhs are a minuscule community in Jammu and Kashmir. In attacking them, the main objective of the militants is to intimidate them so that they will also leave the state. It is in furtherance of the larger goal of ethnic cleansing. The militants apparently want the valley to be cleansed of all non-Muslims. Once the character of the valley is determined, the militants think it will be easy to terrorise the Muslim population into submission.

India has so far shown remarkable restraint. President Clinton has recognised this and has spoken warmly about it. India has indeed put up with this bleeding for over a decade. It has avoided drastic measures in order to prevent a crisis. But the time has come for South Block to make it clear to the world that India cannot allow this blood-letting to continue.

The killings of the Sikhs have thrown up various issues. These must be answered. Union Home Minister L.K. Advani has been promising several measures to combat the evil designs of Pakistan. He had promised a White Paper on the ISI. It is two years now, but he has failed to do so. He had also promised to set up community protection squads. Apparently, nothing of the sort has been done. This shows that militancy and mayhem have not injected any sense of alertness and urgency among the authorities.

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir calls for urgent and drastic measures. But it looks there is hardly much change in the pace. One cannot pass on the bouquet to Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah either, though he can take some credit for pacifying the Kashmiri population. All the same, he has failed to get their active support against the foreign mercenaries. He must appreciate that amidst the prevailing complexities, the people of Kashmir can play a decisive role. Unless they extend full support and cooperation, the foreign mercenaries operating in the valley and beyond cannot be apprehended. The Abdullah regime should be more effective in this area. Both the Central and State governments must formulate concrete steps to track down the foreign mercenaries and eliminate them ruthlessly.

One cannot conclude these comments without a quick look at the Vision Document. It is full of hopes and of unrequited pleadings. Perhaps, it marks a change in the US attitude towards India. But let us not overlook the fact that US policies are generally not made by the President. They are made by various interest and strategic groups. The State Department and the Pentagon also play a decisive role in American foreign policy formulation. Still, there is a feeling — and rightly so — that times have changed and that Indo-US ties will definitely look up in the months and years to come unless new factors are thrown up for fresh reassessment.

It must be said that President Clinton has proved to be a great communicator and a PR person. After his speech at the Central Hall of Parliament he must have won the hearts of hundreds of MPs. The way he went about shaking hands with the people’s representatives was noteworthy. The MPs who were colourfully attired drek his special attention to the delight of onlookers!
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Pinochet case: An expose of British duplicity
by V. Gangadhar

THE transformation was remarkable. For several months, former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, under house arrest in London, had appeared drugged and listless while a London court pondered the legal issue whether he could be extradited to Spain to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Pinochet, a notorious military dictator who ruled Chile with an iron hand from 1974 to 1990 was held responsible for the torture, disappearance and deaths of thousands of dissidents many of whom were from Spain, France and Switzerland.

The main issue of the 16-month long trial was whether the Chilean dictator was medically fit to stand trial in Spain. Panels of doctors who had examined Pinochet came to the conclusion that he was mentally unfit for the Spanish ordeal. But the opinion was not unanimous. Some of the panel doctors had stated that though weak, the General was fully fit and could stand trial for his heinous crimes against humanity.

Throughout his house arrest in London, Pinochet lived in a heavily guarded luxurious villa and could move around only in a wheel chair. It was not clear how much of this was genuine and how much was put on. But the answer became evident as soon as Pinochet’s jet landed in Santiago, the Chilean capital. The physical and mental condition of the dictator “improved dramatically”. Abandoning his wheel chair, Pinochet stood up to greet his relatives, friends and admirers who had gathered at the airport. He waved his walking stick energetically at the crowds, showing no signs of exhaustion after his 24-hour flight from London. One of his daughters, Jacqueline, who was present at the airport to greet him said that her father was in a far better shape than at the time she had seen him last in London.

After landing on the home soil, the dictator who had been declared by the British government as ‘too frail’ to stand trial in Spain, drove off to a luxury villa. The protest groups and anti-Pinochet demonstrators were dismayed. “The world had been deceived because he is obviously not as ill as we were made to believe,” complained Ms Viviana Diaz, head of the protest group, Families of the Detained-Disappeared.

She had every reason to complain. While Britain treated the issue with kid gloves, other European nations clamoured that justice be meted out to the Chilean dictator. In fact, the West, particularly the USA was responsible for ushering in the military regime in Chile, having plotted the assassination of the left-leaning President Salvadore Allende who was hugely popular with the masses. It was a killing masterminded by the notorious Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As the military regime replaced democracy in the country, Chile went through an era of brutal repression. Leftists and anti-government protesters were targeted for mass arrests, torture and murder. More than 3000 men and women simply disappeared. Pinochet dismissed the Chilean Parliament, banned political and trade union activities and declared himself the President. The USA backed him to the hilt.

The reign of terror lasted more than 10 years. Pinochet and the coterie of his generals amassed huge amounts of wealth, which were stashed in Swiss banks. But as people’s resentment grew, there were cracks in the armed forces itself over the manner the junta was running the government. In the 1988 plebiscite, the people voted resoundingly against Pinochet continuing in power. But the General had the last laugh. He continued to remain the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. And more important, passed laws which made him immune within the country from prosecution. Yet, there were no protests from the Western governments led by the USA.

The General, whose health began to deteriorate in the early 1990s, flew to Britain for treatment and found himself placed under house arrest as Spain sought his extradition. The Spanish government held him personally responsible for the “disappearance” of more than its 300 citizens who were living in Chile and were opposed to the junta rule. For friend or foe, Pinochet was an unwelcome guest. But the legal process had to be gone through. Britain, according to Home Secretary, Jack Straw, spent more than 1.4 million on legal costs and providing security to Pinochet.

But the dictator was not friendless in the UK. The right-wing Tories rose to his support and the leader of this group was former Prime Minister, Lady Thatcher who saw nothing wrong with the Chilean dictator and praised him in public as the nation’s “saviour”. The Tony Blair government, which along with the Clinton administration in the USA had taken over the role of the self-appointed custodians of human rights all over the world, found the presence of the General in Britain “embarrassing” but apparently not “objectionable”.

In fact, genuine human rights activists had observed that the Pinochet trial, when held, would be as important an international event, as the Nuremberg trial where top Nazi leaders were tried and condemned immediately after World war II. All over Europe, former Nazi leaders, in the 70 plus age groups were being arrested and tried. But Britain chose to make a great show of Pinochet’s ill health, a consideration which the brutal dictator did not show to his thousands of victims in his country.

The British who in the field of foreign affairs, were ridiculed as acting as the “poodle” of the USA took a soft line on Pinochet. Jack Straw and Tony Blair explained rather tamely that “Britain, had established, beyond question the principle that those who committed human rights abuses in one country cannot assume they were safe elsewhere”. This statement made no logic. If Britain had been genuinely concerned with human rights abuses, it would have allowed extradition proceedings to take place and shunted the dictator to stand trial in Spain.

The Pinochet verdict, or the lack of it, should be contrasted with the one adopted by the West towards some of the rulers in West Asia. For more than a decade now, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, was the major villain. Despite being adequately punished for the crime of invading Kuwait in 1990, the USA and the UK had taken the lead in imposing and maintaining economic sanctions against Iraq which had resulted in untold suffering to the millions of people. Iraqi children were dying because of malnutrition, there are no adequate supplies of medicines and food. The USA and the UK wanted to get rid of President Hussein, but his people thought otherwise. So, the two big bullies of the West continued to harass Iraq in every possible way, making false accusations of being in possession of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, and infiltrating the groups of UN observers with spies. But Augusto Pinochet, whose hands were stained with the blood of thousands of his countrymen, was allowed to leave without having to stand trial for his crime.

Reports were now coming in of plots having been hatched by the British intelligence agencies to assassinate Libyan ruler, General Gaddafi, another unpopular leader in the West. Both Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein were popular, independent rulers who would not bootlick the USA and the UK. Their home records may not be all that impressive, but any moves to oust them, should come from the people of their countries. Should the USA and UK play policemen across the world and decide who should rule which country?

Britain was clearly guilty of paying lip service to human rights violations all over the world. Its approach had always been selective. It meekly followed the example of its leader, the USA , where human rights violations were taking place every day. Only secondly, a New York jury failed to convict four white policemen who had pumped 41 bullets into a coloured citizen who was only reaching for his wallet. The trigger-happy cops mistook this action as reaching out for a gun! The blacks in the USA were victims of daily human rights violations yet, there is no response from the government.
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The new bubble can burst
by M.S.N. Menon

A NEW era is upon us — of wealth without work. And with it, Wall Street has triumphed. Speculators have triumphed. And finance capital has triumphed.

Economic activity is no more about work and production. It has become a “net” game. Its goal is not welfare, but multiplication of capital. Trillions and ever more trilliions. For what purpose? Only to multiply them anew. But it is largely paper money. It can disappear as fast as it came.

Is there any ethic behind this game of making money? None. It leaves many well-meaning citizens feeling rotten. And there is no ethic behind the constant scientific innovation, either.

Every technological advance draws capital like a magnet. It seems all the money in America is now flowing into information technology. People are making billions in days and weeks, what it took them years before. Students run their campus companies, and tiny tots, we are told, are Bill Gates in the making! This is the new bubble. It can burst. And it can hurt millions.

It is not that scientists do not see the dangers of the technological drive. Some do. Writing in the magazine “Wired”, Dr Bill Joy, a leading scientists and technologist of America, urges fellow scientists to think again about the perilous path they have chosen. He writes: “We are being propelled into this new century with no plan, no control, no brakes.” And “the last chance to assert control — the failsafe point — is rapidly approaching,” he warns.

Dr Joy was Co-Chairman of a US presidential commission on the future of information technology.

He draws attention to three areas of rapid change and danger:

1. Thinking robots. He believes that “thinking” computers, “which may emerge in three decades”, can be a million times more powerful than the present ones. What is more, these intelligent robots can spawn new ones.

2. The danger of genetic manipulation of life. While this has helped to produce pest-resistant crops, it has also set the stage for man-made plagues “that can literally wipe out the natural world.”

3. The creation of what are called “smart machines”.

These are miniatures.

The danger is: these technologies can replicate themselves. “It is no exaggeration,” writes Dr Joy, “to say that we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil — an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond weapons of mass destruction.”

Many are in agreement with his perception of things to come. And yet the world moves on regardless. There is no control on anything. It is as if there is no purpose in the universe. And yet Christianity had a grandiose synthesis in which the idea of an eternal destiny for the individual soul was combined with the idea of a divine purpose working in human history. This interpretation went further than any other towards satisfying the human craving for significance and purpose.

The collapse of this idea has made the West rootless. It is producing deep tensions within the western civilisation.

The cold war was fought to preserve the western value system. But it was wiped out by the rigours of the cold war. Even democracy became a casualty at the alter of expediency. In short, there was nothing “sacred” left.

One had hoped that the value system would be restored with the end of the cold war. But it was not, for the cold war was replaced by the concerns and values of the market.

If the cold war was fought for the minds of men, globalisation of the market is for possession of the body of the world.

Samuel Huntington says: “The West, in effect, is using international institutions, military power, and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain western predominance, protect western interests and promote western political and economic values.”

Globalisation is good for trade, but not for much else. It is dangerous to allow capital to flow free. We cannot allow blind cyclops to trudge around.

Globalisation has not found favour with any of the UN organisations. Neither with UNIDO nor with UNESCO. Juan Somavia, Director-General, ILO, calls the global economy a “casino economy.” He finds the situation frankly worrying and even dangerous politically. What distresses responsible people and organisations is the alarming chasm between the rich and poor. Information technology is for the rich, and the rich alone.

The Anglo-Saxon formula for global competitiveness has run counter to Europe’s notion of a fair and prosperous society and the Third World’s notion of development strategy.

The capital system is a mockery of what its exponents have believed. George Soros, the world’s most famous speculator, says: “The capitalist world ... is coming apart at the seams. The current decline in the US stock market (of traditional stocks) is only a symptom of the more profound problems that are afflicting the world economy.

The boom in infotech stocks has no precedent. People are ready to keep on bidding up the value of these stocks, although other stocks, even of giant companies, are in the grip of bear markets. Alan Greenspan of the US Federal Reserve calls it “irrational exuberance”. Others call it “globalisation of insanity.” But it is first of all American insanity.

It is not that the USA has gone totally insane. There are sane people. For example, Soot Adams, the anti-management guru. He is so popular that his writings and cartoons are reproduced in 1500 newspapers around the world. He claims that he represents the 90 per cent, who hate management theories. He grew up at a time when Pat Buchanan, the presidential hopeful, was lashing at the growing greed of corporate America. No wonder, Adam’s dog, Dogbert, is the management consultant in the cartoon series.

Five years back, Indian software was coming up fast. But this had no significant effect on the stocks. Now whatever happens on the Nasdaq in the USA is reflected in India. This is universalisation of insanity. But those who take advantage of it may see it in a different light — as equalisation of opportunities.

Perhaps investors expect every company to end up a Microsoft. This is not going to happen. Bill Gates do not grow on tree tops. Perhaps one or two may reach such heights.

In China, a cellular company, which provides service to three-four states, had a market capitalisation of $ 50 billion — that is 8 per cent of China’s GDP. This is pure absurdity.

Unfortunately, as usual, no sane voice can be heard in this din. Perhaps everyone thinks that others are fools. But the crash will come and then millions will be ruined. Not so much because of real change in values, but because of stampede and panic. Even the “mighty” run for their lives.

I remember a cartoon by the great David Low on Churchill, the World War II hero, in which he was shown running for his life chased by a street cur in London’s Hyde Park! Such is reality. Everything else is hype.

Investing in the Indian market is even more dangerous. The danger in India is that there will be no exit. So, be careful !
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75 years ago

March 24, 1925
The Government and the Liberals

THE rapidity with which the process of disillusionment of the Liberals in India has been proceeding makes one hopeful that before long there will again be one party and only one in India apart from the Government, the party of the Motherland.

How strongly Mr Sastri has condemned the majority report of the Muddiman Committee our readers are already aware.

“If time must be lost,” he has said, “a less costly and irritating farce could have been devised.” Even more significant are the outspoken words of Sir Dinshaw Wacha in connection with the Government’s refusal to abolish the Cotton Excise Duty.

“You want our cooperation,” he said in effect from his place in the Council of State, “when it suits your purpose. Otherwise you treat our views with undisguised contempt”. This from such a man as Sir D. Wacha, who has now for some time become almost a habitual supporter of the Government, ought to give the Government an occasion to think.


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