|Tuesday, March 28, 2000,
by Kanwal Singh Bindusar
TODAY, the attention of governments throughout the world is focused on maximum use of information technology in delivering public services and improving the efficiency in the government. Even before the advent of the information based society, citizens around the world had begun to expect services from the government at par with the private sector.
post for postman
Clinton visit benefited ruling combine?
March 28, 1925
HOME MINISTER Lal Krishna Advani did well to visit Chatti Singhpora village in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. The massacre of 35 members of the Sikh community by Pakistani armed personnel, including mercenaries, there was a despicable and horrifying outrage. Militants, saboteurs and paramilitary men working under the diktat of the ISI have just one mission in the post-Kargil period: to keep the Kashmir cauldron boiling. For this, terrorist activity must be intensified. As Mr Advani has rightly said, there is a sense of desperation among the aides of General Pervez Musharraf. US President Bill Clinton has spoken emphatically against terrorism and warned Pakistan in vivid words: "Cross-border terrorism must stop." Before and during the Clinton visit, militancy was indulged in by Pakistani subversionists to make "the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue more glaring". India has not been afraid of unbiased world opinion on the Kashmir problem. It should be remembered that India, not Pakistan, had gone to the United Nations to show the path of peace and geo-political fairness to Pakistan. There is no question of this country getting worried about Pakistan's sacrilegious or clandestine acts. The latest link in the long chain of Pakistani activities is the Doodipura incident. Militants entered a village mosque, 5 km away from the Handwara township, on Saturday. They engaged Indian securitymen in a fierce gun battle. One of the main concerns of Indian security personnel was and is the protection of Muslim shrines and other places of worship in the northern state. Pakistani hirelings have created sacrilegious situations several times at Hazratbal, Chrar-e-Sharif and other places.
India remains committed
to protecting the sanctity of holy spots of all
religions. Those who hid themselves in the mosque and
fired at Indian securitymen were cowards and cowardice is
an abominable vice according to the holy Qoran. Precious
soldierly lives have been lost and much damage has been
caused to the mosque by Pakistani hotheads. Mr Advani has
categorically stated that militancy shall be crushed with
an iron hand. Having failed in its attempts at provoking
Kashmiris into an uprising against the present elected
state government, it has done a Chrar-e-Sharif at
Doodipura. Pakistan, it should be noted, has lost its
anti-India diplomatic battle. Even the USA and the UK
have condemned cross-border terrorism. Chatti Singhpor
reminds us of Pakistan's designs which, unfortunately,
succeeded in the case of a large number of Pandits. Sikhs
are living in their villages and towns as law-abiding
citizens in their own right. General Musharraf's men have
done enough mischief near Handwara, Pattan, Nowgaon,
Baramula, Kupwara, Laam, Sunderbani and Poonch. It will
meet its nemesis soon: this is the message of Mr
Clinton's speech at Islamabad and of the visit of Mr
Advani to the traumatised village. He has wisely decided
not to support the negative demand for a change in the
nature of the democratic government.
CHIEF Justice of India Adarsha Sen Anand did some welcome plain-speaking on the issue of judicial reforms during his visit to Amravati on Saturday. He raised a number of inconvenient questions on the subject while addressing the inaugural session of the "State Lawyers Conference 2000", organised by the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa and the Amravati Bar Association. However, it is doubtful whether his plain-speaking would make the legislature and the executive go beyond paying the usual lip service to the need for improving the image of the judiciary. It is indeed true that aggrieved parties usually prefer to suffer injustice rather than knock the door of the judiciary for the redressal of their grievance. A common joke among lawyers is that if a newly married man were to file a complaint in court, the case was likely to be decided when his grandson comes of age. Mr Justice Anand did not hide his feeling of hurt over the unfair criticism of the judiciary for reasons over which it has no control. He said that "it is high time that we strengthen this institution which is crucial to sustaining the rule of law". He demanded that the judiciary should be granted financial and administrative autonomy for it to be able to discharge its obligations to the common man. The judiciary gets blamed for the indifference of the executive and the legislature to its financial and administrative requirements. The mounting backlog of cases has indeed made the average litigant lose faith in the commitment of the judiciary to providing speedy justice. The CJI pointed out that a major reason for the delay in deciding cases was the shortage of adequate number of judicial officers for coping with the ever-increasing volume of work.
Mr Justice Anand said
that "one of the principal causes [for the mounting
backlog of cases] which was pointed out at least 10 years
back by the Mallimath Committee is the delay in
appointment of judges". He should know because he
was a member of the committee which had studied the
situation in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Jammu and
Kashmir and come to the conclusion that had the judicial
appointments not been delayed there would have been no
backlog of cases in the three states. "Today, the
total strength of judges in high courts is 608 and I have
150 vacancies which have continued to exist for quite
some time." Is it fair to blame the high courts for
the delay in deciding cases when at any given time 25 per
cent of the sanctioned posts of judges remain vacant? The
situation in the subordinate judiciary is no better. The
sanctioned strength is 12,300 judicial officers for a
population of one billion.Requests to the states
concerned for the filling of at least 1,000 vacancies
have been ignored. Request for the creation of an
additional 5,000 posts in the subordinate judiciary too
is gathering dust on the shelves of the secretariats in
most states. Against this backdrop the CJI's suggestion
for granting financial and administrative autonomy to the
judiciary for creating more courts and filling judicial
vacancies would appear to be grounded in sound reason.
INFLATIONARY forces seem to be re-emerging in Indian economy after more than a year. Like in bad old times, it has become necessary to have a frequent look at those inscrutable graphs carrying such legends as WPI (wholesale price index) and CPI (consumer price index). The days when everyone who is anyone was crowing over India settling down at the global level of inflation of about 2 per cent or slightly more are certainly over. During the week ending March 11 prices have jumped by 3.5 per cent, the highest in 40 weeks. A hefty increase in crude prices, by 25 per cent, is the most obvious reason. But what is worrisome is that the various budget decisions like increasing the prices of fair price shop grains and urea are yet to reflect in the WPI. Similarly, the sharp hike in the cost of LPG cylinder and kerosene will have its impact in the coming weeks. Also, so far open market prices of wheat and rice have not reacted to the increased issue price of grains for the above the poverty line consumers. Nor are they likely to go up for two reasons. Both the FCI and private godowns are bulging with grains and further, optimistic reports place the size of this years harvest at about 220 million tonnes. The abundant availability will keep the prices low. But the danger will come from elsewhere. If the cumulative impact of the cut in the subsidy of half a dozen consumer items were to affect the WPI and later the CPI all at once, there will be temporary but pronounced turmoil. That may, just may, revive the spectre of rising prices being inherent to the unorganised marketing system in the country. The onion crisis of November, 1998, was an extreme case and it can hit any item with some force.
A steadily declining
price is not a healthy economic sign. Invariably this is
because of shrinking demand which, in turn, indicates
sluggishness or even a mild recession. A perceptive
analyst has examined the price variations and has found
that the price index for manufactured goods is coming
down faster than the general index. For instance, WPI for
all commodities has declined by 26 per cent over the past
five months. But that of manufactured products fell by 33
per cent. Lack of demand will immediately affect full
utilisation of installed capacity, leading to lower
production and profitability. This will be a soft blow
not so much in economic recovery terms but in terms of
psychology. This has not happened yet since the
post-budget feel good factor is still operating. That is
reflected in the industrial growth of above 11 per cent,
a figure unchanged for some months now. With convergence
or information technology economy dominating
everyones mind and energy, traditional economic
activity like manufacturing is not getting the degree of
attention it deserves. IT is glamorous and promises
affluence to some but it is the manufacturing sector
which can create genuine wealth, offer employment and
develop industrial culture.
IT is reported that the BJP-led government has now set up a committee to review our Constitution in the light of the experience of the past 50 years and to make suitable recommendations. This is in conformity with the ruling alliances National Agenda for Governance and is indeed one of the urgent requirements for the welfare of the nation.
The last about five decades of our experience with the Constitution has clearly highlighted that constitutional changes are necessary to effect (i) electoral reforms; (ii) judicial reforms and (iii) demographic reforms. Because, the Constitution in its present form has proved inadequate in preventing, for example, (i) criminals from entering Parliament and state assemblies; (ii) misuse of judicial process by the rich and influential people or even by the government for delaying the process of justice and (iii) rapid population growth which is the root cause of most of our problems today. In this article we restrict ourselves to only the first of the above said reforms required in our Constitution.
One of the most distressing and conspicuous messages conveyed by the last few parliamentary and assembly elections is that both the political parties as well as the Election Commission are totally helpless and ineffective in preventing candidates with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections and from getting elected to legislatures. The Election Commission, for instance, had repeatedly asserted before the 1996 Lok Sabha election that it had introduced such checks and measures in the process of filling nominations as would make impossible for a criminal to contest. But we all know what really happened. The objective is to prevent persons with criminal background from contesting elections. But the Election Commission was merely talking about the convicted persons who are, in any case, debarred from contesting elections. Stopping convicted criminals from contesting has never been a major problem.
The case of a person with criminal background is different from that of a convicted criminal, because a person is innocent unless proved otherwise by law. And we all know how difficult and lengthy is the process of justice in India and extra long for an accused capable of manipulating the legal process. Thus it should be amply clear that within the existing laws and the legal processes it is not possible for the Election Commission to prevent people with criminal records from contesting elections.
The best option for preventing persons with criminal records from contesting elections lies with the political parties. They should not give tickets to such persons as are being investigated or tried for criminal offences. Unfortunately political parties have their own compulsions and have been unable to follow the desirable norm of not putting up any candidate having a criminal record or reputation.
But even if political parties follow this desirable norm, nothing prevents persons with criminal records from contesting elections as independent candidates. And if such candidates get elected, it could lead to serious problems specially in case of a hung Parliament or a hung assembly. We all realise now that how critical could become the role of even a handful of independent MPs in government formation and its stability. It is possible that government formation may dependent on the support of just few independent MPs. If they are unscrupulous persons with criminal leanings, they can cause immense harm to the nation and its governance, security and stability.
It is often pointed out by political parties, as defence, that why at all in the first place do the voters elect someone with a criminal background. Not only this, persons with criminal antecedents after getting elected proclaim that since their innocence has been proved by the highest peoples court of the land, the criminal charges against them are false and concocted.
Often tainted persons get elected because of the flaw in the electoral laws. For example what are the options before a voter if none of the contesting candidates has a clean background? In such situations a voter is left with only three choices: vote for the preferred party despite the candidates criminal background; vote for someone better but from some other party; an independent candidate even if not liked by the voter for ideological reasons; or abstain from voting. All these three options go against the basic tenets of democracy and the result could be undesirable, as is happening now.
Under the prevailing circumstances when both the Election Commission and the political parties are helpless in this matter a possible method for checking the entry of undesirable elements to legislative forums could be to empower the voters. They should themselves weed out unwanted candidates. This objective can be achieved by giving voters the option to reject candidates. The ballot paper should have a none suitable column also. In case of none suitable getting the majority of votes, there should be re-election in which all the candidates who had contested the previous election would stand debarred from contesting. To make the system more effective candidates who lose to none-suitable should be debarred from contesting elections for say the next five years or so. This point could be debated further.
The option of none-suitable will not only provide more power to voters which is always desirable in democracy but will also pull out the Indian voters from the morass of frustration and predicament of whom to vote? All are alike. Also, the voters cannot then complain after the election about their helplessness in preventing an undesirable person from winning.
This electoral reform if made will also relieve the political parties from their political compulsions of fielding a candidate with criminal records to counter effectively the criminality of any other candidate in the fray. If the voters learn to use this proposed option of none-suitable judiciously, they can force the political parties to give tickets to only really desirable and deserving candidates.
Needless to say that to give this option of none-suitable to the voters necessary constitutional amendments and electoral reforms will be required. Simply by appealing to the voters, as many senior political leaders often do, to prevent the criminal elements from getting elected to the Parliament and assemblies will not help as the voters have indeed become helpless for reasons already discussed.
TODAY, the attention of governments throughout the world is focused on maximum use of information technology in delivering public services and improving the efficiency in the government. Even before the advent of the information based society, citizens around the world had begun to expect services from the government at par with the private sector. The epicentre rests with an irreversible, changing economic landscape where goods and services are delivered to market through networks that largely ignore political and geographical borders.
The Internet, powerful microprocessors, high capacity digital servers, low-cost high storage memory, high speed retrievals and broadband networks have become inevitable to re-engineer the government. Governments worldwide are responding to revenue, cost and service pressures by re-engineering healthcare, education, taxation, transport, human services, environment protection and administration.
In India also, Mr Chandrababu Naidu has paved the way for other Indian states to use information technology in improving the delivery of public services and make the government SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent). Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have taken the lead in using the information technology in a big way. If Mr Naidu uses the laptop, then Mr S.M. Krishna of Karnataka uses his palmtop for keeping the entire states information just a mouse click away.
But in this bandwagon, the governments have to face a number of challenges. Intense international competition, ever increasing demands for improved customer services, consumer resistance to price increase, reduced spending and above all the bureaucratic hindrances are some of the challenges which are forcing the governments to restructure. The growing population pressure and the need to increase revenue for fulfilling the basic mission to deliver healthcare, education, food, transportation, law and order, justice, employment etc have further forced governments to restructure and re-engineer bureaucracy for meeting the needs at the people. The elaborate network of rules, regulations, processes, procedures and controls for preventing abuse and safeguarding the interest of common people have become obstacles in efficient delivery of public services. The governments thus have three major challenges viz., i) fighting bureaucratic, red tape ii) one stop delivery of public services (7 days, 24 hours) and iii) adoption of an economic model for stimulating growth and meeting present and future needs.
Governments have to re-engineer themselves by becoming more responsive and citizen-friendly. This can be done by curtailing the rules, regulations, procedures, processes and controls by simplifying them through suitable administrative reforms and by establishing a Government Resource Network (GRN). The single desk clearance for providing the public services should be facilitated using this GRN, which would be able to access the information from anywhere, anytime in the state. The architecture of this GRN is very important as it has dual purpose to support, i.e., it has to provide efficient and effective public services anywhere, anytime and also keep the government informed for framing public policies. The network architecture can be a mix of the V-SAT/Optic Fibre/Copper Based networks or any other reliable media based on FDDI/ATM technologies for offering wide range of services like kiosks, video conferencing, on-line remote access and transmission of voice, data and video.
Further, a government EIS (Executive Information System), capable of meeting the information need of the policy framers, implementers and decision-makers should be dovetailed in this GRN. States like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have sufficiently added dosage of Geographical Information System (GIS) in this EIS for better pictorial view of various regions and for facilitating regional planning. Instruments like information kiosk, Internet Community Centres (ICC), Public Information Facilitation Centres (PIFC), Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, electronic filing, telecommuting etc have helped governments in providing efficient delivery of public services and improving the efficiency within the government.
On the economic front, the world is witnessing a shift from the Industrial Age to the Information age. The economic model of industrial age has been based on availability of natural resources, raw materials, the manufacture of goods, physical labour and physical distribution of finished products by land, sea and air across geographical borders. The HR and marketing strategies and the taxation, labour laws, import/export trade policy and laws have accordingly been framed suitably. However, the Information Age has almost introduced a new economic model. With the commoditisation of virtually every industry, information has become the key differentiator among products and services. The information in itself has become a product. The finished good is the digital information that is distributed across networks that largely ignore geographical borders. The electronic Commerce or E-Commerce is the buzzword of the Information Age. The Electronic Commerce infrastructure has already resulted in an 800 per cent increase in per capita income in Singapore in the past 20 years.The worldwide web and electronic commerce therefore opens up tremendous opportunities for the government and the only need is to carve out a strategy and pursue it in the right earnest. The competitive assets in this race would be a versatile information infrastructure and skilled workforce needed to exploit the capabilities of the infrastructure. Such an environment will facilitate domestic trade and will also enable prompt presence in international markets. It could become the single largest source of GDP increase.
therefore, still have to go miles for finalising the
plans and strategies for surviving in the future, meet
the public expectations and cope with the ever-increasing
DEAR postman, since its been ages I heard your friendly knock not even on Divali for the traditional baksheesh its getting me worried. The street dogs bark no more, the mailbox is turning into a nest for sparrows and no one is there to spread the neighbourhood gossip. And whats more worrying; children are struck up with their annual school essay on you because the hero of come rain or shine doing his duty unflinchingly is not to be seen even on a clear day.
As all my queries to trace you, as a long-missed friend led me nowhere, I thought I would try the internet; before heading for Madame Tussauds Museum to locate your wax statue as an exinct species. In fact, I can understand your sulk quite well, for we have all abandoned you for the fancy new infotech gizmos.
But none of these can ever compare with the warm personal encounter with you. Take e-mail for instance. It comes as an impersonal, telegraphic message typed out hastily, sent from one crazy-sounding address to another. What happened to the spontaneous, handwritten squiggles, calligraphed, straight from the heart with an ink pen? And then sealed lovingly in an envelope chosen appropriately for the receiver. Who can ever forget ones first love letter-perhaps sealed with a kiss, and tell-tale lipstick marks on a lavender-smelling envelop! How can anyone ever romance on a computer screen or a printer? Or, perhaps love is blind.
Even a fax message when it arrives, is merely a short-lived printout on a flimsy paper; before fading away quickly into oblivion. No one collects them, to be tied up in a pink ribbon and hidden away in a secret box as special memorabilia.
With the modern communication gadgets you have to remember long, impersonal weird sounding addresses, and fatten up your address book with fax numbers, phone numbers, mobile numbers and website addresses.
How wonderful in contrast were the residential addresses of small towns; especially hill stations, where one just had write to the name of the recipient of the mail, name of the cottage and the town. And most hill homes are aesthetically named after flowers, trees or birds of the place.
The whole process of writing a letter to a loved one, closing it off with ones signature and then posting it in the quaint red-coloured letterbox has a charm of its own. On the other end; the recipient of the letter has a small packet of mystery and serendipity in his hands; which he opens with both hope and excitement. And there are no passwords and log-in user codes required to be remembered, to open your mail or protect its privacy.
Clinton visit benefited ruling combine?
THE visit of US President Bill Clinton has the distinction of being the most polemical politically. Some other head of states had in the past faced fiercer protests from interest groups. But no other state visitor has become subject of so much partisan politics at home. Beginning with the ruling BJP, every political party tried to use it to its own advantage. The Congress alone had tried to look more reasonable. But that has been more due to its own old baggage and prevailing political confusion.
The deafening media hype and repetitive expert analysis had only tended to heighten the political chess game. All this has brought into sharp focus the increasing lack of domestic consensus of foreign policy. Even if one dismisses the Left protests as over-reaction, President K.R. Narayanans subtle remarks at the Rashtrapati Bhavan reception in honour of the visitor highlighted the widening foreign policy schism. The subsequent embarrassment informally expressed by the government sources only further bared the polarity of foreign policy perceptions between Rashtrapati Bhavan and South Bloc at times even between the different wings of the latter.
Perhaps this is unavoidable in a era of secret diplomacy and the consequent crisis on confidence. Both are interlinked. No one, even senior Cabinet colleagues, still know what is the nature of the continuing secret negotiations that have been in progress for about a year between Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh and US officials. Secrecy always breeds suspicion and leads to speculation justified or unjustified. When India announced freeing of the quantitative restrictions unrestricted imports in common mans parlance on well over a thousand US items at a stroke even before the WTO deadline, it was presumed to be part of such a secret deal.
Even the RSS, the political holding company of the main ruling party, was not convinced at the laboured explanations to prove it otherwise. There has been frequent speculation at times inspired and with a view to test the ground about even signing the CTBT. At times, such disclosure had emanated from the USA with angry reactions in India necessitating official contradictions. Incoherence and propensity for extreme postures further confound this crisis of confidence. First it was the megalomaniac days of ultra-patriotism following Pokhran II. It was apparently a political move aimed at wresting a massive mandate on the pattern of what Indira Gandhi did a quarter of a century before. Subsequent remarks by senior ministers added to the confusion flowing from the politicisation of foreign policy and security.
Western sanctions forced us to take to the other extreme of all-out surrender and appeasement. Even the dealings with Pakistan had to tell similar stories of policy zig-zags from the threat of changing geopolitics to Lahore bus-yatra hype to the Kargil shock. Under such situations even a modicum of consensus becomes unthinkable. Thus it is natural if every political party tried to play politics with the Clinton visit to score points over the others. Apparently, the ruling BJP has the biggest stake in this game of one-upmanship.
From 1996, the BJP has been doing lots of fine-tuning to get rid of its Gandhinagar economic policy which had been heavily tilted towards swadeshi. By then the party had come to the grim realisation that no government in this unipolar world could survive without US patronage and fully accommodating MNCs. The Jaswant Singh doctrine of parking India with the USA is based on this pragmatic proposition. The only problem in this regard has been how to do so without hurting the national sensibilities. Under this doctrine, the post-cold war US strategic shifts could benefit India if it is able to attune itself to US interests in the region.
The USA, it is pointed out, no longer needs Pakistan as it did during the cold war days. Therefore, a special relationship with the USA would enable India win the formers support in its perpetual confrontation with Pakistan. In this race for the US support vis Pakistan, India had even tried to barter its economic and trade interests for political patronage. This has been the only explanation for the recent economic concessions to the USA even beyond the WTO ambit. The whole strategy hinges on assigning a crucial role for the USA in the region. Thus a bland US condemnation of cross-border terrorism is viewed as a great diplomatic achievement. Politically, the ruling party will be in a better position if it could thus be seen as weakening Pakistan.
The ruling party also hoped to use the Clinton visit to endear itself to the large middle class by show-casing the hi-tech economic growth and raising hopes of US-like prosperity at home. Then there are large migration hopefuls and job-seekers in that dreamland. Someone has put the number of NRIs and their relatives in the USA at about 10 crores. Then we have the ambitious dotcom generation, junk-food faddists and foreign fashion addicts. Dont under-estimate the influence of this growing constituency. Though over-reporting may have bored them, these sections apparently see aristocracy, power and plenty in the itineraries of the US entourage as our earlier generation had watched with reverence the princely coronations and processions. By being seen as part of this perceived glamour will provide the BJP a new niche among this generation.
The Left may or may not have over-reacted to what their leaders believed the governments collusion to further the imperialist threat. But they have their own views on the economic model to be followed by developing countries. They have also been strongly critical of what they see the emergence of pax Americana and the consequences of the Clinton visit on what is left of the non-alignment. Such protests might have gone unnoticed but for the mindless overdoing by an administration to forcefully pave the way for honoured visitor. Massive removal of slums and shops, blocking entire stretches of public roads for hours together, stopping or diverting trains all this caused innumerable hardship to the people of areas where the entourage passed through.
It has been an extremely unusual security with a huge contingent of US security personnel taking over an entire stretch. All such ill-advised excesses looked like a subedars response to the visit of an emperor to his fiefdom. Such display of servitude, intended or unintended, gave more grit to the protesters. In the process, Clinton himself could not see people anywhere on the way but empty roads and ubiquitous cops. This has been in sharp contrast to the old spectacle of sponsored crowds with school kids herded to wave tiny flags to the honoured guest. Even Jacquelene Kennedy had enjoyed such excessive of hospitality way back in 60s.
Rightly or wrongly, Left observers feel elated at the fact that they had found one issue on which they could assert their separate identity and demonstrate total unity. Apart from this, Left politics has revealed an interesting twist. The non-Communist segments have displayed greater enthusiasm for anti-US protests. Possibly, by wresting an initiative, they want to display their objections to the CPI-CPI(M) move for closer cooperation with the Congress by compromising on certain issues.
Even regional leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav found themselves in a dilemma on whether they should join the Clinton welcome or side with Left protesters. Despite his rustic constituency, his realpolitik told him not to be seen as anti-growth and thus alienate the software brigade. Finally he resolved the dilemma by insisting on the Prime Minister using Hindi in his Parliament address. This, in turn, sparked another controversy with NDA allies. Karunanidhi and Vaiko publicly objected to Vajpayees surrender to Hindi chauvinists. In Bihar politics, Laloo Yadav encountered a different kind of problem: his electoral ally, CPI(M), and ministerial ally, Congress, have taken up different positions.
As the main opposition, the Congress has performed a balancing act by neither openly siding with the BJP or taking a critical view of the USA. The Congress delegation that met Clinton consisted of mainly pro-liberalisation lobby within the party. The party, however, conveyed its known position on issues like the CTBT and terrorism. A contender for power, the Congress has all compulsions not to be seen as being too much critical of the USA. It, however, left such comments to junior leaders like Rajesh Pilot.
So far, the RSS alone has kept a fearful silence. Its words, expected in the next few days, may not have any immediate consequence. But the ruling group will have to take note of its views. While Indian politicians played their own game for their partisan ends, the US side seems to have achieved all its cardinal diplomatic and strategic goals in the subcontinent with ease. The chief US objective, as enunciated in its strategic documents, has been the furthering of its trade, commerce, investment and business interests in the region. Indian readiness to concede economic benefits in exchange for strategic support with regard to its neighbour has to be viewed in this light.
The second US objective
has been the retention of its supreme role in dispute
resolution anywhere in the world. Clinton has subtly
emphasised this point over and again. Resolution of
conflicts without any role for the US would not get any
global sanctity. Third, the USA should have the ultimate
role as an enforcer of peace in the rogue
states with or without UN sanctions. Whether it is Iraq
or Yugoslavia, it could do so with or without the
participation of the allies. Fourth, for this, the USA
should maintain its superiority in both conventional and
nuclear arms. This has been the meaning of its insistence
on signing the CTBT and nuclear proliferation without
disarmament. No one can ignore these aspects of the
WE confess to some anxiety as to the result of the discussion of the Reforms Reports which is to take place in the Punjab Council tomorrow. Even if the Punjab Government will follow the example of the Bombay Government and will not take any part in the debate, it is by no means easy to predict the line which the majority of the Council will take in this vital matter.
We can only hope that the history of so many recent debates on less vital subjects will not repeat itself in this case.
One thing we can
confidently say. Whether he will take any actual part in
the debate or not, the majority of the Muslims and rural
members will take their cue from Sir Fazl-i-Hussian. Be
the result of the discussion what it may, it is bound, in
a very large measure, to reflect his own personal views
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