|Friday, May 19, 2000,
|Perils of globalisation for
by P. K. Ravindranath
STRANGE as it may sound, the harshest and most pertinent criticism of the governments headlong rush into globalisation and privatisation has come not from diehard socialists or Marxists but from the ranks of the BJP and the RSS. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to the BJP, has termed the Vajpayee government as proxy government of Uncle Sam and the multinationals. Mr Keshubhai Thakkar, President of the BMS, accused the government of taking anti-labour decisions.
of buying melons
links India, South Africa
May 19, 1925
POLITICAL logic and the BJPs track record suggest that the governments attempt to introduce three Bills to establish Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chhattisgarh was a feint and the failure was written in the original script. The BJP now has a few weeks to reassess the situation in UP and Bihar and plot its next course to contain damage. For the new states of Uttaranchal and Jharkhand will considerably erode its capacity to win enough seats to form a government on its own in any of the two mother states. And in the truncated Bihar it will be a minor force, abjectly depending on the mercurial Samata or the quarrelling Janata Dal (U) for the minimum supply of electoral oxygen. After the birth of Uttaranchal the party will lose a small but firm support base in UP. This will be fatal at a time when it is on the decline in the state. It raised the strident call for carving out Jharkhand to swamp other parties in the region and it did succeed by winning 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in November last year and 32 out of the 81 Assembly seats in March. In the state as a whole it captured 67 seats, thanks to an alliance with the two factions which broke away from the original Janata Dal. After the formation of Jharkhand, it will have 35 seats in a shrunken 243-member Assembly. Even this puny number is notional. For the new Bihar will take a hard and direct financial hit if the revenue-rich southern region goes away and it is not going to endear the party to the voters in central and north Bihar. As this realisation sinks in, the BJPs present allies would melt away. No wonder the party wants to put off the evil day, hoping for some miracle. It did have a mirage, if not a miracle, when the Bihar Assembly inserted as many as 76 amendments to the reorganisation Bill. The party did clutch at this to postpone the introduction but party MPs felt betrayed and forced a change of decision.
UP poses exactly the
same problem. Uttaranchal is a BJP backyard gifting it
seats as though it does not know any other party. In the
November parliamentary elections three of the four seats
went to the BJP and in last Assembly poll 17 of the 19
seats. If Uttaranchal comes out, the BJPs strength
will shrink from 185 to 166 in a House of 425. That is
what in football jargon is called relegation zone. There
is a more immediate threat. Mr Naresh Agarwals
20-member Loktantrik Congress will walk out of the
coalition the moment the Bill is introduced. It is
opposed to the inclusion of Hardwar district in the hill
state and has ruled out any compromise. The partys
backing is crucial for the survival of the Ram Prakash
Gupta government, rocked as it is by inner-party
squabbles. All this is unfolding when the party is fast
losing mass appeal. The BJP-led governments real
intentions were clear by its body language,
so to speak. It refused to clear the doubts over Home
Minister Advani moving the three Bills. Then at 3.30 pm,
minutes before the introduction, it circulated among some
members a supplementary list of business and a copy of
the legislation. Having thus irritated friends and foes
alike by its cat-and-mouse tactics, it set off the final
charge by selecting the Uttaranchal issue as the first.
The normally pugnacious Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan
Samaj Party jumped into the well of the House and
successfully from the viewpoint of the BJP, that
is blocked the move. True, a Bill can be moved if
it is only a formality, without the usual conditions. But
in this case the hush-hush air and the supercilious
attitude of two Ministers provoked the opposition. The
states reorganisation Bill joins its illustrious
sister, the one on women reservation, as the
one which is conceived every session but never delivered.
EVEN an incurable optimist may have thought twice before backing Pakistan's Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf on the issue of humanising the blasphemy laws. The founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, had promised a secular state. He did not live long enough to see his promise being fulfilled. There is a school of thought which believes that even if he had tried to introduce secularism, the fundamentalists would not have allowed him to succeed. The Muslim League got more out of him than the other way around. He was given the high-sounding title of Quaid-e-Azam but allowed little say in the shaping of the basic character of the new nation. India opted for secularism. Pakistan embraced a policy of religious intolerance. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the only leader after Jinnah who could have broken the back of the fundamentalists. But he fell in love with his own image and sacrificed the interests of Pakistan. He promised much but delivered little. Therefore, when General Musharraf issued an order on April 21 promising to check the abuse of the blasphemy laws the average Pakistani said a silent prayer for his welfare. But they had not taken into account the fact the the mullahs were not going to allow anyone to encroach into their usurped territory. Aurangzeb used the clergy for serving his personal and political interests. His successors found it difficult to deny the mullahs a role in matters of state. The same story is being repeated in Pakistan. The monster of religious intolerance has made General Musharraf, who does not miss an opportunity to talk tough to India, wince with fear.
The order made public at
a human rights convention last month authorised only
officers of the rank of deputy commissioner or above to
make a preliminary investigation into blasphemy
complaints. How could the ubiquitous darogha be denied in
Islamic Pakistan the right to harass non-Muslims on
trumped up charges of committing blasphemy? The mullahs,
represented by the Milli Yakjehti Council and
Tahaffuz-e-Namroos-e-Risalat Mahaz the name itself
would make a non-believer with a weak heart quake with
fear served notice of starting the equivalent of a
"jihad" on Friday against the dilution in the
draconian provisions of the blasphemy laws. But the
General knows that in a country which has begun to look
like a carbon copy of the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan,
unconditional retreat is another name for valour. He has
withdrawn the order before the mullahs could come out on
the streets. To answer the criticism of Pakistan's
Talibanisation by the US and other powerful global
players is evidently not in the Chief Executive's list of
priorities. According to the latest State Department
report captioned "Patterns of Global
Terrorism", "the United States has urged
Islamabad to close down certain madarsas ... that
actually serve as conduits of terrorism".
Ill-treating members of other religious denominations
under the inhuman provisions of the blasphemy laws is a
byproduct of the religious instructions imparted to
Taliban clones in the madarsas in Pakistan. A secular
Pakistan, on the Turkish model, would have no
justification for keeping up the decibel level of the
anti-India rhetoric. To say that the abuse of the
minorities, mostly Christians, in Pakistan is an
"internal affair" is to ignore its negative
impact on "impressionable" minds in India. The
mullahs may have succeeded in defeating the General, but
they should not be allowed to get away with human rights
violations under the garb of protecting the faith.
EDUCATION plays a major role in the social change and economic transformation in modern societies. In the literature on economics of growth and development, expenditure on education is treated as a measure of human capital formation. Educational institutions are expected to impart training to young generations to prepare them for the various types of roles they are supposed to play in future. Education trains individuals to become competent professionals (doctors, engineers, lawyers, managers), administrators (civil, police, military, judiciary), scientists, thinkers, teachers and, above all, skilled and semi-skilled workers to manage and run the machine of modern societies. Apart from the productive and leadership roles, education has a great civilising role to play in society. It produces informed, conscientious and sensitive citizens through the dissemination of knowledge. It makes citizens capable of converting information into knowledge.
Education has been considered as the most productive resource of society. It brings gains to individuals through skill acquisitions which are reflected in higher wages and salaries. The gains of education go beyond the individuals skill/knowledge acquisitions. They are called social gains, very important and merit attention of the informed citizens and policy makers. Several studies have brought out that such social gains (in the form of a social rate of return) are significant for our society. This is the reason why education has been listed as a merit good, deserving a high rate of subsidy by the governments. Even higher education has been reported to have a very high rate of social return. The various studies conducted in India during 1960-61 and 1980-81 bring out that the social rate of return on higher education ranged between 8.6 per cent and 22 per cent. The findings of these studies qualify even higher education to be a merit good. Without giving any valid reason and ignoring the findings of the researches, a report of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy submitted to the Union Ministry of Finance (1997) listed higher education as a non-merit good. This is based on the fallacy that the higher education has only a private rate of return and little social rate of return. The report also reflects dichotomy between elementary and higher education. In fact, higher education cannot be sound without laying proper foundations of elementary education. Elementary education, to be on a sound footing, needs critical support of higher education in the form of supply of good and qualified teachers and quality reading material. There is an organic link between elementary and higher education and one cannot survive and sustain without the other.
Realising the significance of education, the governments all over the world put education at the centrestage of the modernisation agenda. Even in the age of globalised capitalism with a distinct emphasis on privatisation, education remains the primary responsibility of the governments. The major source of financing education continues to be public (government) funding. Advanced capitalist countries, being emulated as models and allegedly inspiring the withdrawal of public funding, continue to fund their education primarily through public (government) sources. A UNESCO report (1995) brings out that the share of public funding stood at 90.1 per cent in Canada, 89.7 per cent in France, 78.6 per cent in the USA, 98 per cent in the Netherlands, 73.9 per cent in Japan and 72.9 per cent in Germany. Incidentally, this share stood at 89 per cent in the case of India. The countries which have their per capita (dollar) income 60 to 90 times more than that of India with the complete absence of absolute poverty deem it fit even now to finance their education (including higher education) through public sources. In these countries the average citizen has much higher capacity to pay for education yet the public policy favours its funding by public/government spending. This is being done with the understanding that the withdrawal of public funding would make education so costly that it would be out of the reach of the common man. In 1995 the average per student expenditure (all levels) the world over was $1273 which stood at 22 per cent of the per capita GNP.
The average expenditure on higher education ($3370) as percentage of the world GNP per capita stood at 58.1. In the less developed countries the average per student expenditure (all levels) as percentage of the per capita GNP stood at 17.7 and higher education at 78.9. If public funding is withdrawn or substantially reduced, education in general and higher education in particular would no longer remain accessible to common individuals. Our own estimates about Punjabi University brought out that in 1992-93 per student expenditure (combined science and non-science) was Rs 38,000 per year which was higher than the salary of a clerk. The policy of withdrawal of public funds from education would lead to the exclusion of a large section of population and would block their upward social and economic mobility.
Favourable proposals in official circles are built around the argument that the beneficiaries of education must pay for it. This implies that a substantial (if not entire) cost of education must be realised through enhanced fees charged from students. It would be useful to have a glimpse of the global experience in this matter. The share of fees in the cost of higher education (in the 1980s) stood at zero per cent in Germany, 2.9 per cent in France, 8.8 per cent in Japan, 13.7 per cent in the U.K. and 14.5 per cent for public institutions and 38.7 per cent for private institutions in the USA. But the most significant point about the share of the fees in the USA was that 95 per cent of it came from the loans and grants from public institutions. It is evident that even in advanced countries fees remain to be a marginal source of funds for education. In fact, fees cannot be a major source of financing (higher) education. If it is made the major source it becomes counter-productive in terms of drastic reduction in the number of students. Generally speaking, it should not exceed 10-15 per cent of the cost of education. In India, it stood at 13.8 per cent during 1983-84. Attempts are now being made to raise it.
In the present policy perspective, the governments bitten by the bug of fiscal management are ignoring the large social role of education. It is, therefore, argued that educational institutions must go in for self-financing and service those courses which have a ready market and the clients (the students) are ready to pay the entire cost. This may be true for a few courses (engineering, medicine and management), but there would be no buyers for the rest of them. How would one value courses in economics, history, politics, public administration, local languages (Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telgu, etc)? Even if there are no clients (students) ready to pay high fees, the relevance of such courses cannot be overlooked. Each society needs thinkers, philosophers and policy-makers to give a new direction to it. Professionals like engineers, doctors and managers are important, but the significance of thinkers and policy-makers cannot be ignored. A society which ignores this, would borrow thinkers and policy-makers from abroad, may be from IMF and the World Bank, with the consequences not always good for it.
An issue often discussed in academic seminars but finds no mention in policy circles merit attention of the concerned citizens. This relates to the consequences of self-financed (privatised) education for the society as a whole. In other words, self-financing at what cost? The social cost is stated to be very high. One, those with paying capacity may not necessarily be the meritorious and deserving persons. Two, the prohibitive fees would exclude a large section of population from education, making it an elite affair. This would further add to the social divide and inequality in society with disastrous social and economic consequences.
The World Development Report, 1997, issued by the famous (notorious for some) World Bank does emphasise the changing role of the State, from production activities towards social sectors. It does not talk of withdrawal of the State from the social sectors like education and health. Rather it emphasises the social sector role of the State which is so ironically being shirked in India by governments at all levels. A plausible explanation is found in the precarious fiscal position of the governments. Faced with a fiscal crisis, governments apply cuts on the funding of the education sector as a soft target. The exigencies of scarce finance is being applied mechanically to the social sectors ignoring their role and significance. Going by global experience and our own needs, there is no way out except for the public funding of education. At the same time, fees charged from the students cannot be a major source of financing of education. All talk of self-financed (private) education is off the mark/hoax. By ignoring education and making it starve of funds, the governments are ruining the educational institutions and paralysing their functioning. The governments are also not shouldering their constitutional and social responsibilities. Against the international commitment to spend 6.5 per cent of the GNP on education, India spends only 3.5 per cent. Punjabs performance is dismally low and it ranks 15th among Indian states and spends only 2.9 per cent of the state domestic product on education.
The concerned citizens and informed social movements must make governments aware of this responsibility and force them to devise ways and means to shoulder it so that the impending chaos is avoided at a time when society has entered a new millennium. After all, the poor financial health of the governments is not merely caused by fast growing expenditure but is significantly contributed by the failure of the governments to collect taxes. The poor tax effort is undermining the capability of the governments to fund social sector activities having a very high rate of return. Instead of load-shedding (withdrawing of funding), the governments must direct their efforts towards better tax collection to finance education.
globalisation for workers
STRANGE as it may sound, the harshest and most pertinent criticism of the governments headlong rush into globalisation and privatisation has come not from diehard socialists or Marxists but from the ranks of the BJP and the RSS.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to the BJP, has termed the Vajpayee government as proxy government of Uncle Sam and the multinationals. Mr Keshubhai Thakkar, President of the BMS, accused the government of taking anti-labour decisions.
Accepting the World Trade Organisation and International Monetary Fund directives, the Union Government has included almost everything in the 714 items on which import restrictions have been removed. They have mercifully left out water and the national flag.
Drought in Gujarat and Rajasthan, the worst in a century, has now brought out demands to privatise water resources. This was the message at the recent World Water Forum, held at The Hague, where the theme paper suggested that the governments had failed to provide water, and now private enterprise should step in. The WTO holds the view that water should be sold for a price hike any other commodity.
The lop-sided manner in which we have been rushing to implement the dictates of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO in respect of globalisation spells disaster for this country. The manner in which it is going to affect labour, women in particular, has still not dawned on the BJP leadership in New Delhi. Some of the grave warnings uttered by the RSS leadership seems to have been treated with disdain by the economic thinktank of the BJP.
Ms Uma Bharati, the BJP sanyasin MP from Bhopal, recently gave notice of a fast-unto-death if the Madhya Pradesh government did not stop retrenchment of daily wage workers. The state government has sacked 10,000 workers and is planning to lay off another 30,000.
Keshubhai Thakkar has been relentless in his criticism, with valid arguments.
He alleged that the government, bureaucrats, technocrats, economists and the media seemed to be dancing to the tune of the MNCs. He added: The US government seems to be deciding what India should do in various fields. Importance is given to finance and investment at the cost of labour.
The government was callous enough to ignore the workers demands that the Rs 5000 crore Indian Petro-Chemicals Limited at Vadodra should be taken over by the government, instead of being offered for disinvestment. Mr Thakkar said the workers were ready to take over the IPCL as a holding company buying 30 per cent of its equity.
Six years ago when the government offered shares to workers at a premium of Rs 150 (at Rs 160 a share), private companies were offered the same shares at Rs 56 per share. Mr Thakkar lamented: All governments have played the tune of the capitalists. He called for a paradigm shift from capital to workers and human beings.
Luckily the disinvestment process at IPCL has been held up due to differences of opinion within the government. Besides, the matter has landed up in the Gujarat High Court since November last.
More serious problems are in store for people in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, which also face threats of water and later food shortages. Already 50 crore people have been affected by drought. Another five crore could face starvation soon. This is in addition to crores of workers facing loss of their jobs in the wake of globalisation, disinvestment and privatisation.
It seems ominous that the only voices of protest at the prevailing plight of the people and particularly of the workers have come from BJP functionaries and RSS leaders, including the Sarsanghchalak, Mr Sudarshan.
I asked a top Marxist ideologue on why none of the Left-oriented labour organisations or even parties have raised their voice at the disastrous portends of globalisation. I was shocked to learn that beyond cursory discussions at party fora or on public platforms there has been no sustained effort to make a scientific study of the evil effects of globalisation and privatisation on the working class. And it is a pity that this process is being pushed through by a government of which a life-long labour champion like Mr George Fernandes is a moving force.
There is a move within the government to change labour laws, as was revealed at a meeting of trade union leaders in New Delhi early in April, by the Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee. He had then told labour leaders that new Industrial Relations Bill will radically amend labour laws to make employers, industrialists and workers breathe easier. The most startling of the amendments suggested is to remove employees earning a gross monthly salary of over Rs 10,000 from the definition of a workman.
The net result of this seemingly small change related to the current value of the rupee and the high salaries enjoyed by workers would be that large sections of workers would be automatically removed from the privilege they now enjoy of going to labour courts for the redressal of grievances like retrenchments, transfers or change in job content. It is also proposed to make it easier for employers to hire contract labour, thus depriving them of statutory benefits guaranteed to them under various labour laws.
An aggrieved employee would be left with the only option of going in for civil litigation, which might take years under the circumstances.
If and when the government tables the Bill, it is feared that many of its allies might pass it without any debate, much less any apprehensions. The multinationals could swamp public opinion and lull the opposition into a stupour allowing the easy passage of the Bill. This is what has happened in the countries that had undertaken privatisation in the eighties and the nineties.
The Human Development Report, 1997, found that the least developed countries stand to lose upto $600 million a year due to globalisation and privatisation. This scenario, it said, has disturbing implications for poverty and human welfare.
The warning bells have
been sounded for all of us. The report said:
Globalisation is proceeding apace, largely for the
benefit of the more dynamic and powerful countries in the
North and the South. The poor just do not count.
ROUND, oval and occasionally oblong all these shapes are there. And from pale yellow to nearly orange or brown, with some green or mixed green in between all these colours too.
What a medley of melons. You see them almost everywhere. At fruit stalls, on barrows, in heaps on the roadside. Or a hawker may bring them right up to your doorstep.
Passers-by stop to look at them. If you happen not to see, the vendor tries to draw your attention.
Melons, sweet melons! he cries. Sweet melons, sugar-sweet melons! If you do not buy now, you will regret ever after!
Some almost take the vendors words as the words of an oracle. Some others are charmed by the fruits shape and colour. Yet others are lured by the size.
The calm or clever buyer is, however, not taken in easily. He does not let any such thing tempt him. Before he parts with his money, he makes sure that the melons are sweet.
He picks up one and weighs it in his hand. Then he sniffs at it. If the fruit is heavy, it should be rich in pulp. And if it smells sweet, it should taste sweet as well.
But, like looks, smells can be deceptive. A melon may please the nose, but not tickle the taste buds.
Or the buyer looks for some cracks on the melons surface. Why? It is the excess sugar in the fruit that cracks the skin, he lets you into the secret.
But this is no sure proof either. If one melon with cracks is delicious, another may be disappointing.
Or the buyer asks where the fruit is from. Melons from Jaunpur and Lucknow, for example, are traditionally sweet. So are Baghpat melons. Even better is the reputation of Sonepat.
But now there are pseudo melons too. That is, the melons grown, say, from Lucknow seeds in some other place. They may look all right, but they may not be half that sweet.
All this has made the act of buying melons a complex or esoteric art. But some people seem to have the knack of picking the right melon(s) from a heap.
Among them is the vendor himself. He takes a melon from the lot and, like a prophet, pronounces that it is sweet.
What if it is not? asks the buyer, still sceptical.
I shall give back twice the price you pay, he says. This is more than the money-back warranty of some manufacturers.
The best thing is to cut the melon and taste it before buying. But the vendor may not let you. I did not taste any before I bought them, he says. Logic is certainly on his side.
Once a boy tested a melon without slicing it. While the vendor was busy with something, he pierced a melon with a nail and tasted the juice on it. That was ingenious indeed.
But everybody cannot do this. In fact, no one should, says the moralist.
Some people swear or feel sore when they find their melons tasteless. They call the vendor a cheat or blame it on their fate. Some others murmur for a while or just keep quiet.
A few, instead of complaining, try to correct the fault. They slice the melon and sprinkle sugar over it. After some time the sugar melts and sweetens the pieces.
Or they put the insipid melon to a novel use. They cook it like a vegetable. With salt and spices they try to make up for the lack of sugar in it.
India, South Africa
WHAT is it that is drawing India and South Africa closer to each other? And also inspires them to play a larger role?
A possible answer is: with India, the motivation comes from its long and ancient civilisation; with South Africa, it is its long suffering under white rule. They think the world could be better.
But Africa is in a bad shape. Under the giant statue of Kwame Nkrumah in Accra an inscription says: Seek ye the political kingdom and all shall be added unto you. This was a promise. Africa has secured its political kingdom. But little else has been added so far. In fact, even the political kingdom is under threat. What gives hope to Africa today is the emergence of South Africa.
India and South Africa are already regional powers. And they expect to become permanent members of the UN Security Council. Together, they can lend a powerful voice in the UN Security Council for sanity.
Indias claim for a seat is not only backed by the size of its resources and population, but also by its commitment to democracy and contribution to the UN and its goals. As for South Africa, well, it is the most suitable country to lead the black world. And the most developed, too, in Africa. There is no other country which can qualify for this honour. Neither Tanzania nor Nigeria. The first has no resources; the other is riven with ethnic conflicts.
During his visit to India, Nelson Mandela spoke of the need for a strategic partnership between India and South Africa. The idea was first mooted by Thabo Mbeki, now the President of South Africa, in his address to the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
It is a misleading phrase, for it draws attention to military aspects. In fact, the two countries are supposed to work together for a new world order, which will ensure peace, security and an equitable global society.
But South Africas immediate concern is not global; it is regional. New conflicts have broken out between Ethiopia and Eritrea. And the Sierra Leone conflict seems to have no solution.
The USA is no more ready to commit American troops in Africa. Nor is it ready to bear peacekeeping expenses. In these circumstances, the leading African countries have a great responsibility to put out the bush fires. Only success as a regional power will enhance the prestige of South Africa. Much of its energy will, therefore, be spent in peacekeeping operations and in economic development of southern Africa.
Mandela says in an article in Foreign Affairs: South Africa cannot escape its African destiny. This is going to preoccupy South Africa for a long time to come.
South Africa has large resources, a sound industrial base, sizeable infrastructure and a growing information technology. It is being characterised as the saviour of Africa. Naturally, expectations are high. Especially, economic. Failure to meet them may dash the prospects of South Africa as a regional power.
No doubt, Africa has left behind the era of Amins, Bokassas and Mobutus, who gave Africa its worst image. A new generation of leaders has taken over. But they are still untried.
There is a lot of goodwill for India in South Africa. The misunderstanding caused by Mandelas unintended expression of concern for Kashmir at the NAM summit, to which India took strong objection, is a thing of the past. What is important is that India-South Africa relations are improving. The trade turnover is now two billion dollars (excluding defence sales). And South Africa has a million-strong, prosperous Indian community, and the Indian private sector has already established a visible presence in South Africa.
With the failure of the UN peacekeeping forces in Somalia and the recurring convulsions in various African countries, there is a feeling among UN members today that South Africa should play a more dynamic role to maintain peace and stability in Africa. South Africa has accepted such a role.
What Africa needs above all is peace and unity. But, alas, unity has eluded it. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is split politically, with Harara leading one group of Zimbabwe, DRC, Angola, Namibia and the other led by South Africa of Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritius, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Lesotho. The split was largely a conflict of personalities. Mbeki is trying to heal this rift.
Amidst all these reversions, South Africa wants to preserve the economic community. This is central to its strategy. Its own prestige and military strength will depend on the economic growth of southern Africa. Its status as a regional power and its claim to a permanent UN seat will depend on its success on the economic front. But, unfortunately, South Africa has large surpluses in trade with Southern Africa. There is much to be done to develop regional cooperation.
President Mbeki recognises that unity of southern Africa is vital for the future of the African peoples, which is why he has called for an African renaissance to unite all the African peoples. South African leaders see the liberation of South Africa as a turning point in the history of Africa and the beginning of an African renaissance.
Of course, this is not the first time that an effort has been made to unite black Africa. The first attempt was made by Leopold Senghor with his advocacy of Negritude. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana advocated Pan-Africanism and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania spoke of an African socialism. All these had helped to awaken Africa, but unity was missing. The need for a renaissance became urgent because of the terrible happenings in Rwanda, Somalia, Congo (Zaire), Sierra Leone, etc. They showed that Africa remains mired in its tribal past in spite of everything. But there are positive developments too. For example, the favourable developments in Uganda and Ethiopia.
South Africa is the gateway to the rest of Africa and to South America. Hence its importance to India. And together they have a responsibility to maintain the peace of the Indian Ocean.
I see, however, no prospect of a security treaty with South Africa. But there is immense scope for joint research and joint production in the military field. South Africa was already well advanced in weapon production. Hence India-South Africa cooperation in defence production can become highly economical. Already, India buys a number of weapons and spares from South Africa.
Then, again, I do not attach any great importance to the recent participation of the Indian Navy, Army, and Air Force in the Southern African Development Council military exercises. But if it is seen as an assertion of the authority of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean, it is to be highly welcomed. This also points to the importance of economic cooperation among the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) states. But security is not one of the concerns of IOR.
In voluntarily giving up the nuclear option, South Africa has done well. It has set a precedent to keep out nuclear proliferation in Africa. But Pretoria should try to understand Indias compulsions.
As two major regional
powers, India and South Africa have a great
responsibility to re-shape the world. Their coming
together is seen as a major development. It can re-kindle
the hopes of the developing world for a better world
THERE are some persons who deliberately arrive at conclusions which are not at all warranted by facts before them. A fresh instance of this perverse reasoning is afforded by Syed Sirdar Ali Khan.
In the course of his letter to The Times, after referring to the fact that India cannot thrive until the claims of the Mohammedan community received due recognition and that the supersession of Sir Abdur Rahim cannot be explained on any rational grounds, he says, that the Government appears to be deliberately flouting the Mohammedans in order to gain the support of the Hindu majority.
But can he quote a single instance where the Government has flouted Mohammedans to gain Hindu support? In fact, the truth appears to be the other way about.
The bureaucracy, it is
apprehended by some and their apprehension is not
wholly unreasonable has been conceding even
extravagant demands of the Muslims at the expense of the
Hindus in order to gain their support to bureaucratic
policies and measures. As regards the supersession of Sir
Abdur Rahim, the writer must be ignorant of facts if he
really believes that it has been resented only by
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