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EDITORIALS

Ban at the helm
India should have visualised it

U
nited
Nations Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor, who was adopted by India as its official candidate for the coveted post of the UN Secretary-General has done well by withdrawing from the race, though a little late in the day. He had practically no chance to make it to the top position at the world body after the fourth straw poll results were announced.

Moditva in Bhopal
MP govt must reverse its orders
T
HE Madhya Pradesh Government’s decision to allow its employees to take part in the activities of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) violates the thin line between the government and a political party. The decision, which has come under fire from all right-thinking sections, besides political parties, is a blatant attempt to politicise government staff towards undesirable objectives.



 

 

EARLIER STORIES
President’s dilemma
October 3, 2006
Politics of reform
October 2, 2006
Caste no bar
October 1, 2006
Build economic muscle
September 30, 2006
Creamless report
September 29, 2006
Anything goes
September 28, 2006
Brake on SEZs
September 27, 2006
Congress conclave
September 26, 2006
Dispossessing farmers
September 25, 2006
Greatness in apology
September 24, 2006


MiG on ground
Beyond the routine, a reality check
A
FTER such an unusual accident where both engines on a MiG 29 failed, it was to be expected that the Indian Air Force would take precautionary measures and restrict flying on the type till the exact cause of the accident was known. Considering that it fields almost three squadrons of the MiG 29, prudence was called for. Unlike its cousin, the MiG 21, this twin-engined fighter is not known to be accident prone. But it still raises issues regarding the reliability of Russian.
ARTICLE

Spirit of the Constitution
No substitute for working in harmony
by Somnath Chatterjee 
T
HE idea of separation of powers and checks and balances are the two important pillars identified by our founding fathers for securing a reasonable degree of equilibrium in the polity.

MIDDLE

Lake requiring insurance?
by Saroop Krishen
A
S a rule ingenuity is something which is much admired and much prized but that is subject to one exception. When that attribute makes its appearance in hardened criminals in a big way, and as a result you end up becoming a victim of serious crime.

OPED

Nobility lost
The “great mystery” of the Nobel prize for literature
by Susan Salter Reynolds
S
IGN on to a British betting website called Ladbrokes.com. Below horses, dogs, snooker and even ladies football – click on “Nobel Literature Prize.”

The language is clear, Mr Bush
by Anita Inder Singh
G
eorge Bush is kidding himself – and any one who chooses to believe him – when he reiterates, for the nth time, that Pakistan has given the US so much help in hunting down Taliban and Al Qaeda, and that can be counted on to help the US win the ‘war on terror’. 

India, Brazil, South Africa ties can change global politics
by Suvrokamal Dutta
G
IVEN the need for a viable alternative to globalisation – one that emerges from the developing world to put to an end to the marginalisation of the poor nations—there has been a new push to redefine political and economic arrangements in recent times.

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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Ban at the helm
India should have visualised it

United Nations Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor, who was adopted by India as its official candidate for the coveted post of the UN Secretary-General has done well by withdrawing from the race, though a little late in the day. He had practically no chance to make it to the top position at the world body after the fourth straw poll results were announced. Mr Tharoor stood second like in the previous three polls, but found himself far behind South Korea’s official nominee Ban Ki-Moon, who won all four consecutive straw polls. The Indian candidate acquired a serious disability during Monday’s coloured-card poll when he got a vote against him (one “discourage” vote in UN terminology) cast by a permanent member of the Security Council. This is considered a veto and, therefore, the person concerned is supposed to keep himself out. Though the source of the “veto” vote remains a matter of speculation, it is believed that most probably it came from Washington, now openly supporting the candidature of Mr Ban.

All this may have its impact on India’s campaign for a permanent membership of the Security Council. It is a pity that Indian Foreign Office mandarins could not do proper calculations much before sponsoring Mr Tharoor. It would have been better had he been told to withdraw after the third straw poll when he could not get the nine positive votes considered the minimum support from the Security Council for the UN’s top post. He got only eight votes.

The final poll is to be held on October 9. But Monday’s exercise was considered crucial. Now it is almost certain that in accordance with the UN practice, the outgoing Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, will move a formal vote in favour of Mr Ban next week. The charge against South Korea that it indulged in “buying” support for its official candidate failed to affect Mr Ban’s campaigning mainly because of the key role he played during the talks on North Korea’s controversial nuclear programme. The US support for him has turned out to be decisive.

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Moditva in Bhopal
MP govt must reverse its orders

THE Madhya Pradesh Government’s decision to allow its employees to take part in the activities of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) violates the thin line between the government and a political party. The decision, which has come under fire from all right-thinking sections, besides political parties, is a blatant attempt to politicise government staff towards undesirable objectives. This is a transgression of both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution; which explains why Governor Balram Jakhar has raised questions about the order and the Congress party has sought the intervention of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan would be well advised to withdraw the order before it snowballs into an entirely avoidable full-scale political crisis. The allegiance of government employees should be to the administration alone and not to any political organisation.

The MP Government’s premise that the RSS is a cultural organisation has no takers as it does not square with either the facts or the perceptions of this organisation. The RSS is the parent of the Sangh Parivar that has spawned, among others, the BJP, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Munnani. The myth of the RSS being “non-political” has been exposed time after time and even members of the Sangh Parivar no longer claim that. Given this background, it is preposterous for the MP Government to colour the RSS in shades that are at variance with both reality and experience.

When the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat passed a similar order in 1999, it was forced to backtrack after the intervention of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Now the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has taken the lead in asking President Kalam to ensure reversal of the MP Government’s order, and even those who do not sympathise with the Congress party see merit in her move. The sooner sense prevails in Bhopal the better for the country.

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MiG on ground
Beyond the routine, a reality check

AFTER such an unusual accident where both engines on a MiG 29 failed, it was to be expected that the Indian Air Force would take precautionary measures and restrict flying on the type till the exact cause of the accident was known. Considering that it fields almost three squadrons of the MiG 29, prudence was called for. Unlike its cousin, the MiG 21, this twin-engined fighter is not known to be accident prone. But it still raises issues regarding the reliability of Russian origin-aircraft from the MiG design bureau. In contrast, India’s experience so far with the Sukhoi-30, from the Sukhoi Design Bureau, has been fairly good. Of course, the planes are still new, it is still only the best pilots who are being allowed to fly the Sukhois, and the spare-parts issue that affects the MiG fleet is not relevant in this case.

The Indian armed forces will have to carefully evaluate the structure of its relationship with the MiG group. We are still using MiGs, and the Indian Navy’s retrofitted aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, will field a full complement of the MiG 29 K naval variant. For all its accident prone-ness, the MiGs have proved their utility, and there are many pilots who will swear by its abilities. The much-maligned MiG 21 for example has, at its best, a stunning rate of climb and high service ceiling to match. But the problems are clearly there to think about.

The new 126 aircraft order from the IAF, which the government now is thankfully looking at putting on the “fast track,” might also see a new MiG aircraft as one of the contenders. The IAF already fields vastly different types of fighters. The Sukhoi is a very different plane from the Mirage. The IAF must be clear about the types of aircraft it wants to buy, and how the different variants and specialised roles of different types of fighters would go together to create an effective force that will ensure air superiority for both attack and defence.

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Thought for the day

We are all serving a life-sentence in the dungeon of self. — Cyril Connolly

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Spirit of the Constitution
No substitute for working in harmony
by Somnath Chatterjee 

THE idea of separation of powers and checks and balances are the two important pillars identified by our founding fathers for securing a reasonable degree of equilibrium in the polity. They visualised the need for harmonious co-existence and mutual respect among the three organs of democracy — the legislature, the executive and the judiciary — so that they could work in a smooth and coordinated manner. In this constitutional scheme, it is Parliament that enacts laws; the executive implements them; and the judiciary is the independent arbitrator interpreting them.

Over the years, Parliament has come to be recognised as the pivot of our political system. It has been instrumental, while respecting the sanctity of the Constitution, in ensuring that the fundamental law of the land kept pace with the changing needs of a growing society. As a collective body, Parliament has conveyed to the world that its voice will have to be reckoned with on matters concerning India’s interests as also on all major issues.

The efficiency, professionalism, unity of purpose and the commitment to the larger national causes that the parliamentary committees have been demonstrating all along have been of exceptionally high standard. In recent years, we have taken several initiatives to take Parliament closer to the people. The introduction of a full-fledged, 24-hour Lok Sabha Television Channel and the creation of various parliamentary forums to ensure more effective involvement of the people’s representatives in tasks of nation building are some of them.

However, these achievements cannot make up for the growing disillusionment about the efficacy of democratic institutions among the people. As H.K. Dua, a distinguished journalist, put it in his article, “Ensuring quality of democracy” (The Tribune 125 Years Special Supplement, September 24, 2005): “At tea-shops and dhabas across the country — and even in the drawing rooms of Shining India — the people with varying degrees of cynicism are beginning to question many an assumption underlying the prevailing political system.”

What is more worrying, according to him, is “the health of the institutions that are supposed to guide the affairs of the nation and take India forward towards a better future…Unfortunately, the performance of these institutions during the past five decades was not what it ought to have been. Parliament, after a great initial start, is becoming less vigilant and effective in defending the rights of the people or giving them a constructive lead; the administration by habit remains distant and callous towards most people whom it should serve; and the judiciary — the kachehri, which is the last hope of the people — is not able to dispense justice to all, despite an awakened Supreme Court that knows the problem but is unable to provide the cure. Most political parties have been found wanting…”

There are many undesirable tendencies that we need to address on priority. The perceived criminalisation of politics has vitiated our political system. What has brought the issue to the centrestage is the influence of money and muscle power in our electoral process and the resultant aberrations of politics. The people are justifiably becoming critical of the way our democratic institutions are functioning today. Debates and discussion, the hallmarks of democracy, are being overshadowed by disruption, confrontation and other non-democratic alternatives.

The editorial comment, “Pay and performance” (August 21, 2006), in The Tribune merits mention here: “The loss to the nation by the non-functioning of our parliamentarians runs into crores of rupees every year. And it is the taxpayer’s money which goes down the drain. The nation suffers for this irresponsible behaviour of the MPs, who perhaps think that they have been elected to cause uproar and disrupt the proceedings. The rule of ‘no work, no pay’ should be applicable in their case if it applies to other salaried people, though this will not be enough punishment to the people’s representatives”.

I have quoted these comments to convey the extent of the growing sense of dismay and criticism of the people about the way our institutions are functioning. We, therefore, have to ensure that the politics of confrontation and intolerance gives way to reconciliation and accommodation.

The provisions of the Constitution show the framers’ intention regarding the mutual relationship between Parliament and the Supreme Court. It does not contemplate any attempt of confrontation or non-cooperation. The supremacy of the law of Parliament in certain given respects, so far as the judiciary is concerned, establishes Parliament’s primacy. Dr Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar maintained in the Constituent Assembly that the doctrine of judicial independence was not to enable the judiciary to function as a kind of a “super legislature” or a “super executive”.

Clearly, each organ of the State should function in conformity with the basic spirit of the Constitution and in accordance with its provisions. This relationship has been clearly defined and demarcated in purpose, intent and areas of activities. The centrality and supremacy of the Constitution should prevail at all times so that the system works efficiently.

Sadly, instances of straying from the strict path of constitutional provisions, in the well-recognised scheme of separation of powers, have been increasing because of the liberal recourse to public interest litigation (PIL). This has naturally raised doubts and confusion among the people about the respective domains of the organs of the State. The PIL is an effective mechanism to sustain the faith of the poor and the disadvantaged people in the administration of justice and in the rule of law. If, however, resorting to novel methods of adjudication interferes with the discharge of its primary functions of dispensation of justice, we need to explore ways and means to address the problem.

If today we take pride in being the world’s largest democracy, with all its imperfections, it is Parliament that can take the maximum credit. There is definitely sufficient space in our system for all the institutions to co-exist and work together for the common weal.

Just as people look up to the courts with great expectation, hope and confidence, they also look up to Parliament and state legislatures, of which the executive is a part. For, under the Constitution, Parliament is the supreme legislative institution through which executive accountability is enforced.

As the Constitution is the supreme law, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary must ensure that this balance is scrupulously adhered to. Parliament encompasses in its fold the people’s sovereign will. Thus, it is Parliament which enjoys primacy within the constitutional mandate. After all, the Constitution is the fountain-head of our parliamentary democracy.

There is no substitute for harmonious relationship among the different organs of the State. All constitutional provisions and laws should be implemented to serve the masses. What we need is a strong commitment and sensitivity to the people’s concerns to parliamentary democracy and to our constitutional framework.

The article has been excerpted from the G.V. Mavlankar Memorial Lecture delivered by the writer, the Lok Sabha Speaker, in New Delhi recently.

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Lake requiring insurance?
by Saroop Krishen

AS a rule ingenuity is something which is much admired and much prized but that is subject to one exception. When that attribute makes its appearance in hardened criminals in a big way, and as a result you end up becoming a victim of serious crime.

One such example is the unsavoury experience of a military officer when he went in his jeep to attend an official meeting. Knowing that nothing — absolutely nothing — was safe from the super-clever thieves in the area, he decided to be extra particular. After he had parked his vehicle, he tied its steering wheel and another wheel to the iron railing by the side of the road with two separate sets of chains and padlocks. When he returned after about half an hour, he found that the only things still left were the two wheels he had chained to the railing: the rest of the jeep had disappeared.

A gang of car thieves in Germany were more ambitious and set their sights higher. They managed to find employment in factories of top-range cars like the Mercedes and then proceeded to steal parts of those cars in thousands over the years. They carried those components concealed in their clothing and bags and then re-assembled them in a store nearby. The complete vehicles were later sold in the neighbouring countries for millions of pounds. It was apparently a very well-organised operation and took a large group of police officers some six months to expose the scam.

Another group of the same fraternity set a record in original-mindedness. For poaching fish on a really large scale they made a sizeable lake disappear completely leaving almost bareground in place of it. They “helped” themselves to an unattended bull-dozer and used it to fill up the 6-foot deep fishing lake with earth. The result was that thousands of fish were left floundering in a few inches of water. The poachers then simply picked up the fish and walked off with the haul.

Later, when anglers who had paid for licences to fish came there, they could not believe their eyes: there was just no lake at the place!

Tailpiece: In order to improve the local breed of the cattle, a couple of bulls were imported into a country under a UN programme. More than one year, however, passed and there was still no “activity” on the farm.

When asked to explain the reason, the bulls replied” “Don’t be silly. We are not here for any action: we are here under UN auspices in a purely advisory capacity”.

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Nobility lost
The “great mystery” of the Nobel prize for literature
by Susan Salter Reynolds

SIGN on to a British betting website called Ladbrokes.com. Below horses, dogs, snooker and even ladies football – click on “Nobel Literature Prize.”

There they are in all their glory, this year’s contenders for the world’s most coveted writing award: Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk (3-1 odds), Syrian poet Adonis (4-1), Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski (5-1), and Americans Joyce Carol Oates (6-1), followed (ouch) by Philip Roth (10-1).

There are others on the list that veers closer to the sublime than the ridiculous – South Korean poet Ko Un, Swedish poet Thomas Transtromer, novelists Milan Kundera and Thomas Pynchon, Margaret Atwood, John Updike, Julian Barnes, Paul Auster and, last but not least, Bob Dylan at 500-1..

The general consensus over the last few years seems to be that the Nobel Prize in literature has become, as Roger Straus, co-founder of Farrar, Straus and Giroux once claimed, a “joke,” or as Charles McGrath, former editor of the New York Times Book Review, has said more diplomatically, a “great mystery.” It’s been a difficult decade for the prize-to-end-all-prizes (though the charm of the 10 million Swedish kronor – or close to $1.4 million – remains indisputable).

Last year, London literary critic Robert McCrum bemoaned the Nobel’s loss of innocence. The 1997 selection of Italian communist anarchist playwright Dario Fo, he wrote, caused “near universal dismay,” and the 2000 award to Chinese novelist, playwright and poet Gao Xingjian mere “bafflement.” The 2004 choice of Elfriede Jelinek, the belligerently unreadable Austrian feminist, was even more controversial, and caused Knut Ahnlund, one of the 18 members of the Swedish Academy (whose members serve for life) to walk.

“Degradation, humiliation, desecration and self-disgust, sadism and masochism are the main themes of Elfriede Jelinek’s work,” he wrote in the conservative paper Svenska Dagblat. “All other aspects of human life are left out.”

Ahnlund accused Horace Engdahl, who has been permanent secretary of the committee since 1999, of “destroying the moral nerve of the nation.” The New Criterion magazine chimed in with a conservative attack, calling the selection of Jelinek “a new low” and, while it was at it, saying Toni Morrison’s 1993 Nobel Prize served, sniff, only to “cheapen” the prize.

Engdahl, a mere schoolboy at 57 compared with some of his colleagues on the committee, enjoys a kind of notoriety in Swedish literary circles that he often refers to as hurtful. Why do they hate him so? While Ahnlund likes a good human story, Engdahl is a post-structuralist who believes in things like “textual analysis.” In his speech at the presentation of the Nobel to Jelinek, he quoted Hegel (never popular at parties): “Woman is society’s irony.”

“If literature is a force that leads to nothing,” Engdahl pressed on, addressing Jelinek, “you are, in our day, one of its truest representatives.” (Thunderous applause.)

When Alfred Nobel, who died at 63 in 1896, made provision for the prizes in his 1895 will, the language delineating criteria for the literary prize was, well, obscure. The prize, he said, should go “to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Hmmm. But then this was a guy who, just a few lines down, wrote that it was his “express wish that following my death my veins shall be opened, and when this has been done and competent Doctors have confirmed clear signs of death, my remains shall be cremated in a so-called crematorium.”

Today, the overriding question is how much do the writer’s politics factor into the nomination and award? Is the prize for literature or for politics? “It’s a literary prize,” McCrum insists, “not a platform for sending political messages.”

But the people at the New Criterion certainly don’t think that it’s being treated that way. More and more, they say, the prize “has gone to a person who has the correct sex, geographical address, ethnic origin and political profile – ‘correct’ being determined by the commissars at the Swedish Academy.”

Swedish literary critic Mats Gellerfelt, quoted in a long New Yorker article on the prize in 1999, agreed: “The ideal candidate for the Nobel Prize today,” he said, “would be a lesbian from Asia.”

Close followers of the prize process refer to Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz’s win in 1980, the same year the Solidarity movement formed, or William Butler Yeats’ win in 1923, a year after Ireland won independence (to name just two) as proof that the prize has always been politicised.

British playwright Harold Pinter, who said he was amazed when he won last year’s prize. Pinter previously turned down an offer of knighthood from John Major, but he accepted the Nobel with relish, looking in photos, after a fall in Ireland that left his face bloody and scarred, like a happy pirate. His work is unabashedly left-leaning.

Whatever the criteria, there’s no question that many literary giants have failed to win the prize. Critics point to the glaring omissions of Leo Tolstoy, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust, among others (but then again, Gandhi was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, so maybe there’s some kind of freakish reverse psychology thing happening). Boris Pasternak and Jean-Paul Sartre both refused the prize, though Sartre’s relatives high-tailed it to Stockholm after the writer died to demand the money, a demand that was refused.

There is something smarmy (or perhaps merely pathetic) about a writer who sets out to build his career around hopes of winning the Nobel, something many American writers, including Norman Mailer, Updike and Oates, have been accused of. (Never mind that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wanted it so much that he reportedly invited Swedish writers, critics and academics for lavish vacations at his seaside villa on a regular basis.) Roth, whose tireless campaigning to publish the work of Eastern European writers has always seemed out of sync with his usual subject matter (himself) has also been accused of brown-nosing for the prize.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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The language is clear, Mr Bush
by Anita Inder Singh

George Bush is kidding himself – and any one who chooses to believe him – when he reiterates, for the nth time, that Pakistan has given the US so much help in hunting down Taliban and Al Qaeda, and that can be counted on to help the US win the ‘war on terror’. Apparently he has no use for the opinions of NATO commanders, American and UN officials who have continually accused Pakistan of training and sustaining Taliban and Al Qaeda militants.

NATO is unable to assemble enough troops to bolster its strength and fight the Taliban more effectively in Afghanistan, but Bush thought that observing the body language of Presidents Karzai and Musharraf in Washington last week would ‘determine how tense things are.’

The body language was stiff. Did Bush draw any conclusions from that as he ate fondue with Musharraf and Karzai in the White House? Has his strategy for fighting terrorism been reduced to thinking that dipping forks into a bowl of melting cheese will melt the menace away?

For the General’s government is behind the ‘real war’ being waged in Afghanistan by a resurgent Taliban, whose apparently ever-expanding number of recruits fighters are trained by Pakistan and sent across the border. Five years of joint American-Pakistani bombing of Pakistan’s north-western areas have actually revitalised the Taliban.

Musharraf claims to be doing everything to stop this infiltration. But one can only wonder at the ineffectivess of a military campaign carried out by the C-in-C of the Pakistani army, a military dictator, leading, and probably accountable to no one but those at the top of his military hierarchy. His recent deal with the Taliban offers little hope of discouraging or checking their activities. He agreed that foreign fighters could remain in northern Waziristan so long as local Taliban forces did not attack Pakistani soldiers and promised not to cross into Afghanistan. In return Pakistani military checkpoints in the area are being dismantled.

Not surprisingly Taliban forays into Afghanistan have increased since the deal was made, making it more difficult than ever for NATO to defeat them

Of course Musharraf alone cannot be blamed for the rising spiral of extremist violence in Afghanistan. Neither the US – nor NATO – have committed enough troops to the anti-Taliban effort; indeed NATO has been unable to increase its strength because of understandable foot-dragging by member-states. More economic largesse – both for security and developmental purposes – is necessary if Karzai’s government is to be buoyed up and the Taliban routed, but there is little sign that the US or its allies want to fork it out.

So, watching body language is Bush’s latest strategy to defeat terrorism. In 2003 the US and Britain staged an illegal invasion of Iraq to ferret out weapons of mass destruction, to confirm supposed links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and to bestow democracy on Iraq. No WMD were found: Saddam actually spurned overtures from Al Qaeda.

Earlier, in October 2001, the US embarked on Operation Enduring Freedom and overthrew the Taliban. The mastermind behind 9/11 remains at large, probably in Pakistan, despite Musharraf’s allegation that he is in Afghanistan. With his anti-terrorist strategy losing credibility Bush is apparently betting on the body language of Karzai and Musharraf. If only he could tell us how this will help defeat terrorism.

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India, Brazil, South Africa ties can change global politics
by Suvrokamal Dutta

GIVEN the need for a viable alternative to globalisation – one that emerges from the developing world to put to an end to the marginalisation of the poor nations—there has been a new push to redefine political and economic arrangements in recent times. One component of these many recent initiatives is the idea of south-south cooperation

The emergence of the transatlantic links between India, South Africa and Latin America began when the leaders of three countries spearheaded a new approach at the 2003 UN General Assembly Forum, resulting in a trilateral India-Brazil-South Africa agreement (IBSA).

The IBSA area encompasses a total population of 1.3 billion people and an economy of $1.26 trillion. The first meeting of the foreign ministers of the IBSA Dialogue Forum was held in New Delhi on March 4 and 5 2004. Issues addressed included social development, disarmament, infrastructure, health care, sustainable economic development, and poverty alleviation.

After successes in the Doha and Cancun rounds of the WTO summits, the heads of IBSA met for the first ever-trilateral summit recently at Brasilia just before the NAM summit. “As emerging economic giants in the developing world, India, Brazil and South Africa account for a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over one trillion U.S. dollars and it seems set to push the number in an unexploited trilateral market” commented the South African Broadcasting Corporation

“We have a common understanding about what needs to be done, especially in areas like ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and telecommunication,” said Dupree Vilakazi, president of South Africa’s National Black Business Council in the summit. The South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said, “Since its establishment in 2003, the IBSA had become instrumental in promoting closer coordination on global issues between South Africa, India and Brazil. The three have become frequent guests of the annual gathering of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries”.

With sound economic bilateral ties with South Africa, solidification of the IBSA looks all the more bright. India’s leading enterprise groups such as Tata and Mittal Steel are also investing hugely in South Africa’s automobile, mining, telecommunication and other industries. “India is among the top 10 investing countries in South Africa, with investments estimated to the value of 10 billion rand (1.4 billion U.S. dollars),” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Annual trade between 2001 and 2005, of India and the Mercosur trade bloc (comprising of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) grew from less than one billion dollars to 2.3 billion. Around the same period, trade between India and South Africa climbed 133 percent from 1.3 billion to 3.1 billion dollars. The IBSA negotiations are aimed at raising trilateral trade flows to 10 billion dollars next year.

According to Mbeki, President of South Africa, “the adoption of a free trade agreement between these three nations would be an unprecedented step in the world trade system, which means it is essential for it to be taken in an appropriate manner”.
Though a lot more needs to be done, the summit saw a good beginning. Brazil and South Africa adopted a three-year pilot project for the export and import of cars and spare parts.

At the same time, Brazil and India agreed on the sharing of alternative technologies. Rogelio Golfarb, president of the National Association of Automotive Vehicle Manufacturers, which participated in the summit activities as a representative of Brazil’s business community said about the summit: “South Africa specializes in luxury automobiles, and Mercosur is strong in the production of compact cars. India expressed great interest in the production of ethanol fuel (produced from sugar cane) and biodiesel, and Brazil expressed interest in Indian techniques for wind and solar energy.”

The summit allowed the three countries to stress their points of view on the resumption of the WTO Doha Round of multilateral trade talks, on U.S. Security Council reform to incorporate permanent and rotating members from Latin America, Asia and Africa. The Indian Prime Minister said in the summit, “the usefulness of IBSA in the international community was clear in the leadership role that the three countries played in the Group of 20 (G20) developing nations in the WTO negotiations”

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The wise King prays thus to his elders “Be unto us a father, loving, not inspired by wrath. Be unto us a teacher. Show up the righteous path. If we wander astrays, please set your your strong arm lead us straight”.
—The Mahabharata

And when they encounter those who believe, they say, “We believe.” But when they are alone with their obessesions, they say, “We are in fact with you; we were only joking.”

— The Koran

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