Procrastination : A Remedy For All Problems

The ruckus over Tharoor’s “Interlocutor” remark has hit headlines again. The minister has irked and embarrassed his party with such relentless regularity that expecting him to remain politically correct is a fallacy. But interestingly all the controversy his statements have raked up is centered around usage of dialect and it has now reached a crescendo when he sought to point out the difference between “Mediator” and “Interlocutor” in his defense. Interpreting his sound bytes and twitter messages has gotten critics to dig deep into intricacies of English language and the media is feeling insulted at the hint that his language is not being understood. So, here’s a minister who seemingly reminds us of his sound literary grounding time and again, having authored several books. This is a contrast of sorts, since majority of Indian politicians are incoherent while articulating their views.

In all fairness, overturning the foreign policy decision, of having no third party intervention in addressing issues concerning Pakistan and dealing with them only in the bilateral realm, is a gross violation. India asking Saudi Arabia to exert their influence on Pakistan to stop cross border terrorism could be termed as going an extra mile in ironing out problems with its neighbour. On the other hand, the slightest overture of involving a third country to intervene and mediate even through inappropriate usage of spoken word can spell trouble. Ironically, foreign policy issues are being deciphered on the basis of semantics. Despite several slip ups and receiving flak from opposition for his comments, congress just decides to bury the hatchet by expressing displeasure over the matter. Isn’t it time to clip the wings of partymen who rake up a controversy at the drop of a hat and show them the door?

The party’s attitude of dragging its feet is just not restricted to Tharoor’s conduct but applies to matters as grave as terrorism emanating from across the border. A case in point would be the wavering stance adopted over JUD’s war cry against India. They decided to go ahead with foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan on the premise that some progress on terror has taken place and no engagement whatsoever would further hinder the peace agenda. When the bugle of jihad blew over the streets of Lahore in the form of a huge rally, the external affairs ministry chose to give it a deaf ear stating that rhetoric by likes of Hafiz Saeed should not be given much importance. But, why is India then insisting on his captivity and holds him as prime conspirator of 26/11 when his speeches are to be brushed aside. Then, leading up to the talks, Pune witnessed a terror strike which was being seen as preceded by specific warning by JUD’s top brass. Subsequent to the German bakery attack, there was again an echo that India should not fall prey to attempts by vested interests aimed at derailing the ensuing dialogue.

As expected, the talks were reduced to mere farce with Pakistani delegation making strong statements and referring to Indian dossiers as piece of literature rather than treating those as proof of their complicity. Both countries addressing press conferences separately resulted in contradictory details emerging with respect to primary focus of discussion. The neighbour claiming Kashmir was touched upon in great detail while the Indian contingent downplayed the same and stressed on having made demands for dismantling terror infrastructure and clamping down on overt acts of perpetrating violence. In the backdrop of events that played out in last year and a half, Congress must have realized the fact that dialogue and diplomacy with Pakistan would not budge them an inch. Yet, congress seems content in pursuing the same approach.

Will the menace of terrorism and troubled ties with Pakistan, ever be handled by congress regime in a manner that befits the neighbour’s shirking and obstinate ways. Perhaps, procrastination has become congress’ forte and recourse to tackling problems instead of being resolute in its stand.

Sena’s Tirade Bites Dust

It takes bollywood stars steadfastness against Sena’s tirade to exercise the constitutional right to freedom of expression in Maratha land. That reeks of surreal democracy, the populace of this country so proudly embraces and more agonizing is ruling regimes frailty in upholding its tenets. Such is the spineless disposition of the state government that it only assures to provide cover against any disruption the Shivsainiks has vowed to unleash instead of nipping the violent steak and instincts of hooliganism in the bud that characterize them. Despite having a lot at stake commercially, Shahrukh has refrained from reaching out to Bal Thackeray or retracting his statement on non-inclusion of players from Pakistan in IPL-3 by tendering an apology. Qudos to his spirit as this precedent has garnered a lot of support in his favour from various quarters. These voices would otherwise have remained stifled, searching for a denizen who could be audacious enough to defy the wrath of lumpen elements, to echo their sentiments.

The leadership of a regional party so easily claiming propriety to an entire state on frivolous grounds of their regional identity and acting like self appointed guardians of Marathi Manoos, needs to be scoffed at. This delusion, when their outfit couldn’t even manage to secure the mandate of its people is even more bizarre and anti-national. Shouldn’t this ideology which is unconstitutional and totally converse to the principles of democracy, automatically expunge them from being part of electoral politics?

A viewpoint that Pakistan cricketers shouldn’t have been isolated from IPL-3 by franchise owners, does not make the person expressing it partisan and construed as owing allegiance to a neighboring country. Though, Shahrukh himself could not eventually include any Pak-player is another question. He elaborated his intent of doing so but the injury to player of his choice could not make it possible and thereby other viable option was exercised. Infact, aftermath of 26/11 has complicated issues and would have had some semblance of influence on the perspective of team owners viz the player’s availability factor, possibility of match disruption at certain venues and eventuality of terror attacks. Nevertheless, all franchises cited their own strategic compulsions in keeping away from Pak-players and made themselves oblivious to political posturing with Pakistan while deciding the team composition.

But why not pick on a political figure who also happens to be Home minister of India. Mr. Chidambaram on national television had articulated his displeasure on this issue and went to the extent of saying that IPL has done disservice to the sport by distancing itself from world class T-20 players. Perhaps, Sena thought him to be beyond their grasp to muscle round with or that their idiosyncrasy would not hold ground and picked on an easy target.. This way, they could prompt a two pronged attack, one on his religious identity and his vocation being the other which meant serious monetary ramifications not just for the actor but many other business associates if screening of his film is disrupted.

In a larger context, it is evident that Shiv Sena having been consecutively routed in three assembly polls is getting marginalized, with MNS further cutting into their vote bank. Bereft of any genuine issue, they are harping on misplaced nationalism and targeting the film and its protagonist, to keep themselves afloat. The fact they are ignorant of is that their bankrupt political agenda and bullying ways is alienating the masses further and would not take the party long to get decimated from the political arena if they do not do away with their blinkers.

The entire Sena-SRK plot has culminated in a manner that movies are usually scripted, with “good overcoming the evil”, but this time around the country would not feel wretched of repetitive story-line like they do for reel action. Rather, this real life magnum opus would be lapped up as a triumph of innate democratic values that ”Badshah” refused to comprise on and went around proudly proclaiming ” My Name is Khan”.

Desolate Sporting Affairs

India will figure prominently this year on the sporting calendar as it hosts commonwealth games and hockey world cup.. With these prestigious events on the cards, the onus of scrupulous planning and execution brings forth a mammoth challenge. The commonwealth organizing committee is already feeling the heat to put up with deadlines as precursors in the form of squabbles and apprehensions over timely completion of infrastructure have raised serious doubts over its progress.

In retrospect, none can forget the glorious memories etched in our minds of Asian games, the magnitude of which perhaps was colossal way back in 1982. The accolades it garnered for splendor on display, state of art sports complexes, accommodation villages and the exquisite precision in coordinating the event right from inauguration to the closing ceremony was seen as a new chapter in our sporting history. There were some impressive performances from Indian contingent to take pride in that helped amass a decent medal tally too. This spectacle laid foundation for many sporting extravaganzas that were to follow and bestowed us the status of excellent hosts.

Over time, organizing apparatus was expected to run like well oiled machinery and in fact endeavor to surpass the benchmark set earlier. The commonwealth platform being so gigantic, preparations should have been underway with diligence and alacrity. Instead, the build up to the event is marred by controversy and under preparedness. And this concern was expressed by none other than Chief Minister of Delhi. Though, assurances from Mr. Kalamadi allay those fears, any lapse would severely dent the country’s reputation and have far reaching implications as far as bidding for future events is concerned.

Apart from the project execution glitches, there is hardly any consolation from Indian sporting arena itself. With world cup round the corner, Men’s Hockey team was at loggerheads with its governing body over non-payment of dues and threatened to boycott the tournament. The federation claiming to be bereft of money was imposing upon players to choose between playing for national pride and money. The impasse finally got resolved with sponsors doling out funds and IHF promising to fulfill their demands before the start of world cup. At last someone, realized that governing body is inconsequential in their scheme of things but Hockey as our national sport cannot be snubbed.

It is not as if other disciplines are unscathed by controversy. The tussle between administrators and sportsmen continues to brew. The rifle association has gone ahead and selected teams for two successive world cups which excludes the Olympic gold medalist Abhinav Bindra citing the pretext of his absence from team selection trials. The bone of contention here was the international scores that were not being considered to qualify his inclusion in Indian squad. Eventually, only when feelers of Bindra mulling to quit the game surfaced that association agreed to take international scores into account as eligibility criteria but not before squandering the prospect of a medal in impending events.

These developments are a pointer to complete insensitivity towards players by sports administrators who are from political or bureaucratic arena and govern the game without any understanding of it. The view to alienate politics from sport and having professional managers at the helm too has its pitfalls. Barring Cricket and Tennis, most other disciplines practically have no visibility, making sponsorship deals hard to come by. With restricted budget allocations, promoting other sports to the fore is extremely difficult. Here political clout comes in handy to pull a few strings and bring in sponsors, which a professional might not be able to wield.

Expecting sport to thrive in penury, exhorting players to just subsist on national pride, interference in technical aspects of training (in Bindra’s case) by incompetent people at helm of affairs and holding back rewards has crippled the sporting culture of our nation. Come what may, restoring equilibrium in sports management is critical, else the rot shall never stem and might have a spill over effect.

India : Murky time ahead

The gruesome 26/11 attack on India has left it grappling with reinforcing internal security apparatus, expediting the trial of lone surviving terrorist, attempts to bring to justice the masterminds of this conspiracy and more importantly convince Pakistan to accept proof of its complicity in cross-border terrorism through a series of dossiers. In the wake of a year gone by, there is some semblance of progress made in maritime security by inking contracts for procurement of surface vessels, Dornier aircraft and interceptor boats. Establishment of a radar chain, NSG hubs, construction of coastal police stations, check posts and barracks are still in the offing. For those who think all this should have been accomplished by now are being overzealous considering India’s 7,515-km long coastline.

Aftermath of terror atleast triggered the thought of plugging porous coastal borders to make them watertight. Though, there shall always be a lurking fear till these measures see the light of day as envisaged. Mere installation of technology too is futile unless trained personnel monitor the enemy movements and thwart their evil designs. Many crowded markets that were targeted earlier, now have unmanned metal detectors and CCTV’s strewn all over the place with nobody to monitor footage. Indians get jolted often but complacency and lack of resolve to even comply with systems in place are our hallmark., In all fairness, there is a long stretch to traverse before Indians feel protected.

On a macro level, web of contentious issues have compounded further. As if dealing with Pakistan wasn’t enough, China has been audaciously tugging at India’s territory and marking “China” on boulders with red paint. Incursions, violation of air space, threatening of shepherds perhaps could be played down as minor irritants since such incidents have been a feature for long. But China wanting more on their plate by staking a claim on Arunachal Pradesh is a bit too audacious. India did respond with a strong build up of troops only to be warned by China if it can afford a confrontation.

India’s recourse of bringing about pressure on Pakistan through diplomatic channels has already proved to be damp squib. Despite being blacklisted by International community, terror outfits still operate under disguise, charge sheeted 26/11 conspirator secures easy passage for lack of nailing evidence and US aid to fight terror continues to be misused. Pakistan seems to revel in obstinacy at the expense of its own peril.

The anguish of constant rebuttals from every quarter is strengthening the perception that India is getting marginalized in the corridors of power in South Asian block. This was exemplified by US president Obama’s statement asking China to monitor the India-Pakistan stability in the region, during his recent visit.

Boosting defense capability is vital for India but the modernization plans are often stuck under red-tape and inordinate delays. Catching up with China’s military might is a tall ask and though India is touted as an emerging economic power, it still is few notches behind China. Though the scale is tipped in China’s favour, bullying by no means should be tolerated. The least India could do is shun silence and be a little terse in response when confronted with territorial encroachment.

Handling Pakistan is an arduous task. Knee jerk reactions like bombarding terror training camps which is easier said than done or engaging in full-fledged war is no solution. Instead, imposing economic sanctions or abrogation of Indus water treaty could be considered as an instrument of diplomacy against Pakistan so that they feel the squeeze. Else, the only plausible option is to make our territory an impregnable fortress so that it deters terror groups from making Indians an easy target and sense of calm could prevail.

If India were to make any headway in dealing with conflicting bilateral issues, it should exert itself as a formidable power and speak from a position of strength rather than adopting a soft approach.