Saturday, September 26, 2009

Media wants another nuclear test

The mainstream English language media is now obsessed with just two subjects. One being a statement by Dr. V.Santhanam, formerly with the Atomic Energy establishment, that the 1998 nuclear tests did not yield the results that were claimed; and the other being that the Chinese army has made some incursions in the Sino-Indian border along Arunachal Pradesh.

Let me deal with Santhanam’s point to begin with. In the first place, the Atomic Energy establishment consisting of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Atomic Energy under whom all that goes in the name of nuclear fission, fusion and other things come, is so much autonomous that its affairs are not even within the purview of Parliament. It is a fact that the financial allocations to these organisations are not to be debated or scrutinised by Parliament. Such is the secrecy.

Now, Dr. Santhanam, having been a part of that establishment for several years and having enjoyed the privilege in all these years to information and knowledge that is top secret now says that the department told a lie over the yield of the thermonuclear explosion on May 11 and May 13, 1998. According to Santhanam, the tests were a flop. And he says that now! In other words, Santhanam, despite his love for the nation, decided to keep his job all these years and has chosen to play the role of a patriot now.

This takes us to the point as to whether Santhanam has an agenda now as much as he had all these years. The answer is obvious. He has an agenda and that is to force some more tests. And even if Santhanam is satisfied over the yield in the tests that he is now campaigning for, there is no guarantee that some one else, like him, will not open his mouth after some years. In other words, Santhanam’s agenda is plain and simple: To keep on testing. Santhanam is not the one to bother about the money that will have to be spent on such tests and also the fact that such money will have to be raised by reducing government’s expenditure on such heads as education, healthcare, public transport, food for the poor, building houses for those without homes and such things.

The reason why Santhanam need not bother about these is plain and simple. His medical bills will be reimbursed by the Atomic Energy Commission, his children, grandchildren and great grand children, in any case did not have to face deprivation whether it be schooling or higher education. His family lived and will continue to live in comfortable houses. And he is not bothered about the others! And it makes sense for him and people like him to keep on testing underground and make the world less and less safer by way of building a huge pile of nuclear weapons.

The tragedy is that the mainstream media too is showing similar tendencies. And the worst ones are the senior professionals in the English language papers who are out there in the open urging the Government to listen to Santhanam and embark upon further tests. It is sad that the media, whose role in a democracy must be that of a watchdog of the interests and the aspirations of the people and their well-being is now engaged in a campaign that is unethical (because it is based on the ranting by a retired bomb-man violating the tenets of the Official Secrets Act with such impunity) and also anti-civilization.

A world with nuclear arsenal, let me reiterate, cannot be a safer place than one without such weapons of destruction. But the Santhanams and their followers in the media refuse to see reason in this argument. They just want tests and a stock-pile of nuclear weapons even if that means the Governments spend huge sums of money over that and at the cost of some of the essentials of human life. And this campaign is being run in the name of love for the nation and patriotism.

The point is that it is time that the media professionals are made to realise that their campaign is against the people whom they seek to speak for. And this is true in case of the campaign involving China too. It may be a fact that China is doing things that it is not supposed to. But the point is to leave it to the Government to handle the issue and the media will do a service to its own cause and the people by devoting some energy and space to such issues as the rise in prices, falling employment and the decline in the nutritional levels of the people.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 12, 2009 was indeed an important day for me. India Since Independence: Making Sense of Indian Politics was launched that day. I had begun working on this sometimes in June 2004 and completed the draft in late 2007. The book was thought about as I began teaching at the ACJ (in October 2000); and it was launched from the lecture hall of ACJ that day.

I could not have had a better person to release the book than Professor Prabhat Patnaik. His classes in the CESP at JNU were from where I learnt a lot. Well. I did not study economics; but used to sit through his lectures. And from there I fell in love with Prabhat. I wish I become a teacher like him some day!!!!!

Sashikumar was there to steer through the function. Well. The book would not have happened but for the opportunity he gave me to offer an elective programme at the ACJ. I had pompously titled the course as ``Making Sense of Politics’’.

Aditya Sinha was there. He described the book as a second draft of history and prodded me to write the next book on V.P.Singh. He did surprise me with his review of the book though.

My parents to whom I owe a lot came for the occasion. It made the day very special to me. And Chinku gifted me a coffee mug: He spoke his mind through that. And Santha was in her elements.

It was so gratifying to have Karthik and Tushar from Hyderabad, Cheri and Shyam from Delhi, Saurav, Dipanjan and Amit from Bangalore, Jiby from Calicut. And also to find Vidya Venkat and Nalini Ravichandran reporting on the function for their papers. Subbu and Niranjana too made it. A teacher cannot ask for more.

And a large number of friends and well wishers, some of whom I had not remembered to invite, did turn up to make the occasion special for me.

Prabhat’s lecture on ``The Public and the Private’’ was too good as it is always.

Pearson Longman made the occasion happen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

inheritance of power!!!!!!!!!!

There is something extremely ugly with the way our political culture is developing into. One of the manifestations is the manner in which public office is sought to be reduced into private property and the consequent notion of inheritance.

The developments in Andhra Pradesh involving one Jagan Mohan Reddy and the caretaker Chief Minister K. Rosaiah are simply a manifestation of this ugly political culture. Well. To state that the notion that the right to rule as derived from dynastic belonging as inimical to the democratic culture is just stating the obvious and is of no use. In other words, the simply truth is that our democracy, sixty-two years since it emerged from the colonial yoke has got distorted so much that it is no use blaming just one family or party for propping up the family members as inheritors.

The hard fact is that we have had a prominent member of a large political party who ended up leaving his party because a lady-teacher who emerged close to that leader was denied of a Rajya Sabha nomination. That particular leader was not an ordinary member of that political party. Instead, he was the Chief Minister of the largest state in India. The party that he belonged to was also not one that came up from nowhere; instead, it called itself a party with a difference and is among those categorized as national parties.

It is also a fact that the son inheriting the father’s property is considered the norm in our society. And where there is a dispute over the right of one son or another, we have a certain set of legal provisions that will apply to whom the right of inheritance applies. But then, there is no such legal provision that guides the right to inheritance of political office or to determine the legal heir to the office. And there is no such provision because, the democratic polity, unlike the system of kings and emperors, does not vest the right to office on inheritance. But the fact remains that it has now turned into one.

It is, hence, important to try and explain why the sons and the daughters of our political leaders in general and Jagan Mohan Reddy now in particular are behaving the way they do and turning the government and its machinery in Hyderabad into a lame duck. An answer to this could lead us to raising another question as to whether the sons and the daughters of the political leaders who fought for our nation’s freedom too were so enthusiastic to step into their parents’ shoes?

To put the question differently, would Jagan Mohan Reddy have worked the way he is now working to inherit his father Y.S.Rajasekar Reddy’s mantle if they were to have lived some 100 years before. Well. I will state without fear of being contradicted that Rajasekar Reddy himself would not have joined the Congress had he been a young man in the beginning of this century. And his son, Jagan Mohan Reddy would not have been what he is to make him gather friends and supporters to pitch the demand that he be allowed to don the mantle his father did until the hour of his death.

The point is that there is a substantial difference between the forces or the factors that drew someone into political life until August 1947 and those who joined parties after India’s independence was achieved. From being an avenue for protest and agitation for achieving a set of ideals, the political scape now has been turned into an avenue to make money, a lot more money then and keep making more, more and more money. The fact that political office has now turned into a means to get richer is simply the reason for the culture of inheritance being adopted here.

This is not to say that the youth now come into politics only in order to get richer. There are, even now, a few young men and women who take up public causes and organize the people on their demands and undergo a lot of privations in the process. There are still a lot of ideals that are alive, professed and practiced by the youth in this countr. But then, there is very little about them that is of concern to the media. The fact is that the media shows us stories of the Jagan Mohans or the Jagat Singhs (remember that illustrious son of Natwar Singh) or the various sons and daughters of our senior political leaders and also celebrates a Rahul Gandhi for having kept his party’s leaders at arms length while traveling in Tamil Nadu.

Well. We seem to be condemned into this as a society. And why blame Jagan Mohan Reddy and his cheer leaders for displaying such contempt for democracy?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

I picked this up from a 17 year old


Oh god!
I am losing all my hope in you,
I am beginning to feel, what you do?
I have seen you with many wives,
Is this what is a woman’s life?
I have seen you live as a bachelor,
And I always wonder what for?
If you are there, you must be one,
But communal riots take the lives of tons!
Why are people born disabled?
Is it because he had willed?
Or is it because you were very chilled?

And after all these I find,
That people don’t mind,
Wasting money on you,
Giving money to a needy is what I would do………….