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Archive for October, 2016

भारतीय मध्यम वर्ग और पाकिस्तानी कलाकार

Posted by chimeki on October 6, 2016

पाकिस्तान में सिनेमा हॉल में भारतीय फिल्म

पाकिस्तानी सिनेमा हॉल में भारतीय फिल्म

भारत में पाकिस्तानी कलाकारों पर चल रही बहस ने एक बार फिर भारत के मध्यम वर्ग के कनफ्यूजन को सामने ला दिया है। आजादी के बाद से अब तक यह वर्ग अपनी गति को समझ पाने में नाकाम रहा है। पुरानी घड़ी के पेन्डोलम की तरह भारतीय मध्यम वर्ग दांय-बांय हिलता रहा लेकिन कहीं ठहर नहीं पाया।

उसके सपने का भारत आर्थिक रूप से संपन्न है लेकिन दूसरी ओर उसने संस्कृति के नाम एक ऐसे अलगाववादी रास्ते को पकड़ लिया है जो भारत में उपलब्ध संसाधनों को देखते हुए उसे समृद्धि की चकाचौंद दिखाने के लिए अपर्याप्त है।

वर्तमान समय में राष्ट्र की आर्थिक समृद्धि का जरिया वैश्विक व्यापार है। इसके बिना आर्थिक समृद्धि की कल्पना मात्र असंभव है। लेकिन भारतीय मध्यम वर्ग जो दुनिया का सबसे निर्धनतम मध्यम वर्ग है एक खतरनाक अलगाववादी विचारधारा की जकड़ में कैद है। धर्म आधारित राष्ट्रवाद राष्ट्रीय समृद्धि के लिए आवश्यक वैश्विक संबंधों के लिए बड़ा खतरा है और इस कारण तमान देशभक्तिीपूर्ण नारों के बावजूद यह राष्ट्रीय हित के विपरीत एक राष्ट्रघाती विचारधारा है। विश्व में जहां कहीं इसका प्रयोग हुआ वहां आर्थिक समृद्धि के पैमाने पर यह प्रयोग बुरी तरह असफल रहा। यह बात ईरान के मुल्लाओं से लेकर म्यंमार के जून्टा शासन को भी समझ आ चुकी है। लेकिन भारतीय मध्यम वर्ग अभी भी इसे अपने हित में मान कर चल रहा है।

पाकिस्तानी कलाकारों का भारतीय फिल्मों में काम करना पाकिस्तान से अधिक भारतीय अर्थतंत्र के लिए फायदेमंद है। पाकिस्तान में भारतीय फिल्मों के प्रचार के लिए इन कलाकारों का होना ज़रूरी है। उनकी बदोलत ये फिल्में पाकिस्तान में अच्छा व्यापार करती है और यह देश के फिल्म उद्योग के लिए फयदेमंद सौदा है।

अंग्रेजी समाचार पत्र इण्यिन एक्सप्रेस की एक रिपोर्ट के मुताबिक हाल पाकिस्तान में हर साल 50 के आसपास बॉलीवुड pakistan_indian_2फिल्मों का प्रदर्शन होता है। ये फिल्में करोड़ो का व्यापार करती है। पाकिस्तान, भारतीय फिल्मों का दूसरा सबसे बड़ा बाज़ार है। 2006 में लगभग 40 साल बाद पाकिस्तान ने भारतीय फिल्मों पर लगे प्रतिबंद को हटाया। आमिर खान अभिनीत ‘थ्री इडीअट’ ने पाकिस्तान में 5 करोड़ का व्यापार किया, शाहरूख खान की ‘माई नेम इज़ खान’ ने 5.25 करोड़ का और सलमान खान की फिल्म ‘बॉडीगार्ड’ ने 6 करोड़ का व्यापार किया। इसके बाद आईं तमाम फिल्मों ने भी अच्छा व्यापार किया। वर्ष 2007 में प्रतिबंध के बाद पाकिस्तान में पहली फिल्म जॉन अब्राहम की ‘गोल’ थी जो 7 स्क्रीन में दिखाई गई। बाद की ‘थ्री इडीअट’ 22 स्क्रीन में और ‘डॉन टू’ 38 स्क्रीन में।

भारतीय फिल्मों ने भी पाकिस्तान फिल्म उद्योग के विकास में महत्वपूर्ण काम किया। अच्छी फिल्मों ने दर्शकों में फिल्म देखने की आदत का विकास किया और 2006 से अब तक पाकिस्तानी फिल्म उद्योग 300 गुणा बढ़ा।

ऐसा नहीं है कि मात्र पाकिस्तानी कलाकार ही भारतीय सिनेमा में काम करते है। भारत के कई नामी सिने कलाकार भी पाकिस्तानी फिल्मों में काम पा रहे है। एक तरह से ये आदान प्रदान दोनों ही देशों के अर्थिक हित में है।

इसलिए यह आवश्यक है कि भारतीय मध्यम वर्ग अपनी आँखों में लगे धर्माधारित राष्ट्रवादी चश्में को हटा कर देश की आर्थिक उन्नती पर विचार करे क्योंकि देश की आर्थिक समृद्धि उसके हित में है। यह उसकी बढ़ती अनिश्चितता और तनाव के अंत की पहली शर्त है।

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Prachanda Pulls Out Yet Another Rabbit from the Nepal Hat, But Is It Little More Than an Illusion?

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

maoist-center-3Nepal’s Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s hunger for experimenting with Maoist ideology is unending. In his long career as the Maoist supreme leader he often took decisions unheard of before by Marxist practitioners. He once wanted to align with King Birendra against the parliamentarians; next he forged an alliance with seven parties against King Gyanendra. During the initial days of insurgency he called India an expansionist power but later revised his stand and worked under its mediation. His experiments didn’t always go well with his party comrades as well as other Marxist leaders and parties of the world, but that didn’t deter him.

Recently Prachanda successfully repeated what he had achieved before initiating the people’s war in Nepal on February 13, 1996 or Fagun 2, 2052 B.S. He united 10 splintered Maoist groups or parties to form the Maoist Centre. Previously, these groups were part of his party but had broken away blaming him of betraying the revolution. The leaders thus united now include Matrika Yadav, Mani Thapa and Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’. Not so long ago Badal used to call Prachanda an Indian R&AW agent and he did his best during the second Constituent Assembly election to defeat Prachanda’s party. He travelled miles of Nepal’s difficult terrain on foot and on horse’s back to persuade people to rise against Prachanda.

Similarly, Mani Thapa too didn’t have a good relationship with Prachanda until this unity. Just before the Maoists joined open politics, the party had issued a ‘death’ warrant against him forcing him to take shelter in Darjeeling. Twelve of Mani Thapa’s supporters were abducted and kept in Kabre near Kathmandu under ‘arrest’, and allegedly tortured to disclose Mani Thapa’s whereabouts. Mani used to secretly cross from Jalpaiguri and plead with ‘soft’ comrades like Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Baburam Bhattarai for his comrades’ release.

Matrika Yadav, a former Forest Minister was until recently trying to forge an alliance of ‘like minded’ comrades to counter ‘Prachanda’s arrogance’. A few days before he united with Prachanda I had a long conversation with him in Delhi where he showed me a document he said he had given to Prachanda listing his party’s conditions for unity. As far as I could read from the document, unity looked impossible on those terms. Matrika wanted assurances that would in effect declare the new constitution reactionary, agreeing on principle for violent revolution and the right to national self determination of Madhesi and other nationalities. Matrika called the whole exercise a washover necessitated by pressure from the people of Nepal and his own party comrades.

Apart from these three leaders there are now people from different schools of thought in the party. There are people like Bishwo Bhakta Dulal ‘Aahuti’ in the party’s politburo who see Nepal’s unification by Gurkha King Prithvi Narayan Shah as hinduization of tribal people and unnatural imposition of a Brahmanist Varna System on a subjugated people. Also there are leaders like Laxman Panta, until recently a member of Kiran’s party, who are critical of tribal or janjati, madheshi and minority leaders’ for viewing Nepal from English eyes.

This jumble of contradictory and opposite thoughts doesn’t give sign of long-lasting unity. It looks more like a pre-poll alliance, survival of which will depend on the party’s election result. Even if the party does well in the election there is no guarantee that this unification will last. More so as shifting loyalties are acceptable values in Nepali politics.

By uniting these groups Prachanda has taken a very serious, if not miscalculated, risk. In Matrika Yadav he now has a face to project in the plains of Nepal, and in Badal and Dev Gurung he can reach out to janjati or tribal people. However it will not be easy for him to have complete and and undemanding loyalty from these leaders before and after the elections. Navigating through these difficult waters will be a difficult challenge for Prachanda.

However, Prachanda must be given credit for achieving what was looking impossible until recently. His ingredients are delicately balanced in what can be a good cocktail, but a wrong measure could spill it even before the people have had a chance to vote on the taste.

(Published in the Citizen, 4 July 2016)

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Nepal Stymies India

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

kp-oliNepal has cancelled an upcoming visit of its President, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, to India. Sources say the decision to cancel the visit was taken by Nepal’s cabinet on the behest of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who sees India’s hand in a bid to topple the new Nepalese government.

With this move, yet again, India has had to swallow a diplomatic defeat in Nepal. This is its third consecutive defeat since Nepal promulgated its constitution against India’s wish. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) should now seriously review its foreign policy, particularly with India’s immediate neighborhood. If the UPA government was criticized for neglecting its backyard and appeasing the West, the current government can be squarely blamed for destroying the relationship with India’s neighbours altogether.

In 2014, when NDA took over from UPA II, the then Prime Minister elect Narendra Modi, in his trademark pomp and show, announced that unlike his predecessors, the core of his government’s foreign policy would be to build a strong relationship with the neighbouring countries. He called the initiative “Neighbor First.” The invitation to the heads of the SAARC countries on his oath taking gave a glimmer of hope for many well wishers of South Asia. However, just after a few months, the facade started to crumble and like everything else, India’s foreign policy too was back in its traditional track.

In 2013, in an interaction programme in New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, former Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar spoke about how India’s foreign policy, by and large, is driven by its exaggerated security concerns. He narrated how in his own career he was often ‘briefed’ as to what he ought to do not by politicians but by officials of security agencies.

Fast forward to Nepal now and things don’t look different from the time when Bhadrakumar was serving. In last the two years, the ‘foreign’ policy advisors of Narendra Modi have made sure that the government doesn’t deviate from its long taken course without caring how awkward this could be for a man who has set great expectations for himself. Typically, India’s operation in Nepal shows that its foreign policy is and will be dominated by the logic disseminated from the ‘secret’ cables from its missions abroad.

It is now an open secret that since September last year, defying all logic, India has been trying hard to bring down the KP Sharma Oli led government in Nepal. India fears that the current government is threatening its own interest in Nepal. India’s assumptions are not based on hard facts but on feedback from its friends in the Nepali Congress and other parties as well as security analysts. To topple the government, it first tried to put pressure with the pretext of the Madhesi movement. The tactics boomeranged. Now, it is trying to forge an alliance between Nepali Congress and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) to topple the government. The development in Nepal suggests, it is snubbed yet again.

The government, had it depended more on its political advisors than some paranoid National Security advisors, it would have learned that the communists in Nepal are no different than reds of China or of West Bengal or Kerala. They too have turned ‘pragmatic’ long ago. It could have also learned that the Nepali communists are competing not to create a feared ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ but to woo India, to win its confidence. Since Nepal became a democratic nation, the sole aim of Nepalese communists has been to end Nepali Congress’s monopoly as a trusted friend of India. This understanding would have given India an insight into Nepali politics and also a new wisdom to deal with it.

India must also appreciate the fact that Nepal is now a democratic republic where politicians have to win people’s confidence to survive. It must also consider the fact that not allowing Nepali politicians to do so is tantamount to finishing off their careers. Nepali politicians certainly need breathing space and India could do better not by strangulating but rather, by helping in the creation of that space.

As Nepal was set to promulgate its constitution, India rushed its advisors to stop the process which ironically it had itself initiated in 2006. The long drawn drafting process had fatigued the people and they badly wanted it to end. Against this popular mood, India made its first blunder. It hastily tried to stop the promulgation of the constitution. Sometimes it seems that NDA is yet to learn to distinguish between a party and a country’s politics. A nation’s diplomacy is often different from the ideology of the party which is ruling it. It is strange that this time likes of SD Muni and other couldn’t guide India on the right path although earlier they played a very important role in ‘bringing the Maoists down from the hills’.

After it failed to stop the declaration, India, instead of welcoming it, tried hard to ‘impose’ its will on the already accepted constitution. No doubt there were and are some reasonable shortcomings in the constitution and a larger part of Nepal’s population remains unsatisfied with its provisions, but that isn’t enough of an excuse to visibly interfere in a foreign country’s politics. The ‘blockade’ was rather a shortsighted move which embolden Nepali leadership to take on India. The result: India lost its monopoly over Nepal’s fuel and other supplies, at least on paper.

And just at the time, when the harm done to the long standing relationship was on the path of recovery, India again shot itself in the foot. It looks as if India has made it an ego issue to remove Oli from the top seat. Otherwise, where is the logic in India wanting to replace a set of communists for another? India should know that only a miracle could bring the Nepali Congress to power before the next election. Both the UML and the Maoist are trying to form a united front in the upcoming election and they are in no mood to hurt each other. Prachanda will replace Oli only if Oli himself gives a go ahead. Hence, the strategy to play one against the other is full of risk.

So the best possible thing India could do in Nepal now is to stop doing anything at all. It should let this government complete its term and wait for the election result. Also, India could do better if it internalizes the fact that Nepal is now a democracy and there are certain obligations to it which, if not fulfilled, can cause more harm than good.

(Published in the Citizen, 9 May 2016)

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Nepal’s Bhattarai Set To Form New Party, More Splits In UCPNM Expected

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

baburamThe Resignation of Dr Baburam Bhattarai from the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), UCPNM, has not come as a real surprise for the readers of the Citizen. The break was delayed because the prolonged constitution drafting process Baburam’s intentions were visible on his face during his farewell press conference yesterday. His voice betrayed an excitement of a leader who is ready to explore new possibilities, and is clearly set to form a new political party.

The two main architects of the Maoist insurgency, Prachanda and Baburam, in Nepal were never able to come to terms with each other. Even during their underground days, they usually stood in opposite camps on many vital issues concerning the party’s ideological and political line. From the start of the civil war until it lasted there was hardly a year in ten years when news of their rivalry, threatening the existence of the movement, didn’t surface.

Prachanda’s loyalists often blamed Baburam of brewing ambition to oust him, at least ideologically. Prachanda, a shrewd politician knew that he needed Baburam on his side to make the struggle look more than an armed conflict. Baburam’s presence, a Ph.D from JNU, gave the party a facade to win over the middle class, which Prachanda believed was necessary for the movement to grow. Although he never tried to put a stop to the anti-Baburam campaign in the party he never seriously wanted to lose Baburam. He even allowed Baburam to write some of the important political documents during and after the insurgency. For Baburam, playing second to Prachanda, even when he was being humiliated was compulsion. He knew that without Prachanda it would be impossible for him to convince the party leadership to accept ‘bourgeoisie’ democracy as the goal of the movement.

Like the unity, the break too was a compulsion for Baburam who has been burning the midnight oil to carve an independent path for himself for long. In the last three years he has projected himself as a leader of a new age. He is the most active Nepali leader on Facebook and his idea of politics, corruption free, transparency, austerity, finds resonance among young Nepalis who are exposed to, thanks to smartphones, the state of politics in the world. Since 2012, he has been advocating ‘leadership of a new type’ for Nepal and consciously belittling Prachanda’s style of politics. Baburam, known for hardhearted reasoning, knows that shedding his ‘Maoist’ legacy is now necessary to win over youth in the changed politics of his country.

The move is obvious so is the outcome. Within days, several leaders will join Baburam’s bandwagon and leave Prachanda sulking. Prachanda, who was once described by the Time of India as a ‘Fidel Castro of South Asia’ seems set to outlive his utility.

(Published in the Citizen, 27 September 2015)

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Nepal Constitution Under the Shadow of the Military

Posted by chimeki on October 5, 2016

Over a week has passed since seven policemen and an infant were killed during a Tharu agitation in Tikapur in nepalworkerNepal. It was followed by riots and army deployment in the area. After 10 years the Nepalese Army is out of the barracks to enforce law and order.

Although Nepal today is a Republic, not a bit seems to have changed in the government’s approach towards crisis in Nepal. It’s still looking south for direction. Instead of making a serious effort to reach out to disgruntled groups the Nepal government seems to be in a hurry to promulgate the Constitution in ‘time’ under the military’s shadow. Suddenly extended Constituent Assembly sittings are being held.

The proposed constitution has opened old wounds which have bled Nepal since the 1950s. Lack of foresight coupled with superficial attempts to resolve it has, like always, only deepened the crisis. The standard crisis management method so far has been: first, suppress democratic aspirations, then negotiate and at the end create a bigger problem to make the first look minor or at least unworthy of any serious attention.

Just a brief recall: to counter parliamentarians, erstwhile King Birendra let the Maoists spread through the country, and even held secret talks with them. Later to control the Maoists, King Gyanendra held secret negotiations with China and other European countries and gave them full opportunity to influence Nepal’s internal politics. Then, to make the King listen, the parliamentary parties struck a deal with the Maoists. And in 2006, to subdue the Maoists, the Nepal government under late GP Koirala extended support to the Madhesi Movement.

The current crisis in Nepal too is the result of a lack of wisdom, and levels of connivance, in the current leadership of the ruling parties. In the last three months the Nepali politicians have made two fundamental errors which have fueled mass unrest. First, arose from the belief that the leaders of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) and Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, Democratic still hold credibility in their constituencies. Second, they couldn’t correctly foresee the people’s anger. They believed that with the Maoists and the Forum on their side they would make people accept the constitution without much trouble.

It is a fact that the second Constituent Assembly is hardly as representative of the will of Nepalese people as was the first. The representation of indigenous, Madhesi and dalits-minority has almost come to naught in the present Constituent Assembly. It is definitely a setback.

The parties which had been ruling Nepal for last three decades and were by large responsible for whatever Nepal is today, are in the majority and have forcibly revised several important decisions of the previous Assembly. The unrest today is a result of those revisions. Along with this the Maoists also completely capitulated on every positive issue they once stood for. Such as secularism, ethnic based federalism and land reform. In all, the 2nd Constituent Assembly has given a constitution minus the spirit of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and several other agreements and understandings with the Madhesi and other ethnic and poor people of Nepal. In fact, it gave the same constitution which had been proven outdated for Nepal long ago.

Hence, when the ruling government of the Congress and UML bet on Prachanda and Gachhadar to make people believe their intentions they made a very poor choice. Prachanda and Gachhadar have long lost their credibility. The Madhesi people don’t see Gachhadar as their representative leader. Similarly, Prachanda too doesn’t have the support of people beyond a tiny faction in and outside his party. The parties should have considered the fact that Prachanda lost the election from Kathmandu and marginally won from Siraha. It is only a ‘miracle’ that for the last three years he is at the helm of the UCPNM leadership. For long he has managed to remain at the top only as a compromised choice of rival factions in the party. Both Gachhadar and Prachanda are the leaders who everyone in their parties want to see fail. Their failure guarantees survival as well as resurrection of many other leaders.

Hence, the stamp of these two leaders on the new constitution was not acceptable. Their agreement on the draft only justified people’s fear that they were about to be fooled once again. The result: for the last two weeks Nepal is shut. Curfew is imposed in several parts and gradually the military is taking the lead role. Can a constitution promulgated in this situation give the lasting peace Nepal has been looking for since the 1950s?

(Published in the Citizen, 2 September 2015)

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