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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

In Nepal PM Modi failed to break with the past

Posted by chimeki on August 6, 2014

Courtesy: Business Standart

Courtesy: Business Standard

Despite beginning his speech in Nepali, acknowledging Lumbini as Gautam Buddha’s birthplace and reuniting Jeet Bahadur with his family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit was an absolute failure in terms of everything India wanted to see him achieve. People in India as well as Nepal expected from PM Modi that he would break with the old tradition in India-Nepal relationship where Nepal always has to play younger brother role and usher it in an era of equality opportunity. Sadly, as at home he couldn’t deliver abroad.

His maiden speech in the Constituent Assembly of Nepal was worst ever speech by a visiting head of any country in any host country. It was more of a sermon than a clear cut diplomatic statement, which every one rightly expected.

PM Modi was expected to fill the holes which consecutive Indian governments had dig in in Indo-Nepal relationship but he, like his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh, ended up adding more!

Narendra Modi did well to begin his speech in Nepali but failed to keep the momentum. Initially it appeared that he was one who was free of big brother syndrome, which Indian leaders generally carry, but two-three sentence later he shed his mask of humility and started coaching Nepali parliamentarians on his favorite topics: religion, history, management and mostly importantly himself!

What India badly needed in Nepal was an image makeover. For whatever India does in Nepal is always seen with suspicion. Suspecting everything India does in Nepal is the default setting in a Nepali mind. So PM would have done better if he would have come out of his election mode and talked business. After all he wasn’t there to influence voters!

The first blunder that Modi made was to unnecessarily evoke gods to describe Nepal’s relevance. Doing that, he ignored the feelings of non-Hindu population of that country. He wasted many minutes of his 45-minute long speech to explain how his coming from Somnath and winning election from Kashi (Varanasi) brought him closer to Pashupati (Nepal)! Further he wrongly claimed that 125 crore Indians want to visit Pashupatinath temple!

In his enthusiasm to impress or impress upon Nepali parliamentarians, half of whom are Communists, he forgot to minus Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and other minorities of India and Nepal from that number who are barred from entering the elite temple. In the gate of the temple it is written in bold, ‘Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premise’! Moreover, even Nepalis do not relate themselves to Pashupatinath. It is Gautam Buddha who is the real national symbol in Nepal. Ask any Nepali there, the first thing he would like a tourist to see in Nepal is Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha. PM Modi would have done better by congratulating Nepal on becoming a secular democratic country.

It is again a diplomatic blunder to try teaching leaders of host countries what they should be doing. In half of his speech he did this. To add on to it, he told the members of the Constituent Assembly that they didn’t know what they were actually doing! He spoke as if those men and women didn’t understand the meaning of constitution writing. Once he even said, ‘you think you are doing this but actually you are doing that’.

The PM would have really done well had he talked about the process of Indian constitution writing. It was an opportune moment to remember Dr BR Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, and the challenges he had to overcome to write it. And, also what features of Indian constitution played important role to keep India stable and on the path of social justice. It would have definitely given the Nepali law makers some food for thought. But our PM ignorantly mixed modern constitution with the ancient Hindu texts! Rather suggesting them to have saintly and priestly mind, he could have suggested them to have scientific and rational attitude.

It makes one wonder if our PM really don’t know anything beyond the Ganges, gods, Hindu religion and of course himself. He didn’t once mention any great Nepali leader or literary figure. Compare his speech with the US President Barak Obama’s in the Indian Parliament and readers can easily spot the differences. President Obama spoke about Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He evoked both to highlight the importance of equality, human dignity and social justice. In contrast PM Modi could only stereotype Nepalis as shedding blood in India’s wars and belonging to the country of Lord Pashupatinath. President Obama genuinely recalled the roles of his predecessors in building relationship with India. PM Modi, in contrast, negated the roles played by the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, IK Gujral and others in bringing India and Nepal closer. It wouldn’t have left bad a taste had he talked about Jayaprakash Narayan, Chandra Shekhar, VP Singh and other Indian leaders who always associated themselves with Nepal’s democratic movements and who Nepali people still fondly remember. But no, Modi can’t do this. His ego is too big to see anything beyond himself. With this attitude, Modi will never achieve what he intends to achieve. He can never be the South Asia’s leader he aims to become and who the region badly needs.


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Iran-US Relationship: Twitter Diplomacy Won’t Work

Posted by chimeki on October 21, 2013

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani

‘President Rouhani has landed in #Tehran after a super busy week in NYC. #UNGA ‘, read Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s twitter post as he landed in Tehran. Apart from being ‘busy’, the week is surely the most important one in Iran’s history after the week in February 1979 when the last king of Iran Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from 14 years in exile.

In October that year passionate followers of Ayatollah Khomeini stormed into the US Embassy in Tehran and held fifty two Americans hostage. They were demanding that the US extradited the Shah to be put under trial for the crimes he had committed during his rule against the Iranians. The crisis lasted for 444 days. On 20 January 1981 Iran, after a series of behind-the-curtain-negotiations with Ronald Reagan’s team, allowed the hostages to fly back to their country. The day also coincided with Reagan’s swear in ceremony in the White House. President Reagan is said to have famously said, ‘the mullahs are our friends’. It is not often when the US takes egg on its face lightly but in this particular case it did because it could not afford to let one more country of the Middle East go the USSR way!

However, post 1990s Iran lost its relevance and was bracketed an ‘axis of evil’. Now that the US is finding its influence in world affairs being over shadowed by Russia and China it is ready to improve its relationship with the estranged country. But this time it will not be that swift as it was then.

The USSR was a communist country and the Iranian government was intrinsically against the communist ideals. It was easy for it to convince its supporters to shake hands with a former capitalist foe than to embrace a new communist friend. Although he had collaborated with communists to topple the Shah, but once he had established himself firmly in the power he crushed them tooth and nail. He went as far as to reconcile with the Shah’s legacy! VS Naipaul in his book Among the Believers has brilliantly captured the development.

Russia, once a communist country, is now a centre of Christian fundamentalism. Putin has managed a comeback on the back of conservative Russians who see in him a potential pre-revolution Russian ruler. According to an estimate Orthodox Church in Russia has influence over ten crores (100 million) voters. Putin and the Church share the same ideals and draw their inspiration from Tsarist Russia. They see future of Russia from Nicholas the First’s eyes who propagated Official Nationality based on, ‘orthodoxy, autocracy and nationality’.

In this backdrop, as long as the Imams rule the country, the Orthodox Russia will be seen closer than a secular, ‘atheist’ America. Even if we believe that political relationship are not completely based on religious proximity then also there are several other factors which suggest Iran is more comfortable flirting with Russia than with the US.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

In the last two decades Iran and Russia have given new dimensions to their relationship. They cofounded Gas Exporting Countries Forum in 2001 which, if we are to believe experts, has potential to become OPEC like cartel of gas producing countries. Iran has also been accorded observer status in Shanghai Cooperation Organization which aims at countering the US influence in Asia.

Apart from sharing pragmatic concerns both countries are staunch critics of the US policy in Middle East, especially its policies on Israel and Palestine. In addition to this, both Russia and Iran have reservations about Saudi Arabia and its satellite emeritus.  Hence it is difficult for the US to penetrate and create space for itself.

It does not look that the USA and Iran can come closer in near future. The US has itself destroyed/ eroded the trust it used to enjoy with the Iran during the Cold War. Now there is no reason the new Iranian president can convince his people on the importance of being closer to the USA.

The US warming up to Iran is actually an anxious step and without much homework. In the long run it will make it look weaker or perhaps comic.  The US is trapped under its own making. The more it tries to break free the more it gets entangled.


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A Case for Election Reform in America

Posted by chimeki on September 10, 2013

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

With America’s rhetoric for war on Syria becoming louder, one wonders if this is a sign of failing of American model of democracy. The polls conducting by various media houses in the US suggest that more than 60 per cent people don’t want war. They also show that people see President Barack Obama’s claim that Assad government has used chemical weapon against the Syrians a lie. Even then the war on Syria looks apparent. It is just a matter of time.

The American apologists have always projected the American model of democracy as the most successful model ever practiced. They have hailed the ‘two term only’ condition for its president as one of the best, if the not best, ways of keeping a check on presidents and not making despots of them. However the truth is that America’s system has produced more depots than all the previous communist or religious states put together have produced.

Since 1950 America is directly or indirectly involved in every war occurred in the planet. During Soviet times it was believed that wars were needed to safeguard American interest or for that matter interest of the democratic world. After the collapse of the USSR and China adopting market economy it was believed that the age of war had ended. But the last two decades have witnessed more wars and more US presidents who seem eager to go to war. Starting from senior Bush and till Barak Obama no president seems serious to leave aside the policy of war as a US policy intervention in countries which it sees as a challenge to its hegemonic aspiration.

This demands a close scrutiny of American model of democracy. If democracy, as we see it today, has to survive the US model must go. A system that gives its rulers immense power to do anything without being responsible for the will of the people cannot be argued as a democracy. The more it is run the way it is run it will certainly prove Lenin right that, it is a system where one ruler or set of rulers is replaced by another to exploit workers.

The 22nd amendment to the US constitution, which set a term limit on the presidency, has allowed its presidents to work on their own. Before the amendment a candidate feared people who could show him doors and worked hard to be rewarded the next term. This way he was checked to do right things or the things people considered right. Since the amendment was passed by the Senate the presidents had acted more carelessly. Whatever good they did they did only during their first term. Richard Nixon, for example, took America out of Vietnam War. Likewise, President Ronald Reagan began his massive economic assault on people in his second term in the office. Pushing America in war on Iraq on the first term cost Sr Bush the second term. Jr. Bush led to Afghanistan, which out of some misinformation was approved by the Americans however his war in Iraq was never sanctioned by the people. Barack Obama is proving to be the most war loving president in America’s history. In the first term he talked about peace and in the second he looks more a bloodhound.

Americans have to find out way where they do not a president to act on his own without respecting the people who has chosen him. They must demand for the election reforms. The Senate must be above president and vice versa.


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