The Significance of India’s Election

Deepak Tripathi

(ZNet, May 23, 2009)

The results of the month-long general election in India are noteworthy in several respects. The political shift they represent and their possible effects for the domestic and foreign policies of one of the leading emerging powers in the world will be analyzed over the coming days and months. Here, it is worth looking at some notable aspects to emerge and what they mean. For they will be indicators of the likely conduct of India and what to expect from the country in the next few years.

The United Progressive Alliance, led by the Congress Party, has retained power. Its performance has defied many predictions. With over two-hundred seats won by Congress alone, the alliance finished up just short of an absolute majority in the 543 contested seats for the lower house of parliament. Such a performance is enough to attract support from smaller parties. The governing alliance should have a safe passage through the next five years.

The Congress leadership will be relieved for two other reasons. First, the governing coalition will not have to depend on the Marxists as had been the case in the last parliament. Second, the Marxists themselves have suffered heavy reverses this time and their strength is much diminished. To a considerable degree, this outcome is of their own making. They turned on themselves as the 2009 election approached. Their gamble to confront the governing alliance over India’s relations with the West and over economic policy failed. More

Moral Crisis

Deepak Tripathi

(ZNet, May 13, 2009)

“The roots of violence: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.”  

                                                                                                                                                                  – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Rather like the state of the world today. We see violence in many forms, of which the latest is the scandal revealed of the ‘expenses bonanza’ of British MPs using public money to maintain their own lifestyle. This at a time when millions of their fellow citizens struggle to cope with the economic meltdown.

Ordinary people lose jobs, their homes, their possessions; children go to bed hungry, their education suffers. After a long period of posturing by the rulers and their clamor to punish ‘benefit cheats’, the day of reckoning has arrived. Britain’s political parties are on the defensive not seen in living memory.

Recent disclosures in the Daily Telegraph newspaper make clear that the ‘benefit regime’ for British MPs, under the rules which they themselves made, had been evolving for almost thirty years. Under the regime, large amounts of state money were claimed for gardening and for food; private homes were frequently bought and sold, in one case three times in a single year, pocketing the money gained and avoiding the capital gains tax; lavish furniture, clothes, pet food, bought at taxpayers’ expense. More

Pakistan in Crisis

Deepak Tripathi

(CounterPunch, May 6, 2009)

President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan is this week on his first visit to the United States since coming to office. It comes at a critical time for Pakistan and for America’s relations with that nuclear-armed, but failing, country in South Asia. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Pakistan’s failed neighbor, is also in Washington for trilateral meetings with President Obama and other leading figures in the administration.

Recent escalation of violence in Pakistan has brought grim warnings from senior American officials in Washington about the viability of the Pakistani state. A month ago, General David Petraeus, the top military commander in the region, testified in the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘militant extremists could literally take down the Pakistani state’ if left unchallenged. On the same day, a senior Pentagon official, Michele Flournoy, warned of higher US casualties in Afghanistan in the coming year. And Admiral Eric Olson, chief of America’s special operations commandos, described the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan as ‘increasingly dire’. According to one report, General Petraeus has privately told the White House that the administration has as little time as two weeks to determine its future course of action in Pakistan as the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari struggles against an insurgency that is growing alarmingly. More