Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Leaderless State - Omar Abdullah must crack down on violence and give fresh lease to talks

As violence in the Kashmir valley continues to escalate with eight more deaths on Monday taking toll in current spate of violence to 37 it is fast becoming clear that Srinagar is in the grip of a serious leadership crisis.The state government has been shown up by administrative as well as communication failures,worsening the law and order situation manifold.Chief minister Omar Abdullah,far from delivering on the promises of hope and a fresh approach,has displayed an unfortunate lack of leadership skills.His inability to effectively strike a chord not just with the people of his state but also members of his own ruling coalition has meant a damaging loss of credibility. It was expected of Abdullah to personally intervene by way of showing solidarity with those affected by the violence and adopting a hands-on approach to restoring normalcy.This would have restored the peoples faith in the state government.But failure to do so has resulted in a massive trust deficit.J&K police,for example,are pathetically under-equipped and undertrained,despite promises made long ago of implementing non-lethal crowd-control measures.At present they appear to have practically ceased to function.Substituting them with CRPF personnel is not a good solution as the latter,trained in counter-insurgency and lacking local knowledge,cannot be expected to control crowds or maintain law and order.

The current cycle of protests-deaths-protests needs to be broken at all costs,while the state government must simultaneously step up communication with people in Valley. Abdullah has spoken of a political package to calm the situation,but this is nebulous as long as the contents of such a package arent fleshed out and agreed upon by stakeholders in the Valley.For that dialogue is necessary and the Centre must come forward,but it is incumbent upon opposition and separatist groups to participate as well. The Peoples Democratic Party may have cynically calculated that letting the state burn will burnish their opposition credentials and help them in the next election cycle,while moderate Hurriyat leaders may fear elimination by militants.Conducting dialogue in the media spotlight is conducive to posturing,which wont lead to any lasting solution. Therefore,quiet diplomacy,nas suggested by home minister P Chida-mbaram, is the best way forward. To create the conditions for that, however, the present drift must be arrested.The anarchic situation in the Valley,which is causing suffering all round,must speedily be brought to an end.
(source-toi editorial)
SECONDOPINION - GAMES THEORY - CWG delays and cost overruns will boost the economy
(BY Jug Suraiya)

A hue and cry has been raised that our national honour will suffer irreparable damage as a result of corrupt and inefficient officials whove been getting kickbacks and cutting corners at the expense of the countrys reputation as it prepares to host the Commonwealth Games.With less than two months to go before zero hour,horror stories abound,raising fears that the CWG tiger mascot,Shera,may well have joined his real-life jungle counterparts as an endangered species. Not one of the 16 Games projects inspected by the Central Vigilance Commission to date has passed quality control tests.Stadiums have roofs that leak or,worse,come crashing down.Already,in a swimming rehearsal,an athlete was injured because of defective equipment.It has been revealed that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had,in a report submitted to the government a year ago,warned that bureaucratic bottlenecks would inevitably lead to inordinate delays and that there was little or no hope of the time-bound targets being met.Instead of tabling this report in Parliament,as is customary,the government decided to keep this information to itself.

The result of all this bungling and wheeling-dealing The cost of the Games,according to sports minister M S Gill,has gone up 17.5 times: from Rs 655 crore in 2003 when Delhi bid for the Games to Rs 11,494 crore at present,and still counting.With panic buttons being hit as the deadline looms dangerously near,whatever little financial prudence there has been is likely to be thrown to the winds and costs are bound to further escalate as money is poured into desperate last-minute efforts to complete hopelessly delayed projects.

So are the Games going to be a totally ruinous exercise for India Should those responsible,starting with the Organising Committee,be denounced as traitors and made to face the consequences of their many sins of omission and commission Of course not.In India,as always,every dark cloud has a silver lining,which generally has to do with someones pocket.Whether its the Games or any other sarkari project from the newlyopened and dysfunctional-from-day-one T3 addition to Delhis airport to the NH8 Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway enormous escalation in costs is the order of the day.

Conventional wisdom might view such throwing away of money as a shameless waste of scarce national resources.However,according to what might come to be called Games theory,such unrestrained sarkari expenditure could well be the secret of Indias growth story.Think of it this way: which private sector component of India Inc can boast of a 17.5-fold growth in value in seven years as the Games can Very few,if any.Yet look at almost any project sponsored by the present government or indeed any of its predecessors and youre likely to discover that its value,in terms of money spent on it,far exceeded all projections.

If India is to achieve double-digit economic growth as the prime minister and the finance minister keep reassuring us that it will it will be in no small part thanks to such value additions made by the sarkar in open-handed pursuit of its own projects.Or,at least,so says Games theory,which believes in the dictum that what goes around,comes around.In other words,the more money you spend,the more money is circulated through the system,boosting the economy.And not just the domestic economy,but the recession-strapped global economy as well.Because a lot of the Games-related loot will fund the purchase of luxury penthouses in London,or villas in the south of France.

Far from being punished,the organisers of the Games should be given the next Nobel prize for economics.Indeed,Games theory is going from strength to strength.India is reportedly planning to bid for the 2019 Asian Games.China is said to have overtaken Japan as the worlds No.2 economy.Thanks to its Gamesmanship,the Indian elephant might well leapfrog over the Chinese dragon.

Games,set and match.

No comments:

Post a Comment