29 April 2014

A new economic agenda
To become a developed country, India’s GDP will have to grow at 12 per cent per year for at least a decade. Technically this is within reach, since it would require the rate of investment to rise from the present 28 per cent of GDP to 36 per cent

The question before a probable Narendra Modi-led government in 2014 is whether the statistically undeniable economic slide of thelast decade can be halted and a fresh impetus be given to growth in the Indian economy.

The answer is “yes” if good governance norms are properly enforced to enable the Indian economy to grow at 12 per cent per year in GDP for a decade which means efficiently deploying resources to reduce the current incremental capital output ratio from 4.0 to 3.0, and by incentivising the people to save more to increase the current rate of investment (which is domestic saving plus net foreign investment).

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, judged statistically by the dangerous level of fiscal and capital accounts deficit indicators, has squandered national financial and physical resources mainly due to a lack of accountability, corruption and high transaction costs arising for archaic bureaucratic procedures.

Modest goals within reach
This picture emerges from comparative statistics of National Democratic Alliance (1998-2004) and UPA (2004-2014) rule.

Efficient, corruption-free deployment of existing resources that implies a reduction in the capital-output ratio, means a 12 per cent GDP growth rate per year, i.e., a doubling of GDP every six years, and that of per capita income doubling every seven years.

This growth rate over a five-year period can take us into the league of the top three most populated nations of the world, i.e., of the United States, China and India — that is by 2020. Thereafter, India would be able to overtake China over the next decade. That should be the goal of governance for us today.

India is not yet an economically developed nation. India has demonstrated its prowess in the IT, biotech and pharmaceutical sectors and has accelerated its growth rate to nine per cent per year in the first decade of this century, up from an earlier 40-year (1950-90) socialist era average annual growth rate of a mere 3.5 per cent, to become the third largest nation in terms of GDP at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rates.

However, it still has a backward agricultural sector of 62 per cent of the people, where there are farmer suicides because of inability to repay loans. There is a national unemployment rate that is of over 15 per cent of the adult labour force, a prevalence of child labour arising out of nearly 50 per cent of children not making it to school beyond standard five, a deeply malfunctioning primary and secondary educational system, and 300 million illiterates and 250 million people in dire poverty.

India’s infrastructure is pathetic, with frequent electric power breakdowns even in metropolitan cities, dangerously unhealthy water supply in urban areas, a galloping rate of HIV infection, and gaping potholes that dot our national highways.

For a second generation of reforms
To become a developed country, therefore, India’s GDP will have to grow at 12 per cent per year for at least a decade. Technically this is within India’s reach, since it would require the rate of investment to rise from the present 28 per cent of GDP to 36 per cent, while productivity growth will have to ensure that the incremental output-capital ratio declines from the present 4.0 to 3.0.

These are modest goals that can be attained by an efficient decision-making structure, tackling corruption, increased Foreign direct investment (FDI) and use of IT software in the domestic industry. But for that to happen, what is required are more vigorous market-centric economic reforms to dismantle the remaining vestiges of the Soviet model in Indian planning, especially at the provincial level.

The Indian financial system also suffers from a hangover of cronyism and corruption which has left government budgets on the verge of bankruptcy. This too needs fixing. It cannot be rectified by a Reserve Bank of India vitiating the investment climate with an obsession to contain inflationary pressure. It is like killing a patient to lower his body temperature.

India’s infrastructure requires about $150 billion to make it world class, while a new innovation climate requires investment in the education system of six per cent of GDP instead of 2.8 per cent today. But an open competitive market system can find these resources provided the quality of governance and accountability is improved. Auctioning of natural resources such as spectrum, coal, oilfields, and land for commercial exploitation can largely substitute for tax impositions. Obviously, a wide-ranging second generation of reforms is necessary for all this to accelerate India’s growth rate to 12 per cent per year. India has many advantages today to achieve a booming economy. We have a young population (an average of 28 years compared to the U.S.’ 38 years, and Japan’s 49 years) that could be the base for it to usher in innovation in our production process (a demographic dividend); an agriculture sector that has internationally the lowest yield in land and livestock-based products, and also, at the lowest cost of production, a full 12 months a year of farm-friendly weather, and an internationally competitive, skilled and low wage rate, semi-skilled labour at the national level. The advantages are already being proved to the world by the outsourcing phenomenon of skills in the developed world and the cheap supply of labour to oil-rich countries.

Demography as an advantage
Since the world view of economic development has now completely changed, economic development is no more thought of as being capital-driven, but knowledge-driven instead.

For application of knowledge, we need innovations, which means more original research which in turn needs more fresh young minds — the cream of the youth — to be imbibed with learning and at the frontier of research.

For decades since independence in 1947 we had been told that India’s demography was its main liability, that India’s population was growing too fast, and what India needed most was to control its population, even if by coercive methods.

Globally, India today leads in the supply of youth, i.e., persons in the age group of 15 to 35 years, and this lead will last for another 40 years. Therefore, we should not squander away this “natural resource.” We must, by proper policy for the young, realise and harvest this demographic potential.

China is today the second largest world leader in terms of having a young population. But the youth population there will start shrinking from 2015, i.e., less than a decade from now because of a lagged effect of the one-child policy. Japanese and European populations are already fast aging. The U.S. will however hold a steady trend thanks to a liberal policy of immigration, especially from Mexico and the Philippines. But, even then, the U.S. will have a demographic shortage in skilled personnel. All developed countries will experience a demographic deficit. India will not have to experience this if we empower our youth with multiple intelligences. Our past liability, by a fortuitous turn of fate, has now become our potential asset.

Thus, India — by unintended consequences of a relatively unfettered population growth — is now gifted with a young population. If we educate this youth to develop cognitive intelligence to become original thinkers, imbibe emotional intelligence to have a team spirit and develop a rational risk-taking attitude, inculcate moral intelligence to blend personal ambition with national goals, cultivate social intelligence to defend the civic rights of the weak, gender equality, have the courage to fight injustice, and the spiritual intelligence to tap into the cosmic energy (Brahmand) that surrounds the earth, we can then develop an intellectually more advanced species of human being; an Indian youth who can be relied on to contribute to make India a global power within two decades. Only then will our demographic dividend not be wasted.

This goal thus has to be at the core of the economic agenda for the rest of this decade for a new government in 2014.
Politics of identity and location
The people from India’s northeast face severe discrimination in Delhi and elsewhere. But how does the northeast treat the ‘outsiders’?

Every now and again we hear of a person from one or the other of the north-eastern States of India being harassed, sexually molested or beaten up by irate landlords, mostly in Delhi. If we go by statistics then it appears that people from Manipur are most discriminated against in Delhi. But it is also true that every second north-easterner in Delhi, working in malls and retail outlets or the hospitality services is from Manipur. The protracted militancy and complete failure of the Manipur government to create meaningful employment for its youth have pushed them to a desperate edge from where the only escape route is a ticket to Delhi to find some job; any job to keep body and soul together.

The last horrific crime against a person of north-eastern origin happened on January 29 this year when Nido Tania, a 19-year-old student from Arunachal Pradesh, was beaten black and blue because he protested against being ridiculed for his hairstyle. Nido succumbed to his injuries. Following this incident, a beleaguered UPA government set up a committee to inquire into this incident and suggest measures to prevent similar outrageous acts against people from the eight north-eastern States working and studying in Delhi. Funnily, the committee consists of retired bureaucrats, many of whom don’t have any inkling about what it is to be a woman travelling through the dark lanes of Delhi’s non-Lutyens’ areas.

For the first time a television channel labelled the Nido Tania episode a racial crime. After that the word “racism” gained currency in the media. And that is not far from the truth. The people of the northeast are racially different. They look different; they have different eating habits and cuisines that can be scrumptious for some and repulsive to others. Their dances are myriad and their socialisation processes are different too. They choose their own life partners and dowry is unknown. Racially there are the Tibeto-Burman groups such as the Nagas, Mizos, Bodos, Garos, etc, and the Mon-Khmer group (Khasis and Jaintias). This is the reason why India is called a diverse country. But while it is easy to use jargon like “celebrating diversity,” or to term northeast a “rainbow country” it is much more difficult to assimilate and appreciate these diverse cultures and not to be disdainful of the cultural mores of people from this region.

The plight of ‘outsiders’
But people of the eight north-eastern States are themselves ethnically divided. There are major tribes and minor tribes. The so-called major tribes such as the Nyishis of Arunachal Pradesh or the Ao and Angami tribes of Nagaland lord it over the smaller tribes who live on the peripheries of development because even development is skewed and happens along these ethno-centric fault-lines. It would be erroneous to assume that the people of the eight States are socially homogenous and that they coexist happily with each other. Within the States there are ferments for greater autonomy. For instance, Meghalaya has three major tribes — the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo. The first two are of Mon-Khmer origin and the last a part of the Tibeto-Burman race. The Garos have always felt neglected and have now demanded a separate State. These demands for greater autonomy are not always peaceful. In fact the idiom of engagement with the state has always been violent and insurrectionary because the insurgents claim that the state does not understand the language and metaphor of non-violent assertions.

And in this horrifyingly complex situation we have the non-tribals who have lived in the region for three to four generations and have contributed their mite to the local economy. In Meghalaya, in the late 1970s, the Khasi Students Union — a body that is anything but student-like and has in its fold members who have either dropped out of school or are too long in the tooth to be considered students — launched an insidious attack on the Bengalis living in Shillong. Their reason for doing so is simplistic — the non-tribals are responsible for all the ills that afflict Khasi society. So attractive was the slogan “Khasi by birth, Indian by accident” that the words were splattered across public walls in the city. Claiming to be the vanguard of Khasi society, the KSU then went on a rampage, pulling non-tribals out of buses and lynching them. A pregnant woman, Gouri Dey was lynched in public but no one was nabbed and the case died a natural death since no one would give evidence. The next phase of communal violence saw a new set of victims — the Nepali settlers who have also lived in the State since it was a part of Assam, and the Biharis who kept cows and supplied milk to the residents. Another time, a number of Bihari families were burnt alive in the dead of night. The culprits were never caught and no one has been indicted in any of the acts of communal carnage that happened in Meghalaya.

The rise of civil society
The KSU is avowedly political, having spawned a political party — the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM). The acronym actually means an arrow and the expanded term means the “awakening of the children of the seven huts.” The Khasis believe they used to move freely between heaven and earth over a divine umbilical cord, until one day sin entered the world and the cord was snapped. Of the 16 families that were originally a part of the whole, seven families remained on earth and nine families continued to live in the sinless world. The word “Hynniewtrep” is a much-used jargon by politicians and all sorts of self-appointed guardians of Khasi society. It’s a word that ignites jingoistic feelings and motivates young people to commit excesses against “others” who don’t belong to the Hynniewtrep fold.

The KSU stance against non-tribals had to have an alibi. The alibi is simplistic. Raucous public meetings where the non-tribals are accused of taking away all “our” jobs, “our” land and “our” women became the order of the day. A non-tribal seen with a Khasi woman is taboo. Such a person would be beaten up immediately. At one point the KSU warned Khasi women not to wear the “salwar kameez.” Those who wore them were stopped and their clothes torn. This was in the early 1990s. Thankfully at the time, a leading women’s organisation, Synjuk Kynthei challenged this diktat by the KSU and warned it not to lay its hands on any Khasi girl. It was the first time that anyone had stood up to what the media terms as the “powerful students union.” But it worked and the KSU has since then not dared to tread into the domain of setting a dress code for women.

Ironically, the Synjuk Kynthei comprising some renowned women leaders, who have made a mark for themselves, did not assert itself when the violence was directed at non-tribals although they discussed the matter in their meetings and condemned the violence. By the mid-1990s, some radical members of the KSU left to form a militant organisation called the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). For over a decade the HNLC intimidated, extorted and eliminated non-tribal business persons in broad daylight. The only civil society group that stood up and condemned the militant violence and extortion upfront was “Shillong We Care (SWC).” Shillong was then very tense and fear and violence was palpable. Members of SWC engaged with the police and pushed them to create an anonymous helpline so that people who were threatened and extorted could call for help. SWC also provided a public platform where people could speak up and share their concerns. Many who were extorted could not sum up enough courage to speak. But SWC persisted and also enlisted many young people to stage street shows to demonstrate the diminishing returns of militancy.

It was only when the Khasi business community also began getting extortion notices and some Khasi business persons were kidnapped and killed that society began to speak up and condemn the HNLC rampage. Seeing that the civil society movement had gained momentum, the Shillong police came down hard on the HNLC and filed FIRs against businessmen suspected to be paying the outfit. This gave a handle to the business community to refuse to pay the HNLC. Many took anticipatory bail. A number of the HNLC militants surrendered. Its chairman Julius Dorphang also surrendered and is now an MLA.

Life without the rights
But the non-tribals continue to remain insecure and vulnerable. In the latest round of violence when several pressure groups demanded the imposition of an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter Meghalaya, along the lines of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, at least two non-tribals were burnt to death. The police have arrested some pro-ILP activists but the case seems weak and the suspects are out on bail. Non-tribals have lost the right to speak up and dissent. They live like third class citizens. Those who survive to do business do so by paying protection money to these different pressure groups. Non-tribals are debarred form buying land in tribal areas after the Land Transfer Act was passed in 1978. Those with self-respect have left Shillong and other parts of Meghalaya to settle elsewhere. Others continue to live here but with almost no rights. At least in Delhi, north-easterners have the freedom to protest the government’s acts. Nido Tania’s killers are in jail. What about the many deaths of non-tribals in Meghalaya since 1979? Will the family members of the deceased ever get justice?

PL480 to NFSA 2013:Achievements of india in food security

PL480 to NFSA 2013:Achievements of india in food security

Many of us would not be even aware that in the 1960s India was forced to import wheat from the US under the PL 480 scheme as it suffered from a severe shortage of food grain. The stories of humiliation and pressure to compromise on India's foreign policy to avail of this facility are now things of the past. The country has moved ahead from the PL 480 phase to a new era of economic reality where it has enacted the National Food Security Act (NFSA)- 2013 which assures food to 67 percent of people in the country who are likely to suffer food deprivation. This indeed marks a giant leap whose impact is going to be multi-dimensional and multi-layered. The guaranteed availability of food to the people, especially those in the below poverty line bracket and belonging to vulnerable section of society will have a significant income effect translating into higher nutritional intake and therefore improved health status. The extra income, it has been argued, could be used for 'medical or educational expenses.. or to supplement expenses for farm inputs'. Indeed for the families struggling for survival, the assured food grain could allow them a 'chance to live with dignity'. We often forget that even now two thirds of India's population hovers around the poverty level. The expenditure on food items is a significant part of their monthly budget. Realising the importance of providing for the basic food requirements of the population, India has a long established Public Distribution System (PDS) which has played a significant role in keeping the chronic hunger at bay and has a strong impact on the reduction of poverty.


Trail Blazers: Why should you always remember these 12 women IFS officers
HEARD of Madam Muthamma, India’s first IFS? Or, can you name the first woman spokesperson of India’s foreign office? Or the first pair of sisters in the Indian Foreign Service? And finally, the woman IFS officer who had to resign because she wanted to get married? Here are 12 women officers, taken out of the list of outstanding women IFS prepared by the public diplomacy wing of the MEA, who will always be remembered as trail-blazers in the service. Here it’s why:
CB Muthamma
In 1949, Muthamma joined Indian Foreign Service. And she happens to be India’s first woman IFS officer. She also became the first Indian woman ambassador/high commissioner.

Prof Surjit Mansingh
Sounds odd, but Mansingh had to resign as an IFS officer before she got married. But it was the rule then. There were instances of women IFS officers taking special permission to get married. And women IFS were also paid less than their male counterparts. Mansingh later joined as a professor in Centre for International Politics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Arundhati Ghose
This 1963 batch IFS officer was India’s first permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva. She had also served as India’s Ambassador to Egypt.

Chokila Iyer
This 1964 batch IFS officer holds the distinction of being India’s first woman foreign secretary. Later, she worked as the vice-chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.

Meira Kumar
This 1973 batch IFS officer becomes India’s first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha, India's lower house of Parliament. During her service as an IFS, she worked in Indian missions of Spain, United Kingdom and Mauritius. She was also a cabinet minister in Manmohan Singh government.

Leela K Ponappa
She is a 1970 batch IFS officer who has the distinction of being India’s first female deputy National Security Adviser, and secretary of the National Security Council Secretariat. She was also India’s ambassador to Thailand and the Netherlands.

Nirupama Rao
Rao, a 1973 batch IFS, became the first woman spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) in 2001 and then India’s first woman ambassador to China. Later, she became India’s foreign secretary, and then India’s ambassador to US.

Meera Shankar
A batch-mate of Nirupama Rao, Shankar became the first woman career diplomat to serve as India’s ambassador to United States (2009 to 2011). She was also India’s ambassador to Germany, and held the post of Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Ruchira Kamboj
Currently the chief of protocol to the Government of India, Kamboj is the first woman IFS to hold this coveted position. This 1987 batch IFS had served as the deputy head in the office of the commonwealth secretary-general, London.

Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa
She is an Indian Foreign Service officer of 1979 batch. She was the first woman ambassador to any Gulf state. Currently, Wadhwa is Indian ambassador to Japan.

Sudhi Choudhary and Nidhi Choudhary
The Choudhary sisters are the first pair of sisters in the Indian Foreign Service. Whereas Sudhi Choudhary is of 2009 batch, Nidhi belongs to 2012 batch IFS.
Justice RM Lodha sworn in as Chief Justice of India
Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha was on Sunday sworn in as the 41st Chief Justice of India.

Justice Lodha (64) will have a brief tenure of five months as CJI and will retire on September 27 this year.

Justice Lodha heads the bench which is monitoring CBI's probe into the coal blocks allocation scam. He was also instrumental in passing orders making the CBI independent from political clutches. The bench headed by him had said that CBI does not require sanction of the government to prosecute senior officials in cases being monitored by courts.

It was Justice Lodha's bench which had ordered that the CBI will not share information with the political executive on coalgate probe. The judgment had led to the resignation of Ashwani Kumar as the law minister in May last year.

He is part of a constitutional bench looking into the mode of education of minority schools.

Last month, a bench headed by him had allowed defence personnel in "peace stations" to vote in constituencies where they are posted, saying "compulsions of their job" shouldn't come in the way of a basic right.

Another bench headed by him had stopped clinical trials in the country saying the interests of the people were more important than those of pharmaceutical companies.

Later, the government framed rules for monitoring of clinical trials and for paying compensation to people affected in the process.
The IIFA Awards have been announced. The winners are:

Best Film: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Actor: Farhan Akhtar for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Actress: Deepika Padukone for Chennai Express
Best Entertainer of the Year: Deepika Padukone
Best Debutant: Dhanush for Raanjhanaa
Best Supporting Actress: Divya Dutta for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Supporting Actor: Aditya Roy Kapur for Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani
Best Male Playback Singer: Arijit Singh for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
Best Female Playback Singer: Shreya Ghoshal for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
Best Lyrics Writer: Mithoon for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
Best Story: Prashoon Joshi for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Performance in a Comic Role: Arshad Warsi for Jolly LLB
Best Performance in Negative Role: Rishi Kapoor for D Day
Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema: Shatrughan Sinha
Best Cinematography: Binod Pradhan for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Screenplay: Prasoon Joshi for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Dialogue: Prasoon Joshi for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Editing: P S Bharti for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Production Design: Wasiq Khan for Goliyon Ki Rasleela- Ramleela
Best Choreography: Remo D'souza for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Best Action: Sham Kaushal & Tony Ching Siu Tung for Krrish 3
Best Sound Design: Nakul Kamte for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Song Recording: Vinod Verma for Lungi Dance
Best Sound Mixing: Anup Dev for Chennai Express, Debajit Changmai for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Background Score: Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Special Effects: Keitan Yadav & Haresh Hingorani - Red Chillies VFX
Best Costume Designing: Dolly Ahluwalia for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Best Make-up: Vikram Gaikwad for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
ESSO: Providing scientific & technical support

By all measures, 2013-14 has been the most challenging, eventful and productive years for various endeavors of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) in the recent past. One of the important milestones accomplished during year is commencement of full-fledged operations at the 3rd Antarctic Station “Bharati”. India has been accorded observed status in the Arctic Council in recognition of India’s scientific contribution and endeavour in Polar research.

During the year, the country witnessed a number of natural disasters such as tropical cyclones Thane, Phailin, and Helen and extreme events like landslides in Uttarakhand and floods in Andhra, Gujarat due to intense precipitations, and earthquakes besides strongest southwest monsoon of the recent years. It was a daunting task to issue timely and reliable information on rainfall, winds, storm surges, high waves which have been successfully performed. This has received an overwhelming appreciation from a wide range user community. The improvement in forecasting of various events has been accomplished primarily due to coordinated effort of all the entities of ESSO and strengthening of observations networks of ocean and atmospheric sectors, assimilation of data, implementation of high resolution global and regional ocean atmospheric models.

The high performance computing system has been upgraded from the existing 70 Teraflop to storage archival capacity of one Petabyte, which is ranked at 36th position in the world’s top 500 and first in the country. The Agro-Meterelogical advisories have been extended to all the 600 districts of the country and sub-district services are being done on pilot scale in selected districts. Currently, over 4.2 million farmers have subscribed to the agro-advisory services. For the first time in India, an indigenous climate model has been employed for studying variability and predictability of monsoon on seasonal, interannual and decadal time scale. The long range forecast for the season (June-September) rainfall for the country as a whole was 104-108% against actual rainfall of 106% of LPA for the year 2013.

With regard to ocean mineral survey and exploration, the work was productive. A series of seven major research cruises of 30 days each have been conducted in the central Indian Ocean Basin for acquisition of marine geophysical data, where the newly developed deep-see mining technologies were tested and made operational on experimental basis. These include testing of ROSUB at the mining site for exploitation of hydrothermal sulfides, which transmitted real-time data from the Indian Ridge in the Indian Ocean to oversee monitoring the operations from Chennai.

India’s filed the application for allotment of a site for exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides in the Indian Ocean during meeting of the International Seabed Authority, Kingston, Jamaica, held from 8-19 July 2013. Towards providing improved earthquake information, a set of 75 Broadband seismic and GPS receivers have been established. The state of the art Indian tsunami early warning system is now capable of issue advisories on tsunamis occurred not only due to earthquakes anywhere in the Indian Ocean but also landslides as demonstrated during the recent Pakistan earthquake. As per India’s commitment to the UNESCO, the International Training Centre of Operational Oceanography was established and made operational for promotion of capacity building and training activities for the countries of the Indian Ocean Region.

Under the outreach programs, the ESSO had organized Earth Science Olympaid in September 2013. The economic benefits of various services being rendered by ESSO across the sectors are well recognized, which contributes sustainably to the GDP. Lastly, the ESSO’s participation of various activities emerged from the Result Framework Document effort. Viz., preparation of Action Plans for ISO 9001:2008, and effort should be made for improve Innovations and Citizen’s charters have been rated as one of the best. The evaluation of performance of the RFD of ESSO has secured 94% consistently for the 3rd year.

Rajeev Suri is Nokia CEO

Rajeev Suri is Nokia CEO

Yet another India-born business leader has climbed the ranks. Finnish firm Nokia, which recently sold its mobile unit to Microsoft, has appointed Rajeev Suri as the company's new CEO and President.

Mr. Suri joined Nokia in 1995 and has held a wide range of leadership positions in the company. Since October of 2009, he has served as CEO of NSN, the former joint venture between Nokia and Siemens that is now fully owned by Nokia.

During his tenure as CEO, that business went through a radical transformation to become one of the leaders in the telecommunications infrastructure industry.

Risto Siilasmaa, who has been serving as the interim CEO, will now return to his role as Chairman of Nokia's Board.

“I am honoured to have been asked to take this role, and excited about the possibilities that lie in our future,” said Mr. Suri, in a statement. “Nokia, with its deep experience in connecting people and its three strong businesses, is well-positioned to tap new opportunities during this time of technological change. I look forward to working with the entire Nokia team as we embark on this exciting journey,” Mr. Suri added.

27 April 2014

Where should the judiciary draw the line?

Where should the judiciary draw the line?
Judicial activism, keeping in view the ideals of democracy, is necessary to ensure that unheard voices are not buried by more influential and vocal ones.

“Instead of re-ploughing the well-worked terrain which ranges justiciability against non-justiciability, the real challenge is to formulate a democratically justifiable role for the courts.”

While justifying this statement of hers, Professor Sandra Fredman elucidates the “remarkable way” in which the Indian judiciary has succeeded in the above endeavour. It is the same Indian judiciary which has come under the media scanner over the past few months — interventions/ decisions in the imprisoning of Subrata Roy in the SEBI-Sahara dispute; the IPL betting case; the challenge to Section 377 of the IPC; and the most recent dicta on the status of transgenders have evoked a mixed response. What the critics of judicial intervention have, however, missed is the fact that in each of these cases, judicial intervention would have been unnecessary but for legislative/ executive inaction and inefficiency — PRS Legislative Research’s data reveals that 51 per cent and 42 per cent of the available time in the Budget and Monsoon Sessions for the year 2013 was wasted due to disruptions. The object of this piece is not to go into the merits of each of the above decisions but to put forward an argument in favour of judicial activism and to analyse where the Court has to draw its Lakshman rekha keeping in view the main aim of judicial activism.

After playing a largely “interpretative” role in the 1950s and 1960s, the Supreme Court, starting from the 1970s has been the major force standing up against legislative and executive excesses and inactions. Judicial activism was necessary to ensure that constitutional and legislative changes were not used as tools to aid an authoritarian Government. Starting from inventing the ‘basic structure’ doctrine to bring constitutional amendments under the judicial scanner to widening the scope of the right to life and liberty by reading into it the non-justiciable directive principles of state policy such as the duty to promote education and the duty to preserve the environment, the 1970s and 1980s saw the judiciary play a highly proactive role in ensuring that India develops into a thriving democracy.

The decision in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, where it was held a person could be deprived of his right to life only by a law which was just, fair and reasonable; and in Bandhua Mukhti Morcha v. Union of India, where the concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was introduced and the locus standi requirement was diluted, were landmark developments in the march of Indian constitutional law and more importantly were key game changers which ensured that India did not slide down the slippery slope towards dictatorship.

Intervention, not overreach
The most common argument against excessive judicial intervention is Professor Waldron’s who argues that empowering judges to decide on policy issues amounts to disrespecting the democratically elected representatives of the majority.

The logical extension of this argument is that judicial activism results in upsetting the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the judiciary.

However, such an argument firstly assumes that the legislature and executive are performing their functions efficiently and secondly that the judiciary is incapable of intervening in a manner which helps further the ideals of democracy.

The assumption that the Parliament and executive make policy decisions based on effective participation with the citizens a flawed one and the judiciary has a role in ensuring that there is effective participation from interest groups. Further, Professor Waldron’s argument assumes that judicial intervention means that judges have the final say on the policy issue. The judges can, however, promote decision making relating to policy issues without being the ultimate decision maker.

The Indian model of activism has formed the bedrock of South African jurisprudence. However, there are certain landmark South African decisions which can be used as a guide as to where Courts must draw the Lakshman rekha.

The best example is the Rand Properties case which involved a challenge to the state’s eviction of inmates of dilapidated buildings in central Johannesburg.

Since right to housing was a fundamental right which the state had failed to provide, the judiciary directed the state and the inmates to “engage with each other meaningfully … and in the light of the values of the Constitution, the constitutional and statutory duties of the municipality and the duties of citizens concerned” to resolve the dispute.

The judiciary, by its interventions, ensured that these deliberations were on a level playing field as the final result of the deliberations was susceptible to scrutiny by the Court.

In this manner, while it ensured that executive inaction was not pardoned, the final decision itself was left to the executive but subject to judicial superintendence.

Another example of an innovative pro-democratic intervention is the case of Minister of Health v. Treatment Action Campaign, where the government was given directions to review its policy regarding distribution of antiretroviral drugs and plan an effective and comprehensive national programme to prevent Mother To Child Transmission (MTCT) of HIV.

In order to ensure enforcement, the judiciary required that MTCT prevention policy should have timeframes for its implementation and that it must take into consideration the condition of those who cannot afford to pay for medical treatment. Most importantly, it required the state to continuously report to it about the implementation of the programme.

Restrictive interference
These cases clearly illustrate that it is possible for courts to monitor actions of the other limbs of democracy without actually stepping into their shoes. These precedents get theoretical support from the writings of Professor Roach who argues that the judiciary should not create policies to enforce rights but must require the government to draft its own policy and submit it along with a timetable for execution. The finalisation of this plan must be only after the judiciary has heard objections from other interested parties.

Once such a policy is framed by a legislature/ executive, it is to be interfered with by the judiciary in a very restrictive manner, using the principle of deference. According to this principle, the judiciary, while evaluating executive/ legislative action (or inaction), should modify the policy framed only when the reasons provided are not reasonable.

A court should merely see whether the reasons provided by the executive justify its decision, not whether the court would have reached the same decision. This standard should be applied not only when a policy is tested before the courts but also by courts to see if executive / legislative inaction is justified.

While there is the danger of judicial activism being misused by unscrupulous elements and the Supreme Court has come down heavily on such misuse, the solution is not to throw away the baby with the bathwater.

The mere risk of judicial over-activism cannot be an argument against judicial activism. Judicial activism, keeping in view the ideals of democracy, is, in fact, necessary to ensure that unheard voices are not buried by more influential and vocal voices. Indeed, on most occasions, timely interventions of the judiciary in India — the home of judicial activism — has helped democracy flourish in our country despite repeated failures of the other organs.

samveg ias


20 April 2014


हमें अच्छे -से-अच्छे अवसर दिए जाते हैं,पर हम अपनी मनः स्थिति के अनुरूप ही उनका चुनाव करते हैं 

एक आदमी कहीं से गुजर रहा था, तभी उसने सड़क के किनारे बंधे हाथियों को देखा, और अचानक रुक गया. उसने देखा कि हाथियों के अगले पैर में एक रस्सी बंधी हुई है, उसे इस बात का बड़ा अचरज हुआ की हाथी जैसे विशालकाय जीव लोहे की जंजीरों की जगह बस एक छोटी सी रस्सी से बंधे हुए हैं!!! ये स्पष्ठ था कि हाथी जब चाहते तब अपने बंधन तोड़ कर कहीं भी जा सकते थे, पर किसी वजह से वो ऐसा नहीं कर रहे थे.
उसने पास खड़े महावत से पूछा कि भला ये हाथी किस प्रकार इतनी शांति से खड़े हैं और भागने का प्रयास नही कर रहे हैं ? तब महावत ने कहा, ” इन हाथियों को छोटे पर से ही इन रस्सियों से बाँधा जाता है, उस समय इनके पास इतनी शक्ति नहीं होती की इस बंधन को तोड़ सकें. बार-बार प्रयास करने पर भी रस्सी ना तोड़ पाने के कारण उन्हें धीरे-धीरे यकीन होता जाता है कि वो इन रस्सियों नहीं तोड़ सकते,और बड़े होने पर भी उनका ये यकीन बना रहता है, इसलिए वो कभी इसे तोड़ने का प्रयास ही नहीं करते.”
आदमी आश्चर्य में पड़ गया कि ये ताकतवर जानवर सिर्फ इसलिए अपना बंधन नहीं तोड़ सकते क्योंकि वो इस बात में यकीन करते हैं!!
इन हाथियों की तरह ही हममें से कितने लोग सिर्फ पहले मिली असफलता के कारण ये मान बैठते हैं कि अब हमसे ये काम हो ही नहीं सकता और अपनी ही बनायीं हुई मानसिक जंजीरों में जकड़े-जकड़े पूरा जीवन गुजार देते हैं.

याद रखिये असफलता जीवन का एक हिस्सा है ,और निरंतर प्रयास करने से ही सफलता मिलती है. यदि आप भी ऐसे किसी बंधन में बंधें हैं जो आपको अपने सपने सच करने से रोक रहा है तो उसे तोड़ डालिए….. आप हाथी नहीं इंसान हैं.


सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने किन्नरों को स्त्री और पुरुष से अलग तीसरे लैंगिक समूह की तरह मान्यता देने का फैसला किया है। अदालत ने केंद्र और राज्य सरकारों से कहा है कि वे इस तीसरे लैंगिक समूह को समाज का एक उपेक्षित और पिछड़ा वर्ग मानकर उनकी भलाई के लिए विशेष सुविधाएं मुहैया कराएं। भारत दुनिया में पहला देश है, जहां ऐसा कदम उठाया गया है। अदालत ने यह भी कहा कि ऐसा करने के लिए संविधान या कानूनों में किसी भी तरह केफेरबदल की जरूरत नहीं है, क्योंकि भारतीय संविधान में ही सभी नागरिकों के लिए समान अधिकारों का प्रावधान है। हर किसी को बिना किसी भेदभाव के वे सारे के सारे अधिकार मिलने ही चाहिए, जो संविधान में बताए गए हैं। लैंगिक रुझान की वजह से देश में किसी को भी इन अधिकारों से वंचित नहीं किया जा सकता। दिक्कत यह है कि किन्नरों को समाज में अच्छी नजरों से नहीं देखा जाता, इस सामाजिक दुराग्रह को दूर करने के लिए मानवीय नजरिये की जरूरत है। यह तभी हो सकेगा, जब एक तो उनके प्रति समाज का नजरिया बदले और दूसरे उन्हें समाज में एक उपयोगी भूमिका और सम्मानजनक स्थान मिले।

ऐसे लोगों के प्रति भारतीय समाज का नजरिया इस फैसले से बदल सके, तो बहुत अच्छा होगा। हमारे समाज में किन्नरों के प्रति दोहरा रवैया अपनाया जाता है। एक ओर समाज में खुशी के मौकों पर इनकी मौजूदगी को शुभ माना गया है और इस तरह से इनके लिए रोजी-रोटी का इंतजाम किया गया है, तो दूसरी ओर इनके प्रति ऐसा दुराग्रह है कि ये सामान्य रोजगार या शिक्षा हासिल नहीं कर सकते। ऐसे में, इस वर्ग के लोग गा-बजाकर भीख मांगने या यौन व्यापार की मजबूरी में ही फंसे रहते हैं। ऐतिहासिक रूप से भारत में ऐसे लोग इस तरह सामान्य समाज से बाहर नहीं थे। इतिहास में यह दर्ज है कि कई किन्नर राजाओं की सेना में काम करते थे या छोटे-मोटे शासक भी बने। ब्रिटिश राज के शुरू में यौन शुचिता का जो मॉडल अख्तियार किया गया, उसमें स्त्री और पुरुष के अलावा तमाम दूसरे यौन रुझानों को अपराध का दर्जा मिल गया। इससे ये लोग अलग-थलग पड़ गए। कानूनन अलग दर्जा न मिलने की वजह से ये कई नागरिक अधिकारों से भी वंचित रह गए।

सुप्रीम कोर्ट के फैसले में यह भी कहा गया है कि स्त्री और पुरुष से इतर अगर किसी का यौन रुझान है, तो उसे इस रुझान या पहचान को जगजाहिर करने की स्वतंत्रता होनी चाहिए। अब चाहे वोटर पहचान पत्र हो, ड्राइविंग लाइसेंस हो या पासपोर्ट, इस तीसरे समूह के लोगों को अपने को स्त्री या पुरुष की तरह दर्ज करवाने की बाध्यता नहीं होगी। हालांकि सुप्रीम कोर्ट का यह फैसला कई तरह से ऐतिहासिक है, लेकिन इस तीसरे लैंगिक समूह को बराबरी के लिए अभी एक लंबा रास्ता तय करना होगा। सबसे बड़ी जरूरत इनको शैक्षणिक सुविधाएं मुहैया करवाने की है और यह आसान नहीं है। शिक्षा के बाद आम रोजगारों में इनके लिए जगह बनाना, और फिर देश की मुख्यधारा में इन्हें शामिल करना भी बहुत कठिन काम होगा। लेकिन इसी के बाद ये अपने परंपरागत पेशों से बाहर निकल पाएंगे। उनके प्रति समाज के रवैये और उन्हें लेकर बने उसके नजरिये को बदलना कानूनी अधिकार मिलने से कहीं ज्यादा मुश्किल है। इसके लिए लंबे समय तक सतत प्रयास करने होंगे। अब इस फैसले के बाद देश के कानून निर्माताओं को समलैंगिकता के बारे में धारा 377 पर भी पुनर्विचार करना होगा, क्योंकि ये दोनों मामले जुड़े हुए हैं। सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने एक शुरुआत की है, इसके आगे सरकार और समाज को इस उपेक्षित वर्ग के लिए काम करना होगा।

Problems of higher education in india

Learning as commodity

The fact that hardly any Indian institution of higher education figures in the list of top 200 prepared by The Times Higher Educational Supplement is taken by many as proof of the poverty of higher education in the country. Indeed, on several occasions, President Pranab Mukherjee himself has expressed anguish that very few Indian institutions figure on the THES list.

It would follow from this those institutions which do figure on this list, or are close to doing so, are of good quality, while the crisis in this sector only afflicts those numerous institutions, especially state universities, which are way below the mark. Implicit in the focus on THES and such other lists is the view that within the dualistic structure of Indian higher education, with a few elite institutions at the top and vast numbers of poor institutions below, the former are more or less "all right", while the crisis is confined only to the latter. This view, however, is incorrect.

The essence of the dualistic structure of Indian higher education is that both sides of it are crisisridden, the first group experiencing as much of a crisis as the second. Although their crises are of different kinds, they are interrelated, constituting two sides of the same coin.

The crisis of the second group is obvious and getting worse by the day because of the fiscal squeeze on state governments, which are their main funding agencies. Most of them now make do with guest faculty or temporary faculty instead of permanent faculty, since they lack resources. Guest faculty and temporary faculty are paid a pittance, much lower than permanent faculty, and are deprived of all benefits including pensions. They have little incentive, scarcely any institutional commitment, and often supplement their meagre incomes by giving private tuition, which leaves them little time for keeping up with new intellectual developments in their fields, let alone for any research or deeper academic cogitations.

Some state universities do not even have funds to employ temporary faculty; they simply let the students fend for themselves. I remember once, as a member of a University Grants Commission committee, being told that the economics department of a university that used to be quite prestigious not long ago had only three faculty members to look after the MA, MPhil and PhD programmes. The students had to cover large parts of the syllabus entirely on their own, with literally zero teaching by faculty members.

The students produced by these institutions are also left to fend for themselves on a job market that is anyway characterized by an excess supply of job- seekers. They end up either jobless or with jobs that have nothing to do with their inclinations and with whatever education they manage to acquire. The neo- liberal economic regime has aggravated the crisis of this particular academic universe. Tax concessions to the rich in the name of development, combined with limits on government borrowing enforced through fiscal responsibility legislation, have restricted the total resources available to Central and state governments as a whole; and among them the Centre has claimed the lion's share, forcing cash- strapped state governments to squeeze higher education. To be sure, state governments cannot escape culpability on many counts, but they have operated within fairly tight structural constraints.

These constraints, and their fallout, are visible not just in India but elsewhere in the world as well. Even in the United States there is a tendency to replace permanent faculty with adjunct faculty, which is paid a pittance, in the current atmosphere of austerity. In fact, out of total faculty strength of 1.5 million in the higher- education sector of the US at present, as many as 1 million — those is, almost two- thirds — are adjunct faculty. This, apart from violating the basic principle of "equal pay for equal work", does great damage to the quality of higher education. No doubt, the US scene is not as bleak as the Indian one, but very similar tendencies are at work there as well.

It is hardly surprising that in this situation there has been a mushrooming of private profitmaking institutions offering courses in technical subjects in particular, where the excess supply of jobseekers is less. They charge exorbitant fees, which often force students to take education loans, and to pay back these loans they have to turn themselves into commodities, selling themselves to the buyers who offer the maximum price. Many educationists actually fear that when the demand for job- seekers goes down, the pressure to pay back debt may cause a spate of student suicides, much the same way as we have peasant suicides. This sector, in short, is marked by the shameless commodification of education.

One of the hallmarks of a commodity is that it is no longer a "usevalue", or a thing of utility, for the seller. The products of this privateeducation sector, therefore, are not oriented to deriving creative satisfaction from their work; and correspondingly, they do not derive any creative satisfaction from using the input — namely, education — that goes into producing the commodity which they are themselves. The private education sector converts education into a commodity and takes all creativity out of it, which necessarily makes it second- rate. It is noteworthy that in the US, for instance, institutions of higher education are either state- funded or run by private charitable endowments.

They are not meant to be profit- making entities. Radical criticism no doubt accuses institutions run by private charitable endowments of transgressing into moneymaking — but it remains a case of transgression. Commodification, however, started long before the boom in private institutions. Publicly- funded institutions like the IITs, IIMs, and medical institutes, which were supposed to aid the country's quest for self- reliant development, were from the very beginning major sites of brain drain, with absolutely no restrictions imposed by the government.

The process of commodification, already evident in the brain drain, has now reached a stage where such institutions are ranked according to the initial salaries that their students command when they are offered placements at the interviews arranged by placement cells within them.

Commodification is inimical to creativity. It is also impervious to the social role of education. Not surprisingly, therefore, even within those institutions, which make it to the THES list or are on the verge of doing so, casteism, communalism, inegalitarian views, even contempt or at best unconcern for the poor, and patriarchal attitudes like demanding dowry, all of which, besides being objectionable, are also against the values enshrined in the Constitution on which modern India is founded, are quite prevalent among students. This was not always the case.

Many of these institutions were cradles of egalitarian and radical thought not long ago, despite the trend towards commodification implicit in the brain drain. But neoliberalism has made material selfseeking and self- promotion, to the detriment of any creative quest for self- realization, which necessarily brings in its wake a social concern, a pervasive trait among their students.

S ince education must be concerned with arousing sensitivity to one's surroundings, in particular a social sensitivity (or, to borrow a Gamscian term, since education must produce in societies like ours a group of " organic intellectuals of the people"), one would not be far wrong in saying that in the best of our institutions we are not providing education in the true sense. The readiness with which students in our front- ranking institutions are reportedly succumbing to the so- called " wave" generated by a person widely tipped to be the next prime minister of the country, despite his lack of contrition over, if not actual complicity in, a pogrom against the Muslims in 2002 in the state he led, testifies to a failure in our higher education system.
One cannot of course cavil at students choosing one kind of politics over another, but one has not heard of campuses in our elite institutions having massive debates over support to the person in question, which is worrying. It suggests not just a lack of sensitivity to the feelings of minorities, not just a lack of concern for secular values, but above all a lack of quest for freedom and self- realization; for one cannot be free if one's fellow human beings feel oppressed. It reflects an advanced process of commodification, of both education and its products, even in our front- ranking institutions. At both ends of the spectrum of higher education, therefore, we have a crisis. The dualistic structure exacerbated by the neo- liberal regime prevents proper education in the institutions below because of a lack of resources; it prevents proper education in the institutions above by making it a commodity. The quest for a place in the THES list will further exacerbate this dualism, further commodify education, and further aggravate its crisis.

defence exercise

Indo-French Air exercise ‘Garuda-5'
Jodhpur: India and France would start a ten-day joint Air exercise ‘Garuda-5′, aimed at training the pilots and crew of Indian and French fighters in air superiority operations in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur airbase from June 3, IAF sources said.
Both the Indian Air Force and French Air Force would be engaged in various missions ranging from close combat engagement of large forces, slow mover protection, and protecting and engaging high-value aerial assets in the exercise at the strategic airbase near Indo-Pak border, they said.

The flying consisting of air to air refuelling, basic and advanced fighter interceptions, protection of high-value aerial targets and group combat manoeuvring would be the main focus of the exercise, IAF sources said.

Objective of the exercise is to expose IAF Pilots to French Fighter Tactics and French Pilots to Indian Fighter Tactics, to expose IAF Aircrew to Air to Air Refuelling, Cross-servicing of a common type between ground crews and Understanding basic concepts of each countries fighter operations.

Four Rafale multi-role fighter aircraft and one air Refueler aircraft with more than 100 personnel would form the France delegation.

“The focus of the Air Exercise from June 3 to June 13 is learning from each other’s best practices,” Defence spokesperson Col SD Goswami told PTI today.

ukraine crisis

East vs West: Flashpoint Ukraine

The question many nations of the world are asking is whether the relatively brief period of the post-Cold War era is over. It would perhaps be premature to slot the Ukraine crisis as the beginning of a new version of an old division of the world. But beyond the shrill rhetoric emanating from Moscow, Washington and other world capitals, we are witnessing more than a conflict of interests. What is happening is the West’s denial of the right of the Russian Federation to safeguard its geopolitical interests.

What President Putin is trying to accomplish after annexing the Crimean peninsula following the West’s pre-emptive action in signing on Ukraine into the European Union at the cost of Russia is to ensure that a country of 45 million people in a vast area bordering on its flank is not absorbed into NATO. Moreover, half of this country consists of primary Russian-speakers and have deep cultural, religious and trade links with the Russian Federation.

Understandably, Russia is keen to prevent the complete encirclement of its motherland by a western military organisation. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the weak leaders that took over the fragmented successor state, the US and West European nations trod all over Russia, breaking legions of promises, to co-opt the former constituents of the Soviet Union such as the Baltic states but also countries like Poland. The new attempt was to take in the land mass of Ukraine and Georgia, among others, to tighten the noose.

The Russian Federation sent its military into Georgia to carve out two areas of the country into independent states in 2008, a warning the West chose to ignore. In the long negotiations with former President Viktor Yenukovych, the European Union sought to co-opt Ukraine into the West through the European Union and later NATO. He balked at the prospect of putting his signature at the last minute because he was not prepared to face Russian wrath.

In any event, Moscow made his task easier by giving him a loan of $15-billion and a hefty discount on gas prices, the lifeline of Ukraine’s energy needs. This decision of the former President led to months of demonstration in Kiev’s Maidan, to be ostentatiously cheered by high-level representatives of the United States and West European countries ultimately leading to sniper shootings and an interim agreement among the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland in the presence of a Russian representative calling for a presidential election by the end of the year. But the demonstrators on the Maidan had tasted blood, tore the agreement before it was dry and proclaimed a revolution.

An interim government was formed, the imprisoned former leader Yulia Tymoshenko was released from confinement and addressed the crowds. To save himself from harm, Mr Yanukovych fled to Russia. The European Union quickly signed an agreement with the interim leaders, keeping some provisions in abeyance until the expedited presidential election would be held towards the end of May. All this was par for the course. But subsequent events, including bouts of rebellion in the eastern region the US is charging Russia with instigating, imply that the West will continue the encirclement of the Russian Federation at an unacceptable cost.

There is much talk in Western capitals on how Russia’s actions have re-energised a drooping NATO, how the West European nations must increase their defence budgets, on the permanent stationing of NATO troops on European soil, in addition to the increased air patrolling of NATO nations’ borders. The point of these moves is that the West has not accepted the fact that Moscow is fighting to safeguard its national interests as best it can after losing out to the West following the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, has spelled out his country’s demands. It wants a federal constitution for Ukraine, with the regions given a great measure of autonomy in administering their affairs, a guarantee for the official status of the Russian language and a constitutional provision that it would not enter NATO. In other words, Ukraine will remain non-aligned between the European Union and Russia while dealing and trading with both. Thus far, the US has rejected the idea of a new federal constitution.

Beyond the slated meetings among the US, Russia and other interested parties, the underlying problem is the West’s refusal to give weight to legitimate Russian strategic interests which is something akin to a hostile power signing on Mexico for its own geopolitical interests at Washington’s expense. Perhaps Washington and West European capitals wish to complete the diminution of the Russian Federation in the world. The argument over Russia’s form of government as opposed to the growing ranks of democracies does not wash because the West has frequently supped with the devil and continues to do so for reasons of state and geopolitical interests. The question here is not how evil and dictatorial President Putin is in running his country and its foreign policy but in how Russia conceives Western actions to be damaging to its core interests. At present Russia and the West are talking past, rather than to, each other. True, the West has tacitly accepted the reincorporation of Crimea, in view of its tangled history and it being the base of the important Russian Black Sea Fleet. But it is not prepared to go further in guaranteeing that Moscow’s legitimate concerns on Ukraine be accommodated.

No one wants a new hot war in Europe or anywhere else. The options the West is formulating revolve round increasingly stinging economic sanctions which would make life difficult for the Russian Federation. Such sanctions would come at a cost to West European nations, which receive a substantial portion of their gas and oil supplies from Russia, apart from London being a favourite place for Russian oligarchs to park their billions.

The alternatives seem to be between a new round of economic blood-letting before arriving at a compromise and a decision to seek a fair compromise for safeguarding Ukraine’s integrity while taking into account Moscow’s legitimate interests.

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