Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What does Indo-Pak peace mean for the people?

Sometimes a picture captures reality and expresses our asiprations better than any set of words. This is one such picture from THE HINDU. People-centric policy-making finally penetrating through the impervious mindset of our polity. Let's hope this is the begining.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lance - An inspiration

Rare are moments in history when the soaring of the human spirit is so universally evident and awe inspiring as is in the case of Lance Armstrong's 7th and final Tour De France win. Coming back from the brink of death to win arguably the toughest sporting event in the world 7 consecutive times is a testimonial to his determination, his dedication and his love for cycling. And in the process he has deservedly so acquired a legendary status not only among cancer survivors but among all those people who dream of possibilities that challenge our imagination.

Today the cancer community and all of those who stand with them are proud to have a friend and a hero in Lance. As a survivor himself he has carried the burden of our expectations and through him so many have lived their dreams of winning and in the process gained strength to fight their own battles.

As he bids farewell to cycling he's welcomed to a life of greater work and contribution to the world. We wish him great health and seek his camaraderie in the endeavors to alleviate pain.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

An Opportunity for Change - Prime Minister Singh in Washington

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gets ready to address a joint session of Congress he is presented with a rare opportunity to chart a new course for Indo-US relations. He must not waste it. Breaking through the typical niceties and declarations of democratic values, the Prime Minister should address issues that confront the common citizenry of both nations in their struggles for dignified living. And this can be achieved by proposing and acting on policy initiatives that positively impact the new economic partnership, promotes technological collaboration and articulates an unambiguous response to terrorism.

On the economic front much has been said of the growing partnership between the two nations. This partnership must indeed grow but not just for the industrialists on both sides but for the people at large as well. One way this can be achieved is by having both governments committing themselves to giving an equal amount of weight to develop small businesses. Instead of pitting one middle class against the other, the two leaders must find a way that enables small investors and businesses to cooperate with each other. This will provide greater opportunities for employment generation as well as forge a much closer relationship between the two peoples.

Additionally, collaboration in science and technology must not be held hostage to the defense sector alone. Some promising interaction has been initiated in the field of biotechnology, but for India its use will be validated only when these new technologies enable it to provide affordable health care to its most vulnerable. Increasingly rural indebtedness in India is associated with health care costs. Affordable technologies have made a great impact in tackling basic development issues. Cellular telephony has penetrated deep into India and other telecommunication advances have enhanced rural India’s access to information and resources. These technologies have also greatly improved governance. The Prime Minster should urge the Administration and the American business community to invest in assisting India to become a better decentralized democracy. Space collaboration should continue to grow in order to inspire the next generation of explorers in both countries. Overall the scientific collaboration should be such that gives children in both countries the motivation and opportunity to pursue careers in science. Both nations have produced some of the greatest scientific minds and thus the onus to promote a culture of scientific inquiry is their joint obligation.

Differences persist on the issue of terrorism - not in recognizing its threat but in response to its threat. There is no question that external terrorist threats are real and must be the top priority of the security apparatus. However, diplomatic efforts, if pursued in unison, can greatly diminish the effects of ideological rhetoric. Such efforts can only succeed if those who need this help the most take the lead in reforming their own societies - there can be no imposition of democracy. India must not abandon its positions to appease any foreign government, but it must possess the vision to engage with sincere peacemakers. Geopolitics is inescapable but holding the relationship between two of the most prominent democracies captive to conventional strategic interests is a great disservice to the rare opportunity that has befallen the two nations to forge a new bond.

Only history will tell us how these meetings affect the course of Indo-US relations but it must not be lost on any one of us how important this coming together is. We hope the two leaders can see through the ceremonial aspects and get down to addressing the issues that are front and center of their people as they leave home every morning in pursuit of a better life.