PAKISTAN ARMY SAYS CHIEF DID NOT ASK OFFICERS TO LEARN FROM INDIAN DEMOCRACY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

The Pakistani army has denied that its chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had asked his officers to emulate the values of Indian democracy. In a tweet, Major Gen Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Pakistan armed forces, have said that the ‘news/comments quoting COAS (chief of the army staff)’ address to officers at Rawalpindi regarding book ‘Army and Nation’ is a disinformation’.

Gen Bajwa’s photograph is tagged with the tweet which further clarifies its context with an incomplete caption that reads ‘army officers should learn from Indian democracy, says Pakistan army chief Qamar J…’ – essentially a poor damage control act after Gen Bajwa’s vision for the Pakistani army was widely reported in the Indian media.

On February 13, Pakistan’s newspaper The Nation had published a piece on its new army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s vision for the Pakistan’s army as told by him during his first official address to his colleagues in December 2016.

Titled ‘Coordination, not competition, with civilians: The Army Chief’s Glasnost’, among many other things, the article had quoted the Pak army chief saying something that was so unlike Pak army that it caught immediate international attention. Gen Bajwa, in no unequivocal terms, as The Nation piece puts it, conveyed to his colleagues that the Pak army must remain within the constitutional role defined for it and must not meddle in affairs of the civilian government.

Saying a civilian Vs military dichotomy is always ‘counter-productive for a country and the army should have no ‘business in running the government’, he advised his colleagues to read “Army and Nation”, a book written by Yale University professor Steven I Wilkinson, a well received book that details how India has emerged as a successful democracy with civilian supremacy over its military establishment.

Gen Asif Ghafoor’s tweet, that is the first official denial from the Pak army on the issue, looks like a shabby, reluctant attempt to damage control. It might have been driven by this afterthought that the Pak army has always been in control in Pakistan and such views by its army chief may be seen undermining its supremacy in the society. Coming five days later of The Nation piece, the tweet clarification conveys a half-hearted attempt at best that sounds too little, too late. Had it been so alarming, we would have seen a denial the same day the article appeared, like it happened with India’s surgical strike inside Pak-occupied-Kashmir. Within hours, the Pak army had forced its political establishment to toe its line to deny any Indian surgical strike, a lame attempt to save face.

©SantoshChaubey

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS..

INDIAN DEMOCRACY..PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS

RAW CELLPHONE CLIP
NEW DELHI RAILWAY STATION – 16.09.2016

WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRATIZING AIR FARES..BUT WHAT ABOUT THESE LONG QUEUES TO CATCH UNRESERVED, LOWEST CLASS SEATS IN OUR TRAINS FOR A JOURNEY OF 20 OR 40 HOURS?

IT IS NOT THAT PEOPLE GO FOR IT AS THIS IS THE CHEAPEST SEGMENT OF TRAIN TICKETS. THEY JUST CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THIS ONE!

AND THEY ARE A REGULAR FEATURE – BE IT DELHI OR MUMBAI OR KOLKATA!

THIS RANDOM CLIP HERE HAS CAPTURED A CONVERSATION A PERSON HAD WHILE SITTING IN THE AIR-CONDITIONED (HIGHER AC) COMPARTMENT OF ANOTHER TRAIN, A CONVERSATION THAT IS SYMBOLIC OF THE CHASM BETWEEN HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS IN OUR COUNTRY!

CONCERNS THAT TELL THE TALES!

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

©SantoshChaubey

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS..

lmtd-1

lmtd-2

lmtd-3

INDIAN DEMOCRACY..PART DONE..PART WORK IN PROGRESS

CELLPHONE CLICKS
NEW DELHI RAILWAY STATION – 16.09.2016

WE TALK ABOUT DEMOCRATIZING AIR FARES..BUT WHAT ABOUT THESE LONG QUEUES TO CATCH UNRESERVED, LOWEST CLASS SEATS IN OUR TRAINS FOR A JOURNEY OF 20 OR 40 HOURS?

IT IS NOT THAT PEOPLE GO FOR IT AS THIS IS THE CHEAPEST SEGMENT OF TRAIN TICKETS. THEY JUST CANNOT AFFORD EVEN THIS ONE!

AND THEY ARE A REGULAR FEATURE – BE IT DELHI OR MUMBAI OR KOLKATA!

LONG MARCH TO DEMOCRACY

©SantoshChaubey

DO YOU TODAY IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY?

I am sure not many would be aware of this day though it is a United Nation’s calendar day and one of the most important UN observances.

The UN says of the day, “The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.”

So, how do we perform on all these parameters even if most of us are not aware of the day’s observance?

India is the world’s largest democracy which is also the robust one in its weaving. It is performing exceedingly well on some parameters but at the same time, is dragging on many others.

The UN website page dedicated to the day further says, “The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy.”

Yes, India’s credentials in holding free and fair periodic elections is a marvel that the whole world must look up to. We are, in fact, the world’s laboratory in electoral practices, that in spite of being the world’s second most populous nation with the most diverse set of cultures and ethos, has been able to set and hold a gold standard.

What adds more to our impeccable record is that we are still segregated – on caste and community lines – on class and social lines – and on affiliations and ideological lines – yet India holds almost every year free and fair elections in every part of the country – be the national level polls – or polls in the insurgency hit states like Jammu & Kashmir – or polls in disturbed areas like the North-Eastern states. Our universal suffrage mandate and practice is technically flawless.

But when it comes the elements like “values of freedom, natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights and an equitable distribution of wealth, and equality and equity in respect of access to civil and political rights”, it is clearly a mixed bag that makes us a flawed democracy, even if we are too robust, large and naturalized to fail.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey  

CAN CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM BE BROUGHT WHILE BEING OUT OF IT?

Can change in the system be brought while being out of it?

It’s obvious answer is both – yes and no.

It all depends on the prevailing circumstances in the system – whether the system still has the elements who care for the conscious voices – or it has got deaf enough to block them on the periphery – if throwing them out is not an option.

The classic case where the centre or the core or the ‘haves’ sections of a society rule it with sheer domination – keeping the critical or hostile voices or the ‘have nots’ at the periphery – and the vicious circles of hegemony continues.

Unfortunately, it the second category that defines our prevailing socio-political system where even the world’s lengthiest written constitution has not been able to ensure the proper implementation of all its tenets – and its spirit.

Like it is always said that even if we got our independence from the British, we are yet to see a flawless democracy ruling the systems in the country. Though we are the world’s largest democracy – and a robustly functional one – the Global Democracy Index, annual ranking the Economist, finds us a flawed democracy – placing us at 35.

And it is not without reasons.

We have a transparent electoral system but the political corruption vitiates the whole atmosphere – so much so – that now the political class is considered and seen as a class apart – the elite who themselves feel and behave like supremacists. The deeply percolated VVIP culture (VIPism) has now become a part of even the smallest governance units of our country. And when you political class stars acting like it owns the country, it is the beginning of the process that starts killing the democratic spirit of the society – that starts contaminating every aspect of the society – so much so – that corruption has become a way of life for us.

The second biggest political reform movement of India, after the JP movement of 1970’s, the anti-corruption agitation led by the veteran activist Anna Hazare in 2011 was fuelled by anti-corruption sentiments only.

But like the JP movement, it, too, was co-opted by the people ruling the mainstream of the society.

If we have to set it correct, we need to overhaul the system – and to do that – we need to change the way we do politics.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

SOME STRAIGHT THOUGHTS ON ‘SPIRAL OF SILENCE’ IN ACTION IN INDIA

THE QUESTIONS

— Is the ‘Spiral of Silence’ coming into its own in India now?

— Is the 2004 General Election a beginning point to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ in action in India?

— How is social media shaping the ‘Public Sphere’ discourse in India?

— Is India the next big leap for a socially relevant social media after the Arab Spring?

— India shows even the robust democracies can be the perfect social laboratories for the ‘Spiral of Silence’ expressions?

— Are elections the best avenues to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ patterns in a democracy that has loads of greys?

— Is the Indian democracy caught in a dilemma between being politically correct Vs being politically relevant Vs being politically apolitical Vs being apolitically political?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

LATE NIGHT SUPREME COURT HEARING SHOULD BE SEEN IN THIS CONTEXT

India may mean many things to many but one thing is common – it has a robustly functional democracy – a 2:30 AM hearing on Yakub Memon in the Supreme Court shows it.

Yes, Yakub Memon’s case is not going to be a beginning to undo the chasm and malaise that beset Indian democracy.

It is not going to address the problem of ‘legal remedy getting costlier’ and therefore being not available to the majority of the population.

India’s top court, in an unprecedented move, in a first, opened after midnight to hear someone who was going to die in next few hours after being given death sentence.

And the development is indeed a positive factors, is an indicator of how strong are democratic values – irrespective of the reasons working behind it.

The point is – India’s apex court worked on it – even after rejecting Yakub Memon’s last legal options just few hours earlier.

Yes, India’s democracy is ‘robustly functional’ because India is the world largest democracy and has been so for nearly 70 years in spite of multitudes of problems working overtime to drag it backward. Its future is rightly expected to keep positive promises to work for.

In fact, India is the only democracy in the world where large population groups of different religions coexist under a common Constructional administration. Yes, religion does give them some specific leverages but that is mostly individual in nature and doesn’t intervene with the nation’s governance.

Yes, it is daydreaming to expect that this unprecedented late night/early morning hearing by the Supreme Court is going to set a trend where people with such ‘extreme grievance conditions’ will be able to knock the apex court at any hour of the day.

Majority will simply not get the coordinates required – lawyers and round the clock coverage – that Yakub Memon got and that made it possible – something that made the apex court take cognizance of a late night plea to conduct a hearing.

Debates like ‘death penalty has no place in a civilized world’ have their own validity but we need to be equally sensitive to the issue that it is an endless debate between ‘being right’ in abolishing death penalty and ‘being justified’ in demanding harshest punishment to the perpetrators (including capital punishment).

And our democracy gives space to both, or even to them who are still not clear what is their viewpoint.

And the late night hearing by the Supreme Court on plea of Yakub Memon’s lawyers and by a battery of lawyers working to abolish the death penalty from Indian penal system should be seen in this context.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A TRYST WITH POLITICS: AFTER 67 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

Yes, it cannot be compared and it is nowhere near to the history-defining moment of 1947 when Jawahal Lal Nehru delivered the epoch-making midnight ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech 67 years ago on India’s first Independence Day.

It is another history-defining aspect of India, Indian politics and Indian democracy that Jawahar Lal Nehru’s run as India’s first prime minister that continued for many years went on to establish a political dynasty in India, something that should never have been the case.

Remember, the Mahatma, the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had said to wind up the Indian National Congress in 1948 – “My suggestion is that, in so far as the Congress was intended solely to achieve Swaraj and that purpose has been gained – though I do not think what we have gained is full and real Swaraj – this organisation should be wound up, and that we should put to use all the energies of the country.”

Yes, that should never be the case. We cannot undo the past but we can think of the future based the day now. And we can hope so with a prime minister who has no family and who has willingly and honestly kept his separated wife (with mutual consent and in harmony) and his extended family away from any possibility of political patronage.

And the tryst with politics this year on the Indian Independence Day was about this man only and the sort of political changes that India has seen with him after the results of the Lok Sabha elections 2014 were declared on May 16, 2014 giving an absolute and overwhelming majority to a non-Congress party since the Independence in 1947.

The other time when a non-Congress political outfit had got clear majority on its own was in 1977, the watershed elections after the Emergency that sent Indira Gandhi packing, but the 295 seats of the BLD (Bharatiya Lok Dal) also included some 28 seats won by Jagjivan Ram’s Congress for Democracy (CFD). Janata Party had contested the election on BLD’s symbol and in alliance with CFD. And that makes the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) tally of 280 on its own in this election the largest ever for a non-Congress political party.

And that person played the central role in it. His intense campaigning, his direct approach and highly commendable and successful governance record coupled with his nationalist and pro-Hindutva branding, aided superbly by the sky-high anti-incumbency against the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government pushed the BJP from some expected 200-220 mark to 280 seats in the final tally.

No one had expected so, not when no single party had been able to win clear majority after the 1984 elections, not even Congress.

And the political tryst this year has made that possible. The turn of political events this year has given the world’s largest democracy a prime minister in Narendra Modi who began his life from the weakest socioeconomic layer of the Indian society, worked hard, rose steadily and gradually and ousted the most powerful political dynasty of the country from the seat of power. It was an impressive win and a humiliating defeat.

A required tryst in Indian politics after 67 years of Independence! Hope it delivers.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

INDIA, THE POSITIVELY ORIENTED DEMOCRATIC EXPERIMENT

Yes, its governance is still in experimental phase with some pretty rough hands given the charge to run the social laboratory.

Yes, its democracy needs much more to be called a democracy envisioned in its Constitution.

But, we cannot deny, that in spite of all its weak points and all its failures, it is still a functional democracy, even after 67 years of independence and is moving ahead with its democratic experiment.

We cannot deny that the movement of this democracy is positively oriented. Yes, voices are crushed and manipulated. But voices are also raised.

Look around for democracy in the global geopolitics. Look around for democracy in countries that have been ruled by foreign powers or have colonies of the western nations.

The slate is so badly crisscrossed that it becomes too hard to find even a single satisfying example. Yes, the subjective interpretations may come with some names but that would be akin to comparing the foreign rule in America with that in India.

India, one of the culturally most diversified countries, with many languages and dialects and with many religions, castes and sects is still a homogeneous democracy, even after 67 years of an independence that came with one of the worst religious riots the humankind has ever seen.

It is the positive orientation of the democracy only that a person from the weakest socioeconomic section of the society can uproot a political dynasty that has ruled the country for the most of its independent history with an overwhelming public support.

And we are from this functionally-moving-ahead democracy. We are from this independent country that has been able to this stage of its democratic experiment.

And following its Constitution, we are free to voice our opinions. We are free to choose what we should be. We are free to choose who we are going to follow.

Yes, circumstances do affect and force to make choices, but we also have the space to fight back. A Red Fort Independence Day Speech by Narendra Modi once again proves it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

BROOM: NEW TOOL OF COMMON MAN’S SYMBOLISM

THE NEW TOOLS OF COMMON MAN’S SYMBOLISM IN THE INDIAN DEMOCRACY

Broom, the universal cleansing machine, was universally so understated (until now, at least in India). Even if the changing times brought to its contour the obvious advancements and the technological avatars, the mentality around the broom remained symbolically broom-type only.

The stereotyping can be understood by the fact that Wikipedia gives a well populated list of use of broom in cultural context and supports it with use of broom in witchcraft wizardry.

See, even Harry Potter, the hugely successful, iconic hero, having a global fan-following, creating the richest female author of the world, from scratch, even he could not change the perception. The Harry Potter Broom is listed on eBay and Amazon and returns with a number of links on the magical broomstick/broom used by the wizard boy on hitting it on Google and yet, the mighty broom has remained grossly understated.

The situation had become so hopeless, like the degradation of Indian politics that the broom proponents had abandoned their fight. Now, only a miracle could have revived the hope to start the efforts again, only a radical step could have rekindled the fire.

We cannot comment on the situation globally, in our limited capacity to get clear of the clutter in an age of information chaos, but, sure we can think on what is happening in India.

And that miracle happened in India; that radical step was taken in India.

It began in the name of the Aam Aadmi, the common man of India (if not with him in entirety, but, at least, it looked ‘intended’ to go beyond the mere the symbolism being practiced until now).

It began with a new political entrant in India, assembled mostly from apolitical names, the Aam Aadmi Party and its very special ‘Aam Aadmi’ (‘the’ common man) Arvind Kejriwal who ‘adopted’ broom as his party’s symbol.

He insisted he would get the universally functional broom its rightful due by using it metaphorically to cleanse the Indian politics, to sweep the System, to uproot it, or to remove the weeds.

And the journey on the path to fight for the rightful due has got its fighting verve with AAP emerging as an ‘Aam Aadmi’ metaphor threatening the established political masters.

So we had broom visibility as a protest tool against the System; so, we had some other political claimants claiming their right on ‘broom’ as their political symbol; so we had a major e-commerce site listing broom on its trading platform; so we have discourses on broom as an empowering metaphor of democracy now.

And it has emboldened the Indian Democracy this time to use the broom more effectively to correct its associates (claimed and natural) it seems. Its message to Mr. Kejriwal to use the broom to clean his own house also tells us so.

Now, it is to be seen if Mr. Kejriwal reads the writing on the wall.

The broom is now getting its proper due, thanks to the machinations of the Indian politics that is, thankfully, not self-evolving this time.

Next in the line:
MUFFLER: NEW TOOL OF COMMON MAN’S SYMBOLISM

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/