By Sunil Dang, Editor-in-Chief
It is hardly surprising, seeing the mightier few wade into choppy waters far & close, either under the garb of securing their investments or to act peace brokers, only to end up taking advantage of the growing chaos & unrest prevailing in the once thriving territories. Venezuela is a classic example of how its domestic rumblings, arising from hyperinflation, lack of opportunities & a dwindling oil economy have triggered opportunism & unwanted intervention by neighbours & allies both.
USA looks at this as an opportunity to course correct & to end its long political & economic apartheid by the socialist rule, establish hegemony & seize some kind of overt control of its oil reserves, aided in its objectives, diplomatically by a dozen more countries including Canada, Brazil, Argentina & the European Union. China & Russia on the other hand are backing the pugnacious, sympathetic to its military leadership, Maduro, in order to see that the communist nation survives the biggest scare of its times. It may also be the posturing by the two to extract their part of the bargain from the US, should the latter succeed in anointing Guaido’, the challenger, to the throne.
Closer home, India has been watching from the sidelines, the frantic parleys between the Taliban & the US appointed peace ambassador Khalilzad in an attempt by the later to bail itself out gracefully of a never ending war in the landlocked furnace of terror. It remains to be seen if they make any headway, given that some of the stakeholders including Pakistan may have to commit & cede more than they would like to, in the final agreement. For its consistent support & role in rebuilding the war torn country, India would hope that any peace framework guarantees protection of its interests & also encourages its engagement in the region, devoid of any browbeating by the emerging power centres. Already India has been facing hostilities in Chabahar with recent incidences of terror in the region, orchestrated by Jaish & its affiliates in Pakistan. India must step up its vigil & secure its men & machinery at the strategically significant port city.
Back home, India is gearing up for the Lok Sabha & some state polls in early summer. Another win in Rajasthan (Ramgarh) by-poll has the Congress reach a perfect 100, re-energising the cadre for the Lok Sabha polls. Even though this government has openly mooted the idea of simultaneous elections, it remains to be seen if they fall for their own pronouncement given the not- so-favourable tide for BJP in the states that are due for elections in June (Odisha); Haryana & Maharashtra (Nov); Jharkhand (Jan 2020). The others like Andhra, Arunachal, J & K are in any case due for polls alongside Lok Sabha elections. It is believed that secret surveys conducted in poll bound states by BJP haven’t shown too much of a promise for the party & any hence any inclination towards advancing polls in Haryana & Maharashtra may prove counterproductive.
On a more serious note, I personally think that a time has come when we should have a constitutional authority which holds all political parties to account for their manifestos & promises contained therein. They must subject themselves to an audit of their performance in line with their tall promises made to the electorate. Only then we could avoid the re-run & tomfoolery of an emotion whipped through issues like RamJanambhoomi, quota politics, loan waivers or guaranteed minimum income, just ahead of the elections.
From the economic point of view, we see disappointing developments in the corporate sector. CBI has filed an FIR against the high flying Chanda Kochhar (Former MD & CEO) & her husband Deepak Kochhar, charging them with criminal conspiracy & quid pro quo, involving Videocon Industries. Almost simultaneously ICICI board has sacked Chanda retrospectively, seeking back bonuses & ESOPs. While we believe that law must take its own course, we also think that those at the helm should resist the temptation of either influencing or confusing the investigation, directly or indirectly. Instead it must encourage a fair probe by the concerned authorities that establishes truth & also helps restore the confidence of the corporate world in the process. India can ill afford to live with any contrarian agendas.
By the time you would have read this edition, we would be celebrating ‘Basant Panchmi’, the festival dedicated to “Maa Saraswati”. I only hope & pray that good sense, peace & wisdom prevails all over including our political class.