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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Indo-US Nuclear Deal

Juvenile Delinquency as Ideology

Someone needs to explain to the dour and dyspeptic leaders of the Left that governance is a serious business, worlds apart from a JNU power play in student and teacher union politics. Many people in the government look upon them as recalcitrant juveniles, who must be mollycoddled and yet told firmly where to get off.

Take the most recent standoff on the civilian nuclear deal that the US is facilitating to enable India to end its isolation in the global community. Not being a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and having conducted several nuclear tests, India has been denied access to all manner of advanced technology, not just in the nuclear field but in every other sphere.At the turn of the millennium, egged on by its business community and the increasingly powerful lobby of Indian Americans, US policymakers decided it was important to engage with India. The Americans say they admire India’s democracy that has survived the pushes and pulls of its mind-boggling cultural diversity and has put its economy on a fast track that will benefit the whole world.

The Left’s commissars believe that the Americans have a devious intent, mostly to challenge China, their lord and God. Never mind that they don’t accept America’s stated intent at face value; they seem to have no faith in the Indian government, especially Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who they demonize as an agent of US imperialism. In May 2004, after Sonia Gandhi spurned the highest office in the land that was constitutionally hers, several left supporters were disappointed. “We admire her but her decision to make Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister is a betrayal,” a CPM activist told me.

Congress politicians have historically devised electoral strategies based on caste and religion; the so-called progressives, proudly wearing their Nehru and Indira loyalties on their sleeve have focused on Left ideology and turned to the Left for ideas and tactics. This is the main reason why the Congress has become a moribund formation: unable to fight the aggressive caste-based parties like the DMK and the BSP. The progressives within it have proved unequal to the task of formulating a new ideological charter, preferring instead to walk the primrose path to the socialist hell of corrupt governance and inept politics.

So now we have this conundrum: the progressives are with the Left in opposing the civilian nuclear deal; the traditional caste and religion based factions couldn’t care less, Meanwhile, the newly emergent force of young politicians have no say in what happens because both progressives and traditionalists in the party still value “seniority.” The Prime Minister’s Office is today the only truly pragmatic and visionary influence on policy; as such, it is, along with most informed and influential opinion in the country, the major supporter of the civilian nuclear agreement.

When family members fight among themselves, children have a field day; they play one off against the other and manage to scream and shout to be heard, hoping one or the other of the elders will support them. This is exactly what Prakash Karat and his band of juveniles are doing. When the Prime Minister recently spoke out in favor of the deal and the Delhi Chief Minister accused them of being agents of Beijing, they screamed and caterwauled, prompting the foreign minister to say what amounted to “there, there, children, we won’t do anything to hurt you.”

copyright: rajiv desai 2008

Res Gestae

Res Gestae is based on the belief that because certain statements are made naturally, spontaneously and without deliberation during the course of an event, they leave little room for misunderstanding/misinterpretation upon hearing by someone else.

Rajiv N Desai

Chairman & CEO
Comma Consulting
New Delhi and Bombay, India

Rajiv Desai is the founder of India’s newest and most experienced public relations consulting firm. A pioneer in the profession, Mr Desai established India’s first PR consulting firm, IPAN, in December 1987 when he relocated to Delhi after having spent the best part of the 1970s and 1980s in the United States.

In the 17 years that he steered IPAN to the top slot in the PR consulting profession, Mr Desai played a key role in the entry into India of Pepsi in 1988; in the launch of Citibank’s global consumer bank in 1989; in the rapid popularization of Golf, a 1990 campaign on behalf of ITC (Wills Circuit Golf); in the entry and launch of STAR TV in 1991; in the incipient technology boom for companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Intel in the mid 1990s; as also in the opening up of the telecom sector for companies such Nokia, Hughes, Alcatel, BT and BPL Mobile (the first cellular service).

Over the years, Mr Desai also established a parallel career in journalism as a columnist on public affairs. His commentaries have featured in publications all around the world including The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times (Syndicate), The Times of India, Hindustan Times and various magazines. He is a frequent commentator on television news shows and has appeared on NDTV, CNBC, BBC and other channels. In 1999, Mr Desai authored a book, Indian Business Culture, published by Butterworth-Heinemann (Oxford) that one reviewer called “a very high level discussion of economic policy.” He wrote a weekly column for the Bombay-based Daily News and Analysis newspaper and is a member of the advisory board and contributor to Education World, a Bangalore-based magazine. He is the founding editor of India Tribune, a 30-year old community newspaper in Chicago.

Active in public affairs, Mr Desai served as media adviser to Rajiv Gandhi in the 1989 and 1991 parliamentary election campaigns. In 1993 and 1994, he was an adviser to the UNICEF representative in India and was active in the advocacy campaign to further the cause of compulsory primary education in India. In 1997, he was appointed by Sonia Gandhi, President of India’s oldest and largest political party, the Indian National Congress, to its serve as counselor in the Media Department. In 1998, he was involved in the development of the Delhi’s government’s community initiative called “Bhagidari” (partnership). An active member of the Delhi’s government’s “sister cities” project with the city of Chicago, he was the moving spirit behind the first in a series of blues and jazz concert performances by Chicago bands in Delhi.

Educated in the United States, Mr Desai’s academic credentials cover mechanical engineering at the undergraduate level plus master’s degrees in journalism and in political science. He recently completed a course titled “Intellectual Property Rights and Information Technology in the Internet Age” from the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi.