Sunday, June 26, 2011

That's all, Your Honour!: June 19-25

1. The Nuclear Liability Bill is back in the news! What was assumed to be sealed and done, is again back to haunt us. Well, it is not the bill actually that is in the news though. In September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has given India a clean waiver. This waiver allows for transfer of technology by these countries to India, despite India not being a signatory of the Nuclear Proliferation treaty (NPT). The US literally coerced many countries into accepting this waiver, and as always, the English TV media hailed the Prime Minister. And last week, the NSG effectively killed this "clean" waiver that was given to us. In new guidelines, that ironically were introduced by the US itself, the NSG now says that transfer of sensitive technology cannot happen to a country that is not a signatory of the NPT! The new guidelines also suggest that such waivers will also not be available to countries that do not allow international inspections on all nuclear installations. Like the report in The Hindu aptly concludes, the Prime Minister once said a deal will be in place only when all restrictions are lifted but hasn't bargained for a situation where some of those restrictions, once lifted will be imposed again. Our diplomats are fighting this out, and are also trying to ensure that bilateral commitments are met. Am sure the Prime Minister will once again give us his "we will not bend", "history will judge me" speeches. This blog has documented various instances of the Prime Minister misleading the country, when it came to this bill.

2. The Indian Express broke a shocking story this week. In September last year, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee wrote to the Prime Minister, complaining of a serious security breach in his office. He said there were about 16 planted adhesives in his office, including three under his own desk. That's right folks - the number 2 man in the Union Cabinet has found that there were adhesives planted right under the table he works! There were similar adhesives in conference rooms, and under tables of his secretaries. And instead of calling the Home Minister, he directly wrote to the Prime Minister. Instead of calling in the Intelligence Bureau to investigate, they called in private detectives. And when confronted with this news item, Pranab rubbished this as a bogus theory. He said that the Intelligence Bureau investigated the issue and found nothing - this was mere chewing gum. Security experts and opposition parties dismissed this chewing gum theory (as would anyone with common sense). The Home Minister, when asked how come he was not approached by the Finance Minister, tells us that perhaps they considered this as a non-event and therefore did not approach him. Yeah right - this is a non-event, therefore the Prime Minister was contacted directly! This incident gives us a superb insight into the functioning of this government, wherein deep mis-trust reigns amongst the higher echelons. And we are to believe, that all is well and this is a bogus theory!

3. So the Lokpal panel meetings ended just like they began - as a farce! The government did not budge, the "civil society" team members did not budge. Each stuck to their own versions. On top of that, the government representatives like Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram went all-out in discrediting Anna Hazare As is his wont, Kapil Sibal mouthed off whatever came to his mind. Anna Hazare is now threatening another fast starting August 16th. And they have also decided to meet all opposition parties regarding the same. Strange that these members did not see the need to consult the opposition parties earlier. Even stranger is the fact that the government did not consult opposition parties earlier! Pranab Mukherjee wrote a letter to all parties and also to Chief Ministers of states, asking them to reply back in about a week. Most of them replied back saying, they will not answer any questions :D! Opposition parties demanded that the bill be discussed in Parliament threadbare, and not in mere letters with not enough time to think over. The bungling of this issue by the government is just too embarassing to say the least. There are multiple fundamental questions that beg answers, but alas no one in the government will answer them. Kapil Sibal now says Anna Hazare wants to create a parallel government. He however will be mum on the other parallel government in the country - the NAC (which incidentally cleared the food security and communal violence bill this week, with Sonia's word "prevailing"). By the way, The Hindu has this nice graphic of the differences in the drafts of government and "civil society" versions.

4. Yaawwnn. Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan met this week. New terminology was created. India said there is no "segmented approach" to terrorism. yaawn.

4. The Central government increased diesel, kerosene and LPG prices this week, by Rs. 3,per litre, Rs.2 per litre and Rs.50 per cylinder this week. This is the 10th time in 10 months fuel prices have gone up and ofcourse the 10th time we are told that this is because of fluctuating global prices. What many people are not able to comprehend is this - why do prices fluctuate only upwards, your honour?!


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