Sunday, February 22, 2009

Indo-US Economy: Economic Stimulus May Bypass Poverty Eradication?



Obama Injects Stimulus: But will it work?

Economic Stimulus May Bypass Poverty Eradication?


Prof. J. George and Ayushya Mohan George




The announced economic package is primarily aimed at avoiding bankruptcy of a few at the cost of neglecting poverty eradication. The 836 million ‘aam adami” appears to have lost relevance with this spectrum of economic activities targeted as the main recipients.



Public service delivery mechanism as domestic demand stimulant, hence, attains exceptional significance when global meltdown in market fundamentals leads to loss of confidence along with depression. A close reading of Paul Krugman’s columns in the New York Times should convince any hard core sceptics.



Poor people in particular should not despair if appropriate economic stimulus as public expenditure is stepped up. Or will fiscal prudence driven public expenditure protocol make a mockery of even recent enactment of the social security law for the unorganised sector? Fiscal profligacy, though, will accelerate movement towards mocking the poor people.



It is extremely momentous, however, to ensure modest mechanism to access basic public services like health care, sanitation, drinking water and education; and access to meaningful political participation (73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution), respectable work and modest security in addition to adequate access to income to steer the stimulus package indeed towards a sustainable and real social protection.



The Indian Constitution and the millennium development goals (MDGs) has mandated to ‘Take Action’ to end poverty and inequality. Did we succeed in either? Should not poverty/BPL be such an emotive issue today as well? Why does it not keep popping up in a typical Gresham’s Law fashion every day in the media?



A plausible explanation is available if we cared to revisit Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen and Eric Maskin or the 2008 commemoration theme of the International Day (17 October) for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), namely, ‘human rights and dignity of people living in poverty’.



Income is essential to acquire material personal effects in this consumer driven world. The famous 17th century philosopher Immanuel Kant posited that whereas material possessions are replaceable, dignity of the human beings is distinct and hence irreplaceable.



Prof. Amartya Sen is very categorical in stating that all development agenda must underscore ‘dignity of human beings’. His treatises on famines and social security, etc. are prime examples suggesting protocols for practicing such precepts.



Eric Maskin through his “theory of mechanism design” has demonstrated that to attain a given goal, suitable and appropriate mechanisms need to be designed.



UN (Division of Social Policy and Development) maintains poverty as “a human condition of deprivation of resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights”.(42 words)



The bottomline is to move away from exclusionary to inclusionary platform of actions and deeds. The interdependence of three factors, namely, access to income, basic services and level of people’s participation makes or mars goal attainment, albeit with people’s dignity, of the economic stimulus package.



The received global wisdom and thesis is that faster economic growth is the only remedy to come out of poverty. The Planning Commission and all international development finance institutions subscribe to this flawed obsession and theory. In tune with the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) objective of faster and inclusive economic growth, some states, Haryana for instance, has added now a ‘social revolution’ spin.



The average year to year economic growth, such as in Haryana, during the period 1999/2000 to 2007/08 has been estimated to be about 8.67 per cent. The derived per capita income surely is higher than the notional poverty line. Under these economic circumstances consumption will soar to raise the volume in the own tax revenue kitty. This and other associated steps in public expenditure control template advocated by the Bretton Woods institutions lead to the much celebrated fiscal governance outcome of actions diligently taken under the fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) circuit in the country.



The immediate question that will follow is at what cost to the society. The bitter truth, however, is that recently one in every four households in Haryana has been officially declared to be poor. Hence the nagging concern that the economic stimulus will impoverish more than ameliorate the targeted as well as the general masses.



Can it be mere neglectful that this new poverty estimate is different from the Planning Commission reckoning? Is this contradiction valid given the economic prosperity ushered in by the new ‘growth story line’? Should rise in poverty follow rise in income? Will current economic slowdown adversely impair all good work expected out of the social security law enactment or enhanced public expenditure?



This is grossly undesirable and yet a practical contradiction witnessed in a fiscally prudent and high economic growth state. If we consider attainment levels in the 18 targets of the UN millennium development goals (MDGs) the emerging social regression sends chill down the spine. How does one justify the feasibility of this paradox?



The paradox is made feasible due to the limitations inherent in the income measure of poverty. A poor delivery mechanism across programmes invariably explains the reality. It is explained also by the crucial interlocking mechanism between poverty reduction and human rights. Both are issues of societal rights and obligations rather than mere welfare or selflessness of the public institutions’ service delivery dictum. This query attains frightening dimension right across developing countries that is growing slower than the Haryana state economy.



A foolproof, transparent and painless mechanism to ensure comfortable access to basic public services is the answer. The social construct, for instance,does not follow a narrow and beaten path of ‘ceteris paribus’ so wantonly used in the economic growth calculations.



The social profile in liaison with the economic milieu does provide useful and crucial insights to the paradox. In a more functional term, however, current status of mechanism to access the delivery of myriad public services by the states vindicates feasibility of this inconsistency.



A more cerebral explanation to this absurdity is found in the ‘capabilities’ and ‘functionings’ treatise of the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. Capabilities are tangible and intangible resources or endowments with the household, while ‘functionings’ are the activities, operations or performance rooted in the capabilities of the household.



Thus higher income should encourage better access (demand segment) to basic services and better functioning (supply segment) of the public delivery institutions. Latter has not happened and the former, given a chance, forcefully get articulated at the hustings. The economic stimulus package must address this dichotomous challenge. The interim budget of the central government did make a beginning by raising the threshold support level to the rural employment guarantee scheme and the rural infrastructure flagship scheme called “Bharat Nirman”. The urban renewal missions too see a heightened support along with a number of soft social sector schemes and programmes in health and education. Increased and higher budgetary support will only be one part of the stimulus package. The other part will be the triology of accessibility mentioned earlier.



Be that as it may, the apex 16 member expert group constituted recently (August 2008) in the union ministry of rural development must be seized of the quibble over numbers in all seriousness. Their task however has been made easier and feasible with the groundbreaking recommendations of the National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) headed by Prof. Arjun Sengupta. NCEUS has estimated vulnerability of at least 836 million ‘aam adami’ spread across rural-urban spaces to livelihood and food security concerns in India. Cavil over numbers, in comparison, will merely serve the livelihood security of a handful of number crunchers.



We must recall here that the erstwhile PRSP intervention of the World Bank suggested that poverty data can and must be ignored. The current World Bank flavour, District Poverty Intervention Programme (DPIP) also suggests the same bold inference. The flawed enthusiasm for poverty data per se alone hence is misplaced and motivated. Hopefully, the 16 member committee appointed by the rural development ministry will not fall into this precipice.



At the recent UN meet fears were indeed, expressed about funds shortfall to successfully meet 2015 deadline for the 8 Millennium Development Goals. The current financial crisis sweeping the world is certain to heighten worries of donor agencies and the poor alike. Besides, paradox of increasing capital flow from south to north has already led to new belt tightening procedures in the development financing approaches. Market failures and abdication by the state of her leadership in the public service deliver domain is the intimidating backdrop.



Given the contemporary discourse, corruption in the delivery of public services must top the agenda. For example, imagine that the front level functionary disbursing the old age pension sum of say, Rs. 500 per month illegally demands Rs.100 per month as part of the rent for delivering the service. In a year the same person is deprived of Rs.1200/- on account of a miniscule proportion of the poverty reduction programme.



The Indian Constitution’s 11th Schedule lists 29 functions for rural and 18 functions for urban development. Each element has a number of subgroups, either exclusively or in association with others, making engagement with poverty reduction challenges. The myriad and opaque procedure to access these functions only enhances rent seeking premiums.



The stimulus packages and high stakes do not necessarily yield automatic stimulus to basic ‘poor-performance’ services delivered by the public services system. The leadership, depth and spread of delivery by public agencies, it may be recalled, have no parallels and cannot be matched by private operators. Keynes and George Stigler demonstrated this a long time ago.



The West Bengal Governor firmly recommended that ‘Land cannot be treated as a dematerialised share certificate’ to ‘swing in tune with the Sensex’ as many poor people eke out their livelihood in dignity using diminutive ‘capability’ and ‘functioning’s.



The deprivation index based new approach of the Planning Commission may appear promising provided explicit measures to factor in access to education, healthcare and other basic services emerge in the public domain. We know that even the half measure outlay-outcome attempt by the state can bring relief to the poor.



The key challenge therefore is to figure out transformation pathways for public service delivery functions and functionaries. SAARC development goals makes a fervent plea towards this direction.



The bureaucracy and members of the local bodies will be necessary evils in any strategic measure attempting to engage with worrisome issue on poverty eradication. Their partnership in pelf must give way to progress for poverty eradication. Concentration on three entities - ‘competent authority’, front level functionary and their standard operating protocol - become imminent.



A partnership with sensitive civil society grassroots bodies has enabled a few of the ‘competent authority’ to transform the public services delivery mechanism. The authority specific SEA – service efforts and achievements – can be mapped to clearly correct a number of ‘service delivery disabilities’.



The functionary strength deficit has been mounting since 1995. The norms for these cadre level public servants are based on the 1951-55 vintage community development block days. At these dated norms the current deficit may range upto 40-50 per cent in most of the states. The concerted drive towards ‘outsourcing’ and ‘rightsizing’ have, albeit, worsened the situation.



The poor equity and efficiency observed in the public service delivery is fully explicable by the dearth of LOADS, namely, leadership, ownership, accountability, decentralisation and sustainability. Absence of LOADS, for example, explains why many high income growth states have high incidence of manipulation in the poverty reduction programmes; social regression far surpasses economic growth, implementation is mired in corruption. A poor service delivery protocol is the general outcome across India.



Increasing vulnerabilities in the society, ‘targeted growth fixation’ scenario amid market failure episodes have imparted a new spin of uncertainty to the delivery of basic services. These vacillations need to be now taken gravely because ‘aam adami’ will decide livelihood and food security issues of many people except the babudom and the number cruncher. This handful should not be allowed to tread on the dignity of people living in poverty.



When push comes to shove, public services must ensure easy mechanism to access. Failing which even the less than 2% of GDP demand (Rs. 58,000 crores) put forth by NCEUS as a bailout package may not suffice.



[The first author teaches and consults on Strategic Economic Management in Delhi and the second is an avid student of public economic analysis.]



Click the link to Download the doc file :economic_stimulus_may_bypass_poverty_eradication.doc

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Nepalese Dream to Achieve in Ten Years By 2020

kathmandu-_2020

Kathmandu in 2020: No Load Shedding!

nepal-airlines

Nepalese too can dream of manufacturing airplanes

nepal-railways

East West Nepal Railways: Taplejung to Darchula Underground Rail Service

nepal-seaport

Sea Port in Nepal: Mulghat Port at Dhankuta

nepal-terai-train

Mechi Mahakali Terai Super Express Electric Train Service


pokhara_2020

Tourist Town of Pokhara in 2020: Annapurna Himalayas in Background

nepali_film_sindoor_2020

A 2020 Remake of Nepali Film Sindoor at a Kathmandu Cinema Hall





i received a pdf file in the mail and enjoyed reading it. Would Nepalese be able to develop their country this fast? Or is this mere another Maoist propaganda? Anyway, a really creative job I must say.

Click on the link below, download the pdf file, and read…then comment if you feel like it.

new-nepal-development-dream-2020.pdf

WARNING: All the Images are PROJECTIONS in Future Tense, they do not represent Present Tense REALITY.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nose Based Leadership Change in Nepal: Replace all Brahmin Leaders



Nose Size Matters in Nepal Politics: They're Bahun & That Corrupt is also Bahun
By Divas

If you’d go through Nepal’s popular dailies including those I scrutinize everyday - the Kantipur, The Himalayan Times & The Kathmandu Post, and make a racist evaluation of the contributors, you’ll find that more than 80 percent of the authors there belong to Brahmin caste. Not only the authors and editors, most of the letter to editor writers are also Bahun. Scan the profiles of all high level government officials, the same statistics holds true there too. Bahuns consider the field of academics and scholarship as their innate profession. The same is true in politics – even the tirades against Bahunbad (Brahmanism) in politics have now become clich├ęs. Many point at the irony that Bahuns hold the key posts even in the Maoist party which led the movement against Bahunbad in Nepal.

The Bahun halimuhali (hegemony) in Nepali life is sickening. I’m increasingly getting intolerant of Bahun leadership in everything in Nepal. To tell you the truth, I hardly read any article written by Nakchuchche (pointed nose) Bahun or Chetri caste – except if it’s by a Bahun physician writing on some health related issue. I do not even watch television these days fearing I might have to see the Bahun or Chetri faces of political leaders. So much so that, I even judge a roadside restaurant by its owner – I don’t want to eat anything from an arrogant Bahun or Chetri with pathetic culinary sense.

Some concrete reasons behind my Bahunallergy (Bahun Allergy). The election fever is getting its hold on the students of Nepal’s largest public university, the Tribuvan University (TU). Lekhanath Neupane who is a Bahun and also the leader of Maoist affiliate student union issued a warning a few days ago that they’d break the backbones of anyone opposing them like they did before. Bahun Lekhnath was countered by another Bahun Pradip Poudel of Congress affiliated student union who said that they’d also break the bones of anyone attacking them.

Instead of showing some examples of good governance by controlling corruption in politics & bureaucracy, the Bahun Prime Minister of Nepal Prachanda, Bahun Finance Minister Baburam, and Bahun leaders of Maoist Party CP Gajurel, and Dinanath have been warning of revolt unless they’re not allowed to govern. On the other hand, the Bahun Kangessi opposition leaders of the like of Shushil Koirala and Govinda Raj have begun counting the days for the downfall of the government. And please, don’t even mention the Bahun names like Jhalanath Khanal and KP Oli. Power seems to corrupt the Bahun more than others. The chics & bellies of Bahun swell very fast once they begin enjoying state coffers.

My argument is that the Bahuns & Chetris should voluntarily hand over the leadership to the people of other castes & races – that’s what Gyanedra’s retirement from monarchy symbolizes. The air is simply not in favor of Nakchuchche in Nepal these days. Go abroad, do some business, become professionals but please don’t show your names and faces on televisions and newspapers.

And if you’re choosing your leaders, whether in the upcoming student election, or in the Nepali Congress & UML Conventions, or in the local bodies, don’t believe in their official policies, for no one makes bad policies, look at their nose, and vote for a non-Nakchuche, or a Madisey.

Incidentally, I myself happen to be a Nakchuche…but do read this crap anyway … Boorchodikey :D


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Breaking Sports Hegemony: South Africa - The Cricket Champions



ICC Icon & the South African Team



By Dr. Abdul Ruff


I



Yes, South African is the masters of world cricket in ODI now and soon they would be overtaking Australians as the world’s topmost cricketers in both versions. Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith, JP Duminy, and AB de Villiers, among others, have greatly contributed to the making of South African top cricket ranking today. That South Africa sealed one-day triumph crushing the world champions Australia after the Test series win is still the major news in cricket world. South Africa is now the ODI world leader overtaking Australia as the world’s top most cricketers in this form by convincingly winning both the third, fourth and final fifth ODIs in Australia against the hosts and now the world champions. As it stands now, South Africans have completed a magnificent Test and one-day double over Australia with an eight-wicket win in Adelaide January 26, 2009 at Adelaide Oval, sealing the series win. The fourth in Adelaide match went on remarkably well, leaving the fifth only to take over from Australia. What is more important is they won an ODI in the capital Sydney (3rd ODI) on January 23, 2009 where as they could not win there in the Tests, failing to overtake the Aussies in the longer cricket version as well. Fourth one-day international in Adelaide sealed victory for Australia. (South Africa 223-2 (38.1 overs) beat Australia 222 in 48 overs) by eight wkts). Even before completing the series, a rebuilding South Africa sealed a series victory over an Australian outfit struggling with the same phase during a dominating performance in Adelaide that earned a 3-1 lead.





In the fourth ODI, The key masters of stroke, Hashim Amla (80) and AB de Villiers (82) and shared an unbroken stand of 144 as the tourists took a 3-1 lead in the one-day series, with one match to play. After losing the toss in Adelaide, the tourists ripped through the Australia batting line-up with Makhaya Ntini (3-52) and Dale Steyn (3-49) on song. Amla and de Villiers stitched together an unseparated 144 runs for the third wicket in 25.5 overs to seal the matter. Amla's crucial unbeaten 80 came off 103 balls with seven fours in it. de Villiers was the more aggressive of the duo and his unbeaten 82 came off 85 balls with six fours and a flat-batted six off David Hussey which also brought up his fifty.




On completing the fifth ODI, SA reached the top rankers of this version. There was no Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher or Dale Steyn, and the bowling attack comprised two left-arm debutants, Tsotsobe and 19-year-old Wayne Parnell. Yet, the South Africans crushed the Aussies by eight wickets in what turned out to be a lopsided floodlit contest to take an invincible 4-1 lead in the five-match series. Opting to bat first, Australia put up yet another sordid batting display and folded up for 222 in 48 overs with only Ricky Ponting (63), James Hopes (42) and Cameron White (30) salvaging some individual reputation with the bat. South Africa’s pace colleagues Makhaya Ntini (3/52) and Dale Steyn (3/49) did an excellent job with the new ball wrecking Australia’s top and middle order.




II





South Africa's near-perfect tour began with a Test win in Perth and fittingly it finished with a one-day triumph at the same venue as Australia conceded the No. 1 ranking to Johan Botha's men. JP Duminy, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, all of whom contributed to the Test successes, finished the trip strongly and the debutant Lonwabo Tsotsobe picked up four wickets to give the tourists one more happy story to recount on the flight home.




Indeed, it has been a great achievement by the South African team who now have won both the Test and ODI series. A tremendous feat indeed! It has been a great achievement by the South African team who now has won both the Test and ODI series. Another yet more striking character of emerging South African cricket is that even after keeping away their captain & the inspirer Smith, the South Africans could derive the same inspiration and win down the match series both the Test and ODIs.





South Africa followed their Test series win over Australia by replacing them at the top of the one-day rankings, taking the series 4-1 with a 39-run triumph. The chose to bat in Perth and were anchored by a calm 97 from 117 balls by Hashim Amla, who shared 118 in 23 overs with AB de Villers, who made 60 off 71. JP Duminy hit an unbeaten 60 from 42 with three sixes to take them to 288-6. Amla picked up six with a deft upper cut off Ben Hilfenhaus, but Neil McKenzie fell in the first over from James Hopes, also trying to advance down the pitch. It was another resilient performance from the South Africans, and achieved with one of their most inexperienced line-ups.




III



When South Africa arrived in Australia in December, they fancied their chances in the Tests but felt they still had a lot of improving to do in the shorter format. It's not unusual for holidaymakers to head back to their own country with a fresh perception of the world and that's exactly what South Africa will take home thanks to their 4-1 result and new No. 1 status. South Africa completed a magnificent Test and one-day double over Australia and it would be difficult for Australia to retain the world’s first slot unless it plays better in the next matches. This has been as comprehensive a victory as one could imagine. The South African innings was kickstarted by Gibbs and the work was completed by de Villiers and Amla. Australia looked flat out there with no visible energy on the field.




The visitors have conquered much bigger totals than that this month and there was little to worry about once Gibbs determined to hit as many boundaries as possible. Hashim Amla was stylish as usual in a controlled 80 off 103 balls while AB de Villiers, who had stood in behind the stumps for Mark Boucher, sped towards 82 from 85 after starting calmly. The result came with 71 balls remaining and South Africa hadn't even called for the batting Powerplay. While South Africa’s order has gained confidence, from Herschelle Gibbs at the top to Albie Morkel and Johan Botha towards the bottom, the Australians are in worse shape than when they began. Throughout the series their batting has struggled to build on strong platforms and they wasted another chance on Monday as they dropped from the comfort of 2 for 110 in the 20th over to 222 in the 48th.



South Africa showed how good the pitch was and how bad Australia’s total was as the home side's bowlers suffered as well. At times it looked like a tour game and the international batsmen were trying to out-do each other. Gibbs eased eight boundaries in his 29-ball 38 and Amla maintained a lively pace while finding gaps on both sides of the wicket from the fast men. De Villiers, who swept to a half-century with a four and a six from David Hussey, joined in after Jacques Kallis (13) flicked James Hopes to midwicket and they were 100 in 15 overs.



IV




The tourists arrived last month hoping for some success against the world champions in the Test and one-day formats, but they will leave with commanding victories in each arena after wrapping up this five-match contest before Friday's final fixture in Perth. Australia remained the number one team in both forms of the game followed closely by South Africa and India, both of whom have beaten the Kangaroos in Test series in recent months. In One-dayers, Australia led the table with 126 points, followed by South Africa (123).




Another, the more striking character of South African cricket is that even after keeping their captain the inspirer Smith, the South Africans could derive the same inspiration and win down the match series both the Test and ODIs. The valuable contribution made by Hashim Amla is astounding and note worthy here. Although the Australian bowlers focus on him, Amla managed to score the maximum number of runs. Even n the final ODI at Perth, Hashim Amla scored 97 the maximum.




The cricket matches in Australia has also brought out the best from Hashim Amla. The valuable contribution made by Hashim Amla is astounding and note worthy here. Although the Australian bowlers focus on him, Amla managed to score the maximum number of runs. Even n the final ODI at Perth, Hashim Amla scored 97 the maximum. Amla should be the happiest man of cricket world today. South Africa capped a dream tour of Australia by winning the ODI series in addition to the Test series earlier but the hosts still retained their top spot in both forms of the game despite unmistakable signs that they are on the downslide.





After losing to South Africa, now Australia has already lost the first ODI to New Zealand as well and here the process of fall that started with negative play with India, has already reached a culminating point. Generally, the South Africans have outsmarted the world champions who of late play a sort of “joint cricket exercises” with India and help a few select Indians to score points, including the bowlers, enabling them for national awards and personal benefits. In the third ODI South Africa in Sydney on 23 January outclassed Australia with performances of HH Gibbs 64 from 52 balls and JH Kallis 60 from 72 runs. Perhaps the cricket punished Australia for their callous attitude. The commanding victory, on Australia Day at the picturesque Adelaide Oval, has heaped further problems on Ponting and he is yet to come over them.




V



South Africa is officially now the team to beat Australia. The final result meant that, should South Africa win the Test series that begins in Johannesburg, South Africa on February 26, they will be the world's No. 1-ranked one-day and Test teams. The positives for Australia in the lead-up to that series are few. All they can take comfort in is that they will enter the contest as the underdogs, with modest expectations. They should play quite seriously and honestly.




The most worried part of cricket world now is not Australia, however but India. India keeps mum when India loses a match and does not even report it in sports columns, but when by chance India manages to win a match or series then the news appears not on the sports pages alone as the top item with funny photos of their cricketers, but even as he major news on the front page that is the ethics Indian has fostered over decades not just in sport, but in politics and other basics too.



When Pakistan and South Africa played India got disillusioned and did not even mention about Pakistan victory. Similarly when Sri Lanka went to Pakistan and played here against Pakistan, initially India did not take notice of that. But as Pakistan was losing Indians got fresh leas of life and their media came to life and reported as the biggest sport event that Sri Lanka won. But India is now facing Sri Lanka and India media portray the Sri Lankan players in shabby manners with ugly photos.



In the same dirty fashion, India always wanted Australia to lose matches and it is known act Australia was bullied by India by making use of latest terror status Indo-US-Australia joint military exercises and made them to underplay and help India cricketer to become eligible for national awards. And finally India even managed to defeat Australia and the India media celebrated that in a “big brandy” way. Indian media’s nefarious designs in the just concluded matches in Australia by South Africa are revealing indeed. Indian media slammed South Africa for trying to defeat Australia and when Australia was finally defeated by the guests form South Africa with Hashim Amla playing a lead role, Indian media could not just digest that at all. That is the Indian sport taste and democratic and “secular mindset” of “great” India and its atrocious media.



These days in the ongoing ODIs between India and Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka have clearly shown that no player could score runs significantly if the bowlers so decide and this fact has been once again proven with the so-called blaster Tendulkar, who made enough wealth and fame and got plenty of awards for excellence from Indian governments, having been removed cheaply three times consecutively in ODIs in Sri Lanka. There was a division of opinion among the top decision makers on the question of bestowing upon him the highest civilian award also on him. Loot at the pathetic quality of excellence in India! It is really poverty of Indian thought process and hidden agendas.



Surely, South Africa must be making all out efforts to become the top order cricket team of the world and would also try to retain that glory for some time, obvioulsy in a dignified manner.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Democracy & the West: Iran marks Islamic revolution


Last Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and his wife, Empress Farah





By Dr. Abdul Ruff


I



Islamic Revolution in Iran is still being criticized by the Western powers led by the "democratic leader" USA, though it was purely an internal politico-religious matter of Iran. Even as being under constant threat from anti-Islamic nations led by USA and Israel which is supported by countries like India, Iran has launched 10 days of celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamic revolution that overthrew the US-backed former ruler, the Shah. As a bully policy, the USA rapes Iran by slamming the lack of Western democracy in the country and insists that many in Iran would like more "democracy" and personal freedoms. But a recent study has revealed US aversion to any criticism of its government's destructive role in Mideast and Afghanistan. But Iranians are also receptive to US President Barack Obama's invitation to heal relations with Washington.



Most Iranians are still proud of the independence from foreign domination they won in 1979. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said speaking at a ceremony in the capital, Tehran, at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini - the father of the revolution that the revolution is "lively and alive". "We are still at the beginning of the path and greater changes are ahead," Ahmadinejad was quoted by AFP news agency as saying, "Although the Islamic revolution happened in Iran it is not limited to Iranian borders".



The US broke off diplomatic ties with Iran in 1979, after students stormed the US embassy in Tehran after the Islamist revolution overthrew the US-backed Shah. Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in Paris on 1 February 1979. It took only 10 days before the Shah's regime collapsed. Iranians are as usual united and stand behind their leader. The chants of "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!” on Jan 31 reminded the long standing animosity between the super power and the nuclear aspiring Islamic state. May be there was no longer the fervour of those early days of the revolution, as the western reports suggest.




In an unprecedented move, President Ahmadinejad congratulated US president-elect Barack Obama on his election win. Barack Obama has offered to open unconditional dialogue with Iran about its nuclear program. US President Obama has used his first formal TV interview since taking office to reach out to the Muslim world - saying Americans are not its enemy. Obama reiterated that the US would extend the hand of friendship to Iran if it "unclenched its fist".



Iran's president has responded to an overture by the new US president by demanding an apology for past US "crimes" committed against Iran. The US "stood against the Iranian people in the past 60 years", Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during an address in the western region of Khermenshah. "Those who speak of change must apologize to the Iranian people and try to repair their past crimes," he said.



The presidential poll is approaching and the chances of Ahmadinejad getting reelected are greater than projected by the USA. Iran’s rhetoric war has united the Iranian as never before and Iran is on its way to have nukes, if not already have them, as the president once even claimed having got some last year at the height of “Iran-US nerve war. Nowadays, however, Iranian governments get judged on much more mundane issues like the state of the economy or the ever worsening Tehran traffic.




II



Relations between Washington and Tehran reached new lows in recent years over attempts by the US and its allies in the United Nations to curtail Iran’s nuclear programme over fears it is trying to build nuclear weapons. Tehran says its programme is to develop civilian nuclear power only. The new US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said that she was looking forward to "vigorous diplomacy that includes direct diplomacy with Iran ". Iran has called the US bluff all along ad blamed it for pursing the Jewish policy to appease the fascists..



Ahmadinejad also attacked US support for Israeli fascism and also its own wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He called on Obama to withdraw US troops from their bases around the world and for America to "stop interfering in other people's affairs". Referring to Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, he said he trusted that he had "gone to hell". Last year, while in Iraq, Ahmadinejad called the occupying foreign terror forces led by the USA to quit Iraq and Afghanistan.




The remarks are the first Iranian comment on the US since Obama took office eight days ago on 20 Jan. In Tehran the BBC's Jon Leyne who opposes Iran and other Islamic nations describes it as one of Ahmadinejad's strongest tirades against the US. The new US president Barack Obama has offered to extend a hand if Iran "unclenched its fist". President Obama discussed the possibility of a softening of US policy towards Iran in his first interview recorded with a Saudi-owned Arabic TV network. Ahmadinejad congratulated Obama after his election in November but the message was criticized in Iran and received a cool response from Obama.




USA believes in threats and tactics to bully the weak nations, while keep applying diplomatic rules with strong nations like Russia, China and others. America’s crimes against Iran, the Iranian leader said in his televised speech, included support for the Iranian coup of 1953 and backing for Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. The Iranian president welcomed the possibility of US change, but said it should be "fundamental and effective" rather than just a change of tactics.



III



It is a very sad commentary on Islam today that there is not even one Muslim country that truly practices Islamic tenets in true spirits, although there are over 57 declared Muslim nations, both big and small in size and population, strong and weak economic politically and security wise; both nuclear and non-nuclear and aspiring nuclear powers; both terrorist and anti-terrorist nations depending on their equations with USA and other anti-Islamic nations controlling the world. All that the Muslim leaders seek is wealth for themselves and their kith and kin and they promote nepotism and rampant corruption inflicting a serious blow to Islam at their levels, anti-Islamic tenet like inequality and drunkardness.



The US-led anti-Islamic world does not allow any real Islam to flourish any where in the world and after the destruction of Afghanistan that tried to establish a true Islamic society, no Islamic nation takes any risk of establishing an Islamic nation based on Sharia’. All anti-Islamic nations now led by US-India-Israel are ganged up to “defeat Islam and kill the Muslims under fictitious pretexts like terrorism that are created by themselves to uproot Islam. They cleverly use the services of some of Muslim organizations promoted by CIA-Mossad-RAW globally and regionally.



That Iran even after an Islamic revolution could not make any real progress in implementing Islam in true spirits is another story now. Ahmadinejad will, as expected, stand for re-election in June, Aliakbar Javanfekr, a close aide of Iranian president asserted. World may see twists and turns out of Iran as its leaders work out whether Obama is offering real change and what they may offer in return. While he was playing to the crowd, he could also be staking out his position ahead of Iran's presidential election in June.



III



A brief calendar of events concerning Iran’s problems with USA and UNSC and IAEA: Iran waged a long war with its neighbor Iraq with American weapons. But USA wants to disarm Iran after it destroyed Iraq. Iran’s nuclear path is being used by the USA and Israel to invade Tehran, but Iran has challenged them to do that. The US-led anti-Islamic West is using Iran against the Arab nations.


Rise of Anti-Americanism


2002 January - US President George Bush describes Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil", warning of the proliferation of long-range missiles being developed in these countries. The speech causes outrage in Iran and is condemned by reformists and conservatives alike. 2002 September - Russian technicians begin construction of Iran's first nuclear reactor at Blusher despite strong objections from US. 2003 June - Thousands attend student-led protests in Tehran against clerical establishment. 2003 September - UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, gives Tehran weeks to prove it is not pursuing an atomic weapons programme. 2005 June - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran's ultra-conservative mayor, wins a run-off vote in presidential elections, defeating cleric and former president Amber Hashemite Rafsanjani.


Nuclear crisis


2005 August-September - Tehran said it had resumed uranium conversion at its Isaac plant and insists the programme is for peaceful purposes. IAEA finds Iran in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 2006 February - IAEA votes to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear activities. Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Nathan. 2006 April - Iran says it has succeeded in enriching uranium at its Nathan facility. 2006 31 August - UN Security Council deadline for Iran to halt its work on nuclear fuel passes. IAEA says Tehran has failed to suspend the programme.


Holocaust denial


2006 December - Iran hosts a controversial conference on the Holocaust; delegates include Holocaust deniers. UN Security Council votes to impose sanctions on Iran's trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology. Iran condemns the resolution and vows to speed up uranium enrichment work. 2007 April - President Ahmadinejad says Iran can produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.


IAEA says Iran has begun making nuclear fuel in its underground uranium enrichment plant. It also says that Iran has started up more than 1,300 centrifuge machines. 2007 May - IAEA says Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in three to eight years if it so chooses. 2007 July - Iran announces plans to stop making cars that only run on petrol and switch to dual-fuel vehicles, which also run on gas.


Iran agrees to allow inspectors to visit the Ark nuclear plant following talks with the IAEA. 2007 December - A new US intelligence report plays down the perceived nuclear threat posed by Iran. 2008 February - Iran launches a research rocket to inaugurate a newly built space centre. Washington describes the launch as "unfortunate". 2008 March - President Ahmadinejad makes unprecedented official visit to Iraq, where he calls on foreign troops to leave. He also stresses his government's desire to help rebuild Iraq and signs a number of cooperation agreements. UN Security Council tightens economic and trade sanctions on Tehran. 2008 June - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana presents an offer of trade benefits, which Tehran says it will look at, but will reject if it demands suspension of uranium enrichment. 2008 July - Iran test-fires a new version of the Shahab-3, a long-range missile it says is capable of hitting targets in Israel. Iran says it has successfully launched a test rocket capable of carrying a satellite into space. 2008 September - UN Security Council passes unanimously a new resolution reaffirming demands that Iran stop enriching uranium, but imposes no new sanctions.


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