Climate politics is not much of a domestic issue in India even though it is perhaps more at risk from climate change than other nations.
In Australia, climate change and the politics around it even caused a political crisis recently.
The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, currently in India, is expected to address concerns in India over attacks on Indian students.The issue blew up in May this year after a spate of attacks on Indian students amid allegations of racism.The Australian leaders have been defending the safeguards and measures taken since then, but every time there is a fresh attack the media goes to town with the issue.With over 80,000 students enrolling in Australian every year the attacks, whatever their nature, have hardly dampened the outflow of students.Rudd won’t be the first to offer a reassurance and given the regularity with which incidents are reported it doesn’t look like he would be the last.Indian students continue to be interested in Australian education.Is this because they can sense that the issue is has been blown out of proportion?Or are they voting with their feet on the state of Indian education system?Are we still sold out over the lure of a ‘foreign degree’ and willing to run the risks for it?
It is former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s 25th death anniversary on October 31. What was her legacy?She was associated with events like the Emergency, which briefly made Gerald Ford head of the largest democracy in the world, and decades of militancy in Punjab.Her policy of nationalising banks was mentioned as a reason why the Indian banking sector weathered the global financial crisis.She also won a famous military victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan and ordered the Pokhran I nuclear tests three years later.Going by columns and television discussions around her anniversary, it is safe to say it was contentious.Over her career and beyond she was compared to a dumb doll, the goddess ‘Durga’, a lioness and Napolean.Some called her, like Margaret Thatcher, the only man in her cabinet.Richard Nixon described her as an “old witch”.She herself played at being Joan of Arc as a child.The more enthusiastic of her partymen coined the phrase “India is Indira and Indira is India”.Its cadence has had a longer shelf life, if not the idea itself.Twenty five years after her assassination, the Congress party in the ascendant, one news channel recounted her as India’s Indira.Would it be accepted the other way around now?Indira’s India is not an incredible idea given she was the second longest serving prime minister we had.She was Prime Minister or minister for eighteen of her sixty six years. Not counting her other political roles.I was four when she died and my memory of her is from Doordarshan films showing her unfurling the tricolour.Much clearer is the memory as a seven-year-old, of waiting for hours behind wood barrricades with my mother to watch Rajiv Gandhi pass by.What I remember is my mother’s patience and my disappointment when I couldn’t glimpse him as his convoy zipped by.My mother did however, or so she said.It was a Gandhi who was passing through that day and that seemed to be enough reason to wait however long, for a fleeting moment.Was dynasty and its mystique, which she was accused of building, the most lasting contribution of Indira Gandhi?Or is it too soon to assess her legacy?
Universal Studios has shelved plans to shoot “Indian Summer”, a film based on the lives of Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten.(UPDATE: On Friday, a studio spokesman was quoted as saying “Indian Summer” is continuing to be developed but will not go into production until the script, budget and cast are all in place)Filmmaker Joe Wright, who was slated to direct the project, was quoted as saying there were creative differences between the studio and the Indian government.Many people are not comfortable with national leaders being portrayed on celluloid in any way other than flattering.Most leaders are interpreted by their followers in a particular manner. Any alternative recounting especially on celluloid runs into controversy.Biopics of leaders are few and far between in Bollywood in spite of it being a vibrantly political and prolific film industry.Some say the Indian masses tend to deify their leaders and hence are less receptive to anything critical.And celluloid is a mass medium more than any book on history ever can be.In Pakistan, the movie “Jinnah” starring Christopher Lee and sanctioned by the Pakistan government had also run into controversy.But does public policy also contribute to this state of affairs?The Indian Express says in a report that ministries don’t transfer records to National Archives “which leaves modern, democratic India’s history shrouded in secrecy”.Does this contribute to a lack of public discussion on various facets of our leaders’ lives and policies and therefore an intolerance of alternative readings?As for the movie “Indian Summer”, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting was to appoint a liaison officer to ensure the movie did not deviate from the approved script.Is imposing a government-sanctioned memory of events on people any different from Mayawati’s efforts to erect statues to herself?
Obama has won the Nobel Peace prize.The citation commends him for calling for a nuclear-weapon free world, emphasising the role of international institutions and preferring dialogue.Less than a year into his presidency he has yet to implement much of his programme.”For the time being Obama’s just making proposals. But sometimes the Nobel committee awards the prize to encourage responsible action,” said Poland’s Lech Walesa, a Nobel Peace Laureate.What does it mean for India to have the most powerful man in the world honoured for his policies?The policies of the Obama administration are different from those of the George W. Bush era when multilateralism was seen as a liability.Bush’s ambassador to the U.N. was John R. Bolton whose scepticism towards multilateralism was well known.Yet Bush helped India get a crucial waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group and was described as the friendliest U.S. President India has had.Obama on the other hand has called for strengthening nuclear non-proliferation, prompting India to seek clarifications.Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, argues in a recent column that Indians find it more difficult to deal with those who they think of as American liberals than the conservatives.Will we now see a more forceful and active Obama on issues like non-proliferation that India is wary of ?