January 2012 Volume 4 Issue - 7
Editor-in-Chief : N.L.Lakhanpal Managing Editor : Dr. Ramjilal Jangid Editor* : Pradeep K Mathur Associate Editor : Rajni Sarda Bus. Development : Mukesh Shant Correspondents Overseas Afghanistan, Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bostwana, Canada, Cuba, Dubai, France, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Netherland, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, S. Africa, Suriname, United Kingdom, USA, Zambia. India Prof. K. K. Gosswami, Dr. Rama, R.K. Tripathi, Neelamani Bhatia (Delhi), S.M.Subharwal (Mumbai), Prof. S.P. Singh (Lucknow), Suresh Sharma (Jaipur), Dr. Swati Pai (Bangaluru) Copy Desk: Ritu Sharma Impact/Response Consultant Dr. Pooja Sanjeev Design and Layout Gaurav Lakhanpal, Divyadisha, Photographer: Madan Malhotra Cartoonist: Partha Borah Editorial Team: Rekha Mathur, S.Shiva kumar, Kalyan Ashok, Sujoy Dhar, Circulation & Subscriptions: 0124-4073654/55 Marketing & Advertising: Contact: +91 9811308699 Image Partner: AFP Owned, Edited, Printed and Published by N.L.Lakhanpal, G-45A, Palam Vihar, Gurgaon (Haryana) printed at Dewan Publications Pvt. Ltd. A-6/1, Maya Puri Phase 1, New Delhi -64 Editorial : firstname.lastname@example.org All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any form is prohibited. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of competent courts/tribunals in Delhi only. The opinions expressed in this, magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers. *Responsible for the selection of content under the under the PRB Act. ZeiTGeiST ASIA has been approved for annual subscription for all libraries of Maharashtra State by its Directorate of Libraries vide its order* dated 22.06.2008
FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF The Year of the 99%. The slogan, â€œwe are the 99%â€? that became popular during the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement in United States, in a way, symbolized the spirit of 2011. During the year, the masses all over the world seemed to be telling their rulers that enough was enough and that they could not be taken for granted for ever. The year began with the awakening of Arab masses in North Africa and West Asia and ended with huge anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow. In between there were strikes and protests in practically every European country against the mis-management of public finances by the elected governments. The discontent saw the governments change mid-way in Greece and Italy and earlier in Portugal and Ireland. As the year ends, the Eurozone is on the verge of disintegration even while France and Germany are pitching for an even closer integration of the public finances of European countries. In the meanwhile, in the Arab countries the trouble kept on spreading from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya and from there onwards to Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Indications are that no country will ultimately be left untouched by this wave of protests against life-long rulers. China spent sleepless nights trying to prevent the sentiment from crossing into its borders via the internet by coming down heavily on any form of dissent. The Chinese Communist party leadership spent the year planning for smooth succession due next year. Back home, India had its own version of a serious mass movement against corruption led by a Gandhian, Anna Hazare. The year saw Anna Hazare undertaking two fasts unto death, demanding the enactment of a law setting up a strong Lokpal to tackle the menace of corruption in the country. The year saw governance coming to a practical stand-still and the economy decline, with prices rising unabated, interest rates going up and the rupee declining steeply against the dollar. There was hope at the end of the year with the Election Commission announcing dates for elections in five states Pakistan emerged as the international pariah during the year with the alQaida leader, Osama bin Laden being tracked down in Abbottabad, a mere two hours drive from Islamabad. The hunting down of Osama bin Laden by the US Marines in a unilateral action strained Pakistan's relationship with the United States and the break-up became complete when twenty five Pakistani army men died in a NATO helicopter attack on one of its border outposts. Pakistanis felt let down during the year by each one of their three props - Army, Allah and America. This issue of ZeiTGeiST ASIA in your hands attempts to bring out all these somber aspects of the year gone by as well as the prospects for the year that comes. Unfortunately, the events that began in 2011 are likely to spill over into 2012 as well and the prognosis for the next year is also not very happy. But New Year should always be a time for hope and for singing and dancing rather than kicking and screaming. So, let us hope that the new governments ushered in by the Arab Spring will bring in real liberty, equality and fraternity. Let us hope that the new regime in China is more liberal and democratic and that Europe stays together and the US economy picks up momentum. Let us hope the forthcoming elections to six states in India throw up a decisive result, one way or the other, so that the country and its economy can get on the move once again. Happy New Year to all our readers
Published on 7th day of each month
10 2011 has been an eminently forgettable year in several parts of the world.
19 Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout slogans as they carry coffins of their community members during a funeral ceremony in Quetta on Sep 21, 2011, after their killing in an attack by gunmen.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
28 Feedback 4 -------------------------------------------------------------------The year that was 6 -------------------------------------------------------------------Leaders 10 But why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri G? 11 Euro is dead, long live Europe 12 FDI in retail: Millions of mutinies 14 Climate Change: Disastrous deal At Durban -------------------------------------------------------------------Close Encounters 16 The politics of formal receptions -------------------------------------------------------------------Asia 2011 18 South Asia -------------------------------------------------------------------20 South East Asia -------------------------------------------------------------------22 East Asia -------------------------------------------------------------------24 West Asia -------------------------------------------------------------------Africa 26 -------------------------------------------------------------------Americas 28 -------------------------------------------------------------------Europe 30 -------------------------------------------------------------------32 Central Asia
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
24 India 33 Elections 2012 or a referendum? 35 Eastern India 2011 36 Western India 2011 37 Southern India 2011 -------------------------------------------------------------------Interview 38 Interview with Dr. Frank-J端rgen Richter, Chairman, Horasis -------------------------------------------------------------------The Iconoclast 44 Reconstructing Julian Assange the new age icon -------------------------------------------------------------------Business & Economy 45 Global Economy: A Retrospect 46 Indian Economy 2011 48 Stock markets and mutual funds 2011 49 Economic and financial indicators -------------------------------------------------------------------Khandu The Driver 50 Beware 12. 12. 12. It could be ominous -------------------------------------------------------------------Leisure 52 Mind Games 53 Appreciating Indian classical music: Kirana gharana - Part IV 54 Bollywood 2011 55 Sports 2011 56 A Historic Season For Team India
31 Poeple gather for a coordination assembly in central Athens' Syntagma square on the 14th day of protests against the new austerity package on June 7, 2011. Greece's embattled government came under fire from its lawmakers as a senior IMF official said the debt-hit country was at a "critical" juncture ahead of a key EU meeting to discuss a new bailout.
56 This was the year India proved that the 1983 World Cup win was no fluke.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Feedback Prize winning feedback of 2011 2G / 3G / CWG / Madam G Your leader in your New Year issue under the above heading rightly calls on the media to turn its camaras towards itself. It is simply unforgivable for the media to put a blanket of silence on the wrong doings of top media celebrities like Vir Sanghvi, Barkha Dutt and Prabhu Chawla. Pradip Bannerjee, Kolkata The Ubiquitous Bania Your cover story in your February 2011 issue on the Bania community was really inspiring. Over the ages, there has always been a love-hate relationship between the governments and the businesses in every part of the world. The good thing in India has been that businesses have been mostly inherited from one generation to the other. As you have rightly concluded, it is this factor which has made the Bania almost invincible in the global economic village which is taking shape before our eyes. And that surely constitutes India's competitive advantage. Vineet Aggarwal, Pune HOWZAAT ? Your Cover Story HOWZAAT on the cricket World Cup in your March issue is bang on the spot. I liked your opening statement that “India believe that the World Cup is theirs this time, by right. They have the advantage of home conditions. And they have Sachin Tendulkar, the ruling deity of international cricket who, they believe, is entitled to this tribute in his last hurrah. And faith can move mountains.” I don't know whether you wrote it in sarcasm but the Indian team and Indians have proved this statement to be true, your intended cynicism not withstanding. Why are you ever so cynical, anyway? Isn't Sachin Tendulkar, indeed, the r u l i n g d e i t y o f international cricket? Was he not really entitled to this tribute from the game which he has done so much to promote? But we agree with you that faith can move mountains. It was the faith of the team in its abilities and the faith of 1210 million Indians that has
earned them the World Cup. Thank you anyway for reinforcing this faith through your Cover Story. Ramesh Dua, Vipin Gupta, Chandraprabha Moudgil, Satnam Singh, Mumbai Pay - out time During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh, I was reminded of your story on Assam elections in your June issue. You had rightly said in the introduction to the story that “for the victory in Assam, Manmohan Singh needs to send a 'thank-you note' to Sheikh Hasina Wajed for handing over the ULFA leadership”. Your contention that foreign policy can fetch political dividends at home has been vindicated by this visit. It was indeed pay-out time for Manmohan Singh. Unfortunately, however, the cheque for this pay-out has to be picked up by India's garment makers in Tirupur and Ludhiana.
Our Response Consultant Dr. Pooja Sanjeev Dear Readers There is nothing for me to respond to this month. So I take this opportunity to thank you all and to wish you a very happy and prosperous new year. It has been a very enriching year for me, reading hundreds of letters sent by you. Our editorial team has benefitted immensely from the feedback provided by you. My request to you on this New Year’s eve is to keep telling us every month where we have gone right and where we have gone wrong. That is what a free debate is about in democratic societies.
The year that was Politics Mamata Banerjee makes history: Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee, ended the 34-year uninterrupted rule of the Communist Party of IndiaMarxist (CPM)-led Left Front in West Bengal in the Assembly elections in May and became its first woman Chief Minister. Protest in Russia: More than 50,000 people came out on the streets protesting the alleged rigging of December 4 polls, casting doubts about Putin's ability to get himself elected once again as president in January. The Arab Spring: Sidi Bouzid, the Tunisian town, where a 26 year-old street vendor set himself ablaze in December 2010 and died on January 4, started a rebellion toppling governments that rocked the Arab world and led to a year of global revolt networked via social media.
Zine el Abidine Ben Ali
Tunisia: Tunisian President, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, ceded power and fled the country to Saudi Arabia on January 15, after popular protests. In the elections held towards the end of the year, the Islamist parties won the maximum seats.
Egypt: In Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, the Egyptian Revolution began on January 25, at the Tahrir Square, Cairo, and culminated in the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 and transfer of power to the Supreme Military Council. Egypt held its first phase of democratic elections on November 27, but protests and clashes with the security forces continue at Tahrir Square against the military's dubious commitment to real democracy. Islamist parties are in the lead in the elections held so far. The Libyan civil war: Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was captured from a sewage ditch and killed on October 20, in Sirt. The National Transitional Council forces took control of the city ending the civil war, which had drifted on for months.
Ali Abdullah Saleh
Yemen: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, after months of tribal insurrections, an Islamist insurgency and defections of key military men, agreed on November 2 to transfer power to the vice-president, which will end his rule of more than 30 years.
Syria: The Arab Spring has been the most bitter in Syria so far. Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime has desperately clung to power, confronting protesters every week with tanks and rocket fire. The UN estimates that about 5000 have been slain since March. Bahraini uprising: On March 15, the Sunni king of Bahrain declared a state of emergency following weeks of protests by the majority Shia population of the island kingdom. The unrest was suppressed with the help of Saudi forces.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012 Occupy Wall Street protests: The movement started on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district. The protests are against bail-outs of big banks and corporations with taxpayers'money. UK riots: Between August 6 and 10 widespread rioting, looting, violence and anarchy left a trail of destruction and death in London and other cities and towns of England. Jasmine phobia in China: In April, police arrested Ai Weiwei, a well known artist who angered authorities with his involvement in some sensitive activist campaigns. The Hongkong based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) said it had documented the criminal detention of at least 38 dissidents and activists while 16 others were missing after being taken away.
French court convicts Chirac: Former French president Jacques Chirac was convicted of corruption and given a two year jail sentence on December 15, becoming France's first ex-president to be convicted for his crimes. French Legislation bans burqa: On April 11, France banned the wearing of full veils in public, becoming the first European nation to impose the restriction. A new republic of South Sudan is born: On July 9, after more than 50 years of struggle, the Republic of South Sudan became an independent nation and Africa's 54th state. Dominique Strauss-Kahn accused of sexual assault and rape: Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York in May, on charges of sexual assault and attempted rape and relieved of his job. He was acquitted later for want of sufficient evidence. End of Iraq war: On December 16, Iraq took control of the last US military base in the country, a day after US forces formally marked the end of their mission in Iraq. First female Prime Minister of Thailand: The Pheu Thai (PT) party won a clear majority in Thailand's elections and Yingluck Shinawatra became the first female Prime Minister of Thailand in July. Self-immolations of Tibetan monks: The Dalai Lama blamed â€œcultural genocideâ€? for a wave of selfimmolations among monks and nuns in ethnic Tibetan parts of Sichuan. At least eight Tibetan monks, two of them teenagers, torched themselves this year to protest Chinese rule. 'Iron Lady' of Manipur: On November 5, Irom Sharmila, the 'Iron Lady' of Manipur completed 11 years of her hunger strike against the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Anna Hazare and Jan lokpal Bill: Social activist from Maharashtra, Anna Hazare, shot into national limelight
The year that was with his fasts to fight against corruption, demanding the enactment of a Jan Lokpal Bill.
Business & Economy Slowdown in global trade: Trade growth slowed in almost every major economy in the third quarter. Industrialised G7 countries and the Brics Brazil, Russia, India and China saw a 1per cent decline in imports compared to a 4.6 per cent increase in the second quarter. China slowed to 3.2 per cent in the third quarter, from more than 10 per cent three months earlier. Japan saw a strong rise in trade, a bounce-back from the steep decline earlier in the year. US debt crisis: Standard & Poor's withdrew the triple A rating the US held for 70 years and downgraded long-term US debt to AA+. Consequently global stocks lost USD 7.6 trillion between August 5 and August 12. Europe's financial crisis: In Greece, a proposed IMF and European bailout package mandated crippling budget cuts and other austerity measures. In response, tens of thousands took to the streets. In Spain similar antiausterity demonstrations rocked Madrid's iconic Puerta del Sol square, for weeks. The governments of both countries fell and the Prime Ministers departed. The threat of fiscal contagion spread to Italy, the euro zone's third biggest economy, and forced the departure of controversial Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. In March Moody's downgraded Portugal's sovereign debt rating from A1 to A3. By the end of the year, the European Union was busy putting together a trillion euro rescue package to sustain the euro-zone. Germany and France proposed changes to EU treaties to improve governance of the euro-zone. WTO officially accepts Russian membership: Russia secured the final approval to join the World Trade Organisation after a record of trying for a membership for 18 years. It was the last major economy outside the trade club. Famine in Africa: This year saw a terrible drought the worst in more than 60 years. Hundreds of thousands of starving Somalis fled to refugee camps on the Kenyan border. The death toll from the famine is estimated to be in tens of thousands. Indian firm in Kazakh gasfield: In April, India opened its hydro-carbon account with Kazakhstan with ONGC Videsh Ltd. securing a 25 per cent stake in a Caspian Sea exploration block. Indian Economy slowing down. Manufacturing sector grew merely by 5.4 per cent in April-September against 8.8 per cent last year.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012 FBI's most wanted man was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid was carried out by a crack unit of US Navy SEALs. Serial blasts in Mumbai: Seven bombs went off in three Mumbai market areas on July 13, killing 26 and injuring 130. Bomb blast in Delhi: On September 7, a powerful bomb exploded outside the Delhi High Court killing 15 and injuring 65. ULFA signs peace pact: In September the Centre and the Assam government signed a tripartite pact with the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) to end all operations against the militant outfit. Moscow bombing: On January 24, at least 35 died and 180 injured in a bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport. Terror in Norway: For the first time ever, on July 22, Norway was hit by twin terror attacks, the first being a bomb blast which targeted government buildings in central Oslo, the second being a massacre at a youth camp on the island of UtĂ¸ya.
Natural Calamities Japanese earthquake and tsunami: On March 11, an earthquake measuring 9.0 in magnitude struck 130 km (80 miles) east of Sendai, Japan, triggering a tsunami killing thousands of people. This event also triggered the second largest nuclear accident in history, and one of only two events to be classified as a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Turkish earthquake: A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Turkey near the city of Van, killing over 582 people, and damaging about 2,200 buildings, on October 23. Brazilian mudslides: Torrential rains triggered mudslides that smashed through towns around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in January, killing over 600 people. Australia floods: Without warning a massive deluge overwhelmed Toowoomba near Brisbane. Flood waters swallowed an area the size of France and Germany combined, in early January.
Floods in Pakistan: Devastating floods left 434 dead in Pakistan, in September. The government said more than eight million people, mostly in Sindh province in the south, had been affected.
Osama Bin Laden killed: On May 1, alQaeda's Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attacks and the
Deadly Bangkok floods: In a severe monsoon season Thailand's October floods left more than 370 dead, with 58 of the country's 77 provinces affected.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
The year that was
Science and Environment Global population: On October 31 (date selected by the UN as the symbolic date) the global population reached seven billion. Durban Conference on climate change: The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came to an end on December 9, at Durban, South Africa. Governments agreed to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol until the year 2017 and agreed to implement the package to support developing nations beginning 2012, as agreed in 2010 conference. The package consists of the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee, and a Technology Mechanism. Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. First signs of 'God Particle': Scientists at the Cern research centre found signs of the Higgs boson, an elementary particle which is believed to have played a key role in the creation of the universe.
Married Prince William weds Kate Middleton: On April 29, Prince William married Kate Middleton. Post-marriage, they took on the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Bhutan's King Jigme weds Jetsun Pema: Bhutan's 31 year old king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk married Jetsun Pema, on October 13. McCartney weds American heiress: Former Beatle Paul McCartney married for the third time, on October 9, American heiress Nancy Shevel. Varun Gandhi weds Yamini Roy Chowdhury: On March 5, late Indira Gandhi's grandson, Varun Gandhi, married Yamini Roy Chowdhury.
Sports Cricket World Cup: On April 2, India bagged the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 title, after 28 years, with a six wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the fantastic final at Mumbai.
Spot fixing scam: Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt, fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and their agent Mazhar Majeed, were handed prison terms by a British court on November 3 for taking bribes to fix a Test match against England in 2010. Hockey India beat Pakistan to lift the Asian Champions Trophy: On September 11, India beat Pakistan to win the Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos (China). Tennis French Open (June 5): Li Na, from China, won the French Open women's championship to become the first player (male or female) from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles crown. Rafael Nadal, of Spain, won the men's crown for the sixth time. Women's World Cup: Japan beat US to become the first Asian nation to win the Fifa Women's World Cup, in July. Marathon: Fauja Singh, a 100 year old Briton, became the world's oldest marathon runner after finishing a race in Canada, in October.
Died Sri Sathya Sai Baba: Spiritual Guru of millions at home and abroad, Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba breathed his last on April 24, at Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh at the age of 85. Kim Jong Il: North Korea's leader Kim Jong II passed away on December 17 at the age of 69. Bhupen Hazarika: Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Bhupen Hazarika passed away on November 5, at the age of 86. Dev Anand: Dev Anand, who ruled the hearts of millions of film enthusiasts for over six decades, passed away on December 3, at the age of 88. Shammi Kapoor: Bollywood legend, Shamsher Raj Kapoor, better known as Shammi Kapoor passed away on August 14, at the age of 79. Jagjit Singh: Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh passed away on October 10, at the age of 70. Har Gobind Khorana: 1968 winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, Har Gobind Khorana passed away on November 9, at the age of 89.
One-Day-International (ODI): Virender Sehwag gave a record breaking performance in Indore against West Indies, in December. His startling 219 against West Indies makes him one of the best one-day batsmen since the format emerged 41 years ago.
Steve Jobs: The co-founder and chairman of Apple Inc. and one of the century's greatest business leaders died on October 5, 2011, at 56 leaving behind a legacy of innovation and world-changing products.
Zero win record: In September's humiliating tour of England, for the first time ever, India failed to win a single game in a bilateral series involving Tests and limitedovers matches.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor: Legendary Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away on March 23, at the age of 79. She was bestowed the high British honour of 'Dame' in 1999. 路
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Leaders Happy New Year
But why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri G ?
Global Soup Song 2011 Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri G ? Why in UP Mayawati Mayawati G? Jayalalitha aur Mamata di
2011 has been an eminently forgettable year in several parts of the world.
Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri di ? 2G, 3G aur CWG?
HE year that has gone by has been a year of sweat and turmoil in most parts of the world. India spent the year battling corruption with Delhi's Tihar jail even having to run a VIP ward to accommodate ministers,
bureaucrats and company CEOs. Governance took a back seat with most of the crucial decisions on hold. The economy kept sliding down as did the rupee. Only the prices and the interest rates kept moving up. The US economy kept stubbornly refusing to respond to one stimulus package after the other. Unemployment rate kept hovering around the menacing 10% mark though it never really crossed that red line and came down slightly to 9% by the end of the year. The political stalemate on steps to bring down the national debt remained unresolved. Europe kept sliding down, with the very existence of the euro zone and the viability of the Euro as a single currency being called into question. It seems the European leaders are quite
reconciled to the inevitable. Greece is on the verge of a default on its sovereign debt and, after engulfing even Italy and Spain, the contagion does not seem to be far away even from the shores of France. If the Euro zone collapses, as it is expected to, even Germany may find it difficult to keep its head about water. Nearer home, too, the stalemate continues with USPakistan ties reaching their nadir by the end of the year. The NATO air strike on a Pakistani army post killing 24 Pakistani army personnel has inflamed passions in Pakistan against long-time friend, financier and ally, the United States of America. Even though the two countries might finds ways of restarting a working relationship, the basic conflict of interests on a future Afghan regime is not likely to disappear. And if Pakistan has its way in Afghanistan, the stability of the entire Central Asian region will also be open to question. In West Asia and North Africa, the Arab spring or the Jasmine revolution continued its relentless march consuming Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya as its latest trophy. The elections in Tunisia and Egypt have brought in Islamists to power, though, on a largely secular agenda. That was expected because in any mass, leaderless revolution, any organized force like the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists will have a numerical advantage over the unorganized mass. Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, Bashar Assad of Syria continues to refuse to read
Aur Nira Radia madam G, Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri di ? Why this corruption, black money G ? Anna Hazaare ka Anshan Anshan, Why this Lokpal, Lokpal di? Mehengayee to badh gayee badh gayee, Sharad Pawar ko thappad, thappad, Chidambaram ko Chappal Chappal, Why not Kolhapuri, Kolhapuri Kolhapuri ji? Misr Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Dictator sab ki chhutti ho gayee, Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri di ? Europe to saara karze mein doobyo, Germany, France ki bhi aayee baari, Why this Euro-note, Euro-note, Euro-note di? Bin Laden, Qadaffi chale gaye, Khoonkhaar aatankee aatankee, Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri di ? Cheeni samundar poorab dakshin Tibet Sunkiang uttar paschim Why this dragon fuming fuming fuming di? Wall street par kabza kabza, Obama election mushkil ho gayee, Why this tea party, tea party, tea party di? Manmohan Singh ki ab ghanti baj gayi Kisi baat mein kuchh nahi chaltee Why this FDI, FDI, FDI, di? Nehru Indira Rajiv Sonia, Rahul ki ab baree aye, Why this Gandhi-Nehru, Gandhi-Nehru, Gandhi- Nehru di?
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Leaders the writing on the wall but it should merely be a matter of a couple of months before he, too, is forced to see reason like his Yemen counterpart, Abdullah Saleh. Towards the East, China continued to flex its muscle in its north-west, east and south. Towards the northwest, XingXiang and Tibet continued to remain volatile while its disputes with Vietnam, Philippines and others got back into the news at the East Asia Summit held last month. Towards its East it continues to have problems with Japan, Taiwan, Korea and even Australia. There were tensions even in Inner Mongolia. US President, Barack Obama, thought it necessary to personally attend the East Asia Summit to restate the significant US strategic stakes in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between China and India also keep flaring up from time to time, the latest two instances being China's objections to India exploring oil on behalf of Vietnam in the South China Sea and China's objection to the Dalai Lama addressing an
International Buddhist Conference in Delhi. India has stood its ground on both issues so far. By far the biggest event of the year, however, was the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US Marines in a mansion at Abbottabad, a couple of hours drive from Islamabad. While the event did sour the US-Pakistan relations considerably, it definitely had the effect of turning back the tide of Islamic fundamentalism. The upsurge of the Arab masses in West Asia and North Africa against the long established dictatorships and the moderation in the approach of Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood is some evidence of that. New Year's Eve is, however, an occasion for ringing out the old and ringing in the new. It is time for everyone to hope and wish that the US economy will finally turn around and that the European debt crisis would be over soon. It is time to hope a wish that the people in West Asia and North Africa will enjoy their new found democratic freedoms. It is time to hope that the Pakistani civil society
will finally assert itself and pressurize its civil and military authorities into giving up terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy. It is time to hope that China and India will solve their problems and ensure for themselves a prosperous future by focusing on mutual trade which may soon be approaching US $ 100 billion. It is time to hope that the new communist party leadership due to take charge in China towards the end of the New Year will be more open and tolerant of internal dissent and more cooperative with its neighbours in the east, the south and the northwest. It is time to hope that India will re-discover the golden mean it is famous for and Anna Hazare and the politicians will sit together to give the country a strong Lok Pal bill. The year gone by has finally gone with all its sweat and turmoil and blood and all its market imperfections and melt-downs and the New Year is dawning on us. Let us hope for, enjoy and look forward to brilliant sun-shine in the year 2012. 路
Euro is dead, long live Europe When the Titanic was sinking, the band on the ship kept playing on to the end.
IKE the plague of olden days, the contagion is spreading from one country to the other and is now threatening to infect the very lungs of Europe, France and Germany. First it was Greece and Ireland, then Portugal, Italy and Spain, practically in that order. Now France and Belgium are on the verge of being downgraded. And the option of ten-year German Bunds last month shifted only US$ 4.8 billion out of US$ 8 billion worth on offer. The collapse of the Euro zone is almost a certainty now unless the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Central Bank can pull some miracle at the last minute and try to square a circle. There are signs, however, that the market is already preparing for the worst and there are also signs of what such an eventuality could entail. Industrial orders in the Euro zone fell by 6.4% in September, the steepest since
December, 2008. The index of perceptions of purchase managers has been reading 47.2, well below the
threshold mark of 50. The European Commission index of consumer confidence fell again in November for the fifth time in a row. All these are indicators of a creeping recession. The situation is getting serious by the day and a single spark could ignite the entire edifice. The spark could come in the form of a bank failure leading to a run on the deposits of other banks or an imminent disorderly default by Greece or even Italy or a revolt against the austerity measures being enforced as conditionalities for bailout packages. Or France could lose its AAA rating which could trigger a run on banks across Europe. The results of the elections in Greece in February reflecting public anger against austerity measures coming in as part of the bail-out plan could make Greece leave the Euro zone and reinvent its own currency. The trend could then be followed by
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Leaders one peripheral economy after the other. That could enable these countries to write down the value of their public and private debts and cut wages and prices relative to those prevailing in the Euro zone and, in the process, improving their competitiveness. The countries left in the Euro zone would then be put at a competitive disadvantage to the new cheaper currencies just across their borders. That would mean the erstwhile members of the Euro zone imposing capital controls and possibly retreating towards autarky by raising retaliatory tariffs. The death of the Euro zone would naturally lead to the death of the European single market and the concept of the European Union itself. A single currency without a political or at least a fiscal union was never a bright idea even to start with. A currency is not just a piece of paper. It acquires consumer and investor backing only because of the executive and the legislative force of the sovereign government issuing that currency. When the sovereignty backing the currency is itself divided, its different constituents are motivated to behave in rather irresponsible ways for short term gain vis-à-vis the other constituents of the grouping. And, when the sovereign defaults, the investors and the consumers cannot be blamed for
panicking, bringing the entire edifice down. And that is exactly what has happened in the case of Europe. The situation can still be salvaged even at this late stage if the European leaders see reason even at this at late stage. This month, the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso came up with two proposals. One was an agreement on stronger monitoring of national budgets by Brussels, including the right to recommend changes before they were submitted to national parliaments and a fierce oversight of countries in severe difficulties. The second proposal was for mutualisation of debt by floating common Euro bonds backed by Euro zone as a whole and by the European Central Bank. The proposal fiscal union is being seriously discussed at political levels. Britain has rejected it outright saying it can not countenance any compromise with its sovereignty. Sweden is not likely to agree. Some countries have sought time for internal consultations. But most have reacted favourably. There is however no movement yet on common euro bonds or joint liability for the sovereign debts. However, even steps towards a fiscal union could inspire confidence in the markets and eventually lead towards some solution to the ongoing crisis. These are tough times for Europe, though. ·
FDI in retail
Millions of mutinies All political activity at the constituency level is funded almost entirely by the kirana shops. They are not going to give up without a fight.
HE cacophony of noises following Government of India's decision to allow 51% foreign direct investment in organized retail has the effect of impeding a dispassionate analysis of the issues involved. There is no doubt that both the timing of the government decision and the opposition it has invoked are politically motivated. Paralyzed into virtual inaction over the last two years by corruption scams and raging inflation, the government thought it the best way to
divert public attention by announcing an even more controversial measure on which emotions usually run high. The opposition parties grabbed it as an additional stick to beat the government with and to paint it as cruelly insensitive to the basic needs and emotions of the people. For the present, the naysayers have won. What is it exactly that the government's latest decision entails? Nothing much, really. Retail is entirely decentralized and free in
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Leaders 2011 The empire strikes back Pakistan Staring Down The Abyss Twitter-Facebook Revolution Japan's “ides of March”: Misfortunes never come alone NATO bombings in Libya The death of Osama Asia's changing strategic landscape Role of Media: The future of India’s Fourth Estate 2G Scam: Corporate India touches its nadir 2G/3G/CWG/Madam G India: Turn back from the brink Tahrir and Tiananmen: A tale of two uprisings UN intervention in Libya The BRICS Summit 2011 The euro crisis: No big deal, there Global markets: Stop this default paranoia World economy at cross roads, again Jobless growth: End of the road for OECD countries? Indo-Afghan pact: Legacy value of international treaties East Asia in focus Climate Change: Capitulation at Cancun Corruption scandals in India India's corruption scams: A kleptocratic government under siege? Corruption Scams For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Leaders India and anyone can set up any retail shop of whatever size or variety anywhere. There has been a natural trend towards more organized retailing and, over the last decade or so, several Indian bigwigs have set up shopping malls in various towns and cities. These malls bring together hundreds of retailers under one roof so that the consumer can get access to most of his shopping needs once he enters a particular mall. The experience in India so far has been that the malls are just another version of the old Indian bazaar where different shopkeepers sell their wares in close proximity with their competitors. What the government has now decided is that foreigners can also invest in the capital of these organized Indian retailers to the extent of 51% which means that these foreign investors will be in a position to enforce their own business models and their modes of service. Thus, so far as the question of mere ownership is concerned, it should not matter either to the consumer or to the farmer or to the manufacturer of consumer goods where the capital for setting up the mall has come from. Ownership is the least bothersome part of this entire debate. The real debate should be on the relative business models of the foreign and the Indian retailers. The foreigner retailer's first and foremost objective always is to offer the consumer the widest possible choice in terms of price and quality of the goods sold at his outlets. This he ensures through his worldwide sourcing networks, his deep pockets and his massive buying clout with which he can force down the prices. Since the orders placed by these international retailers are in millions of pieces of each item, the vendor is prepared to supply the same even at the barest margins because of the sheer volume of supplies. For the same reasons, the multinational retailers are in a position to enforce quality discipline on their vendors worldwide. Institutionally, therefore, the multinational retailers are in the best position to provide a meaningful choice to the customers worldwide. Thus, for instance, a multinational store chain would display the Reebok shoes made in America, Europe, China or
Bangladesh in the same store in adjacent stands at different prices ranging perhaps from US$ 20 to US$ 200, leaving it entirely to the customer to pick up what he wants. The customer can, therefore, only benefit from the latest government decision and there is no reason for him to complain. How about the Indian industry? It is not going to be adversely effected because the quantitative restrictions on all imports already stand with-
drawn and the markets are flooded with the foreign and, more particularly, the Chinese goods. The tariffs on imports that are applicable today will continue to be applicable to the imports of these multinational retailers as well. The Indian manufactures, therefore, will not be at any further disadvantage with the opening of the retail sector to FDI. What about the farmers? Well, the minimum support prices for several farm products are going to remain applicable and there is no danger of the multinational retailers driving down the prices below those levels. Yes, there are no minimum support prices for vegetable, horticulture meat or poultry products. But these items are already the cheapest in India as compared to the prices prevailing in most other countries. The multinational retailers will be foolish to import the same from other countries at higher prices. On the contrary, they might introduce proper sorting, grading and polishing and offer higher prices to the farmers for higher quality goods. This will have the effect of pushing up the prices for the farm products to some extent rather than pushing them down. There is nothing
for the farmers, therefore, to be apprehensive about allowing FDI in retail. How about the kirana shops and the adhtiyas and the impact of the new policy on employment in the country? Well, there, one is on an uncertain ground. There are millions and millions of people engaged in these activities and they are naturally apprehensive about the threat to their livelihoods. A wrong claim is being made by the advocates of FDI in retail that these retail chains will establish direct contact with the farmers and with the small scale producers thus obviating the need for the middleman and the costs associated with that. The multinationals are also going to need their services and the only difference will be that their activities will become more formalized and more transparent. They will have to operate as per the rules of the multinational chain stores and within the parameters laid by them. And those who will be willing for this change-over will get absorbed in the new set-ups. Yet, some could be rendered redundant but that would get offset by the new front and back-end jobs that will get created when the country migrates to a higher level of shopping experience. The kirana shop is sure to lose some clientale and come under more stress but that is regardless of whether the mall is owned by Walmart or Bharti. But the country is vast enough to allow different systems to co-exist. The introduction of taxi services in cities has not thrown the auto-rickshaws and even the cycle-rickshaws out of business. But if the country has to cater to the aspirations of increasing numbers of its people to a better life, it is going to need more and more capital, all of which is not going to be available from internal accruals alone. FDI in retail is, therefore, something whose time may have finally come. It is not going to be easy, though. The kirana shop is the basic unit of political and electoral funding structure of the country. While the central offices of political parties survive largely on corporate donations, the local politics is greased almost entirely by these millions of kirana shops. They are surely not going to give up without a fight. 路
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Leaders Climate Change
Disastrous deal at Durban The Kyoto Protocol is not dead, not yet. Durban has shifted it to ICU.
NDIA'S Environment Minister, Jayanti Natarajan, put up a brave fight at Durban in defense of the Kyoto Protocol, at least its fundamental principle of environmental equity. The Durban conference even had to be extended by as many as 36 hours. But that was all she could achieve because the dice was loaded against her. Her predecessor, Jairam Ramesh, had made sure of that. Jayanti Natarajan kept insisting on equity being woven into the next treaty but it does not find mention in the formal closing declaration. However, even assuming that the principle of environmental equity does guide the negotiations on a future treaty, the fact remains that a new arrangement, imposing binding commitments on all countries, developed or developing will finally replace the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol had laid down the fundamental principle that every human being born on the planet earth had an equal ownership of and access to the Global Commons, in this case the environment, and that the countries that had been historically responsible for depleting the Global Commons should take steps for the restoration of the same. Accordingly, it imposed certain legally binding minimum emission cuts on the developed countries to be achieved by 2012 and enjoined on them to assist the developing countries financially and
technologically to enable them also to participate in the global effort to save the planet. Unfortunately, the developed world continued to be restless with Kyoto Protocol ever since it came into force in 2005 and started coming up with alternate proposals aimed at changing the very basis of the Kyoto Protocol. The United States never signed it with its Senate rejecting it by 95 votes to 0. This encouraged other developed countries also to flout its provisions with impunity and to start working to sabotage the Protocol itself. First, they started spreading the word that the Kyoto Protocol was to end in 2012 and a new treaty needed to be negotiated before that date. This was far from true. Kyoto Protocol does not end in 2012. It only imposed minimum emission targets to be achieved by 2012 after which the developed countries were to come up with enhanced targets for cutting GHG emissions. At conference after annual conference under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), these countries kept pressing for a new treaty which would impose obligations on all countries, including the developing ones. India's then Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, kept whittling down the position of the developing countries, first by endorsing the American MRV proposal, then by implicitly accepting the Australian-Canadian proposal of attaching country schedules to the new agreement and finally expressing India's willingness to accept legally binding emission cuts at Cancun last year. There was little, therefore, that Jayanti Natarajan could have done this year. The process of negotiating a new treaty had already gone far enough for her to be able to reverse it. Even apart from the principle of equity and the need for respecting international treaties once concluded, what does Durban achieve in terms of the global objectives of limiting the temperature increase to 2 degrees
above the pre-industrial levels? First and foremost, it postpones any decisive action by as many as nine years till after 2020 with almost a complete vacuum during the next decade. Immediately after the conclusion of the Durban Summit, Canada announced its intention to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. Japan, Russia and Australia are likely to follow suit. United States is already out of it. The only commitment to reduce emissions during the period 2012 to 2020 may, therefore, come from the European Union which accounts for a meager 14% of the GHG emissions. In short, the biggest emitters have formally announced at Durban that they will do nothing over the next eight years to save the planet earth. There was no progress on tying up the details of the meager US$ 100 billion a year Green Climate Fund which, again, is to become operational only after 2020 nor a word on compensation to countries that take measures against deforestation - the two steps which had been announced with such fanfare at Copenhagen in Dec, 2009. India were painted as the dealbreakers at Durban but not a word against the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia and Australia which are staying out of the still existing Kyoto Protocol with impunity and arrogance. If that is, indeed, the attitude of some of the biggest GHG emitters towards deals like the Kyoto Protocol, India will do well to carry the label of a deal-breaker as a badge of honour. George W. Bush (Senior) said prior to the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janiero that the American way of life was not up for negotiation. This 'American way of life' is costing the planet earth 20 metric tones of carbon dioxide per head annually as against China's 5 metric tones and India's 1.5 MTs. Barack Obama is more suave; yet the trajectory of American position on climate change reinforces the same statement of George W. Bush (Senior) from Copenhagen in 2009 to Cancun in 2010 and now to Durban in 2011. 路
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Close Encounters- Reminiscences of an I.A.S. Officer
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Say it with flowers
The politics of formal receptions
What goes on behind the stage is always messy and, sometimes, ugly.
g had just taken over as District Collector and I was a little uncomfortable and rather embarrassed with the elaborate receptions I was getting wherever I went on my regular tours. I did not interfere because I was told that was the age-old tradition in the district. A formal though not very elaborate and rather rickety stage would be set up where local leaders of all hues would offer me garlands. Local school children would sing welcome songs. The local leaders would then make speeches outlining the problems of the area and pinning all their hopes
on me solving some of those issues. It was good to get acquainted with the local problems but the whole thing looked a bit too structured to me. It came in the way of my inspecting the work being done by my local offices and it obstructed my spontaneous interactions with the people at random to get the real picture of the region. So, I developed a via media. I would go one day ahead of the formal reception and complete my work before attending the function. This also enabled me to respond adequately in my speech to the demands being put forward by the local leaders. About six months into my posting there, I was sitting in my office in the collectorate when I received a visiting card of one of the prominent MPs from the District. I called him in and we got chatting about the problems of his constituency. He said everything
was fine but there was one Tahsildar who was obstructing the development work in his constituency. “Could you please transfer him outside my constituency, sir?” he asked. I took down the particulars and promised him that I would look into his grievance. I sent for the Tahsildar and when he met me, I told him point blank that the MP wanted him transferred outside his constituency. The Tahsildar remained calm and quiet, standing in front me with folded hands. Not an expression changed on his face. When I repeated what the MP had said, he said it was fine and that I could transfer him wherever I wanted. I was not satisfied with the response because, normally, people at that level resisted transfers because of family problems etc. I thought there must be something else and I wanted to know what it was. After my prodding, he opened up just a little bit and said he just had a little misunderstanding with the MP. On my insisting that he spell out what the misunderstanding was, he came out with his story. “Sir, the MP invites and arranges receptions for seniors officers like you and state level political leaders. For every such function he collects Rs.5000/- each from government officers in his constituency. He spends some money and keeps the rest. When you were coming last month to my tahsil, I told him that I would make the arrangements like offering garlands etc. myself and would not pay him any money. He got very angry and told me that he would get me transferred to a place at least a hundred kilometers away. Sir, I know there would be political pressures on you and I do not want to make it difficult for you. Please transfer wherever you think proper.” I ended the interview. I was flabbergasted. I felt a stab of pain and humiliation run through my ribs and my veins all the way to my brain. What kind of administration we were running where our subordinates commiserated with us for working
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Close Encounters 2011 'Bad' Boss 4 Bulls and cobras Bad Boss: Cobras&Cobras A chairman with blue eyes Political corruption: A chairman with blue eyes Caste aside: A long way to go Law and order: A very close encounter Truth, media truth and nothing but the truth Gift or bribe?: The MLA's first car My brush with corruption For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives under political compulsions? These perceptions, real in most cases and imagined in some others, had to be changed by sending appropriate signals if the vast administrative machine was to have any legitimacy in the eyes of the people. I did not transfer the Tahsildar anywhere. What I did instead was to issue instructions to all officers that I was allergic to flowers and that no flowers should ever be offered to me at any of the meetings or functions. Until then, like most other people, I had believed that flowers were a way of expressing the genuine love and affection of the hosts towards the guest. I had never known that my own staff was paying for the dozens of garlands and bouquets being presented to me wherever I went. That incident changed my outlook on flowers. Till this day I have stuck to the system of not accepting flowers except those grown in my own garden. ·
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011 J Pakistan: The Liberal Backbone Caves In Real Life oo7: Who Is Raymond Davis ? Nepal: Crackdown on Tibetan refugees ? Pakistan: Some determined action atlast Pakistan: The moment of reckoning Af-Pak region: Staring down the abyss Bangladesh: A Prime Minister in a hurry US-Pak relations hit a new low India-Bangla relations: Mamta Banerjee pulls the rug Indo-Afghan SPA: South Asia's new strategic profile Bhutan: A fairy tale royal wedding Deep schism: A coup in Pakistan? Sri Lanka: General Fonseka being persecuted For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives A Pakistani soldier stands guard at the site of a suicide and bomb attack outside the Frontier Constabulary (FC) main training center in Shabqadar town, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Peshawar. Pakistan's Taliban on May 13 claimed their first major strike in revenge for Osama bin Laden's death as at least 70 people were killed in a suicide and bomb attack on paramilitary police.
Nepalese police action against the peaceful Tibetan protesters
Deceptive appearances. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani, shaking hands, with U.S Secretary of state, Hilary Clinton before starting their meeting in New York
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
South Asia Pakistani Shiite Muslims shout slogans as they carry coffins of their community members during a funeral ceremony in Quetta on Sep 21, 2011, after their killing in an attack by gunmen. Gunmen shot dead 26 Pakistani Shiite Muslim pilgrims travelling to Iran on Sep20, the deadliest attack on the minority community in Pakistan for more than a year, officials said.
South Asia 2011
F all the countries in the world's most populous region of South Asia, Pakistan went through the worst in 2011. The country's relationship with its strategic ally, the United States, had already been under severe strain even before the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden was tracked down to Abbottabad and killed in a unilateral action by the United States. Pakistan protested vehemently, questioning CIA's presence in the country and threatening noncooperation in the on-going war against terror in neighbouring Afghanistan. But good sense finally prevailed and a semblance of normalcy was achieved. The real break in relationship, however, came towards the end of the year when the NATO air force helicopters attacked a Pakistani border outpost killing 25 Pakistani troops. This action proved to be the proverbial last straw on the camel's back. Pakistan retaliated by stopping the movement of supplies and armaments to the NATO troops in Afghanistan through its territory. It also asked the United States to evacuate its Shamsi air field in Balochistan which was being used by the CIA to mount drone attacks on the
terrorists seeking shelter on the Pakistani side of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Pakistan also decided, instead, to open up negotiations with terrorists groups and to strengthen its strategic relationship with China. Nepal saw a new Prime Minister, Baburam Bhattarai take over in an effort to break the continuing political stalemate. Bhattarai did seem to make some headway when an agreement of sorts was reached on the vexed question of absorbing excommunist fighters into the security forces of the country. Other than that, there was still not much progress on the drafting of the new constitution. As expected, with a communist dominated government and constituent assembly, Nepal moved a few inches closer to China and, correspondingly, that much distance away from India. The people to people relationship between India and Nepal, however, is so emotional and all pervasive that no government in Nepal, communist or otherwise, can succeed in driving a wedge between the two countries. The relationship between India Bangladesh just got that much better during the year. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid an official
XPECT Pakistan to give in once again on the vital question of permitting US supplies through its territory to Afghanistan. Pakistan will, however, extract a higher price in terms of increased civil and military aid. Pakistani army will also continue its clandestine relationship with terror groups, on the sly, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Drone attacks will continue on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. ISAF will somewhat improve its hold on Afghanistan. Nepal may finally succeed in putting together a constitution by about the middle of the year. Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are likely to continue to remain stable and to maintain a steady relationship with India. visit to Bangladesh. Several agreements for cooperation between the two countries were signed, including an agreement on exchange of certain disputed territories between the two countries based on the wishes of the people involved. The visit could have yielded much more but for the last minute spanner in the works by West Bengal's Chief Minister, Mamata Bannerjee. Mamata's protest prevented the two sides from inking a deal on the sharing of the waters of the river Teesta. The two Prime Ministers, however, did not let this development affect the overall relationship and India opened up its market to textile imports from Bangladesh. Bhutan, during the year, was quite excited about its royal wedding when its young king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck married Jetsun Pema. Ecstatic rowds greeted the royal couple at all the ceremonies. The couple spent two weeks after the wedding on a honeymoon in India. Sri Lanka remained peaceful and stable except for its government continuing to persecute its former army chief, General Fonseka, for having dared to contest against President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 路
South East Asia
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011 Myanmar: Lull before the storm? Myanmar: Some democracy is better than none Thailand in election mode Thailand: Democratic churning produces a beautiful PM Thailand: Keep it up, Yingluck Might is right? South China Sea boils over Myanmar: ChinaMyanmar relations strained China and US lock horns at Bali Myanmar: New signs of hope
Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, shaking hands with hill tribe villagers during an election campaign.
For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during their meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia summits in Nusa Dua on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi greets her supporters after her press conference on the anniversary of her release at the National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarter in Yangon on November 14, 2011. Myanmar's army-backed regime is expected to free more political prisoners in the latest sign of change in the repressive state, Suu Kyi marks one year of freedom.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
South East Asia
South East Asia 2011
HAILAND had some respite from political unrest when it voted ex-Prime Minister Shinawatara's sister, Yingluck, to the post of Prime Minister giving her party an absolute majority in the National Assembly. Yingluck, however, decided to form a coalition government with the help of some smaller political parties with a view to having a comfortable majority in the Assembly. She has been making the right noises about her politics of reconciliation. Thailand, however, was confronted with a natural calamity in the last quarter of the year with flood waters submerging several areas even in the national capital, Bangkok. The biggest story in South East Asia, however, was Myanmar and, for the right reasons, this time. Myanmar surprised the world by introducing liberal reforms like freeing up some political prisoners from the jails and removing the curbs on the political activities of democracy icon, Aung San Su Kyi. Su Kyi reacted positively by announcing her intention to contest a by-election for entering the parliament. So did the rest of the world. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) responded by
agreeing to confer the chairmanship of ASEAN on Myanmar in the year 2014. President Obama took this process of ending Myanmar's isolation further by asking Hillary Clinton to pay an official visit to Myanmar in December the first by a US Secretary of State during the last half century. Myanmar also suspended work on a joint ChinaMyanmar irrigation project on river Iddawady. Myanmar has also eased press censorship in the country. The South China Sea boiled over this year with China claiming it as its core national interest. At the heart of the dispute is the ownership of Paracel and Spratly islands almost in the middle of the South China Sea. The ownership becomes important because it gives the owner an exclusive economic zone around the islands. The South China Sea is also believed to contain a good amount of commercially viable mineral wealth. Mineral hungry China, therefore, claims exclusive ownership over these islands which would have the effect of making the South China Sea almost China's inland waters. Several other South East Asian nations also claim ownership of these
Irelands but Vietnam and Philippines are relatively more aggressive in asserting their claims. Vietnam contracted out its exploration activity in the South China Sea to India this year with China aggressively opposing the deal. At the East Asian Summit at Bali this year, US President, Barack Obama, took the unprecedented step of remaining present personally to make a statement about the US interest in remaining engaged with this part of the world. At the summit, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao warned “outsiders”, possibly meaning India and the United States, to keep off the South China Sea and asking each South East Asian country to discuss the dispute bi-laterally with China. This proposition is not acceptable to the South East Asian nations, overawed as they are by China's rising economic and military clout. President Obama, therefore, reiterated the US commitment to maintain the freedom of the seas and the resolution of all disputes through peaceful negotiations at multilateral fora like the East-Asia Summit. China finally blinked, possibly, to fight another day. ·
Pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour the grounds after their meeting at Suu Kyi's residence in Yangon on December 2, 2011. Suu Kyi said she was confident about prospects for democratic reforms in Myanmar, after talks with Clinton during a landmark visit
XPECT ASEAN to continue to consolidate economic cooperation during 2012. In Thailand, Prime Minister Yingluck can settle down to a relatively peaceful year. Political reforms in Myanmar may move forward with Aung San Su Kyi entering the National Assembly and more political prisoners being released. The army is, however, unlikely to loosen its hold on the country and its politics, certainly not in 2012. China is likely to continue to flex its muscle in the South China Sea. A flash point could be reached by about March, 2012 when the ONGC Videsh exploration ships enter the South China Sea to begin explorations.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011 Muscle flexing: Korea versus Korea Japan : Cruelty, untold and unprecedented China: Jasmine phobia continues Demographics: India could soon overtake China in population growth Dissent in China: Xinjiang erupts once again Chinese navy acquire a new toy Yoshihiko Noda: Japan's 6th Prime Minister in five years China: Hundred years of the 1911 revolution Tibet: Self-immolations For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives Uighurs living in Turkey demonstrate outside the Chinese embassy in Ankara on July 22, 2011 to protest against alleged Chinese brutality against members of the Chinese Muslim Uighur minority in China's farwestern Xinjiang Region. Chinese president Hu jintao (L) stands with former president Jiang Zemin (3rd L) and premier Wen Jiabao (front R) at the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 9, 2011. The celebrations marked the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing imperial dynasty and established the Republic of China.
Members of a US rescue team check the situation during rescue operations in the devastated city of Ofunato, Iwate prefecture in Japan on March 15, 2011 as the country struggled to cope following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disasters.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
This picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on September 10, 2011 via the Tokyo-based Korean News Service (KNS) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il at a military parade to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Pyongyang on September 9, 2011. Kim Jong-II died on December 2011
XPECT China to maintain its economic growth at more or less the current rates despite the expected melt-down in Europe and despite the US economy refusing to bounce back to its earlier growth levels. China has reached a stage where it can seamlessly shift from exports to domestic consumption. Politically, China would have a smooth succession and will continue to flex its muscle abroad. No year can be as bad as 2011 for Japan. Japan's economy is likely to stagnate at the present level while politically, Yoshihiko Noda might succeed in breaking the jinx and continuing as Prime Minister beyond 2012. The Korean Peninsula is likely to remain stable. China and Taiwan may take their economic cooperation still further during the year.
East Asia 2011
APAN would like to forget 2011 as a bad dream. The country faced a tsunami, an earthquake and a radiation leak, all at the same time. It was, indeed, cruelty untold and unprecedented, which no country should ever be visited with. The courage and the fortitude with which the Japanese put up with these calamities was really something which had to be seen to be believed. On the political front, however, Japan continued to be volatile with Yoshihiko Noda taking over as Japan's sixth Prime Minister in five years. This frequent change of guard at the top continues to block any efforts at undertaking fundamental reforms which are needed to put Japan back on the path of economic growth. The year began with US-China shadow boxing over the Korean peninsula. The situation was, however, soon defused with NorthKorea blinking first. China spent the year feeling as if it was under a siege, both internally as well as externally. On the internal security front, China tightened its media censorship fearing that the jasmine revolution in the Arab lands could influence its own dissenters.
Amongst its sensitive regions, there were troubles in Inner Mongolia and XingXiang. The protesters in Tibet adopted a new form of protest with several of the Tibetan monks immolating themselves. The protests in all the three regions were suppressed ruthlessly. The political dissenters on mainland China asking for freedom and democracy were dealt with similarly. The dissenters also came up with newer and more creative forms of protest by calling on each other to stroll together on particular avenues at particulars times. The Chinese Communist Party leadership spent the year preparing for smooth succession due next year. Both President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have completed their terms and are scheduled to hand over the baton to their successors next year. Externally, China spent the year tying up logistics for continued access to minerals and other raw materials on which it is critically dependent for its continued economic progress. China's internal stability depends mainly on its continued economic performance. China, therefore, spent the year drawing up and implement-
ing grand logistics plans like building up railways and highways through Central Asia to improve its access to the Indian ocean and through Myanmar for its access to the Bay of Bengal. China was also seen aggressively bidding for oil exploration and mining projects in different parts of the world particularly in Central Asia and Africa. At home, China spent the year battling inflation and resisting western pressures to up-value its currency, the Yuan. China's relations with practically all its neighbours came under great strain during the year. Even when the year was ending, China called off the border talks with India just because India refused to deny permission to Dalai Lama to address an International Buddhists Conference in Delhi. In the South China Sea and in the East China Sea, China had problems with countries like Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. In fact, when President Barack Obama visited Australia and announced upgradation of the strategic US-Australia relationship involving stationing of more US marines in Australia, China threatened that it was not good for Australia's security. 路
West Asia/ North Africa ZeiTGeiST ASIA
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
West Asia 2011
Headlines 2011 Iran: The worm attack on nuclear facilities? The Fading Scent of Jasmine? The clock is ticking A Fit Case for UNSC Intervention Syria: Bashar Assad regime is tottering Syria: Libya is liberated, it should be Syria next The Arab spring: Syria, Yemen could slide into civil wars Qaddafi's death: Arab spring gets a boost Syria:Bashar Assad losing support Yemen: Saleh ends his: 33year rule The Stuff Revolutions Are Made Of For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives US soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division attend a final ceremony at Camp Adder, now known as Imam Ali Base, near Nasiriyah before leaving Iraq on December 17, 2011. From the tens of thousands killed and wounded to the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in eight years of conflict, the cost of the Iraq war is astronomic and still growing.
IKE North Africa, the Arab part of West Asia was engulfed during the year by the raging Arab Spring. But, unlike North Africa, the entrenched regimes here dug up their heels and unleashed the worst kind of repression on the protesters. This happened in Bahrain where the Sunni king was able to successfully suppress dissent with the help of Saudi Arabia. In Syria, the protesters were regularly confronted with tanks and heavy artillery by the regime of Bashar Assad. Nearly 4000 protesters are believed to have died since March 2011. The situation in Syria is turning extremely volatile and there is a possibility the country could slide into a civil war. Iraq remained relatively stable despite the withdrawal of most US forces which formally declared the end of the war this month. Iran came back into focus again towards the end of the year with the release of the IAEA report on the country's nuclear weapons programme. In the beginning of the year, it was believed that US and Israel had succeeded in pushing back Iran's nuclear weapons programme through a secret worm attack on its nuclear facilities. But the latest report has again given rise to
speculation about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. There is also speculation that US might join in to swing the forthcoming election in Obama's favour. Saudi Arabia emerged as the dominant force in the region during the year with the Presidents of Tunisia and Yemen seeking shelter there when confronted with protests in their respective countries. The Saudi intervention in Bahrain in support of the king of Bahrain and against the mass protests by the overwhelming Shia population also made a decisive though negative impact on that small country. Turkey was seen to be showing increasing interest in the region during the year. Turkey staged a meeting of the Syrian opposition groups in order to get them better organized with a view to increasing pressure on Bashar Assad to quit. Turkey, along with Brazil, also tried unsuccessfully to mediate between Iran and the western powers on the nuclear stand-off. The Arabs have never been supporters of extremist Islam and this year saw even Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood display secular tendencies. 路
West Asia/ North Africa
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
United Nations Security Council meeting that endorsed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures" against forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi, Mar 17, 2011 at UN headquarters in New York.
he region is expected to remain turbulent with the Arab spring running its full course. Expect the Bashar Assad regime to collapse any time during the year and expect the protests in Bahrain to revive again sooner rather than later. The other regimes will also have to either reform or perish because the Arab spring is expected to gather momentum during the year. Expect Iran to continue to press ahead with its nuclear ambition, threats from Israel or the United States, notwithstanding. But the Arab spring could start making an impact on the Iranians and the year could see the beginnings of an implosion in Iran. Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, on September 24, 2011, as clashes rocked the Yemeni capital leaving dozens of people dead a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned from months of medical treatment in Riyadh carrying "the dove of peace.â€?
A general view shows hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered at Cairo's central Tahrir Square on February 18, 2011 after Egypt's longtime president Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office by an unprecedented wave of protests in the Arab world's most populous country.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Africa ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011 Tunisia: Classical Revolution The continent in turnmoil Libyan Crisis: Stalemate on the ground South Sudan: A new republic is born A crying shame: Famine on the Horn of Africa Libya: Where are Qaddafi and his beautiful bodyguards? South Africa: Reverse racism on the rise? South Africa: No entry for Dalai Lama Tunisia: Islamists lead the constituent assembly Egypt Tahrir Square erupts again
The President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, waving the newly signed constitution of his country.
For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives
An administrative building of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's residence in Tripoli, about 50 metres (165 feet) from the tent where Kadhafi generally received guests, destroyed in a NATO missile attack.
ORTHERN AFRICA came into international focus with what has come to be known as the Jasmine Revolution or the Arab Spring sweeping across the entire region and spreading over to West Asia and also beyond. It all started in little Tunisia where people gathered peacefully in large numbers and brought about the downfall of Ben Ali who had been ruling the country since 1987. Egypt followed when lakhs of people gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square and succeeded in forcing President Hosni Mubarak to resign. In neighbouring Libya, the change was not so peaceful and it could be brought about only through
NATO intervention under a UN resolution. In the elections that were subsequently held in Tunisia and Egypt, the Islamist parties have won majority of seats. In Libya, too, the interim government swears by the Shariat law. This might give the impression that, rather than being movements for liberal democracy, the agitations were, in fact, inspired and organized by fundamentalist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. That is, however, not true, the victory of the Islamist organizations in the elections notwithstanding. These movements were, indeed, popular, spontaneous and leaderless protests and in the elections that
followed, the Islamist organizations were the only organized force participating in the elections and, naturally, they had an advantage over any other unorganized competitors. The good thing is that even the Islamist organizations contested the elections largely on secular issues and, at least for the time being, they are professing democratic values. It would, therefore, only be fair for the world to give them a reasonable chance to prove their liberal democratic credentials. Africa also saw the peaceful birth of the new nation of South Sudan, thus ending decades of civil war between Islamic North Sudan and Christian South Sudan. The separa-
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Turkana women eating wild fruits in Kolokutanyang in northwest Turkana, on August 9, 2011
Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu in 2006, This year, South Africa did not issue visa to the Dalai Lama under Chinese pressure. Egyptian demonstrators gather to observe clashes between fellow protesters and security forces near Cairo's Tahrir Square on December 17, 2011 as violence raged in the administrative heart of Cairo with troops and police deploying in force after clashes with protesters against military rule killed at least nine people.
tion of South Sudan was preceded by a referendum wherein 95% of the South Sudanese voted for becoming a separate country. The countries on the Horn of Africa faced the worst famine in recent times. That such a thing should happen in any part of the world even in the twenty first century is a crying shame for the entire international community. The UN agencies like the Food and Agricultural Organization need to sit up and take note of the situation. The help that arrived was a case of too little too late. The situation was made worse with terrorist organizations like al-Shabab obstructing the efforts of the aid agencies and
the NGOs. The African National Congress continued to handle multi racial issues with maturity when the country's President, Jacob Zuma, expelled the party's fire brand youth leader, Julius Malema, for inciting racism against the minority white population. South Africa did slip up, however, in denying entry to the Dalai Lama under Chinese pressure. Dalai Lama was to visit South Africa to join co-Nobel Laureate, Desmond Tutu, on his 80th birth anniversary celebrations. Desmond Tutu lashed out at the ANC and said he was ashamed of living in a country which denied a visa to a person of Dalai Lama's eminence. 路
XPECT popular movements in North Africa to continue and to even spread to other neighbouring countries southwards. Revolutions are never a one stop affair and governments can be expected to rise and fall in quick succession in the initial few years. The Islamist parties that have come to power will need to be on their guard because they will be under close watch for their actions. The growth of emerging economies, particularly, China and India, will present new opportunities to Africa and the spread of democracy will lead to demands for increased economic activity in the continent.
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ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011 Real politic: Obama unrolls red carpet for Hu but also bares his knuckles Canada: Third federal election in five years Immigrants root for Harper's conservatives US debt crisis: “Cut, Cap and Balance” Vs “Duck, Dodge and Dismantle” Debt deal: The price of brinkmanship United States: Obama decides to fight it out Occupy Wall Street: Zuccotti Park: America's Tahrir Square Sex and sleaze: US Republican frontrunner faces sexual accusations For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives Herman Cain, the Republican front-runners at one stage, withdrew from the primaries after battling sexual harassment charges. Occupy Wall Street activists enter the private park owned by Trinity Church next to Duarte Square on December 17, 2011 in New York City. Activists marked the threemonth anniversary to the Occupy Wall Street movement with speeches and performances.
Occupy Wall Street:- Naomi Klein leading an open forum on October 6
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
HE Republicans who won last year's Congress elections riding on the crest of the Tea Party Movement were seen to be digging in their heals this year making life difficult for Barack Obama. The opportunity came their way when the President had to approach the Congress for raising the debt ceiling, the extent to which the US government could borrow or take overdraft from the central bank, as it is commonly understood in India. This is normally a routine formality which is often cleared with a voice vote. But, with the economy in bad shape, the Congress made it a prestige issue, refusing to raise the ceiling, thus bringing the United States to the verge of a default in the repayment of its sovereign debt. Fortunately, the situation was saved with a last minute temporary increase but the final deal is due to be cleared only by December 31. Apart from the politics of it,
everyone agrees that America's debt situation is a matter for real worry and there are genuine bi-partisan concerns about the ways of tackling this issue. Basically, while the democrats would like to solve the problem by increasing taxes, the Republicans would want to deal with it by cutting down on government expenditure. As of now, no solutions are in sight and the bi-partisan super committee set up to make suitable recommendations has also thrown up its hands. In the meanwhile, the public resentment against bail out of banks and major industries with tax payers money took the form of the 'occupy wall street' movement wherein thousands of Americans gathered at New York's Zuccoti Park which was renamed by them as America's Tahrir Square. Similar rallies for days together were held in other parts of the United States as well as in major
cities around the world. Towards the end of the year the movement looked to be fizzling out though the strong sentiment against bail- outs of big banks and corporations continues to agitate people all over the world. In foreign affairs, President Obama seemed to be more in command, having grown out of his earlier romantic vision of the world. He spent the year talking tough both to China and to Pakistan and Iran. Having largely failed to revive the debt-ridden economy, his hopes for a re-election now rest largely on his foreign policy initiatives. Canada went through a third federal election in five years though the elections did give Prime Minister Harper's Conservatives a clear majority in parliament this time. Brazil continued to forge ahead with President Dilma Rousseff consolidating the reforms initiated by her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. ·
Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L), New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton (C), and Michael Ignatieff (R) take part in a televised English language federal election debate in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
ITH a political stalemate on domestic economic issues, expect President Obama to go in for some spectacular foreign policy initiatives during the election year 2012. There are, however, signs that the US economy is, on its own, on its way up and that could help Obama during the run-up to the elections. He has lost considerable ground but indications are that he would make it in the end, though barely. Economically, most Latin American countries can be expected to record reasonable GDP growth rate during 2012. Stephen Harper would continue to sit pretty on his new-found majority. The National Debt Clock, showing the increasing US debt, near an office of the Internal Revenue Service on Sixth Avenue July 26, 2011 in New York. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US credit rating this year.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Europe ZeiTGeiST ASIA Europe 2011 Headlines 2011 Italy: Berlusconi Meets His Nemesis Debt Travails: PIIGS continue to drag Europe down IMF chief arrested for attempted rape of a hotel maid Dominique StraussKahn: The great anticlimax A crying shame: The puzzle still remains unsolved The white man's burden: British parliament debates Kashmir France: No namaaz on public streets United Kingdom: Immigration is back center stage British raj in reverse: Buckingham palace on sale? For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives
UROPE spent the year trying to get out of the debt trap it had been walking into, particularly, since the adoption of the Euro as a common currency. The strong Euro made debt a cheap and attractive proposition for several countries which kept on spending the borrowed money on increased welfare without bothering to match the increased spending with increased productivity. Countries like Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (PIIGS) fell victim to this temptation and when the lenders came calling, they dragged the entire Eurozone down because of the common currency. The economically stronger countries like Germany and France did try to mobilize bail out packages here and there but they proved to be nothing more than mere patch work. Europe continued to live in denial almost through the entire year, hoping that, somehow, the problem would fade away. The realization that something was seriously wrong sank in only towards the end of the year. It is only now that the European leaders have realized that you cannot have a monetary union without a fiscal union and without, in fact, a political union itself. It is only now, at the end of the year, that the European leaders are putting their heads together to work out a tighter fiscal union which would involve vetting the budgets of different member countries before they are presented to their respective parliaments. This means a sacrifice of sovereignty which the European leaders, so far, were not willing to listen to.
There is a time, they say, for everything and the time for such strong, drastic measures seems to have finally come. Even now, some countries like Britain and Sweden have reservations and might opt out of any such treaty. But most countries have agreed to a new treaty to operate within a certain agreed fiscal environment and discipline. This is the only way for Europe to move ahead as an economic entity and any other way is the highway where each one is free and entirely on his own. Hopefully, Europe will succeed in working out this new treaty very soon because a European failure would be nothing short of a calamity for the rest of the world as well. Apart from the debt problem, Europe also spent the year disciplining its Muslim immigrant community, with most countries banning the veil or the niqab and generally blaming immigrants for its unemployment and other economic difficulties. France also banned namaaz on public streets and threw out most of its Gypsy population. There is one thing, however, that one has to credit the European politicians with - they never cease to amuse. Even in the prevailing economic gloom, Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi continued to entertain the world with news of his Bunga-Bunga sex parties. And the French presidential hopeful and former World Bank Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, just escaped being sent to an American jail on the charge of having molested a hotel maid. 路 Women of Italy's Democratic Party (PD) show a banner which translates as "Dignity is not for sale" during a protest against PM Silvio Berlusconi's sex escapades. They demanded his resignation in front of the Palazzo Ghigi in central Rome on January 19, 2011.
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IMF leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) and his wife Anne Sinclair, DSK barely managed to escape the charge of attempted rape of a hotel maid.
France enacted a law banning namaz on the streets. Namaaz on major and minor arterial roads may be a common sight in Mumbai and Delhi and other towns in India but it shall no longer be so in France.
Poeple gather for a coordination assembly in central Athens' Syntagma square on the 14th day of protests against the new austerity package on June 7, 2011. Greece's embattled government came under fire from its lawmakers as a senior IMF official said the debt-hit country was at a "critical" juncture ahead of a key EU meeting to discuss a new bailout.
ITH the determination now being shown, expect Europe to sign a new treaty envisaging a closer fiscal union. This will restore the markets' confidence, to some extent, in Europe's ability to service the sovereign debt of its member countries. The new treaty will, however, generate a new internal power dynamics within Europe. Germany will emerge as the most powerful European country with France a close second. Germany will also have a dominant voice in European institutions like the European Parliament and the European Central Bank. Is it the fulfillment of Hitler's dream? And how will France and Britain react to this development in the long term?
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Central Asia 2011 Headlines 2011 Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev President Till 2020? Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev secures 95% vote Kyrgyzstan breaks ranks with Asia Tajikstan: President Rakhmon fears radical Islam Kyrgyzstan: Presidential election evokes international interest Uzbekistan: The commerce of human rights Kazakhstan: Crack down on Islamists Kyrgyzstan: Sitting Prime Minister elected as President For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives
AVING been part of the Communist Soviet Union for nearly seven decades, most countries in Central Asia are naturally averse to any kind of Islamic religious fanaticism. The ruling regimes in these countries spent the year trying to prevent Islamist impulses creeping up from the southern citadels of such fanaticism in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kazakhstan even passed a law regulating the activities of religious organizations. Kazakhstan also called for a snap presidential election in which sitting President Nazarbayev secured 95% vote. Again, having been part of the Soviet Union, emergence of strongmen who continue to rule almost for life is an understandable feature of the politics of this region. It is fine, however, as long as they secure a popular mandate after every term in office in a free and fair election. Kyrgyzstan completed the process of a shift from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government that it had begun after the ouster of the then President Bakaiev. In the parliamentary elections, Almazbek Atambayev became the Prime
Almazbek Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan' s presidentelect, takes oath of office
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (C) greets his supporters during a celebration rally at a sports center in Astana
Minister and in the presidential election held in October, he got elected as President. It was rather surprising that under a constitution that professes to give more powers to the Prime Minister, a sitting Prime Minister should resign to contest the presidential elections. It is almost similar to the situation in Russia where Vladimir Putin keeps becoming Prime Minister and President of the country alternatively. It seems that in this part of the world, constitutional power goes with the individual rather than with the office. However, ZeiTGeiST ASIA has always maintained that any election, howsoever flawed, is better than no election at all. And, to be fair to these countries, these elections have been monitored by foreign observers, including those from OSCE, and these observers have certified these elections to have been largely free and fair. By and large, due to its historic ties, the region continued to maintain and nurture political economic and social ties with Russia even while being open to accommodating Chinese commercial and US strategic interests. 路
ITH election process in the largest Central Asian country Kazakhstan and the smallest Kyrgyzstan having been already gone through peacefully this year, 2012 can be expected to be relatively peaceful. The fear of Islamist influences creeping up from the South will remain a dominant pre-occupation of the regimes in this region. The United States has already opened up an alternative supply routes to Afghanistan through this region because of its strained relationship with Pakistan and the US is going to take this process further in 2012. The international competition for the mineral wealth of the region might get a little more intense bringing more prosperity to these countries.
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
A mini referendum? The Election Commission of India has sounded the welcome bugle. Everyone is hoping the elections will end the current political stalemate.
OR more than a year now, the central government has been in a state of siege, what with the corruption scams, the sulking allies, the Anna Hazare agitation, raging inflation, depreciating rupee, sluggish markets, declining GDP growth and a whole host of negative
less controversial reform measures like the Pension Bill through in the Parliament. In a situation of stasis like this, democracies provide for a way out. If the authorized attorneys or the elected representatives are unable to move forward, the go back to the ultimate sovereign, the people, for a fresh brief or mandate. That is what the C h r i s t m a s - e v e announcement by the Election Commission purports to do in the present context. No, none of these issues will be posed specifically before the people in the elections just announced. Yet the election results will convey a message that will guide the country till the next round of elections. The polls will cover a population of nearly 25 cr.a large enough segment by any standards though it cannot be said to be representative enough of India's diversity. Other Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. than Uttar Pradesh, it Quraishi addresses a press conference in i n c l u d e s o n l y s m a l l , New Delhi on Saturday to announce the peripheral states of Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and dates for the Assembly elections Manipur three in the north, one in the west and one in factors. So much so that the the east. government is unable to take even Of the 690 seats on offer, the such simple measures as aligning largest number, 214, is currently held petrol prices with international crude by a local party, the BSP. Of the two prices. major national parties, the Congress Last month, the government tried holds 133 while the BJP is holding 166 to break free by announcing its though the seats held by them are well decision to allow 51% FDI in spread over all the states which organized retail and almost brought reflects their national character. the roof down on its head. As Besides, each state is important in its admitted by government's chief own right and the parties are going to trouble-shooter, Pranab Mukherjee contest each seat with all their might. himself, the government had to As far as the biggest state of Uttar withhold that decision because, Pradesh is concerned, neither the otherwise, the country might have Congress nor the BJP is a serious been faced with a mid-term poll. And contender for forming a government it was not as if it was a one-off event. there. They will essentially be Even after that, the government has contesting it only for the third and the been unable to get even seemingly fourth position, the main contest
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011 Cabinet reshuffle Dastaan-e-Delhi:-Prime Minister's media interaction Gromming up Rahul Gandhi Daastan-e-Delhi : The comatose Congress It's Anna Hazare again: The grand finale at Ramlila grounds The big battle: U.P.2012 Daastan-a-Delhi: Dirty As Can Be The big battle: Part -2 The big battle - Part 3 Court jesters: AkbarBirbal tradition continues For full text, visit asiamagazines.org/Archives being between the two provincial parties, the BSP and the SP. Similarly, the BJP has hardly any influence in Manipur. From the national perspective, therefore, the real political battleground over the next two months will be the small states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa. Whoever wins these states will be viewed as a winner and the political winds will start blowing in that party's favour for the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Punjab In the 2007 elections, the Akali DalBJP combine had swept the polls, winning 67 out of a total of 117 seats with the Congress having to rest content at a mere 44. This time, there is a general belief that the anti-
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
India incumbency factor might help the Congress. It will, to an extent. But, in Punjab, the Akali Dal and the BJP complement each other admirably. While the Akali Dal is wellentrenched in the rural areas, the BJP has a solid vote-bank in the urban areas. In the 2002 assembly elections, there was a wave of anger against the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine and the entire media as well as pollsters had been predicting a wash-out for them. Yet they lost that election only marginally. This only shows that the combine has a strong, entrenched vote-base which does not get easily swayed. This time round, the antiincumbency is relatively mild because the government has also delivered on several counts and the two parties have also jelled rather well. Indications are that they would make it again, though not so comfortably.
Uttarakhand The popular feeling until very recently was that the ruling BJP was heading towards a disaster. But they acted decisively a few months back and handed over the reins of the state back to the tried and tested old warhorse, literally, Major General Khanduri. But whether they acted well in time or dragged their feet too long is not yet known. Khanduri got hardly any time to really turn things around. Sensing that the major complaint of the people of the state was against rampant corruption, the strategist that he is, he decided to do something dramatic to make a big impact. He enacted the Lok Ayukta Act and adopted Anna Hazare's Jan Lok Pal draft for that purpose. He earned kudos from none less than Anna Hazare himself at a time when the UPA government at the centre was engaged in a virtual combat with the latter. He has also taken several other steps towards transparency and good governance. With his credentials for honesty and efficiency already well established amongst his constituents from his previous tenure, he can be expected to make a difference. With Anna Hazare committed to fighting by his side, there is a serious possibility of Khanduri being able to swing it again. Another factor that could help him is the central government's decision to provide for reservations in the Lok Pal. Of all the
states in the country, Uttarakhand has always been the least enthusiastic about reservations.
Goa With the politics of the state being so fragmented, only a very brave soul can hazard a guess about the outcome of Goa assembly elections. The main contest will, of course between the Congress and the BJP but the bit players can muddy the waters for both and, particularly, for the BJP. Congress has generally been found to be more adept at managing local factors. Goa election promises to be a tough contest with Congress having a slight edge, sex and drugs scandals notwithstanding. BJP's live-wire Manohar Parrikar seems destined to wait for the present.
Manipur The opposition to the Congress in Manipur is purely local with no other national party having a significant presence in the state unless, of course, one considers NCP as a national level party. Sitting Chief Minister, Ibobi Singh is poised for a hat-trick despite blockades and the Naga-Kuki rivalry issues which will concern the security forces more than the electorate.
HE results of the forthcoming elections in Uttrakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh will have a major impact on the national politics as well. It is early days to make any forecast about the elections results because even the dates have not yet been notified and the campaigning has not begun. However, the indications are that the existing ruling parties will get re-elected in all the three states though with reduced legislative strength. Jammu and Kashmir is likely to remain relatively peaceful and stable during the year. Rajasthan and Haryana will remain politically stable under Ashok Gahlot and Bhupinder Singh Hooda respectively. So will Himachal Pradesh under Chief Minister P K Dhumal. In short, that means a political statues quo in all the north Indian states. tested. But, all said and done, Mayawati seems assured, sitting at the top of the heap.
Sitting Chief Minister, Mayawati, is poised for a repeat of the 2007 elections. Claims by all other major contenders like the Congress, the SP and the BJP are nothing more than wishful thinking. To be fair to them, the other parties are not even seriously claiming that they are going to win a majority. All they are saying is that they are going to do well and dislodge Mayawati, presumably, through post-poll coalitions in the event of Mayawati failing to get an absolute majority. Yet these elections are important for all parties even for securing second, third and fourth positions. Rahul Gandhi has staked his prestige on these elections. If he succeeds in drawing the Muslim vote away from the SP, it could be curtains for Mulayam Singh Yadav. And it would seriously affect BJP's morale if the Congress were to succeed in its declared objective of dislodging it from the third position. The Anna Hazare factor is another unknown which has not yet been seriously
As has been stated before, the results that are going to matter nationally are those from Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa. UP is known and Manipur is much too remote. Supposing Congress were to win all three, it would have solved all its problems, including Anna Hazare. It would then implement all its reform measures and sail smoothly over the 2014 general elections riding smoothly on the back of its Right to Food Act. If, unfortunately, the Congress were to lose all three or even two out of three, there could be pressures for Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins of the government and try to retrieve the situation. If the Congress were to lose one and win two out of these three and significantly improve its tally in UP, it would be business as usual with the Congress feeling a little more upbeat in handling its allies and dealing with the opposition. But, as things seem today, 2012 might prove to be the year of the incumbents i.e. all parties retaining their existing turfs. 路
ZeiTGeiST ASIA January 2012
Eastern India 2011
ZeiTGeiST ASIA Headlines 2011
A year of dynamic change Left is not right: If the cheapest car of the world proved dearest for a Marxist government that was once thought invincible, the journey of Mamata Banerjee from the repeated electoral defeats of her party in state polls to the final conquest of the Red Citadel built over 34 years is no less theatrical, adventurous, excruciating and historic. The communists survived the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union, but the struggle that began in the green fields of Singur and travelled through the bloodied Nandigram hamlets, finally ended in a landslide and truly historic victory of Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee. So, West Bengal's new chief minister is now Mamata Banerjee. She is 56, a single, a firebrand politician and she lives an austere life in a humble asbestos-roofed dwelling in south Kolkata. Her fashion statement is a simple colourless cotton sari, a pair of hawai chappals (rubber sandals) and often a cotton bag (the famous Bengali jhola) slung from her shoulder. A born fighter, she also paints, writes, recites and sings Tagore songs, all of it without the inhibition of any pseudo cultural refinement.
Gogoi's hat-trick in Assam Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi led his party into a straight third win this year with the Congress getting well beyond the majority mark. In the state, the major fight was between the ruling Congress and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and final figures showed the incumbent bagging 74 seats while the AGP got 11 seats and the BJP 5. Analysts said Gogoi's commendable work and the fragmented opposition had ensured that the chief minister returned for the third term.
Death of a guerrilla The dreaded rebel, in his mid fifties, was killed after an encounter that
began with a police manhunt following intelligence reports that Kishenji was hiding in the forest of Kushboni. A heavy gun-battle between the rebels and the troopers in the forests of West Midnapore broke out in West Bengal, ending in the death of Kishenji.
Hospital fire deaths At least 93 people, mostly patients, died in a Dec 9 early morning blaze in Kolkata's five-star AMRI Hospital. In what is now being referred as Black Friday of Bengal, the fire incident was the second blaze at the premier private medical facility in three years which has been accused of illegally storing inflammable materials in the basement. Top industrialists, Ravi Todi, SK Todi, Radhyashyam Goenka, Manish Goenka, Prashanta Goenka and Dayanand Agarwal, who serve as board members for the high profile hospital, were jailed following the fire booked under charges of culpable homicide.
Manipur blockade Manipur witnessed a three month long economic blockade by the Naga community that was finally lifted on Nov 29, just three days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the East Indian state. Due to the blockade, prices touched the roof . Petrol was selling for Rs. 200 per litre while an LPG cylinder touched Rs. 2000 in the black market.
Bhupen Hazarika Music legend Bhupen Hazarika's death at age 85 on Nov 5 is not just the passing away of a doyen of Indian music. Bhupen Hazarika's songs sung in his deep baritone voice had brought to the musical mainstream the song of mother earth with all its earthy hues. He was a gharana in himself. If not for his Bengali rendition of "Ganga Amar Maa" or "Manush Manuser Jonnye", the generations of India that grew up in the 1990s would remember him for his music for Hindi film Rudaali, starring