Monday, November 29, 2010

WikiLeaks and Issues of ethics in Foreign Policy

 
The global journalism entered into a new phase 4 years ago with the birth of WikiLeaks. The journalism became ‘participative’, an element it always cries for in the governance. The WikiLeaks was launched like any other wiki site, editable by all, irrespective of his technical knowledge but with a rather catchy slogan – “We open Governments” . Later on it moved to a non-wiki framework. It shot to fame with release of documents about Iraq War and recently with the leaks of about quarter a million US embassy cables. The revealing of dirty diplomacy played by USA has once again raised the issues of ethics in foreign policy.
Let us look into this issue.  Wikipedia defines foreign policy as the strategies chosen by state to safeguard its national  interests and achieve its national goals in international relations. Undoubtedly the paramount goal here is “national interest” and in the modern times state might need to engage with non-state actors to secure the national interests.
We hardly see any example of an ethical foreign policy in the world history except what India pursued during the Nehruvian times. India had to face the severe results in form of two wars and worsening economic situation. Nehru himself confessed his failure in Parliament when he said that we had been living in a hypothetical world, which is cruel and wont let you live peacefully. Soon India moved to a more pragmatic foreign policy under Indira Gandhi and it reached its crescendo under Manmohan government when the decisions are not made based on the morality rather the benefits it promises to achieve for the country.
So the history teaches us that a foreign policy can never be run on ethical lines, neither it can be put to public scrutiny regularly, nor I think its desired. The other name of Foreign Policy – Diplomacy has a fundamental requirement of secrecy. Never let anyone know what are you thinking. The governments need to make tough negotiations to achieve the end goal of national interests. Its a complex matrix and a layman can discuss it over a cup of tea but can hardly appreciate its countless dimensions. Does anyone has an explanation of why India – the largest democracy hosted a visit for a neighbourhood dictator? The only explanation is that we could not have let China eaten the Burmese fruit alone in the South Asian Eden garden, so we also ate it and fell through heaven of democracy to recognise a military government.
So what if USA sends authoritarian messages to other sovereign governments or spies upon political leaders in other nations or negotiate with non-state actors including terrorists, we can’t pretend as if we didn’t know this happens in dark echelons of world politics. How otherwise USA would have had succeeded in getting India NSG and IAEA waivers? Certainly other nations would have demanded some favours in return and certainly India will return some favours.
Kudos to Mr Asange, for ‘opening the governments’ and secure the people’s right to know. But we have to also see its repercussions. Most of the confidential matter is confidential only for 20-30 years, after which public comes to know about it as a fait accompli. Opening up such things while they are still being discussed will definitely obstruct the progress of the dealings. For example, the recently released cables tell about negotiations regarding US-Russia secret peace deal. That was certainly in world’s favour but now things will change as both the governments face some hardliner challenges in their own country. Republicans are never happy about any US-Russia peace deal and certainly will not let Democrats go ahead with it.
The other aspect of a “Secret Foreign Policy” is the intent behind ‘secrecy’. If the government is doing it to preserve the interests of its nation, its well and good. This type of secrecy is followed in most of the countries including USA and India. But if the government is doing it to preserve its own interests irrespective of its people, then its too bad. This type of attitude can be seen in Pakistani foreign policy, where the ruling government is essentially driven by the motive of securing its position and amass huge wealth and for that it can allow a foreign country to conduct drone attacks on its civilians . Sometimes the latter element can be seen in other countries as well but that’s not the deciding factor.
In the coming times, many nations, governments and larger than life politicians will be humiliated for what they think they were doing secretly. But it will hardly change the way the game of global politics is played. For no powerful country or government(USA, China, Iran etc) gives a damn to open revelation of something everybody already knew. This is like watching a movie where you know all turning points in advance but still watch it just to enjoy seeing how characters are playing their part.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Corruption : Is there a way out?

 

Media in the past one month has been gifted a series of scams by our politicians. While the scam thing has become a way of life for us, it still generates a feeling of disappointment deep within us, wondering what the future will be. The main problem is we don’t see a way out of this problem. knowing its almost impossible to defeat this leviathan System, which has the blood of corruption flowing in its veins.

The questions which come to my mind are where is the start of this chain of corruption? What is the root cause – is it really the plummeting ethical standards of society or  we need to find answers the Marxist way – through economics? Is this only Indian society which has been plagued by corruption or its a global phenomena, finding its genesis in modern politico-economic systems? Let us try to find out the answers to these questions.

Recently when I was sitting along with a close relative of mine who happens to be a government officer and is “reasonably corrupt”(takes only the ‘legitimised commission’ while ensuring that work is done properly), the CWG news was flashing across the channels. He said calmly, “I don’t why they are shouting so much. Look at our elections, do they think the elections can be fought without tons of black money. Every government official is forced to donate to ruling party fund, where that money will come from?”

His remarks made me think whether Democracy is the thing where it all starts? For once the theory looks perfect, a democracy needs elections, elections are fought based upon the primordial-cum-development issues and the campaigning needs huge amount of money, money is needed for every aspect of electioneering, the allowed amount of money is far from pragmatic and hence the black money chips in. Now to recover that money, every involved entity in the election resorts to more illegal ways. Hence the chain strengthens and becomes a self serving cyclic system.

Take the example of Karnataka government, the way Mr. Yedurappa engineered defections through ‘Operation Kamal’ to come to power, it was nothing but obvious that we’ll see such huge number of scams in the coming years.

So apparently morality is an issue but not the central one. At the centre lies the democracy. Not that other forms of polity like autocracy and communism are free from this phenomenon, but still in those cases if the ruler wants, he can put the house in order, similar thing is not possible in a democratic setup, as to come to power in a mature democracy like India, he’ll need money and hence there are grim chances of anything going right.

After this assertion, another doubt comes to mind that if democracy is the culprit then why democratic developed countries are not corrupt or not so corrupt as the developing ones. Well, I think corruption thrives in all these systems, as we know from their movies since the ‘Godfather’ days. The difference seems to be merely of degree. And they have passed through this phase of rapid economic growth when they faced the same problem of large scale corruptions. Now as they have high standards of living and a nearly ideal Capitalist system, corruption seems to be making least impact on their lives. Honestly, I don’t know anything about Scandinavian countries, how they maintain such high standards of life, but I believe rest of the developed countries are no different than ours.

 

Cool, but what should we do?

The theories are fine, but what is the solution, or it doesn’t exist at all? I hardly have the answer, the only solution I can think of is time. With the passage of time, I hope our country will attains an equitable society and then this phenomena will whittle away. Also we can expect that our next generations will get progressively more honest than we are, as I see that current generation has definitely improved over it previous one. Till then we have the system looking after itself, first to siphon out the money and then to reveal it. Things are not so bad, at least we know something wrong has happened :-), even if can’t prevent it from happening.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

आँखें मूंदे सुबहो से

 

आँखें मूंदे सुबहो से

सोती  जगती रातो से

करते, हाँ करते हैं बातें तेरी

ख्वाब जो इतने प्यारे हैं

मिलके हँसते सारे हैं

करते, हाँ करते हैं बातें तेरी

भीनी से जो, ये शामें हैं, आती रहे

धीमी सी जो, ये राहें हैं, चलती रहे

हवा का झोंका कोई, उड़ा के तुझे लाया है

ग़मों कि धूप में, खुशियों का तू साया है

हम पर जो छाया है

 

 

खुदा से हमने मांगे थे

पल कुछ हमने चाहे थे

ऐसे, हाँ ऐसे ही खुशनुमा

जेब से उसकी टपके हैं

मुश्किल से जो लपके हैं

ऐसे, हाँ ऐसे ही खुशनुमा

तू साथ है, तो लगती है, झोली भरी

छोटी सी थी, अब लगती है, देखो बड़ी.

हवा का झोंका कोई, उड़ा के तुझे लाया है

ग़मों कि धूप में, खुशियों का तू साया है

हम पर जो छाया है

Monday, November 8, 2010

आधी रात की कविता (उत्तरार्ध)

(This is an extension of poem already posted here)

जब चाँद फलक पर आता है

और तारे गुनगुन करते हैं

जब बागों में जाकर भंवरे

कलियो से भुनभुन करते हैं

जब हवा भी शांत हो स्तब्ध कहीं रुक जाती है

और हल्की सी आहट भी चौकन्ना सा कर जाती है

जब मौहल्ले के चौकीदार की आवाज़ भी गुंजन लगती है

और दूर जाती रेल की छुकछुक भी मनोरंजन करती है

जब कुत्ते भी भौंकना बंद कर जाके कहीं सो जाते हैं

और चारो और खड़े अंधेरे आपस में बतियाते हैं

जब रात का सूनापन मन पर भी छा जाता है

और कर कर चाँद से बातें दिल भी थक जाता है

तब सोचता हूँ क्यूँ मैंने तुमको याद किया

बस एक पल सोचा तुम्हे और सारा दिन बर्बाद किया

शायद अधचेतना(subconsciousness) में ही पड़े रहने देता तुम्हे

तो रातों को बैठ बैठ, यूँ मदिरा न पिया करता मैं

 

याद में तेरी भूल गए हम, क्या अपने क्या बेगाने

पीते हैं आंसू या मदिरा, और भला हम क्या जाने

मन कि है ये कड़वाहट मेरी, या मदिरा का मीठापन

गंगाजल भी खारा लगता है, अब तो मदिरा के आगे

 

जिस दिन से तू छोड़ गई, और सपने लगे तेरे आने

साकी हमें देने लगी, बिना गिने, भर भर पैमाने

कुछ छलक गए, कुछ टूट गए, कुछ पी गए हम पैमाने,

पर ना समझ पाए अब तलक,

साकी ने भरे थे मदिरा से या तेरी याद से पैमाने

 

अब तो अनंत शून्य में देख देखकर, घुट घुट कर हम जीते हैं

कभी भुलाने को तुझको, कभी याद करने को पीते हैं

कविताएँ तुझ पर कर कर, मेरे शब्दकोष भी रीते हैं

अब मदिरा ही है प्रियतम मेरी, इसके लिए ही हम जीते हैं

इसके लिए ही हम जीते हैं