Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Khare's 'Advice' to UPA on Statecraft

Harish Khare’s op-ed on ‘statecraft’ is a good read of how not to conduct it. He starts out fine:

As most political innovations go, the UPA was born out of sheer expediency. It remains essentially a power-sharing mechanism, tactically an anti-BJP conglomeration, and symbolically an anti-communal, secular front. It has yet to realize its promise as the arrangement that will help the Indian state maximize its power potential at home and abroad.
So far so good. Then it goes off the rails.

If the BJP and the NDA find themselves stranded in the margins of political imagination, it is because the Left parties have managed to appropriate the opposition space. Be it people-centric issues or the disquiet over the proposed closer ties with the United States, the Left was first off the block in protest. In any case, because of its class composition and ideological preferences, the BJP has long ceased to speak for the masses, especially the poor. The Left may have caused considerable discomfort to the UPA but it has also helped to checkmate the NDA.

Left has managed to appropriate the opposition space. Left has checkmated the NDA. Eh? The left is limited to three small states in India and that is it. It is hardly in a position to checkmate a major national party like the BJP. BJP has ceased to speak for the poor. How does Khare know? Did the poor call him up to inform him about their changed preferences? The left and the BJP have been taking very similar positions on most issues. Yet, in his eyes, the Left gets all the credit and the BJP gets none. Both of those claims are mutually contradictory which only goes to show that they are not only patently false but utterly confused.

Perhaps in no other country have the Islamist terrorists been so forthrightly isolated within their community as in India. It is no surprise that the “Indian Mujahideen” (the group that claimed responsibility for the Jaipur blasts) reserves its harshest words for those Muslim leaders who have tried to inoculate the community against the jihadi agenda.

If the terrorists were so isolated within their communities, the intelligence community ought to have been able to gather information in advance and prevent it. Yet, the fact that the blasts were carried out successfully tells a different story that they are not entirely isolated and have managed to build and sustain a critical mass of support within the community that allows them to carry out their sinister agenda. Their harsh words for the Muslim leaders indicate their outrage that the clerics have sold out their community. The email and the blasts may well be their way of attempting to win their community’s hearts and minds by highlighting their grievances while highlighting their ability to take revenge for them at the same time – a case for vengeance and a show of strength at the same time. It tells me that the battle for hearts and minds has only begun, not ended as Khare seems to think.

This wholesome beginning needs to be encouraged to deepen and consolidate itself if this country hopes to defeat the terrorist’s challenge. That challenge can be met only if we are allowed to prefer the politics of inclusion and accommodation over the politics of division and exclusion (code words: minorityism, appeasement, vote-bank politics, etc.). The terrorist’s tactics are calculated to provoke rage; the secular challenge is to defeat all those whose politics depends on working on the citizens’ anger, anxiety and resentment over the terrorist’s ability to get away.
The secular challenge is not to defeat terror but to defeat the politics that accompanies and follows the attacks. No word on the need to mobilize the country to defeat these devastating attacks on soft targets that are occurring almost as a matter of routine, only advice on PR strategy to deal with its aftermath. God help India with advisers like Harish Khare.
Thus, between now and the next Lok Sabha election, the UPA leaders need, first, to convince themselves and, then, the voters that the country has done reasonably well in providing a caring, governing arrangement. By accommodating regional voices and aspirations, the Manmohan Singh government commends itself as a worthwhile experiment in initiating regional leaders into the responsibility of governing from New Delhi this vast country.
Someone ought to tell Khare that coalition governments have been the norm for quite a while and this is hardly the first time that the experiment is being conducted. National Front government led by V.P.Singh, United Front led by Gowda and Gujral – remember? Even the NDA government was a coalition. What exactly is so new or commendable about Manmohan Singh ‘accomodating regional voices and aspirations’? It is not as if the Congress does not want to be ruling on its own. It is simply that they have been forced to accommodate regional voices for the sake of getting the magic number.
It may be that often these regional leaders have not met the “mainstream” standards of probity and competence; but these standards can be enforced only in an environment of non-partisanship and non-divisive politics. Be that as it may, the best interests of the Indian state can be defended and promoted only if the “national” and the “regional” leaders and parties arrive at a working protocol.
‘Not met the ‘mainstream’ standards of probity and competence’ is polite language for corrupt and incompetent. National and regional leaders and parties should arrive at a working protocol says Khare. Actually they have. It is called a coalition government where cabinet positions and other appointments are parceled out to party leaders to fill with their chosen nominees. Failed nuclear deal,no firm action on terrorism,a virtually halted reform agenda, overreach on the price rise issue, eviction of Taslima - certainly the list of documented ‘achievements’is a long one for everyone to see how the best interests of the country are being defended by this ‘working protocol’.
However, irrespective of the BJP’s inadequacies in answering the polity’s needs, the country will still yearn for a more decisive and more effective governance than the UPA has been able to provide these last four years. The “mainstream” discourse insists on a “firm” response to a meddlesome Pakistan, and an insensitive United States…
Mainstream India insists on a firm response so that it does not recur. The focus is not on any country but on solving the problem. The answer is the same whether it is people within India or Pakistan or Bangladesh. An ‘insensitive United States’? The US concluded the nuclear deal with India. They have offered sophisticated military equipment for the Indian military to buy. And they have pressured Pakistan into peacefully resolving Kashmir. How is any of this ‘insensitive’?

Khare’s cheap partisan potshots have gotten the better of his analytical abilities. His motives and assertions are so hollow, blatantly partisan and transparently false that his and his paper’s credibility are likely to be the only casualties of his casuistry.


Dirt Digger said...

When one starts to critique a piece of work, one would hope to find say a few things in the article worth doing so. However when the entire article is pathetic then where does one start?
Have you seen any movies by Uwe Boll?
Uwe is a horror flick maker who made a bunch of C-grade flops but when critics discussed his films with him, he still imagined that his films were masterpieces. Harish Khare is the Uwe Boll of Chindu.
He's so bad its hilarious but at the same time tragic that Chindu has to pay him to write on paper that is better served to do other things.
It is unfortunate that chindu does not allow readers to write to the actual writers then we could explain to him that the fictional paradise he lives in does not exist.
Great critique on the piece!!

Anonymous said...


I have always maintained the view that Khare Phure is given to very crass views in his writings. Sometimes back, he had the gall to render some advice to Vajpayeeji in one of his columms. He was very strong in his abuse of the Volcker panel and equally supportive of Sonia Gandhi,Natwar Singh and others who were beneficiaries of the Oil loot. High time these people are consigned to the dustbin- the place that they belong.


Anonymous said...

Here again we have Khare with another piece of advice. It is the same person who suggested, after Godhrat backlash, that India/Gujarat had to forget foreign investment as the investors would not like to invest in the country. How correct is he?
India had only $3bn a year investment in 2002 and the investment by 2007, as predicted by Khare, "came down" to $16 billion for fiscal (2006-07). What a premonition!


sinnaraja said...

Actually, I have found the latest piece by Khare to be very illuminating. Thanks for posting the link. Your bitter comments do not stand up to scrutiny after reading the original article, which.

Pilid said...

DD, the article is indeed pathetic. Khare is smart, so I doubt that he does not realize what he is up to. I think this is a deliberate strategy to undermine the BJP.

Thyagarajan, Khare does come across as pro-congress in most of his writings. His support for the party bigwigs during the oil-for-cash scandal is in line with that sentiment. Thanks for the comment.

Nandita, good point. Hindu journalists often get carried away by their own notions of truth and justice so much that they are unable to distinguish between reality and their own notion of the ideal world. If they feel strongly that Modi should have been punished, they are ready to declare that he will indeed be punished. This is the job that party propaganda cells usually do, not journalists who are supposed to analyze events impartially.

Sinnaraja, thanks for your comment. It would be a good idea to indicate more substantively your disagreement with the critique.

Anonymous said...

i thinks nandita=thyagaran=dd=pilid=anonymous. all kwite silly game.

Shankar said...

Letters to the Editor

In its effort to beat the saffron brigade black and blue, the article has overlooked the most burning issue of spiralling prices, which is set to play a decisive role in the next Lok Sabha election. The UPA might have succeeded in keeping the BJP out of power but has itself remained on tenterhooks, thanks to its allies and supporting parties.

Seshagiri Row Karry,

* * *

Whether the UPA sticks together or not, it will not win the next elections primarily because its constituents have promoted vote-bank politics and minority appeasement. It is because of the Congress’ political ideologies that the nation is suffering from the horrors of the Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath.

Neha Khator,
New Delhi


Anonymous said...

u say hindu is biased and voice of china. explain me this. how come hindu is only indian paper to carry the newsregularly from china of pallavi aiyar? thanks you.

Pilid said...

Shankar, thanks for the link to the letters. Their policy with respect to letters aimed at Khare appear to be generally more liberal than with editorials.

I don't get your question. Why does Pallavi Aiyer write about China? Because the Hindu has a strong interest in glorifying China and the Chinese government. Why don't other papers write so much about it? They do write about major events though I suppose they are less interested in domestic events in China than is the Hindu.

Anonymous said...

pilid/dilip: bcoz she HAS WRIITEN THE story about china blocking the india for security coucnil at recent big meeting of the foreign ministr of india, china, russia in russian siberian city. so how come it should expose this news if chindu is really antinational? i don't understand why you write too many HATE PIECES agaianst "The Hindu" so much. it is very valuable for us in the UPSC competitive exams. so many interview questions are drawing from the editoreial and other signed articles of "THE HINDU" publication.

Kundan Kumar said...

Mr Anonymous, I guess you are trying to defend the indefensible. All the UPSC preparing students of course read Hindu, after all it is a serious newspaper and clearly TOI is not going to help them in the preparation. And I would say the criticisms of The Hindu being attempted by the blog author also acknowledges this, otherwise there are many C-grade newspapers like Punjab Keshari writing any crap but are not being given any attention by the author. So, of course, The Hindu is a useful paper and a serious one and has some prestige attached to it. Now, having said this, let us take an impartial viewpoint and read the last 500 editorials and the leading page articles of The Hindu and please try to find out a single one, which says any good thing about BJP, or worse any ,even vague, very vague, criticism of left parties. I would assume you know the answer of this question. So, at least the Hind is biased and that too by a big big margin. Now,a paper which claims to represent national view points should be guided by a parochial penchant for pleasing and appeasing a particular school of thought so strongly deserves criticism. Moreover, one of the aspects of this criticism of The Hindu is related to the falling standards particularly in terms of bias after N Ram has become editor in chief. Now, personally, since the time I have started reading newspaper, I have seen the bias consistenly being there, so I can not comment on this. However, those who have followed this paper for say three decades would be able to comment on this. Now, coming to the criticisms of the The Hindu once again, the two letters to the editor you cited they criticise the UPA government, but then The Hindu has done a mild and probably extra-mild criticism of Congress to some extent in the past also. But to the best of my memory, there has not been any criticism of the left. I would again urge you to make a list of these letters and then count if there is any letter praising BJP and criticisng Left. The answer to this question should help you in appreciating the criticisms by the author of this blog. In the end, I would defend the intentions of this author for the praiseworthy attempts of criticising the Hindu. Probably, the author also loves used to love and has been disillusioned with time by more and more bias that compelled the author to compile the truth based on factual observations to prove the big gap of claims of national newspaper and representatives of narrow praises of the left moves. I hope you understand that the author of this blog is not guided by some self serving motives of debunking the Hindu by motivated manipulations of its writings, the writings are very very clear on the wall, and the author is just trying to help us in seeing those signs and probably and fortunately some day Hindu notices it and takes corrective action or worse have the collective lamentation over the falling glories of something we were all once in love with. It is the diminishing love that pains us while we were trying our best at having our lover as close to us as possible. It is a cry in desparation, and hopefully, this cry will be heard in the The Hindu boardroom.

Anonymous said...

Harish Khare is a pompous windbag. Highly overrated. An expert hand at peddling -- pardon my French -- highsounding bullshit.

Anonymous said...


Haven't we seen them on a regular basis in Chindu, for example against Dalai Lama, calling him, splittist, fedual etc. etc.

And how Chindu loves to hate BJP, by calling the party and its leaders as majoritarian, fundamentalist, intolerant, saffron brigade.

And this Khare character loves to spew venom on BJP as and when he gets his chances.

veera said...

While one cannot deny that THE HINDU is leaning towards leftists, even BJP is no better either..

BJP's image as a corrution free party??? 6 BJP Mps were involved in the money for question scam.
Bangaru Laxman caught accepting bribe.
BJP MP indulging in Human traffikking.

A BJP minister travelled to Kandahar with terrorists...

it was the selfish BJP leader Yediyurappa who started the Hogenakkal episode for gaining cheap political mileage and as a result a new fight has started between karnataka and TN over an issue which was never there..

BJP opposes nuclear deal while it was the NDA which started to maintain very close relationship with US...BJP cadres burnt buses during the bandh they called..

any more examples??

Pilid said...

Kunda, excellent comment. I entirely concur with your view.

Anon #1, as Kunda put it very well, the question is not of form or even the presence of content (which is what matters for exams) but its ideological slant. I do believe reading the Hindu is a good thing to be able to learn and write well in English. But that does not necessarily mean that its coverage and opinions are either correct or authentic.

As for the Hindu covering China's blocking India's bid for the UN Security Council, I am not sure what your point is. The Hindu does cover news about setbacks to the Indian government. It covered India's defeat at the hands of Japan some years ago for a seat at the Security Council and now it is covering this. So there is nothing new about it.

Anon #2, Khare is a good writer though his analyses do seem to be overrated.

Veera, my point is not that the BJP is right but that Khare's judgments lack equipoise.

sr said...

For a change, Chindu has published this letter.
"It is well known that the number of terrorist attacks has increased in the UPA regime and that the Congress is soft on terror. Thus the argument that the UPA has steered the country away from divisive politics and has made inroads in meeting the terrorist’s challenge is untenable.

It is a given that every party woos some religion or caste to get the necessary votes to come to power. Pandits were driven out of Kashmir when the Congress was in power at the Centre. But to talk about it is communal. Political parties talk about Gujarat not because they feel sorry for the innocent victims but because of the political mileage they get out of it to keep the BJP out of power.
". Keep it up.

Pilid said...

Thanks for the info sr. Of course the standard is different because it is the UPA that is being criticized and not the left. Besides, with elections less than a year away and the price rise and other issues putting the Manmohan Singh government on the backfoot, the increased allowance for criticism may be the Leftist way of trying to avoid responsibility for the failures of this government.