India Clippings

Updated: Aug 6 2005, 05:30am hrs
The New York Times
Down the rain
The monsoon season this year brought India the mantle of a would-be world power with nuclear weapons in its arsenal and a friend in George W Bush. Then came the revenge of the real. Mumbais ambitions to become a world-class city like Shanghai, as it was once suggested, or Dubai, as it was suggested before that, fell under a wet blanket. That it happened in Indias iconic city of strivers, and not in some destitute corner, only highlights the bricks-and-mortar challenge or rather, sewage and storm-drain challenge that faces a country keen for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The past has caught up with us, about which little can be done, Gerson DCunha, a former advertising executive and founder of a civic group called Agni, or Fire, said on phone. It is bad weather that has caused part of the tragedy, but it is bad government policy that has compounded bad weather.

Mumbai being what it is, however, there were optimists. Experts hoped that disaster could be converted to blessing and that building laws would be made stricter and infrastructure repaired.

Christian Science Monitor
New friends
Perhaps nowhere else do American foreign policymakers face more contradictions than in the area stretching from Israel to Korea. There is no country in this expanse that we would not like on our side, whether in the UN, regional disputes, or the war on terror. Yet, if we try to please one, we alienate another or, more likely, several others. These multiple dilemmas are strikingly illustrated by a decision the Bush administration made last month when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in Washington. The US, President Bush announced, will share civilian nuclear technology with India, something successive American administrations have resisted. This policy shift weakens American nuclear non-proliferation policy, and it puts the US with India in its dispute with neighbouring Pakistan. Within days of 9/11, President Pervez Musharraf pledged Pakistans support in the war on terror but how is he supposed to react now that the US appears to be shifting support to India

There is another side to this problem, and that has to do with the Bush policy of spreading freedom and democracy worldwide. India is the largest democracy in Asia. It has a record of democratic political stability going back to Independence nearly 60 years ago. This can be matched by only a few countries outside western Europe and North America. There have been many bumps in US-Indian relations during this period; but withal, India is the kind of country that the Bush doctrine says deserves our support.

The Economist
BJP in a bind
Many in the BJP believe that with a narrow Hindu-only approach, the party will never occupy the dominant position in Indian politics that the Congress once enjoyed. They blame the BJPs poor electoral performance last year in part on the bloody anti-Muslim pogrom in 2002 in Gujarat. The BJPs identification with hardline Hindutva, it is argued, cost votes. However, other party members and RSS leaders argue the exact opposite: that the problem was that, in office, the BJP was not Hindu enough. The Hindu right argues that it was the failure to deliver results on these demands that alienated the BJPs core voters and demoralised its activists. Praful Goradia, former member of Parliament for Jan Sangh, the BJPs forerunner, calls the notion that moderation is the only way of coming to power absolute hogwash. He argues that the RSS should end its reliance on the BJP alone and license more Hindu parties. This, he insists, would increase the total Hindu vote.

The RSS has no plans to open up the field. But nor will it allow the BJP a free hand. The BJP has 30 million members, of whom only 4.5 million have an RSS background. But this overstates its independence of the RSS. The 4.5m are the ones who do the work. As Ram Madhav, an RSS spokesman, puts it, the BJP is the opposite of a traditional communist party, which might spawn many ideological front organisations: in the case of the BJP, it is the political party itself that is the front. The ideological parent is making clear who calls the shots.

Washington Post
Power to the woman
India will introduce female condoms later this year to help fight the spread of AIDS among its billion-plus population, with cheap supplies available to commercial sex workers. A government study in 2004 showed that despite annual sales of 1.6 billion male condoms, cases of HIV in India had reached 5.1 million, second only to South Africa, and that a third of them were women. According to the study, 15% of cases were sex workers and another 22% housewives with a single partner. State-owned Hindustan Latex Ltd will initially import condoms from the London factory of Chicago-based Female Health Co. and start selling them in September. The company would start manufacturing their own condoms at a later date. It will cost the company about $1 to import one condom, while marketing and distribution will add another $1.3. The female condom will give woman a choice. She will no longer be dependent on the mans decision, said an observer.