Sunday 28 October 2012

It’s time for India to tilt towards Tokyo (Sunday Guardian)


Chinese burn a portrait of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara during an anti-Japan protest in Bucharest last month. Relations between the countries have faltered badly, due to the dispute over the Senkaku Island in Japan and Diaoyu in China. REUTERS
apan was the first Asian nation in the 20th century to humble a power headquartered in Europe, when the Czarist fleet was despatched by Admiral Togo to the bottom of the Pacific in 1904. Less than four decades later, Tokyo humbled the Dutch, French and the British in South-East Asia, making short work of civil and military structures that were hitherto regarded as invincible. However, the Japanese advance into India was soon halted, and the Congress Party lost its bet that Japan would carry the day. In contrast, the Muslim League under M.A. Jinnah never faltered in its support of the Allies, and was rewarded with Pakistan soon after the war ended in 1945 and disaffection within the Indian Army made it inevitable that the British would quit India, five years after the Congress Party sought to expel them at the height of the Second World War. The poisoning of public opinion in Britain that was caused by the Congress Party's neutrality in the war proved the turning point in the battle to keep India united. It was no surprise that the then Viceroy of India, Archibald Wavell, openly preferred the "loyal" League to the "treasonous" Congress. It was quite another matter that business groups such as the Birlas and the Tatas made their own — significant — contribution to the British war effort, and that neither corporate house was a supporter of Jinnah or his demand for Pakistan.
Those who visit the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo will see in a leafy corner a pillar dedicated to Radhabinod Pal, a jurist from India who, quite reasonably, was of the view that it was not merely the Japanese who had committed war crimes, but other powers as well, and that he could therefore not in conscience hold just Japan guilty of war crimes while exonerating France, Britain and the Netherlands. The Japanese are a reticent people, but they are a grateful nation too, and many still remember this refusal of Justice Pal to place just Tokyo in the dock prepared by the powers whose colonies in Asia had been overrun by Hideki Tojo's troops, hence the elegant memorial to a distinguished judge whom his own country has forgotten. Because of the industry of the Japanese people, it was not long before the ruins of even Hiroshima and Nagasaki got replaced with new construction. By the 1960s, Japan was once again a major industrial power. By the 1980s, it had outstripped all of Asia and almost all the rest of the world in GDP. However, that period saw the beginning of a reckless expansion into Europe by Japanese businesses, rather than taking advantage of the green shoots of synergy springing up in Asia. Investors from Japan bought up properties in Europe and the US at extortionate prices, paving the way for the relative decline of the economy by the close of the 1990s, a deceleration which has yet to be halted. However, halted it most certainly can be, given that the Japanese are far and away the most proficient in Asia in advanced technology. However, to once again hit their stride the way they did during 1966-87 (when they were concentrating their manufacturing in Asia), the Japanese will need to find an Asian partner big enough to fit their needs.
That China was the scene of much brutality by the Japanese is as obvious as the Holocaust, which is why — in a fit of conscience — Japan lavished assistance to China on a scale no other country ever has. However, now that Beijing has become an even bigger colossus than Tokyo, attitudes towards its neighbour have soured. The consequence has been that Japanese investors need to locate another hub which they can use to manufacture products and anchor services in, and this can best be India. Its location is ideal both to ensure access to South-East as well as to West Asia, not to mention the huge bonus of the east coast of Africa, a continent whose time is assuredly coming. Geopolitically, there is much in common between Delhi and Tokyo, with both wary of China while aware that conflict with Asia's Numero Uno would be a disaster for all sides. Japan can fill what is India's most obvious gap, which is high technology. The exertions of the DRDO notwithstanding, this country is still a relative pygmy in fields such as aircraft manufacture and in other hi-tech applications. A robust India-Japan partnership would fill some of this gap, with the rest perhaps met by collaboration between India and the Nordic techno-states. It's time for a tilt towards Tokyo.

Rajnath may be next BJP President (Sunday Guardian)

P leader Rajnath Singh is emerging as the silent choice to replace Nitin Gadkari as the BJP President. BJP leaders admit that the allegations against Gadkari are more hype than content, but they accept that the media assault on Gadkari has weakened him. BJP leaders and workers believe that they will not be able to use the next Parliament session to assault Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, as long as Gadkari remains party chief.
Gadkari's supporters want him to offer his resignation to the BJP Core Committee. "The best outcome for the party is if he quits on his own, but indications are that he wants to stay on, and even get a second three-year term," a senior BJP MP said. According to him, Advani, Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and M.M. Joshi were privately appalled at Gadkari's business dealings, but were hesitant to ask him to quit, "so long as he continues to have RSS backing".
The Gadkari camp believes that "the electoral wind is blowing in the BJP's favour", according to a Maharashtra leader, and "he (Gadkari) wants to be the king-maker if not the king, should the BJP be able to lead the next government in 2014". According to this source, "only Nitin Gadkari is 100% trusted by the RSS leadership", which is why he "continues to enjoy their support".
However, an RSS functionary reiterated that "the organisation has no favourites" but would like the BJP to "sort out its leadership squabbles expeditiously, so as to ensure a good showing in the coming polls". The RSS, aware of the importance of preventing the Congress from achieving a hat-trick by winning the coming general election as well, "is reluctant to push for major changes that could rock the boat", according to this leader. As for Gadkari, the BJP chief "enjoys a good rapport with Nagpur (RSS headquarters) and is in daily contact with senior RSS leaders, unlike other BJP leaders, who contact Nagpur only in times of need". According to this individual, "Gadkari informs (the senior RSS leadership) about his actions, whereas in the past, Nagpur knew about changes usually from the media".
A BJP office-bearer from Maharashtra said that "workers in the state are angry that Ajay Sancheti (a businessman) was fielded fowr the Rajya Sabha from that state, in preference to Jayawantiben (Mehta) and Kirit Somaiya". Another BJP office-bearer pointed out that "revolts have broken out in many states, especially Rajasthan and Karnataka, under Gadkari's leadership", while the party did miserably in UP.
Should more scandals tumble out of the closet against Gadkari, he may have to step aside after his present term ends. While the media is abuzz about Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj being the favourites for replacing Gadkari, soundings within the BJP reveal that former UP Chief Minister (and BJP president) Rajnath Singh may emerge as the "dark horse" choice. His asset is that it is inconceivable that Rajnath Singh would ever be a serious candidate for the Prime Ministership of the country. Hence, he would be acceptable to other senior leaders such as Jaitley and Swaraj.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Will BJP choose Jaitley, Swaraj or Modi? (PO)

By M D Nalapat

Fighting elections in India has become a high-cost matter. A successful political organisation needs an extensive machinery within each constituency to ensure that the names of supporters get included in voter rolls. As yet, because of the absence of biometric identification, it is still possible for bogus voters to fill electoral lists. In some parts of India, there are many more registered voters than there are people actually living in the areas covered. In every election, a huge spike in voting is seen to take place as soon as polling opens at 8am.

In reality, few go that early to cast their ballots, so that most of the names of the so-called “early voters” is fake. Certain political parties have mastered the methods of doctoring electoral rolls and ensuring heavy ghost voting for their candidate, so that election after election they return to power, despite an abysmal record of governance. Another way in which voting can be twisted to favour a particular political party is by tampering with electronic voting machines. Especially since the surprise 
success of the Congress Party in the 2009 polls, a considerable body of scholarship has concluded that such machines are subject to fraud.

Because fighting an election has become so expensive, those with 
lots of money at their disposal have a huge advantage over others. The extra boost given by loads of cash ensures that politicians once elected immediately start making money for the next poll. Most make much more. Those holding high political office in India are characterised by affluence on a significant scale. Many start businesses which leverage their political contacts and power.

This immunity from facing allegations of impropriety ended when Arvind Kejriwal,a former income-tax officer, went public on a slew of charges against Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra. After being attacked by the ruling party as a “BJP agent”, Kejriwal next went after BJP President Nitin Gadkari, a former nonentity who was appointed to the party’s top spot because of his closeness to the Rashtriya Swayamseval Sangh (RSS), a Hindu organization that is the backbone of the BJP.

Because he himself is from Nagpur, the headquarters of the RSS, it has been easy for Gadkari to ingratiate himself with the leaders of that organisation. However, they do not seem to have carried out an adequate investigation of Gadkari before sponsoring him as BJP President in 2010 and in ensuring that the party’s constitution was recently amended to permit a second term for the party chief. It was clear that this move was carried out so that Gadkari would be in charge of the BJP during the next general elections, due in mid-2014. As Party President, he would have a decisive say in 
ticket distribution as well as in the formation of alliances with regional parties. The RSS leadership believed Gadkari when he described himself as a person with “social conscience”. What they failed to realize was that Gadkari was more a businessman than a politician, and that from the time he was given ministerial office a decade ago, he began making money, a lot of it.

After the Vadra and Gadkari revelations, media in India have abandoned some of their earlier refusal to print or to broadcast critical stories about top politicians. Part of the reason is fear of harassment, as also the threat of defamation suits. Recently, a former judge of the Supreme Court has been awarded damages for defamation of $20 million, a verdict upheld by the highest court in the country. The offense of the television channel involved was to show a photo of the judge in a 
report about another judge. Very soon, the error was detected and rectified, but the former judge sued, and the verdict has had a chilling effect on the media, which is now nervous lest they go bankrupt by paying huge damages for errors that are routine in the newsroom and usually quickly rectified. However, because of the public pressure for more information about the misdeeds of people at the top, the media in India have begun to highlight at least a few of the charges against both Vadra and Gadkari.

Although not known to the RSS till the scandal struck, a propensity to 
make money has been part of Gadkari’s character for a long time. He sought to induct a politician of less than savoury repute, Abu Singh Khushwaha,into the BJP just before the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, thereby damaging the party’s probity plank. Earlier, he had presided over an alliance in Jharkhand state between the BJP and a party with a dodgy reputation since the 1990s,the Janata Mukti Morcha. Recently, when tasked with the selection of a Rajya Sabha (Upper House) member from his home state of Karnataka, the BJP President chose a businessman rather than party veterans such as Ram Naik or Jaywantiben Mehta. Despite all the talk about simple living, Gadkari routinely uses chartered jets to fly, including on occasion while abroad. His lavish lifestyle resembles that of another high flyer, United Breweries chairman Vijay Mallya, whose parties in locations across the world are legendary for their extravagance and fun-filled schedule. That such an individual was the nominee of the RSS has affected the reputation of an organisation whose leadership themselves live austere lives.

Judging by the avalanche of charges against him, it is clear that Gadkari will have to quit. The two strongest contenders to replace him are Leader of the Opposition (Upper House) Arun Jaitley and Leader of the Opposition (Lower House) Sushma Swaraj. What the BJP rank and file want is different. They seek to annoit Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as BJP President once the Gujarat election verdict comes on December 20. Although many in the media and within the BJP itself disagree, the perception of the base of the party is that Modi can take the party past the 200-seat mark in the next general elections, so that it will be impossible to prevent him from becoming the PM nominee of the party. Should Gadkari continue in office till his term ends in January, the chorus for Narendra Modi may grow louder within the BJP.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Mr Prime Minister, we need more information, not less (Sunday Guardian)


Demonstrators oppose PM’s stance on reducing the RTI ambit. They say the proper way of countering the flood of requests is for the public authorities to earn the trust of the people. PTI
ational security, what crimes get committed in your name! Mainly on this ground, successive governments have blocked publication of reports and other nuggets of information that would expose their negligence and inattention to the needs of the people. Fifty years after the 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict, the Henderson-Brooks report on the missteps which led to the October debacle is yet to be officially released. Clearly, the motivation behind the perverse insistence on concealing the analysis stems from a desire to protect the reputation of those involved in decision-making during the conflict and the years preceding that. While there are countries that have a blasphemy law, these are directed against criticism of the Almighty. This columnist joins those who argue that the Almighty hardly needs the protection of man-made laws, and would remain totally unharmed even by the most vituperative of attacks. However, in locations across the globe, self-appointed guardians of the good name of the Almighty are meting out obloquy and even death to those they suspect of disrespect to divinity. Pakistan is among such countries. However, India appears to have gone beyond its neighbour by adding to its already considerable stock of gods, by placing selected leaders of the political spectrum beyond the pale of honest assessment. That the man acknowledged as the most saintly of these, Mahatma Gandhi, had numerous imperfections is something that the Mahatma himself pointed out, sometimes with disarming frankness, as for example, the special duties that he handed out to women young enough to be his granddaughters. Jawaharlal Nehru himself penned a devastating critique of his vanity, albeit anonymously. Of course, neither the Mahatma nor his colleagues seem to have bothered to read Nehru on Nehru, for they continued to bequeath to him high office after high office.
However, now that both the Mahatma as well as his chosen successor are no more, they and numerous others have in effect been deified, and an unwritten Blasphemy Law has come into effect, whereby the government at least refuses to reveal information which presents them in a light less than glorious. Hundreds of reports remain unaccessible to the ordinary citizen, despite the immense relevance of many of them towards the forming of an informed opinion about the quality and capacity of our leaders. Each government has continued with the tradition of secrecy, no doubt confident that successor regimes would repay the favour by declining to give information about their own peccadilloes. A democracy where people are denied the right to information is an imperfect one, and by the standards of transparency of mature democracies such as the US or the UK, India's is primitive. The Right to Information Act was among the few laudable steps taken by the Manmohan Singh administration, but if newspaper reports (including recording of his own speeches) are to be believed, the Prime Minister now seeks to gut the RTI of the few yellowing teeth that the law has, in order to render it entirely toothless as a means whereby the citizen can find out the ways in which decisions that affect them get taken. Should Manmohan Singh go ahead with this regressive move, his legacy will develop even more smears than is already the case. Hopefully, the PM will, in the manner of Haroun Al Rashid, occasionally step outside his comfortable cocoon and look at matters from the viewpoint of a citizen denied the benefits of high office. In other words, the viewpoint of 99.99% of the population of India. If the Republican Party in the US appears to be championing only the wish list of the super rich of that country, by diluting RTI Manmohan Singh would be placing the interests of corrupt elements of the higher bureaucracy above those of the citizenry as a whole.
Rather than gut the RTI, what is needed is to strengthen it. This columnist is not among those who believes that only former judges have the acumen and the dedication needed to ensure that the various RTI boards themselves function in a transparent and effective manner. While judges in India are indeed admirable, there may also be a few ordinary citizens possessed of similar qualities, if only a search gets conducted, again by a commission which comprises a majority of non-officials. Incidentally, to truly live up to such a term, the search team needs a majority of those who have never in their lives drawn a government salary. At present, the RTI boards have become sinecures for retired and retiring bureaucrats, some of whom have had less than stellar records while in harness. This should change, not by replacing them with ex-judges, but with those unfortunates who have never known the cool shade of high office, and who therefore may hopefully be expected to understand the hunger for facts that the public has, a hunger now sought to be satiated by sensational leaks, some of questionable accuracy. If Manmohan Singh has any concern about his legacy, he ought not to dilute one of the policies that he can be genuinely proud of, the passing of RTI legislation.

Saturday 20 October 2012

India misses Kuwait opportunity (PO)

By M D Nalapat

In 1994, Prime Minister Pamulaparthy Venkata Narasimha Rao implemented India’s “Look East” policy. Although Jawaharlal Nehru had given many speeches on Asia,and had joined hands with President Achmed Soekarno of Indonesia to hold the Bandung Afro-Asian Summit in 1955,the focus of his successor Indira Gandhi was on Moscow, which is why India disdained efforts by the newly-formed ASEAN to get associated with the bloc in 1966.Even during Nehru’s time, most of the attention was paid to countries which were then closer to Moscow than to Washington, such as China, rather than to Japan, South Korea and Singapore, countries that had launched on a high-growth trajectory. So far as the countries which now comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council were concerned, very little was done to leverage the immense goodwill for India in this region. Gradually, the people of the GCC began turning away from India, a country that had been a second home to their grandfathers and fathers, and with which they had earlier been very familiar.

Concentrating as they did on Europe, the USSR, China and the US, successive regimes in Delhi neglected to nourish India-GCC ties, which remained strong only because of the residual goodwill of the region towards the subcontinent. Manmohan Singh was the Union Minister of 
Finance while Rao was the PM. However, he seems to have learnt very few lessons in foreign policy from a boss who brought economic reform to India. During October 15-17,the State of Kuwait hosted the first Summit of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue, a group of 32 Asian countries that includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahran, the UAE, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and since 2012,Afghanistan. No fewer than 22 Heads of Government and Heads of State attended the Summit, making it a major international event.

Only two countries made the mistake of sending low-level delegations, China and India, the latter country being represented by a junior minister who stopped over in Kuwait for two days en route from New York. The Prime Minister of Pakistan was 
present, as were the Presidents of Sri Lanka and Bangla Desh. Although the Kuwaitis had invited Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Singh and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, none of the three showed up. Indeed, had the articulate and charming Vice-President of India, former diplomat Hamid Ansari, showed up, it would have made a world of difference to the country’s image among the participants.

Although China has extensive economic stakes in the GCC, the links binding India to the region are far greater. About six million citizens work in the GCC and send home a substantial amount of 
foreign exchange, which helps in making the purchase of petroproducts from the region. Despite this, the invite from Kuwait for the first-ever ACD Summit was ignored by the External Affairs Ministry, whose bosses Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s have a fixation with the countries forming NATO. The two visit NATO capitals frequently, but thus far, have devoted very little time in touring the GCC. The non-participation by India at the needed level has harmed India’s interests but is explainable in a context where the government follows a unipolar foreign policy just when the world has become visibly multipolar. This capacity - of missing the right bus – is endemic in Indian foreign policy.

When the country needed to be close to fast-growing Asian 
economies, it was aloof from them. When it needed to be a balancer between the US and China, it has followed a policy of “stealth alignment” with NATO. Where it needs to focus on Asia, especially the capital-rich GCC, the concentration of attention is on giving concessions to the very NATO-based financial entities that have caused the 2008 financial crash. Although Manmohan Singh has no time to attend the ACD Summit, he finds time to meet with high-level delegations from financial enterprises that are making billions of dollars in India through speculation. Not just him, but the Reserve Bank of India too is very partial to such entities. Clearly, those at the top in India are still suffused with reverence for their former colonial masters.

Kuwait has the right credentials to serve as the Headquarters of the ACD Secretariat. It is time that major international institutions established HQs in the GCC, and Kuwait is a country that has good relations across the board: north, south, east and west. The reason for this is the fact that there is no discrimination in the country against people of different sects and faiths. The Kuwaiti side has presented an ambitious agenda for uniting Asian countries behind a non-divisive agenda that has a focus on development,culture and education,and if this be realised,it would mark a huge step forwards in intra-Asia cooperation. It is therefore no surprise that NATO-based media such as CNN and BBC have largely ignored the Kuwait Summit.

The Kuwait Summit indicates that the GCC has launched its own Look East policy.That the states within it understand that placing all their trust in NATO-based institutions may lead in the future to losses even greater than the $1.3 trillion the region lost during the 2008 crash. That it is Asian countries such as India,China,South Korea and Japan that will be the biggest purchasers of petroproducts,and who can partner with the GCC to craft educational models that reflect both traditional values as well as the need for skills relevant in a globalised world.

The Kuwait initiative has potential to be a game changer for the region,in that it could unlock the door towards the forms of unity in Asia that have been witnessed in Europe during 1955-75. Hopefully,Manmohan Singh will ensure that India hops on to the bus,by getting energetically involved in the ACD, rather than miss an opportunity for closer ties with the GCC,the way he did in Kuwait by staying away from the October 15-17 Summit.

Friday 19 October 2012

Muhammed Sabith of the Pondicherry Univeristy Inquirer Interviews M D Nalapat on Press Freedoms

Public should be aware of impact of restricting press freedom: M.D. Nalapat
There is an effort by the successive governments in India to continue the colonial policy of putting lot of restrictions on the freedom of the citizens”
 “If you want a better India, you need better journalism”

Madhav Das Nalapat is currently the Managing Editor, Sunday Guardian, India, and Professor of Geopolitics and UNESCO Peace Chair, Manipal University. In an interview given exclusively to Inquirer, he shares here his views on a variety of topics such as press freedom, commercialisation of news media, Justice Katju’s remarks on media, WikiLeaks, Hazare, and condition of journalism and social science education in the country.

Muhammed Sabith:   How do you as an experienced journalist see the development of journalism in India?
M.D. Nalapat: I think journalism in India has got exceptionally bright future for the simple reason that good and strong journalism is very important for the future of India. There is an effort by the successive governments in India to continue the colonial policy of putting lot of restrictions on the freedom of the citizens of this country. Even today we have colonial system of law, we have colonial attitude of the administration, and the politicians and officials believe that they are the masters. Unless you have strong, good journalism, this kind of arrogant attitude will continue among politicians and officials. So if you want a better India, you need better journalism.
M.S.: talking about better journalism, sir, we see the media is being corporatized and has become a full fledge business industry. What seems to be a beginning of the Indian ‘Murdochism’, Reliance now largely buy the shares of various media groups. There already is a strong criticism that media is being used with commercial interests. How do you comment on it and how the Indian media could get rid of the commercialisation?
Nalapat:   See, if you take talk of the media as one of the important pillars of the society, then it is very very clear that there have to be laws that ensure that those who run the media houses are basically dealing only with the media. For example, you have Washington Post, or The Hindu or the Times of India family in India. These are people who are running media houses and nothing else. I think your point is well taken. I think it is very important to ensure that media companies are controlled only by those who are in the media itself so that they cannot utilize this for other purposes.

“Transformation cannot take place because of the government, it has to take place inspite of the government.”

M.S.:   I think it is impossible not to talk about the Press Council of India chairman Just. Katju when we talk about Indian mass media today. His recent remarks on the media have been very critical. He opined that the Indian media persons are of poor intellectual capabilities. How do you comment?
Nalapat: I don’t agree with Justice Katju at all. I think, you know, Justice Katju seems to be out of touch with the young India and definitely with the aspiring India. I go to villages and I see youngsters who have seen the computers for the first time and within two weeks they become experts in that. The reality is that the Indian people including journalist, if they are given the right opportunity, they will do extremely well. In India, unfortunately, journalists are not given that opportunity. For example, how many newspapers spend money on doing good stories? Very few. So given the constraints they have, I think our journalists are doing a very good job.
M.S.:   I think it is too earlier to leave out WikiLeaks from our talks on independent journalism. How do you comment on the works it does, the controversy, and its impact on the freedom of expression?
Nalapat:   No, I am really sorry that we are still a colonised country and we still are not a free country or not a really perfect democracy. If we were a perfect democracy, Julian Assange would be welcomed in India. We would have at least twenty Julian Assanges in India. Unfortunately, we don’t have even one. The reason is that, unfortunately, the overwhelming power of the government. That power is used by the politicians and officials to suppress dissents and independent voices. The state agencies are misused in order to blackmail and bully and, in some cases, bribe journalists and media houses which follow Particular point of view. I am for internet freedom. There may be some misuse of this freedom; there may be some license as result of this freedom. But it is much better to tolerate the misuse and licence than to block internet freedom and to block media freedom. In india, we really don’t have internet freedom and media freedom. I think WikiLeaks shows the amazing potential of a group that does operate in a very free atmosphere.
M.S.:   do we really lack potential laws to protect journalists or whistle-blowers? Is it either because of the lack of effective laws or because of the absence of effective and proper utilization of the existing laws? do the journalists face problems while telling the truth?
Nalapat:   I think it is not so much of the lack of the laws with there are too many laws as they are. But the fact is that the public do not realize how important their own welfare is with journalistic freedom and freedom of speech. The point of the matter is that the Indian public has to be conscientious. We saw during the Anna Hazare campaign in which hundreds of thousands of people were participated in that campaign on the fight against corruption. So, in terms of press and internet freedom, as yet, our people are not aware of the impact this can have on the future India and of how important internet freedom is to the development and research. India is a pigmy in terms of creative development and scientific achievement comparing to its potential. So we need to create a much freer system, for that there has to be public pressure. More than law, there has to be public pressure. I am not believer in new laws. For example, Anna Hazare is talking about Jan Lokpal. I don’t belive Jan Lokpal is a solution, I believe increased public awareness and pressure is the solution.
M.S.:   Sir, coming to a new topic, journalism institutes is flourishing in the country. But, as Justice Katju’s remarks indirectly pointed out, our J-schools often fail to ensure that the students have basic understanding in the social sciences like economics and history which is very important in journalism. So how do you think our media or journalism education should be like?
Nalapat:  well. I think it is what is very important as it has to be grounded in reality of the country which we belong to. One problem which we face in the academics across the boards is that most of the text books are derived from foreign countries including the social sciences and the text books are basically based on the examples of the society which is very different from ours. Take for example International Relations. Most of the International Relations courses are taught in the point of view of the United States, or, may be, of the United States and Europe. But nothing or very very little of the curricula is based on the specific needs of India. Therefore what is very important in journalism courses is to have many more text books that are local, and many more case studies that are local so the journalists have clear understanding of the ground reality. Unless a journalist understands what is taking place in the country that he is part of, he is not going to be a good journalist.

“What is very important in journalism courses is to have many more text books and case studies that are local so that the journalists have clear understanding of the ground reality”

M.S.:   As a journalist and academic, how do you look at the future of the country?
Nalapat:   I am very optimistic when I see our young people. And I am again very optimistic about the fact that these young people are not going to accept second or third class options in the way people of my generation had accepted. I think India within a one generation can be a very different, very advanced country. I have told you what I have seen, for example. People coming from village area into a town and within two, three years they change themselves completely. A man goes from, let us say, Patna where the situation is chaotic, to Singapore and within the matter of two or three weeks, he becomes a very good citizen. So that transformation is possible in India. And journalism has to be part of that transformation. Looking at the young people who are there in the communications today and who are very optimistic that this transformation can take place.
It cannot take place because of the government, it has to take place in spite of the government. And the mistake of the people of my generation had is that we did depend on the government for transformation, for hand outs, for reservation where as we should have to depend on ourselves and understand that the government and power structure would be obstacles.
So we need to empower ourselves through education, through knowledge, through confidence, and this process can only take place if we have a dynamic media.