Saturday 31 August 2013

Once the bombs fall, expect chaos (Sunday Guardian)


A UN chemical weapons expert holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus on Thursday. REUTERS
he innate common sense of the British people, who still reveal flashes of the qualities that made them masters of three-fourths of the world not very long ago, has prevented United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron from following his United States and French counterparts in sending missiles and bombs into Syria in order to "protect civilians". Especially since the 2005 (George W. Bush-era) finding by a complicit United Nations Security Council of the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, the member-states of NATO have used their considerable firepower to "protect civilians" by the somewhat unorthodox method of bombing them to bits.
Since 2001, in Afghanistan and more so in Iraq, many more civilians have been killed by Nato fire as have died in Syria since 2011. In that country as well, it is the supply of arms and money by proxies of Nato, which has led directly to the present carnage. However, in their zeal to ensure "freedom of the press," Nato-based news outlets generously place only 99% of the blame on those identified as foes by the alliance's home governments. The balance 1% is of course caused by "accidents" and by "faulty information".
What is the difference between the "collateral damage" caused by Syrian military actions against a well-armed opposition that are being shown daily by the BBC or the CNN, and the tens of thousands of deaths which have been caused by Nato bombing in a slew of countries, including Mali, where hundreds have died unreported on, after France sent in its military to "quell a terrorist threat". If in the past, it was patriotism that became the last refuge of scoundrels, these days it is the "War on Terror" that has become a convenient excuse for the use of brute force against entire populations. Given the reality that they are still largely under the control of Nato member-states, it is small wonder that neither Baghdad or Kabul have released to the public details of the immense death and human suffering caused by the militaries of their presumed allies.
NATO’s considerable firepower is used to “protect civilians” by the somewhat unorthodox method of bombing them to bits.
Take two most recent examples of intervention, one where it took place and the other where the alliance was unable to enforce its will, Libya and Egypt. In Libya, effective control of the country has fallen into the hands of armed gangs, who are busy extorting money and murdering their foes. In Egypt, had the military heeded the counsel of Nato and once again allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to enter into the highest levels of governance, that country would have lost its best chance of attaining stability. It was because General Al Sissi rejected the overlordship of Washington and Brussels that his men have been enabled to ensure that Egypt remain a moderate and secular state, rather than become another Libya or the "liberated zones" of Syria, where Christians, moderate Sunnis and the Shia have been largely driven out by a campaign of intimidation reminiscent of the way in which the Pandit community was forced to leave the Kashmir Valley during 1989-91.
It is with some sadness that we witness the transformation of Barack Obama into a combination of George W. Bush and John McCain. According to his friend David Cameron, another follower of Rudyard Kipling, it is "80% certain" that it was Bashar Assad, who released chemical weapons on the civilian population in a suburb of Damascus on 21 August, just when a team of UN chemical weapons inspectors arrived. Certainly the French, the British and their US counterparts will ensure that the report of the UN team gets divested of the obvious, which is that the pipe rockets in which the chemicals were delivered are those used by the rebels, and that the chemicals used are those easily mixed together out of fertiliser, insecticide and other such toxic but common substances. Obama, Francois Hollande and Cameron want some excuse to bomb Syria, and mere facts are not going to stand in the way of at least the first two.
Once the bombs fall, the member states of Nato will join Israel in becoming the targets of Shia terror groups. However, given the Doctrine of Immunity, which surrounds Nato actions (and which in India has ensured that two marines, who shot and killed innocent fishermen, are lounging in luxury at the Italian embassy rather than in jail), don't hold your breath expecting any accountability for the regional chaos that will descend along with the bombs and missiles.

NATO succumbs to Sharon Syndrome (PO)

M D Nalapat
Friday, August 30, 2013 - Ariel Sharon is regarded in Israel as a hero, much as Jawaharlal Nehru is in India, despite his chaining the economy in bureaucratic coils and retaining the apparatus of colonial rule in its entirety. As for Sharon, the reality is that the “hero” of Israel was responsible for some of the worst security threats that his country faces, the worst being the way in which he placed the Israel Defense Forces on the side of the Maronite Christian leadership of Lebanon in 1981-83 in their armed battle against the Shia population. Led by the thuggish Gemayel brothers, Maronite gangs killed thousands of innocent Shia civilians in encounters across Lebanon. The way in which the US leadership led by Ronald Reagan - who made no pretense of understanding the Muslim world and showed this ignorance in his policies - converted the Shia population of Lebanon from friends to critics of the US. However, it was Israel that became the only country on the globe to face Shia (as distinct from Wahabi) terror groups.

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by George W Bush (who has made the same miscalculations as Reagan about a community that comprises more than 1.5 billion), the entire membership of NATO has through its policies placed themselves at risk of following the Sharon Syndrome and thereby becoming targets of Shia terror groups. The anticipated attack on Syria by the US, France and the UK will tip the balance sufficiently to make this unpleasant fate a reality, the effects of which will begin to get fully manifested only after a time lag, so that Obama, Cameron and Hollande can pretend that they were not responsible.

Ironically, the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 could have been the moment when the US and its NATO partners made allies of the Shia. After all, Iraq under Saddam was a country where the Shia majority were treated much the same way as they still are in Bahrain, as a secondary people. Had the US quickly devolved power to Iraqi hands rather than see to re-create the British Empire in the form of Viceroys such as Paul Bremer, much of the pain which Iraq is now suffering could have been avoided. However, Washington seems unable to shed the colonial legacy it has acquired from some of its European partners, and this was evidenced not only in the manner in which the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan was handled but in the way in which the Libya attack took place and the manner in which the Egyptian military has been bullied by the Obama administration to soften its domestic policies in ways that would reduce Egypt to chaos. If a semblance of order is returning to Egypt these days, it is because military in country has refused to listen to NATO do-gooders who have descended on Cairo in hordes in their self-appointed role of Saviours of Humanity (via armaments of NATO).

It was clear by 2007 that the Iraqi people would rise against the occupation of their country were such an alien administration to continue in power for much longer. The consequence was the transfer of formal power to Iraqi hands, although there is still considerable interference by NATO in the inner workings of the government of Iraq, although not on the scale which confronts the Government of Afghanistan. Since Nuri Al-Maliki took office, there has been relentless pressure on him to ensure that the Shia majority get powers far below what their weight in the population entitled them to. A similar concern has not been shown towards Shia minorities in other countries in the region, nor indeed to the Shia majority in Bahrain. Such discrimination has led to the perception that the entire Shia community in the region is being subjected to collective punishment because of the defiance shown by Shia-majority Iran towards NATO. This despite the fact that few Shia regard Iran as their most admired country.

The attack by NATO on Syria, once it takes place, will lock in the already strong perception that NATO and its members are anti-Shia and that the alliance looks the other way whenever Shia get targeted. The very groups that NATO helped in Libya and are on the side of Syria are behind the attacks on Shia in Iraq and elsewhere. The weapons and cash given to Wahabi groups in Libya and Syria are getting diverted to countries across the region, so that Wahabi extremists conduct a violent war against both the Shia as well as the Sunni population, which as a whole is free of the intolerance and extremism of the Wahabis. Samantha Power, Susan Rice, John McCain and others who are responsible for pushing a reluctant Barack Obama towards armed intervention in Syria are entering the Sharon Syndrome. They are creating conditions whereby the Shia population worldwide will see NATO as their enemies, and where the extremists within that group will take up violence against NATO, the way they have since the 1980s against Israel.

The members of NATO will pay a huge price for the miscalculation of Rice, Power and Mc Cain, but it is unlikely that they will face any opprobrium as a result. Samantha Power can take heart from the fact that the Chief Patron of the Taliban, Robin Raphel, prances around a Washington ignorant of her 1992-97 role in Afghanistan. The same way, Samantha Power, who believes in saving civilian lives by launching air strikes that will kill thousands, can expect to continue to land one high-power job after another, years after she has got NATO to join Israel as direct targets of Shia terror groups.

Sunday 25 August 2013

For Modi, crisis becomes an opportunity (Sunday Guardian)

Narendra Modi with Sushma Swaraj at the BJP office bearers’ meeting in New Delhi on 18 August. PTI
here has never been a charismatic challenger to the Nehru dynasty. The other non-Nehru parivar Prime Minister, Pamulaparty Venkata Narasimha Rao, was as unglamorous as his Finance Minister, a certain Manmohan Singh. Dismissing Charan Singh and Gulzarilal Nanda as inconsequential, we turn to Morarji Desai, that other Congress stalwart. Morarji's liquid preferences and rigidity in response ensured that his own colleagues and backers gave him the heave, as they did to Deve Gowda, V.P. Singh and I.K. Gujral. Good men all, but no match for Nehru's charm and guile.
As for Atal Behari Vajpayee, although he was believed to come from the RSS stable, it must have been as a very distant second cousin thrice removed, because the man was clearly in love with the legacy of Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Indeed, during his time, venerated editors, who once dazzled foreign-returned Congress leaders with their knowledge of French, did not even have to brush up on their school Sanskrit to floor Vajpayee. He ensured that former Congress loyalists were given an honoured place in power circles, while those with a noticeable Nagpur hue were shunned. Of course, as soon as the Congress party returned to office in 2004, these worthies shed the "former" with despatch, reverting to their pre-NDA regime avatar of scourges of the RSS and defenders of the creators of the very Idea of India, the Nehru family. Looking at possible outcomes in 2014, they must be brushing up their Gujarati in order to transform themselves from critics to defenders of Narendra Damodardas Modi.
Barack Hussein Obama would never have become President of the United States had it not been for the 2008 financial crash caused by the continuation of the Clinton-era freeing of Wall Street from legal constraints to the full exercise of greed. All that George W. Bush did was to build on the Clinton policy of doing away with Glass-Steagall and numerous other restrictions on Wall Street that were put in place after the Great Depression, which began in 1929.
Although the US economy is being portrayed by the Pink Press as bouncing back to health, the reality is that the US dollar is as overvalued as the British pound was in the years after World War I, the 1920s. The pound ought to have abandoned as the international medium of exchange in the 1920s but it was not, and the international economy paid a horrible price. Similarly, the US dollar is resting on quicksand rather than on concrete. The economy of the US accounts for less than a fifth of world output, yet the dollar accounts for four-fifths of world trade, including in that crucial feedstock, petroleum.
The sooner India works out agreements with Iran and Iraq in the first instance to do away with the dollar in the purchase of oil, the better. However, given the robotic adherence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's economic team to diktats from Washington, such a (merited) flight from the dollar is improbable. A pity. Had Manmohan Singh spent the effort that he has on meeting Barack Obama next month for a chat in the White House on working out a plan whereby the BRICS countries could trade with each other in their own currencies rather than in dollars or euros, the rupee may not be nudging past Chidambaram's age to his own.
Trust in the US, expressed in the form of carrying out the wishes of the White House in a manner that made nonsense of his own country's interests did not help Hosni Mubarak very much in 2011. After three decades of loyal service to the US, the Egyptian strongman was doomed by word from Obama and Hillary Clinton to the generals that the US no longer had any use for Mubarak and that he could be dispensed with. Manmohan Singh, despite the many scams that have flourished under his watch, is unlikely to spend time in jail. Files have a way of getting eaten up by the (invisible) termites that are present in such profusion in government offices, and certainly those relating to the giving away of valuable natural resources (spectrum, coal, iron ore, to name a few) have about them a robust flavour that would naturally attract any termite in the vicinity.
Manmohan Singh will spend his retirement at the villa set aside for him by his successor. What is clear is that he will leave behind an economy that has been made almost terminal by his clear lack of ability to ensure good governance. What is even clearer is that the principal beneficiary of the developing collapse of the Indian economy will be Narendra Modi. Of course, only if his detractors within the BJP are unable to prevent him being declared the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP, the way Vajpayee was in 1998, 1999 and 2004 and L.K. Advani was in 2009. Absent such a declaration, the BJP will still emit the odour of its failed past.

Inside Information behind the collapse of rupee (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT  New Delhi | 24th Aug 2013
A boy sells prayer beads outside a currency exchange shop in New Delhi on Wednesday. REUTERS
dvance knowledge of the steps that the government and the Reserve Bank of India took on the economy, is behind the "speculative collapse" of the Indian rupee, say key officials monitoring backroom activity. This knowledge, they say, has been gained through intermediaries privy to policy. They claim that even a cursory check of the phone records of six currency speculators in Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore busily "short selling" the rupee (i.e., betting on its further fall) and persons in Delhi and other metros known to be close to key policymakers would prove such a claim.
These officials revealed the existence of a network of speculators and financial middlemen who liaised with friends and relatives of top policymakers and on occasion even with the policymakers themselves. "Such contact gave them privileged information that enabled them to make huge and easy profits on the rupee", a source revealed, adding that "key policymakers leaked like a pipe riddled by bullets and observed the oath of secrecy only when they are asleep". They blamed two ruling politicians handling key portfolios as well as others in two ministries and the RBI for the leaks, claiming that one of the politicians "does not know what he is saying or to whom after 9 p.m."
According to the research done by an analyst and his associates of sensitive data, "The run on the rupee began four months ago after market players got private assurances that neither the Finance Ministry nor the RBI would react vigorously to a steep fall in the value of the rupee." Since then, the officer alleged, "These speculators have been in daily contact not only with intermediaries but often with policymakers themselves to get inside information on measures to be followed." But officials of the Finance Ministry, RBI and the Commerce Ministry are clear that this charge is false, and that "no senior official would ever leak sensitive information except to an authorised source".
Another claimed that the fall in the value of the rupee was caused by "market perceptions based on intelligent guesses", and pointed out that "the RBI Governor did not hide the fact that he was reluctant to intervene", when the current catastrophic fall continued. This "emboldened and accelerated the speculation".
However, other officers claimed that the collapse of the rupee was an "inside job" because those betting against the rupee "knew in advance what steps were being taken to protect our currency" and could therefore gauge their (lack of) effectiveness. They pointed out that "big money is being made by the guilty currency traders when the rupee falls". An analyst said that evidence indicates that the insider-speculator nexus is "aiming at Rs 78 to the dollar by 15 October whereas sensible action can reverse the slide". He said that speculators are confident the steps taken till then would be merely cosmetic. Should the reverse occur before mid-October, and the Finance Ministry and the RBI react in a less toothless way, those betting on the fall of the rupee would lose even as 1.26 billion citizens gain. A businessman warned that "even at Rs 60 to the US dollar, several big companies would effectively go bankrupt" and said that he was "surprised" at the "routine textbook responses" to the rupee's collapse.
An officer said that "speculation in agricultural commodities has reached feverish levels during the past two years" and that "such unprincipled activity is responsible for much of the rise in food prices". Because of the free rein given to speculators, he claimed that "today farmers witness wild swings in price while consumers usually suffer huge increases in price". His colleague pointed to the spate of reports about a commodity exchange based in Mumbai and claimed that "regulators knew all along what the factual situation in the exchange was" but took no action because "a top politician is the godfather of the promoter of the exchange". He refused to name the politician except to say that "the links of the promoter of the (commodity) exchange with him are known to government".
Those monitoring speculative activity say that there is "zero interest within the Manmohan Singh government at exposing the nexus between speculators and those well-connected middlemen privy to inside information" about policy or the lack of it. "Those at the top see no harm in they and their kin hobnobbing with those working in speculative funds and international finance companies that have several times been indicted in locations less tolerant of inside information fraud", a senior analyst warned. They also warned that "there is close contact between individuals in the financial community linked to those active in financial speculation in Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore and top Central bankers" and that phone and visit records would bear this out.
These officials were unhappy that the highest levels of the national security establishment were still "sleeping at the gate" where financial fraud caused by insider trading in commodities and the rupee was concerned.
However, another officer pointed out that "bragging about being privy to inside information is a common trait" in India and that therefore "there may not have been any criminal intent in the meetings that have taken place" between some of those orchestrating the short-selling of the rupee (i.e. wagering that the rupee will fall further) and close friends and relatives of key policymakers "in the RBI, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and the Planning Commission". However, that this "lack of secrecy has cost the rupee as well as commodity prices dear".

Friday 23 August 2013

US dollar sinks India’s economy (PO)

M D Nalapat
Friday, August 23, 2013 - During 1977-79,when a State of Emergency was in force across India, LK Advani said about the media that “when they were asked to bend, they began to crawl”. The same can be said about India’s Prime Minister, the reticent economist Manmohan Singh and his response to any “request” from Washington. In the past, Delhi would often sway to the beat from Moscow, thereby refusing to condemn even egregious acts of high-handedness such as the military conquest of Czechoslovakia in the 1950s and the occupation of Afghanistan in 1979.

What took place in Czechoslovakia was a particularly horrible crime, given that this small but gallant country had been occupied by Hitler just two decades before Soviet tanks rolled into the streets of Prague. Three years later, more than four million German soldiers streamed across the USSR border and sought to subjugate that nation, a huge miscalculation on Hitler’s part, because the people of the USSR fought the Nazi armies to a standstill on the outskirts of Moscow within five months of the invasion. The world owes a lot to the people of the then Soviet Union for having battered into pulp the Nazi war machine.

Interestingly during World War-II, the leaders of India’s freedom movement adopted a policy of non-alignment between the Allies and the Axis, the single biggest factor in the post-1942 (“Quit India Declaration”) embrace by London of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his concept of a separate state for the Muslims of India. Manmohan Singh is therefore in exalted company when he takes decisions that are less than optimal from the viewpoint of India’s national interest. One of the most significant has been his repeated rejection of offers by Iran to enter into long-term contracts for the supply of oil to India at concessional prices. Had this offer been accepted, with its corollary of the medium of exchanging being not dollars but rupees, the Indian currency would not have entered into the free fall that Manmohan Singh’s dogged dedication to following the dictates of Washington has caused.

Any sane individual without a vested interest in the US dollar would testify that the currency is in the same position as the British pound was during the 1920s,an international medium of exchange whose fundamentals did not support such an exalted role. As the US is doing now, during the 1920s London borrowed — in effect — from itself, because British pounds were the international medium of exchange. The inherent weakness of the currency and the distortions caused by its widespread use in international commerce helped create the 1929 Great Depression, which gave way only after the world was plunged into a reflationary war.

If in the 1920s it was the British pound that was hugely overvalued and overused, since the 2008 financial crash that place has been taken by the US dollar. The crash of the financial system in the US during 2008 showed that those responsible for the health of the dollar were not to be trusted with such a sensitive task. Rather than ensure that the US dollar was anchored on sound fundamentals, Wall Street looked only at its own profits, and at the expense of the rest of the world.

Those credulous enough to believe in the US dollar have paid a huge financial price for their trust, and yet are in no hurry to move away from a currency that is hugely overvalued in terms of the huge debt that the US has. While the previous NDA government headed by A B Vajpayee was also influenced by the dollar, it can be said that Manmohan Singh and his team have been dominated by the dollar. From the start, the PM and his economic team have concentrated on multiplying the benefits earned by those who ran away from the rupee and clung on to the dollar. Thus, those in India who trusted the rupee have been losers on a catastrophic scale, while those who shared Manmohan Singh’s affinity for the dollar have prospered. Those making dollar deposits in the Indian banking system get returns of 20% and more in dollars, while those unwise enough to have placed their confidence in the rupee have seen the real value of their capital fall sharply.

This year itself, the rupee has lost nearly 40% of its inherent value through the fall in the value of the rupee (by 25% this year alone) and relentless inflation. Had the Prime Minister been less deferential towards the US dollar, he would have taken advantage of BRICS by spearheading a move to get these five countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to use their own currencies while trading. He would have instructed the Ministry of Petroleum to source as much as possible of India’s oil imports from producers willing to give discounts, such as Iran and perhaps even Iraq, were that country to accept India as a reliable strategic partner. Instead, the PM has shunned Tehran and has so annoyed that important capital that an Indian ship has been impounded by Tehran on the grounds of “oil spill”. Clearly, the PM’s bending over backwards, forwards and sideways to please the US has been noticed in Teheran, as it has in most other capitals of the world.

Next month, Manmohan Singh travels to New York for the exalted purpose of making yet another forgettable speech at the UN General Assembly. Much of his staff has been engaged in begging the Obama administration to spare 20 minutes of the time of the President of the US to have a meeting with India’s PM. Reports are that the Obama team is insisting that Manmohan Singh meet Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif in New York as a condition for President Obama meeting him. Given the hunger of India’s PM to follow the advice dished out to him by Washington, it may be that Manmohan Singh ignores the political risk involved in a meeting with Nawaz Sharif and schedules a meeting, just so that he himself can get some face time with Obama.

That such a summit will get him zero extra votes is a slice of political reality that is ignored by the bureaucrat who became Union Finance Minister in 1991 when I G Patel refused the job. Those close to Patel say that the latter’s private comment on Manmohan Singh was that he was “over-rated as an economist and under-rated as a politician”. The collapse of the Indian economy under Manmohan, combined with the PM’s success in continuously holding on to the PM’s job longer than any other incumbent save Jawaharlal Nehru, shows that Patel was spot on target.

Sunday 18 August 2013

It is time to liberate India from Delhi (Sunday Guardian)


Pranab Mukherjee, as Finance Minister, has the distinction of levying a tax rate of well over 90% on income. PTI
awaharlal Nehru, free India's first Prime Minister, retained the entire construct of law and practice left over by the departing British. Those laws and practices — which have only been preserved and added on to over 66 years — were fashioned by the colonial power for a people in chains. They ensured that the administrative authority (whether chosen by London or through the ballot box) retained absolutist power over the lives of citizens. Post-colonial regimes ensured that any structure that had the potential to challenge the authority of government was weakened or eliminated. After the passing away of Vallabhbhai Patel in 1950, Nehru fashioned the economic and foreign policy of India largely on his own, relying on personally selected acolytes for advice. Despite his idealism and his commitment to country, Nehru failed to ensure that the population of India be gifted a legal and administrative structure that treated them to be adults and not children in need of constant chastisement and monitoring. By relying on the state sector rather than giving equal attention to private industry, this country's economy has dwindled to less than a fourth the size of China's, while it was double that country's economic size in 1949. While Nehru sought to maintain the civility of democracy save for exceptions such as the 1959 dismissal of the E.M.S. Namboodiripad ministry in Kerala, his daughter Indira Gandhi launched a cultural revolution as fullscope in its effect as the one unleashed on China in the 1960s by Mao Zedong. Covenants were torn up by her, institutions weakened and political and personal expediency made the driving force behind the ship of state.
The savage destruction of the rights of the private citizen — especially in the economic sphere — had as its base the presumption that he or she was still a "child", and that the "adult" (i.e. the state) was the fitter of the two to exercise discretion. Had Nehru given large-scale private industry in India the same degree of support that Tokyo or Seoul gave their own businesses, it would have been Indian rather than South Korean or Japanese companies, which emerged as world beaters. As for the individual, what opportunities there were got ignored by the state. Even to get a passport or the bare minimum of foreign exchange needed to emigrate, for instance, was so difficult that more West Indians than Indians settled in the UK, and several times more inhabitants of Dacca and Lahore than of Mumbai and Chennai. Activity was made as difficult as possible.
But there was method in such madness. The more obstacles there were to innovation and enterprise, the more possibilities for politicians and officials to get bribes. A system got created that was geared towards the necessity of bribery, and towards the generation of income outside the tax net, which was substantial. Pranab Mukherjee has the distinction, while looking after the finance portfolio, of levying a tax rate of well over 90% on income that by international standards was meagre. Tax receipts grew very little, and not only because of evasion.
There was simply no incentive to do better, if the sole beneficiary was a government not exactly proficient in the quality of the services it provided. Whether such rates were the brainchild of India's present Head of State or that of his then boss, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is not known. However, in a display of consistency, taxes rose from what they were during his most recent stint as Finance Minister, even higher than the steep rises caused by his predecessor — and successor — P. Chidambaram. Paying out more and more tax for a constantly diminishing basket of services has remained the norm.
While in more advanced democracies, systems have evolved which seek to make life and work easier for the average citizen, in India the system is designed to increase the number of chokepoints slowing down the citizen from his tasks. In a context where potential opportunities are multiplying, as is the need for speedy and effective reactions to them, the claustrophobic hold of a bureaucracy ill-equipped for change across the spectrum of Indian life has ensured that the talent of the Indian citizen is denied the chance to be utilised the way it is in countries where the laws and the administration regard the people as mature enough to take their own decisions.
The power to take away the property and liberty of a citizen is vested in an unconscionably large number of authorities. Unless a fairer balance gets created between the rights and powers of civil society and those vested in the mechanism of governance, this country cannot be termed a democracy. If we are to ensure that the freedom enjoyed by the citizen is present not only in law but in fact this is only possible by trimming the powers concentrated in Delhi and in ensuring that the residue get more fairly distributed down the line, to state, district, zilla parishad, city and panchayat. It is time that India freed itself from its post-1947 colonial master, Delhi.