Glasshouse Governance


By Malini Shankar

Digital Discourse Foundation

Political upheavals in Europe - today - dotted by referendum in stable, powerful economies of the European Union – the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy, and the increased vote share of the Far Right in the German Bundestag – leading to collapse of post elections alliance forging in Germany all have had an unlikely genesis: Migration triggered by the Arab Spring in the Middle East. Are these prosperous European nations the last vestiges of the development quotient in the failed corrupt regimes of the Middle East?

Pushing for legislative democracy in the failed states of the Middle East by supporting regime change in the dictatorships of the Arab countries has had an unforeseen repercussion on economically, politically stable Europe.

The Arab Spring itself was a result of violent regimes favouring the corrupt few, often in defiance of UN resolutions and often at the cost of and in the face of war. States rolling in petro dollars never paid attention to the needs of the common man in all Arab states from Morocco to Pakistan. OPEC countries were riddled with political divisions, lack of tax infrastructure; lack of political dissent; no personal freedoms at all, much less free and fair elections have been the mainstay of the Failed States.

To think that the Emirs of Kuwait fled when Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait, bespeaks of the feudal Lords … uh … Emirs … easily abdicating their responsibility of security of the common man. “In the event of a war on the United Kingdom, by her former colonies we have no doubt that the House of Tudor will flee for their safety” said a cynical Patrick Odugande Moudray a Zimbabwean intern who spoke to Digital Discourse.

Left wing intellectuals / cynics who pointed out that the Occident will not dare to unseat the corrupt Emirs in the oil rich states of the Middle East must surely be vindicated today that the same House of Saud, the same Emirate in Kuwait continues to thrive. Why did good old Britain try regime change only in Syria? Doesn’t Britain wish to see free and fair elections in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait? Will the UK ever summon the guts to attempt regime change in Iran or for that matter will the US ever try this? More pertinent … will the present Trump Administration – described as Far Right by political pundits – wont to dismissing an international treaty with Iran – summon the guts to install a friendly regime in Tehran? Left wing critics snigger “they can’t afford to”.

Wishlist / Post Mortem or naivety?

If only these former colonies and vassal states in the Middle East were not arbitrarily redrawn after the IInd World War; if only political institutions like representative legislative democracy in the grassroots, written constitutions instead of theocratic law had been fostered instead of redrawing boundaries; if only the oil rich states had invested on schools, universities, research centres, industrial laboratories; if only women were at the very least allowed to drive, and vote maybe… surely equitable, inclusive, horizontal employment opportunities, and economic growth would have nipped in the bud the very prospect of Islamic terror? Just imagine if there were political representatives elected in free and fair elections in every village in the OPEC and Arab countries! Just imagine how much bloodshed and how many lives would have been saved. The IInd World War never really ended say many people in continental Europe. At least it was arbitrarily concluded.

Neither would the Far Right have raised its ugly bloody head in far corners of the globe as a reactionary movement to secular democratic credentials even in robust democracies like USA, Germany, France and India.

The results of good governance are obvious


Silencing Progressive Thinkers

Silencing progressive thinkers

By Malini Shankar

Digital Discourse Foundation

The untimely and unfortunate murder of a fiercely vocal journalist 55 year old Gauri Lankesh in Bangalore by miscreants at her door step on 5th September 2017 epitomises the intolerance to diverse opinions, plural political perspectives and political dissent… the very benchmarks of a healthy and robust democracy.

The need to create a political environment where dissent is considered vital for political maturity is the responsibility of the powers that be … be they in the ruling party or the Opposition.

Gauri Lankesh was a radical writer with an intellectual worldview far ahead of her times. Her abhorrence to violence formed the basis of her efforts to integrate misguided Naxal elements; but alas violence consumed her, sounding the fearsome prospect of violence stalking future elections in an otherwise peace loving Karnataka State in South India.

Her ideas of reforming dogmatic worldview of Lingayat community too would not have gone well with the Lingayat political leaders of the dominant Lingayat community in Karnataka which is heading for the hustings next year. Secularism defined by Gauri as well as by political pundits who drafted the Indian Constitution was an apolitical distance from all religions. It is wholly another issue that the masses in India today don’t subscribe to this political thought.

Lankesh’s pen powered battle against right wing majoritarianism was perhaps too powerful for a party which has brutal legislative majority. But it would be statesmanlike for a very popular Prime Minister to condemn the brutal slaying of a powerful female voice from the Fourth Estate. That this has not happened perplexes other progressive voices and intellectual forces. More significantly, it would be politically correct for the Prime Minister to ‘unfollow’ mischievous social media elements that have ‘celebrated’ the most unfortunate murder of a dissenting voice. Yes the Prime Minister is busy with statecraft but “following” mischievous elements is unbecoming.

Indeed the BJP has every right to extrapolate the lack of sympathy for the violence that has enmeshed Kerala politics. Violence of any political hue needs to be admonished unequivocally. Nothing, absolutely nothing can justify murderous violence. Indeed the unfortunate and untimely murder of Gauri Lankesh vindicates and reiterates the need for Democracy and Secularism most succinctly.

While the BJP and ‘right wing’ parties have a point in exposing the hypocrisy of ‘pseudo secularists’ the timing of any far-fetched justification for silencing dissent or lack of condemnation of the journalist’s murder plays into the hands of fundamentalists vindicating the suspicion that right wing supported miscreants threatened by ‘progressive voices’ were responsible for her brutal murder.

In the aftermath of the murder the need to rise above partisan politics cannot be reiterated more strongly. For in failing to do so, social media propaganda (divisive at the best of times) will only worsen the politically charged social atmosphere by articulating against ‘pseudo secularism’.

For the Media too it is time to introspect. Media professionals tread a thin line. While using the power of the pen the Media must detach themselves from the issue; it is the job of the Fourth Estate to mould opinions, not to articulate the opinions themselves. The pen can be an activist by itself. While the editorial pages offer space for the valid opinion of the Fourth Estate, credibility lies in fact based copy rather than ideology driven copy.

Thus social media should be used to increase readership or access to such credible objective copy instead of using social media to articulate opinions. Social Media is divisive at the best of times; it is only a tool to augment the communications; that way the engines of the Fourth Estate serve their purpose well. Such a pity that Mediascape is misused in a healthy democracy to settle scores with the gun! Gauri Lankesh is a martyr to the cause of Secularism! The best tribute that can be offered to her is to abhor violence and abstain from playing into the hand of any divisive force.

It is time to debate issues openly instead of whipping up hysteria. Defeat by debate is more characteristic of robust democracies. India being a flag carrier of healthy democratic tenets has reason to hang its head in shame for supporting cowards who adopt the gun instead of the pen! Transparent Governance calls for access to the highest echelons of government and lowest rungs of administration.

Press Releases


Fifty Indian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have been awarded the UN Medal for their professionalism and service in protecting civilians and building durable peace in the conflict-ridden country.

UNMISS Force Commander General Frank Mushyo Kamanzi awarded the UN Medal to the officers serving with the Indian Battalion, located in Bor in the Jonglei region of South Sudan.

He acknowledged their contribution in carrying out patrols across the region as well as providing a safe and secure environment for the 2,500 civilians who have sought sanctuary at the United Nations Protection of Civilians site at Bor.

“I would like to thank the Indian Battalion for their courage and professionalism in executing their mandate in Jonglei,” said General Kamanzi.

The local government in Jonglei also paid tribute to the Indian troops.

Jonglei Acting Governor, Dr. Agot Alier, said the Indian battalion had played an important role in keeping the community safe as well as encouraging local peace efforts. They had also provided much-needed services to the community outside of their core mandate, such as medical care for local residents and support for local farmers with veterinary treatment for their animals, he said.

“The Indian Battalion has been intimately associated with peacekeeping efforts and the battalion has supported the mandate of the United Nations and the overall peace process,” said Dr Agot. “They have provided veterinary support and also community development activities in Jonglei and Boma.”

The Indian Ambassador to South Sudan, Srikumar Menon, attended the medal ceremony and thanked the peacekeepers for their commitment and service.

“India is committed to the objectives of the UN Charter and therefore is ready to support the United Nations peacekeeping efforts globally,” he said.


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