Beijing’s decision to remove the two-term limit for the Chinese president shows their contempt for the Western liberal democracy “facade”
The amendments to the Chinese Constitution raised to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, removing the formal two-term limit to presidential appointments, marked a welcome step in striving towards a vision of a society and internationalism governed by the principles rooted in communal harmony. This is happening at a time when the Western democracy, since a long time has been degenerated into a carefully managed puppet of the big capital, punctuated by periodic elections every few years which give the people the illusion of the exercise of political power.
The election of Donald Trump in the US, the popularity of Putin in Russia, the resurgence of the BJP across India, the resurgence of French people led by a President who has taken the entrenched lethargic socialist interests head-on, and, now the overwhelming support for instituting back the ‘President for life’ system in China, show that the people world-over are revolting against the carefully managed façade of Western liberal democracy.
The Chinese have been accustomed to the idea of ‘President for life’, first, in the form of monarchical rule and then during the years of Mao Zedong. It was only after 1976 that Mao’s liberal successor, Deng Xiaoping, along with several other changes to usher in the capitalist economy in China, did away with the ‘President for life’ policy and, instead, introduced formal two-term limit to the re-election of the President. But because the Communist Party of China (CPC), along with the Central Military Commission (CMC), continued to reign supremely over the Chinese polity and foreign and defence affairs, the institution of the two-term limit could not mean much. The removal of the two-term Presidential election limit is just a formal change, as Xi Jinping was already the leader of the CPC and the CMC — two most powerful institutions in Chinese polity — and they, in any case, have no term limits. So, Xi would have continued to hold sway well into the future, with or without this small formal change. But with the removal of the term-limit, the emergence of an unnecessary parallel power centre is precluded and a smooth functioning of the domestic and foreign affairs can take place.
For apologists of the two-term limit, at best, such a limit could inspire competitive politics within the CPC for higher positions — but this intra-party politics is hardly ‘democratic’ politics. It is quite the contrary, in fact. Intra-party competition within CPC — without there being any political parties in the public arena and no typical elections, gave rise to a corrupt system based on politics of patronage, where individual members and those belonging to powerful and wealthy families could try to take advantage by lobbying those at the top or themselves harbor ambitions to rule the country.
All the while, this unhealthy competition remained confined within the CPC, thereby giving rise to a privileged corrupt class of Chinese ‘princelings’ against whom even public revolts had started a few years back. How such a system could be called ‘democratic’ in even the remotest sense of the word is baffling. To put it mildly, one wonders why, then, critics are decrying the passage of such a system, which was ushered in when Xi Jinping assumed power. With Xi’s ascendance to power, one of the most palpable first actions was, precisely, to root out this entrenched corruption from the system. Obviously, the international media — with Indian media parroting their international counterparts — liked to term this as suppression of ‘political dissent’ and suppression of anyone who could pose a threat to Xi. But these remain mere speculations in an age where ‘dissent’ itself has become a manufactured and sponsored process — like how the West commonly funds ‘democratic dissent’ in various parts of the world to overthrow recalcitrant regimes.
In the Chinese case of the rise of Xi, the suppression of dissent theory does not hold because his measures, his re-election and the imprinting of his thought on socialism have had widespread support in the party and the Government as well as in the public. The only few dissenting voices are limited to Western-educated or Western-backed Chinese living in the USA — their numbers as well as their location rendering their voices largely irrelevant.
The democracy they seem to be trying to usher in in China — at a time when the West is failing — has never even existed in the one-party system of China, as economic capitalism never gave way to political capitalism. The tightly-knit political system, especially under Xi, became an instrument for the revival of traditional Chinese values and a threat to the onslaught of Semitic religions, which had gained a substantial foothold in China.
Much like the crusade against the corrupt elite of China, it was, again, under Xi’s leadership that the voices of the Confucian scholars began to be heard seriously by the Government. For more than a decade, they had been lamenting the ‘Western cultural invasion’ of China, but it was only under Xi that the Government displayed the gumption to officially adopt the policy of recognizing this cultural invasion and fight it by a policy of national cultural revival, aligned with the principles of Xi’s ideas of socialism.
This staunch nationalism, under which Xi is uniting the CPC, the CMC and the entire nation, is one of the reasons for the rise of China and the public popularity of Xi. As for the questions of democracy and socialism, it must be emphasised that the present spirit of Chinese socialism (and not Communism) is not at all the regimented and selfish economic socialism of the West. The effort in Asia has always been towards a spirit of socialism grounded in spiritual harmony — China, under Xi, is consciously trying to move towards that.
The assertion that this Asiatic idea of polity would degenerate into dictatorship is problematic. Only regimented systems, arising out of the material-vital spirit to cater to the selfish interests of a utilitarian and commercialized society (be it communism or capitalism or socialism), can so degenerate into dictatorships. Dictatorships are a very common modern phenomenon — a result of democratic revolt itself. Almost all anti-colonial nationalist movements, spanning Asia, Africa and the Middle east, were born out of a discourse of rights, democracy and equality — India’s Nehru was a leader and product of that age. Yet, except for India, almost all these democratic struggles — including the later ones like the creation of Bangladesh — ended in abject and irrevocable dictatorships, with some theocracies like Pakistan. Witness that no country on the Indian subcontinent is a democracy except India herself, in any legitimate sense of the word. So, on what historical or psychological basis can it possibly be said that Xi’s transition to power would lead to a personality-cult type of dictatorship? In an age where democracy is celebrated as mere dissent without any further positive movement to truly ground it, the more the competition and strife and demands — no matter what their nature or how degenerate they are — the better the prospects for democracy.
In contrast, Xi’s new transition to power is based on charting out a separate vision. The Modi Government, here, seems to be supporting the new development, with both India and China making favourable statements for each other and two key Union Ministers from India flying to China to discuss bilateral relations. But these overtures will be of little use unless India fully grasps the historicity and potential of India-China relationship.
(The writer is with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and writes for The Resurgent India Trust)
Writer: Garima Maheshwari
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The U.S. presidential elections have always been a good example of excellence and superiority. It has developed the entire environment excellent and smooth. The elections rely a great deal on homespun and China made confetti with the stature of the American President being, “the most powerful and significant personage” in the entire realm of the international ecosystem. Rhetoric, verbiage and stand-up comedy tracks run amok in the homeland to attract the denizens of the land along with propelling the candidates for a larger-than-life political and diplomatic serenade.
Recently, the eye of the storm is being caught by the name of Steve Bannon, who was the master strategist of the Candidate Trump’s electoral campaign, who recruited the United Kingdom-based Consultancy Cambridge Analytica with the connivance of a few Cambridge University denizens. Thus, the Facebook data of personal nature from thousands of FB pages was roped in as a grand and matrix- like strategy by Cambridge Analytica in order to shore up the electoral fortunes and the mathematics of the Donald Trump’s election campaign trail. The leak by one of the employees of the UK-based firm bears uncanny resemblance to the Snowden exposes of the WikiLeaks a few years back. Also, in the name of sustaining the security and steadfast health of the American society and polity, personal norms of privacy have been breached where personal posts and uploads have been utilised clandestinely and the resultant hoopla has belittled the corporate ethics of the UK-based firm, along with casting bad light on Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump. The Washington Post reported that the reach and the influence of the Cambridge Analytica went beyond influencing the US Elections.
The questions and posers related to ethics in journalism and media coverage, neutrality, transparency and objectivity have once again raised their uncomfortable heads with the “Aiyarri- espionage” carried out by ordinary mainstream data guzzling firm to influence the larger political process of a superpower nation. The reputed British SCL Group founded the Cambridge Analytica in order to work on American politics. The website of the company includes offices in Malaysia and Brazil along with those in the United States and Britain, and also beyond the American territory. The era and aura of globalisation and convergence, particularly the flip side of the coin, comes to the fore as an assiduous affront to the steadfast territoriality and sovereignty of nations such as China and United Sates of America. Recently, in his televised address to the Chinese nation on the occasion of the CPC summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the national population that the integrity and the internal functionality of a nation and its population depends fervently upon the concern of its territoriality remaining intact in a world system marred by the seething ideas of globalisation and convergence. Even, the Indian political class is expressing its nervousness about the utilisation of Cambridge Analytica to snoop over the other political outfits in the fray and frame a perspective to shore up their political fortunes and mar the prospects of the antagonist. This episode also brings up the tenets of corporate responsibility and the question as to how far global establishments play with the homeland themes even in a nation as overbearing and paramount as the United States of America. In a news piece broadcast all over the world, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica took the credit for shoring up the fortunes of the Candidate Donald Trump’s election campaign. Thus, it amounts to an allegation that Baudrillard’s “Simulacra” plays a handsome hand in the making and marring the prospects in nations as self-sufficient and chink-free as United States of America. The UK-based daily Guardian reported that the officials of Cambridge Analytica literally boasted about winning the elections for Donald Trump.
Data protection is a clichéd business and nomenclature in the US, which has does not have a singular legislation unlike in places such as the European Union. The right to privacy at the federal level includes:
“The right to be free from search and seizure by the Government.”
“The right to have one’s communications free from interception.”
“The right to keep one’s personal information private.”
Still, what is explicitly stated in the American law is that these rights are not absolute and un-amendable by their nature and function. The American Government can intercept and utilise related data for the purposes of national wellbeing and homeland security, which is the same sentiment reflected in the Homeland Security Act. And, going by the gung ho drive of the Trump campaign, it was a national emergency that emergency measures had to be implemented; what was amplified during the campaign is further executed during President Trump’s Presidency.
The Federal Trade Commission in the United States, too, has a word about the juxtaposed coupling of privacy and security. The Gramm Leich Billy Act contends that concern about privacy and security, “The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires financial institutions — companies that offer consumers financial products or services like loans, financial or investment advice, or insurance — to explain their information-sharing practices to their customers and to safeguard sensitive data.” Thus, it is part of the corporate liability that information of private individuals ought to be confidential and should not be subjected to sneak peek even by the American establishment. Still, when the American homeland is in a quandary, the corporate should have no qualms about the dictum that, “With great power comes great responsibility”.
There is an inherent antagonism in the perspectives between an agency such as Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the American Government which has to be broodingly amalgamated. The language goes that, “The FTC now considers information that can reasonably be used to contact or distinguish a person, including IP addresses and device identifiers, as personal data. However, a few US federal or state privacy laws define “personal information” as including information that on its own does not actually identify a person. The bottleneck can be that by now, the American nation and the attendant political system does not possess a data protection authority such as the one on media, which is the FCC, the Federal Communication Commission. Do we also say that, trolling also is data? It is definitely a true statement if these are posted on the social media.
(The writer teaches International Relations at Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi)
Writer: Manan Dwivedi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
If the next general election get summed up with all state-level battles, the opposition seems to succeed in dislocating PM Narendra Modi.
Unless my secular pundit friends are claiming that the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll is going to be a lamppost election — in the anti-Emergency wave of 1977 it was said even a lamppost would be elected if fighting on a Janata Party ticket — and there is little sign of that with even BJP-baiters conceding that Narendra Modi is still by far the most popular politician in the country, I can’t see how the Opposition is going to win a much talked about famous victory come 2019. Factoring in even a visceral hatred for the ruling party, surely most sober independent-minded professionals despite our varying views on the issues of the day and differing political assessments can agree on the following:
i) The Lok Sabha by-election wins for SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh and RJD in Bihar, which followed a spirited Congress showing first in the Gujarat Assembly poll,then upsetting the BJP in two Lok Sabha by-elections in Rajasthan and last month retaining two Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh by-polls albeit with reduced margins are significant signs of an Opposition pushback;
ii) There is an articulation of a measure of anti-incumbency against the Narendra Modi regime on the ground and in professional/social media which was not the case six months ago. Both the Opposition’s messaging and anti-BJP groups’ cohesion has got much better;
iii) The BJP win in Tripura and improved showing in other North-eastern States’ Assembly polls, its gains in the Orissa local bodies poll mainly at the expense of the Congress and its emergence as the, if distant, second party in West Bengal shows clearly that the Amit Shah-led party is not in retreat in spite of the expectation versus delivery gap being apparent;
iv) Despite the sustained and at times viciously personal attacks on the Prime Minister by those enraged at the sheer audacity of the Indian electorate which dared elect a “Sanghi” to high office, the sense one gets is that the people still give him the benefit of the doubt. His intent is not yet suspect though his Government’s less than exemplary supervision of the banking sector and other sectors of the economy are coming in for criticism given that expectations were raised inordinately high;
v) The North Korean news television channels, to use a phrase reportedly coined by Arun Shourie, are doing the ruling party more damage than good;
vi) But this is more than evened out by the supercilious, in the main shallow and entirely entitled TV stations which despite their recent attempts to break into baba-log Hindi as an imprimatur of their massy credentials are guaranteed to continue turning off the neutrals and enraging those simpatico to a nation-first worldview;
vii) Social media narratives will likely continue to be an influencer for the younger demographic with FB/Twitter/WhatsApp 75:25 in favour of the ruling combine; professional media including print and digital platforms are possibly 65:35 for the Government with the skew in Hindi and regional languages particularly pronounced.
It is in this context that we need to look, as objectively as possible, at assessing the possible outcome of the forthcoming General Election. Arithmetically, backroom players on the Opposition side know exactly what needs to be done — to ensure, State-wise, that as far as possible there is only one Opposition candidate against every BJP candidate. For this to come to fruition, the country will have to be carved up into ‘spheres of influence’ of non-BJP political parties dominant in each State which will also have the final say in their respective States. Like everything in life, this is easier said than done.
Take a minute to think about the possible outcome of any negotiation for who is to be considered primus inter pares between Mamata Banerjee and CPI-M in West Bengal; K Chandrashekhar Rao and Congress in Telangana; TDP, Congress and YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh; Congress and CPI-M in Kerala; Congress and JD-S in pockets of Karnataka; Congress and BJD in Orissa; NCP, Congress and MNS in Maharashtra; AAP, Congress and BSP in Punjab; Congress, Goa Forward and MGP in Goa; Congress and AUDF in Assam; CPI-M and Congress in Tripura; AAP and Congress in Delhi; NC and PDP in the Kashmir Valley (we are assuming PDP will not go into the election in alliance with the BJP with which it runs a coalition in Jammu and Kashmir at the moment) plus Congress, NC and PDP in Jammu. And this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Yes, a BSP-SP alliance in Uttar Pradesh and a RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar does seem on the cards but, especially in the case of the former, it is unlikely to be for all seats in the State. The just concluded Rajya Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh provide an early pointer to the number of problematic areas Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati will have to deal with despite the surface bonhomie.
Also, do remember that regional parties which are keenest on allying with long-standing adversaries in their States of operation are the ones not in power and so have no monies to keep their party relevant in the elaborate web of public exchequer-funded patronage which includes largesse to kinship groups and the like which has been their hallmark. An SP, BSP or DMK may, for example, be keen on such an arrangement as they have been out of power for five years or more but the same cannot be said of, say, a BJD, TDP or TRS. Lastly, apart from its ideological foes like the Communist parties or a Mamata Banerjee who governs a State where the Muslim population is large and electorally very significant, most of the other parties have no deep-seated ideological aversion to the BJP; in fact, many of them have been NDA constituents at some point or the other. Ergo, they will be free to choose which party and/or alliance to support post-poll.
For a real challenge to the BJP to emerge, it is the Congress which will have to revive and radically reinvent itself as the second pole of Indian politics. To do so, it must necessarily engage with the notion of a non-supremacist Indian exceptionalism and our nation-state’s Indic/Hindu civilizational ethos, address the issues of an entitled leadership and a lack of organizational meritocracy, and come up with an economic plan that works. Suffice it to say even in the unlikely event the Congress does as is being suggested, its efforts are unlikely to bear fruit before 2024.
It could gainfully occupy itself in the interim with coming to terms with the fact that a presidential, broadly two-party/alliance system is a more effective democratic system of governance for India than the Westminster parliamentary model. But those who look at the nation’s interests safely ensconced in their rent-seeking, ideologically blinkered positions, shifting their stance depending on who is in power or more pertinently whom they want to keep out, have refused to engage with the issue seriously till now. They are likely to have five years more to think about it, provided the Modi-Shah combine has the nous — and indications are it certainly does — to work out its weaknesses, ensure the index of Opposition unity is not too high, focus on delivery of development initiatives and explain much better the need for the structural reforms initiated and those yet to come.
The BJP will also have to pursue with far more finesse and less virulence then it has hitherto exhibited the project of providing an ambient environment in which an Indic cultural consciousness flourishes while simultaneously a folk multiculturalism — modes of prayer, sartorial choices, culinary preferences et.al. of bona fide Indian citizens — is celebrated without a de facto differential citizenship model such as the one we were quite casually slipping into pre-2014. Equally, curbing growing lumpen anti-intellectualism within the fold is nothing less than a categorical imperative in the construction of a modern state wherein individual rights are never trumped by group rights. Put the BJP Marg Darshak Mandal to some use, perhaps? Its members certainly have the credentials and experience to make a go of carrying out this balancing act leaving the Government to focus on governance.
At any rate, a lot can and will change over the coming year. But on the evidence available my money is on the BJP coming back. Not with 200-220 seats for itself and another 50-70 from post/pre-poll allies as the drawing room conversation consensus seems to be but with a decisive win. Either that, or it will be reduced to struggling in the 120-180 seats band which is where it was stuck in the pre-Modi era, effectively making it a lamppost election. I am convinced that an aspirational and very impatient India has neither the time nor the luxury for a fractured mandate which would inevitably give birth to an even more fractious polity than extant.
Modi remains the most popular and, something which is often not understood fully, the most recognizable politician across India.The latter is important to internalize because in a chaotic ecology sans a counter-narrative that can capture the popular imagination, the Centre tends to hold. It is more than just TINA. WB Yeats in The Second Coming is perhaps apposite on the alternative the Opposition presents as of today:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.
(The author is Consulting Editor, The Pioneer.)
Writer: Ishan Joshi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
India has set the red carpet for Nepal’s PM, KP Oli on his first official visit. India’s trust on Nepal’s government will be attentive of its sincere security interests that includes honoring nation’s traditional red lines.
Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli who lambasted India after the 2015 blockade, accused it of toppling his Government in 2016 and travelled to Beijing in the interregnum to sign Nepal’s first ever trade and transit treaty with China, will be on his first official state visit to India commencing April 7. The last time he was invited was in 2016 when he urged Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to do so and she obliged but only after he had passed the first amendment to Nepal’s Constitution, which only minimally granted rights to the Madhesis and other marginalised classes. On his last visit, he was ruling a shaky coalition Government.
Now Oli is a political colossus, following the strategic alliance with the Prachanda-led Maoist Center and will soon be heading a Government with more than two-third majority, having swept the local Government elections and captured six out of seven Provinces and also won a commanding majority in the new upper House. No one in Nepal’s tryst with democracy has amassed such infinite political power.
If this was not enough, he has concentrated in the Prime Minister’s Office, all investigative, intelligence and enforcement agencies, making Oli the master of all that he surveys. If power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely? Whether we will see an authoritarian and dictatorial Oli, only time will tell.
In this column, on December 20 last year, after Oli’s dramatic political success, this writer had predicted that despite the pro-China and ultra nationalistic halo he had acquired, he would visit India first, before any pilgrimage to China as all elected Prime Ministers have done.
Despite teasing India with an interview to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post and an invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, to which Kathmandu media attributed several creative reasons, including exploring the whereabouts of former Inter-Services Intelligence official, Lt Col Zahir Hussain who was kidnapped from Nepal ostensibly by the Research and Analysis Wing in 2017, the substance of the Oli messaging to India was China — that ‘it will enable deepening explore additional options and leverages in dealing with India’. In 2008, shortly before Prachanda became the Prime Minister, he told a Nepali TV channel that Nepal needed China to balance India. In later years, Prachanda had a change in preference.
The second issue raised by Oli in the interview was about the recruitment of Nepali Gorkhas in the Indian Army. Two connections China desperately wants broken in the high Himalayas are India’s special relations with Nepal and Bhutan.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj did some nimble diplomacy to woo Oli. Swaraj’s surprise visit to Kathmandu to congratulate and invite him to the Dilli Durbar was both spontaneous and an expression of regret over past misunderstandings, blockade et al.
Modi, meanwhile, worked the phone lines repeating his Mann ki Baat of forgiving, forgetting and looking at the future. This diplomatic coup, coupled with Oli’s missive to Modi on Republic Day, more than mad up for one of India’s greatest foreign policy blunders, pushed Nepal towards China. During Holi, while in Pokhara, Nepal, this writer learnt a new Nepali phrase. It goes like this: ‘Dukh payo Mangala le; afno hi dhang le’ (the pain India suffered was due to its own fault.) The Madhesi cause has been put on the back burner and the fractious Nepali Congress party marginalised.
China will extract maximum political, economic and people-to-people benefit from a pro-China Left alliance Government which it inspired and invested in putting together. China’s rise in Nepal is unstoppable. Nepal wishes to draw economic gains from the world’s two fastest growing economies. It also wants to reduce its dependence on India but realises that geography, culture, language and religion point otherwise. Still, Chinese presence, investment, involvement in domestic politics and creeping interest in the military and police have magnified rapidly. They have already bagged most of the rail, road, hydropower and airport projects. The new Pokhara and Bhairwa (Lumbini) airports and the expansion of the existing Tribhuvan International Airport are all with Chinese companies, financed by loans given by Exim Bank.
China has built a new $350 million Armed Police Force Academy for which Prime Minister Modi had laid the plaque. Now India is making the police academy instead. The 800 MW Buddha Koshi hydro project will also be restored to China. The Chinese are investing heavily in Pokhara lakeside area. Thirty five to 40 Confucian Centres have come up in Terai. Chinese tourists arriving by air are second only to those coming from India. There is an unconfirmed report that a Chinese General was conferred an honorary General’s rank like the ritual followed between the Army Chiefs of India and Nepal.
China seeks parity with India. The Belt and Road Initiative blueprint is at an advanced stage. Nepalese are worried about a Sri Lanka-like debt trap. No one understands how Chinese invest and construct their projects. There is never any criticism of China in Nepal — which is reserved for India — even if fraud is involved.
Nepal can look forward to Achche din. The two entities of the Left alliance — Unified Marxist-Leninist and Maoists — were to merge this month but the coming together has been postponed to April. Not everyone, especially among the Maoists, is happy with playing second fiddle, especially Prachanda who led the revolution of making new Nepal secular, democratic and a republic.
One senior Maoist leader told this writer that the merger could lead to ‘indigestion’! Nepal will be stable, for the first two years as no-confidence motion is not permissible by the new Constitution. This writer heard conflicting accounts on a gentleman’s agreement on power sharing — all five years for Oli; two-and-a-half years each; and three years Oli, two years Prachanda. It is inconceivable that Prachanda will be satisfied with co-chairman of the merged Communist Party of Nepal.
India will want political stability after 25 Prime Ministers in 27 years. Its focus is on geo-economics (the economic package for the current year has been doubled from Rs 375 crore to Rs 650 crore), people-to-people, especially outreach to the youth and timely delivery of projects. India trusts the Oli Government will be mindful of its legitimate security interests, including honouring its traditional red lines.
The red carpet is being laid out. No Nepali Prime Minister has been given the honour and respect Oli will receive, including being seted by Modi. It’s to make Oli feel respected and help him consider India as Nepal’s first neighbour.
(The writer is a retired Major General of the Indian Army and founder member of the Defence Planning Staff, currently the revamped Integrated Defence Staff)
Writer: Ashok K Mehta
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The Indian legislature many a times fail to conduct debates on serious issues to come to a solution which, in turn, can have consequential implications. This negligence can lead to the questioning of the existence of budget allocated to the Parliament and the Parliament itself and no justification could possibly justify its existence in such a case.
The dysfunctionality of India’s Parliament has been a matter of concern for many years now but even the worst sceptics would not have expected the institution, which is at the apex of the country’s democratic structure, to fall to such depths as it did during the passage of the Union Budget a fortnight ago.
Normally, the Budget Session begins with the presentation of the Railway Budget, followed by a detailed discussion on the working of the Railways and passage of the Railway Minister’s budgetary proposals. The passage of the Union Budget would fall into four stages and run through the Budget Session of Parliament from mid-February to mid-May every year. After the Finance Minister presented his Budget proposals, several days were earmarked in both Houses for a general discussion on the budget. Thereafter, the Demands for Grants of several Ministries would be taken up for discussion.
In the old days, these discussions, which enable MPs to speak on the performance of specific Ministries and departments, would be spread over several weeks. Finally, at an appointed date and hour, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha would apply the guillotine (closure to the debate on the Demands for Grants) and put all the demands to the vote of the House. But this would happen several weeks after the debate on the Demands began in the House. Thereafter, the House would discuss and pass the Appropriation Bill and finally, in the later stages of the Budget Session, the Finance Bill containing the financial proposals of the Government, would be passed after much deliberation.
These traditions have been built over the last several decades not merely to keep the two Houses active but also to fulfill an important Constitutional obligation. Parliament is mandated by the Constitution to diligently scrutinise the expenditure and taxation proposals of the Union Government. Articles 112 to 119 deal with the procedure to follow in respect of the annual financial statement of the Union Government, the Demands for Grants and the method by which Government can secure Parliament’s sanction for expenditure, supplementary demands and votes on account.
Thus, from the time the Budget is presented and till the passage of the Appropriation and Finance Bills to give effect to the Government’s expenditure and taxation proposals, MPs got at least four opportunities to address issues relating to the Union Budget. A table published in “Practice and Procedure of Parliament” by MN Kaul and SL Shakdher about the time spent by the Lok Sabha to discuss the Railway Budget, the General Budget and the Demands for Grants in 1986-87 in revealing.
That year, the Lok Sabha spent 19 hours discussing the Railway Budget and the Railway Demand for Grants; close to 20 hours on the general discussion of the Union Budget and 92 hours to discuss the Demands for Grants of the various Ministries. In all, the House spent about 130 hours debating various aspects of the Budget. The time spent in 1986-87 on various aspects of the budgetary exercise is fairly representative of how Parliament carried out this responsibility since the inception of the two Houses in 1952.
Contrast this with how the budgetary process went through the Lok Sabha this year. After the presentation of the budget on February 1, there was a general discussion on the Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 7 and 8, lasting approximately 12 hours. Thereafter, as is the practice, both Houses adjourned to enable the Departmentally Related Standing Committees to examine the Demands for Grants relating to various Ministers.
The Houses reconvened on March 5. Since then, both Houses have been unable to function because of disruptions caused by the MPs from Andhra Pradesh who are demanding a special status for the State; MPs from Tamil Nadu who are aggrieved about defilement of a statue and several other sundry protestors.
Since there is no sign of an end to this chaos and no indication of MPs wanting to utilise Parliament’s time for discussion on the Union Budget, the Speaker decided to put the Demands for Grants, the Appropriation Bill and the Finance Bill to the vote of the House on March 14.
On that day, the Speaker took up the passage of the Demands for Grants at 12.03 pm. She first put all cut motions to vote. These are motions given generally by Opposition MPs to show their displeasure in regard to a particular demand. It has an element of censure in it and, therefore, it is incumbent on the treasury benches to defeat these motions. The Speaker put all of them to vote in one go and they were rejected. At 12.04 pm, the Speaker announced that she was putting all the Demands for Grants to vote. The House adopted the motion. At 12.05 pm, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the Appropriation Bill. The House passed the Bill after clause by clause consideration. At 12.06 pm, the Finance Minister moved the Finance Bill. This took a little longer than the other Bill because there were 21 Government amendments and three new clauses had to be inserted. Thereafter, after passage of another Budget-related matter, the House was adjourned at 12.38 pm.
In other words, the Lok Sabha devoted just one minute to give its consent to the Demands of all Government Ministries and departments — an exercise which took around 80 to 100 hours in the past. Overall, the Lok Sabha devoted just 12 hours and 35 minutes for Budget-related business which in the past took around 130 hours. This only means that Parliament has abdicated a primary responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The events of March 14 are even more disturbing because in the early days, at least 40 per cent of the Demands would be discussed in Parliament. Ten years ago, it dropped to about 25 percent. This year, not a single demand was discussed and the overall Government expenditure in this year’s Budget is estimated to be Rs 24.42 lakh crore.
Venkaiah Naidu, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Sumitra Mahajan, the Lok Sabha Speaker have time and again appealed to members, but without much success. Naidu, with a tinge of exasperation, warned MPs that if the disruptions continued, people would lose faith in lawmakers. If Parliament does not have the time or the inclination to scrutinise the Union Budget, it will find it difficult to justify its existence and the huge Budget allocated to it. Will good sense prevail? We must keep our fingers crossed!
Writer: A Surya Prakash
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The Cambridge Analytica scandal is much more than a mere data leak. Finding this scandal a bit puzzling, a number of political reporters in India, especially those who have three decades experience in covering elections, did a little digging. It appears that Cambridge Analytica scraped, that is illegally acquired information of 50 million Facebook users in the United States.
This has gotten privacy activists, including the ‘destroy the Aadhaar’ crowd, up in arms about privacy and user rights and what not. But data, particularly user information, in itself does not matter for much — it is how Cambridge Analytica studied that information and used it for their clients that made all the difference. The advent of supercomputers and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse thousands of pieces of information has led to what marketers call ‘Big Data’. AI can analyse trends over millions of users and transactions, and can immediately red-flag any anomalies. This is what the tax authorities across the world are increasingly doing; and because linkages can be easily established, big data can go after tax evaders. It can also be used to better map traffic and population dynamics, helping city planners and policy makers. But AI can also be used to analyse the sentiments of users and drive them to a particular position or cause by feeding them information. This is not only limited to politics. Have you ever wondered why an e-commerce site often knows exactly what you want to buy and suggests it to you? Or when you do a series of searches, sometimes, a large search engine will suggest precisely what you are looking for. Suppose you are searching for a vacation, a search engine might already know your details without you ever explicitly informing them. Your information has already been put into various buckets. This can be creepy at times, there was a case of an e-commerce site knowing that a woman was already pregnant before she knew, based on her purchases. Another person was puzzled that a website knew that he wanted to acquire a dog without his even talking about it to anyone. AI makes large-scale behavioural analysis possible and when everyone puts their information onto a site, such as Facebook, it can easily be manipulated.
But in Indian politics, politicians and political managers have always had information. Electoral lists could and would be manually analysed for caste and economic data. Before the age of social media, local party workers often knew which buttons to press during campaigning. Social media and vulnerable data storage makes it much easier, AI removes the need for a comprehensive party machine, although not totally because the ‘get out the vote machine’ still needs to operate. That said, young voters with short-term memories and easily excitable have been manipulated by AI driven insights on often illegally acquired data. Have you wondered why so many strange electoral decisions have been made across the world? From Greece to Austria, from the US to New Zealand, AI is making it possible to better analyse data. The BJP and the Congress are both being hypocritical if either of them emerge as the party of ‘data protection’. This is a problem across the world and a global solution has to be found. But when power and politics get involved, it is doubtful if anything will be done, 2019 will still be a big data and AI driven election. Machines are truly taking over democracy.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The Indo-France connection defined that how the France President, Emmanuel Macron, visit could be more beneficial if we get our hold right.
From solar power to defence deals, Asia-Pacific security to the possibility of France replacing Russia as India’s all-weather ally at a time when Moscow seems recalibrating its position in a fluid geostrategic environment in which some see a new global bi-polarity emerging with the US and China forming the poles, New Delhi has engaged with Paris at an apt juncture. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled out all the stops in ensuring President Emmanuel Macron’s recently concluded four-day visit to India, which had a hectic and by all accounts very productive itinerary, went off well. Indeed, even as you read, the navies of India and France are engaged in a joint bilateral exercise — Varuna-18 — in the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast which aims to enhance operational synchronicities.
Yet, the whole is not in the sum of these parts but dependent on the X Factor, as it were, which is the forging of a state-to state ideological and values-based relationship reflecting the affinity between the Indic and French civilisational ethos. This is a consummation devoutly to be wished as a countervailing force to the narrative of the global triad of multiculturalists, mullahs and Marxists which threatens to reduce contemporary narratives on individual (especially women’s) rights, personal liberty, the agency of nationalism, the role of the nation-state, issues of security related to terror and/or migration and cultural particularities into a communitarian discourse. Worse still, it is a narrative which champions membership of fundamentally illiberal groups and denies, by implication and/or directly, the notion of both an Indian and a French exceptionalism.
India has a similar affinity with Israel given the notion of an exceptionalism that runs through all three civilizational cultures and a common danger to all of them emanates from an ideological architecture that has enabled the arming, quite literally, of the enemies of the nation-state in general and the abovementioned nation-states in particular. The good news is that our engagement with the State of Israel has acquired some depth and is in the process of acquiring the breadth that would make for a lasting alliance, credit for which much go first to PV Narasimha Rao and his team of strategic thinkers in the early 1990s who had the moral courage and intellectual nous to grapple with the changing contours of a post-Cold War world and the, till then under-theorized, radicalization of the ‘Muslim World’ despite those from within the fold who tried then and haven’t, one eye on domestic politics, given up trying even now, to undermine them. Similarly, credit is due to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Jacques Chirac who started the process of a deep engagement between India and France as defined strategic partners in 1998.
India’s French connection is still far from having been explored to its fullest potential, though, in part at least due to the language issue. Now the French establishment has always been as keen as mustard to spread globally the “language of freedom”, as it were, but in Macron it seems to have found a nuts-and-bolts man who has a plan — “plot”, according to the Brit tabloids, god bless them — to bring this to fruition. Speaking a couple of days ago, the French President announced an allocation of millions of euros to double the number of teachers and students learning French in schools worldwide, begin a sustained push in Africa to promote the language across the continent so it is not limited only to the former French colonies there and, post-Brexit, increase its use as the preferred language of communication in the European Union in place of English. Macron’s description of this effort as a “new moment in history”, however, has not gone down terribly well in the Francophone world especially in Africa where allegations of a colonial hangover and French meddling slip easily off the tongue, which is why the President asserted that France saw itself merely as “a country among others” in the French-speaking world.
Macron, who unlike previous French presidents loves to speak English at summits and regularly uses English slogans such as “start-up nation” and “make our planet great again”, makes no apologies for regularly speaking English, saying it has become an international language of business. But he iterates that speaking French is also a way to highlight French “values”. Therein lies the rub.
For India, which has an English-advantage in the modern world albeit the language spoken nowadays is more Queenie Singh’s than the Queen’s (but that’s just this writer being a youngish fogey and aesthete), the promotion of French isn’t what excites us. Equally, we should waste neither time nor resources on the promotion of Hindi globally — all three languages are, as the chips have fallen in world history, merely functional outside national borders though some more than others. (They are rightly cherished at home, of course, and lovers of each of these languages should always be encouraged to pursue them.) If anything, our emphasis should be to ensure that Sanskrit, along with Latin and Hebrew, are promoted as global languages of antiquity which enable access to pre-medieval primary sources and help us understand our cultural origins warts, glories and all.
The X Factor in our French connection is not, and very unlikely to be in the foreseeable future, a common language and we can safely elide Anglo-French competitiveness around which should be the lingua franca of the world. It is the ideas conveyed by the language, which it is fallacious to assume are lost in translation, which are of immediate import.
Professor Bhiku Parekh’s seminal work on the cultural particularity of liberal democracy is now widely accepted as historically evident and the Indian approximation of the same is today a work in progress. But the notion that individual rights can never be trumped by group rights, the imperative of gender equity and an uncompromising adherence to personal liberty all premised on a uniquely inclusive civilizational impulse within an Indic cultural context that India ought to attempt to institutionalise via state instrumentalities will gain immeasurably from a deepening of strategic, security and cultural ties with France.
Within this rubric, practicalities such as an Indo-French outreach in Africa makes a lot of sense given our weaknesses and strengths on that continent are broadly complimentary. Apart from gaining strategic depth including enhancing our energy security, such a move would provide a fillip to economic growth/capacity-building in individual African nation-states while boosting investment opportunities/growth for India and France as well as serve to counter the aggressive push over the past decade by an increasingly authoritarian China in Africa. Leveraging the French connection to deepen both economic and security ties with the EU, and Paris understands our concerns better than most in Europe, must be the other area of focus. Bilaterally, the sky is the limit if the Indo-French entente cordiale is actively transformed into a multi-faceted strategic partnership given the cultural affinity of our respective liberal, inclusive and secular heritages though both India and France, as nations, arrived at them via very different routes. In fact, it is these very values which are under attack from communitarian ideologies.
Nearly three centuries after the Carnatic Wars were fought on the Indian peninsula by the then dominant colonial powers for control over the sub-continent, a conflation of ideas and interests between New Delhi and Paris has come to pass.
(The writer is Consulting Editor, The Pioneer)
Writer: Ishan Joshi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Amongst the current probe into Russian suspected interference in the US election held in year 2016, a new debate has come up with U.S. president Donald Trump congratulating his Russian mate Vladimir Putin on his re-election, in spite of warning as a national security adviser that not to do so.
“I had a call with President Putin and congratulated him on the victory — his electoral victory,” he told reporters on Tuesday, adding: “The call had to do, also, with the fact that we will probably get together in the not-too-distant future so that we can discuss arms, we can discuss the arms race.”
“We had a very good call, and I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have. And also to discuss Ukraine and Syria and North Korea and various other things,” Trump said.
Later in the day, The Washington Post, citing officials familiar with the call, reported that Trump did not follow “specific warnings from his national security advisers”, set out in briefing materials in all-capital letters, stating: “DO NOT CONGRATULATE”.
While there was no tweet from Trump himself on the subject, CNN cited a source as saying that the president was “infuriated” over the leak to the media that he had been directly instructed not to congratulate the Russian leader.
Trump’s congratulatory words also provoked fellow-Republican John McCain, known for his hawkish stance on Moscow, to put out a sharply critical statement against Trump.
“An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections,” Senator McCain said, adding: “And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell commented that Trump can “call whomever he chooses,” but added that calling Putin “wouldn’t have been high on my list”. Yet another Republican, Senator Marco, said he doesn’t agree with Trump congratulating Putin.
Writer: S Rajagopalan
Courtesy: The Pioneer
After so many annoying tweets by the U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday, it gives rise to so many rumors that he might have started laying ground to fire the special counselor Robert Mueller interfering in the US presidential election. After analyzing the continuous attack of Trump, some senior Republicans have warned Trump against going off route.
Any such move would mark “the beginning of the end of his presidency”, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, while a spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan, without going into the President’s latest tweets, said: “As the Speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job.”
“I don’t know what the (President’s) designs are on Mueller, but it seems to be building toward that (firing him), and I just hope it doesn’t go there because it can’t. We can’t in Congress accept that,” said Senator Jeff Flake, another Republican and a strong Trump critic, on CNN.
And Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, reacting to Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd favoring disbanding the Mueller probe based on a “fraudulent and corrupt dossier”, commented that the lawyer was doing Trump a disservice, adding: “If you have an innocent client, Mr. Dowd, act like it.”
Trump’s tweets and commentary on Sunday talk shows intensified the talk of a possible Mueller ouster so much that White House lawyer Ty Cobb opted to issue a statement on Sunday night to say that the President was not considering the Special Counsel’s removal.
“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Cobb said.
And White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short took the stand that Trump’s team was fully cooperating in the investigation and that the President was only expressing his growing frustration with the manner in which the probe has been going on and on for so long.
But, in the midst of these clarifications, Trump himself took to the Twitter again on Monday morning, suggesting that the ongoing Russia probe was a “total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest”.
What set off the chatter on the fate of Mueller probe was Trump’s series of Sunday tweets, asserting: “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”
“It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!” he tweeted.
Trump went a step further, suggesting for the first time that Mueller’s team was packed with Democrats.
Writer: S Rajagopalan
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Directed by their want of strategic partnership into decision making at the governmental level, India and France have taken a decision during Emmanuel Macron’s visit to become traditional partners. It’s the time for both the countries to take the hold and shape narratives and developing institutional agendas.
On the last day during his visit to India, Macron went to Varanasi to enjoy the cruise on River Ganga with Prime Minister Modi. This was the culmination of a visit with a difference.
Macron’s trip touched upon two aspects of the bilateral relations, the ancient and the modern (and strategic). Before the visit to the Ghats, Macron offered to Modi, an original copy of the Bhagavad Gita translated from Sanskrit into French in the early 20th century by the great French scholar Émile Senart. This symbolizes the first aspect of the relations, but perhaps more important in today’s world there is the ‘strategic’ angle.
Addressing the French community in Delhi, the young President explained: “geopolitical context is deeply changed. India rightly fears the reorganization of the world; she fears forms of hegemony in the region and in particular in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. And why not name it, she fears a Chinese hegemony”.
He reminded his countrymen: “France is a power of the Indian and the Pacific Oceans; we are present at the Reunion, we are also there in French Polynesia and New Caledonia. And we are a maritime power, it is often forgotten but France is the second maritime power in the world. We have a strong navy, we have nuclear submarines equipped like few other powers in the world; a maritime surveillance capability through our own satellites and technologies; it is obvious we are a military and intelligence power ranking us among the first nations in the world”. France is now ready to share this power with India.
Before concluding, Macron quoted the Australian Prime Minister, who spoke of “freedom of sovereignty”; he then added: “This renewed strategic partnership is reflected by the confirmation of a defense link that has already materialised in some very important contracts, be it in the naval or aviation domain, in the engine industry …a coming generation of a new partnership on development of engines (the Kaveri for the Tejas), but also enhanced cooperation in terms of spatial surveillance or in terms of intelligence”.
A vast programme, symbolizing the special relations between France and India, which celebrate 20 years of ‘strategic partnership’; the accord signed in 1998 by French President Jacques Chirac and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the oldest such partnership.
Over the last two decades, it has grown steadily, no major political difference having darkened the sky between Paris and Delhi.
Between 1947 and 1954, the relations were often tense due to the issue of the French settlements in India which would only be solved with the de facto transfer of Pondicherry to the Union of India at the end of 1954.
What is less known is that despite differences, India and France continued to work together. This was perhaps one of the most trying times on the ground, particularly in Pondicherry. A contract had, however, been signed with Dassault in June 1953 for 70 planes; in October 1953, while another 35 were sent to the Dixmude aircraft carrier, four planes reached India by air. The remainder 32 aircraft would be delivered in early 1954. And those were the difficult days between the two nations!
Since the signature of the 1998 Strategic Agreement, France has constantly been supportive of India.
On his arrival, Macron stated that the visit would open a new era in the strategic partnership for the coming decades: “Our two democracies have common concerns, like terrorism, lots of common risks and common threats. But we have to protect this history and the state of freedom”.
The French President also said “I want my country to be the best partner in Europe. This is a strong message. I want Indian citizens coming to France for studying, becoming entrepreneurs and opening start-ups”.
Some 14 bilateral agreements were signed at Hyderabad House, strengthening the bilateral economic, political and strategic ties between the two countries. The joint statement affirmed: “Both leaders agreed to deepen and strengthen the bilateral ties based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights”.
A message for China?
And on the emotive side, it recalled “the valiant sacrifices made by Indian and French soldiers during the First World War”. The Indian Prime Minister agreed to participate in the closing of the First World War Centenary celebrations, which will take place on November 11 in Paris.
And there is, of course, the Rs59,000 crore deal for 36 Rafale fighters in September 2016; it will soon prove to be a game changer, mainly due to the offset clauses forcing the French to reinvest in India 50 percent of the total deal’s amount, but also for India’s western and northern fronts.
Delhi also knows that it needs to diversify its diplomatic relations if it wants to play a major role in the world. Here too, France could be a crucial partner. According to the Joint Statement: “The leaders reiterated that this cooperation will be crucial in order to maintain the safety of international sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications in accordance with the international law”. It may translate into a logistics accord allowing India access to the strategically important French base in the Reunion Islands near Madagascar. Another possibility is the opening to India of the French facilities in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa where India’s rival China has already a military base. This is part of India’s new maritime strategy.
The shortest article of the Joint Statement is worth noting: “The leaders noted ongoing discussions between Defence Research and Development Organisation and SAFRAN on combat aircraft engine and encouraged necessary measures and forward-looking approaches to facilitate early conclusion”. The idea is to develop an M88 engine for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas with Safran, one of Dassault’s partners in the Rafale deal.
There is also a vibrant educational cooperation between Indian and French Universities and academic institutes; a host of agreements were signed during the Knowledge Summit, the first Indo-French conference on research and higher education in presence of the French and Indian Minister of education.
The Joint Statement spoke of increasing the number and quality of student exchanges, with the aim of reaching 10,000 students by 2020. An agreement for the mutual recognition of degrees should “facilitate the pursuit of higher education by Indian students in France and French students in India and enhance their employability”. The cherry on the visit’s cake was the co-hosting of the International Solar Conference (ISA). An alliance of more than 121 countries launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015, the ISA wants to create a coalition of solar resource-rich countries and address each participant’s special energy needs.
All this does not mean that the practical collaboration will be easy, but it is worth a try.
Writer: Claude Arpi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
United States’s President Donald Trump fires United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday. President Trump announced that he would replace Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo the C.I.A. director and former Tea Party congressman, who has a close relationship with the president and is in more sync with Mr. Trump’s America First credo.
Conspiracy theorists who believe, with some credibility, of Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections, which Donald Trump won in an electoral upset for the ages. However, that may not be the case for Tillerson, he had reportedly referred to his boss as a ‘moron’ (with an unkind adjective ahead of it) and even as the US President referred to last morning in Washington DC, Tillerson has major disagreements with Trump, particularly around the issue of the nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump despises and the State Department in the United States wanted to defend.
Had Tillerson’s firing or resignation been a one-off, it would have been quite ordinary. After all, premiers have the right to hire and fire staffers, even senior ones. However, Donald Trump’s White House seems almost dysfunctional. Tillerson was fired a week after David Cohn, Donald Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor, quit his job in protest over Trump’s import tariffs and headlong rush towards a trade war. A few days before that, Hope Hicks, a long-time Donald Trump confidant and the White House Communications Director, quit as well. And this follows a pattern of several top Trump Administration officials either being fired or being forced to resign in disgrace in the 14 months that the Administration has been in office.
Nations across the world look up to the United States, thanks to its democracy, economy, and military. However, what most people are currently viewing is a completely dysfunctional state. By his imposition of trade barriers, Trump has appealed to his populist base, but being has shocked the traditionally pro-business wing of the Republican party, and that is just one example. He has also questioned climate science, education and immigration in the United States as well as attacked traditional allies. Then again, Trump has by some fluke managed to bring North Korea to the negotiating table, he might even manage to push through gun reform in the United States. Yet, some stability and talent in his Cabinet would go a long way towards assuaging the rest of the world. It might be ‘America First’ for Trump but America does not live in isolation. However, many also feel that Tillerson was not doing a great job, so it remains to be seen how Mike Pompeo will bring the rest of the world around.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
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