Category Archives: Uncategorized

sanctions don’t promote democratic change

Come July, Iran’s oil will no longer flow to Europe, thanks to an EU embargo announced on January 23. That same day the United States approved sanctions on the country’s third largest bank, Bank Tejarat, which the Treasury Department says “has directly facilitated Iran’s illicit nuclear efforts.” Twenty-two other Iranian banks face U.S. sanctions.

The official objective of the sanctions is to compel Iran to negotiate with the West toward the implementation of existing UN Security Council resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program. Unofficially, there are hints that the sanctions are aimed at collapsing the Iranian regime and bringing about democratic change

Additional research is needed on the apparent inverse correlation between broad economic sanctions and democratization. The existing data, however, suggest that states and indigenous pro-democracy groups should be cautious about using economic sanctions as a tool in their struggles against authoritarian regimes. The data not only show that dictatorships faced with sanctions tend to enhance their grip on power, but also that successful cases of democratization have overwhelmingly occurred in the absence of broad economic sanctions. While the evidence may present an inconvenient reality for national legislatures poised to use sanctions to look tough and appear to “do something”—regardless of the actual consequences—indigenous pro-democracy groups should have no illusions about the impact of broad economic warfare on their prospects.



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hello president…

two articles caught my eye today. one by swapan das gupta on the frequent disruptions in parliament. He argues that fault lies not only with the BJP and allies, but with the Manmohan Singh government.

The Government, whose parliamentary majority rests on maverick and demanding allies, is always anxious to prevent any discussion that involves voting…[but] negating all voting is tantamount to shortchanging the electorate.’

‘ Had the government agreed to a voting resolution on FDI in retail, there would have been no logic to the disruption of Parliament. Instead, we had the bizarre situation of the Government taking a major initiative, its coalition partners and the opposition opposing it bitterly, and it finally doing a U-turn, without the matter reaching parliament at all.

‘ How will parliamentary institutions be strengthened if the Prime Minister, the UPA chairperson and the heir-designate are uncomfortable participating in the proceedings of Parliament?’

the other was by shashi tharoor. tharoor argues  that pending bills, disrupted sessions of parliament, declining growth rates, the on-going triumph of politics over governance means its time for a presidential system.

 ‘…our parliamentary system has created a unique breed of legislator, largely unqualified to legislate, who has sought election only in order to wield (or influence) executive power. It has produced governments obliged to focus more on politics than on policy or performance. It has distorted the voting preferences of an electorate that knows which individuals it wants but not necessarily which policies. It has spawned parties that are shifting alliances of individual interests rather than vehicles of coherent sets of ideas. It has forced governments to concentrate less on governing than on staying in office, and obliged them to cater to the lowest common denominator of their coalitions. It is time for a change.’

Tharoor has a valid point.  It is time for governance; pluralism for the sake of pluralism is  an inadequate defense. But the question is whether it is realizable; we cant get an anti-corruption bill through parliament, what are the chances of being able to change our whole political system? Jai Hind.

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more on the arab spring

Western and Indian media sources alike have been so pre-occupied with Egypt revolution 2.0, they seemed to have missed important other developments in Egypt. An Al Jazeera article by Malika Bilal notes, ‘Several thousand protesters bearing gigantic Egyptian flags flocked to the centre of Abbassiyah on Friday in a mass show of support for the country’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).The voices of those who back the SCAF have largely been overshadowed by the thousands, who are demanding an immediate end to military rule in Egypt.

This strike me as the perfect example of how the media and other commentators have focussed only on those developments that fit with the dominant narrative of the Arab Spring – that of thousands of protesters revolting against their autocratic rulers. But there are some that actually prefer the maintenance of the status quo – whether it is the military in Egypt or even Assad in Damascus. The point is not whether the demands of one side are more legitimate than the other, or whether protestors expressing support for their current rulers are actually bed-fellows with the autocrats…..but rather, that the discourse of human rights and democracy has the potential to be so totalizing that it blinds to other voices of dissent…even the pursuit of human rights and liberty can become a hegemonic project, a liberal hegemony that crowds out other alternative voices and means of emancipation. And, as I had mentioned in a previous post, the Arab Spring narrative can actually enable the perusal of policies that safeguard state security rather than human security.

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November 27, 2011 · 4:31 pm

how can he slap?

Big News of the Day. Sharad Pawar got slapped by a sadarji. Nothing else is on tv and so a few thoughts.

1. There is a difference between condoning a particular act and accepting that it might be worth considering that the reasons and anger behind such an act are real, regardless of whether they are justified.

2.  The media – especially dear Miss Nidhi – is not able to grasp this rather grammatically clear and logically sound sentence.  She is either having a  slow day or a cosy day with some big babu.

3. The media also seems to think that an analogy can be made between group violence ’ terrorism’ and a slap by a single man. They call him an ‘attacker’.

4. When did Anna Hazare become such a hero? Perhaps AB Sr. needs to put Anna on speed dial for the KBC ‘phone a friend’ option.

5. Mr. Mora clearly is not interested in sticking to the issue. For him, its a problem of violence – the good father even mentioned his daughter.  He also, like Nidhi, is either slow or cosy. Nidhi, I understand, its a larger media problem; Mora, as an editor of a journal, you say.

6. Seems more like a security/bodyguard problem. Rajdeep might disagree – he asks whether the anti-neta sentiment is getting to dangerous levels. Danger is subjective, sure. But surely we would know with some degree of certainty if we were faced with danger.

7. Rajdeep, you look smarter than you are. To say that there is a need to appreciate peoples’ emotions does not mean that one also implicitly legitimates the slap. Raju seems most worried about the “movement spiralling out of control.” He got the FEAAR. Or, just nothing else to say. How else did we get from a slap to a “culture of violence”?  ”I worry that the line between democracy and anarchy can be very thin”. Raju, you just keep getting better and better.

8. What about when our babus through cheears in parliament?

9. Ha, who would have thought my first blog post would be about slaps. Jai Hind.

10. Shoe-attacks ( shoes are the new drones) apparently have been terrorizing our babus all year round. Or so Raju, Nidhi and the rest of their friends tell us. But, look at the incidents, most have been by party karamchari’s unhappy with an internal party decision. Not quite the grievance of the common man.

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