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Awesome editorial on "Middle Class".
Madhukar Sabnavis: The Indian middle class
A few years ago, my wife and I were returning home in a Honda City, after watching a Manna Dey concert and dining in an Italian restaurant in a five-star hotel, to our two bedroom owned apartment in central Mumbai when my wife innocently said, We are very middle-class people. It made me wonder that if we are middle class, who is upper class? Deeper, is middle class a demographic definition or a psychographic one? Is calling oneself middle class in India a badge everyone enjoys wearing irrespective of their earning and lifestyle?
In any unequal numerical distribution, there will always be a middle either by the mean or by the median. The shape can vary from an hour glass, where the middle bulges to a pyramid, where the middle is a smaller size to the larger lower base and yet bigger to the convergent top. However, the truth is that in any free, capitalist society (maybe in any system, perhaps), people want to move up in life and there is continuous push for every group to move up. Simultaneously, the people on the top have the urge to do better to distance themselves from the rest. So, to define a middle class by income earned is always possible. And to affix a number to it is equally easy, once the arithmetic is done. But is this actually the middle class and whats special about this class? Why is this group so special to everyone sociologists, marketers and administrators?
When India opened up in 1991, the big attraction for marketers both national and global was the big Indian middle class estimated to be anywhere between 300 to 400 million and growing. The rich were anyway enjoying many of the western comforts even pre-liberalisation. As product markets have grown over the last two decades, many marketers have tapped not only this group but more a segment of people below that which have either moved up or been reached by more suitable product offerings. In fact, the number of rich has since then grown too. There have been many discussions on whether the Indian middle class has lost its values with consumerism and the acquisition frenzy, and what needs to be done to ensure that the class retains its core. In fact, an eminent sociologist on a TV programme recently defined the middle class as the carriers of values and upholders of culture underlying within this thought the self-imposed burden on the middle class to remain where it is and restrain itself from the better things in life.
There is often confusion between Indian values and middle class values. The importance of family over individual, hierarchy over equality, co-existence over cooperation and competition, quest for education and power over wealth, celebrating sacrifice and duty over success and achievement are all more Indian values rather than really middle class. Moving up the income chain doesnt necessarily mean abandoning these values. Study the richer families the proprietary-run business houses that have acquired lots of wealth and they adhere strongly to many of these values.
This brings me to three values that have particularly come under the scanner in the last few years austerity, integrity and humility. Austerity has taken the biggest beating with growing consumerism. However, austerity was a middle-class value of compulsion rather than choice. Indians have always enjoyed the good things in life Lakshmi is worshipped on Diwali and it was only the Victorian-Gandhian era that made it a glorified virtue. And it continued to be celebrated in a scarcity economy. Once unshackled, its not surprising that the Indian middle class felt liberated to enjoy and spend in the last two decades. Similarly, integrity is a relic of the Gandhian/scarcity era. Means justify the ends has always been the Indian principle of living Krishna and Chanakya are the cultural icons of this. Jugaad has always been part of our lives. Ostentatious consumption has always been frowned upon in Indian society and continues to be seen so. The biggest spends are reserved for occasions solemnised by society like marriages and childbirths and that remains true and will continue to remain true of Indians across income classes. Humility continues to be a value that is cherished in the world of consumerism.
Finally, one interesting truth about Indians we are very assimilative. Just as India socially and culturally, over the years, has been able to absorb and adapt the best of different religions and nation states into our way of life, economically too India has, over the last two decades, been able to take in western products and customs and adapt them to our own use without losing our values. Joint families have given way to extended nuclear families; arranged marriages have evolved into arranged love marriages; pizza has become paneer tikki pizza and dark chocolate has become bitter-sweet rather than just bitter! This will continue to happen.
If marketing is a mirror of society, an interesting thing is happening in India. Its happened in the US. The mid-market in many categories is feeling the squeeze. Consumers are either trading up to better quality products delivering higher order benefits or trading down to more basic products where the performance price equation is more favourable. With the emergence of technology that is democratising quality, there is a need for constant innovation to ensure higher price brands deliver more value. This trade up/trade down is determined by the categorys importance to the consumer. While mid-market brands continue to be big because of historical, habit reasons, they have a clear choice to make move up or move down. In the 90s, most marketers looked at India as a three-price-point market price, value, quality now its moving towards two. Is this a reflection of the disappearance of the traditional middle-class market?
As India evolves, it appears the middle class, as we have known it in the second half of the 20th century, is disappearing. Across India, people are looking to better their lives materially and moving up the acquisition chain demanding more, wanting better products and living richer lives. Indian cultural values, however, will not disappear as people move up. Desire and values can and will coexist and its important for sociologists to accept it and live with it rather than bemoan it. For marketers, it means there will perhaps be just two segments quality and price and a rich culture that can be dipped into to connect with consumers.
Date - 13th Sept 2010
The Early Kalidasa Syndrome
Our policymakers would rather let food grains rot than feed the poor. What explains the near-comatose lack of response to a long-brewing crisis of increasing hunger?
The most valuable resource that a country has is its people. The poor are not a liability, but an asset; they are the producers of essential goods and services we use, they hold up the sky for us for a pittance of a reward. The least that a country can do is to ensure that its people get enough to eat, that already low nutritional standards are not compromised. The present government has achieved a dubious record: the level of per head cereal supply and consumption in India by 2007 at 174 kg fell below the 182 kg recorded by the least developed countries and was considerably below the 196 kg level of Africa. By 2008 Indian average cereal consumption fell further steeply to 156 kg owing to large exports and addition to stocks, and is likely to be lower still in the just-ended drought year.
Cereals account for nine-tenths of food grains, which provide three-quarters of both energy intake and protein intake for the average consumer. Average calorie intake and protein intake have both fallen since 1993. The fall in per head food grain supply and consumption is not new, it has been going on for over a decade, yet our leading economists and policymakers have contributed to increasing food insecurity by their refusal to remove the artificial barriers to distribution created by arbitrarily dividing the population into below' and above' poverty line.
They remain as unmoved as Kalidasa proverbially hacking away at the very branch on which he sat they would rather let food grains rot than feed the poor. What explains this torpor, this near-comatose lack of response to a long-brewing crisis of increasing hunger? The answer is that they simply fail conceptually to recognise that hunger is growing because of the serious misconception they have regarding the behaviour of cereal demand in a developing economy.
John Maynard Keynes had remarked that the world is moved by little else but ideas. Once a wrong idea gets into the head of a policymaker it is very difficult to get it out. Keynes's argument on the paradox of thrift if every person saves more, the nation ends up saving less is still not understood 75 years after the General Theory and Finance Ministers continue to behave like housewives, cutting back spending to balance budgets even though they have to deal with rampant unemployment. Many ill-advised policies we see creating havoc around us arise from incorrect but obstinately held ideas.
The crucial incorrect idea here is that there is nothing surprising about cereal consumption falling as a country develops and its per head income rises, people diversify their consumption away from inferior' cereals and towards superior' food, including milk, eggs, meat, and so on. Most economists thus believe in what they call a negative income elasticity of cereal demand' and this influences many others, so they actually interpret declining grain consumption in a positive light. Their idea however arises from ignorance and is factually incorrect. It represents a fallacy of composition, in which only a part of total cereal demand that directly consumed (as boiled rice, chapatti and so on) is taken into account and cereal demanded as livestock feed converted to milk, eggs, meat, and so on is ignored.
Fifty years of data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization show that as average income rises in a country and diets become more diversified to superior foods, the per head cereal/food grain demand far from falling rises steeply, and average calorie and protein intake rise in tandem. This happens because much more cereals get consumed indirectly as feed converted to animal products.
The higher the average income of a country, the higher is its cereal consumption and the higher the share of the latter, which is indirectly consumed, as the Table shows. The richest country in the world, the United States, consumed nearly 900 kg per head of cereals in 2007 of which only one-eighth was directly eaten and three-fifths used as feed converted to animal products, with the balance being processed. Its cereal consumption was more than five times higher than the 174 kg recorded by India and its normalised calorie intake (namely, deducting 1000 calories as survival level) was two and a half times higher than in India.
China has been raising its income fast we are talking of purchasing power parity adjusted U.S. dollars and by now it converts a massive 115 million tonnes of cereal output as feed to animal products, compared with less than 10 million tonnes in India. Its people consume directly as much as Indians do, but owing to more diversified diets they consume nearly 300 kg cereals per head, 115 kg more than we do and their average calorie and protein intake is higher.
Why has India's average consumption declined to such a low level despite rising average income? Since India and China have seen high growth rates, observers as disparate as Paul Krugman and George Bush (wrongly) explained the 2008 global food price rise in terms of fast-rising cereal demand in these countries. They were quite right to expect rising demand in India but quite wrong to think it had actually happened. The fall, which has taken place over the last decade, pushing India below Africa and the least developed countries, is not normal for a country with rising average income, and has resulted from the lopsided, inequitable nature of growth.
Krugman et al did not take account of the adverse changes in income distribution, owing to severely income deflating fiscal policies advised by the Bretton Woods Institutions and faithfully implemented by successive Indian governments after 1991, which sent agriculture in particular into a depression from which it has still not recovered. With unemployment rising, with the fruits of growth going to a tiny minority while the masses suffered income deflation, the effects of dietary diversification by the rich have been swamped by an absolute decline in cereal intake for the majority.
National Sample Survey (NSS) data show for all except two States an absolute fall in average animal products intake as well, along with falling direct cereal intake over the reforms period. No wonder average energy and protein intake have both fallen. People other than the rich are not diversifying diets; even the hungry are forced to cut back and are suffering nutritional decline.
By 2008, the situation was even worse despite good output. A record 31.5 million tonnes of food grains were exported plus added to stocks, reducing domestic cereal supply steeply to 156 kg per head. This happened because the global recession impacted to raise unemployment and food prices spiralled to lower real incomes, so that there was a fresh round of loss of purchasing power.
What is to be done? Bold measures are required, not the timid and reluctant half-measures we see. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) needs to be seriously implemented to raise purchasing power and extended to urban areas that have seen a steep rise in poverty. For example, in Delhi State the percentage of persons not able to afford 2100 calories per day rose from 35 to 57 between 1993-4 and 2004-5 and the situation by now is definitely worse. MGNREGS can be used as well for a crash programme of building storage facilities for food grains now rotting in the open.
Food distribution through the PDS should be universal, freed from targeting, from the shackles of arbitrary and incorrect official poverty estimates. The recent decision to do away with targeting only in some districts will help very little. The government wishes to restrict the food subsidy but fails to realise that a version of the paradox of thrift operates here as well the more it tries to reduce subsidy by restricting access, the more the subsidy will rise uselessly to finance holding unsold food stocks as now.
This country can afford to feed all its people at a decent level what is holding it back is not lack of resources but ignorant and incorrect ideas. Will the economists at the highest levels of policymaking abjure dogmas and think the problem through rationally? Or will they inflict more punishment on the people, subjecting this country to the shame of falling even further behind the least developed countries and Africa?
The tone of the editorial is critical.
The article emphasises the fact that a developed country should show increase in per head consumption of cereals. When people consume more "superior food" ( say, milk, meat ), the cereal consumption increases as it is cereals that is converted into "superior food". The economists/ top policy makers refuse to acknowledge this fact. India is showing decline in rate of per head cereal consumption, lower than that of Africa,clearly indicating that poverty levels are rising. Poor people are necessarily an asset, not a liability. The fruits of prosperity are confined to a privileged few and they are superficially demarcated by "poverty line" by the government. To combat the shameful statistics, MGNREGS should be implemented with renewed vigour and extended to urban poor as well. To let foodgrains rot and not distribute them amongst poor is a folly, much like what Kalidasa did when he chopped off the branch of the tree he was sitting on.
The article ends on a dramatic note asking the authorities to take necessary steps to combat the menace of hunger.
Hi puys. I am submitting an analysis of 11th Sep 2010 Hindu Editorial. Comments and suggestions as to improve my analysis are highly welcome...
For more humanity in medicine
The practice of medicine is based on the application of science for the improvement of human health. Medical practice is an art, which mandates empathy and compassion. It requires much more than the coldness often associated with analytical minds. Entrusting physicians with human lives demands a combination of humaneness and sound scientific temperament. However, the existing admission criteria for pursuing medicine and the curriculum selectively focus on the science to a near complete exclusion of humanities.
Irrelevant scientific foundation: The belief that medicine is pure science is common. The criteria for admission to medical colleges in India demand a detailed study of physics, chemistry and biology to the complete exclusion of humanities and social sciences. Understanding Newtonian mechanics and the current botanic classification is compulsory despite their irrelevance to the medical practice. Knowing the differences between an alkene and an alkyne is hardly necessary. Yet, few people including medical teachers appreciate the fact that organic chemistry is far removed from the insights into biological chemistry required for understanding human health and disease.
The admission requirements focus on science content rather than on the prerequisite that aspiring physicians need to understand the scientific process, logic and problem-solving. The admission processes are essentially tests of memorisation rather than an assessment of aptitude. Pre-med science courses do not develop scientific logic and skill; they only encourage and identify competitive memorisers. The science-only policy is not only restrictive but also selects many candidates with limited aptitude for medical practice.
Lopsided focus: The curriculum with its exclusive emphasis on science makes for deficient training. The fashionable focus on biology and the reduced emphasis on social determinants of health make physicians short-sighted and leave them without an understanding of long-term solutions to common diseases. The spotlight on pathology and disease with a failure to understand illness and patient reality often leads to problems in communication, patient dissatisfaction and doctor shopping. The single-minded pursuit of cures for chronic conditions, which we can only control at present, diminishes the importance of healing, making the transition from medical student to physician problematic. The absence of communication and counselling skill training in the curriculum makes it difficult for doctors to convey bad news about diagnosis. The lack of training in negotiation skills for discussing treatment plans often results in poor compliance and medico-legal problems due to discrepancies between the views of patients and doctors on clinical reality.
The art of medicine is based on an understanding of human nature, the cultural context and social expectations. Issues like stigma attached to certain diseases (tuberculosis, leprosy, cancer, HIV) have a huge impact on seeking medical help and on compliance with treatments. Pure biological strategies employing only medication do not have the desired effect and require psychological and social approaches as well. The patients' right to information, their views on the choice of treatment and obtaining consent for particular procedures and therapies require an understanding of not only the law but also social issues. Mobilising personal and family resources and support is often crucial and demands an understanding of psychological and cultural issues. A discussion of costs and benefits of different treatment options requires an understanding of the available financial resources and constraints.
The science-only focus is also the result of a belief that the science can be "taught" while the humanities required for medical practice are "caught" by students during training. Learning the art of medicine is consequently left to serendipity and chance.
Humanities in medicine: There is a growing realisation that there exist many interfaces between medicine, the arts, humanities and social sciences. Medical humanities are now considered an interdisciplinary field and include the humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history and religion), social science (anthropology, cultural studies, psychology, sociology), and the arts (literature, theatre, music, film, visual arts and creative writing) and their application to medical education and clinical practice. Social science perspectives help to understand how science and medicine are placed within cultural and social contexts. They inform us of how culture interacts with the individual experience of illness and with medical practice. Studying local cultures and religions allows for an understanding of the personal and social explanations of suffering.
The arts and literature help to build and nurture observational and analytical skills. They encourage empathy and self-reflection essential for the practice of humane medicine. They provide insights into the human situation, on suffering and on our social concerns and responsibilities. They also offer a historical perspective of the practice of medicine.
Narrative Medicine includes story-telling, film, mass media and literature. William Osler was one of the first to propose for medical students a bedside library that included Shakespeare, Montaigne, Plutarch, Aurelius, Epictetus and Emerson. The reading tastes of people have changed over the years and others have attempted to renew the list with the inclusion of Moby ****, Pride and Prejudice, Don Quixote, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Final Diagnosis and Surely You are Joking, Mr Feynman. Orwell, Medawar, Asher and De Bono are on many lists as are religious texts.
Cinema captures the complex reality of life. Cinematic and tele-visual texts rely on the narrative to make meaning and allow for the exploration of "truths" and "themes" in modern medicine. Good stories presented from different perspectives add to the understanding of the human condition. They enhance manifold the insights into health and disease, normal and abnormal, and the human response to pain and suffering.
The application of ethics to the practice of medicine is complex and requires formal training. Applying the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, dignity and honesty to everyday practice requires diligence and discussion. The complex situations faced by physicians are often due to conflicts between two rights.
Medical humanities movement: Many medical schools in the West have established departments of medical humanities. They offer regular and elective courses and have a dedicated faculty, recognised syllabi, interest groups and book clubs. Recent advances include online med-humanities communities, web-based resources, searchable databases and comprehensive blogs and discussion boards.
Some medical schools also allow for the selection of a small proportion of undergraduates majoring in humanities or social sciences instead of in the traditional pre-med curriculum. They are required to take only basic high school biology and chemistry courses. They are exempt from the medical entrance examination but are judged on their school and college grades. Evaluations of such programmes have showed that the academic performance in medical schools of those with a humanities or social science background is equivalent to those who chose the traditional pre-med route.
Medical humanities and India: Medical humanities are not formally taught in medical colleges in India. The few institutions which have attempted to incorporate these in the curriculum have done it informally and without a comprehensive and rigorous approach to the field. Not many medical schools regularly discuss ethics in medical practice; few debate the complex issues involved. The emphasis on medical humanities is minimal and dedicated departments are non-existent. Munnabhai MBBS and Wit are rarely part of the curriculum.
The way forward
For decades, the medical profession has debated whether pre-med courses and admission tests produce good doctors. There is no single formula of what will make a good doctor. Many would argue for a later age for increased emotional maturity for entry into the medical college (say, after a bachelor's degree) and for hard working students who have demonstrated a commitment to serve the community and have lived life. Good scores in science do not always translate into a sense of mission. Nor do they automatically result in an interpersonal skill to become well-rounded and caring healers.
Medical colleges in India should establish departments of medical humanities. The curriculum should include courses in these subjects with minimum requirements for all physicians. There is a definite need to reconsider the science-only entry criteria for medicine and include humanities in the pre-med curriculum. Opening up medical training to older students majoring in humanities is an option worth considering. People in general and the best doctors in particular are those with open minds and broadly experienced in both humanities and science.
Analysis or Summary:
The article moots the proposal for inclusion of humanities courses in medical training and a radical evcaluation of medicine as a pure analytical science. The author qualifies the field as an art, and exhorts for a wider understanding of the interplay of humanity & socail sciences in making a good doctor. He points to the failure of the present 'core science' based curricula and stress on pre-med subjects and to their lack of sync with actual demands of the profession. He highlights the need to understand social-political-cultural and economic conditions of the patient to serve the purpose of holistic healing. He goes on to mention different attempts in the past and recent to include such measures in the medical discourse- stress on reading fiction and religious books; inclusion of high performing students from other backgrounds and inclusion in curricual in West. He contrasts these with developments in India and acquiesces to some effort being put up by few colleges, though he gives a clarion call for a systemized radical change in curricula to include more of humanity and social sciences to make better healers of health.
Hi puys. I am submitting an analysis of 10th Sep 2010 Hindu Editorial. Comments and suggestions as to improve my analysis are highly welcome...
Human costs of recession
Three years after the world suffered its biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), have come out with two significant messages. First, the scars of the 2007-09 recession on the world's labour markets would last long. Secondly, a right mix of fiscal, monetary, and social protection measures needs to be put in place at the national and the international levels to ease the pain of unemployment and ensure job-creating economic growth. Two papers, one by the IMF on the human costs of recession, and the other by the ILO on building an employment-oriented framework for sustainable and balanced growth, take stock of the recent economic turmoil, and offer palliatives for a world that is just emerging out of recession. Unemployment increased by more than 30 million since 2007, taking the global figure to 210 million. The IMF's paper makes it evident that the human costs of the downturn will have a debilitating impact on the succeeding generation as well. Lower lifetime earnings, health impairment of the workforce, and diminished educational attainments of children are three important factors that will have inter-generational consequences. Moreover, youth unemployment and long-term unemployment have increased alarmingly in the advanced economies.
The ILO cautions that a return to the pre-crisis unbalanced growth patterns could sow the seeds for future and perhaps even more damaging crises. It goes on to emphasise that for recessions to be avoided, national and global imbalances have to be corrected. The brunt of the downward economic spiral was borne by the advanced countries. Although these two assessments are intended as a discussion document for the forthcoming Oslo summit of developed nations, they hold some lessons for developing economies too. What stands out is the need to put in place measures that do not accentuate inequalities. As the ILO points out, an effective way to ward off a recession is to ensure that employment growth matches the expansion of labour supply and that wages broadly keep pace with productivity. While this could be a long term goal, in the interim, the most important requirement is for governments to implement strong social protection measures that act as a cushion in times of economic adversity. The time has come for a rights-based basic social protection floor for all citizens in both advanced and developing countries.
Analysis or Summary:
It discusses two papers by IMF and ILO each, published as a discussion reference before a meet in Oslo. They cover in broad the impact of recession in social and economic terms. In socail terms, majorly it will hit health, child education, and lesser life long earnings, whereas economically it means rising unemployment. It has messages for both advanced and developing nations. In long terms there should be commensurate growth in employment, wage and labour supply, while rights based creation of social cushion for all people in times of such turmoil is the need of the hour.
Thanks Buddy. Nice analysis. We need some more editorial with such an analysis.
Sorry for the absence puys.
Here is the latest article
Understanding the Pakistani floods
One day in mid-April, Dr. Bernard Rieux spotted a dead rat in the building he lived in the Mediterranean city of Oran, Algeria. Thousands of rats staggered out of their hideouts in the following days and died on the streets gripped by violent convulsions, spitting blood. A fortnight later Michel, concierge of Rieux's building, was down with a strange illness. While the rats suddenly disappeared, Michel died within two days.
That is how the terrible arrival of the bubonic plague in Albert Camus' masterpiece is chronicled. Major catastrophes tiptoe unnoticed. Pakistan's flood too appeared from nowhere. When the plague first arrived, the Oranites seemed to take life for granted and couldn't grasp its full import but soon they understood they must face up to an extraordinary situation and decide on their attitudes to it. They were forced to think, reflect and discard their unauthentic existence.
The flood is described in cold figures 20 per cent of Pakistan devastated; one out of five Pakistanis' lives ruined; hundreds of thousands of electric pylons, cattle, culverts and bridges perished; farmlands inundated and crops rendered unworthy. The flood is destined to become a mathematical constant sooner or later and the residue that will endure is that the millions of human beings helplessly tossed around by it have become variables.
Pakistan, especially its elite civilian but, more importantly, the military faces an existential choice. They need to realise, as Greek philosopher Socrates once said, that the unexamined life is not worth living and they need to react in a unique way. A major catastrophe is also an opportunity to undergo transformations. However, regrettably, the discourse of the Pakistani officials and analysts has continued to turn in its old gyre. The well-known Pakistani journalist, Ahmed Rashid, typically summed it up last week as an unparalleled national security challenge for the country, the region and the international community. It has become clear this week that, unless major aid is forthcoming immediately and international diplomatic effort is applied to improving Pakistan's relations with India, social and ethnic tensions will rise and there will be food riots.
Mr. Rashid added: Large parts of the country that are now cut off will be taken over by the Pakistani Taliban and affiliated extremist groups, and governance will collapse. The risk is that Pakistan will become what many have long predicted a failed state with nuclear weapons All of this will dramatically loosen the state's control over outlying areas, in particular those bordering Afghanistan, which could be captured quickly by local Taliban. Mr. Rashid, of course, concludes predictably, taking a swipe at India and seeking the West's mediatory help in India-Pakistan relations: India has failed to respond to the crisis and there remains bitter animosity between the two countries, particularly because India blames the current uprising in Indian Kashmir on Pakistan even though Indian commentators admit that it is more indigenous than Pakistan-instigated.
From the above we get a fair idea of the thought processes in Rawalpindi within the military establishment: Pakistan's coffers are empty and the international community should loosen its purse-strings; the military is overstretched with relief work and as Mr. Rashid put it, the army is unlikely to be in a position even to hold the areas along the Afghan border; Pakistan's stability which is linked to tensions with India ought to be the concern of the West whose mediation on Kashmir, therefore, is an imperative need so as to sort out acute differences over their river systems. Fortunately, Mr. Rashid stops just short of accusing India of engineering the floods.
The shocking reality is that there has been no trace of any new thinking. The Pakistani military continues to be in a game of one-upmanship with the civilian leadership. Unsurprisingly, the military's work of rescuing flood victims is a visible act and politicians cannot match that. As a perceptive young Pakistani scholar Ahsan Butt put it: This needs to be understood because to the extent that this is purely a logistical crisis, the military almost has an unfair' advantage in that it has the better toolbox for the immediate aftermath To use a cricketing analogy, batting is a lot easier at the non-striker's end. The fact remains that the military establishment has excellent spokesmen in the mainstream media, especially the top news channels, and the media invariably apply exacting standards to the civilian leaders while, for example, the military's institutionalised corruption is simply ignored or downplayed.
Given the gigantic scale of reconstruction that lies ahead and the tardy performance standards of the civilian governments of the South Asian region, the Pakistani political elite will inevitably appear chaotic and inept in its response to the floods, while any further drain of support for the already-weak civilian government can only tighten the powerful military's grip on the power structure. This means that for the foreseeable future, the military will continue to operate with full autonomy on foreign and security policies of core concern, although the scope for conflictual relationship with the civilian leadership or the launch of a coup will not necessarily increase and may diminish in the given situation of a fundamental imbalance in the calculus of power.
To be sure, the floods have further exposed the regional, political and ethnic divisions. Most certainly, there will be nasty disputes in the coming period over the allocation of aid, especially on the part of the smaller provinces, as regards the Punjabi-dominated establishment's perceived self-aggrandisement. On the other hand, in Punjab, the main Opposition, Pakistan Muslim League (N), is in charge and it would get into a blame game with the federal government over the inevitable acts of commission and omission in relief and reconstruction. In fact, the signs are already there.
A core issue concerns the strategic impact of the floods on regional security issues devolving upon the United-States led war in Afghanistan. A mixed picture emerges. To quote an expert in the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, The U.S. has an opportunity in this disaster to do even more to demonstrate to the people and leaders of Pakistan just how helpful the U.S. and the American people can be to move Pakistan forward. But, at the same time, the problems that Pakistan faces, in the immediate near-term as well as the longer term, have simply been compounded. Everything that the U.S. already thought was going to be very difficult.
In financial terms, it means a need arises to reassess the disbursal of the $7.5-billion aid package under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation shifting attention from long-term projects to the immediate priorities. In political terms, the impact will be felt on several templates. One, there are no means of divining whether with all the King's men and all the King's horses deployed in Pakistan, Uncle Sam's image would still get burnished in the Pakistani eye. Probably, it is a long haul for the U.S.' public diplomacy even with George Sores brought into the act. A July 29 Pew Global Attitudes Project estimated that 59 per cent of Pakistanis regarded America as an enemy country. In short, the fragility of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship remains a fact of life.
On the contrary, USS Peleliu arrived off the coast near Karachi on August 12 along with helicopters and a thousand Marines who have since been deployed and Pakistan hasn't erupted in flames or protest marches. Not only will this collaboration, to borrow the words of noted author Shuja Nawaz, go a long way toward building up relationships among rank-and-file service members. It is also an extraordinary sight to see the Marines involved in relief work alongside some controversial Islamic charity organisations such as the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation linked to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba and the social welfare wings of the rabidly anti-American Jamaat-e-Islami.
The million-dollar question indeed is what will happen to the Pakistani military's operations in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, especially the North Waziristan area. Even the U.S. special representative for AfPak, Richard Holbrooke, wryly said, It is an equal-opportunity disaster, and military operations have effectively faded away. The bitter truth is that the U.S. is fated to learn even if Mr. Holbrooke is loath to admit it that aid will not address the real security threats in Pakistan. The high probability is that the U.S.-led coalition will soon find itself out on a limb in Afghanistan with the Pakistani military nowhere seen cracking down on the Haqqani insurgents and their allies ensconced in FATA. The implications are, simply put, too stunning to want to think about although the flood waters may help wash away the WikiLeaks documents detailing not only how the ISI sympathises with the Taliban but they also meet to plan joint actions.
Analysis: Author in this passage is analyzing life after flood in Pakistan, it's impact on social, political and internation effects on Pakistan. Author speculates that with the current situation being seen to be present for a long time, Pakistan may end up with Military rule. Author has also pointed out some of the advantages that neighbouring countries or West may try to reap out of this situation. Author also mentions West's stand on this issue. He States that pak army currenltly in Afgan should be sent back home, to assist in recovery tasks, but still remains sceptical about the outcome.
try dis out
The Hindu : Opinion / Editorial
thanx bro....bt that archive contains full newspaper....d problem is we have to search or extract editorials from each day's paper....any way 2 solve dat prob?
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