Pakistan, Failed to Fragile
Pakistan, nemesis in chief, trouble-maker du jour, now holds the dubious distinction in the South Asian subcontinent, of holding the 10th position in the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine’s annual Fragile State’s Index (previously known as Failed State’s Index), for the year 2014. Surprising? Not really. But one wonders how this all came to be. After all, the only countries to outdo Pakistan in this regard are South Sudan, Central African Republic, Sudan, Congo, Chad, Afghanistan, Yemen and Haiti. And for those familiar with the nation-state-country theory, the birth of Pakistan poses a rather esoteric question. What came first?
To answer this, we can begin on familiar ground, with the reasons leading up to the “Two-Nation-Theory” and its eventual culmination in the Partition of India, in 1947. Pakistan, as we know today, was the state created by Jinnah and his colleagues from the Muslim League, purely as a counter narrative to their perception of the “Hindu nation” problem. While the erstwhile Bharat under British rule fought for its Independence riding on a strong nationalist movement, post 1947, the state that was born under this nationalistic fervor was a largely unified one, in spite of its strong diversity in religion, language and culture.
On the other hand, the formation of the state of Pakistan was served up as an antidote to the dominance of Hindus in the political movement of India, aided to some extent by communal violence instigated by fundamentalist forces operating in both religions, as well as by the apparent cultural differences between people of the two communities as brought out by Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan, the chief proponent of the “Two Nation Theory”. Thus was put together the provinces that provided the acronym Pakistan, namely Punjab, Afghania (NWFP), Kashmir, Indus, Sind and Baluchistan, a geographic entity whose people had little or nothing in common apart from the only explainable cohesive force- Islam. And here within this flawed beginning lies the crux of the problem, Pakistan was a state before it was a nation, and a country born from this state. It was an almost forceful grouping of diverse groups of people and geographic areas on a purely religious bond, one that hadn’t yet derived an nationalistic identity for itself.
While drawing a comparison to Pakistan’s neighbor and long-time obsession, India, it is a simple juxtaposition that seeks to explain the lapse of State actors within Pakistan, that have failed to provide it with a national identity, 68 years post its founding. While Jinnah assured that Pakistan would be a secular state, a country for all, it wasn’t until 1973 that the nexus between the State, Mullah and the Military allowed for a Constitution to be written. In stark contrast the Indian Constitution was framed in the open by it’s Constituent Assembly, and came into effect in 1950, inculcated with the already accepted Western principles of Democracy, Equality, Liberty and Secularity. It is with Z A Bhutto, however, that we moved from Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a state completely incongruous to the identity envisioned by it’s beloved Quaid-i-Azam. This drastic departure was further solidified and marked by the beginning of the Zia-ul-Haq period in Pakistan’s history, who managed quite exemplarily to speed up Pakistan’s transition from the 20th century back into the medieval ages. A most regressive leader, he introduced medieval style punishments ranging from public floggings and cutting of hands, to bringing in draconian laws that had the mandatory requirement of having two male or four female witnesses in the crime of rape. Simply put, Zia-ul-Haq’s Pakistan was radicalized beyond recognition, and one that had little to do with the Pakistan espoused by the Quaid-i-Azam. Pakistan was more confused now than ever before with its identity, principles and purpose.
Apart from Islam, if anything at all kept Pakistan bound together through these decades, it is the issue of Kashmir and the endless focus on its border with India. Pakistan fought three wars with India, and while India’s priorities shifted to the economic upliftment of it’s people, Pakistan’s vision lay with its future defense needs. Paradoxically, it’s the “Hindu nation” India that seems to have equipped its Muslims better, and continues to outpace and outrun its neighbor on nearly all fronts. As it stands today, Pakistan presents a chimeric nation of the Two Nation theory, one that shows no signs of resolving its historical conundrum; a Nation preceded by State, and followed by Country.
(Part 2 of the Mid-East GoT) After spending $2 trillion in Iraq, I examine who we should sue and how much we each get back now that they fucked it all up in a mere 2 years. Obama and co. blame Maliki and are looking forward to dick-slapping him in the face (likely using Kerry or Hillary as a surrogate). Cheney and co. blame Obama for the debacle in Iraq, Syria, Benghazi, Egypt as well as his mother for giving birth to him.
Former-VP Dick Cheney has been especially vocal over the current chaos in the middle east, since he had absolutely nothing to do with it. And Lindsey Graham and John McCain also have begun beating the war drums in recent days, chastising the president for not leaving a contingent of 20-30k troops and advocating sending in more special
forces operatives (apparently there’s a big difference).
What neo-cons haven’t commented on is that it was actually Bush who agreed to a troop withdrawal in 2011, which Obama extended for 6 months. And the US couldn’t leave troops behind because Maliki and local leaders refused to grant them immunity from prosecution. And what Obama refuses to acknowledge is back in 2011, he touted total troop withdrawal as a success and even depended on this for his 2008 campaign. Now this Obama “success” is actually Maliki’s failure according to the administration. Does that mean that they agree on keeping a contingent there was the right thing to do? Probably not, because Obama and Cheney are not physically able to agree on anything.
Iraqi Democracy. Out of the frying pan…
Both republicans and democrats
agree don’t disagree on one thing though – Maliki is a dipshit. The US went through great pains to recruit Sunnis, Shias and Kurds to fight for a stable Iraq and left Iraq whole, with a decimated Al-Qaeda by 2011. After securing power, Maliki broke all his promises of an inclusive Iraq; immediately purging military ranks and government offices of Sunnis and went back to the tried and true style of nepotism. Sunni’s have been illegally arrested, tortured and have languished in Iraqi jails without trial. Reliance on radical shia militias have further persecuted Sunnis.
Now this dick, wants the big bad US back in his backyard (but not too much) to stop the havoc he himself caused with his inept military leaders and enraging a population. So far is his desperation, that he is now willing to reach out to Sunnis to request their help in beating themselves into submission.
You must be asking: So if leaving the troops there was the right answer, why is sending back in a long-term 30k strong army the wrong answer? Whats the correct path forward? And for more importantly than any current or future action, who am I supposed to blame (on the off chance I have no political affliation)?
Neo-con militia member: Obama mishandled all our hard earned gains. African Muslim terrorist, can you show me your birth certificate? Benghazi.(translated from hick)
Bleeding-heart liberal: GWB. WMD. ’nuff said. (Abbreviated from 10 pages of irrelevant crimes against minorities)
Right answer: Truth is the contingency probably wouldn’t have made a difference anyway. If Maliki was going to allow them to leave anyway, he could’ve happily kept doing what he was doing angering a massive swathe of the population flaming the fire for ISIS. ISIS which started in Syria would have moved to Iraq anyway. Lets say we wanted US troops stationed there to fight ISIS in Tikrit, you’d think there’s no reason we shouldn’t send in more troops now and take it back.
Except now its a political game where the US would be giving direct military support of another sectarian autocrat, instead of just supplying them arms and money (directly or covertly) – like we did with Saddam Hussein, Mubarak, Musharraf, the Saudis, the afghan taliban and mujaheddin just to name a couple off the top of my head. So Maliki screwed up because he needed us, far more than we needed him. Obama screwed up because he either didn’t realize he should convince him (far worse) or couldn’t (possibly Hillary or Kerry’s fault).
So who do we blame? The politicians may not agree but I think we can all agree there is plenty of blame to go around. The intelligence agencies for being so stupid, Bush and Cheney for starting a pointless war (unless it was about oil), Bremmer and Rumsfeld for screwing it up, Maliki and his administration for causing turmoil and Obama and Hillary for being bitches in the face of evil and also botching the status-of-forces agreement. I have named 8 people, but suing the federal government is far more lucrative.
Since I am an egalitarian, I propose to sue with interest to pay back those who paid in (fair is fair). Since the federal government has collected tax receipts of $25 trillion since 2003, this amounts to returning a check for 8% of the total amount of taxes each payee paid each year compounded by 4% per annum. This amounts to about 12% of your tax liability in 2003. Corporate America will receive about 40% of this total refund. The wealthiest 10% of individuals will receive about 35%. The poor will even get back about about 0.7%. I urge everyone to dig up their taxes and contact their congressman.
Summer is coming. And the middle east, as usual, is in complete chaos.
2011: Amidst political considerations in America and Iraq, the US quits Iraq after decimating the terrorists known as Al-qaeda.
Three years later…
2014: ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has now taken control of Mosul and Tikrit in Iraq as well as major parts of eastern Syria. The US backed Iraqi leader, Nouri Al-Malki is quickly losing control and taking support of the Iranian based Qud’s force and militias, their previously sworn-enemy. Iranian backed Hezbollah is fighting for Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, hoping to form a Shiite crescent over Syria, Iraq and Iran and quell the Sunni insurgency. Saudia Arabia and gulf coast monarchies are supporting armed militants against Assad and most probably Iraq. Kurdish separatists in north Iraq are supporting Iraqi troops in fleeing ISIS but are on the verge of declaring independence. Meanwhile ISIS militants have taken 80 Turks hostages and millions of refugees have left for Jordan and Lebanon. The US and Russia stand on the sidelines as the carnage continues…
Meanwhile, the rest of us wonder how this will impact our gasoline prices. Oil has spike to an all time high with oil rich Kurdistan stalled, Libya under rule of various non-gov backed militias ad Sudan and South-Sudans ill-brokered peace
And under this backdrop, I humbly stand on the shoulders of Giants with my proposed peace deal. Sakharov, the Soviet inventor of thermonuclear weapons was awarded the peace prize in 1975. Edward Teller, the US inventor of the hydrogen bomb proposed Operation Swords to Plowshares to use nukes for geo-forming the environment and creating man-made harbors and most importantly oil extraction pits.
And so in the shadow of Obama, the EU, Al Gore, Arafat, Menacham Begin, Henry Kissinger and all other exemplary Nobel Peace Prize winners, I propose WFP, a means of ensuring peace in the Middle East. Under Wastelands-For-Peace we Nuke a 25 mile wide line along each border in the middle east. This 25 mile “green” zone will be a place where all nationalities can peacefully non-cohabitate.
Good fences build good neighbors and all ethnicities can safely keep to themselves to reap the immense benefits of intrabreeding. The beauty of it is that this can be almost universally applied: India/Pakistan/Afghanistan, Congo/Rwanda, Ukraine/Russia, Israel/Palestine to name a few. Even illegal immigration can be solved; if any Americans try illegally crossing into Mexico, they will be ensured a very excruciating radioactive death.
I am sure some of you are appalled. You must be thinking how will we get the oil out then? Don’t worry. I additionally propose a black zone in which all oil flows underground through this oil corridor. All other green zones need continual maintenance to keep the radiation levels up.
Others of you wonder how I plan to deal with the Gaza strip which is only 11km wide against Israel. Sorry, the rules have already been made. Some sacrifices are necessary for world peace.
I plan on submitting a petition to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/create.
I hope all of you will join me in this crusade for world peace. Only then can Civil wars truly be civil.
(Picture happily stolen from WSJ)
With astounding 20/20 hindsight, the Senate Intelligence Committee has called the attacks on the US Embassy in Benghazi 16 months ago preventable if they had beefed up their security. They also confirmed that the attack was “opportunistic” and involved multiple militants including some from terrorist organizations.
While most Americans are thinking “No shit, Sherlock”, there are some nuances that finally give some real answers to the attack which burnt the embassy and CIA annex and left 4 dead. What is quite impressive is they were quite willing to throw our late diplomat Christopher Stevens under the bus, blaming him for repeatedly denying extra security measures in the face of overwhelming intelligence from the CIA, months before the attacks. They also point to the perpetrators of the attack, who are still at large.
*Whoosh* If you weren’t in a bubble, think back to Sept 2012 when our National Security Advisor went on TV claiming that a retarded internet video called “Innocence of Muslims” caused the attacks on the embassy. Obama came out and downplayed the role of terrorism (even though he technically mentioned it). Many of us with absolutely no knowledge of the events on the grounds asked a few simple questions and weren’t given answers for the longest time. It went something like this:
Old me: Okay, You’re telling me this extremely poorly produced internet clip that was released more than SIX MONTHS AGO, caused a SPONTANEOUS mob of AK-47 and RPG wielding protestors that were NOT TERRORISTS, to decide on SEPTEMBER THE ELEVENTH to make a concerted attack on the embassy and MORTAR a SECRET CIA compound?
Old me: Do tell.
Administration: That’s our best intelligence at this time. We will update you as soon as people starting forgetting.
For the people who stopped to think for a second, the mind-numbing “talking points” crusade which espoused those exact sentiments from the Administration and the subsequent mind-numbing “talking points” crucifixion led by Senate republicans and straight up lying FOX news (see below), left a substantial number of Americans saying wtf? and srsly?
According to the Senate report now, these talking points were not lying per say but were quite unintelligent coming from the intelligence community. The report states that the attacks had nothing to do with the youtube video in contrast to the months long NYT investigation which says that it did. Also they claim that there were links to terrorist organizations, which the NYT claims is true, but is only somewhat related to the attack (New headline: NYT Calls Senate Intelligence Committee Stupid?)
Apparently, the old me was only partially an idiot, and there is a reasonable answer for all the sarcastic remarks in caps.
1) Terrorist kill Americans (and other less important people) over all sorts of stupid stuff. Case in point those Danish Cartoons with the bomb in mohamad’s turban. It is best to criticize ourselves instead criticizing the guys who do this stuff, because we don’t really expect anything better from the middle east. Plus they would probably try to kill us.
2)The surprisingly high quality internet clip (if poorly scripted, acted, thought out etc) was translated into Arabic only in early Sept 2012 and had already created discontent when it was publicly aired. Riots erupted in Cairo following the movie. Heres a map of all the riots that occured seemingly due to the internet clip:
3) Everybody in the Middle East has a machine gun. Libya in particular, since the fall of Gaddafi, is run by many militant factions, many of which are friendly with the West and tried to help the diplomatic staff (if only after they had been evacuated the next day). Some are decidedly anti-West, and it appears that 20-30 of these militants initially started the attack, which was probably preplanned due to the rising anger over the internet clip. The poor security at the Embassy quickly retreated in face of these militants and the mob only grew with breached security and false rumors that peaceful protestors were being shot.
4) The escaping diplomatic mission went to more well guarded CIA compound, which led the mob there. The attack on the CIA compound was uncoordinated and slow, further leading to evidence that it was a mob.
5) Various Jihadi elements were at play, some terrorist, but none from Al-Qaeda and none appeared to be organizing the whole thing.
So leaving politics aside two things remain – someone needs to take the blame, which is going to be the dead diplomat for deciding to rely on Libyan guards and the extremely lax security on Sept 11, 2012. And not Hillary Clinton, who the republicans still accuse. Some also point to Patrick Kennedy whose office oversees diplomatic security since he failed to approve requests for extra security. He had a similar post during the embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998. There are allegations that he also was protecting a Belgian diplomat for ditching his security detail to solicit sex with prostitutes and children, by quashing and investigation.
And secondly the guys who did this need to be caught. The US issued a warrant for the arrest of Abu Khattala who is a prime suspect and a somewhat insane Islamic extremist, allied with the group called Ansar Al-Shariah. There were plans for his capture by the US military but Obama chickened out due to the highly volatile situation in Libya. Since then, fierce gun battles have left militants scattered and loyalty to Khattala is undiminished. Some people view him and Ansar Al-Shariah as boyscouts doing everything good for the community. For instance after bombing all the police stations in the city, apparently some people were angry at him and there were threats to his life. His neighbors quickly rallied to protect him with AK-47s, grenade launchers, artillery and even an tank.
We probably dont know the real story, given that different news sources say different things which can be at odds with the Senate Intelligence Report. One thing is for certain though – there is plenty of blame to pass around
With nothing else happening in the world, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been catapulted into the media spotlight for causing political revenge traffic on the George Washington Bridge.
Practically all major networks were super happy that something finally happened, and immediately made it front page news. This does not bode well for the fat governor who has aspirations of being a fat president. (I only mention his weight because its actually impossible for the media not to poke fun at him and now I feel its my obligation to do so as well. You’ve been forewarned)
For the bubble readers out there who only have access to this blog and nothing else or for the people trying to get to rapidpress.com for all their Tallahassee commercial printing needs, let me explain.
Chris Christie, caused big trouble by not by sitting on the bridge as many had come to believe, but because members of his staff caused a massive traffic jam on the GW bridge, by shutting down 3 lanes in the district of a non-supporting mayor in Fort Lee,NJ. This ultimately caused 4 mornings of large delays starting September 9th last year. Christie vociferously denied his office having anything to do with the lane closures for months. Then after some subpenas and an investigation, they found pretty damning evidence that top Christie aides were involved saying stuff like “Time for some traffic problems at Fort Lee”.
Christie then came out and profusely apologized for 2 hours, adding to the impression that with him you never get a little you always get alot. He explained he was apalled that his aides would lie to him and had fired the people involved. But people are suspicious because they assume his large than life domineering micromanaging style would lead him to know about all this. Also he happened to say “I am not a bully” drawing comparisons to Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech
Basically thats it and all sorts of people are enjoying watching Christie sweat, because conservatives and liberals alike hate him for being moderate. And the liberals are accusing him because the “buck stops with him” even though he may have had no knowledge of the affair…although the buck doesn’t stop with Obama during the ridiculous obamacare roll out, or Benghazi. But it did when he got Bin Laden.
Now bridgegate is giving Christie a huge headache because theres nothing else going on. And as for his presidential ambitions…people are already saying fat chance.
Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary which left 20 children and 6 adults dead, a total of 109 new state gun laws have come to pass. And as you probably just guessed , 70 out of 109 of these laws actually loosen gun restrictions. Obviously, stupid; this is America.
As probably envisioned by our infallible founders, our right to bear big ass arms also includes machine guns, flame-throwers, rocket propelled grenades, tanks, nuclear armaments and this ridiculous (-ly awesome?) auto-aiming sniper rifle. – http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/01/17000-linux-powered-rifle-brings-auto-aim-to-the-real-world/. Unfortunately, these bleeding heart activist liberals say no for the most part. And these typical gun toting southern states (which I’ll leave a complete mystery unless you click the very informative chart below) are simply asserting this constitutional right to bear arms. They are also apparently asserting their right to violate the constitution in some cases.
Nullification, or the idea that a state has the right to determine if laws are constitutional and not the supreme court (which according to the constitution is unconstitutional) has become a big hit among the uneducated. In 37 states, nullification of federal gun laws has been proposed, of which 4 currently have been inducted into law. Kansas for example has made it a felony to enforce federal gun laws in the state. Far more states have passed laws which are slightly less stupid, but deem locally manufactured guns as out of the purview of regulating interstate commerce and thus federal law has no precedence.
This has a historic and unconstitutional precedent in the form of nullifying de-segregation laws. Basically states (I’ll let you guess what region) tried to avoid de-segregation by declaring the federal law illegal. The supreme court eventually made nullification unconstitutional in 1958.
Also, currently the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobbaco and Firearms recommends not flouting federal law because despite popular belief, you will go to jail.
One heartening thing to see, is among the 39 laws that tighten gun control, a fair number have been to prevent crazies from obtaining weapons very easily. That is background checks and mental health gun laws were passed in both red and blue states. Somehow 91% of Americans are all for background checks, but it couldn’t be passed in congress nationally. And somehow it doesn’t strike me as reasonable to be able to drive across state lines, get a gun and avoid any in-state gun-control measures.
Anti-gun control legislation is fueled by a few factors 1) the not so unreasonable paranoia that the evil government is coming to take your guns (see below), 2) the paranoia that the King of England might barge into your home and start pushing you around (slightly unreasonable) and 3) the far more reasonable paranoia of being on a government “list”. Forget for a second in order to pay taxes, drive, join the military, travel outside the country or collect social security/obamacare among a number of careers private or not, you are already on a government list. And forget for a second, that the NRA gun-owner list, which includes 10 million+ people , is definitely not being trolled by the NSA.
In addition to the 2nd amendment, the government has a constitutional mandate to protect and keep its citizens safe. And with some 300 million guns on the streets and some 60% of homocides attributed to guns, something has to give. While it makes total sense that the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun, isn’t it about time we stop giving bad guys guns? As long as its super easy to get a gun legally, semi-legally (through gun shows/private sales) or illegally expect more bad things to happen. The only way is a federal law to expand universal background checks and make all gun deals go through a federally licensed dealer. Make it illegal to sell a gun to someone who would not clear a background check and track all sales. That would hopefully curb private sales.
I sure as hell don’t want to be on that list when it happens, which is why I should probably buy a gun now. But I also sure as hell want everybody else on that list.
The markets finally believe Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke as he is leaving and won’t believe Janet Yellen until she leaves.
There is some good news for investors. A new theory shows that you don’t have to worry about stocks going down because they only go up and are not correlated to anything. “Just keep on buying. If everyone keeps buying stocks my analysis shows that the stock market won’t ever go down,” says NK, the theorizer of the theory, who wishes to keep his identity private to prevent too much media attention.
*Disclaimer for our bubble readers: For the love of God please do not use this article as investment advice*
He says he first realized it when Ben Bernanke announced that he was going to start the taper, cutting bond purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion, while keeping interest rates at 0%. This amounts to easing his foot off the gas pedal which has propelled the market to new highs and hasn’t done much for the economy. Bernanke, starting a year ago, had repeatedly informed the public about the taper, indicating that interest rates would be kept at 0% for the foreseeable future as long as inflation remained low (<2%) and and unemployment remained high(>6.5%) for the past year. The only thing he hadn’t mentioned was when the tapering would start and so when he announced the taper, markets on a high from easy money should have taken heed that they would now be inhaling a little less nitrous oxide. In fact, the opposite happened and the markets rallied, stoked that the taper was not a step function. Apparently they missed that day in pre-school when you learned the difference between a wedge and a block.
Since then, the market refuses to stop inhaling its stash, going for bigger and bigger highs, which is not likely to cause any problems according to market pundits, gurus, swamijis and high priests. Cramer is currrently all “buy, buy, buy”.
Yesterday, Bernanke came out with a upbeat view on the economy and for the first time seemed more relaxed and actually jovial. This was probably more due to the fact that he’s leaving and he can stop listening to the idiots on wallstreet and congress bark about high inflation for the last 4 years (i dont think it ever went above 1.2%). Now thats Yellen’s job, which everybody admits won’t be easy.
And after the fed press meeting yesterday, the CNBC talking heads were at it furiously, Liesman actually claiming “who knows why the market does what it does”, a far cry from the last time he speculated after the fed minutes and “nailed it”… everyone circle jerking each other and patting themselves on the back on live TV, to finally eat crow when they all lost their pants at the end of the day. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to watch that piece of comedic gold, heres the video and recap: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-21/wednesday-humor-cnbcs-best-nailing-it-ages
Amazingly, after 4 years of gently guiding the US economy, the market actually appeared to believe Bernanke, roughly remaining flat. This was in contrary to most other times he came out and spoke about the improving state of the economy. Those days the market would take a hit, fearful of him starting the taper. The opposite also proved true, when the economic indicators sucked, the market did relatively well. The recent bucking of this trend led NK to his theory.
The S&P 500 this year has been on a tear, up a lot in percentage terms and is at 1831.37 according to the picture I posted. Go find out for yourself on some real website.
The US government appears ready to take lots painkillers with continued prosecution of Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade.
For most of our readers who live in bubbles (forced or of your own accord), I’ll break down the story for you. Devyani Khobragade, a no-name Indian consular something or other (deputy consul general whatever that means), came into the headlines a month ago after being arrested in the US in front of her kid, then strip searched and confined with drug addicts, for paying her indentured servant less than minimum wage .
I know what you’re thinking, “I wouldn’t even pay my indentured servant anything at all”. My thoughts are with you, my friend and so is the rest of the Indian population. The diplomatic faux-paux polarized the two countries into two fractious camps split along nationalistic lines – the Indian populace, who are rallying behind their “disgraced” and “undignified” “diplomat” and the Americans, who have no idea whats going on and nor do they give a damn.
I use the word “disgraced” and “undignified” since she was stripped of her dignity in the cavity search and NOT I repeat NOT because she’s a liar and actually also corrupt which I’ll get into later. And “diplomat” because when she was arrested she was some consul type thing and not a “diplomat”. The two are distinguished by immunity applicability for various crimes for in the UN’s Vienna which nobody really cares about at the end of the day apparently (see links below).
Back to the story, the Indian government needing a rally cry in an election year, went into high gear despite not really caring when Abdul Kalam, the Indian ex-President, was detained and patted down in 2011. Nor did they care when Georges Fernandez, India’s Defense secretary got strip searched twice at IAD. But this was an election year, so all the road-blocks were pulled out (literally at the US embassy in Delhi). US diplomats lost their special airport privileges; the salaries of any Indian workers at the embassy was questioned as it was technically US soil. And in a bold and if not completely obvious bluff, they said that gay US diplomats should be arrested, since the supreme court had recently refused to strike down an archaic british law banning gay sex.
The Indian media was having a field day, publishing everything thats generally not fit to print and taking up 23 hours of the 24 hour news cycle. Eventually, it came out that the US government had informed them several months earlier that she was paying well under minimum wage and had lied on a her visa application, both which constituted felonies. The Indian consulate replied, in typical indifference to the law, that they didn’t think that the US would actually care.
In a bout of furious paperwork Delhi tried promoting her to the UN mission which would give her full diplomatic immunity, to which the US replied it would be after the fact and didn’t count. But wait (Palm on forehead)… Devyani suddenly realized that she had already been given status and credentials at the UN mission and didn’t even know about it after putting in some paperwork months earlier, thereby giving her full diplomatic immunity. Furthermore, the Indian diplomatic mission didn’t even know, solidifying the belief that the Indian bureaucracy has no idea what the hell they are doing. At this point the US government was now undoubtedly wishing they could get a redo on this one. Not because they wished to redo the strip search, but I believe so they could avoid it altogether and don’t have to deal with this crap.
During this time, the media decided it wasn’t actually important that the arrested Indian consular deputy whatever cum diplomat was actually implicated in the infamous Adarsh scam. (Other palm on forehead) Long story short the scam had allocated prime real estate in Mumbai to various heads of state and government bureaucrats at artificially reduced prices over the course of 10 years, when actually it was meant for the welfare of active duty/retired military personnel. India’s favorite diplomat was not only a liar and a cheat, but not a very good one because now she got caught twice. She likely wouldn’t see jail time in India because that’s not how it operates, but with any luck the US will do India’s job for it.
Now the two countries are in for the long haul with both sides bunkered down in order to save face in this diplomatic headache. In the US with cases of Vicoden and in India with hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen.
Why no one cares about the Vienna conventions on consular relations:
Arithmetic proves very very difficult for Arwind Kejriwal, Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi’s 4 day old chief minister; his PhD from IIT Karaghpur and former position as Joint Commisioner of the Income Tax Department nonwithstanding.
For our readers who live in bubbles, the AAP swept 28 seats of 70 in Delhi, routing the governing Congress party and achieving nothing short of a mandate for the brand new political party borne out Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade. Along with their staunch anti-corruption stance they promised a handful of populist measures such as 700 liters of free water per day per household and a 50% cut in tariffs along with a number of totally reasonable changes to improve governance. Winning a huge fraction of seats but no majority (BJP won 32 and Congress won 7 I think), the usual political comedy/drama/tragedy unfolded, which resulted in the BJP hounding them to form the government with Congress, and Congress making overtures to the AAP for unconditional support. The democratic extremists in the AAP, feeling the pressure, asked the millions of Delhi residents to text in whether they should form the government. Then in an amazing bout of short term memory loss for the entire political and media establishment, the AAP formed an alliance with the much-hated and corrupt Congress party and the BJP immediately started criticizing the AAP for being traitors to Delhi and forming the government. The hilarity in all this easily deserved another article, but I was on vacation.
Back to the present:
Ramming through populist measures, Kejriwal has been trying to do maximum damage on the exchequer before the confidence vote on Jan 2, which he himself called and which could potentially dissolve their own government.
“We are not bothered whether the government survives or not. We are running the government assuming that we have just 48 hours with us. We want to do the maximum good to the people [maximum damage to the exchequer], if we can in this time.” (Words in brackets are mine not his)
Keeping good on their promise (at least to 1 sigfig which is the max Mr. taxman can handle apparently), the AAP is providing a free 667 liters of water per day (thats like 35 buckets) to households with a metered connection. Consumption of even 1 more liter than this will result in the consumer paying for all the water consumption with a 10% increase in rate. The normal rate for this much water per month is about 220Rs and will cost an estimated 200 crore ($33 million) in subsidies per year. Of course this also benefits the rich and middle class, so expect to see alot of households just under the max allowed with the help of their friendly water-meter-fixing agent. And alot of poor households are bound to use excess water up to their alotted amount, adding to the already critical water deficit.
Of course the AAP has rationalized this by saying that the Delhi Jal Board has made a surplus of 446 crore in 2012-2013, so naturally it is their duty to fritter it away. Its their duty to forget the 30% of Delhi households do not even have piped water, and live on <4 liters of water per day per capita. And its also their duty to forget the DSIIDC (Delhi Something Industrial Investment Something) has 15/32 sewage plants working well below capacity – something that 200 crore could actually help fix. So far nothing has been said about unmetered connections and illegal colonies – and actually I dont quite understand how connections were unmetered in the first place, but its still their problem.
Additionally the electricity tariffs are being cut by 50% for up to 400 units of energy. I actually measure my units in Giga- cm^(-1) but it is not specified what unit this refers to. However I do know that the tariffs have gone up by 45% in the past 2 years alone, and inadequate tariffs have led to a loss of 20,000 crore. In India as a whole, state run distribution companies are mired in 246,000 crore of debt due to a number or ridiculous policies and subsidies. The 50% rate cut will add another 200 crore in subsidies that the Delhi government must pay for.
What is most ironic about these subsidies is that it is shouldered by the poor and middle class…With any subsidy somebody eventually has to pay for it – in this case by tax revenue. Unlike the central government which receives a majority of tax from corporations and rich people (at least the ones who are actually willing to pay taxes), state governments like Delhi are almost entirely dependent upon the valued-added-tax (VAT) for the bulk of its revenues and taxes practically all commodities. And this sales tax is regressive in nature mainly because the poor have to spend more of its income just to live. So much for the aam admi.
Amidst all of this the AAP is still fairly transparent, bringing down the government’s VIP status to the common man. If nothing else this is indicated by the Delhi Chief Ministers tweets about his bowel movements. For an amusing history of “Delhi Belly” and its world politics see – http://www.firstpost.com/politics/arvind-kejriwals-delhi-belly-a-peoples-movement-in-loose-motion-1315787.html. Further transparency is needed of the Jal water board for the obvious reduction of theft and corruption, enhancement of tracking, adequate pipeline construction, retention and recycling of water etc. This however takes more than a few speeches and a stroke of a pen, so time will tell if they are serious about fixing problems rather than adding layers of bandaids, thats political expedient.
The BJP is busy confusing itself – supporting these populist measures and a recent attack on FDI, somewhat antithetical to its reputation of a pro-business party.
And Congress feels really bad for itself for being such corrupt losers. They still haven’t named Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministeral candidate, despite the obvious and also because of the obvious.