Liberal Views


I have always considered myself as a “liberal”, not in political terms, but in terms of maintaining and sustaining a very open mindset towards receiving and assimilating contrarian views. Occasionally I have veered towards conservative or rightist opinions, because I thought the thought process behind those opinions were valid and resonated with my own thinking.

But on most issues, I have been a liberal – very open, not toeing the majority line, building my own logic for arguing the strengths of my case, and always receptive to other peoples’ opinions – whether they are conservative, liberal, right wing or left wing. I always thought that the charm of a liberal thinker is his or her ability to keep an open mind at all times.

However, I found that I could be severely challenged in the midst of a group of close friends, it happened recently to me when all their guns were individually and jointly trained on me. Initially, I took it in my own way – not very seriously, raising points of contention and questioning their rationale. As the noise increased incessantly over WhatsApp, I had to keep pressing my points, because I believed strongly in my views on humanity.

The issue on hand was Kashmir. I have no problem with India trying to integrate Kashmir finally in its own fold firmly – I think it is the right thing to do after 70 years of vacillation. Kashmir people will get access to investments, job opportunities and increased tourism. And, many other benefits that Indian citizens are entitled to.

However, I believe firmly that violence and retaliation to violence both should fully stop. Military deployment by India should not lead to completely avoidable things such as pellet shooting at protesters and even at common people going about their daily tasks. The counter-argument of my influential group of friends is simple: terrorists do not deserve any sympathy and must be dealt with even by brutal means, and collateral damage is unavoidable when dealing mostly with Kashmiri terrorists.

There are 7M Kashmiris living in Jammu & Kashmir State. Most of them are just normal folks like us. If the idea of integration with India is to bring these people into an Indian warm embrace, where is the need to treat all of them as violent terrorists?

I sent out the media coverage on Kashmir from WSJ, CNN, BBC, etc., and my friends pooh-poohed all the global media publications – slandering them as anti-India. So far, I have not seen negative media coverage by the Indian mainstream media, with the exception of few online publications. I agree that CNN is mostly anti-India and somewhat pro-Pakistan. But the others are generally well balanced, though upset with India’s total lockdown of Kashmir.

In a nutshell, here are my two cents: Kashmiris are surely going to protest loss of their freedom, and need to be strongly persuaded on India’s rationale for the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A. This cannot be done with machine guns and bayonettes, and requires finesse with big heart and big commitments from Indian Government. Kashmiris should be made to feel like they are fully Indian citizens.

My friends would not buy this approach, and I know it. For them, appeasement of any minority community is totally unacceptable. According to them, it is the failed policies of the previous many Congress governments that resulted in the current chaos. But the difference is stark: Kashmir is a border state with two adversaries staring at India – Pakistan and China. Pakistan trained terrorists keep sneaking into Kashmir to create chaos. With what India has done now, it is not difficult to fathom the mind of the average Kashmiri.

Pakistan and China are hard at work trying to internationalize the Kashmir problem. India is ignoring them, and that is the right approach. India’s challenge is all internal – it has to convince Kashmiris of its genuine good intentions and fully integrate them into India. It is not going to be easy at all, and in the meantime, Pakistan is bound to create all kinds of problems for India. As emotions appear to be high, there may be attacks by Pakistan along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

Given the current political support for the Indian government’s actions, it is unlikely that India will accommodate any views contrary to its actions and plans that it will further implement. So it is a dead end for either party, and Pakistan should not expect anything positive as it has unilaterally downgraded relations, ejected the Indian Ambassador, compared Mr. Modi to Nazis, and so on and so forth. India will not show the hand of friendship to Imran Khan.

So, coming back to the idea of this blog post, “liberal” views are not “separatist” views, as one of my close friends hinted. Liberals are not siding with “anti-national” forces. Liberals are just expressing their views with their own logic, and I am no different. Unnecessary killings, blinding and maiming of ordinary citizens – even those who have sympathetic views on separatist efforts – have to be completely avoided at all costs, thereby eliminating potential global concerns on police atrocities. By this statement, I do not mean that India should keep its hands tied when encountering terrorism.

Let us see how the Kashmir situation unfolds in the coming days and weeks. I do hope it will turn out positive for both ordinary Kashmiris and India as a whole.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

17th August 2019

Disaffection and Patriotism


Many governments think that if a citizen dissents – meaning if he or she displays disagreement with some policies of the government – then, he or she is an anti-national, a person who is not to be regarded as a true patriot. He or she needs to be monitored for potential anti-government activities.

Nothing is further from the truth.

A government of the day does not have the right to designate an individual who disagrees with its policies as someone against the country itself. That is a totally ridiculous assertion of a non-fact. Every individual has an absolute right, at least in a democracy, to have his or her own opinion or views on a specific subject or government policy, and also to express the same. Governments do get agitated when the individual concerned is a thinker of repute, a politician of some standing, or an influential celebrity with a big following. And they get angry if such individuals use colourful adjectives or choice epithets to describe their opinions or views.

Nevertheless, governments who are mature enough to take in criticisms and digest the same, will realize that their own standing improves in the eyes of common citizens, who would develop serious concerns if the response of their government is not appropriate. Governments can always reserve the right to a suitable response, but cannot colour their response or action with a foregone judgement against public interest.There will always be a significant, and sometimes influential, section of the society which is going to disagree – that does not make them anti-national in any manner. This is normal human behaviour, especially in societies where there are established democratic institutions. Sometimes, I tend to wonder at the courage of such individuals who ignore potential retributions for their views.

The very common people, or the proletariat as we used to call them in the past, would not dare to risk their rice bowl by holding or expressing views antagonistic to government policies. They just want to have a smooth life, and worry about their own welfare, their childrens’ future, and their retirement. More than 99% of a society is like that, and there is nothing wrong with that kind of peaceful life. Why rock the boat?

Dissenters are usually people who do not personally worry about themselves in the first place. I am talking about peaceful dissenters, and not revolutionaries here. They have a view of their society, their country and the world, which is vastly different from their own government’s views. A great example is the current protests going on for the tenth week in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong protesters demonstrate their dissension in a particularly strong and vocal manner, which is surely not compatible with the rest of that money-making society or that of their own administrative government, which reports into the Mainland China government. It is anybody’s guess as to where or when those protests will end up, and sometimes it bothers me when I imagine military boots on Hong Kong roads.

Another emerging example is the citizen protests in Moscow against President Putin and his government’s aggressive policies against opposition politicians. Russia is not a true democracy, but it is well on its way towards one from a long period of Communist Dictatorship. Hence it will be interesting to see how that people protest is being handled by the Russian government. May not end well, in my opinion, especially if the Russian government discovers that foreign elements are aiding the protests.

The Indian government is characterizing dissenters as anti-nationalists. My hope is that laws to this effect will undergo rapid change, as the Indian society is inherently democratic, vocal and expressive. The government will soon see its folly in trying to control “views” of any kind from being expressed. I am not able to understand why a government which succeeded wildly at the ballot box in May 2019 would do things not compatible with democratic expression. I hope that the Indian government will change its policies for the better as it digests its victory, the overall popular acceptance of its governance, its image on the world stage, and its permanent tagline as the biggest democracy in the world.

There should be nothing wrong with anyone expressing his or her views, in spoken or written form, and communicating a different line of thinking. The world has made progress at every step because of dissension and disaffection. If everyone toes the line of the government, the country will not benefit. Every dissenting citizen is actually a committed patriot, and the government should see him or her as such. It is critical to tap opposing views which can help the country to progress further.

In a nutshell, I am happy to stay in the midst of dissenters and learn from their differing views.

Have a great week ahead folks,

Vijay Srinivasan

11th August 2019

Rude Awakening


For thousands of Kashmiris it was a rude shock last week to abruptly discover that the Indian Government had overnight changed the status of the Jammu & Kashmir State. The Home Minister passed a resolution in the Upper House of the Parliament, in effect voiding Article 370 and associated clauses and amendments.

Without getting into too much details and nuances of law, suffice to say that the Indian Government nullified the special status granted to Jammu & Kashmir State and integrated that state effectively into India as a Union Territory, directly to be administered by the Central Government. The resolution cancelled all the special privileges accorded to Kashmir, such as separate laws, separate flag, approval of Kashmir legislature required for central government laws, discrimination against Indian citizens settling down in Kashmir, et al.

Of course, this abrogation of Article 370 goes against the premise under which the Jammu & Kashmir kingdom joined the Indian Union way back after India’s independence from the British. This is another instance when the British walked away from the mess that they had created in the first place, among many other things in the Indian subcontinent.

Pakistan lodged a vehement protest against the changes that India had promulgated. Kashmir is considered as an occupied and disputed territory by Pakistan, and India’s position, obviously, is opposite. India claims the whole of Kashmir, including the Pakistan-occupied region as well as the China-occupied region.

Like the Israel-Palestine dispute, this one is never going to be resolved during our lifetime.

Let us now see where India stands on this entire matter. India is very clear that Kashmir belongs to India as a whole. It is just another state of India, and therefore, there should be nothing special – it should have as much rights and obligations as any other state. Moreover, the Indian government wants to bring in more private investments into Kashmir, integrate it better with the rest of India, settle more non-Kashmiris in the state as that would bring more integration and investments, etc., The BJP Government had outlined its principles on Kashmir integration very clearly in its election manifesto earlier this year, before the conduct of the Indian Parliamentary elections, so it says that it is just implementing its manifesto commitments.

Pakistan does not see it that way. I was watching Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the U.N., being interviewed by Christiane Amanpour on CNN yesterday. I have to acknowledge one thing – Ms Lodhi was suave and articulate, perfectly balanced in her delivery to the questions: I would say that she did a great job as an individual interviewee with a tough journalist. However, her scathing remarks on India startled even Ms Amanpour. At the end of the day, it does not matter – whatever Ms Lodhi does at the U.N. or U.N.S.C., is not going to change the ground situation in Kashmir or the will of the Indian government.

From my own personal perspective, I am bothered more about the bottled up feelings and reactions of millions of Kashmiris who are likely to burst out and protest after the curfew is lifted. The government or the military cannot control an entire population by the lockdown imposed – eventually, it has to be lifted. People have to get back to their daily routines, offices have to function, schools have to start, markets have to work, internet has to be restored, phone connections have to be re-established, et al………the Indian Central Government cannot pursue the approach of non-stop military intimidation against ordinary Kashmiris who are not terrorists. Sympathies cannot be used as excuses for such aggressive lockdown – ordinary Kashmiris will have their own sympathies lying with protesters, and antipathy against government machinery. Can that be changed for the better? for the benefit of India as a whole?

Things could easily get out of control when protests begin again. Police and para-military forces may not have much choice, and they are prone to commit grievous mistakes under pressure of assault by protesters. Pakistan will try to exacerbate the volatile situation by sending in official terrorists. The Indian government will take very aggressive police actions which would lead to human rights abuses and cries for international intervention. Thousands of people are likely to be killed or maimed.

So, the Indian Government has to think very, very carefully about escalating the situation. It needs to use social media and TV/Radio/Newspapers to communicate its approach lucidly and elaborate on its first 90-day plan to improve the lot of the common people of Kashmir. It also needs to explain its plans for the huge investments being planned, the jobs that can bring to Kashmiris, the improvements envisaged in the education system, the increased potential of tourism in a peaceful state, and so on and so forth. I do not see any evidence that such things are being planned.

The other thing that should happen is a global campaign by India to explain its actions on Kashmir and bring to light the atrocities committed by Pakistan-based terrorists over the past 3 decades in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. Why not a roadshow in the top 10 nations of the world and at the U.N. itself (though it is a useless organization in my opinion)?

It is critical for India to (a) strengthen its defences along the actual Line of Control separating the two Kashmirs; (b) launch a campaign to explain its principled position to the global audience; (c) strictly avoid human casualties going forward; and (d) directly communicate to the Kashmiris via social media on the benefits of integration with India.

Police or military atrocities in Kashmir will not be a good idea at all, irrespective of the provocations, as that will lead to continued alienation of all Kashmiris from mainstream India.

Hope Mr Modi and Mr Shah will think through the consequences extremely carefully.

Cheers, and have a great long weekend,

Vijay Srinivasan

10th August 2019

Cults and Blind Faith


God men. or, Gurus………..

The “men” who professed to be true messengers or representatives of God on this planet have had a long history of misrepresentation, obfuscation, seduction, cheating, fraud, and a variety of criminal activities – whether in India or elsewhere.

With very few exceptions, the Gurus defaulted on their main mission which is to spiritually guide people, be a teacher of wisdom and spirituality, sought by people to find their way in the midst of their lives’ problems. Many Indian Gurus who propagated their views in the Western world leveraged unique draws such as transcendental meditation, Yoga, etc., which developed a strong appeal amongst the young community which constituted folks who were rudderless in an increasingly materialistic world of the Sixties and the Seventies. There were several successful Gurus, but there were also some scandalous Gurus in the U.S.

However, in India, most Gurus (save very few) were driven by money power. They created cults which drew in people with totally blind faith. Unfortunately for the society, parents from yesteryears became devotees of these Gurus and even pushed their teenage sons to join the cult. Further, politicians found that Gurus could be very useful in winning elections. When you combine cult drawing power with politics and money, then you get a very powerful mixture which could incite the cult power and push people to take actions which they do not wish to take. Opposition to such cult power could easily lead to violence, rape, and murders. Such things have happened in India under the guise of Guru power, with Gurus claiming to be direct descendants of God with immense power over peoples’ souls.

I have written a long time ago about the unnecessary mediation between God and Man/Woman by intermediaries in any religion. It is absolute nonsense to claim that a man could be “above” all other men. This is not just an issue in India, elsewhere as well when the equivalent of religious Gurus take over a religion and run it like a business, with the trappings of all kinds of power. The only reason why men would listen to a specific man is because he potentially has more knowledge or wisdom, like in a class room wherein the teacher or professor has lot more knowledge than the students. There is no other situation which warrants such transfer of knowledge, except in mentorship provided by a guide to a student or intern.

The unfortunate series of scandals involving Gurus in India has led to a deterioration in the “blind faith” quotient of ordinary people – which is for the better I would say, but then the blind faith continues as the driving force for ordinary people is the next meal or surviving the next day. They need something or some hope to hold on to……..not the case with the “extraordinary” folks who go to Gurus for seeking blessings for even more wealth and power. The public perception of Gurus amongst educated elite of India is one of scorn in general, though there is a large section of this elite who continue to believe in the imaginary powers of individual Gurus to the extent that they lose sight of their own goals in life.

I am not citing examples in this post for obvious reasons. My point is that no one should depend on another man to lead him/her towards an eternal enlightenment which does not exist anyway. Life is to be lived in the best manner possible using one’s own skills, talent, knowledge and wisdom, all of which do not derive from fake Gurus who claim to represent God to alleviate the problems of this world. It does not work that way. Man should seek spiritual salvation in his own way without any guidance whatsoever. Such salvation does not require a guide, it does require a lot of knowledge, understanding of one’s self, and a determination to find the ultimate end. An impartial guide in the form of a true friend with wisdom will be lot more helpful than a self-appointed Guru.

In fact, a true friend understands your challenges and weaknesses. He will be able to provide support – both mental and spiritual. He might be able to provide useful examples from his own life. All these things will help the poor soul in search of meaning and purpose in his own life, without the help of a Guru who offers mostly a fake collective sermon to legions of people who have lost their way.

Well that is for the day folks……..have a good week ahead,

4th August 2019

CEOs against Trump


You do not see many corporate CEOs speaking up against a President or Prime Minister, especially in their home country against their own government leader. There may be many reasons for this approach, even when the matter on the table involves racism. It could be just basic courtesy towards an elected leader, or simply a forced isolation away from political matters of any kind. It could even be protection of their own business from the clutches of the government, which happens in many countries when the CEO talks up against the leader of the country.

While the U.S. still remains the beacon of freedom, corporate CEOs in the U.S. have generally been circumspect when it comes to dealing with the fallout of President Trump’s tweets, which they do not, probably, consider as official government policies. They try to keep their counsel most of the time. Some of them have expressed their anguish about forced family separations at the southern border of the U.S., with very young children torn away from their parents by Immigration enforcement officials. But, I am yet to see a strong reaction to Trump’s racist tweets by corporate CEOs in the U.S.

So, it was not surprising when I saw that the CEO of Siemens, Joe Kaesar, was probably the first ever corporate CEO who called out Trump on his racist attacks against four elected representatives of the U.S. Congress. Joe Kaesar is based in Germany, though in the past he had worked in the U.S. He was totally forthright in his condemnation of the racist views emanating from the White House. I did not see a retort from President Trump however, which was unusual to say the least.

The elected representatives and elected leader of government are not “special” people: they just ran an election campaign better than their opposition. Otherwise they are just normal folks like everyone else. So, the exalted position that we place elected leaders is not warranted – what is needed, of course, is just respect for the position as such. The President of the U.S. appears to be an exalted position – but it is occupied by an average individual who won an election, who could well be defeated in the next election. However, the position of the President or the Prime Minister deserves respect by anyone and everyone.

However, this supposition does not apply in case the person occupying the respectful position of the President demeans it every other day. As we have repeatedly seen, President Trump is hell bent on demeaning the office of the President almost every day. Asking non-white elected representatives to go back to their home country is never heard of in any country. Here we are talking about 3 members of the U.S. Congress who were born in the U.S. and one who was born outside but naturalised as a citizen. Letting supporters chant “send her back” is just reprehensible, and that is exactly what Trump allowed his supporters to do – waiting for a full 13 seconds in a pause before resuming his talk. He could have expressed his deep displeasure on the chant, which he did not even attempt to do.

Corporate CEOs should be more forthcoming when it comes to addressing such socially divisive issues – especially racism. What message are they giving to their employees (mostly socially diverse, especially in the technology industries) by maintaining a studious silence? Who are they trying to please? President Trump?

Mr Joe Kaesar did the right thing – if you read his past utterances you will realize that he is a very outspoken person even on domestic German issues. If good, responsible and powerful people call out folks like Trump, then the message to the fraternity is absolutely clear – here is a leader who will defend human values at any cost – yes, even at a cost to his company’s business. Racism should not exist at all, but unfortunately it exists in almost every place on this planet. But when top leaders such as Trump rake up racist and socially very divisive issues, then it is time for all stakeholders in the U.S. society to call out that very bad behaviour publicly, irrespective of any kind of repercussions. Trump should get the message loud and clear. He should not get corporate political donations till he mends his abhorrent ways.

I salute Mr Kaesar for his clear-headed and forthright criticism of President Trump’s racist utterances. Conscientious people cannot and should not be silent at such behaviours. They should openly speak out. And control the spread of evil concept such as racism, at least in their own company or society.

Cheers, and Have a great weekend,

Vijay Srinivasan

3rd August 2019

People Power – not the right approach


Is People Power, meaning protests, demonstrations, civil disobedience and disruptions by common citizens, the right approach to dislodge elected governments?

Increasingly, we are witnessing people power protests even in democracies. Of course, it is no wonder if people protest in countries like Russia (happened yesterday in Moscow in support of opposition party leaders who could not get on to the ballot), which falls in a grey area between truly elected democracies and autocratic form of almost essentially single party governments (though apparently elected).

But it becomes challenging to define people protests in countries like Hong Kong (which is not a country but a special administrative region of China) which disrupt the normal functioning of a global financial centre, with no apparent end in sight. When such protests turn violent, then the governments have to enforce law and order.

Then you have the long-running people protests in Venezuela against the incumbent government of President Nicolas Maduro. If an elected President has to succumb to people protests, that is not a sustainable form of government, irrespective of the moral rights and wrongs facing Venezuelans. What is the guarantee such protest mechanism will not be re-used in the future to pull down a duly elected government with popular mandate? How is Venezuela going to eliminate foreign governmental influence in such a situation?

If you dial back to 2010, you would recall the “Arab Spring” – a series of protests, demonstrations and violence which spread across a series of North African and Middle Eastern countries. Only Tunisia achieved a transition to democratic form of government as a result of the Arab Spring people protests. All the other countries failed in their democratic transformation efforts, though some changes occurred in the way governance was administered.

If you dial back to some 100 years ago, you would recall the non-violent people protests organised by Mahatma Gandhi against British rule of India, which eventually succeeded in securing independence for India.

But things are very different today. Social, political and economic situations are vastly different. Social media has been instrumental in driving the Arab Spring revolution across several countries. However, what has become clear is that anti-democratic governments are not going to give up power despite people protests and in some cases, armed rebellion like in Syria. The deeply entrenched political and ruling elite will fight back against the common people, and will win the battle most of the time.

Given this kind of evolution of people power, is it any wonder that most people protests are not succeeding anymore? For unorganised people to wage a protest against the power of a government, it is essential that violence should be avoided – at least on the people side. Gandhi took the physical attacks on him by the British police valiantly as he knew that he needed to show both to the British government and to his own people that he was totally unafraid and capable of facing the police baton. He did not encourage his people to indulge in any form of violence or conflict with the police. It is only futile to expect that the government will strive to avoid violence in the face of threat to its own existence.

In my opinion, people protests are definitely futile in truly anti-democratic government run countries. In democratic countries, people protests should not be warranted at all as people have access to ballots in an election. The only situations which warrant people power are (a) liberation of a country from an occupying foreign nation; (b) serious endemic corruption in any kind of country; and, (c) lack of action by the government to implement its commitments made via election manifesto of the ruling party presented to the people during elections, leading to increased poverty and unemployment. There could be couple more situations, but in any such protests, people should totally avoid violence and should not give a basis for their governments to perpetrate official violence.

On the situation in Hong Kong, I am on the side of the government though I sympathise with the protesters, especially the students. Protesters cannot impose pre-conditions for negotiations, which we have seen are mostly deal-breakers.

So, in a nutshell, people power is not a good idea as it leads to quick deterioration in civil society and economy, and brings a nation to its knees. Is that something that the people desire? I am not sure.

Cheers, and have a good week ahead,

Vijay Srinivasan

28th July 2019

The Stark Stupidity of a Puerile Embrace


Yes, it was a stupid and puerile embrace. I am referring here to the visit of Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, to the White House to meet up with Donald Trump, President of the U.S.

As usual, there are always friends of Pakistan in any U.S. Administration, who automatically disdain India. But Pakistan lost most of its friends and the huge annual aid from the U.S. last year, as Trump felt they were not doing enough to eliminate terrorism (absolutely true) and assisting the U.S. to eventually withdraw from Afghanistan. So came Lindsay Graham, the obnoxious Senator friend of Trump, who visited Pakistan recently and came to the strong conclusion (he is wrong here!) that Imran Khan is a guy that the U.S. can rely on to deliver the goods. He therefore strongly influenced Trump on Pakistan and helped Imran Khan to secure the visit to the White House. The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo also believes that Pakistan can and will help the U.S. on the critical issues plaguing Afghanistan.

Trump can easily be deceived by appearances and is extremely weak when it comes to foreign policy, as we have repeatedly seen. Hence he was again taken for a solid ride by the suave Imran Khan who made false commitments on terrorism and also led Trump down the garden path on his conflict with India with reference to the Kashmir matter. Khan pushed Trump to persuade India to come to the negotiating table with Trump as the mediator between the two parties. This heightened Trump’s ego (obviously).

Trump fell for the ruse and then imagined something which was unthinkable: he imagined that Mr Modi, the Prime Minister of India, has in fact sought his help to diffuse the Kashmir crisis when they two met at a recent G20 Summit in Japan. Not only did he imagine, his crooked mind thought it was the best opportunity to coax India for negotiations with Pakistan: this is no different from his North Korea adventure, keeping South Korea and Japan on the tenterhooks, and his half-baked Palestinian settlement talks with Israel which could not happen and the whole thing went bad recently.

Of course, the Indian reaction was swift and pointed. India rejected Trump’s “imagination” of Modi’s request to assist in Kashmir talks with Pakistan strongly – it reiterated its l0ng-standing position on exclusive bilateral-only talks with Pakistan and absolutely no foreign intervention or mediation. India is a big country and does not have to fall at the feet of Trump every time he imagines something contrary to truth, though it recently succumbed to U.S. pressures on the Iran sanctions.

Khan had to leave empty-handed on the India negotiations. It has been more than 3.5 years since both parties talked. The worry now is that Khan might come under severe pressure from Pakistan’s ultimate authority – its Army and its generals (unlike in India) to indulge in yet another military misadventure against India which would then lead to an inevitable war as Mr Modi is a no-nonsense man when it comes to such matters – not like the slow-moving bureaucratic behemoth of the erstwhile Congress government leadership.

In a nutshell, the stupidity of this embrace between Trump and Khan is yet another moronic exercise in an overt act of illogic not susceptible to the sensibilities of a calculated and well-orchestrated foreign policy. After Trump became President of the U.S. in January 2017, one big casualty has been his big de-emphasis on foreign policy execution in the usual, well-oiled “diplomatic” way. Trump personalised foreign policy with his charisma (or lack of it), and his adhocism. There is a total disarray in American foreign policy establishment with such an arbitrary exercise of powers against allies and foes alike.

The U.S. Administration acted quickly to contain the damage in the relationship with India – Trump’s utterances on Modi’s request to mediate in the Kashmir issue became a hot potato in Indian political scene, not surprisingly at all. Though it is cooling down, doubts are lingering. India is firmly putting its feet down – stamping it down on the face of Imran Khan.

Trump has a long way to go in policy-making. His presumption that his “larger-than-life” personality would be the solution for all of the world’s intractable problems is sorely misplaced. No one person would be able to bring his stamp on all critical matters of the world, even if he or she is the President of the U.S. At the end of the day, threats also do not work – threats have become a hallmark of the Trump Presidency. He has acted in a fickle-minded manner in all state matters and as a total moron in domestic politics in the U.S. as we are witnessing day in and day out – it always feels like a Trump reality show every day with his non-stop tirade of tweets!

And, Imran Khan should understand that dealing with India is not a cricket game. It is not a game at all. It is serious matter which requires compromise and peace overtures of a different kind. It is unlikely that Modi will ever pick up the phone and speak to Khan as a result of any kind of pressure exerted by Trump – in the aftermath of the stupid comments by Trump, the possibility of peace talks has worsened even further.

Have a wonderful weekend folks,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

27th July 2019