The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia Gandhi has yet again shown that she is in control of her party and of the direction that the UPA must take in policy matters. She and her colleagues have a clear idea of where they are headed in terms of restructuring all that have hitherto been neglected — aspects of the larger economy that are critical to growth and peace. Her understanding of and commitment to the real issues are apparent. She should be at the helm of the planning commission if only to energize and direct it. Understanding the complexities of India is tough and requires much study and travel into the hinterland. Most of our planners have travelled to major metros and some smaller towns but have not crisscrossed this land on dirt tracks. Sonia Gandhi has done that, more than most, and she has a genuine feel of the horrors of poverty and deprivation. The people she has connected with, understand well that she understands their plight. Their faith in her support and leadership is what gives Sonia Gandhi the confidence to set the agenda.

Addressing the problems of agriculture is critical for any kind of substantial growth in India, as it is elsewhere. It is directly related to the well-being and stability of a nation both economically and socially. Intrinsic to this vast sector is the human resource pool of skills and expertise that makes India a world leader. Again, leaders and administrators, intellectually limited and desperate to make good for themselves, have let down the people in rural Bharat.

Clear pattern

In urban India, too, they have destroyed the sensibility by creating municipal monsters ridden with corruption, hideous landscapes and poky slums devoid of any traditional aesthetics. Post-1947, India has destroyed itself by allowing unthinking, irrelevant initiatives, emanating from non-creative minds, to dominate all policy ranging from urban and rural planning to the many components of the service sector that generates huge GDP resource, to agriculture and its allied businesses, education, health, and much else — all of which are crying out loud for innovative help and restructuring.

There seems to be a carefully thought-out pattern in the agenda that Sonia Gandhi continues to unfurl at every conclave that she hosts. The issues that are raised prove that to better India and deliver the goods in the social, agricultural and the economic sector, you do not have to be a left ideologue, thankfully. You do not have to be strident or aggressive about ‘doing good’ or doing for the ‘lesser privileged’.

Stay away

Governments must do for all, for all strata of society, addressing and delivering all needs and demands. That plurality is what makes the challenges in India exciting and out-of-the-ordinary. The victory of good governance in its widest definition is what will take India to the status of a super power. Being an appendage of a super power will only restrict true assertion on the world stage.

It is becoming increasingly evident that alignment with powerful ‘bully’ nations, who try and set the agenda for the world through brute military force, is beginning to falter badly. The counter reaction of that unacceptable stance is what the ‘first world’ refers to as ‘terrorism’, which is just another form, culturally different, of the military terror inflicted on countries such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq et al. Let us not forget that it was the British who created the conflict and ensuing terror in this subcontinent. Wherever you look at conflict in the world, it is directly linked to the super power and its allies. India should transact business based on its needs and stay away from all political postures, including this group’s way of ‘fighting terror’. It is much too simplistic.

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