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OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion now in Hindi अब आप के लिये हिंदी मे.
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Let me begin the first post of the year on a rather personal note. Started the day with a google search on whether my 2 year old grinding his teeth  was normal. In a reminder of the growing influence of the Internet on our lives, Google has now firmly and surely replaced granny’s wisdom and aunty’s advise. If we ever need any confirmation that our children are growing normally, all we need to do is look up Google. The year began with another grim reminder on the growing influence of the Internet. The 2 versions of the Saddam Execution. The first official version that hit the breaking news airwaves on all TV Channels. Well, hello 2007, for Breaking News on TV is no longer Breaking News, in fact with the second version of the Saddam Execution we now know that the first version was not even reliable news. Earlier in the year Offstumped had debated Blogs versus Journalism and had argued that the Blogs marked the end of the monopoly of mainstream media on Opinion, well the Saddam Execution Uncut edition marks the end of the monopoly of mainstream media on facts. 2007 will go down as the year that ended the Monopoly of the Mainstream Media in selling a Single Version of Truth. With Camera Phones recording the Saddam Execution down to its goriest detail and available for download on the internet uncensored and unrestricted, we herald the arrival of multiple versions of the truth delivered raw over the internet with a viral distribution potential. So when Time Magazine named us the bloggers the people of the year, it was not entirely off the mark.

In a sign of how good things are, most media speculation on India in 2007 is on how the 9% GDP growth can be achieved. The Indian economy is going great guns despite the reforms stalling and the communist remote control on the Manmohan Singh UPA Government. One of my fellow bloggers on INI brought to attention http://signal.nationalinterest.in/archives/confused/159 Gurucharan Das’ lament on why India did not produce a Thatcher or a Blair, who could go out and create a constituency for economic reforms. Another fellow blogger on INI Gaurav commented on the oft repeated need for a Free Market Gandhi http://signal.nationalinterest.in/archives/gaurav/157. The Indian Express in its lead editorial for the New Year “Happy New Question 2007” commented on the need for India to ask the right questions.

So Offstumped asks the question do we really need a Free Market Gandhi to create a constituency for economic reforms in 2007 ?

Gandhi himself didnt seem to think so. To quote from Gandhi’s observations on the Gita and the pursuit of material good, Gandhi saw in the Gita already a moral compass for the ethical pursuit of material good. If only our leaders post Independence had the intellectual clarity of Gandhi to not muddle the ethical pursuit of material good with borrowed ideas of Social Justice we would not be debating this question. Empowerment and Social Justice have become code words for casteist communalization of all policy making and governance. Using these as a moral shield the leftist cabal and the casteist/communal-socialist outfits have ensured a new morality that see a virtue in poverty and a vice in pursuit of wealth. 

So rather than lament the absence of a Thatcher or the need for a Gandhi, free marketeers would do well to look within ancient Indian Wisdom to popularize the morality of economic freedom, markets and the ethical pursuit of material good. That should automatically create the constituency for reforms.

2007 will also see a busy political season with some key state elections. While UP and Gujarat could set the tone for the 2009 general elections, Offstumped is seeing stirrings of an unconventional political alliance shaping up. Known Congress Hack and Sonia Spin Meister Pankaj Vora in his op-ed piece for the New Year in the Hindustan Times “The Decision is Ours” made some interesting arguments in favour of a move towards a Presidential form of Government. Coming from Vora one must assume there is a body of opinion forming within the Congress on this. It is not too difficult to see why the Congress, a fervent defender of the westminister model and a critic of the now defunct Vajpayee NDA created National Commission for the Review of Constitution, is veering towards this. It perhaps has become clear to Rahul Gandhi and others that the chances of the Congress ever coming to power on its own are remote. It perhaps is also clear that a coalition government lead by a Gandhi would be the beginning of the end of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as a viable political brand. On the other hand a Presidential model with its inherent personality based politics will lend itself much more to the preservation of the dynasty.

Well whatever its motivation it looks like the Congress is looking to open a constitutionally dormant topic. The going will not be easy given that the Supreme Court has opined in the past that the basic structure of the constitution cannot be ammended and the constituent assembly debates clearly point to the supremacy of the Parliament being central to the design of the constitution. However the Congress may find support from the BJP here as it was the BJP which all along advocated for it. Both the national parties have been at the receiving end of coalition politics and it could be in their mutual interest to pursue this. Manmohan Singh’s gesture of greeting Vajpayee on his birthday could be the beginning of this unusual bi-partisan alliance if this were to move forward.

Offstumped fully endorses any move to strengthen the executive and to delink it from fractured legislatures. On this note Offstumped wishes all its readers a Happy New 2007 while praying for Empowerment and Social Justice for all fellow Bloggers.

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