Thursday, 20 January, 2022
HomeThoughtShotIran's Ambassador feels US wrong on Iran, Valerian Rodrgiues on Karnataka politics...

Iran’s Ambassador feels US wrong on Iran, Valerian Rodrgiues on Karnataka politics & TCA Raghavan on ‘Indo-Pacific’

The best of the day’s opinion, chosen and curated by ThePrint’s top editors.

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The United States is wrong on Iran

Ali Chegeni | Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to India
Hindustan Times

In this piece, Ali Chegeni calls President Trump’s abrogation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “dishonest and deceitful”. As part of the deal, he writes, Iran’s right to maintain a civil nuclear programme was recognised though restrictions were placed on its size and scope for 10 to 15 years. He suggests that Iran complied with the provisions of the deal and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had verified Iran’s compliance multiple times.

He says that even after the deal’s abrogation, Iran continued to fulfil its undertakings for 13 months but the other participant countries of the deal “failed to compensate and mitigate the distorted balance of the deal”.

He argues that under these circumstances, Iran is not obliged to respect the limits on its uranium enrichment. He further claims that this position is legally consistent with the provisions of the deal.

Lastly, he urges the international community to oppose US behaviour and uphold its own commitments.

The escape from freedom

Avijit Pathak | The writer is professor of sociology at JNU
The Indian Express

In the context of Delhi government’s plans to install CCTV cameras in classrooms, Avijit Pathak makes a case against the growing culture of surveillance in our society. He argues that our faith in surveillance is problematic for three reasons. First, there is no empirical proof that “surveillance — the visual act of identifying the criminal — necessarily leads to the elimination of criminality”. If anything, we keep seeing more blasts, violence and destruction.

Second, he says, we have come to believe that technology can solve everything. This, he argues, takes a form where instead of recruiting teachers who love the vocation and making our learning culture participatory, we believe that a CCTV camera will lead to good behaviour and teaching.

Third, he suggests, a surveillance culture destroys the “spirit of trust and care” which is needed for any civilisation to sustain itself.

Making sense of Karnataka’s politics

Valerian Rodrigues | The writer taught Political Science at Mangalore University and Jawaharlal Nehru University
The Hindu

In this piece, Valerian Rodrigues, attempts to explain the political “poaching drama” which is unfolding in Karnataka. He writes that while the coalition government has accused BJP of orchestrating it, the government is itself responsible for three reasons. First, Congress erred by not including the most important north Karnataka leaders in the ministry for many months.

Second, the government “attempted to undercut the lucrative wheeler-dealer network” which the previous Congress government under Siddaramaiah had built. This network covered areas like mining, land and transport, and directed resources to its henchmen.

Third, he argues, the Congress and JD(S) are political rivals in southern Karnataka and failed to create an overlapping vote base which proved costly in the Lok Sabha election. Many Congress leaders, looking at personal interests and future prospects, thus started questioning the utility of the coalition and jumped ship, he adds.

The changing seas: antecedents of the Indo-Pacific

TCA Raghavan | Retired diplomat and currently Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs
The Telegraph

In the piece, TCA Raghavan traces the evolution of the term “Indo-Pacific”. He argues that while the present usage of the term is largely political and linked to China’s expansion, there are other significant and older antecedents to it as well.

He notes that probably “the first conscious use of the term Indo-Pacific” in modern India was by the scholar Kalidas Nag in his 1941 book India and the Pacific World. For Nag, Raghavan notes, the term meant a large cultural and civilisational entity within which India and other nations like China and Japan had deep cultural and artistic relations.

Raghavan also notes the diasporic angle associated with the term. For this, he cites a book titled India and the Pacific written by Charles Freer Andrews in 1937. In this book, Andrews details “his experience of working with Indian workers in faraway places beginning with his visits to Fiji in 1915”. Raghavan notes that “this Indian expansion under the [British] imperial aegis is as much an antecedent of the Indo-Pacific as any other”.

A well-being fiscal Budget

Parthasarathi Shome | Chairperson, International Tax Research and Analysis Foundation
Business Standard

Shome, in his column, draws a comparison between the Union Budgets of India and New Zealand. While India presented its Budget along traditional lines, New Zealand adopted a new approach based on indicators in a Living Standards Framework (LSF) to assess well-being. It contains markers such as overall life statisfaction and sense of meaning and self, says Shome. New Zealand’s priorities comprised of sustainable and low emissions economy, support of digital participation, lifting incomes, skill opportunity and reducing child poverty, among others. India needs to adopt a similar approach. Though it will require massive efforts, it can be done, Shome writes. An approach with new components is the need of the hour and only then will government expenditure to track well-being can be undertaken.

Filling watering holes

Elias George |National head, infrastructure, government and healthcare, KPMG India
The Economic Times

George quotes the NITI Aayog’ s 2018 report on water management which highlights how India was suffering from one of its worst water crisis. It also states that 21 cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by next year. While water is a state subject, the Centre can also set the tone and propose common action plans and outcomes which can include water recycling, harvesting and lean irrigation. It is a momentous task for the government to address alone and needs harnessing of civic action on a massive scale. “Long-term remedies will also necessitate a clear-eyed look at the manner in which India uses its water, and the competing claims upon it, given that nearly 80 per cent of India’s freshwater is consumed — extremely inefficiently — for irrigation”, the author writes.

The contours of a sustainable disinvestment platform

Ashok Pal Singh | Member, Postal Services Board, formerly joint secretary in Dipam

Singh highlights that there is a case for relooking at the organisational structure for disinvestment. The department of investment and public asset management (Dipam) is crippled by institutional impediments including a lack of technical expertise. It is also controlled by civil servants with no prior experience of capital markets. The overlapping remit of Dipam and other administrative ministries, besides independent roles of companies, make the process convoluted. Singapore’s Temasek Holdings, which is guided by business tenets, offers an inspirational model. It holds and manages Singapore government’s assets and operates with full flexibility without the involvement of its shareholder—the government. India should look at creating a Temasek-like entity and transfer ownership of CPSEs to it. The entity should be allowed to function independently.

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