NPT: Club of haves and have-nots

Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:31PM GMT
By Syed Zafar Mehdi
The Second Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference (RevCon) of the members of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is holding a two-week meeting in Geneva these days.

The Treaty became an international law in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995. Hitherto, a total of 190 countries have ratified the Treaty. Under the Treaty, the five countries formally recognized as nuclear weapon states (NWS) include China, France, Britain, United States and Russia. The only four countries not party to the Treaty are India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea – all of them big nuclear powers.

The member states of NPT have been holding regular meeting to discuss their responsibilities and chalk out the strategies to promote the culture of non-proliferation and disarmament under the NPT. The Treaty is reviewed every five years in meetings called Review Conference. There is also a two-week Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) conference that meets once a year ahead of the Review Conference. In preparation for the Review Conference in 2015, there are three PrepComs: 2012 (Vienna), 2013 (Geneva), and 2014 (New York). This year, the meeting is taking place in Geneva and is attended by the representatives of all the member states of NPT. During the PrepComs, working papers are tabled and a final summary statement is drafted though the documents are not binding. They are to be used as assessment tools for five-yearly Review Conference, where a final consensus document is produced.

The Treaty was conceived with an objective to prevent nuclear proliferation, work towards full disarmament and promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The non-nuclear members states of NPT had agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons and the nuclear member states had pledged to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology and take determined steps towards total nuclear disarmament. So, the big question is: has the NPT been a success or failure, and have the objectives and goals been met. I was discussing the same issue on Iranian news channel Sahar the other night and I categorically said the treaty has become a farce. It really has.

Under Article 1 of the Treaty, the five nuclear weapon states are not supposed to transfer the nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapon state. But, we know how France helped Israel in building nuclear arsenal, China helped Pakistan become a nuclear power, US displayed its magnanimity towards India. Interestingly, all these beneficiaries are not the members of NPT. India refused to sign the treaty as it found it ‘faulty’ and a ‘club of nuclear haves and have-nots’. During a visit to Tokyo in 2007, India then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, “If India did not sign the NPT, it is not because of its lack of commitment for non-proliferation, but we consider NPT a flawed treaty.” Pakistan maintains that it will not sign as long as India does not. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, told a news agency few years back that Pakistan is willing to abandon its position on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in case India joins it. He put the blame squarely on western powers for destabilizing the security situation in the region and increasing the dependence of Pakistan on nuclear weapons. Israel, like its important ally India, finds the Treaty ‘flawed and hypocritical’. “This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world,” said an Israeli government spokesman in response to a 28-page declaration by NPT in 2010 asking Israel to fall in line.

Article XI of the Treaty is interesting. It unequivocally calls for disarmament by the nuclear weapon states. “Each of the parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue the negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,” reads the Article. The language, however, is vague and prone to misinterpretation. It does not make it mandatory for nuclear member states to disarm, but to do so in ‘good faith’, and without setting any time frame to do so. The powerful nuclear member states of NPT have used this vagueness to their advantage and refused to comply with it. Instead of moving towards total disarmament, they have willfully and vigorously carried on with their nuclear proliferation at a staggering level. According to NPT, these nuclear states cannot use their nuclear weapons against the non-nuclear state, but despite that, they have constantly threatened to use nuclear weapons against what they call ‘rogue states’. United States continuously targeted North Korea between 1959 and 1991, forcing it to quit NPT and develop nuclear weapons. Now, North Korea, like Iran, has become a ‘rogue state’ that needs to be annihilated.

Quite interestingly, ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea, in their terminology, are different from the ‘pariah states’ like Myanmar and Zimbabwe. William Blum, author of ‘Rogue States: The Guide to the World’s Only Superpower’ has a fitting answer to that. “United States, because of its foreign policy, is itself the biggest rogue state.” There is a sea of difference between the rhetoric and reality when it comes to the policies of these nuclear weapon states like US. Their obligation and commitment under Article VI of NPT to work towards total disarmament has turned out to be hogwash. The five nuclear members of NPT together have more than 22,000 warheads. The commitments made at previous Review Conference in 2010 have not been fulfilled. The progress on the NPT Action Plan has been slow and uninspiring.

Among the four states not party to NPT, the case of India and Pakistan is curious. India first test fired in 1974 and Pakistan followed it up in 1998. India is believed to possess material for more than 150 warheads, while Pakistan has between 80 and 120 warheads. The two countries have gone to war on two occasions, and the likelihood of another war can never be ruled out considering the simmering tension. The logjam over Kashmir, the bone of contention, occasionally takes ugly turns to the extent that both the nuclear powers threaten each other. According to NPT, any nuclear deal between NPT member states and these four countries is illegal. Yet, United States went ahead with Indo-US nuclear deal in 2006, and China signed a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan in 2010, both in direct violation of the Treaty as it prohibits export of nuclear reactors to countries that have not signed the pact (in this case India and Pakistan).

Israel has the tendency to act like a stubborn child. It refuses to confirm or deny the possession of nuclear weapons, but the cat was out of the bag as early as 1986 when an Israeli technician Mordechai Vanunu published details of Israel’s nuclear program in Sunday Times UK. He was soon arrested and charged for treason. On September 18, 2009, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Israel to open its nuclear facilities for IAEA inspection and adhere with the resolution regarding non-proliferation, but it out-rightly refused to comply. The question is, why does Israel need to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East? Why no outrage over the breach of International laws by Israel? Why the grotesque double standards while dealing with Israel?

Iran, on the other hand, continues to be in the center of storm. Thomas Countryman, assistant secretary of State for international security and nonproliferation, at the ongoing NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in Geneva said, “Possession of nuclear weapons by Iran constitutes a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons”. Iran’s Foreign Ministry shot back saying that the country is “loyal” to its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligations. As a signatory of NPT, Iran claims its right under Article IV of the Treaty to pursue peaceful nuclear energy program.

Despite no credible evidence confirming the presence of nuclear weapons in Iran, the crippling economic sanctions against the country continue. Dr. Hans Blix, former Director General of IAEA believes there is no clear evidence to nail Iran.

“Iran has not violated NPT and there is no evidence right now that suggests Iran is producing nuclear weapons,” he said recently during an event in Dubai.

Unlike Israel, Iran has always welcomed IAEA inspectors to inspect its nuclear sites. The negotiations between Iran and West are stalled not because of Iran, but because of West’s obstructionism and sanction policy. Iran had proposed to stop the uranium enrichment at 20 per cent if it got 20 per cent enriched fuel in exchange from west. The offer was turned down, and was followed by sanctions.

For Iran, not producing nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction is a religious obligation, a fact attested by Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa (decree) against nuclear weapons. Iran realizes that a nuclear armed Iran will lead to a nuclear race in the region and that can have worrying repercussions. It also knows that it is likely to lose trusted friends like Russia and China and face isolation if it produces nuclear weapons.

Two high profile rounds of talks in Kazakhstan have already taken place this year without any noticeable gains. Addressing representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on the sidelines of the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in Geneva, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Baqeri said Tehran is ready to engage with Group 5+1 to work out a lasting settlement to all vexed issues. Referring to the recent meeting between Iran and the Group 5 1 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, he said the group has not fulfilled its promise yet. The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who represents the Group5+1 in talks with Iran, was supposed to inform Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili about the outcome of her consultations with the six countries, but she has failed to keep her word.

Meanwhile, speaking at the NPT meeting in Geneva, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, hinted at the possibility of Iran being west’s reliable partner in Middle East.

“Western countries are advised to change gear from confrontation to cooperation, the window of opportunity to enter into negotiation for long-term strategic cooperation with Iran, the most reliable, strong and stable partner in the region is still open.”

The war-mongering, brinkmanship, coercive sanctions, and the military confrontation is not going to work. Negotiations are the only way out, And the ball, now, is in West’s court.

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Jab We Met!

 

It was a weekend, when I normally wake up late. My phone suddenly rung up, and to my pleasant surprise, a familiar voice was on the line. I jumped out of the bed, rubbed my eyes, cleared my throat and with a tinge of excitement greeted my Principal Maam. “Beta, we are organizing an alumni meet towards the end of month, will you be coming,” she asked. I have never said ‘no’ to her, and there was no way I could have turned down her request this time, notwithstanding myrigid and rigorous schedule. “Will try, Maam,” I said. Photo0119

For the next few days, I tried to fix my schedule accordingly to make sure I don’t miss the historic event and a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends, teachers and acquaintances. It was a first ever alumni meet, so naturally everyone seemed excited about it. On the morning of March 30, we left Delhi for Aligarh. The long and delightful drive on the new Yamuna Expressway was in stark contrast to our earlier arduous trips to Aligarh through other routes. We reached Aligarh in the afternoon, and it actually felt like home-coming.

As the car halted at the main gate, gatekeeper Aslam appeared out of nowhere to let us in with a broad grin. We shook hands and parked the car in the corner of new, majestic school building. It was prayer time and the beautiful sound of Azaan reverberated in the entire campus. We immediately rushed to prayer hall and the congregation prayer attended by all the students was reminiscent of the good old days. After the prayers, we were escorted to dining hall for lunch. On the menu was the sumptuous chicken biryani, and the aroma was tempting. The magic in Nafees bhai’s hands, despite age catching up with him, remains intact.

541335_10200374452498403_1198921630_nAs we made ourselves comfortable on the dining table, we saw Shabab Sir and Haider Sir making their way inside the hall. All of us immediately stood up and greeted them. As they joined us for lunch, it was a déjà vu moment for many of us. Soon, we saw many other teachers and staff members including Qamar Sir, Nadeem Sir and Ikram Sir rushing in. They were followed by Ansar bhai, Ehtisham bhai, Shafat bhai, Zakir bhai, Zeeshan bhai and others. It was lovely to see all of us together under one roof after so many years.

After the lunch, the rip-roaring cricketing action unfolded in the field. It was a nerve-racking clash between traditional rivals, Teachers XI and Old Boys XI. Teachers XI skipper Haider Sir won the toss and elected to bat first. Our skipper Owais, who was fully charged up, took the ball and ran to his bowling mark. The field was well set. I was at point, Zia bhai was keeping the wickets, Asher bhai was at log off and Jasim was at long leg boundary. Thanks to some big hitting by Raza Sir, who was in his elements, Teachers XI posted the decent score of 84 on the board. Watching the match from sidelines was Principal Maam, who cheered and applauded every run and every wicket. Jasim and I came out to open the batting for Old Boys XI. Jasim returned to pavilion on the very first ball, followed by Asher bhai. It was left to me and Zia bhai to build the innings and later other batsmen contributed handsomely to chase the score quite convincingly. Once again, after years, Teachers XI faced defeat at the hands of Old Boys XI and we kept the tradition alive.Photo0125

After the scintillating game of cricket, we played volleyball and football after ages. For a moment, we forgot that we were grown-ups now, working in different fields and some of us even having kids at home. Time whizzed past and it was prayer time again. After the evening prayers, we changed into formals and rushed to the stunning new auditorium in school building for the main programme of the evening. It was wonderful to see such fantastic infrastructure and facilities in place now, since we had to literally toil a lot in our days. In the new school building, I saw my picture and name on the board of toppers, and it was a moment of unbridled joy and pride.

The evening programme commenced with the recitation of Holy Quran, followed by slideshow of pictures from the past, which turned each one of us nostalgic inside the dim-lit auditorium. Every slide was greeted with thunderous applause. Some of us were called on the stage to speak about our experiences at MUCA and expectations from our younger brothers there. The highlight of the programme for me was an awe-inspiring, eloquent speech by my senior Zia Haider in his inimitable style. Asher bhai, Jasim, Safi, Habib, Owais, Anwar, Shariq, Tasawwur, Kamal and others also spoke about their bitter-sweet MUCA experiences, leaving audience in peals of laughter and tears.644349_10200945495303538_2027298147_n

Raza Sir in his marvellous speech, filled with interesting anecdotes, reminisced about the past and how MUCA has evolved over the years from a small seminary into an extraordinary institution of learning. Naheed Maam, the Principal, thanked students and teachers for making the event a memorable affair, and her emotional words almost left many of us in tears. Haider Sir, the man behind the entire show, said the idea of an alumni meet was first proposed by Safi Akbar, my friend and classmate. As a token of love, mementos were distributed among the old boys, who took a solemn pledge to make their alma mater proud.

After the programme, we got an opportunity to meet and interact with our beloved teachers including Zehra Maam, Nahida Maam, Waheeda Maam, Zulfiqar Sir, and Hindi Maam. We exchanged pleasantries, shared smiles, clicked pictures and had dinner together. Finally, after a tiring day, we rushed to the dormitory in new hostel building and slept. Early morning, as the rays of sun pierced through windows, some prankster sprayed cold water over us, reminding us of our own pranks during our days there. We got up, took shower and rushed to dining hall for the breakfast. To our surprise, the Sunday menu was still the same. It was my favourite puri halwa and sabzi and we relished it totally.Photo0183

After the breakfast, some went to common room for a movie, some rushed to sports room for a game of table tennis, some assembled in the playground for a game of football and some ventured out of the campus for a walk. I went out to meet some old friends in university. Later in the day, most of us left back after two wonderful, unforgettable days.

It was a reunion that brought us all together after so many years, and it was fantastic to see everyone, despite their stringent schedules and other preoccupations, take out time for the alumni meet. We missed many of our friends and teachers who could not make it owing to some unavoidable circumstances.

It’s back to work now, but we shall meet again in the next alumni meet, next year. I hope it’s an even better, bigger and impressive gathering then.

P.S, We are Aligarians for life.

Zafar

Arrested journalist’s family fights for justice

Syed Zafar Mehdi

Eyes moist, head tilted downwards, and arms crossed, Shauzab Kazmi looked visibly distraught, even outraged. All of 23, the young man had aged in just two days. I have known him since our boarding school days in Aligarh, where he was my junior. Normally shy and unpretentious, he always wore that infectious smile. But here he was, inconsolable and gutted, shaken and stirred. The smile had vanished and eyes were numb. His voice was choking even as he struggled to hold back his tears. A huge crowd of journalists, activists and friends had assembled in the lawns of Press Club, as the camera-shy boy addressed the first press conference of his life. Everyone stayed glued to him, hanging on to every word he said. As cameras zoomed in, some itchy and painful questions were fielded to the young boy. He held the forte. Putting up a brave front, he explained the manner in which his father, Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, a widely respected Delhi based Urdu journalist was arrested by police on Wednesday, March 07.

Flanked by some top-notch journalists like Saeed Naqvi, Zafar Agha, Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) General Secretary SK Pande and RJD MLA Asif Khan, Shauzab vouched for his father’s innocence, and demanded a free and fair investigation into the case. He claimed that police was mentally torturing his father and unnecessarily calling up their relatives for inquiries. As per his own admission, Shauzab was forced to sign on the arrest memo in the dead of night, and was threatened of dire consequences in case he did not comply. Not surprising since bullying and intimidation are the only operative principles of state agencies including police. Worse still, according to the family, he has been booked under the stringent provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). And, what more, he has been sent to 20 days judicial remand, a gross punishment in a crime where police is yet to give a statement backing their claims.

Puncturing holes into the flimsy claims of police, Shauzab said that his father was picked up by police while coming out of India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) Lodhi Road at around 11:30 on March 6, while in police records his arrest is shown at 8:30pm. The sleuths from Special Cell broke into their house later at night, queued them up outside, and took away his laptop, desktop, PIB card, driving license and other valuable documents. They told Shauzab he will be sent back within an hour, and Shauzab stood waiting outside his house for the rest of night.

Police has accused Kazmi of using a scooty parked outside his house to conduct reconnaissance of the Israeli embassy. Shauzab says the scooty belongs to his uncle, who had come to Delhi from Meerut for his medical examination at AIIMS some two years back. The documents of scooty have been confiscated by police, family alleges. Trashing the charge of police that the family had sheltered the suspected bomber, Shauzab says no Iranian has ever stayed at their house. Incidentally, on the day of the attack, Kazmi was sitting on a dharna at 24, Akbar Road to protest against the land grabbing of Shah e Mardaan shrine in Jor Bagh.

Calling him an “honest and upright” journalist, veteran journalist and Kazmi’s long-time friend Saeed Naqvi said he is facing the music for his unequivocal views about Iran and for his US and Israel bashing. Kazmi had been to Syria recently as part of a journalist delegation from India and he has been unscathing in his criticism and condemnation of western propaganda. DUJ’s SK Pande said he is not defending Kazmi but DUJ strongly opposes his detention. He equated his case with journalists in Kashmir, who are routinely treated in similar fashion by state agencies. DUJ has written to police Commissioner, urging him to release the accused on bail pending investigation.

As the plot thickens and different versions and theories float in the air, one of the ludicrous reports claims Kazmi has confessed to the crime and investigators are looking into the possibility of the involvement of Quds Force, a guerilla outfit of Iranian army. Some reports say he is on Bangkok bomber’s call list. Reports also claim that he had been lured with multi-million dollars to help the executioners with logistics. As it appears, the media trail has begun. Crime journalists, driven by the desperation of making it spicy for readers, are speculating and guessing loudly. Some are even jumping to conclusions even before the trail has started and charges have been officially framed.

One of the senior journalists present at the press conference said there is more to it than just about Iran and Israel. Kazmi, according to him, has been on police radar ever since the violent confrontation took place between police and Shia mourners on Chehlum (observed forty days after Ashura) this year at Shah-e-Mardaan Jor Bagh. Hundreds of young Shia mourners were beaten to pulp by trigger-happy cops when they tried to break open the colony gates to let the procession pass through. Kazmi, a local himself, has been accused by residents of fuelling the public anger against cops. According to the senior journalist, the arrest of Kazmi on the pretext that he provided the logistical support to bombers is actually a vendetta for his unflinching crusade against those who have grabbed the land belonging to Shah-e-Mardaan shrine in Jor Bagh.

Kazmi was picked up by police on Wednesday, March 7, while returning to his home in Jor Bagh from India Islamic Cultural Centre, Lodhi Road. He is accused of providing the ‘logistical support’ to the main executioner, who according to police has already fled the country. His family has rubbished the charges as baseless and concocted, alleging that he has been framed primarily because he is an outspoken critic of US and Israel and appears on news channels regularly.

Kazmi has worked with IRNA, DD and BBC, having covered Iraq war and more recently the political unrest in Syria. He is also a regular contributor for many prominent Urdu dailies and periodicals, and also volunteers to teach English to underprivileged children at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) Lodhi Road.

As the 20 days police remand continues, his family fears he might be tortured, interrogated and forced to confess to the crime. Shauzab is heartbroken but confident that his father will come out unscathed. Younger son Turab Kazmi has decided to skip his higher secondary boards to fight for his father. His wife Jahanara has not left the Shah-e-Mardaan shrine ever since he was arrested. The Family is fighting for justice and we hope truth prevails.

(First published in Daily Times, Pakistan)

 

The truth about India’s growth story

 

By: Syed Zafar Mehdi

India may boast of many hi-tech super specialty hospitals, but there are not even primary health centers in most parts of the country. The budget allocation for health is among the lowest in the world. A report in Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, said that most Indians shell out 78 per cent of their medical bills themselves. The only country worse off as far as private spending on health is concerned is Pakistan, where the figure is 82.5 per cent. The basic problem is infrastructure and support staff and great majority of the population is still deprived of basic healthcare.

In major policy circles across the world, India is being hailed as a great success story of globalization, a vibrant nation with growing financial and industrial clout, one of the main protagonists of new economy and new international policy, and a viable counter-weight to China’s sudden rise.Poverty-in-India

These ideas may not be entirely unfounded but they certainly obscure the extent to which old problems persist and are being dug deeper. It won’t be exaggeration to state that the palpable buzz about ‘Incredible India’ is based on many a myths that the cheerleaders of India’s growth story often overlook or ignore.

It might not please many Indians, but notwithstanding the substantial accomplishments made in various fields, India still has a long way to go before taking the mantle of a ‘superpower’ or even jump into the big league. As noted author and columnist Thomas Friedman once remarked, India is a six lane super highway, but full of potholes, cracked cement, and unfinished sidewalks.

Few years back, London-based independent think-tank Legatum Institute in its report concluded that India’s economy is growing rapidly and the country is likely to leapfrog into the league of economic superpowers by 2030. Since then, the global economic recession has led to dramatic developments across the world, posing serious challenges to emerging economies in particular. Though India has managed to stand its ground, but many serious challenges persist on many fronts.

Some ‘sponsored’ surveys and reports are painting the rosy picture of India, ignoring many realities that lie underneath the surface. As per the Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index, India is the fifth best country in the world for dynamic growing businesses. The index is a reflection of the feasible environment it offers for expansion of businesses. Further, India’s economic confidence reached 68 per cent in August 2012, marking a surge of 8 points from previous months, according to ‘Ipsos Economic Pulse of the World’ survey. As per a study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd (Deloitte), India is slated to be the second largest manufacturing country in the next five years, followed by Brazil. On the Ernst & Young’s (E&Y) renewable attractiveness index, India is perched at fourth position. On the solar index, India is ranked second and on the wind index, it is ranked third, as per the latest study by E&Y and UBM India Pvt Ltd.

What these surveys tell ypu is that India is a rising power and Goliath and everything about India is hunky-dory. What they don’t tell you is that most of Indian states are mired in world’s highest levels of poverty and some human development indicators are among the worst in the developing world. The hype about India as emerging global giant overlooks the simple fact that the growth is not inclusive and superficial to the extent that it is only on the surface and not getting penetrated deep enough to be sustainable and beneficial to all.

In modern India’s context, dualism juxtaposes the hi-tech boom areas with the vast tracts of economy that have barely been touched by post-91 economic reforms. In Indian society, small islands of excellence, prosperity and possibilities are surrounded by a sea of mediocrity, deprivation and discontent.

India may be a full-fledged capitalist country, a liberal economy and a rising money power, but there are people who still eat grass, sell their children, hawk their kidneys, and commit suicides out of desperation. For every million new entrants to India’s burgeoning middle class, there are tens of millions still trapped in grinding web of rural poverty, barely earning a dollar after a back-breaking labor. The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2010 – a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), ranks India below countries such as Rwanda and Sudan, putting it in the “alarming levels of hunger” range. While the cheerleaders drumbeat about the overall growth, they don’t seem to care about the

poorest of the poor. poverty

Countries like China and Vietnam, like India, have shown sharp growth in GDP rates. But unlike India, they have also succeeded in bringing down the levels of poverty and hunger. The major reasons for that is lack of education, abysmal quality of work, rampant corruption, sloppy implementation of projects and schemes, lack of proactive action in policies and the unchecked population growth. Development models have only created islands of prosperity and oceans of deprivation.

Some 65 per cent of people in India live on agriculture, which accounts for around 18 per cent of GDP. The World Development Report in 2008 stated that one per cent growth in agriculture is twice more effective in reducing poverty than similar growth in the non-agricultural sector. But lately, the focus hs shifted from agriculture to IT and telecom sectors.

Gender inequality and malnutrition are highly correlated, and it is no surprise that Global Gender Gap Report 2010 ranked India 112th out of 134 nations worldwide for gender equality. It reminds me of the arithmetic sum we used to solve in school days. It was about a monkey who climbs two feet and slips down one foot in a minute, so in how many minutes will the monkey take to climb a 25 feet pole. India’s growth story looks very similar to this interesting monkey sum.

Leadership, execution and arrogance are some of the nagging problem areas. On leadership, Indians think too small and do not believe in setting big, ambitious goals. The execution and implementation of schemes and plans is pathetic. Arrogance is the most interesting element. For everything, they seem to have an answer. The problems that make this ‘hype’ questionable is the huge population that is yet to fully enjoy the fruits of growth, the challenges of food, energy and ecological security and capability of the institutions to facilitate this leveling of India’s economic landscape.

Education scenario is dismal. In the QS World University Rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities, India figures nowhere in the world’s top-100 universities. Besides, according to recent World Bank reports, while more than 95 per cent of children attend primary school, just 40 per cent of Indian adolescents attend secondary school (Grades 9-12). So, with the spotlight on India as the higher education hub, this news must come as a shock.

India may boast of many hi-tech super specialty hospitals, but there are not even primary health centers in most parts of the country. The budget allocation for health is among the lowest in the world. A report in Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, said that most Indians shell out 78 per cent of their medical bills themselves. The only country worse off as far as private spending on health is concerned is Pakistan, where the figure is 82.5 per cent. The basic problem is infrastructure and support staff and great majority of the population is still deprived of basic healthcare.

Corruption is a monster. The government machinery is taking the full advantage of its age-old drawbacks and pulling down the country in a big way. Corruption, sycophancy and nepotism are so deep rooted that honest research, innovations and their application is not possible. On one hand, they spend Rs. 70,000 crores on the CommonWealth Games to let the world know that the country has arrived on the big stage; on the other hand, they struggle to provide basic amenities to people living in remotest of villages, the Bharat that India lives in. It is difficult to hide the disparity between real and imagined India. The dichotomy is too ugly, but real. And, I did not even mention the civil liberties and human rights scenario, the tyranny against tribal people in the name of development and dams, discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities and the fierce battle on the ground. That is an entirely different debate for some other day.