Monday, December 28, 2009
The government in a stinging rebuke has pulled up Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor for using twitter to post his comments on a new Visa guideline issued by his colleague and union Home minister P Chidambaram. In fact, Tharoor's boss Minister for External Affairs S M Krishna has asked him not to comment on government policy on Twitter.The diktat presumably because the government fears it ends up blurring the lines between what's public and what's not. Predictably the govt's action has sparked off a debate with several people coming out on the net in defence of Tharoor citing freedom of expression. While no one can deny Mr Tharoor his freedoms there is cause for concern when a matter of the national interest is blithely 'trivialised'. And when a complex policy issue is discussed on a platform that is not formatted to allow for exhaustive or even reasoned debate. There would have been no problem had Mr Tharoor used a suitable forum to debate or even criticise the government's new visa norms. And as minister he would have had several of those platforms available to him. At the end of the day Mr Tharoor presumably forgot that the medium is not always the message.
Friday, December 4, 2009
The debate around ULFA supreme commander Arabinda Rajkhowa's 'surrender' has inevitably moved beyond the development's impact on the fortunes of the terrorist organisation to how the Indian govt should deal with him. For instance, should the Centre talk to Rajkhowa? And if so, about what? Sovereignty? Autonomy? With each passing hour the dilemma plays itself out in the Centre's policy circles. But for many outside the government the answer is clear and simple - throw Rajkhowah into jail and charge him with the mass murder of 10,000 Indian citizens. Anything less, is to send out the wrong message, set the wrong precedent and serve as a slap in the face of thousands of patriotic Assamese that have pledged themselves to the service of the nation. It's important to note that there hasn't been a whimper of protest in Assam over the capture of Rajkhowa, no mass outrage, no bandh calls. Is this an indication of the Ulfa's dwindling legitimacy? Perhaps. But in any event it is a point to take into consideration. With a majority of ULFA top leaders (barring commander-in-chief of its military wing Paresh Baruah) behind bars, with several others eliminated or on the run, there's never been a better time to shut the door on the ULFA. Acting out of a misplaced sense of righteousness and engaging Rajkhowa now will only end up glorifying his cause not to mention legitimising his nearly two decade long reign of terror in the North East.