Alms Race: The Subcontinent of Sub Saharan Asia
Tired of the Bickering. The Rand Corporation, the conservative US think tank, too, thinks that the India-Pakistan enmity is costly. Rand staffer George Tanham, in an article in The International Herald Tribune, writes that the tension and conflict between the two bring heavy costs, tangible and intangible, to both countries. India spends about 2.5 percent of its gross domestic product on defence, he writes, and Pakistan 7.5 percent. In 1994, Indian military spending was USD 7.3 billion, Pakistan´s USD 3.4 billion. However, Pakistan´s army and air force are about half the size of India´s. The intangible costs of the conflict, writes Tanham, “may be even greater than the actual financial costs of military spending.” He adds, “The bitter conflict between India and Pakistan hurts their standing in much of the rest of the world which is tired fo the constant feuding and bickering.”
How To Lose Friends and Win Enemies
Building Up Imran. Advice given by columnist M.A. Said in the Islamabad Nation to former cricketer and Bhutto nemesis Imran Khan, now that he has declared his political ambitions. 1) His public statements should be the outcome of knowledgeable and well-advised briefings by professionals. 2) He needs to jettison embarrassing associations from among the coterie of “defunct socialist and fundo politicians, ex-Generals with messiah complexes, loan-defaulting businessmen and sundry bureaucrats”. 3) Give top priority to a comprehensive economic policy as the corner stone of his political agenda. A lack of an economic agenda would translate into political demise. 4) Identify target electorates, and develop appropriate slogans that are “pithy, hard-hitting and sincere”. 5) Because administrative goodwill is a prerequisite for a successful political career, bureaucrats must know that they will be respected, adequately paid, and empowered to work without fear or favour under an Imran government. 6) Imran will need adequate media support, but the government is going to try and torpedo his plans each step of the way. “At the very best, he may need to buy a paper.”
The BJP´s Neighbourhood
Party Confirms Poll strategy. The Bharatiya Janata Party, as expected, has decided to rely on the “Ram Mandir” card
in the poll campaign. The last couple of years had seen the party trying to go beyond the one-issue (Hindutva) image that had brought it to national prominence, and its emerging plank had been of cleanliness and probity of its leadership (as compared, primarily, to the Congress party). The party has had to abandon this strategy, with the implication of its president L.K. Advani in the bribery scandal known as Hawala, and now has decided to go back to its old standby, the Hindutva theme. According to Indian news sources, the principal campaign themes that the BJP plans to utilise in the run-up to the April-May general elections include: continued commitment to construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya (where the Babri Masjid stood), projection of Atal Behari Vajyapee as prime ministerial candidate, national security, and “the plight of farmers”.
Gandhian Maoists vs Nehruvian Stalinists
Civil Society and Mega Projects.
The Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute has taken the debate on mega projects in South Asia a step further in a report entitled “Civil Society and Mega Projects: Is Pakistan Ready”. Answering the question with a definite negative, SDPI states that mega projects are “part of the World Bank´s ongoing attempt to infuse large funds into the South to legitimise its continued existence in the face of embarrassing net negative transfers.” Large-scale projects involve highly centralised forms of decision making. “To secure public support, the ´national interest´ and ´development´ are invoked, but though mega projects are potent physical signifiers of the outcome of development, development also implies a process of change that is often in conflict with lived local realities. Looking at the demographic distribution of the impact of such projects, mega projects are seen to serve the energy requirements of urban areas, and feed the need for urban/ industrial labour via the migration of displaced people. Mega-projects are also part and parcel of the homogenising idea of nation-building under modernisation. There is denial of the fact that local forms of governance are more responsive to people´s needs.”
Big Dam Trend Up
Meanwhile, Vital Signs, the Worldwatch Institute´s annual review, reports that there is a spurt in the building of dams worldwide. The increase follows a general decline in the 1980s, when construction worldwide averaged less than half that of the preceding 25 years. “Data for the early 1990s, though incomplete, indicate a shift towards larger dams,” says Worldwatch. “Construction of dams higher than 10 meters rose by some 27 percent between 1991 and 1993.” There were 5000 dams in the world in 1950, and there are roughly 38,000 today. According to the data for 1993, counting structures higher than 10 metres, China, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, India and the United States are the top six dam-building countries. They have 311, 190, 140, 125, 76 and 55 dams under construction, respectively.