Lalit Modi outsourced the IPL-2 to South Africa

The second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is being played in South Africa since April 18, 2009. We bought the series of 59 matches on Willow TV for $79 here in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Every morning bright at 6:00 AM my wife and I are ready to watch the games with a hot cup of bed-tea and our lap-tops. We don’t want to miss even the toss. Are we really the exceptions? We are kind of retired and don’t have to go to office every morning but our regular chores suffer as neither of us is willing to miss any excitement. Most of the days there are 2 matches and the whole excitement would finish around 1:30 pm. The seven and a half minute strategy breaks after every 10 overs were annoying in the beginning but now it has become a welcome relief to refill your cup of tea and take a quick visit to the bathroom! It does not bother us whether the league is being played in India or in South Africa because even if we had to watch in the middle of the night, we would still watch it. So here is the message to Shri Lalit Modi, “you go girl!” Who cares if P Chidambaram was bitching or not? We do not care if ‘India Today’ thinks it was a bad idea. We are all having a lot of fun!

Only poor people vote in India…

Rich do the rest, like counting the votes, analyzing the vote, putting the government in place and of course bitching about everything! Disgraceful is the word that comes to mind. Especially after 26/11 we thought South Bombay voters would come out in big numbers and repose the faith in our democratic process. But that was too much to ask for. The rich people in India obviously do not value the price some Indians paid for their independence and their right to vote. Most non-Western countries around the world envy us for our liberties and our political institutions. One day in not too distant a future, a Mayawati would become the Prime Minister of India and institute a “Jazia” on our elite and only then these people would get the message. Just THINK about it!

Indian political movement was started in Bombay in 1885 by the Parsi/British elite of that time. It remained an obsession of the rich lawyers and businessmen of India till the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from South Africa in 1915. It was Gandhiji who transformed this urban movement into a national rural revolution. But for him, Indian National Congress and all political activities in India would have remained confined to the metropolitan cities of the country. The legacy of Gandhi has survived in the regional parties of India but the urban leadership has slowly dissipated. The prominent national leaders of India have virtually no appeal in the vast rural areas of India. Dr Manmohan Singh and Lal Krishna Advani are strangers to the rural India.

Last night I was watching the show, ‘We The People’ on NDTV and the topic of discussion was ‘Who’s afraid of Mayawati?’ in a town-hall format. The expert panel was good and the audience questions were also relevant. The obvious concern was “what if Mayawati becomes the next Prime Minister of India”. It was refreshing to see the reaction was acceptance of the situation on the ground and no real panic amongst the elite. The reasons could be the maturity of the electorate and the confidence in India’s bureaucracy. This confidence of Indians must be watched around the world. It shows the resilience of India’s democracy and existence of strong civil institutions. An autocratic politician like Mayawati could be elected the leader of a ‘Third Front’ coalition and thus assume the role of a Prime Minister. This is actually possible!

This has happened before and it could happen again. Remember the rise of Chaudhary Charan Singh in 1979, Chandra Shekhar Singh in 1990, H D Deve Gowda in 1996 and Inder Kumar Gujral in 1997? None of them lasted for more than a year in office but still hurt the economy and our foreign policy. Gujral the most articulate of them all was the biggest disaster when he blew the whistle on our own R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing) in Pakistan. Yet, India did not fall off the cliff, it survived. We will survive Mayawati too but it should wake up our non-voting middle class in Bombay and elsewhere! Mayawati is only 53 years old and has a long way to go in not only the Dalit politics but the entire minority victim hood. She is a solo-star of her party and might be tempted to appoint only Dalits in her central cabinet!

Mayawati to Maneka Gandhi on Varun Gandhi

Obama might return from G-20 summit empty handed!

The White House would go in an overdrive to project President Obama’s first ever international summit as a roaring success before there is a drip drip drip of a dud G-20 submit just concluded. This is so typical of a new administration that lacks a world-wide-vision. World’s 20 leading economies would meet in London on April 2, 2009 to discuss the new economic order. Out of these 20 countries represented in the summit, only 7 would talk and show their displeasure with the United States of America. These seven countries are China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Russia and the United States. The remaining 13 would just watch the 7 talk and sit on their hands. These 13 emerging economies are also angry but lack the courage to confront America and speak their minds. This is the reason these summits fail.

These 13 remaining countries account for atleast 30% of the world gross product but have very little say at this point. These are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the European Union. When push comes to shove only Australia, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom would stand together with the United States of America even if they profoundly disagree with America. That is why they are called the poodles of America. If anything meaningful is to happen in such summits, these poodles would have to stop sitting in America’s lap and learn to speak their mind. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown tried to chastise the US before the start of the summit, he was mildly rebuked by President Barack Obama. The rest kept their mouths shut!

Michael Elliott of TIME describes the summit as follows, “The G-20 is an informal body that groups together not just the leading advanced industrial economies, which have their own club in the G-8, but also “emerging market” nations such as India and China, together with middle-income economies such as South Korea and Mexico. Together, the 19 nations (plus the European Union, which explains the 20 – though the World Bank and IMF are also members of the G-20, just to confuse things) account for about 90% of world GDP, 80% of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population.” What Michael Elliot forgot to mention is that by 2040, China might emerge as the largest economy in the world, followed by the United States and India. Michael also forgot to seriously contemplate that by the middle of this century Brazil, China and India might emerge as the most innovative and creative countries in the world!

President Obama is an absolute star of this G-20 summit, not only because he is the first black president of the United States but also because he is very young and inexperienced in world affairs. Nothing is known about his positions on important global issues and therefore there is a certain amount of apprehension about him. Obama should know that the world by and large disagrees with America’s position on the stimulus size and the kind of regulatory framework that the US proposes. Not only does the world blame the United States for the current economic crisis but also its persistence of the great “American Exceptionalism” that it perpetuates. This is a whole new world and the emerging economies are not willing to let America dictate to them how to conduct their affairs. Everyone in the world believes that they have as much God given right and the potential to work hard and compete in the global marketplace. They do not subscribe to the idea of “American Exceptionalism”!

Excerpt from Miliband on the London Summit

The next G-20 meeting should define Obama’s world-view

South Africa is an excellent choice for IPL-2

The BCCI decision to move the IPL tournament to South Africa is prudent and in many ways path breaking. Cricket is like a religion in India. People are not only passionate about the game, they worship our cricket icons. Taking any chances with their security would have been irresponsible for the Board of Control for Cricket in India as well as the Government of India. The second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is scheduled to begin from April 18, 2009, instead of April 10 as initially planned.

There are a number of indirect advantages of South Africa hosting an Indian Cricket Tournament. Besides the obvious security advantage, the cricketers may find better pitches in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Benoni and Potchesfstroom. Unlike the Indian tracks that are flat and dry, South African pitches might add little suspense to the exciting series. The international players might feel a little safer under the current unfortunate circumstances in India.

South Africa is an emerging economy with a relatively small population. The per capita income of 48 million people of South Africa is much higher than India or any other country on the sub-continent. It is undoubtly the leader of the continent of Africa with the current GDP of $283 billion. It is a rich country by the third-world standards. India would enhance the bilateral relations with South Africa by holding the IPL-2 in that country. I feel in the end, this could be a win-win situation for everyone concerned!

Should IPL be postponed till after the elections?

Doha Development Round-dead or in deep freeze?

Successful conclusion of Doha Development Round can spur economic growth and provide necessary stimulus to the global economy. This is a standard line of the developed world when dealing with the developing world. But look at the debates from inside the ‘Capitalistic Church’, it is a cheap ‘nautanki’ at best. You should have seen the ‘Kabuki Dance’ yesterday in the US Congress when the ‘Auto-Chiefs’ descended on the capital hill and performed in front of the cameras. Nothing was spared, from begging to bullying every trick was tried with little success. Guess what will ultimately happen? I can bet you that the domestic automakers would get everything they seek with no strings attached what-so-ever. This is called the all American “Classic Kabuki Dance”. Unfortunately the whole world is watching CNN, Fox and CNBC and with all this the administration expects to negotiate a fair international trade agreement?

Multilateral trade agreements like Doha Round are not achievable in contemporary world unless India is on board. It not only represents 1.1 billion people of India, but speaks for millions of small and marginal farmers of the developing world. Having G-8 or G-20 around a table is a futile exercise. Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is a perfect template for any future negotiations. Once an agreement is concluded between India and the United States, the next stop should be Brazil. If India can live with a trade agreement, so would Brazil. Mexico and other South American countries are likely to rally around Brazil. Once you have US, India, Brazil and Mexico on the same page, the group should take Canada along to the next stop: South Africa. This stage could take a while because you would be roping in not just South Africa but the whole of African Union. This is the continent that everyone needs to pay attention to. The poorest of the poor live on the continent of Africa. Unless the group is ready to accommodate Africa, no multilateral trade agreement is worth the paper it is written on. This is not about morality, this is about common sense! Ask Bill Gates about it.

Once you have North and South America with Africa and India on-board, this is the time to talk to European Union. I very seriously doubt if they would have an appetite left to take protectionist postures. They would realize that the next to join the band-wagon would be China, Japan and Russia (non-member). Europe does not want to be isolated but has become used to blackmailing America and the rest, being one of the founder members of the WTO (World Trade Organization). The United States under the new administration must stop coddling Europe as a natural born cousin and forge the new relationship with long-lost capitalist sibling: India. No other country in the world has more in common than India and America. 70% of the people in each country identify with free market and capitalism. Europe and Japan are more like welfare-states. George Bush is beginning to understand this paradigm. Hopefully President Barack Obama would learn fast and change the beaten track.

Inside Story – Can the Doha round be saved?

Davos Annual Meeting 2007 – Frozen Trade Talks

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