Monday, January 01, 2007

Looking Back 2006

Another year has come to an end and time will roll on.. India Today calls 2006 a year of remixes for all the deja vu from the affirmative action agitation to cola controversy to remaking of Sonia Gandhi. Here are a few things that stood out through my glasses..

World: Iraq - Spiraling in to a civil war
Iraq seems to be slowly sinking in to a civil war though not many in US are ready admit that as yet. US has lost more of its men in 2006 than in the previous years in Iraq and it might continue to do so with no end in site. Needless to say, Iraqis are no better off today than they were under Saddam Hussein. Toppling Saddam Hussein did no good to Iraq and his hasty execution will also not make any difference either.

World: Nuclear Genie - Continued Proliferation
Nuclear Genie is out of the bottle though US and other nuclear countries disparately tried their best to contain proliferation. Nuclear proliferation is bound to become one of the most challenging issue the human kind will face in the coming years. As more countries become nuclear, the threat of its usage will also increase manifold. After India and Pakistan, North Korea has gone nuclear in 2006 and Iran might do so in the coming years. This is bound to create even more friction in the already embattled Middle East. Israel might launch a preemptive strike to prevent Iran going nuclear as they did in 1981 against Iraq at Osirack.

World: Global Village - Deeply entrenched
Globalization is now deeply entrenched and continue to reshape our lives. While the developed countries see jobs moving elsewhere, developing countries continue to experience an upswing in their economies. Consider this: 1) 70% of all Christmas decorations for 2006 were made in China. 2) 75% of all service related calls from US & Europe are now handled elsewhere. Yet, we have seen only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Globalization and it will continue impact our lives beyond our wildest imaginations. However, a significant number of countries (mainly Islamic & African countries) continue to live outside the global village by choice or by force. This is bound create newer challenges to the global community in the coming years.

India: Mobile Revolution
India is adding 6 million new mobile subscribers every month and by some projections will surpass China in tele-density by 2010. That apart, mobile revolution has truly changed India. It has brought Nokia to Chennai and created thousands of jobs. It has created new possibilities and has connected more people like never before. Already, India has one of the cheapest mobile tariff and is bound to see prices drop even further and make more services possible.

India: Politics of divide
Reservation issue raised its ugly head again in 2006. More and more communities are being brought under the rigid reservation net. Congress Government is even considering reservation for Muslims even thought Sachar committee did not explicitly recommend it. This reservation raj will continue to divide India and create sectarian difference at the cost of meritocracy and real equality.

India: Judicial Activism
From 'office of profit' to 'unauthorised commercial establishments' in Delhi to hoardings in Chennai, Judiciary is stepping in to fill the void created by the inaction of the executive and administration. While, it has sparked debate about the supremacy of Parliament in a democracy, it has also put the elected legislators on notice. I hope this activism continues under the new Chief Justice of Supreme Court, who also happens to be first Dalit to occupy the high post.

India: Right To Information (RTI)
It is too early to see the changes due to this act, but RTI is bound to bring some amount of transparency and accountability to the babus who have thus far hidden behind the veil of official secrecy.

Chennai: Politics of Free
In 2006, Mr. Karunanidhi became the Chief Minster of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time by promising 'free' everything from TV to Gas Stove to Land to Rice. Now, Tamil Nadu seems to the land of Free in India. I don't know how the DMK Government is managing to give everything away for free but the numbers don't add up and sounds very bad economics.

Tomorrow: Looking Forward - 2007