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February 13, 2016

Security Council Reforms: Chasing up a mirage of veto power ?

Filed under: India,World — Geekay @ 4:11 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 

Over the years , the Veto power has become a status symbol. Not been able to have it has become a problem and given rise to frustration unnecessarily for certain countries. The G4 nations comprising BrazilGermanyIndia, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. Unlike the G7, where the common denominator is the economy and long-term political motives, the G4’s primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council.

G4Summit2015

Security council ‘s permanent membership provides veto power. The veto power enables all the countries not to bypass the voice of the veto powered country exercising its veto on any vote. When Veto powers were given after second world war,  UK, France and   China also got vetoes. Though Veto should have been  denied to  all these three as France had somehow re-emerged as an independent country post its capture in the war. Let alone be the big power in its own right. The argument to give veto power to UK was also marginal, specially, neither after war, it was left as a significant big power militarily, nor it was economically strong any more. Similarly, like France and UK, China also should not have been given any veto power  as it too was a dirt poor country and not militarily strong at all. The veto power given to China, in fact ended up going to Taiwan soon as the republic of China whom veto power was given got driven out from its own country. So, one wonders what justification was there to hand over Veto power to  a country who was inherently so week that  it could not manage its own fate. Mainland communist China got Veto in ’71 when Taiwan ‘s veto was handed over to it but by then Communist block had got divided . Perhaps, it would have been better if at the time of UN formation there should have been created only two veto wielding powers  – USA and Soviet Union rather than 5. It should have been called the group veto powers  – Capitalist block veto, Communist block veto as for all purposes the veto exercising history went according to the block’s desires .

But, as no body surrenders power once they have it, so even though the nation (UK and France) may no longer be the front runners either in military power or economy, but they  will still want to hold onto their permanent membership and Veto Power forever even if they become more and more integrated or subsumed into NATO or EU. Being part of these groups will make them irrelevant as it will not allow them any freedom to pursue their own independent line to exercise veto. They can  only toe a group line on any significant international issue. So, here again, it makes one wonder why veto power should only be given to states and not to the group when for all purposes the veto is exercised by states as per the group ‘s dictates.

Now, Russia and China are both power houses in military and economy respectively and they are no longer part of  one block. Though, back again now on most critical occasions either they act in unison or ignore the situation so they should continue to hold onto their individual veto power as they have not forged a military alliance. Even though both Germany and Japan are also economically very -2 important at present but as both are not free to pursue their own independent line, so giving them a  veto power will be a waste.

The other significant country is India which has been rising significantly. It stands at 7th position GDP wise in 2015 and 3rd on PPP basis as can be seen here in this chart –

GDP-PPP

It also is not having any military alliance and  for all purposes, it pursues independent foreign policy. So, it is far more deserving than other candidates. There are many negative things about security council permanent position. First of all, it brings extra responsibility to deal with more and more international issues as the issues are becoming day by day more of global nature needing global solutions. Since, India has great number of issues at home to deal with,  perhaps it should give up pursuing to seek Veto Power for now.

The Security Council membership will bring the need of providing for extra funding too to UN Budget. India contributes just 0.5% to say 10% by Japan and little over 5% by China. This is how the funding situation was in 2013 –

Member state Contribution
(% of UN budget)
 United States

22.000

 Japan

10.833

 Germany

7.141

 France

5.593

 United Kingdom

5.179

 China

5.148

But the most important issue will be if India who usually does not take any stand at all on any issue, will have to start taking a stand after getting the veto power. But taking a stand means preparing to ruin your relationships as independent middle line stand will not be possible any more. Perhaps,  India is besotted to covet the Veto power for enhancing its reputation as a significant power otherwise benefits are not there for chasing it.

Being a non-aligned group’s leading voice in cold war era, when its voice was equi-distant on all international issues in the beginning of non-aligned movement and gradually fully become part and parcel of a pseudo member voice of Communist block led by Soviet Union. So, it chose either not to criticise Soviet Union, or criticise much too late otherwise only privately. This happened  when Communists occupation went into Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan. But, American, Britain/France interventions were criticised far more vocally as it happened in Cuba, other parts of Latin America or Suez Canal occupation etc. Though, India now has drawn closer to USA but it has not abandoned Russia entirely. It is closer to both Iran and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia. It is also close to Japan but chances of it voting against China in Security Council are remote as  China has become its biggest trading partner. So, what role a veto given to India will bring to UN. One can surmise it will bring nothing at all. When Russia is involved anywhere, India offers only a muted reaction as it did in Syria, Ukraine, Crimea or Georgia. It remained taciturn when Turkey downed Russian plane because India also have somewhat OK relations with Turkey, a NATO country. In Middle east, both Palestine and Israel are close to India, so for all purposes being too close will prevent it to take any stand on Palestine. It did not act closer home too when Sri Lanka was exterminating Tamils in its north. The  fear was of Sri Lanka falling into the hands of China and Pakistan. It did  not ask or support demand for UN probe initially into the killing of Tamils while UK and west asked  UN team to investigate. It did not upset the Myanmar too by criticising or intervening when it was clear the Buddhists with the support of Myanmar military were burning down the houses of Rohingya Muslims, killing them or putting them adrift in boats with some food. Again the fear was same of losing the Myanmar to China. Then Maldives exploded, its elected president is incarcerated and the new one has taken control. India tried to convey its support for the incarcerated president but Maldives simply chose to ignore India’s stand. Even though, China is so far out in pacific but India chose  not  to press Maldives too for the fear of China getting a toehold in Maldives, which any way China still managed to get. So, when India can not decide on foreign policy issues with either clarity or strong authority at closer home or in distant lands, what point is there to covet a veto power. However, Pakistan and China oppose India to have Veto Power as if India will go into Pakistan straight away after getting the Veto power to free Baluchistan’s trapped people. The fact is India should not get the veto power for its own sake as until it becomes economically significant and able to resolve its internal problems, it will not push its stand on any issue anywhere strongly outside India. To push your stand one will need a far significant economy, content citizens  and a big military might behind and not merely the veto power.  Moreover, by having veto power, the focus would quickly move to international diplomacy from internally focussed development of the country. So rather than rising fast, it will lose its focus of growing rapidly. There will surely come a time when India will be a Veto Power inevitably but that time is still years away, perhaps a decade or so.

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December 15, 2015

The Global Jihad Factories operating nonchalantly and Mr Trump on the horizon

Filed under: Faith,World — Geekay @ 2:59 am
Tags: , , , ,

There are two topics at present in the news – terrorism and climate change. Both are global and need global answers. Climate debate has been settled into a deal in Paris. The other is very long term and stays undefined for its reasons, let alone being addressed. Even to  associate a religious ideology to terrorism is like inviting oneself to be labelled as bigot. If the religion is named as Islam then straight away, one is referred as Islamophobe (refer here to another article on this topic). Liberty and privacy is all but dead thanks to terrorism except for perhaps tech savvy people.EiffelTowers

It is no secret that most terror incidents are coming from Islam related radicalised individuals. Even though, the concerted effort by Russia and west against ISIS is addressing the leaking wound of terrorism. But the fight is not just there. It is everywhere. Even if ISIS is eliminated, it will not be a surprise if it emerges elsewhere soon after. The funds available to terrorists are from many sources. The breeding ground are many – some countries, Madrassas or even some mosques.

Anyway, the question is – will more people like Mr Trump not offer the same solution of disallowing Muslims in their respective country in west. There is bound to be reaction in west and it will become more and more right wing. Hope, it stays close to centre and does not bring extreme right to the power anywhere. But to gradually move towards this ideal solution, the public needs to see that politicians are not clueless and do not keep behaving as if nothing has changed or behaving like liberals winking and allowing anything anywhere as it may alienate the minorities. Issue is if the problems itself are not accepted as existing then there can be no solutions either.

Edward Snowden is still not back in US after revealing that US has accessed, stored or hoovered in virtually all that goes on the net. It is not been denied by US emphatically. So, clearly there are no privacy issues raised when the govts access any individual. The issue is, however, if the civil liberty or public is able to acquiesce to govt accessing virtually anything then one wonder why would it be concerned if all religious, communal places, community centres are also monitored 24X7 by the govt or perhaps all these places are brought under a law that videos of all the activities should be recorded, kept for a month and should be made available for police viewing whenever it may so desire to access it. At least, if that happens, the lacuna that is left unmonitored for checking any insidious activity will then be filled.

BurqaWoman

Yet another thing is that countries will gradually move towards formalising same sort of civil code for all communities. So, religious freedom held dear by many religions to wear their religious symbols in public will gradually cease. A state, Hesse had banned Burqa in Germany in 2011. Now, one of German party called CDU is asking for a full ban there following the bans imposed in France, Holland, Italy. There will be similar pressure now built on any other govts to impose this ban not just on Islam followers but on all other religion followers too including Sikhs who are required by their religion to wear turban and a steel metal wrist piece. I am assuming both of these will have to be banned as well not much longer there after.

The education also brings new issues. even though one may think that the Madrassas are not running in west but these are running as they are  in eastern part of the world.   Education in UK is not fully state controlled and there are complete religion controlled educational entities running outside state control. Here  is  a newspaper article  after Mr David Cameron speech on Madrassas . In this article, a Muslim can be seen defending madrassas and perhaps trying to say, please do not inspect us but collaborate with us whatever it may mean. The Article says “Muslims fundamentally want to counter the ‘poisonous narrative’ of radicalisation, so why not collaborate with them? “ The madrassas should on their own be teaching multi-faith education and keeping their pupils more prepared for modern education and morals. There are many a madrassas in India which are not teaching main stream education too, but there was news recently on India Today of a madrassa of Mandsaur District, MP (india) which is introducing Hindu religion to Muslim kids like Gayatri Mantra etc. Who would not wish that UK madrassas may also one day emulate this policy of bringing home the education of majority religion of Britain which is Christianity. There is a nice article here on Madrassa education in India. At higher levels, in London there are some campuses where it is hard to escape Muslim brotherhood or other gangs.

The Issue however is – no matter how much the govt monitors any religious place or educational place, the monitoring will not achieve much as people will take their activity elsewhere. Only it will end up alienating people. Perhaps, it is time to use the public itself. May be people can anonymously report issues in which govt may be interested.

December 12, 2012

Which one is the best government in the world? The winner is Canada !!

I wanted to seek reasons why the democracies are wobbling in reaching maturity. Of course the reasons are not far from comprehension – it is due to inability to develop mature institutions. Any successful democracy needs lots of institutions which are independent and beyond corruption. It needs independent media, independent judiciary, a fully working corruption free legislature who can raise the questions of probity without compromises and legislate the right laws and finally the executive who can oversee the implementation of those laws. Of course, one would also need independent election commission, a strong corruption free military and police for a working and mature democracy . I would like to rank democracies based upon these measures as to how much mature the democracy is. Since, China and other single party state also have to be accommodated in this maturity index. Let us call it govt maturity index rather than democracy maturity index. So, for this I have used stats from ‘Transparency International‘. I have used their stats on the measures like human resource development, judicial independence, press freedom, voice and accountability based on country wide data to discuss governance maturity. I have ignored corruption here as people tend to use this as a single parameter to discuss governance. In my view, there is no single consolidated governance parameter justifying why any country is getting better governance than another and how any country is travelling towards a better governance. But the world definitely need one govt maturity index. There is of course the table printed on which is the best country to live in but it has more to do with issues like standard of living, health, infrastructure etc. Here, I have picked up those countries I was interested in to compare them – the Source is Transparency International

Country Judicial Independence

(score out of Max 7)

Rule of Law Press Freedom

(High means bad)

Voice and Accountability
UK 6.2 1.769596058 2.00 1.312851012
France 4.9 1.524405497 9.50 1.225976029
Japan 5.8 1.31377106 -1.00 1.047643331
Germany 6.3 1.627934067 -3.00 1.345103086
USA 4.9 1.584584729 14.00 1.16180876
Canada 6.3 1.789068657 -5.67 1.379444766
Australia 6.1 1.770200087 4.00 1.428903554
China 3.9 -0.346839923 136.00 -1.649501221
India 4.3 0.057769364 58.00 0.42402758
Pakistan 3.9 -0.785570665 75.00 -0.81606361

Clear winner here is Canada. It has the best measure in all commonwealth countries even better than the mother country UK. The only measure Australia is better than the Canada is on “Voice and Accountability”. Comparing USA with Canada makes you wonder why USA is not as good – is it because the number of people it has in comparison to Canada? If that reason was plausible then it could justify why India is so low down as it has even more people. I consider that it has more to do with the will to change. Comparing India, Pakistan and China makes one wonder about the China’s real achievement. Other than the wealth creation, it virtually falters on everything else. How its citizens must feel one can only empathise. In Europe, it is not the UK who holds the flag of having best govt – but it is Germany. The only measure on which UK leave Germany behind is the “Rule of Law”. And of course, the Asia has also a first world govt in one country at least – it is in Japan.

October 7, 2012

Dreaming a Governance Model for Europe and India

European Parliament

Markets finally made Mrs Merkel (Chancellor of Germany) to agree to second European integration step recently. The first step was the launch of Euro and now the new step of a month ago was the unlimited bond issues by ECB for the need of member countries. This is the akin to quantitative easing (QE) in a way though it is sterilised in spite of effectively expanding money supply by printing currency or doing repo auctions and buying bonds of member states. This bond buying may be soon be needed for further rescue of Spain, Italy and who knows even that of France one day. It is not sustainable in the long run, as there will be a need of higher contributions needed by some member states of European Stability Mechanism(ESM) as some will not be able to contribute anything to ESM bailout funds. So the next integration step will be inevitable within 2-5 years. At present, there are tax provisions for financial transactions, pollution (carbon tax, air travel tax) etc on individual states. But perhaps a direct taxation has to be on the table soon to cope with ever more growing need of finance. The taxation without representation or elections of authorities can not happen as member states would not agree to current model of positions to EU governing bodies by mere nomination or selection. For more integration through election, the Europe will need to evolve parties across member states. They also have to agree to a model of governance.

Interior of European Parliament

At present, the Europe has variety of models – the republic model of France ( team of President and PM), the Chancellorship of Germany and constitutional monarchy with prime-ministership of Belgium, Holland, Spain & Britain etc. So, the new important issue will be of selecting a governance model for Europe. The debate on this may take very long. But I assume it will settle something close to US model of President system rather than of the current models of governance in number of European countries. The parliamentary model based on British model lacks direct public participation and any subsequent interactions with the public. The local authorities governance may seem to assuage the feeling that local population have direct control over their affairs but it seldom does. Even the local representatives fight it out between themselves in councils rather than listening to the majority voice of the public after the elections. In days gone by, without electronics means the public participation in decision making was never there but now the public is armed with the new means of communication, so the politics has to be more engaging with the public. The online petition system to start a debate in British parliament may be alright for now but the need to consult on all kind of issues with the public will be important in future for any MP.

In countries like India, Pakistan, where the democracy is only skin deep. The parties do not have the democracy within themselves as there are no elections of party post holders and are considered to be owned by one family or a bunch of individuals. The systems in Australia, Irish etc. suffer from the ills of proportional representation system and not following the first past the post system in vogue in most countries while Brazilian presidential model brings a mix of both system in play in such a way that there is over-representation of smaller states which they exploit to the hilt. However, the US system has one big advantage over the 2 round election system (also called run-off system) of French. It enfranchises the public in direct voting of the country’s leader and therefore gives them more satisfaction. It also pushes the minor parties to aspire to become big parties by joining these major parties or perish. It does not incentivise the smaller one leader parties to prosper over a longer term. In a way, it is good for the integration of the very big geographical areas which Europe could indeed be and avoid the kind of coalition politics of paralysis India is engaging in for last 25 years. India’s current leader was anointed by the victor of last elections, so neither victor (proxy leader) feels responsible to the public nor the anointed one. The only problem I foresee in US system is the inclusion of electoral college voting system or the indirect election along with the direct election of president and vice-president by public. The decision of a election or arbitration by a court in tied results like the world witnessed in 2000 at the Bush V Al Gore election is never right as the election outcome will become dependent on the selected judge. Even the electoral college’s extra 5 votes for Bush also tilted that election in spite of the more overall votes for Al Gore across the whole country. So, this all could be avoided altogether if the overall % votes should be considered the first measure. If somehow that still leave a result tied then number of overall states won by any candidate should decide the result. The electoral college system should be eliminated completely to make the election fairer as it was the need of the hour some 200 or so years ago in both France and US but it can not serve today’s need of direct representation.

The system that should be adapted from France however is on regulation of spending and financing of campaigns by any political parties. The cap in France on spending is at approximately 20 million Euros. The government public financing of 50% of spending is done if the candidate scores more than 5%. If the candidate receives less than 5% of the vote, the government funds €800,000 to the party. The advertising on TV is forbidden but official time is given to candidates on public TV. An independent agency regulates election and party financing. Just like US, now France also has maximum 2 terms for president . The length of term however is 5 years which may not be that bad at present but perhaps it may prove really long and antique in 20 years time. Well, not only I am dreaming of a fast tracked presidential system in Europe but also for India to chuck away their parliamentary system for this so as to speed up their governance as there is a fear in the air that India will go into yet another election without letting public know who will lead the country. Suddenly an undesirable leader may reach to the top of the winning party and therefore may win the right to lead the country.  If public were to know about such a person before elections they may never vote such a party.   Well, I know some dreams always stay dreams but there is no harm in dreaming .

January 1, 2012

Euro ‘s Survival V Extinction

Filed under: Europe — Geekay @ 11:38 pm
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It was mild 31st Dec though a steady drizzle was  falling down when we moved into London from M4 to celebrate new year with another family. But once ensconced into the family’s home sofa, I could think of nothing but indulge in non-stop debate about Anna Hazare, Euro, Pakistan, Space Research and plenty of other subjects. What came to fore was to debate on Euro and my meek surrender in the end that neither the politicians nor the so called economic experts as well as me do not have any clue which way the Euro will end up. Will the euro break or survive, that was taking whole of the evening away from following the shining fireworks on TV. I was insisting that it will survive and the chap opposite was saying – No, it won’t. If you are living in UK, it is hard for anyone to be optimistic about euro survival by following the majority of media publications and debate on radio/TVs.

The issue of Euro, I thought will be decided after a few elections take place  in next 2 years in Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece etc. My view was that the number of govts will change and the new left wing governments will come to centre stage and the real consolidation of Europe will begin as Mrs Merkel is dithering at best at present. The breakup will also involve loss of the export market for Germany and sudden growth of unemployment as their new currency will become expensive. The banks in both Germany and France will need a big bailouts as they have lent too much to these countries in trouble, so it’s in Germany ‘s interest to make Euroland more cohesive. The country who opposed everything was UK as it will stay outside the main club, so the new Euro centre (ECB) will begin levying the new taxes and raise the debt and lend it to every country. But it all obviously depends on the sagacity that will come to the new leaders after the pressure of  few more market crises . I thought the market integration in Europe is too deep rooted now to even contemplate of a breakup. I also thought that all these indebted nations will either defer the interest payment (default) or will have their extra debt written off – the so called haircuts as was done recently by Germany and French banks. So, excessive indebtedness of  PIGS will not make these PIGS economies unsustainable after the hair cut. Also, I thought, US will start rising again by the end of next year(2013). The chap arguing with me thought there is no hope because these countries can not carry on spending  more than their earning which they have been doing until now and the media is highlighting this in UK.  So, the debate remained inconclusive as I could not convince this other person that the new found ability of these countries (PIGS) by meeting the debt repayment cost  due to new heavy hair cut will prove decisive enough as I thought it will extinguish the debate of euro extinction for a very long time. But the euro survival  hinges on taking some decisive actions by EU leaders at right time. Having a club of 26 countries means everyone wants to defer taking actions until they are forced. So, the saga will roll on for at least 2/3 years.

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