Issue :   
We Wish You all a Happy and Safe Holi              March 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:March' 2020


Need for Kautilyan caution
in governance

Jagdish N Singh

Kautilya In his famous treatise Arthasastra, Kautilya, the consummate statesman of ancient India, prescribed several time-tested commandments to a nation’s political command for quality governance. One of them warned rulers against having any addiction and causing popular distress in the state. R e g r e t t a b l y , the successive l e a d e r s h i p s across the p o l i t i c a l spectrum in post-colonial India have hardly cared to be enlightened by this caution in their functioning.
Almost all our political parties’ leaderships have come to allow allegedly criminal elements to contest elections for our national and provincial legislative Houses and penetrate into our power structures. Such elements are not in the nature of appreciating the public good, fostering good governance and averting popular distress.

Supreme Court of India Our Supreme Court has of late done well to have taken cognisance of this evil phenomenon and sought to remove it . On September 25, 2018, a five-judge bench of the Court directed that all candidates contesting any polls must widely publish the details of their criminal history if any, to the public. The Court directed that their criminal history must be mentioned in the nomination forms of all candidates. The political party and the candidate must advertise it thrice in newspapers of the area and also in electronic media after the nomination papers are filed.
Last month, the Court passed an order in a contempt petition that submitted that our Election Commission had failed to comply with the directions of the Constitution Bench ( 2018) . In its new order, the Court has directed our political parties to publish the entire history of their candidates for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections . The Court bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and Ravindra Bhat ruled that all candidates must be selected on the basis of merit and achievement. The winnability of a candidate could not be the sole reason for selecting him or her.
The Court ruled that advertisement of compliance reports with respect to the d i r e c t i o n s must be filed by all parties before the E l e c t i o n Commission. If any party failed to do so, it could result in a contempt of court action. The Court directed the Election Commission of India to follow up the matter.

One hopes our Election Commission and political parties’ top leaderships both would comply with the new directive of the Court. They must honour the spirit of our Constitution and not allow any allegedly criminal elements to pollute any of our august representative houses at the Centre or in the States. (See “ Condone no contemner,” Power Politics, August 2019 and “Purging rogues out of Parliament,” PP, May 2019).

We cannot take any risk on this matter. Even if one single person, out of the huge numbers of allegedly shady characters in our Houses of representatives, turns out to be a criminal in reality , he or she could cause disaster in many ways. It has to be ensured that no criminal element occupies a seat in any elected body . ( See “ Corrupt politicians the main threat to democracy,” PP, February 2019). The rising number of allegedly criminal elements in our Parliament and Assemblies has been very alarming. ( See “Too many shady elements in Parliament,” PP, July 2019).

According to an authentic study , in the 17th Vidhan Sabha, constituted in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, 143 legislators, out of the total of 403, have criminal antecedents. In the Delhi Assembly constituted last month , more than half of its MLAs face criminal charges.

India & Muslim world

Narendra Modi Has the Narendra Modi g o v e r n m e n t improved India’s relations with the Muslim world ? K n o w l e d g e a b l e sources say n e i g h b o u r i n g Islamabad remains as critical of New Delhi as earlier. Ankara has traditionally been an important capital in the Muslim world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees Turkey today as a successor of the Ottoman Empire. In order to establish himself as the sole leader of the Muslim world, he has been championing a cause perceived to be close to Muslim masses . Last month, he compared India’s present Kashmir situation with the Gallipoli campaign.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Erdogan termed New Delhi’s actions in Kashmir ‘unilateral’. Addressing a joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament, he said “ the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you [Pakistanis]... ” Erdogan had raised the Kashmir issue during his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019 as well.
Kuala Lumpur , another important Muslim capital in the world, has been a vocal critic of New Delhi’s decision to end the special status of Kashmir. Ankara and Kuala Lumpur do not seem to appreciate Jammu and Kashmir , now an Indian Union Territory, is an integral and inalienable part of India. They do not appreciate the grave threat of terrorism Islamabad has posed to secular India.
Besides, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is, by and large, critical of India. On August 9 last year, several Muslim groups came out in New York to raise their voice against New Delhi’s action in Jammu and Kashmir ( See “ Time for effective diplomacy,” Power Politics, October 2019).

Kingdom’s clout waning

Mohammad bin Salman Can New Delhi’s recently improved ties with Riyadh, under Saudi Arabian de facto ruler and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, help it influence other Muslim nations for long?
The sources say Saudi Arabia has historically been a force to reckon with in the Muslim world. But its future is uncertain. The Kingdom’s financial clout has of late been waning. It has had a population explosion. It is being increasing difficult to provide employment to younger generations in the Kingdom today. The kingdom may become a less munificent patron in the Muslim world once its cash flows start to dry up.

Kais Sajed Besides, the current Iranian military threat to the Kingdom has made its reliance on American military assistance much higher. The Muslim world in general does not appreciate the growing RiyadhWashington bonhomie . The Arab street views American President Donald J Trump as a deadly enemy of Islam and Muslim interests. It does not appreciate Saudi Arabia’s growing ties with Israel as well.
Most of the Arab leaders may fear and hate Iran. But they still cannot overlook the age-old general Muslim hostility to Zionism. During the recent presidential elections in Tunisia, Kais Sajed emerged victorious in part due to his anti-Israel rhetoric. Also, the Arab leaders play their anti-Israel card to justify their own failures as well as to oppress their political opponents at home.