Connect with us

Politics

Governance, politics and morality – Mumbai Mirror

Published

 on


CORRIDORS OF POWER

It’s perilous to infuse a stiff dose of morality into the pursuit and practice of politics because after a point, the amalgam doesn’t work. It becomes a contortion of the envisaged formula. An excess of morality makes the mixture suspicious and hypocritical while used niggardly, the veil of righteousness comes apart before it can begin masking statecraft.

‘Naitikta’ and ‘sadachar’ are Hindi synonyms for morality and feature like a mantra, especially in the speeches of BJP leaders. The temptation to treat every political and policy initiative as a religious crusade, a ‘dharma yudh’ against a degenerate system, is the hallmark of BJP politics. The crusading zeal was tempered by pragmatism in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era because Vajpayee was realistic enough to know that the cocktail of ‘naitikta’ and ‘shuddh rajneeti’ was deadly and not worth experimenting with. He had a horde of dissimilar parties in the NDA coalition to keep his government going. Not all of them shared the RSS’s contorted notions of pedagogic politics.

There was a phase when hard as it tried, the BJP couldn’t ambush the Congress on corruption, even when the dirt flew all over in the UPA’s second tenure. By then, the Congress had dug up dope on the BJP’s wheeling and dealing, BS Yeddyurappa’s allegedly shady land transactions, the Bellary brothers and so on. Therefore, when Anna Hazare arrived from the boondocks of Maharashtra to Delhi and declared a holy war against the UPA’s corruption, the RSS quickly co-opted the former military man as a mascot. It ensured that the BJP was in the shadows lest its presence discredit the Hazare project. He fitted into the RSS’s idea of a ‘model’ citizen because he whipped tipplers in his village square. To the Sangh, drinking alcohol was a blind imitation of the derivative practices that came to India with colonialism along with English and the suit-boot and knee length dresses for the Macaulay ‘putra’ and ‘putri’. Never heard of ‘bhang’ and ‘handia’, bhang being de rigueur with northern BJP leaders during Holi?

Narendra Modi is not Vajpayee. He has the numbers in Parliament, an Opposition that awakens from slumber now and then, the state’s iron boot and the RSS’s endorsement. Whatever else Modi cherishes, he is steeped in the RSS’s ideas and way of life. He subscribes to the Sangh’s definition of dharma, which is not religion as you and I understand but a larger moral and cultural order that must permeate and ‘cleanse’ society of western thoughts and values. Therefore, when corruption was fought against, the drive got evangelic and enmeshed with the RSS’s certitude of upholding ‘public morality’. Tax compliance was enforced through a regime that put the fear of god in the corporate sector and the small and medium enterprises, which were sold on Modi’s ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ maxim before 2014. India Inc was one of Modi’s strongest supporters in 2014 and 2019. Wonder what the big wheels have to say about the enforcement agencies’ pursuit of a celebrated banker and her family? She was the toast of the Vibrant Gujarat summits hosted in Gandhinagar.

Like Bollywood. Remember that epic selfie that the bright young actors and directors clicked with the prime minister shortly after he won asecond term? They looked obsequious. Think of the one who stuck out prominently for attention. His spouse was quizzed for allegedly smoking weed and her phone was impounded. This is jihad against Bollywood’s drug mafia. So what if the stars stood up for Modi?

ABJP cheerleader excitedly framed the crackdown on the film industry as the only way to exhume the trail that cannabis and cocaine consumption left, smash it and ‘detoxify’ the moral environment. The sadachar underpinning of the “crusade” against corruption and the drug league is unmistakeable. If the exercise was merely political and administrative, it wouldn’t click with the RSS-BJP faithful and an ever-expanding constituency that has begun to view Modi more as a savant, a maharishi, and less as a politician.

Does gender parity bother the RSS because the drug sleuths have demonstrated a preference to go after women? No, because feminism is an imported concept that doesn’t go with their image of a ‘sanskari’ woman, who is naturally underempowered and never thinks for herself. The obsession with a warped view of morality drove the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, to unleash anti-Romeo squads on young couples dating in public spaces and initiate ‘Mission Durachari’. The latter operation intends to name and shame harassers of women on posters. In a state that reports at least one rape and murder of a minor every other day (what of the rapes and assaults that go unreported for fear of social ostracism?) and holds little or no hope of convicting the rapists, the mission makes no sense except to score a moral point.

Ravi Kishan, the Gorakhpur MP, was the first BJP leader to publicly laud the anti-drug movement in Bollywood. Kishan drew his salience from being a part of the same industry about which he is self-righteous. His moral demagoguery was rejected by his BJP colleagues, Hema Malini and Babul Supriyo, both celebrities and successful politicians. Is there a cautionary tale for the virtuous custodians of the Sangh Parivar?

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Politics

As Trump weakens rules insulating civil servants from politics, an official resigns in protest. – The New York Times

Published

 on


The head of a federal panel that advises the White House on compensation issues resigned on Monday to protest President Trump’s new executive order that could wipe out employment protections for tens of thousands of federal workers.

Ronald P. Sanders, the chairman of the Federal Salary Council, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2017, said that the new executive order would replace “political expertise with political obeisance.”

The order, signed last week, gives Mr. Trump and his political appointees the power to hire and fire certain federal civil servants who now hold jobs that are supposed to be exempt from political influence.

“The Executive Order is nothing more than a smokescreen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process,” Mr. Sanders, who called himself a lifelong Republican, wrote in his resignation letter, dated today and sent to the White House. “I have concluded that as a matter of conscience, I can no longer serve him or his administration.”

The president’s executive order has already provoked protests by federal labor unions and some Democrats in Congress. If Mr. Trump is not re-elected, the next administration could repeal the measure.

Mr. Sanders wrote of civil servants, “The only ‘boss’ that they serve is the public,” adding, “No president should be able to remove career civil servants whose only sin is that they may speak such a truth to him.” The board Mr. Sanders resigned from is made up of experts in labor relations and representatives of federal labor unions.

A White House official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House, in a statement that accompanied the executive order, said the new employee classification was justified because under current rules “removing poor performers, even from these critical positions, is time-consuming and difficult.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Trail Times

Published

 on


Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

READ MORE: Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusParliament

Get local stories you won’t find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Commons showdown highlights tension between politics and science – Alberni Valley News

Published

 on


Monday’s vote on a Conservative motion to launch an in-depth review of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 response highlights a key challenge of pandemic politics: how to hold a government accountable for decisions based on science, when the science itself is changing nearly every day.

The opposition wants a committee probe into everything from why regulators are taking so long to approve rapid testing to an early decision not to close the border to international travel, and what concerns the Liberals is how that probe is being framed.

“One of the narratives that I find most distressing coming from the opposition, is that somehow because advice changed at some point that the government was hiding information or that the government was giving misinformation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said late last week.

“And nothing could be further from the truth.”

It’s not the science itself that’s up for debate, said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

“In a pandemic, borders, since the Middle Ages, have been part of a stop of spreading of the virus and that was a failure of elected officials to put the health of Canadians first,” O’Toole told reporters last week.

“There has been conflicting information on masks and other things. My concern is that the Trudeau government relies more on open source data from China than our own science and intelligence experts.”

The relationship between a nation’s scientists and their senior politicians is a challenging one, said Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides the scientific evidence there is, but at the end of the day, it is the politicians who make the call, he said.

A decision on whether or not to close the borders is a good example, he said.

In the early days of the pandemic, the World Health Organization cautioned against widespread border closures. Scientific research has suggested there’s little medical benefit to them and the economic impacts can be severe and wide-ranging.

READ MORE: Companies warn Tory motion could deter domestic production of PPE

But the optics of border closures, the idea that if countries can keep out a virus out they will be immune, creates political pressure to act, Culbert said .

“The tension between what is in the public’s good, as opposed to all of the varying political considerations the politicians have to take into consideration — there’s always a tension there,” Culbert said.

While heated, the interplay between Liberal government and Opposition Conservatives is a far cry from the hyper-partisanship around pandemic response in the U.S., where even the president has circulated misinformation and challenged that country’s top scientists.

Canadian researchers studying the response of political elites here in the early days of the pandemic found no evidence of MPs casting doubt on the seriousness of the pandemic, or spreading conspiracy theories about it. In fact, there was a cross partisan consensus around how seriously it needed to be taken.

“As far as we can tell, that story hasn’t changed,” said Eric Merkley, a University of Toronto political scientist who led the study.

Both he and Culbert said a review of the Liberals’ pandemic response is warranted, but a balancing act is required.

“Everyone has 20/20 hindsight and thinks that they can go, look back, and and point to points at which bad decisions were made,” Culbert said.

“But that’s with the knowledge that we have today. We didn’t have that knowledge back in March.”

The Liberals have sometimes hit back at criticism by pointing to how the previous Conservative government handled the science and health files, including budget cuts and efforts to muzzle scientists.

But critics can’t be painted as anti-science for asking questions, Merkley said.

“There’s plenty of scope for democratic debate about proper responses to the pandemic, there’s plenty of scope for disagreement,” Merkley said.

“And just because there’s that disagreement and an Opposition party holding government accountable, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, that’s a sign of a healthy democracy.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusParliament

Get local stories you won’t find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending