Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Polls and political patterns

Now, Congress can heave a sigh of relief as political atmospherics was heated by issues of corruption, inflation

Pravin Sheth

Posted On Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 02:21:01 AM

Assembly elections in five states have reconfigured political power in east and south India. In West Bengal, CPM-led Marxist government has lost power after 34 years of continuous rule. With her single-minded strategy, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee struck deep by capturing two third of the assembly seats. Even chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee lost his seat.

Only Mamata Banerjee has maintained her modest profile of a grassroots leader. She skilfully exploited the opportunity given by her bete noire, the Marxist rulers
In Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha of AIADMK returned to power with three fourth majority after 10 years. In Puducherry, AIADMK defeated Congress-DMK alliance. But Congress Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi led his party to the third straight term. In Kerala, Congress regained its morale as voters favoured it with a veneer-thin majority. Overall, Congress has heaved a sigh of relief because the overall political atmospherics was heated by the issues of corruption and inflation. The prime minister, home minister and finance minister were on the defensive. It was a coveted consolation prize for Congress-led UPA.

It is more than a coincidence that two states, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, have positioned two forceful female leaders as chief ministers. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has formed government by dint of her focus and mass appeal. In Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha is the chief minister again because of her charisma and political pull. People there seem to have rated DMK and Karunanidhi’s favourite former Union minister A Raja more evil than Jayalalitha.

At present, four female chief ministers – Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu — rule important states though their profiles are quite different. Sheila Dixit (Delhi) belongs to an elite family and tunes in well with the metropolitan she rules. Mayawati (UP) has successfully managed caste arithmetic and used corrupt administration to her benefit. One has to see if her grandiose projects of huge statues and memorials costing crores of rupees haunt her in the next election in UP. Only Mamata has maintained her modest profile of a grassroots leader. She skilfully exploited the opportunity given by her bete noire, the Marxist rulers. The latter annoyed Maoists in Lalbaug on farmland problems. Ratan Tata dramatically shifted his prestigious Nano project from Singur to Gujarat that brought in focus the pro-industry policy of Gujarat and made the CPM government look like sloth and disoriented to investors. Mamata won the support of the traditionally Left bases in such cases. The Left was left behind.

Voters preferred AIADMK to DMK as the latter was bearing more muddied and dirty image with Raja as its brand image.

The worst loser is the vocal BJP. The main opposition at the Centre could not defeat Congress in Assam and make any dent in Kerala. Voters in all these states doused the fire power of BJP which aspired to carve out second or third place in the assembly polls. The party lost out on all fronts, vote share, legislative presence, image and morale. BJP strategy of carving out a niche in the south has again failed.

These assembly polls have confirmed the dominance of regional parties in states. The national ruling coalition like UPA or NDA will have to continue power sharing with regional parties to work up a majority at the Centre. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had successfully worked out a functional cooperation with regional parties like DMK and Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party for 12 years to give NDA government stability at the Centre. Manmohan Singh worked out a functional arrangement with DMK, Trinamool Congress and in his first term with Left parties despite occasional irritations on issues of price rise and labour policy. A pragmatic political culture will help to manage politics of coalition in the new dispensation and in this election also. The equation between Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee is a pointer to this trend.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Peace Laureate Obama: Questioning the wisdom of his Acceptance

Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama has created mixed reactions, worldwide.

Compare Obama with his predecessor Nobel Peace Laureates who “promoted a greatly increased awareness of both the interconnectedness of all humankind and negative consequences of the resort to violence and concern for the poor”. They came bearing personal stories that demonstrated at great personal risk the power of the human spirit. Joy Williams led globe-girdling citizen campaign for a seemingly impossible treaty to ban landmines; Hoping to “disarm the landmines of the heart’, Betty Williams founded a powerful grassroots movement and promoted non-violent alternatives in relationship between Protestants and Catholic in Northern Ireland. Albert Luthuli and thereafter Rev. Tutu evinced “courage and heroic patience to lead black South Africans in their use of peaceful means to oppose the apartheid system”. Costa Rica President Sanchez was named Laureate in 1987 for his pioneering role in sponsoring peace agreement among the five Central American states to bloody wars. He also challenged citizens of rich western countries to recognize the gap between their luxury spending and amounts needed to fund basic human services in other parts of the world. Reminding Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj? Suu Kyi won it for her undaunted spirit to fight for democracy against Myanmar military regime and suffering decades-long house confinement. Roberta Menchu of Mexico became the youngest ever Nobel Laureate “by marinating a disarming humanity to win the rights of the aboriginal peoples—‘the expendable peoples’-- around the world.” They all shared a message in their own way: That peace is grounded in the personal and spiritual as well as the economic and military dimensions of global interconnectedness.

Obama’s performance pales into insignificance in such a galaxy of stars. Yes, he has logically created hopes for his positive role by his profile and rhetoric, untested so far though. He convincingly situates himself as a world leader of hope by his personality, and public activism flavored by a humanitarian world-view. Also; he has infused a new climate of hope in the troubled world of ruffled regions from Iraq to Afghanistan that President Bush had left. Perhaps, Obama has won the prize of expected positive role in resolution of conflicts related to N-control, multi-lateral approach in international problem-solution, and climate control. Also for his refreshing initiative to reach out and open dialogue with the estranged Islamic world. He has the potential for elevating personal transformation as well. But it's a bit premature to decide on such an award that was earlier given, quite deservedly, to the likes of President Sadat with his Israeli PM Begin, Jimmi Carter, Wangari, and the like.

Last week, Obama faced the first defining test of his political will to determine whether he would stand his ground, or yield to China on an issue that has more symbolic than substantive significance -- a White House photo-opportunity with the visiting Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.

Obama's response was to signal his seismic response to Chinese sensitivities by avoiding the revered Nobel Peace Prize awardee whom Chinese leaders detestably call "the jackal in a monk's robe". Ironically, the latest Peace prize awardee became the first US president in 18 years not to receive the spiritual leader who fled Tibet for India following the Chinese invasion of 1959, and represents an autonomous homeland as a “ Zone of ahimsa” by restraining his followers from waging a violent struggle against China even when he estranged some of his angry young followers in the process.

Pragmatic policy of "strategic reassurance" with intransigent China has been factored for treating the Dalai Lama this way. But it smacks of Obama's weak tendency to give an inspiring moral leadership to the world to fight the forces of violence and confirmed violators of human rights, 20 years after Tiananmen, about which democratic powers have shed crocodile tears only.

Apologists console us that the Dalai Lama is assured, after Obama's Beijing visit in October, "he will see Obama this year--a 'proper meeting on the President's official agenda, rather than a 'drop-by' in the corridors of the White House."

Is the coveted prize an incentive to the President, still a green-horn in White House to pursue a peaceful role in the world? Rather, it is likely to exert moral pressure on the President who may otherwise have logical imperatives for taming the Talibans and use internationally legitimized force to regulate affairs in Afghanistan, and a failing state of Pakistan, or preventing the control of N-weapons in the hands of the terrorists, or a defiant group of Iran and North Korea,etc.The U.S.President will have to resort to some ‘un’laureate’ like military/strategic measures if an increasingly intransigent China will play scheming game to threaten its allies in East Asia or challenge the U.S. itself in regions of its tragic interest.

As someone who profiled eight Peace Laureate, Helena Cobban states, “All these laureates subscribe to a broader set of truths that are not necessarily self-evident. That human beings can easily become locked into self-perpetuating ‘systems of suspicion and violence’ at any level—from interpersonal to international.” She cautions, “When one is inside such a system, it can be hard t see it and to recognize one’s role within it; but each one of us has a capacity to make a leap forward from self-centeredness toward greater understanding.” Obama has to take care of these potentialities.

This is the second faux pas of the Nobel Prize committee after they bungled on awarding Gandhiji, who was above such worldly recognition though. Obama like other Laureates is inspired by Gandhi. Let us pray then an Obama who can develop a transformative leadership to build a global human culture and architecture of world peace.

In the overall context, it would have been far-sighted on his part to have respectfully refused to accept the global honor at this juncture when he has yet to respond to the imperatives of managing governance of a super power in a world of insanity and uneasy order while cultivating the expectations of a Peace Laureate. By renunciation of this burdensome honor at this juncture, he would have raised his image and kept this prize, on hold, for a future if his performance would entitle him to deserve it, with unanimous acclaim.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005


August 09, 2005

What should be the agenda of India to emerge as a leader in the world by 2020? In two words,' managing contradictions'! On one side, India is emerging as the third biggest economy with an impressive annual 7% growth rate since more than a decade. It has the second largest army of 1.3 million, and the third largest technical manpower in world. It's emerging as the software super power in the world. With 75 million computers and 45 million net connections by 2010, it will have a considerable computer literate population but it will still be quite lagging behind China's impressive record on this count. Though it is still a 'developing country', it has the world's fastest growing economy (next to China).It is the sixth nuclear power and ranks fourth in space technology and a leading missiles power.

At the same time, it has to raise its (variously) estimated 26% to one-third of its population above poverty line and 22% do not get a modest square meal a day (UNHDR). One-half of its population forms its illiterate category--the highest figure for a nation in the world. About 60 % of them do not have an access to assured energy supply.44% do not get electricity. Around two-thirds of its rural population still defecates in open. The government needs to help them change their behaviour and opt better sanitation and hygiene practices. Already 40% of its graduates are unemployed--most of them unemployable graduates! Its government and people, together, can resolve such contradictions if an agenda on following lines is imaginatively carried out--in time.


* The government should encourage ever new research and development of info-tech, bio-tech and pharmaceutical technology as the new source of new economy. It's IT and bio-science fields where India has the potential to be ahead of USA and China.

* India has displaced the US to become the second-most attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) among manufacturing investors, as per A T Kearney's latest FDI Confidence Index rankings.

*India has received 1,312 applications for patents of pharmaceutical products, becoming only the second country after the U.S. to get a large number such requests, world wide.

* India should maintain its lead in entertainment industry with highest number of movies (of indifferent quality,though)in the world.Bollywood films(even of indifferent quality) enjoy an annual audience of 2.6 billion people world-wide as compared to Hollywood's 1.6 billion. India has also attracted orders for animation from Hollywood and Disney. That underlines its excellence in this infotainment field yielding rich dividends. Our resourcefulness in creative technology in elegant choreography, camera work and cultural diversity with rich traditions can make us leader in the world.

* So also, in case of fashion designing, such a cultural source has recently opened up a new vision of making India enviable in the fast expanding fashion world.

* Tourism development, imaginatively pursued, will be a rich source of revenue. Dubai, a desert-image state, with its tourism policy, now attracts more tourists than its population! Tourism has become the second highest source of income for Malayasia.During my recent China tour, I was amazed how Chinese government is attracting thousands of tourists to its known and unknown places. It earns billions of dollars by marketing its natural, historical and cultural heritage in tastefully packaged tours. The government of India and states (except Kerala) carelessly miss such a marketing opportunities in spite of rich places of unmatched historical, cultural, religious interests and natural beauty.

* Medical tourism needs to be high on Agenda. Its Apollo chains, Escort chains, NRI hospital-Kochi, Krishna Heart and Sterling hospital-Ahmeadbad, are the trend-setters in attracting patients from abroad to avail of their state-of-art heath care services at comparative medical charge. In the health delivery sector (or hospitals), India should further prepare doctors who are specialized in areas such as cardiac surgery, neurology, kidney transplanting and knee replacement. India also should expand its proven medical transcription services on HealthScribe India model originally funded in part by Indian American doctors in Bangalore.

* In the eight years, almost a tenth of the population will be unemployed if the current archaic education model is not radically transformed to meet the needs of the modern development. "It is the skilled labour which is in demand, and priced." The nature and structure of educational system must evolve to the 'market'. For example, while there is a surplus of 75,000 mechanical engineers, there is a shortage of 44,000 computer engineers.Again,engineers and the like must be trained to have 'soft skill' like felicity of communicating, particularly in English. Here, the focused program being pursued by China is worth emulating. Currently, bio-tech sector has employee strength of 50,000 with the potential to add 10 lakh jobs by 2012.India also has to fill in the shortage of persons trained in specialized areas like pharma engineering and the old economy sector like tele-com, and smart retailing staff in the wake of increasing 'Wal-martisation' as more Indian commodities like garments and other consumer goods are projected to be imported by the Wal-mart chain in the US.. India also can benefit from training more engineers in car design. Thus industry-centric academic syllabus based on industry-university interface will help avoid the current problem of the unemployed graduates and will help meet the demand for skilled workers in the fast growing economy.

* Infra-structural development on war footing that includes nation-wide network of highways and inter-river linking project. All this are bound to generate jobs for millions.


At the same time, its macro-level progress must be shared by micro-level distribution of development for about 700 millions who feel a sense of being deprived of benefits of progress.

* Its technology must be skillfully harnessed for development of rural, backward people. It can be used for providing facilities in such areas as education, health and hygiene. So-called illiterate women in Rajasthan and Gujarat have learnt to use computers for keeping local milk co-operatives and handicrafts business. As in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, e-governance be sought to be available for obtaining official forms, paying dues and locating the status of their files regarding their applications/demands/loans right at village panchayat office without having to make rounds in the district head quarters or the distant state capital. Then, unlike Chandra Babu's Cyberabad model, people will not get alienated, but will become partners in development through technology.

* The government should involve corporations and SEWA/AID/ASHA/Indicorp-type NGOs in this process. The success story of Kuppam town in Andhra Pradesh is a case in point. There Hewlett-Packard involved illiterates and women in an income giving project through they developed a solar panel and put it on a backpack on wheels and made a mobile studio. The solar panel (as no electricity was available there) could charge both camera and the printer. They picked five women and trained them. Women shared revenue with HP on every picture made and sold to villagers for their identity photos, or kids, weddings, etc.The local panchayats also made this women's group their official photographers for public projects which added to their income. It was multiplied in other villages. Sam Pitroda, chairman of the recently formed Knowledge Commission by Manmohan Singh government has initiated such a concept of using technology for participative development since long. The government(s) should have an ambitious agenda in collaboration with corporate and leaders in the voluntary sector.

* India should continue to develop its Diaspora policy to harness their ideas, technology, knowledge and resources in developing India in specific projects like IIT, NIIT, management, medical tourism, motel management,para-medics, fashion fabrics, for example. Human resources development is an area that is most promising. India has the largest young age group among all the nations in the world. If this young manpower is given skill, technical training that is required in the 21st century India, it can surpass its rivals. Prime Minister Dr. Singh has succinctly put this vital issue when he state while inaugurating the Knowledge Commission in August, 2005: "The youth can be an asset if we can invest in their capabilities. If this investment is denied, they will be a social and economic liability." Pitroda Commission can be relied upon for productive, action-prone recommendations.

"China is making itself indispensable to the world. Even India, which is wary of China's rise and is a counterweight to it, will not ignore this reality. In three years its largest trading partner will be China, displacing the United States of America" (Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, August, 2005).At the same time, after it has enough breathing time to become strong enough-- in economic, military and strategic fields--China will reveal its ambition to dominate Asia to the exclusion of the US and India. It's particularly keeping a studied restraint till it demonstrates its amazing achievement to the world during Olympics-2008 and emerges as the global leader in a convincing manner. Meanwhile, China is already taking measured steps to check-mate India by continued strategic support to Pakistan and building strategic structures around India (Beijing-Lhasa road reaching India's Tibet border; a post in Myanmar and surveillance post in Coco isle south of Bangla Desh'Gwadar naval port for Pakistan, etc.).So India and the US have to continue to forge a multi-faceted co-operative relationship that is not in China vs. framework but China vis-à-vis framework.

However, this requires Indian leaders to see that "First World people do not deserve Third World politics"! [Jayaprakash Narayan- Social Acticist] Divisive politics of reservation, caste and communal politics have to be given a decent and honest burial by all the political parties. Terrorism is going to sap much of our energy, resources and time during this decade. Indian leaders must adopt a focused approach of integrating minorities by result-oriented plans for their advancement in modern educational and economic pursuits--at the same time, attending to the sensitivities of its majority community in the nation-building and development of a great power Otherwise, antediluvian politics will continue to retard our society. Medieval mindset and the imperatives of 21st century India do not gel or go together.

India requires a 'breakthrough leadership'( as Harvard Management Journal calls it) which has a vision to forge India's agenda for 2020 and create synergy effects by harnessing its prowess in frontier technology, a vast source of an amazing individual entrepreneurship, and resources of its Diaspora that is now aware of 'giving back to the land of their roots'.

Pravin Sheth is a renowned social scientist. His recent book is Global Terrorism: Melting Borders, Hardened Walls.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Pravin Sheth

No global phenomenon has given so many idioms, symbols and phrases as terrorism has during four years of 9/11. Post-9/11 developments are can be characterized by the new language of politics, religion and violence. Some of them are pregnant with ideological, political and cultural meaning. The new lexicon of terrorism succinctly redefines the nature of the new world and ethos of growing insecurity world-wide.

Each word of WTC--'World', 'Trade', and 'Center'--charged with profound meaning, altogether signifying more than the sum of its parts--both symbolically and metaphorically, changed the form, substance and the ethos of the post-9/11world.'Ground Zero' connotes the humiliation that a bearded man of a cave could inflict on the hyper power of this cyber age with its own means.

9/11, 12/13 (terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in 2001 that, if succeeded, could have wiped out India's political elites); 3/11(bomb blasts at Atocha station, Madrid in 2004); 2/9 in Beslan school on Russian border near Chechnya in 2004) and 7/7 in London have been described as 9/11 of the respective countries. They occupy place in history as the battles of Panipat, Waterloo, the Battle of the Bulge, Stalingrad and the like. At individual level, bin Laden and Abu Zarqavi have the distinction of having the highest reward on their head to those giving information about their whereabouts. Rather, recently, Zarqavi has emerged as more dangerous terrorist leader than bin Laden as the mastermind behind Iraqi insurgency and his networking to terrorist sleeper cells is found in Europe by think tanks. That agitates Prez Bush more than the one behind 9/11 whose mobility and maneuvering is cramped because of the focused pressure on him by USA. Other personalities that earned notoriety in their own way are George Bush, Tony Blair, Saddam Hussein and Pres Musharraf!

Some phrases like Eurabia (by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallacy), Euro-Jihad, Euro-terrorism have been used of late. They underline the growing presence of the Arab working immigrants in West Europe. Living in their own enclaves and impervious to modern world around them, Islamic communities there are increasing described as carriers of terrorism. In the same way, Peter Bergen's caution against the presence of Londonistan has become a shivering reality to the British. Historian Francis Fukuyama has coined the phrase 'Islamo-Fascism'; Bernard Lewis has coined 'political Islam' for Islamic fundamentalism, and the most dreaded phrase 'nuclear terrorism' is now used by strategic analysts like B. Raman.

Americans use smart phrases to subtly persuade the world to think on their line. 'Embedded Journalists,' for reporters on Iraq front, 'Shock and Awe' to impress the Iraqis to surrender to the military might of the super power,' Regime Change,' 'Hammer and Tong' to chase and nab Osama along Waziristan border of Pakistan were some of such phrases. But "The 'awe' is a distant memory. Hardly a day goes by without shock--for Iraqis, the US soldiers, civilians, Britons and the US-led coalition!" Osama is still at large--and kicking. All this exposed the limits of even a super power in realizing its stated claims. Rather the growing currency of phrases like'anti-Amercanism' stares in the face of once proud citizens of the world's most affluent and influential country. Massive protest rallies, world-wide, against the invasion of Iraq marked this sentiment. Not only the 'Arab Street,' but people in 575 cities of 66 countries held peace vigil meetings on March 15, 2003 to protest against the impending invasion in March 2003.That led Thomas Freidman to characterize such an unprecedented phenomenon as 'World Street.' New York Times called such world opinion as 'the other super power' that challenges the established super power.Al Jazeera emerged as a more popular TV channel than CNN-and ironically, more credible as well in the Third World. In summer of 2004, lurid photographs related to excesses in 'Abu Ghrayb' and 'Guantemala' were used by the Jehadists as a telling proof of what they "caution against freedom in America and the West that brings with it sexual license and corruption, decadence and depravity that symbolizes modernity." The whole city-wide deaths caused in the wake of military operations as in Fallujah by the Coalition forces and in Jenin by the Israelis created more terrorists than their expected elimination by such drastic steps for clearing these cities known as the den of terrorists.

Along with WMDs, PMD (people of mass destruction)--car bombs, suicide bombers- continue to occupy the media space, unendingly. Al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Toiba as terrorist organizations and Saddam Hussein and Musharraf as leaders win the prize of notoriety. Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan--and Iran, of late--are the traing ground or patrons of this ideo-political violence.Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are termed as the "Triangle of Terrorism"(B.Raman). Six 'Ms'--Mullahs, Maulanas, Muftis, Masjids, Madrassas, Militant Muslims (and also, the Military in case of Pakistan) have been the catalysts and conduits in the making of young terrorists. Horrendous killing of more than 2000 in Manhattan, 202 people in Bali, 45 in Casablanca, 330 non-Muslim people--half of them children--in Beslan, 192 in Madrid and 56 in London and thousands in Iraq have made these names painted with blood and tears in human history--all in a small span of four years but having global impact on human psyche. None, from the status symbols of the super power to 'soft targets' like tourists resorts (Bali, Sharm-al-Sheikh in Egypt), posh hotels, restaurants (Morocco), mass transport (Madrid, London), religious places (India,Shia masjids in Pakistan and Iraq) and religious gatherings of thousands of believers(Baghdad,31/8/05) have escaped the wrath of the terrorists. Countries with Wahabi following like Saudi Arabia and Sunni's Pakistan and with modest Islamic traditions like Morocco have been subject to militant attacks. Liberal country like Denmark could not claim to be an exception as the film maker Van Gogh's murder in Copenhagen demonstrates in 2004. In the next phase, Pakistan is feared to be the epicenter of terrorism in view of uncontrolled concentration of Islamist militants, influence of mullahs, traing centres of terrorists as guided by ISI and supported by a section of its military.Also; its surreptious link with proliferation of nuclear know how and material makes it--otherwise a fragile state-- the most dreaded country in the world. Graham Allison in his recent study has alerted to the potentials of what he calls 'nuclear terrorism' .He alerts the world to this most dreaded form of 21st century terrorism and identifies Pakistan, "a shaky state" and Russia as two suspects to guard against.

Viewed as a whole, in Iraq only the death toll of the US soldiers has reached to around 1800. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians have been killed by bomb blasts that occur at five to six a day. Al Qaeda has transformed in Al Qaeda 2.0 as Peter Bergen encapsules the corresponding nature of its decentralized action and network. Suicide remains a preferred human technology. Though some of the top inmates of bin Laden have been arrested and significant clues about the dynamics of terrorism are obtained, more terrorists are now on the move than on 9/11; more countries have come under their spell. Even such countries as West Europe-Eurabia are on their next agenda, experts warn.Pres Bush wants to spread democracy in the Middle East. In stead, even in democratic systems of USA, Britain, France and India, etc. restrictive laws have to be framed that curb some accepted set of civil liberties. As the known critic of the Western political economy, Noam Chomsky has tellingly stated: "Pres Bush has more than satisfied one of the most impossible dreams of bin Laden. Bush has made America the most disliked, most disgusting and most hated nation in many parts of the world." In such a context, its lofty goals of peace, democracy and development are tragically compromised, at least for some time to come.

Currently,Eurabia is projected as the next theatre of terrorist acts. In his recent work, "The West's Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?" Tony Blankley cautions: "Within our lifetimes, Europe will become Eurabia, a continent overwhelmed by militant Islam that poses a greater threat to the U.S. than even Nazi Germany.

What shape of the world is emerging at the end of four years of 9/11? Fukuyama predicts that we are at the beginning of a 'cultural war' of about a decade that turns into a war of "the West vs. Islam". To some, it's "Islam vs. the Rest" scenario. Others believe it's "the West vs. the Rest". Says Samuel Huntington with some caution after 9/11, the world is close to his "The Clash of Civilizations" thesis with the Christians and the Islamists as the main adversaries. Political Scientist Benjamin Barber graphically narrates "Jihad vs. Mc World" scenario. Curiously, globalization of terrorism and globalization of anti-Americanism, to some extent, have become symbiotic

What is imperative for the mankind's security, promotion of peace and protection of human civilization is to erase the borders between cultures and nations and bring down the walls between religions and ethnic communities. Can we turn borders into rivers and walls into bridges?

To appear in India Abroad, New York in September 2005.