Friday, July 29, 2005

Outlook picks: social movements, Bretton Woods, superpowers

I didn't quite know when I posted this, that I was reading about something with acute contemporary reverberations. Writing about the July 9 killing of 3 CPI(M) leaders and a policeman in West Bengal, Saji Cherian argues that 'the current Maoist strategy for West Bengal appears to be a much-improved version of the Naxalbari uprising of March 1967.'

Read about the nitty-gritty of World Bank conditionality in Delhi's water privatisation project. Frst, the Bank wanted to slip in a condition requiring the 'independent' consultant to 'produce advice for a regulatory system that insulates the services from any local government or other external interference and ensures its operational, managerial and financial autonomy' (i.e. the government was to assign a consultant who would tender advice on how to keep the government out). But more interestingly, don't miss how keen the Bank seems to have been, and the extreme lengths to which it has gone, to ensure that PriceWaterhouse Coopers ended up being selected as the consultant. No prizes for guessing why: 'so the blueprint that PWC would draw up for Delhi's water privatisation would be in tune with the bank's economic philosophy'. I mean, duh!

This one is slightly nauseating. Accompanying the PM on his recent trip to the US, Natwar Singh sucks up to George Bush with promises of a grand welcome when Dubya visits India. Natwar recalled that as Dwight Eisenhower's escort officer he had produced a million people in Ramlila grounds to welcome the US president at a time when India's population was 'a mere 100 million'. Can Bush imagine the numbers cheering him when the population is a billion? he asks rhetorically. (They'll have to bus people in from Noida and Gurgaon with promises of fresh air and clean water or something.)

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