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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 11 New Delhi March 3, 2018

Between Hope and Anxiety

Monday 5 March 2018, by SC


The mystery surrounding superstar Sridevi’s untimely demise—manifest in the UAE authorities’ “comprehensive investigation” that resulted in inordinate delay in the release of her body—is finally over with the Dubai Police telling Indian diplomats that they “did not suspect any foul play”. The body arrived in Mumbai last night and this afternoon her last rites were performed in the city by her husband. Thus all speculations in the media regarding the cause of her tragic eventuality have been laid to rest.

Today, however, the political scenario has suddenly acquired a new dimension with businessman Karti Chidambaram (the son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram), who was allowed to go abroad by the court, being arrested by the CBI on his return to Chennai from London on allegations of corruption involving a media establishment; the CBI wants him to go through intensive investigation in this regard and has received permission from the court to do so. This has sparked a fresh war of words between the ruling party at the Centre and the principal Opposition party with the Congress accusing the BJP of playing vindictive politics based on vendetta while representatives of the Modi Government have blandly retorted that the “law must take its own course”.

In the midst of such news of national significance, noteworthy events have taken place at the regional and global levels. The first is the welcome invitation extended by India to Pakistan’s Commerce Minister to attend a WTO ministerial meeting here; this has been followed by a more important decision taken by both sides having a bearing on people-to-people interactions between the two neighbouring states: release of all prisoners, including women, children and those in the mentally unstable category, in both countries. These are expected to constitute the first steps to strike a departure from jingoism resorted to by the two sides, especially in the mass media, notably the electronic one. Hopefully these would pave the way for Indo-Pak normalcy in the foreseeable future.

On the global plane a major news comes from China. Last Sunday, that is, on February 25, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee recommended that the two-term limit for China’s President and Vice-President be removed. This, as The Indian Express points out, means that “in effect Xi Jinping could lead the country indefinitely” and this decision would in all likelihood be rubber-stamped by the Chinese parliament. This indeed is a matter of anxiety for the same daily has underlined that “for India, which had to deal with an aggressive China in Doklam, and manoeuvre against its rising influence in South Asia, the lack of checks and balances on Xi Jinping is a worrying sign”.

February 28 S.C.

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