Congress is in the midst of a serious political paralysis, but it’s not yet time to write its obituary.

 

The founding father of Pakistan, M.A. Jinnah and its first Prime Minister, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan must be turning in their graves. Both were men who never committed any financial improprieties in their lives. They, like most human beings, had their shortcomings, but money laundering was not one of that. Neither owned properties outside India.

Last week, former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari was arrested for illegal financial activities. His wealth, it is alleged, runs into billions of US dollars. He is also alleged to own properties in the Gulf countries, in France, UK and the United States of America. Besides, it is claimed that his money is stacked in tax free havens in different parts of the world.

Next, there is the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. He too is in prison for the same crime as ex-President Zardari. Prime Minister Imran Khan deserves praise for living up to his election campaign declarations, that he will show no mercy to big financial brigands whoever these may be. He has kept his word. Pakistan is enveloped in an acute financial crisis. It is a thousand pities that former heads of state and government should ransack the country. A Pakistani friend of the family told me the other day that inflation was reaching alarming proportions. A dozen bananas cost Rs 400.

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Last Thursday, a leading daily newspaper published on its front page some facts about the state of our prominent educational institutions.

These figures depressed and dismayed me. The world’s top ten universities are: MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, Caltech (California Institute of Technology), ETH Zurich, University of Cambridge, University College London, Imperial College London and University of Chicago.

Three Indian educational institutions appear among the top 200. Twenty-three were among the top 1,000. The rankings of ten top Indian universities are: IIT Bombay, ranking 152; IIT Delhi, ranking 182; Indian Institute of Science, ranking 184; IIT Kharagpur 281; IIT Kanpur 291; IIT Roorkee, 383; Delhi University, 474.

The heading, “Lack of Focus” in the newspaper, has this comment. “The lack of focus of global education appeared to have hit the rating of top Indian varsities.” Obviously, our education policy and the state of our universities need drastic reform.

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As the Congress party is all but rudderless, there is no effective opposition in the Lok Sabha. In the Rajya Sabha for some time to come, the BJP lacks a majority. However, it is the Lok Sabha that matters. Regardless of Rahul Gandhi refusing to take back his resignation, he remains the tallest leader in the Congress party. Notwithstanding his repeated pronouncements that the party will choose the next president, no name has emerged. Anyway, even if a name does emerge he will have to, in every case, get the approval of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for any decision he takes. The youth brigade that makes up the Rahul Gandhi team does not in real political terms exit. Except for Rahul Gandhi they all lost in the Lok Sabha elections. The old guard cannot be jettisoned. The reason is simple. They do carry weight.

Ultimately, it is only Sonia Gandhi who can revive and save the Congress. The Congress is in the midst of a serious political paralysis, it, however, would be a grave error of judgement to write its obituary. So long as the Gandhis are around, no other leader would be able to take any important decision without the approval of Janpath and Tughlaq Road. It is not a happy situation, but politics is not a game where happiness has a place. It’s a blood sport. There is no Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to prevent political bloodletting.

 

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