Ever been asked what the definition of irony is? Try to think of an example. You could always use the one about the first non-Hindu Prime Minister of India. In 1984 the world viewed the media blackout and violence against the Sikhs in India. In June 1984 the Bluestar operation launched by the Congress (I) was extreme. For 3 immediate days after Indira Gandhi assignation thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed. The total number of Sikhs and non-Sikhs killed has never been officially recorded. What is known in many cases, is the names of the instigators of the violence that occurred. After 20 years and 5 national enquiries no one has been brought to justice over human right abuses and targeted slaughter of a community.

20 years on we have the first Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh – An Ex Oxford University scholar), albeit with Mrs Sonia Gandhi residing as president of the Congress party. Dr Manmohan Singh is a very capable individual. His honest approach and financial acumen will ensure the growth of India’s rapidly developing economy. It was indeed Dr Manmohan Singh’s economic reforms in the early 1990s that ensured the foundation of India’s economic revolution. Today India offers a manufacturing base that competes with the Far East. In terms of India’s strength in computer software development and support, again there is no doubt that India can offer immediate financial returns. In April 2003 I visited Bangalore and was impressed by the scale of development. India now has digital telecommunications, high speed voice and data networks. Investments have also taken place in Hotels.

One of the observations made by Western journalists as to why the BJP lost the election was their (BJP) inability to ‘passed on’ India’s new found wealth to the poor (at least 75% of India’s population). This is a valid point but what difference will another party (NB Congress are attempting to lead a coalition) make ? Dr Manmohan Singh and his crew certainly have a challenge ahead across many issues:* Harmonisation of community relations* Assurance that history books are not re-written to instigate the foundations for long-term hate between India’s diverse races and cultures.

* Investment in basic infrastructure (roads/transport, food, development funds, electrical supply…)* Reconsidering the central control of Indian States & their economies from New Delhi* A review of forgotten souls – in prison

There also a need for a concerted effort to ensure that justice does prevail. After 20 years victims of the 1984 Delhi riots and families from the Amirtsar have not been supported or compensated (not that money can bring back a lost family member) but the fact is that these families are still suffering.

Can the new Indian Prime minister bring about change and peace? Only time will tell. Manmohan Singh has an opportunity to stand-up for justice, I hope so, else he’ll be counted as just another ‘also ran’!

Categories: 2004

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