The Filter

When Politics Outclasses GoT

We dig out the best links on the internet so you don’t have to.

I have a confession. I do not watch the Game of Thrones. I do not care for Jon Snow or the Whitewalkers and even lesser about all the spoilers that get social media riled up. The blood, backstabbing and gore was too much for me since I generally go around sprinkling rainbows and sunshine. Why would I want to watch a TV show not different from the general news? The whole point of television is to allow me to escape from the hum-drum of daily life.

Take Pakistan, for example, which hasn’t had a Prime Minister serve out an entire term in seventy years of its existence.  The dismissal of Nawaz Sharif on the grounds of corruption is thought to be a judicial coup, orchestrated through constitutional norms, and Ayesha Siddiqa even prophesies this as a new phase in Pakistani politics. Unanswered questions pertaining to the period of disqualification, representation of the military in the JIT as well as the accusation of being unIslamic  and the lack of due process remain. Hussain Haqqani believes that it is ties with India that lost Nawaz his position:

Mr. Sharif was accused in social media of being an Indian agent and rumours swirled of his alleged investments in India and ‘secret partnerships’ with Indian businessmen.

Uzair Younus is alone in his criticism of the media coverage of Sharif’s dismissal as a judicial coup.  Hamid Mir analyses Nawaz’s nominee, Shahbaz Sharif and hispolitical journey. Meanwhile Larry Pressler, after whom the infamous Pressler Amendment was named, thinks that the Trump administration will take a harder stance against Pakistan.

The two-month long India-China standoff has taken a new turn. China released a position paper on the issue and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs responded to it, giving way to a back and forth on the 2012 agreement as well the general shifting of goalposts. Praveen Swami places the Doklam standoff in context of larger Asian and global geopolitics. Ajai Shukla compares Xi Jinping’s leadership to that of Hitler’s reign in 1939.

Away from Pakistan and China, the Thai Ambassador to India writes about Indo-Thailand ties over the last seventy years. Meanwhile as Trump tries to pass a new immigration bill, Pramit Pal Chaudhari argues that India will benefit from Trump’s new merit based immigration system. On the world stage, the UN passed another resolution calling for abolition of nuclear weapons. But the there is no way the nine nuclear weapon states will acquiesce to it. Next door, at the World Trade Organisation that battle lines are drawn where one side wants to bury the Doha Round while the other wants to go back to unfinished agreements.

Analysts have still not gotten over Nitish Kumar’s switching of sides to the BJP. While, Analysts ponder if Nitish is a defector or a deserter, future of Bihar, a possible signalling effect, the spokesperson of the Rashtriya Janata Dal deemded Kumar’s departure as ‘good riddance’. Ashutosh Bharadwaj wants us to go back to literature rather than political theory to understand the current political landscape while Shruti Kapila says that corruption was the perfect mask for Nitish Kumar because politics is not more about authenticity or hypocrisy. Shiv Vishwanath says that by simply acting like a party whose time has come, the BJP is crumbing its opposition.

Corruption was also an important point of order this week as you read here, here, and here. Commentators are increasingly getting worried about the state of the Indian Republic. Manish Tewari talks about the various cleavages that have emerged in society while  Mihir Sharma says that the current government is one of the most incompetent managers of the Indian economy. Harsh Mander says that darkness can only be fought by garnering acts of love. Amidst all of this, Pankaj Bhutalia thinks that Mayawati is the only viable leader of the Opposition.

If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the dummy’s guide to the case in the Supreme Court that will decide if privacy is a fundamental right. Prasanna S points out the inconsistencies in the arguments provided by the government regarding Aadhar. Menaka Guruswamy says that we are not debating Aadhar but the fundamental concepts of citizenship. Amber Sinha argues that just because privacy is difficult to define does not mean it is a boundless concept. As the pace of technology quickens change in unfathomable ways, Chinmayi Arun thinks that Indian citizens should have adequate protection against its invasiveness. Tathagata Satpathy proposes that the government pays every Aadhar user a sum of 5 lakhs for lifetime access to biometric data.

The Monetary Policy Committee entrusted with fixing the interest rate met on August 2nd and Surjit Bhalla asks the MPC how long it will be before they admit their errors in inflation targeting. Ajit K Ghose argues that instead of focusing on monetary policy, there should be a change in the growth strategy while Pulapre Balakrishnan says that inflation targeting requires supply management. N Chandra Mohan thinks that lowering interest rates for inflation will do for little investment because banks still have to clear up their stressed balance sheets. Niranjan Rajadakshya says that if India doesn’t focus on job creation, it would end up less like East Asia and more like Latin America. Arun Kumar ponders why the RBI has not disclosed the numbers from the surrendered notes of the demonetisation.

The Indian Parliament is mulling over amending the Whistleblowers Act. Anjali Bhardwaj and Amrita Johri argue that this would deter whistleblowing by removing the immunity for those who do come forward. On the same topic, read this interview with a Swiss bank whistleblower, Rudolf Elmer, who claims to have data related to Indian politicians, film stars and cricketers.

Who needs Game of Thrones when you have politics and popcorn?

About the author

Hamsini Hariharan

Hamsini Hariharan is the Associate Editor at Pragati. She is the host of the the States of Anarchy podcast. Her research interests include Chinese foreign policy, Asian geopolitics, and India's worldview.