Global Politics at Work!
Politics has changed because the world has changed. But have media and political pundits kept pace with the change? They still focus exclusively on governments. They tend to overlook the powerful influence exerted by transnational lobbies. Special interest groups cutting across national boundaries often render intra-government relations ineffectual. To illustrate this consider the recent release of the IAEA draft agreement text by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on its website. The events attending this episode are instructive.
The first politician to state that the IAEA text was available on the Internet even while the government was maintaining secrecy over it was CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat. His disclosure compelled the MEA to post the text on its own site. Did Karat or one of his party colleagues monitor the Internet and discover the text? It is possible. But more likely the information was passed on to him.
A few websites propagating nuclear non-proliferation had obtained the text and put it on their websites. One of these was the Arms Control Association (ACA) a powerful American NGO propagating non-proliferation. This organization gives an annual award for the most effective work favouring global nuclear non-proliferation. Along with Dr Henry Kissinger, Prakash Karat was short listed as a nominee for the award due to his efforts to block the Indo-US nuclear deal. Eventually he did not receive the award. But becoming a nominee for this award was itself prestigious. Is it not possible that ACA passed on the information about the available IAEA text either directly or indirectly to Karat? After obtaining the text ACA would be failing in its duty if it had not done so.
The further question is: from where did ACA obtain the IAEA text? It could have come from any one of the many nations that are members of the IAEA among whom the draft was circulated. Any representative on IAEA could have leaked the draft to interested websites. It could even be an individual pursuing a personal agenda without the knowledge of the government he represented. Global interest groups and the Internet thereby may have rendered governments ineffectual for suppressing information.
The media can take advantage of this to get at the truth in a way it never could earlier. Some months ago Dr Kissinger visited India at the thick of the nuclear deal controversy. He met with senior politicians opposed to the deal. The newspapers assumed he had come to push India into signing the deal. It is reliably learnt that at least one of the opposition leaders he met was left puzzled by Kissinger not raising the subject of the deal even once. Then why did he come? Quite possibly his visit was a cosmetic exercise to appear on the side of the deal which he might have calculated was unstoppable. It is good politics to be on the winning side. Subsequent to his Indian visit Kissinger, after making a hash of nuclear non-proliferation through the kind courtesy of Dr AQ Khan, is now working to achieve global nuclear disarmament.
Much is being made of Barak Obama's newfound support for the Indo-US nuclear deal. But his change in stance came after India approached the IAEA. So why lose funds and votes of the growing Indian community in the US? Politicians will play their old games and continue to flip flop as it suits them. Only those among them who recognize the inevitabilities of the information age will display total transparency to project their views. They will be the statesmen who achieve a new level of democracy to change the world.