ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On the Run

On the Run IT has been since Tirupati a bad couple of months for P V Ntfrasimha Rao and his government. Following the apparent triumph registered by the prime minister at the party session there, nothing has gone right. The killings and kidnappings have continued in Punjab and Kashmir, and have in fact come nearer home; right in the heart of the nation's capital; the gunning down of the chairman of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices could in fact be the beginning of a more ominous challenge to the authorities. The finance minister's trip to Japan was a bit of a flop, and it would be a miracle of a sort if his boast of enticing six billion dollars of foreign investment in the course of the next two years were fulfilled even fractionally, Inflation has persisted in its relentless march, the prospects of the monsoon are uncertain, and, on account of the threat held out by the militants, procurement of wheat, particularly in Punjab, is dismal. On top of all that, the good Americans, whom our government has adopted as godfather extraordinary, have been behaving most ungenerously. Carla Hills has chosen to ride again, and this time not just to provide some innocuous fun; she has proceeded to apply the provisions of Special 301 of the US Trade Act and clamped a 5 per cent custom duty on Indian exports of pharmaceuticals to the United States. This decision is in clear breach of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences worked out in international fora more than 20 years ago, but the American administration altogether conscious of its overweaning power in a unipolar world, is in no mood to humour any longer the susceptibilities and sensitivities of international opinion. The penalisation via tariffs has been followed by a prohibition against the Indian Space Research Organisation from buying equipment and technology from the US market for a period of two years: this is to punish our government for not heeding official American advice to forsake the programme of developing rocket technology with know-how and materiel imported from Russia.

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