Bush and Obama

Free democracies look forward—with ardent hope and expectation—to Barack Obama’s Presidency.

Written by Soli J. Sorabjee | Published:January 18, 2009 12:53 am

Free democracies look forward—with ardent hope and expectation—to Barack Obama’s Presidency. Obama’s youth and idealism are his main attraction. The image of America was badly impaired during the Bush administration on many counts—the invasion of Iraq on the pretext of imminent use of weapons of mass destruction,the barbaric treatment of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib and the indefinite detention of suspected enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay without affording them elementary due process. The US Supreme Court provided limited relief to the detainees despite stiff opposition by the administration. Bush was certainly not a malevolent person but he had no understanding of America’s role and destiny. We must however be thankful to Bush for his hilarious gaffes. Bush alone is not to be blamed for his delusion that the people of India love him. It was our Prime Minister who fed him that fiction. In his last press conference there was a touch of pathos in his remark that after his retirement,“he will soon be waking up,not to receive an intelligence briefing on terrorist threats six days a week,but to make or fetch the coffee for his wife,Laura.”

Heavy responsibility will lie on Obama’s shoulders after he assumes office. His topmost priority should be to order the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. No doubt that will take considerable time. Nonetheless it is imperative to order immediate suspension of military commissions trying detainees and thereby remove this shameful blot on the US justice system and its human rights record.

Prime Ministerial race

Spotting the winner in the Prime Ministerial stakes is becoming tricky. BJP’s consensus candidate,L.K. Advani,is a formidable leader,known for his decisiveness,ability and integrity. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat has set a cat among the pigeons by announcing his intention to enter the race despite his advanced age. Shekhawatji is also respected for his integrity and statesmanship. Another possible contender from the BJP stable could well be Narendra Modi if one goes by the praise showered on him recently by the captains of industry. Civility no doubt prevented everyone from mentioning Godhra and the Gujarat riots. Another strong contender is Mayawati who has a supernatural knack of receiving millions of rupees from loyal followers and also convincing the tax authorities about the legitimacy of the source of her immense wealth. As regards the Congress,Manmohan Singh should be the obvious choice. There may be other contenders. Can we rule out the resourceful,unpredictable Amar Singh or the temperamental Mamata Banerjee or the shrewd Jayalalithaa? We should keep our fingers crossed and pray that the Almighty enables the right person to lead the nation.

What’s the good word?

A search is on by Australia’s top Macquarie dictionary for the best new word or phrase. So far,95 entries in 19 categories reflect global trends. After the experience of worthless loans that sparked the global meltdown,‘toxic debt’ has entered everyday usage with a vengeance. But it lacks sex appeal like the word ‘bromance’,which refers to a non-sexual but intense friendship between two males. One of the entrants is ‘sexting’ which signifies sending or receiving a sexually explicit photo or video clip on a mobile phone. A strong contender is ‘climate porn’ which refers to exaggeratedly alarmist predictions about climate change. ‘Baby brain’ is the perceived diminished mental capacity of pregnant women. Women’s groups should strongly object to this gender slur. If Hindi words are permitted entry,the word chaalu,which is vividly descriptive of people in different professions and walks of life,would be a strong contender. Online voting ends on January 31 and a committee of academics and the publisher will announce the winners in the first week of February. We await the results with bated breath.

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