The Adolescent AIDS epidemic
By Dr. Prem Misir
No one would dispute the great damage that HIV and AIDS have inflicted on the global scene over the last three decades. Indeed, the harm remains phenomenal for poor societies where entire economies continue to experience devastation, and where for some time now, adolescents (aged 10-19) remain vulnerable to HIV infection and who comprise a growing group of the HIV-infected.
For instance, among adolescents for Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death, and globally, it is the second most leading cause of death.(1) In 2013 globally, there were 2100000 adolescents with HIV, of which there were 250,000 new infections among adolescents, and where two-thirds were adolescent females; (2) again globally in 2013, 120,000 adolescents died of AIDS-related illnesses; and it was the only age group where deaths from AIDS were not declining; in fact, all the other age groups had a 38% reduction in AIDS-related deaths between 2005 and 2013.
In addition, globally, adolescents within key population groups as gay and bisexual adolescents, transgender adolescents, those adolescents who trade sex, and drug-injecting adolescents, face a high risk for contracting HIV, and who frequently are not beneficiaries of services. (2)
Due to this sustained adolescent plight three decades into the HIV and AIDS affliction, many leaders from around the world gathered in Nairobi, Kenya on February 15, 2015 to launch a new platform called ‘All In’ to speak to the gaps in HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support provision for adolescents. UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and youth movements represented by PACT and Y+ all came together with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta to launch All In and to express a collective voice on the growing adolescent AIDS epidemic.
The All In called for action in four areas (2): engaging, mobilizing and empowering adolescents as initiators of change; upgrading data collection to produce better programming; support innovative approaches to provide adolescents with critical services consistent with their needs; and presenting the plight of adolescent on political agendas to hasten real action and marshal much-needed resources.
Further, in 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), presented a publication to bring adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV) closely under the radar for HIV testing and counseling, treatment, care, and support.
The overview to this publication indicated that: “Adolescents (10–19 years) and young people (20–24 years) continue to be vulnerable, both socially and economically, to HIV infection despite efforts to date. This is particularly true for adolescents — especially girls — who live in settings with a generalized HIV epidemic or who are members of key populations at higher risk for HIV acquisition or transmission through sexual transmission and injecting drug use. In 2012, there were approximately 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV. About one-seventh of all new HIV infections occur during adolescence.” (3)
These concerns relate to the perception that many adults globally were graduating from HIV to an AIDS status in their twenties. Therefore, given that the median time from HIV to AIDS is 9.4 years (4), it is possible to conclude that many young people with HIV contracted the infection in their adolescence; also, indeed, there are those adolescents who became HIV-infected through mother-to-child-transmission.
These aforementioned statistics and observations attest to a growing adolescent AIDS epidemic and present significant negative implications for social and economic development, especially for resource-constrained countries. And indeed, HIV services must speak to both HIV-infected adolescents as well as provide effective HIV prevention interventions for HIV-free adolescents.
- WHO. Health for the world’s adolescents: a second chance in the second decade. 2014 [February 21, 2015]. Available from: www.who.int/adolescent/second-decade.
- All In to #EndAdolescentAIDS 2015 [February 21, 2015]. Available from: http://allintoendadolescentaids.org/.
- WHO. HIV and adolescents: Guidance for HIV testing and counselling and care for adolescents living with HIV: recommendations for a public health approach and considerations for policy-makers and managers. 2013.
- Morgan D, Mahe C, Mayanja B, Okongo JM, Lubega R, Whitworth JA. HIV-1 infection in rural Africa: is there a difference in median time to AIDS and survival compared with that in industrialized countries? Aids. 2002;16(4):597-603.
Performance of government key to winning elections
By Dr. Prem Misir
There is general agreement that politics is about acquiring power and once acquired, the formation of a government constitutes the next solemn act as well as the sustainability of this power. There is probably general agreement, too, that a government’s primary responsibility is to meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable; to satisfy the interests of the working class; to pay more attention to human development than to quantifying statistics on economic indicators; and to become global. In essence, governmental performance is the name of the game at any election because the electorate has to evaluate this performance.
As Guyana now moves closer to the next General and Regional Elections in a few months’ time, the people will make their own judgments on how well the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is executing its responsibilities in relation to improving the lives of the working class. The people will also issue a pronouncement on the other political parties (challengers) contesting the elections, that is, what they have in store to offer the working class that would significantly enhance its human development. And so, if the electorate perceives its performance positively, the PPP/C could start off on the campaign trail with an advantage as the incumbent.
How important is incumbent advantage? Applying Kramer’s model (1), the PPP/C’s platforms (issues) is its performance or current record, so given that voters believe in any proposed political policy, the challengers will try to present to the electorate issues that will outdo the PPP/C’s performance in government; further, if any incumbent recognizes that it has no chance of winning the election, then it may pursue its own private interests while in office, instead of executing what it pledged during the election campaign; and so, voters will not take the challenger seriously, as they may assume that if it also wins office, the possibility exists that it will do its own thing and disregard voters’ preferences.
But these arguments come from the pure theory of electoral competition that hypothesizes that voters vote for the candidate whose issues they prefer; the theory does not consider other strategies or decisions that voters make, and in this situation, the big decision the voters may have to make is not about issues, but to decide whether or not to vote (2). In fact, to explain voters’ reasons to vote as having merely to do with choosing between two parties’ issues, assuming the election involves only two contestants is simply not the full story. There is more to a voter’s decision to vote, especially in Guyana, where about two-thirds of the population is under age 35.
The essence of the voters’ decision may lie more in the question, “But what have you done for me lately?”; and so in interpreting this question, it seems that voters vote partly on the basis of the performance of the government, and that the evidence that voters vote on issues in a campaign is unconvincing (2). Challengers in an election, therefore, are at a disadvantage, since voters make their minds up on their perceptions of the government’s performance, not on issues. That is an incumbency advantage which the voters control vis-à-vis their evaluation of the government’s performance.
This performance evaluation is an advantage to the government because it is the government that determines its own scope and deliverables for public consumption and human development. The challengers, by definition, are not in power, so they cannot execute scope of work and achieve deliverables.
There is another form of voter control which is to the government’s advantage. Most governments have two policy instruments – frontline policy and secondary policy (3) – for which many voters have mixed preferences, and also, many voters may have no interest in the secondary policy; nonetheless, there may be a small group of voters referred to as single-issue voters who have greater interest in the secondary policy than in the frontline policy.
And in a tight election, single-issue voters may be strategic to winning an election, so it may be a good for ruling politicians to embrace the single-issue voters’ secondary policy. That is how voters can exert control over politicians. But again, the secondary policy execution is legitimately within the governmental environment, giving the government another incumbency advantage. There are other legitimate incumbency advantages available to the PPP/C Government.
The PPP/C Government has these two incumbency advantages outlined here, not on the basis of any unfairness, but on governmental achievements as part of its performance. Meanwhile, the challengers are still hooked on issue voting which inevitably will sustain them in the political wilderness.
- Kramer GH. A dynamical model of political equilibrium. Journal of Economic Theory. 1977;16(2):310-34.
- Ferejohn J. Incumbent performance and electoral control. Public choice. 1986;50(1):5-25.
- List JA, Sturm DM. How elections matter: Theory and evidence from environmental policy. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2004.
Is there life for HIV programs after The Global Fund? – Revised
By Dr. Prem Misir
What can we say about HIV and AIDS today amid a context of reduced donor funding globally? UNAIDS summed up the story of HIV and AIDS, thus: in 2012, 35.3 million people were living with HIV, due to the life-saving antiretroviral therapy; 2.3 million new infections globally, a 33% decline in new infections from 3.4 million in 2001; a fall in AIDS deaths of 1.6 million in 2012 compared to 2.3 million in 2005 (1). In presenting its post-2015 agenda for consultation, UNAIDS indicated that the virus was the primary cause of death for girls and women aged 15-39 (17%) and the principal cause of death for boys and men aged 15-39 (12%); and in 2011, 7 million people entitled to HIV treatment were not reached (2).
But as we view this startling progress made to turn the tide on the epidemic, we must not forget the work of the AIDS activist movements of the 1980s that formed people’s understanding of HIV and the responses they extracted from governments to address the HIV epidemic ; from the era of these activist movements to activist countries, and then to global HIV governance, many activists have now been domesticated into becoming experts in governmental as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs); where they now merely impose a sanitized attention on managing the epidemic, solely involving a technocratic transmitting of drugs into bodies, thereby neglecting the social conditions of the HIV infection and the survival of the those living with HIV (3). The global HIV governance architecture may be the perpetrator of this stark negligence.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)are two major components of the global HIV governance architecture, with donor-driven agendas. The GFATM, a major funding agency for HIV programs since 2004 and the PEPFAR are contestants in a race to prevent and treat HIV in resource-constrained countries, resulting in a scale-up where donors and agencies are expected to develop health system capacity to implement treatment regimens; the cut in GFATM funding in many countries will hurt the treatment program, resulting in a scale-down (3).
Against this background of the story is the stark and harsh reality of the massive cutbacks in donor funding. For instance, with AIDS being a chronic condition implying the need to meet treatment costs for the life of the patient as well as prevention costs as AIDS is an infectious disease, UNAIDS will require an annual budget of US$16 billion to US$22 billion between 2011 and 2020 to fight AIDS (4). After huge initial bouts of funding, the financing started to fizzle out within the range of US$6.9 billion to US$7.9 billion annually between 2008 and 2012 (5).
For a few years now, an implicit strategic goal of The Global Fund is to develop country-led sustainable AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria programs. To commence activities leading to this goal, The Global Fund in 2011 presented entitlement and counterpart financing guidelines wanting recipient countries to match its grant with a contribution from the government on the basis of the country’s income level; for instance, low-income countries have to match 5% of The Global Fund financing, 20% for lower low middle-income countries, 40% for upper lower middle-income countries, and 60% for upper middle-income countries (6).
Today in Guyana, however, with GFATM in a scale-down mode, the local competition to maintain the existing HIV response is well underway. Within this context, though, there are two scenarios that require addressing: (i)What present HIV activities will be maintained? And (ii) is there life for the HIV programs after GFATM, or even now during a decline in its funding?
The first scenario has to do with concerns about global health activities: where there is increasing awareness that pharmaceutical and biomedical treatment alone does not make an individual whole; and where health activities should not be replacements for the non-existing social contracts and social safety nets in resource-constrained countries (3). In addition, sustainability after The Global Fund is not only about maintaining programs, but also developing strategies to respond to new evidence, resources, and need in relation to economic growth and growing social inequality (7).
Let me now look at the second scenario and use the case of Peru to see whether there is life for HIV programs after GFATM exits. Overall, in the battle against HIV, Peru has done well in the absence of GFATM funding. One of the lessons from the Peru case, however, is that under GFATM funding, the powerful NGOs which made unilateral decisions jeopardized a coherent program response and weakened the coordinating work of the Ministry of Health’s HIV office (7). In fact, during the era of GFATM funding in Peru, there was inadequate governmental direction on HIV.
In the event of a decline in GFATM funding or should GFATM exit at some point, there would still be life for the HIV programs in Guyana. But drawing on the experiences of Peru, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Health must provide adequate direction on HIV and put in place accountability mechanisms. Indeed, placing HIV and AIDS activities within the national budget would show political commitment to addressing HIV and AIDS.
In any country, any discussion on life for HIV programs after The Global Fund should not start when the donor funding is fizzling out, but at the beginning point, when negotiations are underway to institute donor funding. And perhaps, even at the commencement of donor funding, focus should be on prioritization of services, cost efficiency measures, and accountability mechanisms; solid foundations for sustainability when donor funding ends.
- UNAIDS. Global report: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013 [January 17, 2015]. Available from: http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2013/gr2013/UNAIDS_Global_Report_2013_en.pdf.
- UN-NGLS. UNAIDS and the post-2015 agenda: upcoming consultation [January 17, 2015]. Available from: http://un-ngls.org/spip.php?pag.
- Kenworthy NJ, Parker R. HIV scale-up and the politics of global health. Global public health. 2014;9(1-2):1-6.
- Schwartländer B, Stover J, Hallett T, Atun R, Avila C, Gouws E, et al. Towards an improved investment approach for an effective response to HIV/AIDS. The Lancet. 2011;377(9782):2031-41.
- Kates J, Wexler A, Lief E. Financing the Response to HIV in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: International Assistance from Donor
Governments in 2012 2013 [January 17, 2015]. Available from: http://www.hst.org.za/sites/default/files/20130923_KFF_UNAIDS_Financing.pdf.
- TGF. The Global Fund Operations Policy Manual 2014 [January 17, 2015]. Available from: file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Administrator/My%20Documents/Downloads/Core_OperationalPolicy_Manual_en.pdf.
- Amaya AB, Caceres CF, Spicer N, Balabanova D. After the Global Fund: Who can sustain the HIV/AIDS response in Peru and how? Global public health. 2014;9(1-2):176-97.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Toward an Indian Diaspora-Caribbean agenda
BY Dr. PREMMISIR
First published: themisirpost.wordpress.com
Today, given the many notable accomplishments of overseas Indians, there is not only limited political networking among themselves (intra-Indian networking), but also sparse networking with Other residents (inter Indian-other networking) of those countries. And so both limited types of networking guarantee a reduced interaction between Indian culture and ‘other cultures’ in major institution building of those developing multiethnic societies; hence, the inevitability for advancing an interactive Indian Diaspora-Caribbean agenda. A Diaspora agenda for the Caribbean would largely include Indian Caribbeans and Other Caribbeans. Most of the Indian Caribbeans are mainly from Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago (T&T), and Suriname, and fast approaching about 2 million Indians if the other Caribbean countries are included. The Indian Diaspora-Caribbean Agenda Therefore, the first item on the Indian Diaspora-Caribbean agenda could be: • Create the environment where Indian culture equally coexists with Other cultures at all levels in institution building. Indians must negotiate this equal coexistence with Other Caribbeans to shape Caribbean society. A plural society must have core values accepted by all groups; these core values could come from the majority, minority groups, or from an interaction among all groups; and the basis of holding the plural society together is shared core values among all groups, like parliamentary democracy (Smolicz, 1981, p.88). But outside the layer of core values is another layer that is the cultural identity of each ethnic group. And in the Indian Diaspora context, how does the Indian maintain cultural continuity? The answer has partly to do with the resilience of Indians. Their resistance to White planters was a rallying point for cultural continuity. Labor unrest that facilitated Indian solidarity also simultaneously was a remarkable method Indians used for ensuring cultural persistence. Cultural connection, especially in the extended family system, language, religion, Indian cinema, and religious missionaries’ visits also could explain the persistence and continuity of Indian culture. Consider that by the beginning of the twentieth century, about three-quarters of Indians in Guyana were from Uttar Pradesh, another connection making for sustainable cultural identity. Historically, cultural persistence and continuity enhanced Indian resilience and mobilization, a precondition for effective active struggle and for withstanding unnecessary cultural recastings arising from societal change. Therefore, a second Diaspora agenda item for the Caribbean could be: • Enable Indian Caribbeans to sustain cultural grounding for capacity building to effectively interface with Other Caribbeans. Indeed, Other Caribbeans should engage in a similar activity. Indians have demonstrated a perpetual bonding with India in probably most if not all of its cultural spheres. And there is an Indian view of the Diaspora as there is a diasporic view of the Indians; two views that are reconcilable. In a Foreword (Naipaul, 2002) to “India: A Wounded Civilization”, Nobel Prize Winner for Literature V.S. Naipaul feels a sentiment for India even as he presented mixed feelings for India. Naipaul believes that India is not nor cannot be his home; “and yet I cannot reject or be indifferent to it…I am at once too close and too far …In India I know I am a stranger; but increasingly I understand that my Indian memories, the memories of that India which lived on into my childhood in Trinidad are like trapdoors into a bottomless past …An inquiry about India…has to be an inquiry about Indian attitudes; it has to be an inquiry about the civilization itself…” Naipaul in expressing mixed feelings about India and his childhood acknowledges the enormity of Indian culture that lingers to eternity for any person who has had intense contact with India. And it is precisely because Indian culture has this quality of permanence that Indian Caribbeans celebrate Indian religious festivals and Indian Arrival Day, to demonstrate the persisting and sustainable Indian connection. Therefore, a third Diaspora agenda item for the Caribbean could be: • Enlighten the Indian citizenry in India about the accomplishments of the Indian Caribbeans, and ensure India’s educational connection with the Caribbean persists. Through scholarships and other forms of educational assistance, India continues to reach out to the Indian Diaspora, including Indian Caribbeans; in fact, India has reached out to Other Caribbeans, too. In this way, India contributes to fostering good ethnic and race relations in the Caribbean through facilitating the educational advancement of Indians as well as other groups. Table 1 shows the multiethnic Staff Development Scholarships the Indian Government has offered Guyana. Between 2000 and 2005, 45% of Indians and 41% of Africans received staff development scholarships to study in India, totally funded by the Indian Government. It is clear that India’s formidable educational contribution fosters better ethnic and race relations in Guyana. Table 1: Indian Staff Development Scholarships to Guyana Years 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Total % Ethnicity Africans 6 6 1 3 18 11 45 41 Indians 5 5 6 7 22 5 50 45 Others (Mixed) 3 1 1 6 3 1 15 14 Total No. of Scholarship 14 12 8 16 43 17 110 100 Source: Public Service Ministry Training Division Therefore, a fourth Diaspora agenda item for the Caribbean could be: • Invite competitive technology and skills from Indian Caribbeans, Other Caribbeans both at home and abroad, Non-resident Indians (NRIs), etc. There are benefits both India and the Caribbean stand to derive from this bonding; both can be a source for reciprocal investments and reciprocal trading arrangements. Caribbean economies with an investment-friendly regime and their closeness to the North American Latin American market make them an attractive target for investment. In addition, evidence suggests that the rate of return to a unit of investment by the Diaspora may be greater than that of the traditional foreign direct investment (FDI) (Wei and Balasubramanyam, 2006). Therefore, a fifth Diaspora agenda item for the Caribbean could be: • Develop scope for increasing bilateral trade and investment; reciprocal granting of Most Favored Nation (MFN) to each other; reciprocal brand promotions of ‘Made in India’ and ‘Made in the Caribbean’ through trade fairs and exhibitions. Samaroo (1994) notes that the substantial overseas Indian community can be both a source for investment and a ready-made market for India’s products. Overseas Indians through intensive lobbying sealed the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Deal (Singh, 2014, p.138). India is now in the Caribbean, with extended linkages to other parts of the Indian Diaspora. However, the bonding between India and the Caribbean is a case of sustaining personal and cultural identity, a significant contributory factor to enhancing the quality of life for Indian Caribbeans and Other Caribbeans. Together, this bonding may create a new vision for the Indian-Caribbean connection in the 21st Century. References NAIPAUL, V. S. 2002. India: a wounded civilisation, Pan Macmillan. SAMAROO, B. India and Indian Diaspora: The Continuing Links. A Paper Presented in the International Conference on Indian Diaspora, held at Hyderabad, 1994. SINGH, A. 2014. Indian Diaspora as a factor in India-Malaysia relations. Diaspora Studies, 7, 130-140. SMOLICZ, J. 1981. Core values and cultural identity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 4, 75-90. WEI, Y. & BALASUBRAMANYAM, V. N. 2006. Diaspora and development. The World Economy, 29, 1599-1609.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Toward an Indian Diaspora-Caribbean agenda
BY Dr. PREM MISIR
First published: themisirpost.wordpress.com
The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) symbolizes a perpetual cultural continuity and bonding of overseas Indians to their Indian cultural heritage; many overseas Indians, that is, Indians from the Indian Diaspora at the PBD are largely professionals whose migration to the Western metropolis has no parallel with that of the early indentureds of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Early indentureds inhabited a dehumanized total institutional environment, with no mobility, enslaved by the tyranny of the rule of law, and reduced to a history of humiliation.
J.C. Sharma demonstrated the striking difference of the early Caribbean indentureds, thus (Sharma, 2002): “These settlers to the Caribbean had usually carried with them on their way only their pots and pans, a few pieces of clothing, and perhaps a blanket. Yet, they managed to bequeath to their children and their grand-children the cultural heritage of their land of origin.” And it is the early indentureds’ cultural legacy that today has concretized the pillars of the PBD, the annual forum that forges the mutual link between overseas Indians and India. How did the PBD become a reality?
The Government of India under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000 appointed the High Level Committee on the Indian Diaspora; its terms of reference (MEA, 2000, p.iii) were to: assess the status of Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in relation to the constitutional provisions, laws and rules related to India and the countries where they reside; develop a holistic understanding of PIOs and NRIs and what they expect from India; review possible roles of PIOs and NRIs to develop India; study the immigration rules applicable to PIOs’ visits to India and their investments, and the concerns of NRIs; and recommend a policy framework to forge a mutually beneficial relationship between PIOs, NRIs and India.
This Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. L.M. Singhvi, a Member of Parliament and a former High Commissioner of India to the UK made several recommendations, among which included the hosting of the annual PBD and conferral of the Pravasi Samman Awards to both PIOs and NRIs (MEA, 2001b, p.377).
Each year since 2003, January 9 is the day set aside to celebrate PBD, as it was on this day that Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa. I have a keen interest in promoting the mission, vision, and philosophy of the PBD, as evidenced through my paper presentations at several PBDs: “Leveraging knowledge networks” at the 8th PBD in New Delhi (2010); “Defining Indian Diaspora” at the 7th PBD in Chennai (2009); “Defining the Diaspora agenda: the Caribbean” at the 4th PBD in Hyderabad (2006); and in ‘Plenary session IV: India & Generation Next’, “Toward national unity in multicultural societies” at the 3rd PBD in Mumbai (2005), and the Journal of Indo Caribbean Research has now published this paper.
The PBD addresses two types of people: Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs); PIOs are foreign citizens of Indian origin or descent and NRIs are Indian citizens living overseas for an indefinite period. The Indian Diaspora includes both PIOs and NRIs, comprising about 25 million Indians scattered over 110 countries.
This Diaspora represents about 1.7% of India’s population, and according to Parekh, only about 3.5 million of the 25 million Indian Diasporans are settled or rich (Parekh, 2003). But Parekh argues that the Indian Diaspora is not new (Parekh, 2003); Indians have been abroad, back and forth numerous times for hundreds of years; Indians have been settling overseas over the last 2,300 years, when commencing in the post-Buddha period, Indian missionaries traveled to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
But for the first time in Indian history, India has provided a PBD in India itself as a ‘bonding’ meeting place for its overseas kinfolks. Every member at PBD Conferences comes to solidify this bonding with India and hopefully India would want a bonding with its Diaspora; a bonding that requires reciprocity and a political will.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee made the following statement in 1977 when he was the Minister of External Affairs (MEA, 2001a, p.v): “The subject of overseas Indians is one which is very dear to our hearts. Everyone of Indian origin overseas is a representative of India and retains many aspects of our cultural traditions and civilization. Though our sons and daughters have gone abroad to work or to reside there, India will never disown them or fail to appreciate and respect their essential loyalty to the culture and heritage of the mother country.”
Indeed, there is a growing need to have a working relationship of overseas Indians with India, amid a fiercely brutal economic globalization process, working to the disadvantage of poor developing economies. A sustained relationship requires an application of the principle of reciprocity, making both parties stakeholders. Both parties would need to have a mutual understanding of what is happening in India, on the one hand, and what is happening in overseas territories, on the other hand. Vajpayee’s commitment to overseas Indians is encouraging, as each overseas Indian takes a piece of India in the new abode.
References (for Parts 1 and 2)
LEDERMAN, D., OLARREAGA, M. & SOLOAGA, I. 2007. The Growth of China and India in World Trade: Opportunity or Threat for Latin America and the Caribbean?
MEA. 2000. Order [Online]. Ministry of External Affairs. Available: http://www.indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/part1-ord.pdf [Accessed January 3, 2015.
MEA. 2001a. Available: http://www.indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/part1-for.pdf [Accessed January 3, 2015.
MEA. 2001b. The Indian Diaspora [Online]. Available: http://www.indiandiaspora.nic.in/diasporapdf/chapter25.pdf [Accessed January 3, 2015.
NAIPAUL, V. S. 1976. INDIA-WOUNDED CIVILIZATION. 1. NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, 23, 18-&.
PAREKH, B. 2003. Why the Diaspora needs India [Online]. Available: http://www.rediff.com/news/2003/jan/08spec1.htm [Accessed January 3, 2015.
SHARMA, J. C. 2002. Indian Diaspora
Inaugural Address [Online]. Available: http://ngu.ac.in/center/dias/index.htm [Accessed January 3, 2015.
WEI, Y. & BALASUBRAMANYAM, V. N. 2006. Diaspora and development. The World Economy, 29, 1599-1609.
Anti-prorogation arguments undemocratic
By Dr. Prem Misir
The President’s proclamation of prorogation would be a useful case study on the traditional Opposition (elected Opposition representatives of the National Assembly) and the new Opposition’s (mass media, inclusive of the social media and the partisan civil society) modus operandi on Guyana ‘s development. The media onslaught that followed the proclamation was no different from the many Government of Guyana capital projects that are now languishing in some corner of nothingness, thanks to the traditional and new Opposition groups.
In this sordid political context, many people present their political positions where they use democracy as a password to justify those positions. Invariably, these positions are opinions and not facts, but are presented as facts. At the present time, many critics are still having a field day with their anti-prorogation arguments, presenting their opinions, not facts; and then in an attempt to justify this position, they would say that prorogation has silenced the voice of democracy. The Constitution of Guyana states clearly in Article 70 (1) thus “The President may at any time by proclamation prorogue Parliament.” Prorogation is a done deal! And the President is in compliance with the Constitution.
The traditional Opposition and the new Opposition, through utilizing democracy to support their opinions, really are a threat to democracy because they see their opinions as factual beyond any reasonable doubt; where only their position is correct; and in the process shutting out and dismissing other commentaries not supportive of theirs, claiming them to be erroneous.
In fact, these two Opposition groups present their anti-prorogation stance as a cast-iron certainty, that is, they see their position as the only one that is certainly real and truthful, as a safe bet, and as the only correct position, where no one should harbor doubts about their remarks on prorogation.
But if you accept these Opposition groups’ points of view, then the President’s position is invalid, notwithstanding that the President’s decision to prorogue is in sync with the Constitution. And subsequent to the proclamation of prorogation, the President issued a call to the traditional Opposition to discuss high matters of State, but to no avail; in effect, the President’s call, even though he is accused of making that call too late, demonstrated that his position is one which encourages a plurality of thinking, contrary to that of both Opposition groups. However, the view that only the Opposition groups’ disposition is valid is a threat to democracy and an anti-democratic position.
Let me clarify. This discussion so far on the anti-prorogation camp is an attempt to apply a theory of sceptical democracy which sees liberal democracy as having a space between two undemocratic forces – unreasonable certainty and denial of the reality of truth – and facing a double threat from them; liberal democracy does not claim certainty of knowledge and does not deny the existence of truth; and the trait that shows the differences between these undemocratic forces and liberal democracy is scepticism (Bufacchi, 2001, p.169). Scepticism is defined thus: ‘No conception of the good can justifiably be held with a degree of certainty that warrants its imposition on those who reject it’(Barry, 1995, p.169). Liberal democracy makes no claim to absolute knowledge; there are always doubts about knowledge in a liberal democracy; and liberal democracy does not impose its views on the people.
The media onslaught against the Government is a case in point to demonstrate both Opposition groups’ determination to present absolute knowledge and by implication imposing it on the people; as by their definition, knowledge is absolute, so people have no choice, but to buy into this so-called absolute knowledge. The anti-prorogation camp (used interchangeably with Opposition groups)professes unreasonable certainty, meaning that they present their commentaries to be true knowledge beyond doubt, that is, their knowledge is absolute.
But no knowledge is absolute. Let me explain. In reviewing philosophical worldviews for research design purposes, there is a distinct movement away from positivism to postpositivism. Positivism tends to suggest that there is absolute truth of knowledge (Phillips and Burbules, 2000) which postpositivism has challenged, acknowledging that people cannot be certain about their claims to knowledge; in this sense, knowledge is imperfect and fallible (Phillips and Burbules, 2000). And that is precisely the problem with the anti-prorogation camp; this camp believes that its position is akin to some form of absolute knowledge.
Once you believe that your point of view is a claim to absolute knowledge, then there can be no plurality of views, since yours is by definition absolute. And that is what makes the anti-prorogation arguments of the traditional and new Opposition groups’ undemocratic.
BARRY, B. M. 1995. Justice as impartiality: volume 2 of a treatise on social justice, Oxford University Press.
BUFACCHI, V. 2001. Sceptical Democracy. Politics, 21, 23-30.
PHILLIPS, D. C. & BURBULES, N. C. 2000. Postpositivism and educational research, Rowman & Littlefield.