01Interview of Prof. Mishra

 
Prof. Mishra's Interview With JNU News Representative

Bhoomika:
Tell us something about your association with JNU.
Om Prakash Mishra:
I studied at JNU from 1982-1986 for my Masters and M. Phil Degree, both from School of International Studies. My M. Phil dissertation on Functionalism from the Centre for International Politics, Organisation and Diplomacy (CIPOD) was supervised by Prof. K. P. Misra. I was active in West Bengal chapter of the JNU Alumni Association from the time I joined the Department of International Relations at Jadavpur University, Kolkata in 1987. I often visit JNU for academic work, selection committee meetings, etc.
Bhoomika:
How has JNU shaped your perception in relation to your profession?
Om Prakash Mishra:
My four years in JNU were very productive, both for the exposure to excellence and scholarship in the University and the positive impact of the University on my future professional development. JNU is really a great ground for training in leadership, in academic and professional arena and also to an extent in politics. The University helps the students develop a more comprehensive worldview. This is the essence of the contribution that JNU represents in the life and career path of its students.
Bhoomika:
Tell us something about your work in IGNOU.
Om Prakash Mishra:
Before joining IGNOU as Pro Vice Chancellor in 2007, I had served the National Security Advisory Board, Government of India during 2004-2006. Thus, joining IGNOU was my third 'assignment' in Delhi, JNU years being the first! IGNOU is the largest University of the world, having a national mandate and significant international presence and it contributes about 12 per cent of India's higher education, IGNOU has unique attributes, both for the access it has ensured for the millions and the quality of technology added educational material it provides. As senior most Pro Vice Chancellor I have responsibilities for administration of the University and for various Schools and the north eastern region.
Bhoomika:
Both JNU and IGNOU have a special place in the history of higher education in India. Do you see any point of commonality between the visions of these two universities?
Om Prakash Mishra:
Both IGNOU and JNU are central universities in Delhi. JNU faculty has been involved in the development of IGNOU course material. A large number of IGNOU teachers and academics are from JNU. In recent years, IGNOU has established many new Schools and Centres and also initiated research programmes. both the Universities would gain by academic and research collaboration in defined areas. JNU can also contribute in extension activities and international programmes of IGNOU.
Bhoomika:
Have you visited JNU recently? What changes did you notice?
Om Prakash Mishra:

I keep visiting JNU but my interactions with the JNU community of students and scholars is now rather limited. I do hear about a lot of changes: especially impressive is the number of new hostels. It is sad that a degree from JNU these days is not a sufficient qualification in the job market, given the growth of educational institutes in the country, both in terms of quality and quantity, and the resultant competition. Bhoomika: What message would you like to give to the JNU students? Om Prakash Mishra: I wish all the students have productive and rewarding years in the pre-eminent institution of the country and that they uphold the JNU tradition and excellence in the spirit of a true JNUite.

 
 
Prof. Mishra's Interview With India News Representative

India needs more foreign policy experts: Omprakash Mishra

By IANS,
New Delhi : India needs hundreds of new foreign policy scholars and experts to tackle the challenges of the current global situation, says eminent foreign policy expert and secretary of the Kolkata-based Global India Foundation (GIF) Omprakash Mishra.

"During the past 60 years, India has produced only around 7,000 scholars in international relations. It is too insufficient for a country of 1.2 billion people which is striving to have a major role in the new global order," Mishra told IANS here.
Besides the old study centres at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University and Kolkata's Jadavpur University, two new centres have come up in the southern states of Kerala and Puducherry, he noted, adding: "But that is not enough for a big country like India."

The discourse on foreign policy "should be spread through the country" and not limited to Delhi, said Mishra, whose GIF organised a national conference on 'India's Engagement with the Global Order" here recently.
Mishra felt that "civil society and ordinary citizens should come under the ambit of foreign policy" framework.

Besides the South Block (the office housing external affairs ministry in New Delhi), think tanks and research institutes across the country should have a role in policy formation, he said. "External affairs discourse should expand beyond New Dehi and South Block," he said.

"But the government should not control the think tanks and they should be given academic and functional freedom like abroad," he stressed.

The 'think tanks should supplement and complement the government thinking' and research resources, said Mishra, who is a former vice chancellor of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi, and currently a professor of international relations at the Jadavpur University.

If India wants to strengthen its case for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, it should be prepared to shoulder new responsibilities, he said
"If India wants to be a global power, it should be a global player," Mishra said, pointing out that the country's diplomatic activities are not seen in some regions and several fields of global diplomacy.

Last week, the GIF organised the first K. Subrahmanyam memorial lecture in New Delhi, which was delivered by former national security advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra.

According to Brajesh Mishra, India was not a "player in the current global order" as the government lacked innovative action.

Subrahmanyam, India's eminent strategic thinker, died Feb 2 this year.
The lecture, which was presided over by West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan -- another former NSA -- was attended by several diplomats inlcluding Arundhati Ghose, India's former envoy to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament.

 
 
Mishra on SFI leader's death

By giving free rein to the TMC in the distribution of seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha and the 2011 Assembly elections, the central leadership indicated that it had less faith in the State Congress and more in the TMC’s abilities. The interest of the State Congress was relegated to the background as the leadership was in a hurry to reach an electoral understanding with an aggressive Trinamool.

Today it is time for introspection. The PCC [Pradesh Congress Committee] was not given adequate support, so in the change that came about, the Congress did not have the scope to strengthen its own position. We did not want equal partnership, but certainly not this kind of treatment. There was hardly any negotiation with the Trinamool Congress when it came to seat adjustment.

An ideological campaign has begun in West Bengal. Here the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will be campaigning against economic reforms. None of these parties can have any seat adjustments with each other and, therefore, will have to compete against each other while campaigning on the same issue, whereas, the Congress is assured of not only its own votes but also that of those who support economic reforms. So, it is actually advantageous for the Congress. We are taking a calculated risk, because what is good economics may prove to be good politics, too. Our job is to make economic reforms the major electoral plank. Vote for stability at the Centre. Do not discount the support from business and industry, the media, and the middle-class—these are the opinion makers.’

 

 
 
“Congress has given more to Mamata, than what she has given us”-- with Frontline representative

Days before West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee walked out of the UPA alliance, the WB State General Secretary of the Congress Party, Prof O.P. Mishra, spoke to Indian Empire’s Anjay Sinha in an exclusive interview. Hardly showing any signs or intent of mincing words, the out-spoken spokesperson explains why in the long run Mamata needs the Congress more than the Congress needs her. Especially if the Left Front was to be prevented from re-gaining strength at the 2014 general elections. According to Prof Mishra, the last assembly election results indicate that the CPM (Communist Party—Marxist) has not lost its core vote-banks. Analyses reveal that the margin of vote-share between CPM and Mamata’s TMC (Trinamool Congress) is only between 3 to 4 percent. It is the Congress’s vote that TMC has got because of the seat-sharing alliance between the parties.
The general secretary who also wears a hat of professor of International Relations at the Jadavpur University bluntly said, “the party doen’t want a break, but we do not mind a break-up.” He admitted openly to strained relationship between TMC and WB Congress after a year together in power

Why do you say that Congress has always given Mamata than what she claims to have received?
If you look at Mamata's political career, she owes it to the Congress. The party gave her a Lok Sabha ticket at age of 27, which she won. In the next general election she lost but party adjusted her at the national level. Even the South Kolkata seat from which she had won the last Parliament election before she resigned to become Chief Minister and get elected for the West Bengal assembly, is a traditional Congress seat. The party's candidate has always won from this seat. So her current success is also due to the goodwill of Congress voters.

What are main reasons for growing differences between the two parties?
Both the parties fought together in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and in the 2011 Assembly elections in West Bengal because the TMC knew very well that it would not be able to bring down the Left on its own. It needed the Congress, and earlier, it needed the BJP. Now it is also part of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance). Just at a time when our relations are supposed to be cordial and expected to be improving, the reverse is happening. The TMC’s desire is to capture Congress' entire political space which the party would naturally contest. And we have been successfully doing that. Moreover the party expected TMC to respect the sacrifices the Congress made while accommodating it in the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections. But they have been most uncooperative when it comes adjusting with us at the grass-roots and district levels, which matters the most in politics. Because of their attidue, almost in all the blocks, the Congress and the Trinamool are at loggerheads.
There is no coordination mechanism between the two parties. Even senior pradesh leaders simple request are ignored and snubbed by the Government.


http://indiaempire.com/v1/2012/September/images/Interview_Politics2.jpg

http://indiaempire.com/v1/2012/September/images/Interview_Politics3.jpg

From left: Professor Mishra with former Indian foreign secretaries Shyam Saran, M K Rasgotra, Salman Haider

A section of the audience at the lecture being delivered by Ambassador Saran


Is there a way out to resolve the issues between the two parties?
The root cause of problem is that both parties have been competing for the same political space. After grabbing power, the TMC is now relentlessly pursuing Congress's defectors. They are also adopting unfair means to engineer defection from the Congress at the district, municipal and panchayat levels. No party can keep silent in such a situation.
The differences could only be resolved if the TMC functions in a non-partisan manner. It needs to stop engineering defections and constitutes a coordination mechanism to address governance issues, stops politicising social issues, and maintains impartiality in administration.

Is there any truth in talk of the Congress going it alone in the panchayat elections?
Since we are main-stream political party, we are expected to contest on our own. The question of seat adjustment arises when the views and interests of two or more parties converge. In the last panchayat elections there was no official tie-up with the Trinamool, but at the grass-roots level, adjustments and arrangements did take place. The Pradesh Congress leadership usually does not interfere in these processes.
The question of seat adjustment with the Trinamool may be decided at the block or district level. But the Pradesh Congress will encourage its workers to contest the elections. Wherever we are in a position to contest on our own, we will definitely do so, and our strength is rising.
In such circumstances, it is difficult to assess the future course of action. We don't want to fully severe the ties. While we are interested in sailing alongside the Trinamool, we are not prepared to sink with it—given the policies that the Trinamool-led Government are following.

Has Central Party leaders pressure to go soft on Mamata due to her crucial support at the Centre?
It is to our credit of Central leadership that they never discouraged us from undertaking political programmes—even those that are critical of the State government. But we fought the elections together, so it is expected that we would have an interdependent relationship. However, the Trinamool Congress is volatile and has taken strong stands, most of which are generally not in line with the policies of development and governance.
A section of the Congress leadership, including me, has been maintaining that the Congress' self-esteem and pride should not be compromised under any circumstances. Yet, it has repeatedly happened in this alliance.

Let us now talk on national politics. What is our opinion of Team Anna floating own political party? Will it impact Congress?
The Team Anna decision to form a political party is a welcome move. In my assessment, the two biggest parties, Congress and BJP is not going to be impacted by their presence. In fact the Congress is only going to benefit as so called anti-corruption votes are going to split among opposition parties. In such a scenario, the party's traditional votes would be enough to make us victorious.

 

 

Frontline: Interview with Om Prakash Mishra, West Bengal Congress general secretary.

Om Prakash Mishra:“We don't want a break, but we do not mind a break-up.”

WE don't want a break, but we do not mind a break-up.” Pradesh Congress general secretary Om Prakash Mishra makes it clear that relations between the Trinamool Congress and the West Bengal Pradesh Congress, after a year together in power, have deteriorated further. In an exclusive interview with Frontline, Mishra, a professor of International Relations at Jadavpur University, spoke on the main issues of friction between the two parties and on the future of the alliance.Excerpts:

After a year together in the government, have relations improved between the Congress and the Trinamool?

As you know, both the parties fought together in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and in the 2011 Assembly elections. The Trinamool Congress realised that it could not go it alone in West Bengal. It needed the Congress, and earlier, it needed the BJP. Now it is a part of the UPA [United Progressive Alliance], and its parliamentary strength rose from one in 2004 to 19 in 2009. Our relations are supposed to be cordial and expected to be improving. However, it is just the reverse. The Trinamool would like to capture the entire political space of the Congress, which we would naturally contest, and we have been successfully doing that.

We did expect the Trinamool Congress to respect the sacrifices the Congress made while accommodating the Trinamool in the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections, but it has been most uncooperative when it comes to relations at the grass-roots and district levels. Almost in all the blocks, the Congress and the Trinamool are at loggerheads. While the Trinamool has been on an expanding spree, the Congress has been able to protect its core base and also attract support from the disenchanted section of the populace.
It must also be noted that Trinamool workers and leaders have been rewarded amply at different levels involving government appointments, but the Congress has been completely sidelined. There is no coordination mechanism between the two parties. Even the letters of the Pradesh Congress chief are being ignored and routinely ridiculed.

Moreover, the Trinamool has been acquiring new members of questionable reputation from the CPI(M) [Communist Party of India (Marxist)] ranks. Since the original Trinamool and Congress workers have been at the receiving end of these CPI(M) cadre, relations between local Trinamool leaderships and the Congress workers have deteriorated beyond repair. The process has also brought about a lot of disenchantment among the original workers of the Trinamool. The last one year has been a most uneasy coexistence, which has made both partners more resentful and suspicious of each other than ever before.

What are the main issues of friction? How do you think they can be resolved?
Both parties have been competing for the same political space, and the Trinamool has been relentless in its pursuit of defectors from the Congress ranks. All forms of allurement are being offered to engineer defection from the Congress at the district, municipal and panchayat levels. The Congress cannot be expected to be charitable towards such moves.

Secondly, a governance deficit is increasingly manifest, and the Trinamool is using the language of authority instead of responsibility. Thirdly, we have been raising certain crucial issues that the Trinamool has been ignoring, such as remunerative and support prices for agricultural produce, suicide of farmers and agricultural workers, crib deaths in government hospitals. But the Trinamool has been in denial mode on all policy and governance issues.

Moreover, the State government has been following a policy of high-handedness and partiality towards a large section of the media. Its approach has been discriminatory and contrary to democratic norms. Whether it is the question of insensitiveness towards instances of rape or partiality towards select media houses or the beating up of political opponents, the record of the Trinamool government is increasingly under the scanner.

Left Front supporters as well as Congress workers have been assaulted and even murdered by increasingly hostile Trinamool activists in various parts of the State. The ruling party has, in fact, been emulating the means and methods employed by the CPI(M) in its attempt to silence the opposition and in its pursuit of area domination.

We have time and again asked for a mechanism to facilitate transparent decision-making but have been turned down.

These differences can only be resolved if the Trinamool functions in a non-partisan manner, decides to stop engineering defections, constitutes a coordination mechanism to address governance issues, stops politicising social issues, and maintains impartiality in administration.

After just 11 months in power, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claims to have achieved 90 per cent of the work she had set out to do and has announced that in one year her government has done 10 years' work. How does its ally, the Congress, assess the government's work?

The government has been very proactive, but it is a government of announcements and pronouncements. Unfortunately, the legacy of the Left Front government cannot be undone overnight, and, again, unfortunately the present government has been emulating the CPI(M). To give an assessment is a difficult undertaking, especially if the Chief Minister is in self-congratulatory mode all the time. We have pointed out to her a number of issues and problem areas where the government has failed.

There has been talk of the Congress going it alone in the panchayat elections.
As a political party, we are expected to contest on our own. The question of seat adjustment arises when two or more parties' views and interests converge. In the last panchayat elections there was no official tie-up with the Trinamool, but at the grass-roots level, adjustments and arrangements did take place. The Pradesh Congress leadership usually does not interfere in these processes. The biggest challenge for all the political parties, including the Congress this time, is to find an adequate number of women candidates. We also have to see if the Trinamool will follow the CPI(M) method and deny the opposition [an opportunity] to even file nominations. The third biggest challenge before us is to approach the people with our ideology and our stance on the question of development and also protecting the constitutional guarantees of autonomy for and empowerment of the elected bodies in the three-tier panchayat system.
The question of seat adjustment with the Trinamool may be decided at the block or district level. But the Pradesh Congress will encourage its workers to contest the elections. Wherever we are in a position to contest on our own, we will definitely do so, and our strength is rising.

So, are you heading towards a split at the State-level?
It is difficult to say if there will be a complete rupture. We do not want it. But while we are interested in sailing alongside the Trinamool, we are not prepared to sink with it – given the policies that the Trinamool-led government is following.

How much is Mamata Banerjee's influence at the Centre and the strategic importance of her political support for the UPA hamstringing the Pradesh Congress' policies?

The central Congress leadership has never discouraged us from undertaking political programmes – even those that are critical of the State government. But we fought the elections together, so it is expected that we would have an interdependent relationship. However, the Trinamool Congress is volatile and has taken strong stands, most of which are generally not in line with the policies of development and governance. But I do admit that our approach is sometimes affected by our alliance. But that does not take away our advocacy of pro-farmer policies, etc. We have been consistently opposing many of the unpopular moves of the government, and not once has the high command interfered.

A section of the Congress leadership, including yourself, has been maintaining thatthe Congress' self-esteem and pride should not be compromised under any circumstances. Yet, it has repeatedly happened in this alliance.

The Trinamool speaks the language of ultimatums, deadlines, and now, even the social boycott of the opposition. It attempts to muzzle the press and restrict the freedom of expression. We oppose these. We have sacrificed much political space for the Trinamool in the two polls so [that] we could achieve our goal of ousting the Left Front government. However, we cannot be expected to compromise beyond a point. At some point, this has to stop. Congress workers want it sooner [rather] than later.

That breaking point you talk of – at what point does it come?
We do not want a break. But we do not mind a break-up. The ball is in their court. The panchayat elections will be a very crucial indicator of the direction of the State's politics.

 

Interview Videos
Interview Videos