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A Balancing Act

It is unfortunate that India has not been able to shed the image of a highly corrupt nation even after seven decades of Independence. The average Indian believes that he cannot get even the basic services to which he is entitled under the law without greasing the palms of one or more officials at the ground level. In the recent past, things have undoubtedly changed for the better — even if only marginally — when people try to obtain a passport, a driving licence, or a birth/death certificate. This is thanks to digitisation and the sensible pruning of prescribed procedures. The Centre and a few States deserve praise for taking some initiatives to reduce corruption. But this is small comfort. A lot more needs to be done before we can relax the fight against corruption among public servants.

As India walks a fine line with Iran and Saudi Arabia, it must seek reconciliation between them too.

Two important visitors to the capital last week, Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, underlined the extraordinary opportunities and challenges that await India in a region that does not always get the political attention it deserves in New Delhi.

As the principal source of our rapidly growing energy imports, a major trading partner, and an important destination for expatriate labour, the weight of the Gulf region can only continue to grow in India’s national security calculus. Meanwhile, the growing political rivalry and sectarian tension between the region’s two most important countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, is destabilising the Gulf and undermining the subcontinent’s security environment.

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