Mixed fare

  • 14/03/1998

Mixed fare journals brought out by various non-profit voluntary organisations tend to be boring and are often rele-gated to dusty library shelves and reference sections seldom visited by people. However, this book, Encounter a Journal of policy research and development initiatives , brought out by "Uplabdhi" an a non-governmental organisation (ngo) is dedicated to the consolidation and articulation of opinion of all shades supported by in-depth research. The book is packed with strongly argued points of views on several key issues.

But some chapters in the book are not entirely interesting. There is a rather mediocre chapter on human capital and sustainable development which is more rhetoric than of any substance.The author tries in vain to distinguish between the Western and the Gandhian view of environment; a distinction which may not exist today when the world is a global village and the environmental exigencies are forcing both the rich and poor to come to the negotiating table.

Other chapters on the environment and biodiversity, such as the one by Peter K Weber on too many fisherfolk chasing too few fish, are thought-provoking. K P Prakasam, who is also the executive editor of this journal, has written a paper on greenhouse gases. Sections on economy and literature make instructive reading too.

Two chapters one for nato expansion by Strobe Talbott, the us deputy secretary of State and the other against nato expansion by Sergei Baburin, the deputy speaker of the Russian Parliament, make interesting reading. In his paper Talbott has argued that the enlargement of nato will be the key to ensure that Europe is more peaceful in the 21st century than it has been in the 20th. He asserts that " nato is a catalyst for strengthening the values and institutions that the Allies have in common: democracy, rule of law, respect for human and civil rights, tolerance of religious and ethnic differences and civilian control of the military". To support his claim he cites nato's success in facilitating a reconciliation between France and Germany in the 50s, consolidating civilian led democracy in Spain in 80s and keeping peace between Greece and Turkey on numerous occasions.

Baburin on the other hand, articulates Russia's fears: "One has the growing impression that the nato, in its present form, is a means for the West to deprive Russia of the will and time to oppose nato's further expansion. The non-aggression pact did not prevent Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941". Babhrin feels that Moscow is confronted by the prospect of complete isolation in Europe. He suspects that an expanded nato will mean interference of the nato member countries in Russia's internal affairs aimed to impose on it a semi-colonial economic and political model oriented to the export of raw materials and the import of industrial equipment, consumer goods and food products.

All in all, this issue of the bi-monthly journal is like a whiff of fresh air and one can benefit from reading it.

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