Friday, December 3, 2010

Is there a shift in BJP-Muslim community relationship?

Last 3 months, there were a few elections which took place. While one was the Bihar elections which was prominent and known to all. The other was the civic elections and elections to local bodies in Gujarat. Though both these elections differed in issues, players and even agendas, some notable commonalities were:

Both the states voted overwhelmingly in favour of the ruling party and decimated the opposition
Both the states voted on the plank of development
For the first time in its history, the percentage of Muslim vote for BJP rose above 15pc.

While the first two points have been debated many a times specially with regards to Gujarat, one has to take the thrid point very seriously since this has national resonance. What has changed that Muslims and even other minorities have voted in large numbers for the man so far villified by the media and others as a "merchant of death" and "enemy of the minority".

Muslims in Gujarat have clearly demonstrated that they do not agree with what the media and other activists say about BJP in general and Modi in particular. After years of systematic villification and demonising campaign, Muslim community and BJP showed clear signs of reconcilliation and the results were for all to see.

To start with BJP won the Kathlal bye-election. Interestingly BJP had never won this assembly and Congress had lost it only twice (and both times to a third party). This assembly segment has a large number of Muslim voters and these votes decide the winner and the loser. The margin by which BJP won the seat clearly showed that Muslims voted wholeheartedly for the BJP candidate. Then in the civic body elections, BJP swept all the 6 main city civic bodies. Out of these 6 atleast 3 (Ahmedabad, Vadodra, Surat) had sizeable Muslim population. Not only did BJP sweep across the non-Muslim dominated seats, but also swept the seats in Muslim dominated areas. The victory of Muslim candidates on BJP tickets proved that there is a churning happening both at the voter and the local leadership level. The third and final proof of the change occured during the elections to zilla parishads, nagar palikas and the panchayats. The events in Godhra gave a clear signal that no more can Muslims be used a vote bank by just raising fears of BJP. 17 Muslim councillors who were elected, ensured that a BJP Mayor was elected. Apart from this, there were a number of minority candidates (both Muslim and Christians) who contested as BJP candidates were elected. That was the reason BJP swept the local polls including in minority dominated areas.

So what has changed since those distrubing days of March 2002. The biggest change is that Muslims have stopped believing the fictional works of media and other activisits be it social or political. They are seeing the development of the state. Earlier their leaders used to just lament about lack of development in Muslim areas e.g. in Juhapura or Kalupur in Ahmedabad. Narendra Modi has changed that. He has taken development right to the doorstep of the common man, be it Hindu or Muslim. This has affected the Muslim phyche the most and in a very positive manner. While cynics and critics never give him credit, one has to see and believe how the growth in Gujarat is inclusive and does not discriminate on basis of religion, caste or creed. A welcome change for the masses specially the minorities from the days of just appeasement and no development practised by the Congress. Skeptics still are not ready to accept this reconcilliation. But they don't get the fact that such a sweeping victory is possible only if all sections of the society vote for you.

Just around the same time, Bihar elections also proved the same. BJP won most of the Muslim dominated seats in there. While people give credit to Nitish Kumar for this, they tend overlook the contribution of BJP state unit specially the Deputy CM and Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. As FM, Sushil Kumar Modi ensured that the development work is spread across various regions and cuts across the traditional caste and religion lines. And the result is for everyone to see.

The silent performer that he is, BJP President Nitin Gadkari deserves a lot of credit for this change. His diktat that HC Verdict on Ayodhya be taken calmly without any extremes ensured that the chest beating loonies in the party did not do anything that could make the Muslim community feel insecure about. The calm and mature reaction to the verdict ensured that. To many who are not completely aware of Nitin Gadkari's track record, he as Party President of Maharashtra had worked hard to expose the government on Waqf property scam. He was in forefront of the opposition to the shameless loot of Waqf properties by the Congress-NCP government. At a time like Ayodhya verdict India and specially BJP needed a man who could ensure that tempers or excitement do not go out of control and Nitin Gadkari ensured that.

Now what do these election results mean to national politics in general and BJP in particular? In general, this will ensure that no party can take Muslim votes for granted and continue to appease it while keeping them away from development benefits. This will also ensure a dirty fight amongst the 'secular' parties to stake claim to Muslim votes and that could result in some of them playing right into the hands of the radicals. For the BJP, this is a clear statement that development politics pays handsome reward if it is inclusive. It brings BJP closer to the minorities. In the past while BJP would just discount the votes of minorities, now it knows it can get a good part of it. And this will ensure that radical right loonies are kept on tight leash and not allowed to vitiate the relationship between the two community. Last but not the least, if this process of reconcilliation continues the way it is, there would be a time soon that BJP will no longer be a political untouchable and will be able to dream of coming to power on their own.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Verdict and beyond

Finally the most awaited verdict is out. The decades old case of Ramjanmabhoomi- Babri Masjid has ended in the HC. While there are many different views about the verdict, some welcoming it and some slamming it, the verdict has atleast given a chance for people to move on. Let me not get into what the verdict is or how does one intepret it. I will focus on how can this verdict usher in genuine reconcilliation between the different communities.

The verdict has more or been very clear about the issue of a temple being there and it being the birthplace of Lord Ram. Now that aspect of the controversy is clear, it is time both the parties forget the bitterness of the past and work towards the final settlement. Being the majority community, so far the onus of upholding the values of secularism has been on the HIndu community. And in most cases, the community has shown magnamity. Thats why India never saw a Hindu vote bank or Hindu radicalism sweeping across the country. This verdict now puts the onus on the Muslim community to uphold this tradition. Am sure the common Muslim man or woman on the street will be willing. The only hinderance I see would come from radicals or the psuedo seculars. This time the country has to shut its ears and doors to these kind of vested interests and let the two communities join hands.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A tale of 2 school boycotts

This mornign newspapers welcomed me to two news seemingly similar but when one goes below the surface, it tells you about the clash of 2 cultures. The news items were about the school boycott called by many parents in Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra and the school boycott call in Kashmir by Islamic radical seperatist Geelani.

The Navi Mumbai school boycott was prompted on issue of school fees hike by private schools and the government's failure to control or even regularise the hikes which are very frequent, most of times unjustified and also extremely tough for the middle class. When it went beyond the tolerance of the parents, they took an extraordinary step of calling for a one day boycott. This call was taken out of concern for the future. It had the feel of concerned citizens worrying for the well-being of the kids.

The Kashmir boycott was called by Geelani and his cronies. They have asked the parents not to send their children to school. There is absolute no concern for the future here. All they want is to prepare an army of uneducated, radicalised terrorists who will be pawns at their hands. Sadly some parents heeded the call. And for those who bravely sent their kids to schools, they had to fear attacks as Geelani's men attacked school buses. It was a shameless act of Talibanising an entire population.

The two episodes show you how 2 cultures are fighting for space in Indian democracy. The one in Navi Mumbai was the culture of tolerance, non violence and had its vision set on a better tomorrow. The one in Kashmir was of hatred and had no concern for the future generation.

Sadly while the parents in Navi Mumbai had no authority or minsiter coming to meet them, one saw a galaxy of so-called secular Indian political class and media clamouring to meet the man who wants to Talibanise Kashmir. Who wins in the end will be decided by what we the people think is good for the nation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Statesman v/s the pretender

In continuation with my last blog and the state that we find ourselves in today, I decided to do a flashback and see how did the NDA regime do and what's the biggest difference between then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and current PM Manmohan Singh. While comparing their actions or even inaction on various issues, one thing becomes very clear - Manmohan Singh can go down as a great economist but can never be called a statesman. At the best he can be called a pretender. Whereas Vajpayee had statesmanship written all over him even before he became the PM. Remember how he put his hand up and led Indian delegation to UN on a crucial Kashmir debate inspite of being in the opposition. A statesman has to be judged on various counts as below

Authority in the government - We live in a strong democracy and there is always room for dissent. On an issue once all the opinions are heard, it boils down to the person in the hotseat to raise his hand and make the right decision. It's always his or her duty to defend that decision, whatever his personal opinion be. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a master of this art. He ensured that every issue was debated well and then a decision taken. One a decision was taken, there was no looking back. That's why you never saw the squabbling between cabinet members like you see in Manmohan Singh's time (Even on Kandahar, no dissent was heard at the time of the crisis or the decision). This ensured that government never fell prey to inaction and also the cabinet decisions were respected by the bureaucracy. This is seriously missing in Manmohan Singh.

Pressure from external forces - If Manmohan Singh had Left, Laloo, Karunanidhi, Mamata etc to contend with in his 2 tenures, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had George, Mamata, Karunanidhi, Patnaik and others to deal with. But one can hardly see any decision that was taken then under pressure from the allies (except a couple of fuel price rollbacks). No major policy decision was cancelled or postponed because of allies. Manmohan Singh during his first tenure stopped the economic liberisation process under pressure from the Left. And today due to that we can see the slackening economy. Inspite of socialists in his cabinet and as allies, Atal Bihari Vajpayee allowed Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie to do what was needed for economy. Similarily the frictions with the party or Sangh Parivar were kept under control and never allowed to become a hinderance to governance. Inspite of Sangh pressure, Atal Bihari Vajpayee entertained no adventurism on Ramjanmabhoomi and continued his effort at out of court settlement. Whereas Manmohan Singh has always buckled under pressure from Congress party or the Gandhis. That's why today inspite of a well experienced cabinet, the policy decisions are taken by the Gandhis and the National Advisory Council.

First amongst equal - Manmohan Singh though the PM is not the tallest leader within the allies, the parliamentary board and the party. This means everytime he has to demand respect rather than commanding it. Compared to this, Atal Bihari Vajpayee though in company of stalwarts like L K Advani, George Fernandes, Jaswant Singh etc, was still the tallest leader and everyone knew the buck stopped there. This helped when it came to complex issue. Take for instance Kashmir. Atal Bihari Vajpayee used his famous lines of talks within the ambit of insaaniyat and allowed talks with moderate seperatists. He allowed them to go to Pakistan. This bore fruits when Kashmir saw a heavy turnout in 2002 state elections. Many Kashmir analaysts also laud it as the fairest elections Kashmir ever saw. Even today he is loved for his moves on Kashmir. Compare this to Manmohan Singh. He and his cabinet and his party and his high command can not agree on the solution. To start with they stopped the talks started by NDA. Then they allowed situation to go out of control during 2008 Amarnath crisis and now their mishandling of the situation has given Kashmir another long bout of struggle. Why has Manmohan Singh failed to take a decision? Why can't he overule everyone else and do what is needed as the PM? Answer is that he does not have the political stature of a statesman that one needs for such a complex issue.

Country first, party later - One of the aftermath of NDA rule was that BJP lost a lot of its traditional constituency. This to me was not the failure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee but his victory as a statesman. Nowhere did he allow party considerations to rule his actions. He did what was important for the country be it Indo Pak thaw or the N bomb testing or the economic policies or tightening of tax rules. He did what was needed at that time for the country and did not let political gains govern his decisions. Compare this with Manmohan Singh. For years they did not do anything about farmer suicide and suddenly before elections they decided to announce a package , The UPA fuel prices change is dictated by the state assembly elections calendar. The export or import controls over sugar have been changed based on elections in Maharashtra or UP. Even projects like dam, mining, roads etc been held hostage to considerations like opposition ruled state or Congress and allies ruled states. While the Vedanta project which has been dealt a body blow in Orissa, the Povaralam dam project in AP has been allowed to go ahead inspite of similar conditions and impact on tribes and environment. Political bias does not befit a statesman. Manmohan Singh fares extemely poor on this when compared to Atal Bihari Vakpayee.

Sense of fairplay- One of the biggest strength of a statesman is how he or she behaves with an opponent. In entire NDA rule, there was no case of any opposition leader being targetted. Also tainted ministers like Muthaiah, Buta Singh were asked to quit (NDA 1 lost power due to this). Compare this with the phone tapping actions of UPA or their misuse of CBI in Gujarat. Corruption tainted ministers like Raja, Kanimozhi, Pawar etc are all still in the government. The sense of justice is clearly missing with Manmohan Singh as the PM. Party is allowed to go ahead with it's vendetta politics when it comes to opposition leaders and opposition ruled states.

Vision for future - What is the PM's vision for future? How does he intend to build the infrastructure which has been left neglected so far in his regime? What is the long term economic policy? In his years as PM, Manmohan Singh has concentrated so much on keeping all his allies, party and high command happy that he seems to have lost his touch which endeared him to the country in 90s as the FM. All one hears from him are lofty words or predictions like inflation will come down at _______. Atal Bihari Vajpayee with his years of experience in the villages and small towns of the country knew what was needed in India. That's why he unveiled his vision where infrastructure was to drive the development of India and fuel the economy. Roads, Power, Railway, Telecom and other sectores were given a boost to enable a good platform for the economy to take off. His vision on interlinking of rivers has to be fulfilled to solve woes fo agricultural sector.

Respected outside - While nobody doubts that PM Manmohan Singh has endeared himself to the world leaders, one does not certainly know if it is just appreciation or genuine respect for him. Can he take a decision which is good for India but which US does not like and still get away with it? Like Atal Bihari Vajpayee did when he went ahead with the Nuclear plan. Atal Bihari Vajpayee took bold foreign policy initiatives and at the same time did not blink when national interest was at stake. He allowed Jaswant Singh to mend post-sanctions relations with US and other superpowers but not at the cost of national respect. India sailed through the sanctions and other countries had to acknowledge India as a growing power.

One can go on long about how Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM was the statesman while Manmohan Singh is the pretender, I will end with just one point. NDA regime will be remembered for N Testing, Road Infrastructure, Education for all programme, Port development, Power reforms, Kashmir peace process and subsequent elections, peace initiatives with Pakistan and Kargil war when needed, corruption free governance, midday meal scheme, relations with other countries, economic progress and many more. Will UPA be able to better this?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Perils of a dysfunctional government

So finally the PM spoke on matters troubling the country. And when he finished speaking (to a select group of editors) the confusion increased rather than decreasing. While the media focused on his statements about retirement, Rahul and young cabinet, the things which he did not speak about clearly missed a mention.

The country today wants to know what is the PM planning to do about Kashmir? What is his solution for the Naxal issue? How does the economist PM plan to revive a slowing economy and control the rising inflation? Pakistan and China are getting aggressive by the day and what's India's view on that? The corruption and inefficiency continues unabated in this regime. What's the PM's view on that? What about rotten grains and lack of storage? What about Commonwealth Games? How does PM plan to stop the squabbling within the cabinet? Many questions left unanswered and as one suspects, it's a problem of "I can put my foot in the mouth if I answer"

What is leading to this state of motionless inertia? How did a government elected with a larger mandate fall prey to such a situation? Answer is loud and clear. The government is torn apart by internal divisions thereby rendering it dysfunctional. The divisions are many - between various ministers, between allies, between govt and Congress party but one which is most hurting the nation is increasing differences between Sonia Gandhi and the PM.

Take an example. Food is allowed to rot in absence of a good PDS just because Soniaji wants to bring in Food Security Bill and they have not agreed on final draft. Whenever such situations arise, anarchy takes over and ambiguity increases. Vested interests start taking over and twist things to their benefit. This is easily explained by inaction on Pawar, Raja or increasing violence in Kashmir valley or even Mamata's open support to Naxals.

Can India afford such a situation at this time? China's designs vis-a-vis India are getting aggressive by the day be it military, land grabbing, economy or interference on Kashmir. India is facing a war both internally and externally. Economy has shown signs of lethargy and inflation is making life worse. India needs a leadership which can strong decisions quickly. India needs a leader who can raise his \ her hand and be counted to see us through the testing times. Alas, we are faced with a lack of choice. We have 3 options thrown at us - a PM who cannot take decisions, a super PM who has no accountablity but has a say in all decisions and a wannabe PM who is not only ill-equipped but also unsure of his readiness to take on the accountablity.

There is only solution and that is that one of the 3 people in this situation has to make a move. Either PM puts his foot down and runs the government with authority or Sonia /Rahul remove the PM and take over. If no one is ready to do this and the state continues, one can just imagine the implications on the country. It would get on to a road of no recovery.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rahul's dangerous left turn

Manmohan Singh would have never imagined in his wildest dreams that the shackles he broke as a Finance Minister would return to haunt him as a PM. As FM in his first budget speech, he came down heavily on Nehruvian socialism which according to him resulted in the lack of growth in the country. But he would have to eat crow today as Nehru's great grandson revisits his agenda and makes it his political vehicle to the seat of power.

The signs were obvious for a long time. People close to Rahul were all mouthing words which are generally found in dictionairy of a Left Liberal. Digvijay Singh coming down heavily on Chidambaram on Naxal policy, Jairam Ramesh playing traunt to many development projects. But the government's intervention in Vedanta case and Rahul's subsequent visit was the point where it was declared openly that Rahul wants to follow his great grandfather, grandmother and father. While Rahul applauded the tribals for their fight and vowed to work as their soldier, he forgot to give them a solution to their economic woes. The tribals in Orissa are amongst the most impoverished in the country and Kandhs are reported to be living on mango kernels. Vedanta was both a boon and a bane to them. Now that the project is scrapped, what option does Rahul give them to improve their lot? Rahul will possibly say NREGS and the proposed Food Security Bill. What are these two bills and how will they improve the conditions? Well, these two schemes will give the poor guaranteed work (for a limited number of days) and food from PDS. But what about overall welfare? What about health, education, sanitation, infrastructure? No answers on that front because they aren't important. He is following the same theory which impoverished India for a long time - Give a fish everyday to the fisherman but don't teach him to fish. Because an independent and affluent India will have no place for sound good slogans or poverty toursim that Rahul likes to indulge in just like his late elders.

Rahul surely needs to read and understand economic and political history of post independence India .All spheres of our life were ruined by Nehruvian brand of socialism. License Raj gave brith to corruption, populist policies gave way to laziness and apathy, lack of competition gave birth to mediocrity being the accepted standard. If Nehru started it, Indira promoted it to her benefits. Garibi Hatao was the biggest sham in history of this country. She ensured that the poor remain poor and never question her. Rajiv was the naive one who did not try to change the situation and had no choices either. So when India got it's first non Gandhi Congress PM, it broke out of that evil grip (and it also had no choice either). Manmohan Singh spoke out against the policies of yesteryears. When India got it's first PM who had no Congressism in his blood, Atalji, he ensured that India accelerates on it's journey to prosperity. He overame all pressures from the Left leaning allies (Left Libs like George, Mamata were not allowed to hijack the development agenda). His vision and pet projects like the Golden Quadrilateral, Antodaya or Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan not only ensured welfare, created jobs but also improved other aspects of rural India. One thought Manmohan Singh on becoming the PM will accelerate this growth but the hopes were dashed. UPA 1 faced pressure from the Left and the UPA2 is facing pressure from the Ultra Left Libs in form of National Advisory Council, Sonia, Rahul and their advisors.

Today this government is under seige from it's own party. Every important minsiter seems to be stalked by a member of Sonia-Rahul coterie. If P Chidambaram is being shadowed by Digvijay Singh, Pranab Mukherjee has Mani Shankar Aiyar on his heels. Ministers like Kapil Sibal are heckled by Keshava Rao who is known for his Leftist leanings. Jairam Ramesh is allowed to play anti-development policies under the garb of environment. NAC advisor list and their introductions will clearly show their leanings and ideology. To give an example, N C Saxena who played a vital role in the cancellation of Vedanta project is a member of NAC, Advisor to Environment Ministry and also a number of other important decision making bodies. So we are currently governed not by Manmohan and his cabinet but a shadow cabinet which owes no accountablity to the country. This makes one think if in near future, Manmohan Singh, Pranabda, Chidambaram and other will be replaced by Rahul, Mani Shankar, Digvijay Singh and their likes.

This will be the beginning of another nightmare. The first one lasted nearly 45 years and cost us heavily. The next one even if it last 5 yrs will bleed us even worse. So don't fall for the 'Avatar' and know your politics and economics before you herald Rahul as 'The man India needs'

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The dangers of appeasement

3 events recently took place in 3 different zones of India. Though not very widely reported by the media, the events are some indicators of dangers of vote bank politics and time to come. In first event, a lecturer's hands were chopped of in Kerala by radical Muslim group for 'defaming' Mohammad, in another event Kashmir valley started following Friday as the weekly holiday for schools and banks rather than Sunday as in rest of India. Third event took place in West Bengal where radicals students of a government funded university forced teachers to wear a burqa and those who did not comply had to resign. Do I hear a 'Thank God for Modi in West Zone'?

The Kerala event is a natural culmination of the process of appeasement followed by both Left and Congress. Muslim votes are in sizeable numbers in North and Central Kerala. They ensure the victory and defeat of the parties. This prompted both the so-called secular parties from turning a blind eye to activities of the Muslim radicals. The radical leader Madani was convicted in the Coimbatore blast case but after a few years, in an unprecendented move, the Kerala and TN legislatures in a rare show of unity asked for his release. Since his release he claims to have shunned violence but his name figures in list of cases including the riot cases in a fishing village outside Calicut (Kozhikode), Bangalore blast case and the recently seen Love Jihad. Both Congress and Left clamoured to ensure that Madani was on their dias during last elections. Things have now reached such a level that Kerala is slowly becoming a hotbed of Wahabi terror. Kerala HC and later the CM had to comment on Love Jihad which is a sick attempt at conversions using heart as a weapon. Number of Hindu and Christian girls have either been converted or shunned after Nikah by Muslim youth in North Kerala. This menace has been admitted by all sections in Kerala. If the rising radicalism is not countered by peace or force today, it will result in insurgency in Gods own country.

The other incident of Kashmir is again symptomatic of politics of appeasement. The radicals in Kashmir valley have been courted , helped and encouraged by Congress at every stage of history. The death of Kashmiriyat and rise of Wahabi influence can now be seen from the fact that banks and schools in Kashmir valley have started following Friday as a holiday, which is different from rest of India. The hesitation of the ruling establishment from scrapping Article 370 for minority votes is now bearing dangerous fruits. After ethnic cleansing of Hindus from the valley, attempt is being made to convert the valley to another theocratic Islamic region.

The West Bengal issue of students forcing teachers to follow a dress code is a sign of times to come. Aliah University is a Madarasa which is converted to a university and runs on tax payers money. Here students have taken a radical stand and are not even apologetic about it. If we take this as a one off case and ignore it, we will face the same situation in all of India. Indoctrination since childhood and the reluctance to oppose radical thinking in Madarasa will slowly result in an army of educated but radicalised Muslim youth, which is a danger this country cannot afford.

This brings us to the larger question. Who will bell the cat? Recently Bangladesh SC took a bold decision and banned fatwas against women. If an Islamic state can do it why can't a secular state like India take on the radicals.

If we look at indications right now, Congress is very interested in playing the minority card since it sees this as a sure path to ruling India on its own. Also Congress is playing footsie with other radical institutions like KHAP Panchayats, Sambhaji Brigade, MNS. Other parties like Left, NCP, JD, TC, DMK, RJD, SP etc are all dependent on the minority votes. So that leaves only the BJP. It can do this by engaging with the moderates in the Muslim community and simultanesly ensuring that Hindu radical groups do not vitiate a process of harmony for a few minutes of fame. Modi is the best example of how radical influence in a state can be controlled by both tough action and empowerment. In his state, if needed for infra development, both temples and mosques were removed without any groups creating tensions. He has ensured safe and peaceful celebrations of both Moharram and Rath Yatra which was never the case in 'secular' Congress govts earlier. Today Muslims in Gujarat have the best per capita income compared to the Muslims in other states and they are better off in all other development index than Muslims from so-called secular states. In last 5 years, the fruits of development have reached all sections of the society in Gujarat and this has benefitted Muslims too. Slowly, the locals are moving on from 2002 (though the central govt, media and limousine liberals do not wish that the community moves ahead). The faster this process and faster it is accepted by those outside the state, easier it will be for BJP and Modi to build the bridge with the moderate section of Muslim community. Only this can ensure that genuine secularism prevails in the society and the Damocles sword of radical threat over our heads removed forever.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Politics of encounters

So the CBI is gunning and so is the media. Not to forget the Congress and the so-called activists. And what is the target? 2 (or rather 3) encounters in Gujarat a few year s ago. The first one is one a known criminal Sohrabuddin and his wife, the other one is of his accomplice and fellow criminal Tulsi Prajapati, the third one of a LeT terrorist Isharat Jehan. So these 3 have given enough reason for others to hunt for the most efficient CM of India, Narendra Modi. Lets look at some statistics of encounters

Nearly 120 encounters have taken place in Maharashtra since 2000. Most of them under Chagan Bhujbal as the Home Minister. Interesting fact is that more than 70% of those killed belonged to anti-Dawood gangs. Gang affiliations aside, the fact thot most of those killed were gangsters meant that no tear was spent over the encounters. Lets come to another Congress ruled state Andhra Pradesh. Nearly 80 encounters have taken place over last 5 years. Most under Naxal operations or again st the mafia. Similar story repeated in UP where encounters of dacoits and criminals is a regular feature. Compareid to this Gujarat has witnessed less than 15 encounters in Modi regime.

But still we are made to believe that everything is wrong about the Gujarat Home Ministry and the police and administrators need to be punished. What sort of message are we sending? As long as you are a criminal troubling people in opposition ruled states, you will be provided protection and after your death 'justice'. If you are a terrorist like Isharat and wish to blow up opposition leaders, you will have support from the media, 'civil society' and 'secular' establishment. Is that the message one has to get?

Look at statistics again. Gujarat has amonst the lowest crime ratio in India but still the Home Department of Gujarat is being hunted like it is a pack of trigger happy mercenaries.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

End of Federalism?

Ever heard a Governor and Election Commissioner (both of them tainted individuals in their respective tenures) tell a democratically elected state government on which ministers to remove from the ministry? Both the positions, Governor and EC report to the President and so come under the Central Govt influence. This is a serious departure from the set democratic norms. We can debate and even agree on the point of Reddy brothers mining activities and their presence in Karnataka Cabinet. But to be adviced on corruption by Governor H R ,Bhardwaj whose claim to fame is the clean chit to accussed in Bofors case or his shielding of tainted ministers like Laloo as Law Minister in UPA1, is like Baba Nithyananda teaching celibacy.

This is just one off case in a larger picture. Central Govt's refusal to sign the anti-terror bill passed by Gujarat govt, interference of National Advisory Council in state matters like law and order, the step motherly treatmeant to states ruled by opposition, Union Minister Mamata Banerjee dictating anti Maoist policy in WB, the support to the Maoists in Lalgarh, CBI hounding Gujarat Police and Home Minister on encounters of anti-nationals (inspite of the fact that Gujarat has seen far lesser encounters than Maharashtra or AP), scuttling National Highway projects in opposition ruled states, opposing construction of a dam in MP on environment reason while same has been cleared elsewhere, many more such examples to show how central government is trying to interfere in working of state governments.

One of the most important pillar of democracy is the federal rights that states enjoy and to cut those rights is a first step to dictatorship. Indira Gandhi in 70s followed the same path. She first interfered in state subjects and got duly elected governments dismissed. Then she clamped down on political rights and finally on individual rights. History is repeating itself after 3 decades. The federal character of India is being tried to change using all democratic and undemocratic tools. Today it is the right of some opposing states that are infringed upon. Tomorrow it will be me and you to suffer if we decide to be against the government on any issue. Also one of the other flip side is that whenever states rights have been threatened, regional sentiments have risen and so have the regional parties.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NREGS and inflation

While there can't be much debate on good intent of NREGS, one certainly is forced to think about it's implementation at a time when a few states have shown signs of failure. To start with lets just look at one aspect of how it fuels inflation.

The scheme guarantees the rural populace a fixed minimum amount of labour work within its area at a better daily wage. The problem here is that the dependence is completely on infrasturcture projects, be it state or centre sponsored. Now this can work well in a state where infrastructure projects are being undertaken thick and fast. And also where infrasturcture development does not just mean building of roads. But come to states where the infrastructure projects are far and few and those which are running show no signs of ending. This is where the imbalance starts. The labourers get their wages for miniscule amount of work. And landowners find labour at much higher cost since the minimum rates have been pegged. This means while the cost of foodgrains increases, the supply decreases due to lack of labour and lower productivity. The same time, the demand for the grains increases because you have more people with money to buy. This entire cycle pushes the start cost of foodgrains higher but still both the players in agri economy are left dissatisfied. The landowner is not satisfied because of higher wages, lack of labour and less productivity. And the labourer now finds the rising prices of foodgrains a burden and also has to live with Damocles sword on his head of losing the wages if no new infrasturcture projects are undertaken in the area. This is a dangerous cycle and has far greater impact than just inflation.

So if NREGS has to work well, a balance has to be found between labour for infrasturcture and labour for agriculture. The implementation has to be different. Infrastructure project need to be undertaken at a faster speed so that more work can be taken in an amount of time and this ensures the labourers have enough work for long. More spheres like agricultural labour, rural enterpreneurship, private corporate involvement etc have to be covered else NREGS will remain just a free sop>

Sunday, July 4, 2010

why I support this bandh

These are the few reasons why I support the Bharat Bandh:

This bandh has not been called for trivial issue like desecration of statue or some cartoons or paintings. The reason for the bandh is something which is far more serious and is affecting a common man very badly. The inflation was one wound and the fuel price hike is like salt on it. In such extraordinary situation, an extraordinary method of protest it needed.
This bandh has come after all other means failed. Opposition parties recommended changes in budget, asked for debate, ran a signature campaign and moved a cut motion. But all this was met with either an arrogant no or misuse of power. This left the opposition with no other choice.
Media has been silent on price rise and is saving the government. Atleast now media is now talking about the issue.
If the bandh works the government will be forced to look into the steps to reduce the pain and act less arrogant.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Year 1 of UPA 2

Watching the PM address a press conference where answers have been smaller than those on Twitter, one wonders if the PM really means what he is saying because one year performance actually shows something else.

UPA2 started with a lot of expectations since Congress had won sizeable seats and there was no dependence on Left, Laloo, Mulayam etc. It was claimed in media that now Manmohan Singh will be allowed to implement his economic reforms, Sonia Gandhi her social ideas and Rahul Gandhi his vision for the future. Also one felt that this tenure around, PM will ensure clean cabinet. But has it really happened? Today we have a PM and his senior colleagues battling their own partymen, allies fighting other ministers, some allies making pots of loads of money, an ally working more as a regional satrap that national minister. So what has been done well and what has failed in last one year?

  • Right to Education - One of the positive steps one has seen government take is on education with right to education bill. Kapil Sibal has put a lot of effort on this reform which if implemented well can ensure a greater future.
  • Women's Reservation Bill - The Women's Reservation Bill giving women 33% reservations was passed by the Rajya Sabha. One hopes the passage of the bill allows political empowerment of women. Though one has to credit the BJP and Left Parties without whose support this would not have been possible as some allies if the UPA looked certain to stop this bill. They did succeed in preventing the final passage of this bill by bartering their support in cut motions in lieu of postponement of the Bill in Lok Sabha
Apart from this, the government has made some right noises in Food Security Bill but that has been shelved for the time being due to differences between Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.


  • Naxal Violence- When P Chidambaram took over as the Home Minister, there was lot of expectation. Partly because the man he replaced was a total disaster and PC too showed quick learning abilities. So when post election, we moved into a phase where he started acting swift against naxals, he was supported by opposition too. But then came the big betrayal. First Mamata and her party played spoilsport when it came to taking on Maoists in WB and then the 10, Janpath ganang led by Digvijay Singh and backed by Gandhi loyalists. It is a shame that today on a crucial issue like Naxal violence, while opposition is standing strong with the Home Minister, his hands and legs too are being tied by his own people. And it only makes the matter worse that both PM and UPA Chairperson are silent over this sensitive issue.
  • International Affairs - Pakistan still keeps poking us in the eye because it knows we dont have a will to hit back hard.The Mumbai attack masterminds are roaming freely in Pakistan, India continues it dossier diplomacy. At Sharm al Sheikh, while we absolved Pakistan govt of promoting terror, we threw our interests away with the acceptance on Baluchistan. One summit did not teach us a lesson and so we allowed them to delink terror from talks.A price to pay for PM's single minded obsession to come across as a statesman in Vajpayee mode. With China continuing it aggressive postures on the borders, we saw our union ministers like jairam Ramesh throw away national interests and lobby for Chinese telecom equipment companies. US on one hand makes allright noises with the show of mutual respect between Obama and Manmohan, and on other hand provides military aid to Pakistan as usual. The same US admin does not allow India to further its national interests and play a role in redevelopment of Afghanistan.
  • Economy- The PM last during the elections last year promised to curb price rise within 100 days of coming to power. It is end of year one and prices have just increased. Specially sugar, pulses and other essential commodities. Agri Minsiter Pawar said prices to be controlled by June, then Finance Minister Pranabda said inflation will be controlled by Sept and in his press conference, PM said prices to come down by December. The governemtn seems to be playing a game of procastination while the poor man suffers and fights for 2 full meals. utOn commerce and growth many say India did not fare as badly in recession as others but what they forget is that India is an emerging power and so in that state, the systems are still strong to take punches. What surprises one is that the government in last six years has been silent on divestment of PSUs and on FDI. While one can blame Left for this not happening earlier, PM now has no excuse. Due to this the growth has been more subdued than it should be. This is the worst one could have expected from an economist minister.
  • Corruption - If there is one point where this government seems to be totally in control, it is on corruption. They have allowed their ministers to go scotfree and almost institunionalised corruption. Telecom Minister Raja has broken all records when it comes to corruption. His multi-million crore telecom scam has hit the nation real hard but no one in UPA is complaining and even the 'oh so decent' PM is speechless. Add to this the IPL scam and the fingers pointed at Shashi Tharoor, Praful Patel, Sharad Pawar. While Tharoor being a lightweight had to go, the others are making merry. The pulses scam, the BT scam are all out in open but no action taken.
  • Infrastructure - When NDA government was in powe under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the amount of road development that used to take place was more than 15kms a day on an average and today, this is lower than 10lkms a day at the best. Now with Congress govts like Maharashtra, AP and others like UP showing no signs of ingrastructre developement, the road project seems to be heading nowhere. Very interestingly when it comes to infrasturcture like roads, ports, power etc, the states doing the best are all NDA ruled states like Gujarat (all over infrastructure), MP (Roads), Karnataka (Ports), Bihar (Roads, Power). All this while Sonia and Rahul go around the country lamenting lack of development.
  • Other lows -The list of other lows would be Non-implementation of NREGS due to corruption and lack of infra projects. Telengana issue being mishandled completely leading to virtual shut down of a state for weeks. North East is reeling with violence and Manipur is on verge of being cutoff from the country due to blockade. The divisive voices have gathered momentum after government has spoken about implementing Sachar and Mishra committee reports. Only in the 70s and 80s, that CBI, IB, IT Dept etc were used to blackmail and pressure political allies and opponents to support the government. This is a throwback to the draconian days.

Many channels have done their ratings and most of it has been average with some of it saying that the PM has not delivered on his promise yet. This one year has been a year of broken promises and more mess. UPA 2 so far is lucky because opposition is still finging its feet.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nanaji Deshmukh - RIP

Ex-President Kalam lavished praise on this person's model of development calling it "the most apt model for rural India". Kalam also mentioned this model in his books and talks.
This person refused cabinet berth at a ti me when he was one of the tallest leaders and could have taken a very rewarding ministry. Reason - he wanted to implement his model of development in Chitrakoot on UP and MP border and take it elsewhere.
He gave the nation a litigation free district where all disputes are settled amicably
Highly influenced by Vinoba Bhave and Jayaprakash Narayan, he is supposed to have taken the lathis on him to save JP.
He spent a long time in jail in this fight against emergency and for democracy in the country.

In short, the man has done everything that makes him a Mahatma as JP used to call him fondly. The person is or rather was, Shri Nanaji Deshmukh. He passed away on 27th Feb 2010 amidst the same rural people with whom he had been staying for last 3 decades. The tallest leader Jan Sangh (now BJP) alongwith Vajpayee and Advani, Nanaji felt the call of his service much more tempting that trappings of power. He worked tirelessly and died working. Here's a tribut to the great man for whom Kalam said "What he does at his age, should be an eye opener for rest of the country"

To know more about him, visit -

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Same news for 50 yrs?

  • India faces a year of drought and the crisis is deepened due to lack of food storage facilities and hoarders
  • Terrible inflation seen in urban cities and lack of employment in rural areas pushing people to migrate
  • China continues it;s evil designs on India border and there are reports of Chinese incursions in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh while Pakistan refuses to give up it's claim on Kashmir
  • Linguistic passions run high is some states of India as states fight on basis of language
  • Indian politics has become a tool in hands of feudal lords and has no grassroot infusion

Well, if you thought these were the news of 2010, you are just partly correct. Because these are the same things which troubled India in late 50s and early 60s. I was reading a book on Nehru by Walter Cocker on my way back from Delhi. While the author talks highly about Nehru as an individual, the questions he raised about the problem he faced as the PM shows that nothing has changed in 50 years. The same set of problem Nehru faced are faced by current government. Is it a lack of long-term vision or is it that whenever the GOP rules India, it brings with it the same set of problems? Whatver be it, the fact is that this is no India of 50s and 60s where people took it lying down (till 1975 when people finally revolted). This is the New India with it's new found confidence and strength to change regimes if they fail to perform.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lack of accountablity - a throw back to draconian days

While UPA government has been doing flip flops on various issues like naxalism, Indo-Pak talks, price rise, fuel prices etc, there is place where it is extremely consistent. That is it's dictatorial opposition to being accountable.

In the recent CMs meet, when Gujarat CM Narendra Modi asked the government what it was doing to fulfill it's election promise of providing the poorest of poor with wheat and rice at extreme low prices, he was accussed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee of politicising the price issue. Excuse me Mr FM, every citizen in this country has a right to question unfulfilled promises and it's government's duty to respond. But one can pardon Pranabda for his regular outbursts because he is the proverbial best man, one who wished to be the groom (PM) but never got the chance.

In same vein, Home Minister Chidambaram refused to pass the anti-terror bill of Gujarat government accusing it of playing politics with terror. The proposed law is actually a complete copy of one used in Maharashtra by COngress government. But since the states are different, so is the government's stand on it. And this has been done with a criminal mind of bleeding Gujarat just because Narendra Modi is the tallest leader of the state,

While Congress questions Sharad Pawar of going and meeting Bal Thackeray, it itself goes on its knees for Indo-Pak talks. When asked if this is under US pressure, the reply is that those quesitoning don't want peace in the region. DOuble Standards, eh?

The only thing angelic about Sant Chatwal is the use of wor 'Sant' in his name. His earlier claims to fame were the numerous cases against him and his relaiton with the Clintons. But that iself made him worthy of winning the esteem Padma Bhushan. His notorious past and his dubious financial deals were ignored just because of his proximity with Manmohan Singh and his 'enormous effort' for Indo-US deal (which obviously means a money trail somewhere). Again no clarification either from Home Ministry or PMO. The poor President anyways is just a rubber stamp who can quesiton the master.

UPA and Congress is getting in a phase where it is trying to subvert all sorts of democracy in the country and rule it with their own whims. They are not questioned by the media and if questioned, they claim it is politicising of issues. SLowly and steadily, the pillars of democracy are being broken apart and we should wait a return of 60s,70s and 80s when they took the country to disaster.

It is high time, one looks beyond the phot sessions and huge statements and sees the action else it will be too late.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Milking the aam aadmi, forgetting legends and forgiving terrorists

So, what has been the activity in the political circles off late? While media continues to focus on every small thing Rahul Gandhi does, they seem to forget that Nitin Gadkari deserves much more of the limelight because he has already proved his credentials as an administrator while Rahul Gandhi still can't answer a simple question on price rise except with standard "I have spoken to the PM and he has assured me he till take steps". But anyways, the paid mediawallahs aside, the political scene this week was all about Pawar milking the aam aadmi (actually that been the consistent weekly news for more than a year or two now), ignoring legends like Netaji and attempts to forgive Nalini, the LTTE terrorist who was involved with killing of many people including former PM Rajiv Gandhi

Milking the economy - Sharad Pawar is one minsiter who skin can be used for making strong chappals because hardly anything or anyone can get under his skin or mind for that matter. I guess even Sonia and Manmohan have given up on him as they allow him to loot the common public while he ensures that the traders and hoarders get their money back after all the help he got from them in Maharashtra assembly elections. So after the prices of essential commodities and sugar, it is the turn of milk and milk products. Nice minister we have who makes milk costly while allowing more production and consumption of alocohol.

Forgetting Legends - Last year after UPA won elections, there were huge advertisements and programmes on birth anniversaries of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. So all tax payers paid for paying tribute to the family which is responsible for the 'lack of development' this ocuntry has seen. But that aside, it was surprising to see who Sardar Patel, Lokmanya Tilak and today Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's anniversary has been completely forgotten. Is it an attempt to wipe of the legends of the history who did not belong to one family or did not share the family name ?

Forgiving terrorists - In the year 1991, at an election rally in Tamil Nadu, LTTE terrorists used a suicide bomber and killed scored of people including the former PM of India Rajiv Gandhi. While the main actors of the suicide bombing died on the spot, the police and intelligence agencies caught all those involved in the incident fairly quickly. This so-called involvement of DMK and it's sympathy for LTTE was used as an excuse to bring down I K Gujral's govt by Congress. Today the same Congress riding on DMK's support in the centre is ready to forgive those accused in the case. There have been high profile visits by Priyanka Gandhi to Nalini, one of the main accused and media announcments of how the Gandhi family has forgiven the accused. This brings to the table 2 main questions - Why was then a government brought down using DMK's sympathy for Nalini and LTTE as an excuse to push the nation into a midterm poll in mid-90s? Who gave the right to the Gandhi family to decide who the Indian law should punish or forgive? It's not about the death of their husband or father. This is about other people who were at the venue and who died in that incident. Why has no body asked their families on what they feel? Will law in India become a puppet in hands of one family just like other constitutional structures.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Price Rise - Steps to beat it

Yesterday, I had a discussion turn into arguement with a friend. His view was that the price rise was a global phenomenon and that I was being unfair to the government. He challenged me if I could think of some steps which can help beat price rise currently and on a longer run as well. So here I take up the challenge. I will humbly say that I am no economist and I am no expert on these matters. So whatever I am writing is based on my reading and some common sense having been in business.

Take strict urgent action against hoarders - MP government on 11th Jan cracked down heavily on hoarders. This crackdown yeilded nearly 10,000 crore worth of sugar. Same has been the case with Gujarat government. Both these governments have cracked down hard on hoarders and brought out in market a huge supply of essential items. Just imagine if all state governments can follow this. It could result in a huge amount of foodgrains, sugar, pulses being recovered and for market consumption.

Put a gag on Commodity Trading for some time - The trading in commodity market specially the future trading results in traders holding on to the food stock without releasing it for consumption. This creates an artificial scarcity and pushes the price up. While commodity trading is here to stay, one can surely put a temporary stop to it.

Ask the ministers to shut up - Our Minsiters, specially Mr. Sharad Pawar needs to be told to shut his mouth when it comes to food stocks in India. He passed a comment about India facing sugar shortage and next day the price of sugar in international market zooms up. He has to understand that with China and India being 2 major consumers in the world, any shortage in any of the country can push international rates up.

Improve food logistics - Why is it so tough for the government to have an efficient food logistic system? A network of cold storages and other warehouses with a good network of transport is enough to ensure that no area in the country faces food shortage. It's a shame that even after 6 decades of independence, we can provide food security to our people. Since this is a long term plan, immediately what can be done is to involve private players with warehouses, cold storages, transport facilities to ensure faster time to market.

These are just four basic steps that came to mind. There surely will be more like a more conservative approach to food exports, strengthening of PDS, bringing labour balance to NREGS so that argriculture labour is not made costly and is available. But all these need just 2 things - One is the will to really ensure that India actually grows and has no pockets of underdevelopment and second is to ensure a clean, unbiased approach to food and agriculture without lobby pressure and temptations. As of now, the government seems to lack both.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why Congress calls common public 'Aam' Aadmi

If ones sees the way the current government is playing dirty over the price of essential commodities, one will know why Congress calls common public 'Aam' Aadmi. Well simple, suck the pulp out of the people the way it is done to Aam (mango)

Never in history has India seen such terrible price inflation. And what is government doing? Still dithering on what needs to be done and blaming everybody right from opposition ruled states to global warming maybe leaving ISI out this time or foreign hand out as in distant past.

If one looks at how the government itself is responsible for such a price rise, one can find variety of reasons. Why should government allow production of alcohol from foodgrains, knowing fully well that alcohol being more profitable business, the foodgrains needed for regular consumption will be pushed there. Many call it Thanksgiving for the money spent in elections. Same is the case with sugar. It follows the famous rule of "Scarcity, Scheme and Scam". You first export the sugar and create a scarcity, then try and bulldoze the farmers in selling for less, meantime the sugar industries have a field day, then you import raw sugar in emergency and God knows how many zeroes will be seen in this scam. Why is that while there is a shortage of foodgrains and vegetables outside, the FDI warehouses complain of essentials food items rotting there without anybody to move it out. If we look athe the time span, this has been going on for last 2 years with only respite coming during the General Elections. This should demand a quesiton as to when the government could bring prices under control then, why is it helpless now?

For all those who talk about Dr. Manmohan Singh being such a great economist, have you ever wondered why is he so helpless when economy is going for a toss and people can't make their ends meet. Also why has India seen most scams when he was the Finance Minister earlier and now the PM?

The much hyped up NREGA scheme can be called a brilliant plan badly implemented. It has changed the balance of labour in agriculture. What it has done is it has guaranteed employment to people at the base per day rate. This has now created a scarcity in labour available for agriculture in rural India. This has obviously led to increase in rates for the labour and thereby increasing the cost of essential items. This imbalance can be compensated by strict anti-hoarding law enforcement and efficient PDS systems. But that's where the government is failing miserably. So looking at just one side of the scheme has resulted in such an alarming increase of cost of daly lliving for everyone across India.

So while the Aam Aadmi struggles to stay afloat, the Congress sucks the juice out of 'Aam' because only if the common is needy, poor and helpless, Prince Rahul will get the opportunity for photo-ops.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

3 crumbling pillars of Indian Democracy

Democracy has 4 main pillars - Politicial System, Administators, Law Agencies (courts and police) and Media. No democracy can function properly if one of the four develops a crack. In India while all the focus has been on blaming the political system for every failure, the other 3 have by and large gone scotfree. Most of the times, attempts have been made to pinpoint the blame on just the political system without looking at how others performed. Here's a look at how the other three have developed serious cracks and need repairs.

Administrators - These are civil service officers and senior bureaucrats. Name one officer who has been caught and punished for any failure till date? The Intelligence Agencies are run by these bureaucrats and they have failed msierably at every level to prevent terror attacks but has any officer even been punished? The Public Distribution System is the key to control price rice and food shortage. The entire PDS is supposed to be driven by senior bureaucrats in Food Ministry but there has been total decay of this system over the years. Who is to blame? The ministers who change every year or the officers who are supposed to run it and have been in the system for a long time now. No corruption is possible without active involvement of the bureaucrats. Finally the ministers change every few years but the bureaucrats stay. They are the ones who run the system at the micro level. So nothing can be done or not be done without their knowledge and participation. But nowhere have they been blamed for the continuing failures.

Law Enforcement - Recently when some senior police officers were caught on camera grooving wiht underworld gangsters in Mumbai, media created a huge hue and cry. Was this something new? No, the nexus of police and underworld is wellknown and has been there for years now. But no top cop has ever tried to break it. 1993 Mumbai Blasts had seen involvement of so many customs and police officers which only proved how they were active members of D Gang and many still continue to be. 26/11 was a classic saga of faillure of top cops but has any cop been punished for it? Politicians did lose their ministries (though most of them got back or were promoted thanks to the Madam Sonia) but was any cop even demoted, leave alone removed? THough be fair to police they have taken the most abuses after the political class from the ignorant citizens. But what about the judiciary. The Dinakaran case has shook people's faith in judiciary. No one till nwo questioned him how did he amass such wealth. But he is still sitting pretty because the process to remove an errant judge is a long drawn process. No one knows how his impeachment go. Till recently the Chief Justice of India was vehemently oppsed to the judiciary coming under the bill which required them to declare their assets. Cases of judges getting involved in murky deals are increasing but still they are not sharing the blame for the weakening of the democracy.

Media - Ah, the co-called conscience keepers of the nation. My personal view is that media in India is the most corrupt pillar of the democracy. To compound that they are also arrogant and self-centred. they want everybody else to be accountable but they turn red when asked to be accountable. The way media behaved during Mumbai attacks was just not immature, it was also anti-national. So what did they do? They turned the anger of the public to politicians with their sponsored sms, candle lit vigils and other events. Media in India acts more like an event management company or a tabloid. They have not spared a single attempt to weaken the other pillars of democracy and the faith of people in the democracy. Starting right from Tehelka, which was nothing but a political pawn playing at the hand of the master. One thing to notice is why has media never tried to show or honestly admit to the corrupt practices within the media? Why has media always resisted the idea of being accountable. What was NDTV's reaction when it's coverage of Mumbai attacks questioned? They replied with criminal disdain and I am holier than thou so don't question attitude. Why is media shying away from declaring who their invesotrs are?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Repeating the same mistakes which casued partition and terror

In early 1900s, the British unleashed the weapon of reservations for minorities and seperate electorates. This weapon sowed the seeds of a tree called Partition after 4 decades. Instead of learnign from this mistake, India looks like repeating it again for mere political gains. The Rangnath Mishra report which talks about 10% reservations for Muslims and a pie of reservations within the 27% already set aside of SC, ST and OBC for their counterparts in minorities. To start with the who argument of SC,ST and OBC in minorities sounds an antithesis because apart from Hindu religion, no other religion believes in caste system and so once converted how can peopel still be SC, ST and OBC surprises many a minds.

While no one is against reservations in principle to empower the poor class, the idea of reservations on religious grounds is as divisive as an idea can get. Slowly the pressure on the government will increase to implement it. It would be interesting to see how the government implements it because this government so far has shown a tendency to pander to minority radicalism on most cases be it Sachar committee report, Taslima Nasreen case or modernisation of Madarassas.

Another event which sows similar seeds is the recommendation by the PM's Committee on Jammu and Kashmir. The report (as reported by other members of the committee) was a unilateral report and recommended an autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir. The recommendations include J & K having it's PM, flag and Cabinet. The only control Indian government will have will be over Finance, Defence. Now this is a proper recipe for disaster. To start with, it's only some section of the Kashmir vallye which is asking for a seperation. This call has no takers in Jammu, Leh or Ladakh. Once J & K has it's autonomy, one can just imagine the plight of the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities in the state as the state will be governed by hardline Muslim factions. Once the state is given autonomy, there won't be anything to stop other states from taking to arms asking for the same. So this entire recommendations by PM's man should be dumped into the dust bin without a thought. To borrow an old slogan - Ek desh mein do pradhan, do vidhan, nahin ho sakte (there can't be 2 PMs and 2 constitutions in one country)

One just hopes that in it's race to win over the minority votes, the current UPA government does not move ahead on the above 2 issues as they will only divide the country.