Friday, April 25, 2014

The Man You Admire And Dread

It is one thing to aspire for something and its entirely another thing to achieve it. Even though I am a left-leaning liberal, I admire Narendra Modi for having the ability to achieve what he aspires for. He has created such a cult like following that he is considered to be no less than a super-human. Forget about criticizing him, even if you term his achievements as ordinary or less than ordinary, you will invite wrath from die-hard Modi-fans. And, never even try to highlight achievements of his opponents. If anybody can turn a Modi-fan away from Modi, is Modi himself!

On one hand I admire him as an able leader and on the other hand I dread his far-right ideology of authoritarianism. Whether I like it or not, the perception that he has created for himself (which is reaping benefits for his party), he will be in Delhi for a long long time. As an authoritarian, his first agenda will be to systematically weed out any challenger within or outside his party.

He has smartly worked on two things. One - systematically demolish the credibility of his opponents and two - amplify his own credibility. Am I complaining as a left-leaning liberal? No. Its all fair in love and war - and winning election is no less than a war.

As a liberal voter, I am accustomed to evaluating candidates based on their performances and/or credibility. I don't know about others, but I am not accustomed to voting for a party or for a personality or out of sympathy or empathy. (Yes, clean sweep after Indira Gandhi's assassination was out of sympathy. Fortunately, I was not eligible to vote back then.) Because, chances of going wrong are very high if I vote based on these criteria.

I am more wary of candidates who misrepresent or distort facts to win votes. I am extremely wary of candidates who base their campaign on weaknesses of their opponents rather than their own strengths. And, voting blindly for a candidate because he/she is contesting from a specific party - its a no-no.

If a Congress supporter considers voting for any candidate just because Rahul Gandhi is considered to be the PM candidate, I would say s/he is doing a big mistake that will cost our nation very dear. Not because Rahul Gandhi is considered to be a novice in politics but because this supporter will end up voting for a local candidate who does not deserve his/her vote. Same goes for Modi supporter (I don't think there are as many supporters out there for his party). Same goes for Kejriwal and his party.

Media, esepcially the electronic media, has played a very vital role in creating this larger-than-life perception of Modi. This was further amplified by crude and derogatory comments about his opponents on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. In a nutshell, I would say, it has been an excellent brand building by Modi's brand managers. Ironically, I am also indulging in creating an image of Modi which is larger than life :-)

Many well known academicians and achievers have expressed their concerns over Modi's rise. But, all on deaf ears and blind eyes.

After May 16, when Modi will emerge as a clear winner, how will he tackle issues that are of national importance? Will he emerge larger than his parent organization RSS? Will he turn a blind eye (like he did in 2002) when his "well-wishers" try to shred the fabric of unity and integrity using racial overtones? Will he protect our democracy and freedom?

I don't know anything about that, only time will tell. But, one thing I am sure about is that the large corporates are going to benefit hugely from largesse of Modi.

Further reading

The Wonderbra PM

Blog by St Xavier's Student

Dread Narendra Modi Coming to Power

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Tectonic Shift in Indian Politics

There are three basic political ideologies. Conservatism, Liberalism and Socialism/Communism. Since independence, Indian politics is centered around liberal ideology - Sometimes leaning towards Conservatism and sometimes towards Socialism/Communism, but predominantly on Liberal lines.

2014 is bringing in an ideological shift in Indian politics. It seems to be moving right towards Conservative ideology. Farther right to this would take us to Anarchy. This will certainly make the Liberals lean heavily towards left to keep the balance. If they move too far towards left, it would take us to Anarchist Communism. Over a period of time, Indian politics will become bi-polar like in the west, Conservative and Liberal.

What will be the impact on citizens?

Economy, human resource development, environment, law and order and social harmony are defined by the dominant political ideology. Since we are witnessing a shift, initially there will be a degree of resistance to change. If resistance is high, ideology will shift again in the next election.

In the recent past, we have witnessed ideological shifts. During '77, '89, '96, '98, '99 and last in 2004. At an every attempt, there was a decrease in resistance towards Conservatism. Many states have also witnessed ideological shifts, for e.g. West Bengal and Kerala.

As we vote in this election, we are endorsing a specific ideology. Not many of us have studied politics so not many of us are aware of what are the pros and cons of each of these ideologies. It would be better to look up the pros and cons of these ideologies. Maybe you can lookup with keywords of "Conservatism" and "Liberalism".

Since India is a representative democracy, whatever your leanings are, you must go and vote to endorse your ideology.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Whenever 2002 Gujarat riots are spoken about, 1984 riots are used as counter arguments. Whenever 1992 riots are spoken about, 1984 riots are used as counter arguments. When 1984 riots are spoken about, 1992 and 2002 riots are used as the counter arguments.

Please allow me to take the hue out of these incidences and present to you a black and white picture to clarify what my stand is. If you agree with this stand, I urge you to share this view.

In 1984, a leader of a political party was assassinated. After her assassination, people who sympathized with that political party and leader incited their Indian supporters to kill Indians to avenge the death of their leader. They used the emotion of an average Indian to inflict mayhem on their fellow Indians. In the process, thousands of Indians were killed and hundreds of thousands of Indians were rendered homeless.

In 1992, a political party and another group of Indians, incited large part of Indians to demolish a 400 year old structure and thereafter go on a rampage in Mumbai to kill and maim their fellow Indians. In the process, thousands of Indians were killed and hundreds of thousands of Indians were rendered homeless.

In 2002, following an incidence where 60 Indians were burnt in a bogie of a train in Godhra by few Indians, a large part of Indians were provoked by patrons of a political organization to kill and maim their fellow Indians. In the process, hundreds of Indians were killed and hundreds of thousands of Indians were displaced.

In 2014, following an altercation and murder of an Indian, many political parties incited Indians to kill Indians in Muzaffarnagar. In the process, many Indians were killed and thousands of Indians were rendered homeless.

By adding color of ideology and religion, same political parties and their supporters are justifying killing of Indians by Indians in these separate incidences. Every political party uses these incidences to defame their opponents. Their only aim is to defeat their political opponents. Ironically, its not their aim (or in their interest) to bring justice to the victims and punishing the perpetrators and conspirators.

What will happen in future? Some political party will incite Indians to kill Indians and justify by pointing fingers at 1984, 1992, 2002, 2014 etc. When will this stop? How will this stop?

Nothing will stop by we stopping from voting. We need to stop them from propagating violence and avoiding justice. We need to "start" demanding justice. We need to vote for people who can provide accountability and deliver what we need and want. Political parties are made up of Indians like you and me. We, as citizens and voters, must stand united to ensure that these politicians do not misuse the power that we give them. We should refrain from publicly endorsing any political party or forum or influence others to vote for a specific party. Whoever you and me vote for, we should always have "our" interest in mind.

My wish and desire is to bring justice to the victims and punish the perpetrators and conspirators. My wish and desire is to put a full stop to all sorts of violence and justification of violence.

That's my stand.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Whom to vote for? (2014 General Elections)

Who is worthy of my vote? This question was troubling me since last many months. I was not satisfied with my own answers to this question. But, today, at B.PAC organized meet with the candidates clarified many things and I could come up with one definite answer that I was satisfied with.

After a series of scams that rocked the UPA-II, I was feeling quite lost for an answer. Then came assembly elections and AAP won 26 seats in Delhi. I saw a ray of hope. I started liking AAP. However, my happiness was short-lived. AAP could not provide a model of governance which was self-sustaining and long lasting. There was no diplomacy or polity in their approach. AAP came across as a confrontationist party to me.

I was back to square one with the question. I started seriously considering BJP for my vote. Somehow, I did not feel it right to vote for just any BJP candidate just because Narendra Modi, who has provided stable governance in Gujarat for last 12 years, was at the helms. I held a view that person who is capable of representing my constituency and resolve issues of my constituency should get my vote, irrespective of which party s/he belongs to or who is his/her leader.

A few days ago, I came to know about the candidates contesting to represent my constituency. They are; sitting MP Mr.PC Mohan from BJP, Mr.Rizwan Arshad from Congress, Mr. V Balakrishna from AAP and Ms. Nandini Alva of JDS. I was trying to gather some information about these candidates but was not convinced about anybody.

I was considering NOTA at this moment.

On Saturday morning, I got a call from Sandhya, a fellow Rotarian, about BPAC meeting. I thought, let me give it one more go to see if I can learn something about these candidates. So, I happily agreed to join her and other friends. I am glad I took  the trouble to wake up early on a sunday morning and go for the meeting.

I went with an open mind to evaluate the ability of the candidates irrespective of their party or religion. Meeting began after formal introductions. It was an interesting format where a set of 4 questions were asked to each candidate and they were given 4 minutes time to respond to each question. Later, audience questions were asked and then concluding comments by candidates. The event started dot at 10am and finished at 11.30am as planned. I was impressed.

Questions were, “why do you think you are eligible to represent this constituency?”, “What issues would you focus on?”, “What is your vision?” and “How will you make yourself reachable and accountable?”

First question was a usual drill and everyone spoke well. However, Balakrishna and Rizwan Arshad came across a bit more refined, realistic and focused. PC Mohan came across as disciplined but to me he lacked substance and appeared defensive. Nandini Alva impressed me with her good vocabulary but again, I did not find any focus or substance in her speech.

Subsequent questions were handled differently by candidates. Again, I was convinced by the points put forward by Balakrishna and Rizwan Arshad.

I was hoping to find only one capable candidate, but here I found two candidates I could choose from. This was not acceptable.

So, after giving it a long hard thought, finally I made my choice.

I am not a member of any political party nor am I a campaign manager for any candidate, hence I feel it is inappropriate for me to share my choice openly on a public forum. In my view, every voter is matured enough to make his/her choice correctly by following a process of selection. What I have shared here is the process that I followed to make my choice.