Tuesday, December 7, 2010

2010 - Year of the Scam or Fight Against Corruption


2010 - Its a year that will go down in the history of India as the Year of the Scams and there is no doubt about it.

The first half of the year was still silent. The second half rocked Mother Earth for all Indians. We have seen scams worth more than $100bn in less than six months. Isn't this monumental?

But did these scams happen in 2010? No.

All these scams happened much earlier. They had been in the news for a while but disappeared. People forgot everything. Politicians and Social Workers exclaimed that Corruption is a non-issue, during the General Elections in 2009.

So what happened in the second half? How did the nation's memory suddenly turn back to these embarrassing, humongous, monumental scams?

Its a million dollar question. If you'll closely observe, the politicians and the social workers were quite right about the fact that Corruption is a non-issue in General Election 2009. It was exactly so even in the first half of 2010.

First there was a a continued noise against artificial price rise in food items by BJP. The war against corruption in procurement, import-export, forward market commission etc for food items was taken out from the Parliament onto the streets of Delhi. The same culminated with A Jumbo Convergence Rally against Price Rise led by Shri. Nitin Gadkari and several other senior leaders. Almost 5-10 lakh people participated in this rally.

However, nothing changed in the media. Instead of focusing on the subject of artificial price rise bringing in more facts to the notice of the people, media decided to focus more on fainting of Mr. Gadkari, who was not used to the severe Delhi heat.

Then came the hugely controversial Bhopal Gas Tragedy to the fore front. 26yrs and still going strong, this case doesn't seem to end. It fades away and then reappears in the collective memory of this nation. And for the first time the country was told a part of the truth behind the absconding Chairman of Union Carbide Company, Warren Anderson.

Mr. Anderson who is about to receive death sentence by God almighty now, was supposedly helped in fleeing by our very own Rajiv Gandhi Govt. He didn't even sneak out of India. He met the then Home Minister Mr. P V Narasimha Rao and then President of India Giani Zail Singh before making his exit from India.

What is yet to come to light is that he was probably sent back to the US under a Prisoner Exchange program. This bit has been figured through US Govt. documents that refer to mysterious release of Adil Shahryar, son of Mohammed Yunus, a very-very close friend of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. Adil was charged with possession of dangerous weapons and charges of trying to wage militant activities in US and was serving a prison term of 35 years that started in 1982. The official documents of US referred to Adil Shahryar as S/o Mohammed Yunus, Close-Aide of Prime Minister of India.

The govt tried to hush up the story by announcing some compensation package and with time that story died down.

Then the things just changed and changed forever. The shit hit the ceiling when the delays in Commonwealth Games started causing International Embarrassments to the country. And Indians wanted an answer. Why is this project repeated in the news for only the delays? What is the problem? Are they short of funds? And then the answer.

CWG team wasn't short of funds. On the contrary, they seemed to have spent over $15bn (Rs.70000cr). Media, starting with Times of India answered this call with great detail. So one wondered, if the project really was worth Rs.70000cr. People wanted more details. They wanted to know specific overheads. And the media kept on bringing one ridiculous figure after another.

The news didn't remain within India, it reached all over the world. Outsiders being outsiders, did what was expected of them. They ridiculed India more and more. And I am thankful to them for having done this to us.

Our ego, self-respect, everything was hurt.We were angry. Angry that We, the people, never objected to your corrupt ways, allowed to take away more than your fair share, but in spite of this, instead of delivering our share to us, you have brought this national shame upon us? A chance to show the Commonwealth Countries, who were all once ruled by Great Britain, that India has "arrived" in a big way is being lost, just because there is no end to your hunger for corruption money?

This anger, hurting of self-respect got the citizens of this great nation out of their Tolerant Insensitivity...and as expected, it is expected to be an Intolerant Sensitivity for sometime now.

Then came the Kargil for Corruption Scam, also known by a better and respectable name, Adarsh Society Scam in which Chief Minister of Maharashtra was caught having influenced allotment of two flats for his relatives. Ashok Chavan had to quit within a week. This was followed quickly by allegation of corruption on B S Yeddyurappa, the first-ever BJP CM in Karnataka and the Southern India. 4-5 denotified land parcels were found to be handed over to his kins' companies. BS didn't quit and made allegation of political rivalry. He made his Children return the land, saved his seat and promised to clean his govt which is constantly under the accusation of not doing enough to clean the state of Karnataka of Mining Lobby.

The BJP which not only for political gains but also due to its serious concerns raised the bugle against 2G Spectrum Sale Scam before the winter session of the Indian Parliament. A Raja, who was an exceedingly arrogant man, was asked to quit. The JPC Probe into 2G Spectrum Sale Scam has disallowed the parliament to function for 18 days as of this day. Government's own allies are too embarrassed now to stand beside it. They have quietly and not-so-quietly indicated to the Congress to give into the JPC Probe demand.

Even as the plans for cornering the Government on the 2G Spectrum Sale Scam were being made, there was this series of mysterious taped conversations of Corporate PR giant Niira Radia with some very well known Journalists. The journalists seemed to be either lobbying with the Congress or suggesting fixing of Judiciary.

All the conversations were outrageous for the common man who had never even reached close to imagining something so shady. Unpalatable is the word.

Journalists like Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi and Prabhu Chawla etc had a tainted name overnight. Their credibility and neutrality were all not only under suspicion but finished forever. No one would trust them even if they were the last journalists standing.

The News Media was exposed like never before. The nexus of Media-Corporates-Politicians was now known to all and sundry and no one was above suspicion. It has sent some sensitive media houses like Living Media Group, owners of India Today and Aaj Tak, on a clean-up spree. Prabhu Chawla was demoted from Group Executive Editor to Editor - Languages.

In the meanwhile, now we have an upcoming mega-scam. A Public Distribution Scam which the media calls the Food Scam. The Land Allotment Scam in Tamilnadu is already falled prey to media.

Phew!!! So much, in such a little time? What happened?

People Woke up. People were suddenly hungry to know more about corrupt activities. The TRPs on corruption news were growing. Media had no option but to go with the flow. The largest amount of pressure was from the so-called Internet Hindus on social networking forum. The journalists from various channels and publications are accessible there and the Internet Indian (as Internet Hindus would like to have themselves known as) brigade attacked each and every one of them and asked them very tough questions.

So tough questions and confrontation with politically active people and frowning glares from the fence-sitter has really pushed the Indian media to respond. These are not new scams...these are taken out from "Pending Files" bin.

They are coming out because we are awake. Stay awake, my friends.

So, before we leave, here's the list of scams unearthed till now.

1. Sugar, Rice Import/Export Scam - Rs.3000-4000 crores
2. Bhopal Gas Tragedy - value lost was 20000 Human Lives and escape of key culprits
3. Common Wealth Games - Rs.70000 crores
4. Radia Tapes - Immeasurable loss
5. Adarsh Society Scam - Shameless Insult to Supreme Sacrifice
6. Karnataka Land Allotment Scam - 4-5 Land Parcels, admeasuring 17 acres or so.
7. 2G Spectrum Sale Scam - Rs.1,76,000 crore
8. PDS/Food Scam - Rs.2,00,000 - Rs.2,50,000 crore

The total is over $100bn already. But more is on its way...Till then...Jaagte Raho!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

India’s Caste System – A Type-Caste for India - Part 1


I have been brought up in a system where the text books in my school spoke quite negatively about the the Caste system. I was, therefore, brought up in an environment where such classification of humans was looked down upon. Surely, a good thing for India, but as I grew up, I felt a need to understand the subject in greater detail.

Question was why would the people who gave this world some very intellectual and spiritual learning, classify men like this and then cause curses upon the lives of people who belonged to specific castes? In other words, why would some of the most brilliant people, across all millennia, known to this world, commit such totally stupid thing as dividing men into categories and then put some to humiliations and make them under-privileged?

This enquiry into this “caste” system began many years back and I started articulating my views, based on observation and contemplation, almost as early as 1999. Reading over a period of time has added more light and added more shape to my own thoughts on this subject.

Before I begin, let me express it clearly and in advance that this statement of my views on this system doesn’t mean I got the gist, please read it as a view from a fellow human being. Others may have a more informed view on this subject.

Caste System – First Observations

My first observation was that there were privileged people and there were less or under privileged people. Nobody is equal, nobody wants to be equal, and everybody wants to be better than the next person. When we talk of Equal Rights, we are actually talking of Equitable Rights for all human beings. Whether its East or West, we have devised ways of classifying men in different categories – Either on the scale of Intellect, Emotion or Spirituality. IQ, EQ and SQ tests are clear examples of this desire.

There are colleges, good colleges, the best colleges and IVY League. There are marks to be obtained to get an admission into different colleges and different streams of education. There are ranks and grades in schools. There are Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in sports. There is Top Management, Senior Management, Middle Management, Junior Management, Trainees and Peons etc in the Corporate Sector. There are Bright people and there are Dumb people.

So there is an inherent need in the humans to be better than the rest and this state of mind is visible even amongst animal where we have observed that Males fight for the Dominance of a Group of Animals. What we also observe is the Dominance of a group brings privileges – Food and Sex (right to mate and create progenies that might be full of qualities as the Victor Male)

So, there’s a President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers who rule this country with the help of Law Enforcement Agencies and protect this country from external aggression against our country with the help of Armed Forces.

Then we have a large group of advisors, consultants, scientists, social scientists, teachers etc. from various fields like Economics, Military, Politics, Diplomacy, Science etc.

Then we have Industrialists, Businessmen, traders, shopkeepers, exporters, importers and a whole range of people who indulge in economic activities

Then we have a whole range of poorer people who do some very menial job that doesn’t require much application of mind, just basic skills, like Factory Workers, Housekeepers etc.

This is roughly how this nation runs. I think this is roughly how almost any nation runs. This is how an entire society is running today.

Then, I imagined what would happen if, for e.g. a Roadside Beggar touched Ratan Tata or even me or you. I visualized the same reaction from the majority of the people. Everyone will object to him touching them as he’s unhygienic.

All of this I tried to view in its most natural setting. There is no background of Caste or a test to see how people react to a Caste System.

I also opined that whether we call it a caste system or not, people can easily be classified in different sets of capabilities and, therefore, different jobs.

Etymological Sense – Jati Vs. Varna Vs. Caste

Jati


I wondered that Caste is an awful word. What is the Hindi/Sanskrit equivalent for the same? The news channels and Politicians generally referred to Jati. So for some years I stuck with that.

But after few years, I came to realize that Jati means something else altogether. Jati means Birth. For example, when Lord Buddha attained Complete Enlightenment, he came out of his meditation reciting the following Verse:

Anek Jati Sansaram, Sandhavissam Anibbisam|
Gahkarakam Gavesanto, Dukkha Jati Punappunam||

Gahkarak Ditthosi, Puna Geham Na Kaahasi|
Sabba Te Phaasuka Bhagga Gahkootam Visanghitam|
Visanghargatam Chittam Tanhaanam Khayamajhhaga||

The meaning for the same is:

For many lives, I kept on running non-stop in this world|
Searching for that Home-Maker, I was born again and again in this sorrowful world||

Oh Home-Maker! You’ve been found, You will not be able to make your Home again|
All your links have been destroyed; the central column has also been destroyed|
My Chitta is now without Sanskar, my Trishna has been uprooted||


If you see, the word Jati has in both instances been used to denote Birth.

So the next thing was that while I discarded the usage of the term Jati for Caste, I was looking for the correct term to represent Caste, I figured the correct term would be “Varna” because of the primary usage Vedic Varna.

Varna

Well, the word is all over the place. It is indeed the Vedic Varna system, but heavy usage of the word Jati tends to take the space that duly belongs to Varna. That brings us to the point of revealing the famous four:

a. Brahman (Intellectuals)
b. Kshatriya (Rulers and Protectors)
c. Vaishya (Businessmen and Traders )
d. Shudra (People indulging in Menial Jobs like sweeping, shoe-making, skilled/unskilled labour)

These are revealed in the following RgVedic Verse:

Brahmano.asya Mukhamasid Bahu Rajanyah Krtah |
Urutadasya Yad Vaishyah Padbhyaam Shudro Ajayata ||
(Rgved 10.90.12)

Meaning:

In this Conception of Human Society as a Man, the highly intellectual Brahmans were regarded as the mouth, while the Kshatriyas who were the Administrators and Warriors represented the Arms, The Vaishyas who were Artisans, Traders and Agriculturists corresponded to the abdominal region and the thighs While the Shudras of the society were associated with the feet of this Man-Conception society.


To understand the Man-Conception of the society, one has to refer to the preceding verse:

Yat Purusham Vyadadhuh Katidha Vyakalpayan|
Mukham Kismasya Kau Bahu Ka Ooroo Paadaa Uchyete||
(RgVed 10.90.11)


Meaning:

The entire Human Race was visualized in the form of one Human Being. Some of the questions were: Into how many parts was this Man-Conception Society divided? What was his mouth? And what were his Arms? What represented his Thighs? And what were his Feet?


So, Varna indeed is the correct word that denotes the classification of society. It also seems to denote the Hierarchical sense of society’s classification. But does Caste reflect the true meaning of Vedic Varna? That needs a thorough enquiry. Let’s see what it means.

Caste
Caste gives sense of something rigid. I mean by the very definition of it. The Oxford English Advanced Learner’s Dictionary says, “Caste means, each of the Hereditary classes of Hindu Society, distinguished by relative degree of ritual purity or pollution and of social status.”

The Operative words, unfortunately, are “Hereditary, Ritual purity and pollution and Social Status” for most of the listeners.

The origin of the word Caste lies in Spanish/Portuguese words Casta/ Casto – meaning, Lineage, Breed/Pure, Unmixed and the Latin word Castus – meaning, Chaste. Yet the word – Caste - has been used exclusively for “Hindu Society” only. The origin of the word, however, seems primarily for discussions related to Races within Europe.

Spanish Language seems to have been developed in around 10th Century AD, Portuguese seems to have been developed between 9th and 12th Century AD and Latin in its earliest form seems to have been formed around 3rd Century BC and evolved thereafter over a period of time.

The political changes within the European continent and their contact with people of various races like Celts, Gauls etc in those ages seems to have given the need for this word.

That being the origin, the addition of “Hereditary, Ritual purity and pollution and Social status” to the meaning of Caste seems little out of place and specially designed.

One cannot, though, say that this didn’t reflect the situation when this word – Caste – was formed. Through many accounts, actions of Indian social reformers and still existing practices in many villages of India, the Varna System appears to have acquired three visible aspects:

1. It has indeed become hereditary. All Government records seem to be accepting this as the basis for a person’s Varna. Even traditionally, for centuries this appears to have become the criteria
2. The Hierarchical nature and the one time prevalent and now disappearing practice of ‘Untouchability’ of those lower in the Varna hierarchy, was indeed a part of the system
3. It’s hierarchical nature undoubtedly reflected the Social Status of the person belonging to a certain caste at one time in India, in not so distant past

So while it’s very easy for Indians and traditionalists to be an Anglophile, I prefer being unbiased and accept the ills that indeed existed and still exist partially in the society.

But the larger question is if this is what one of most brilliant set of people, to have lived on Earth, meant to say. This is a Vedic Varna system, something that has come out from the Vedas. Vedas are reputed as one of the most advanced Spiritual and Intellectual text spanning over subjects like Quantum Physics, Astronomy, Astro-Physics, Social Science, Medicine etc., in addition to matters of Spirituality, meaning finding the truth within our own Physical Body. This raises few important questions in my mind.

1. Could the Authors, who added to Vedas over generations, be as misguided or ill-intentioned as the current meaning of Varna suggests?
2. Could such an addition be allowed into a Text that has only contained addition of the highest form of knowledge?
3. Could those who have otherwise displayed such intellectual consistency, over generations, have allowed admission of such a concept that means to bring misery upon people?

To me this looks highly unlikely. This is not to say that the system is not reflected in Vedas. The point is that this probably formed a part of a much more advanced understanding of Social Science.

I continued my search for a clearer meaning, and I must concede at this stage that my mind was more or less pre-determined. So one can accuse me of a bias, but I can honestly assure the readers that even as I write this, I am ready to consider any additional material that concludes differently from the direction that is already set in this Post.

Wait for Part 2.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kashmir Solution


Last 4 months or more have brought the Kashmir question back to the forefront. Its a problem that has haunted us since the time of independence.

While I am already in the process of writing a much longer and indepth article on the Kashmir question, there are few points I am compelled to state.

The Kashmir Questions Legal and Constitutional position


Its clearly in India's favor.

The Instrument of Accession to India was signed by Maharaj Hari Singh on October 26, 1947. The copy of the Instrument of Accession signed by Kashmir and other Princely States within India has absolutely no difference.

Accordingly, the State of J&K reflected as part of India under Part B states.

Then on May 1, 1951, Yuvraj Karan Singh proclaimed formation of the Constituent Assembly. Elections were called in, Constituencies of 40000 population were ordered to be formed. On May 15, 1951 National Conference had won all the 75 seats.

On Februaray 6, 1954, the Constituent Assembly of J&K ratified the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.

On February 14, 1954, The Constitution of India was applied to J&K on the basis of Article 370, giving Temporary exceptions and modification in application to J&K.

On October 17, 1956, The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is adopted by the State Constituent Assembly. The Part II, Clause 3 of the State Constitution States, "The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an Integral Part of Union of India.

There are two points to understand:

1. The ratification to Accession of J&K has not been subjected to Article 370 of Indian Constitution. Only application of Indian Constitution to the State of Jammu & Kashmir is subjected to Article 370. The Article however doesn't apply in instances when the integrity of territory or Sovereignty of Union of India over the State of Jammu & Kashmir is under question.

2. The Plebiscite as sought by UN had many conditions and the main was complete withdrawal of troops from Kashmir under Indian as well as Pakistani occupation. That has neither happened in the past and with increasing hostilities, its not possible in present or near future. None trusts UN's ability to maintain Status Quo either.

Therefore, in such circumstances, it is prudent to accept the verdict of the 1954 Constituent Assembly which comprised of elected people and was formed on a known clear agenda of State formation and accession to India, as the WILL of the people.

What is the debate on Article 370 about?

The Article 370 was adopted in the Indian Constitution on October 17, 1949

Article 370 allows the State and Jammu and Kashmir to accept or deny any legislation passed by Union of India. So, in other word, various laws that are applicable to Rest of India or All Indian States, may not apply to Jammu & Kashmir. This is in a way a very strong autonomous position built for Jammu & Kashmir. The Article was however meant to be temporary. This is evident from the title of the Article itself - Temporary Provisions with respect to The State of Jammu and Kashmir.

This act, however, is applicable only to matters that are not a part of the Instrument of Accession. The Instrument of Accession already includes all matters like Defence, External Affairs and Communication. By that the primary issues related to Sovereignty of India over the State of Jammu & Kashmir, has to be safeguarded by the State Assembly and Government of India reserves the right to defend its Sovereignty. This is clearly state in Article 370 Clause (b) Subclause (i).

However, the February 14, 1954 application of the Indian Constitution to the State of Jammu & Kashmir is on the basis of Article 370. In that sense it is to be seen as a retrograde step in Organic Integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of India.

Jammu & Kashmir has retained the right to have its own separate constitution which is not available to any other state. And what was given as Temporary Power in Good Faith has seen an erosion on two counts.

1. The good faith seems to be absent as many important laws that apply to all other states aren't yet accepted by the State Govt.
2. The Temporary Provision is becoming more and more permanent in nature, especially with demands for even larger Autonomy.

People Situation

The people situation in Kashmir is obviously the most complicated aspect. While there are many communities in Kashmir, Muslims, Hindus and Ladakhi Buddhist form the three major groups. Muslims dominate the demography.

While the Hindu population was greatly reduced in the 1947 Pakistani-Tribal attack on the state, even more damage was caused in 1989 when militants threatened to kill the entire community if they did not leave the State. Kashmiri Pandits as most of them are referred as, left the State and migrated to Jammu and other parts of India.

Slowly as the generations have passed the idea of co-existence of two communities has vanished from the young Kashmiri Mulsim population. Extremism has found place now. The continued militancy has made Kashmir the most militarized zone on earth. That also has aggravated the problem further.

However, I personally refuse to accept the 20years of existence of Armed Forces and continuation of militancy as the failure of the Army. The Government of India while sending the Army has disallowed a full-scale military style termination of Terrorists. Given a freedom the Army could have finished militancy in under one month.

The growth of terrorism into phenomenon like Al-Qaeda and Taliban etc has created complications as these foreign terrorist groups have now entered the Valley. Their presence has been reported by Army and speculated by the journalists for over two years now. The other terrorists has included Pakistanis and some local Kashmiris trained in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. So the population of Kashmir now includes Kashmiris, Kashmiris who resided in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Pakistanis, Afghanis etc.

The Separatists have received boost due to ignorant policies of the Government of India and a sense of extremism amongst Separatists that has germinated the idea of an Islamic State.

Geo-Politics

The Geo-politics of the regions hasn't helped either. While most of the issues related to Geo-politics are on the basis of analysis of certain actions only and no serious confirmed reports, it is not too far-fetched to claim that Sino-Pakistani Axis has managed to trap Americans in Afghanistan. The Taliban was a Pakistani baby and along with these militants the Pakistanis have very smartly got the American forces trapped, who are neither able to win, nor able to exit.

America needs a much larger help from Pakistani forces. Pakistanis in turn have referred to the Kashmir Problem as the reason for their inability to spare more troops. The Americans have been made to believe that if India can reduce Forces in the Valley, Pakistan will be able to spare troops for Afghan war. On this basis, even before elections started in America, current US President Barrack Hussein Obama proclaimed a larger US role in the Kashmir Affair. This has led to belief and speculation that US has created a backdoor channel between India and Pakistan with itself as an invisible mediator, forcing India to agree to granting Autonomy and reduction in Troops within Kashmir.

Somewhere in this background, in the middle of 2010, after the new National Conference-Congress Govt tookover, the protests started in Kashmir. Since the middle of 2010 there has been a continued demand for Azadi and youth have resorted to stone-pelting on the J&K Police and CRPF troops.

Incidentally, National Conference has always maintained a demand for a larger Autonomy within Indian Constitution.

The protests continued unabated, with no real steps being taken by the J&K CM Omar Abdullah. The protests spread to a very large portion within the Valley. The State Govt has demanded a larger Autonomy and removal of Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, 1990 from most of Kashmir. That is expected to bring down the Armed Forces troops within the State as the Armed Forces will refuse to operate without their legal bullet-proof in AFSPA.

It is interesting to note that both the demands of National Conference are quite similar to what Pakistan has demanded and suggested to US. The same has been speculated and believed to have been agreed to by the GoI through secret backdoor discussions. This was revealed as early as 3rd March 2010 in the Lok Sabha by seniormost leader of Bharatiya Janata Party Shri. L K Advani.

The strong and violent call for Azadi by separatists has created an unprecedented difficult situation. The crisis is actually directly threatening the Sovereignty of India over the State of Jammu and Kashmir, directly. The GoI has, however, chosen to underplay the risks involved. In fact, it has shown an eagerness to repeal or Amend AFSPA. Since, amendment to AFSPA is a difficult task, involving the entire Parliament, the repeal of the Act from certain districts in the beginning looks likely.

Solution

The threat to India's Sovereignty and the inability of the State Govt in containing the crisis demands prudence from the Government of India.

There should be a serious consideration for pressurizing the State Assembly in Jammu & Kashmir to adopt the Indian Constitution in totality. The negotiation should allow transferring of certain matters in Union List of the Constitution to the State List. This could be done for all states of India and not Jammu & Kashmir alone. On this basis, the Article 370 must be repealed unconditionally. The amendments must be made to Union and State Lists of the Constitution as per the negotiations.

With this the Constitutional Relationship with the State will move in the right direction. this will also allow the Government of India to play a larger role in the Kashmir Crisis.

The Peaceful Areas like Jammu and Ladakh must be separated first. The Territorial continuity must be ensured between the two. The Kashmir Valley could then be cleaned and a possibility of rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits in their traditional areas must be undertaken. This will help the demographic recuperation over the years. The remaining area of the Valley must be Quarantined till restoration of Law & Order.

For many this may be a radical idea. But the situation itself is radical. Hoping for Ideal situation is unrealistic today. Its not only too far away even if GoI takes all the right steps, but is dangerous enough to spread like an epidemic. Prudence and willingness to take tough decisions must be taken.

A more detailed note is under preparation which will dwell at every aspect in greater length.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Irrelevance of Pritish Nandy

Few of us have heard of Pritish Nandy. Many know him as that bald man who comes on television as a socialite who likes to comment on political issues of India. Nobody, however, would ever rely on him. Simply, because he is frivolous.

Our man wrote an Blogpost in May 2010 on Times of India. The title was The Irrelevance of BJP. I found his entire rant to be irrelevant in terms of any sensible content and moved on. But then it seems to keep coming back through someone or the other asking for my own humble views on what Nandy had to say.

I am, therefore, going through each paragraph and sharing what I think of it.

I entered Parliament with BJP support. The Sena votes were not enough to see a second candidate through. Satish Pradhan was the official candidate. I came in as the second one, in the hope that the BJP may give me some of their extra votes. Balasaheb made an impassioned plea for me, an outsider to the party. So charismatic was his plea that I not only got the Sena votes but I also got the extra BJP votes. Satish Pradhan limped in last while Ram Pradhan (known as Sonia’s candidate) lost. Clearly the BJP was behind my victory even though Pramod Mahajan never quite liked me. But he listened to Balasaheb. So I have a soft spot for the BJP even though India looks all set to forget them.



He is trying to justify the prostitution of his loyalty on an emotional plot. Trying to make his following views more palatable as not a rant of a prostitute but of a well-intentioned divorced wife.

My biggest disappointment with the BJP is that despite India voting it into power within a decade and a half of being a tiny two man party in Parliament, it stubbornly refused to meet any expectations. It picked up every cracked cause it found, from joining the rivers of India to building a Sanskrit supercomputer to wanting to replace the national anthem with Vande Mataram, to stitch together a political agenda so weird that even today people sigh with relief when they see the BJP out of power. It’s a party where everyone’s so busy putting the other down that no one has time for anything else. I suspect Vajpayee and Advani, the two who built the party from scratch, are as sad to see it go down the drain. But the real tragedy is that the very things the BJP (and India) hated about the Congress flourished most during its own regime: Corruption, ineptitude, nepotism, and nonsense masquerading as ideology. Sitting in the Central Hall of Parliament, I often felt like an idiot. All that I had spent a lifetime fighting was happening there-- right before my eyes. No wonder I did not seek re-election.


Interlinking of rivers is a cracked issue? Does he know that this project is already implemented in Gujarat and has turned the driest area of Kutch into a Green enough zone? Does he know between 2002-2009 the agricultural production of Gujarat has gone up from Rs.9 lakh crore to Rs.22 lakh crore approximately? I am sure that useless film maker knows none of this.

He thinks sanskrit computer was a stupid idea because he thinks that was a primary project of BJP and all national resources were being spent on it. Sanskrit is India's own ancient language which is today dying. It has however been found to be grammatically perfect and best for programming. Indians will be able to program ten times better in sanskrit than they do in some alien project. And as long as it is not taking up a very large chunk of national resource its fine to promote it. 98% of the people didn't even know about this project.

But I still owe the BJP. I owe Mahajan in particular. He was one of the party’s cleverest and most insolent satraps. There was nothing he wouldn’t stoop to but he was smart enough to know that to be in power the BJP had to master the art of sustaining alliances and he did that brilliantly. I suspect even Balasaheb misses him. The BJP certainly does even though no one will admit to it because the BJP loves fighting the enemy within, not the Congress. Every leader in the party hates the other and yet they all sit down together, laugh, joke, drink tea and eat samosas, pretending they are just a whisker away from power. Who know? They probably are. But it’s certainly not on merit. The only support that exists for them comes from people like you and I who want a powerful Opposition around just to keep the Congress in check.



Now this irrelevant bitching, Digvijay Singh vs. P Chidambaram is in full public view. These are not unique to BJP, its normal human tendency in general, except few enlightened people.

But the truth is most people don’t think the BJP have it in them any more. The fact that some still vote for it and alliance partners remain is because there’s no real alternative in sight. The Congress is clever. They showcase young leaders like Rahul Gandhi so differently that you can hate the Congress and yet vote for Rahul and his candidates. In your mind they are entirely different propositions. The BJP can’t even do that. Barring Narendra Modi, no one in the party can stand apart and claim a personal following. Some crackpots may still buy their poison brew of Hindutva, Hate and Hysteria. But the BJP has nothing else to offer India. Not even an alternative economic roadmap to capture the nation’s imagination, burdened as it with spiralling prices, unrealistic taxes, and a Government constantly in denial of its failures.



Here he has completely overlooked, intentionally, the Golden Quadrilateral, power Sector Reforms, National Telecom Policy, National Tribal Policy, Proposal of RTI Act, 8% growth during the time the world was gripped with ASEAN crisis, 4.5% inflation during 6 years of their rule. In short, this man is giving A-grade bullshit.

As for other leaders, Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj have been overlooked. Rahul Gandhi and Congress are best left for time to unravel.


The Congress may refuse to change. But at least it’s using its new mascot Rahul Gandhi wisely, to cleverly draw in the young and not so young to whom he stands as a sign of possible change. The BJP offers nothing apart from the notion of an alternative. But the face of that alternative can’t be an overweight leader who faints in the Delhi heat or a pack of wolves who tear into one of their own when he writes a book on Jinnah. The BJP obviously doesn’t like intelligent, capable, charismatic leaders. Not enough to give them prominence in the party. It offers no political roadmap, no economic agenda that can make them look like a real alternative. It speaks only through ill fitting dentures on issues India has long forgotten.


That sign of "possible change" already seems fading. How long can the mental disabilities of Rahul Gandhi be hidden from public. He's in Congress since 1999, has been an MP twice now, he still shivers when addressing an unharming press conference. The quality of the comments has been pulling the bar lower and lower. His best friends in media can be expected to feel at risk in supporting him.

The comment on Gadkari is understandable. Gadkari doesn't like nincompoops, and Pritish nandy is exactly that. He's surely been sidelined and overlooked. This whole article is infact written to give a mouthful to Gadkari.

When 65% voters are under 35 and clamouring for change, the BJP looks like an anachronism. It has clearly lost the plot. What it needs is a fresh young face that can relate to the new generation of Indians and speak for the future. What it can do is challenge the old, tired clichés of the Congress by offering an imaginative new agenda that includes not just politics but smart economics and that dream of change that can inspire young people to take them seriously. To do that, the BJP must look at the future and stop harping on the past. Hate is so passé.


Quite a useless, cliched advice from someone who has nothing to offer himself, except few witless, irresponsible, uninformed comments. He's a hyena who is simply excited seeing BJP lose elections twice. The resurgence is not even expected by Pritish Nandy.

On the whole the article by Pritish Nandy had nothing to offer but a pure and simple rant, crying foul and saying anything that came into his drunk mind.

Avoid wasting your time reading his article, I already regret having reviewd it passage by passage. Call it my "Sacrifice" in the interest of a larger good.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What is Hindutva to me?

This single term has been one of the most debatable terms in India. It’s been interpreted in many different ways by different people. For some it has religious connotation, more in the sense of Supremacy of Hindu religion in India, for others it’s a Cultural Nationalism, which, I might add, is a bit of redundant phrase as Culture is anyway a part of a Nation and Nationalism, by that definition, must be inclusive of culture and customs of this land.

I don’t know who coined this term, so I also don’t know what the maker had in mind. However, the controversy and multiplicity of definitions around this term has caused me to contemplate over this.

So here’s my take.

India was called Hindustan by the Arabs, long before the advent of Islam, or even Christianity, I suspect. Buddhism was not considered to be any different from Sanatan Dharm, the real name of the religion we refer to as Hinduism.

Hindustan means a Sthan (Place) where Hindus live. So, it appears that even Arabs used Hindi/Sanskrit or any other prevalent Indian Language of the time. But then there was no term as “Hindu” then. The Dharm practiced by Indians was called Sanatan Dharm and various ways of attaining Moksh (Liberation) existed in India, which were later classified into six primary groups by literary geniuses.

Historians help us in this regard by telling us that the actual reference was to the river Sindhu, which in west is referred to later as Indus. The Arabs couldn’t pronounce Sindhu properly and therefore referred to the people here as “Hindu” people. This has been a generally accepted theory and it looks convincing to me.

Some may ask, “Why the reference to Sindhu river?” Well, geographically and archaeologically, it appears that India’s contact with Arabian world was through the Sindhu Ghaati Sabhyata (Indus River Civilization). By then River Saraswati had already gone subterranean due to a very heavy earthquake and the civilization around River Ganga might have been quite distant, geographically.

So, all in all, Hind, Hindu, Hindustan were all a reference to the land, the people, their culture, customs and traditions, which was influenced by many things like the Ecosystem, Climate, Religious Belief, Intellect etc.

Somehow this reference to Bharatvarsh stuck around over a few millennia. Reference to our spiritual practice and religious belief as Hindu Dharm instead of Sanatan Dharm comes much later. Even that new reference is extension of the reference the Dharm/Spiritual practice followed on the land of Hind.

Therefore, in my opinion, Hindutva relates to all things Indian. And in that sense, all people living on this land, irrespective of what religion they follow are Hindus. This fact and understanding in the line given by Dr. Allama Iqbal in his famous song, Saare Jahan Se Achha…. The line reads:

Hindi hain hum, watan hai…Hindostan hamara, hamara…Saare jahan se achha…Hindostan hamara…

So, simplifying the concept for the sake of lay audience, Hindutva is same as Bharatiyata or Indianness. It is a statement of our desire to show Indianness in everything we do. Not to get influenced by other cultures, especially, the current flavors of west.

Such an action is only possible by having confidence in our own culture. The confidence will come from the past, through a better understanding of past, knowing the true meaning of each and everything related to our past. Not feeling ashamed of their corruption in the middle ages because that is only a natural phenomenon. All pure things become impure and then become pure again and the cycle continues.

Let us take a step in that direction, in the direction of getting a clear understanding of who we are and exhibit Indianness – the originality, something that is part of our true identity - into our actions.

Let’s welcome the concept of Hindutva, the true secularism within it, with open arms and create a lifestyle around it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Understanding of Jawaharlal Nehru


Chacha Nehru, makes him so much like a family man and voting for Congress in India a "Ghar Waali Baat" (a domestic issue).

He is painted differently over the last 64 years by people. For most people he was the ultimate leader and they take his name with more respect than they would of Lord Ram or Lord Krishna or Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu or any other god. Structure after structure and scheme after scheme has been dedicated to him or his clan members, but a structure to be dedicated to Lord Ram is facing a difficult struggle for the last 18yrs.

So I wanted to know little bit about him. Whatever little I got to know about him killed my curiosity to know more about him. Reading about him or watching his speeches on the youtube.com was the only way to know more because I was born more than 10yrs after his demise. I never saw him, met him or stood in his company so what I am presenting is a distant view of Jawahar Lal's personality.

Person:

Intelligent, well-spoken, well-travelled, social, ambitious. In addition, selfish, conniving, foolish, lofty, careless, bad foreign policy strategist, egotist.

Sexual:

I hear all sorts of things about it. With men as well as women. High and mighty as well as unknown figures ranging from sweet sixteen upwards. I don't know what to believe. May be none, but its spicy enough for me to still keep reading.

Politics:

1. I haven't seen any of the other well-known Congress Freedom Fighters come up in life. All got finished during his own rule. How? Why? Intriguing.

To me it looks like his doing all the way. Systematically disallowing other competitors from growing up to be a challenge to his fiefdom.

2. Strange that Independent India couldn't take INA into IA. They fought for the Nation and were only dedicated to nation and no other political ideology, but Nehru brilliantly described Nationalism as a political ideology and firmly denied them any right to join Indian Army. Till he was alive even the voice to get the INA veterans their due couldn't be raised. Eerie...

3. Like an idiot he created an international leadership vision in his mind and sacrificed India's national interest at its alter. The worst defeat in a war was to his Hindi-Cheeni Bhai Bhai partners. He ignored the advice of some of the most brilliant minds on this country including that of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. When Army Generals told him that a war was expected with China he ridiculed them and called his own soldiers War-Mongers. He allowed defense preparations much too late causing one of the most embarrassing defeats in Indian Military history. The scar remains.

4. Nehru was friend of Chinese Nationalist Chiang-Kai-Shek and the moment Chiang lost to the communist, Nehru became a friend of Mao Tse Dung. Not just that, when UN refused to let Communist China be the part of Permanent Five, and asked Nehru for his view as the geo-politics affected India most, he foolishly supported Communist China. Took personal guarantees and did what even Communist China itself was unable to do. Then he got our soldiers butchered and our territory in Aksai Chin lost forever.

5. He refused to let Sardar Patel deal on Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India. When Hari Singh - The Clown, asked for help, as he couldn't defend his territory against Pakistani Army, he was asked to sign Instrument of Accession. He signed. Indian Army fought a bloody battle and stopped the advancing hordes. Then the great mastermind that Nehru was went ahead and called for Ceasefire under UN which called for Plebiscite. It created Pakistan Occupied Kashmir forever. That created unrest in Kashmir forever, that 64yrs of unrest has caused the current Kashmiri generation to feel let down and participate in the cause of Separatists.

Oh! he didn't stop at just that. After this, as if he hadn't caused enough damage, to show how magnanimous he personally was, he gave up his professional responsibility and created Article 370. Now the Kashmiri constituent assembly that gets elected through elections held by Election Commission of India doesn't pass the necessary act and we have a perfect case of Half Pregnancy. It has started paining so sorely now that people are screaming and pelting stones.

6. Economic policy of Nehru was totally confused and sometimes directed at embarrassing certain industrialists. His god-father Gandhi was surrounded by India's top industrialists like G D Birla, Jamnalal Bajaj, Ardeshir Godrej and many others. Gandhi always stayed at Birla House, which were in many cities including Delhi and Calcutta. Obviously, they didn't treat Nehru and Gandhi equally. Nehru wasn't even a PM candidate then. There were many other senior leaders in existence. Nehru, the egotist was jealous. He wanted to bend them on his feet. When he got power, he made a License Raj policy. All industrialists including Birlas and Bajajs had to bend in front of him to get their business running and propagating. To satisfy his ego, this confused socialist got the India's economic growth engine slowed down and between 1947-1991, India grew by only 3.2-3.3%.

7. What happened when Nehru got power?

Uh Oh....he went mad. Nehru had just pipped every single princely family. If they were ruling few hundred miles of territory, he was the undisputed King of 32lakh square kms of Indian Territory. Never achieved like this in the last 5000yrs of history. Not even Asoka, not even Akbar had ruled over the entire territory together, some piece of the puzzle was always missing.

He thought he was the greatest king of all. It screwed with his mind. Now he wanted the world to recognize his talent. Promoted Non-Aligned Movement and when Chinese attacked India in 1962, he wrote a desperate letter for help from US President John F Kennedy, who refused as India weren't his allies. I mean we were completely Non-Aligned and tasted a bitter defeat.

I can go on and on about this man. But, I guess, at least I have no reason to worship this forced relative of the nation. I don't think he was the greatest that ever was. He was just an average man who suffered his imaginations like many others do. He only made it bad because he was sitting in that most important chair of Independent India's First Prime Minister.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Arthashastra: The Foreign Policy Focus –Part 1

I have been a follower of Kautilya Arthashastra since 2002. I was introduced to the content of this treatise through L.N. Rangrajan’s Kautilya – The Arthashastra. Then in 2004 I had the good fortune of obtaining The Kautilya Arthashastra of Dr. R.P. Kangle. I found certain differences of understanding of the same text between the work of L.N. Rangarajan and Dr. Kangle. I found myself more comfortable with many sections of Dr. Kangle’s translation. But that is a subject of another discussion. Also, I came to recognize that though Dr. R Shama Shastry’s version was the first in modern times, it is Dr. Kangle who’s seminal work has become the basis of all future translations and analysis.

Therefore, like any other writer, wherever there is quotation of Book.Chapter.Text, it is from Dr. Kangle’s translation.

Over the last week, there has been a lot of mention of Arthashastra in various contexts. I for one had mentioned it to justify my view of Governance before Ideology. Recently, G. Aditya Kiran had published a write-up on his blog and shared with all on twitter, focusing on the import of Foreign Policy of Kautilya on current times. It is the discussion that started on Twitter that led to my own description of Kautliyan Foreign Policy administration. I am not claiming this to be the ultimate understanding, but this is what I have come to understand from my own readings.

Foreign Policy in Kautilyan Arthashastra



Many people tend to give Dandniti the central place in Kautilya's policies of governance. This is, however, untrue. Kautilya was a sane, moderate and balanced policymaker and "Prudence" is the central theme of his treatise. Let us see how he elaborated on the Foreign Policy.

Objective:

Sama Vyayamau Yogakshemayoryonih(6.2.1)

To indulge in a noble exercise (Sama Vyayamau) that will bring advancement and enjoyment of fruit of labour to the people of the state (Yogakshemayoryonih). Conversely, any exercise that brings advancement and enjoyment of fruit of labour to the people of the state must be considered a noble endeavor.

Important Character: Vijigishu

In Kautilya Arthashastra, Vijigishu is a kind of king who is outward looking with a desire to have a control or an upper hand in inter-state relationships in order to not only have a greater personal influence but also to have benefits accrued for the advancement of his nation and its subjects.

For the sake of ease of understanding and also to relate in a minor way to existing situation of democratic state, we will identify the Vijigishu’s State with Our State. Vijigishu himself will be identified as Us.

Important Background Situations:

1. The constituents of the internal system of the state: Here the seven constituents have been described. Each constituent’s excellences (Book 6) have been disclosed and the ideal situations of the entire system along with the calamities (Book 8) that may befall have been explained in great detail.

The primary idea is that we should run the state well and all the constituents of a state must play their roles properly in order to create an ideal situation. This leads to the advancement of the state which in turn makes the state more powerful. This in turn forms the first principle of a foreign policy.

2. The existing relations with the neighboring states: Twelve different kinds of relationships with other states vis-à-vis Our State have been explained in Book 6 (from 6.2.13 to 6.2.22). This is the basis for the circle of Kings or alternatively the Raj Mandal Theory. This circle or the Mandal may have 3 constituents or upto 12 constituents. It is dependent on our Geopolitical situation.

While all neighboring states may typically be our enemy only one of them will be a natural enemy and, therefore, the staunchest enemy. This Natural enemy and the remaining constituents of the Mandal may act in a way to create the situations for war and peace which in turn will affect the decline, stability and advancement of Our State. This is always in addition to the first factor of ideal working of internal constituents of the state.

This possibility or reality of external influences on the state gives rise to the need for the foreign policy itself.

It also creates the second principle of foreign policy, which is to eliminate the enemy.

3. The power of the state: The power of the state will go through the phases of decline, stability and advancement. This is dependent on the functioning of internal constituents. The internal functioning could be ideal or away from ideal.

Similarly the power of enemy state plays an influential role on the decline, stability and advancement of our state. It may not be possible to be stronger than the enemy all the time over a long term period. In this situation, our state must find allies from within the circle of Kings or the Raj Mandal. Those states that are neighboring our enemy but do not share borders with us will typically be our Natural enemy’s enemy. The Natural enemy being the common enemy, neighbor’s neighbor will be our ally. But such a state must be considered an ally, if and only if, it comes forward to help our state.

This ever-changing situation creates the need for an ally and ally is only judged by his action. This also becomes the third principle of foreign policy.

With this background and the use of wisdom and Dharm, we arrive at six principles of Foreign Policy:
1. The King shall always develop his state through its constituents to make the state powerful and the conditions favorable for advancement.
2. The Enemy of the State should always be eliminated
3. Those who help Our State are our Allies
4. We should always adopt a prudent course of action. Preventing a situation, that obstructs advancement, from occurring is better than curing it after it has occurred. This is a wise decision.
5. Peace should always be preferred to war. We should only be interested in long term advancement of our state and if it comes through instruments of peace, then so be it.
6. A King’s behavior, in victory and in defeat, must be just. He should always follow the Dharm, His Dharm is the Raj Dharm.

Having understood the need for a Foreign Policy and the principles that we may observe, we reach the operational aspect of ‘How do we implement the Foreign Policy?’. Kautilya gives us six- well thought out measures of Foreign Policy.

Six Measures of Foreign Policy administration

1. Peace
2. War
3. Staying Quiet
4. Marching
5. Seeking Shelter
6. Dual Policy

For those who have followed Arthashastra for a while, it is known that the Arthashastra had been in existence much before Kautilya, and Kautilya Arthashastra is probably the last version. This version stands out also because Kautilya has clearly stated his opposition to the text of the older versions proposed by different teachers. In case of Foreign Policy measures, Vatavyadhi (another teacher who may have given one of the earlier versions) identified only two main measures – War and Peace. According to him the other four measures come from War and Peace itself. (7.1.3-4)

Kautilya disagreed and stated that due to difference in situations that they may be applied, these are actually six different measures. (7.1.5)

However, the six measures have existed as part of foreign policy administration.

Now comes the Power of the state to analyze the situation and judge when each of these measures may be employed. Right medicine is possible when the diagnosis of the ailment is right. In that sense, ability to analyze and judge forms the part of the Power of the State, in addition to resources and size of army.

We will discuss this operational aspect and scenario building in the Part 2.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Religion Based Reservation: Anti-India

India is committing a suicide through a slow poison of reservation, especially the one on the basis of religion.

The supporters of this reservation theory always like to make the Indians forget the episode of partition and creation of Pakistan. Whereas, the fact is that there in lies the answer for why India doesn't need to pursue this self-destructing reservation policy.

Without getting into the exactness of the Muslim demand at the time of freedom struggle, it is a general knowledge that at different points in time various demands for political reservations specifically for Muslim community had been raised by Muslim league, almost as if they are a separate nation by themselves. Whether it was for reservation on the basis of population or later for reservation of Muslim dominated regions, Muslims have continuously endeavored for a sort of social exclusiveness from their Hindu, Christians, Sikh and countrymen from other religion.

It was this demand that was also the reason behind the Two-Nation Theory that finally led to creation of Pakistan.

Lets rewind a little now. Indian National Congress at the time had dealt with the Muslim League and their demands and had almost always come back frustrated. Read almost any note whether of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad or Nehru or any other writer who was a Congressman and was in someway part of those discussions, you will find a similarity of description in the complete outcome of meetings and interactions between INC and Muslim League. Adamant approach of Muslim League and frustration in INC due to obscene demands from Muslim League are evident everywhere.



Map of India Before the Partition

Come 1947, and after lengthy and characteristically frustrating discussions between The Viceroy, INC and Muslim League and agreeing to most of the formulae, INC still had to come to a conclusion to accept the partition that offered Muslim community in India their own country where they could live as they pleased.

The interesting thing here is that after a point the Congress leadership of the time that included eminent politicans like Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was convinced that the demands from Muslims will never cease to end. They will continue in all spheres of life, from politics to personal laws to education and work. They had earned this experience primarily during the Interim Government and by the end of it all were clear that partition may indeed be the only solution. So we lost almost 10 lakh square kilometers of Indian territory to East and West Pakistan.



Map of India in 1947, after partition of Pakistan and Integration of Indian States

The sacrifice of this territory meant that India rejected:

1. The idea of reservation of jobs, educations, territory etc
2. India will treat all its citizens equally in a true nationalistic sense

Surprising thing is that the lessons learnt the hard way then, and the conclusions drawn and acted upon by the forefathers who were Congressmen have been forgotten by the existing members of the same Congress.

The policies that brought about the division of 25% of the Indian territory back in 1947, is being pursued again. We have not learnt to nip in the bud.

Is it not an almost similar demand for reservation for Muslim community in various spheres? Be it education, jobs and now parliamentary democracy.

In response to the passing of Women's Reservation Bill in Rajya Sabha, Asaduddin Owaisi quoted on NDTV 24x7 the figures of Muslim Women in parliament since independence etc. By mentioning this he was asking for specific quota to be mentioned for Muslim Women within the overall reservation of 33% for women.

I have no personal views on Women's Reservation Bill as I have not even read the first page of the said bill, but hearing Mr. Owaisi's comments I wondered if India is meant to be ruled in Silos. Muslims representing Muslims and Hindus representing Hindus and so on and so forth. Is this why India gave away Pakistan to those Muslims who held such a mentality? The Muslim community members that we let go from India into the land called Pakistan, which is, ironically, anything but that was because we never dreamt of Indian community being built on such principles.

If a religious community in India is today asking for political representation through reservations rather than facing an open general election, then it is not wrong to fear that tomorrow they will not shy away from asking for reservation of constituency with domination of Muslim communities. Is this why there are pockets in India that seem to house only Muslim members of the Indian community?

The other argument placed is that the weaker population of India should get a chance to make representation in the Indian parliament. What? There are ample opportunity for Muslims and other "weaker sections" of the society to become stronger because there are reservations in education, jobs etc. Since education is the training ground, one excepts, with certain objections, the idea of reservation in education. Let the weaker section become stronger through education, ideas and self-confidence. But Indian Parliament is no place for weaker sections to gain confidence.

Such confidence and capability should be considered the hygiene factor and, therefore, the minimum qualification for someone entering the Indian Parliament.

Women's Reservation Bill in that sense is a negative provision but if used wisely, smart, educated and energetic women with progressive ideas could be given opportunity to participate in legislature. The idea is to prove the existing talent and potential and not to train people or come and learn how ruling is done or to generate numbers of the people from same community.

In fact, the reservations, on the whole, are quite aimless. Reservations on the basis of Caste and Religious lines are almost completely out of line. A large number of people from certain castes and religious communities that enjoy reservation are neither poor nor uneducated nor lagging behind in social participation. It is time for the Indian Parliamentarians to move in favor of creating reservations on the basis of Socially and Economically challenged classes.

In doing that the govt. will not only create a welfare state, but also get rid of the structures that make India weaker in the long run.

As for Congressmen, I wish they will relook at the learning of our forefathers during the Partition of India, understand that reservation on community lines was rejected for good reasons and immediately put that into practice. They must also understand the fundamental difference between creation of Pakistan and continuation of India with a sizeable Muslim population. If they want to rule India, they must first ensure the existence of India.

For those who might imagine a smell of right wing extremism, I would like to assure that I am perfectly comfortable with secularism. I am comfortable with Sunday masses, Shabads in Gurudwara, five times of Namaz and Morning evening Aartis. I am only against specific appeasement policies of the govt that are aimed at specific communities on the basis of their religion, especially Muslims. Such a behavior gives Muslims a reason to be more Muslim than being Indian. If being more loyal to Islam brings me benefits then I would rather be that then being an Indian.

I will be more happy if govt reserved places for weaker sections of the society because they are socially and economically backward. It doesn't matter whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or anything else.

Forever in favor of stronger India.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It is not an "Intelligence Failure"

Ever since the Kargil days India's Intelligence department has been under a constant scanner and criticism. It has also become an easy punching bag for lousy politicians who simply occupy the chair to feel powerful but do not fulfill the responsibilities in return for the powers given to them.

It is not to say that India's intelligence team is anything at the level of MOSSAD or even CIA. May not be even closer to ISI in terms of external intelligence, but then ISI, in my opinion is the "non-state actor" that the Pakistan Govt. keeps referring to. But Indian Intelligence has improved drastically over a period of time.

When Home Minister P Chidambaram says that there is no intelligence failure, I like to believe that, even if the state CM keeps complaining about the lack of intelligence. May be he is referring to his own intelligence and if it is that, I completely agree with the CM.

On a serious note, Indians need to understand that the security apparatus of the country faces a very strong weakness and that is of "Policy Failure". Here is what may happen when an intelligence is shared with the state machinery. The IB shares information with the PMO, which shares with respective parties and then the police that should be able to act on it is in two minds. The terror suspect, almost invariably, is someone from the muslim community. If the police arrests him on the basis of intelligence reports alone, then the entire community and few human rights groups will stand up and charge the govt. and the police with discrimination because of their religion and also of brutality in the custody. That means Congress and many other muslim favoring parties will stand to lose the votes of the community that brings them to power. Then, few probes will be announced, officers and men from police forces will be suspended and matter will come to a naught. A terror suspect will become free along with an almost understandable immunity from police action against him in the future.

What also makes the matters worse is the physical appearance of these terrorists. We typically assume them to be long bearded, rough-tough sorts. But they turn out to be some next-door-neighbour type, nicely educated doctors, engineers and IT professionals, sometimes even good-looking and a few times they are young girls and women. This makes the police charges absolutely unbelievable because whether we like it or not, we do get affected by the physical appearance of a thing.

In other words, India suffers from the Muslim Appeasement politics of certain political parties and general lack of faith in the govt. and govt. apparatus. The second part is wholly due to the largely corrupt nature of many political leaders.

India needs leadership as well as voters who have the courage to stand up for what is correct and in favor of the country and countrymen. The Congress govt. has to stop this policy of Muslim Appeasement. In fact, they must stop the policy of appeasement in all forms. Appeasement policies like reservation, special arrangements on religious occassions, special personal laws so on and so forth.

Muslim Appeasement is responsible for most of the inaction by the Indian security establishment. I can give examples:

Example no. 1: Intelligence on Sleeper Cells

It is a general knowledge today that we have sleeper cells of terrorists operating in our country. In simple language these are normal, common looking people doing common job like the way any family man does. He could be your neighbour and will have a clean record over the last 20-25 years. His utility to the Jehadi bosses is of that one time contribution, during a specific operation, and if he dies in that operation it has be to be considered as martyrdom. This sleeper cell, which is in the form of a simple family, gets active one final day on which tens or hundreds of lives of innocent Indians may be lost.

This whole story is a common knowledge now. What kind of solution can anyone suggest for a problem like this? These sleeper cells do not speak to their bosses for a very long time. Their conduct may be super clean. There is no way that intelligence agencies are going to be in a position to know which specific family is a sleeper cell of the terrorists. The only way is to have the police interrogate them through different techniques whenever they find something even remotely unconvincing about a suspect. But we ourselves disallow them from doing this.

Example No. 2: Bangladeshi Illegal Immigrants

India has so many Bangladeshi illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. This is a well recognized fact. Security agencies have raised this matter time and again but due to votebank politics of Muslim Appeasement, Congress govts have time and again denied these reports or ignored them in terms of taking action on these reports.

There have been continued skirmishes between BSF and BDR in order to facilitate infiltration of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Political bosses have refrained from taking any specific action against these cases which has weakened the extent of action that BSF is ready to take on this subject. There are estimated to be over 1.5 crore illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India. This is the report of the intelligence but what is the govt. doing? If anything, they are naturalizing these illegal immigrants by putting the onus of proving their citizenship on the Govt of India rather than on the immigrant himself, as is specifically provided under the law. Also, passports are being issued them on loose terms, which is not the case with the actual citizens of the country.

I am afraid that though the Unique Identification Number program is a good thought, the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants will be discreetly regularized as Indian citizens through this program.

Example no. 3: Use of Madarsas

Intelligence agencies have continuously raised the matter of illegal and anti-national activities being taken up at Madarsas. Social organizations have raised continuous doubts about the extreme religious orientation being given to the students too. But when was the last time we heard the govt. taking actions against the madarsas? Congress govt. is shying away from taking any action against these Madarsas as they fear making Muslim community angry by their actions.

Isn't that Muslim Appeasement too. One can go on about the examples and, definitely expect shoddy replies from the govt. defending their inaction or the appeasement policy.

What may the govt. say for such inaction?

They say that they do not have an specific proof of the suspects involvement. Therefore, they cannot take any action against the person.

Well, they will get the "proofs" once they begin the investigation. The intelligence is meant to take on-ground investigation and collect further proof in order to enforce law. Intelligence agencies gather intelligence, not conduct on-ground investigation. Why is this simple thing so hard to understand?

I believe the govt should come out with a clear, secular, nationalist policy and tell the countrymen that it doesn't recognize religious affiliation of any terrorist and directs the religious group to refrain from giving such actions a religious color and also not hamper the investigations as such bodies may be slapped with the charge of conniving with the accused and obstructing the road of justice.

This will be possible through stricter laws like POTA and GUJCOC. Both have been inspired by the MCOCA in Maharashtra. Home Minister should refrain from playing politics over matters of security. He should also disallow his ego from ruling his mind when he gives his advice to the President of India.

Indians can only wish that the Congress govt. will shed the policy of Muslim Appeasement and treat all citizens equally.

Some Khan's are terrorists


I never thought that I will be discussing films in my blog ever. I broke that rule when I saw Rann and I am breaking it again though I haven't seen the film under discussion today - My Name is Khan.

It is the only movie in my memory that was promoted in the fashion that it was. With that first staement from SRK about Pakistani cricketers non-inclusion in IPL it started appearing to me that I was watching James Bond's movie - Tomorrow Never Dies.

As the drama unfolded, I was convinced that it is indeed the real life version of Tomorrow Never Dies.

I may not have seen the movie, but the famous line - My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist - gives a fair impression of the primary theme. The same theme had been shown in SRK's erstwhile favorite production house Yashraj Film's New York.

The movie is primarily aimed at creating sympathy for the muslim community, especially in the aftermath of 9/11. Undoubtedly the world has started talking more openly about the evils of Jehad and the large scale involvement of Muslims in terrorist activities. In order to secure their countries and the lives of their citizens, country after country started treating Muslims with distrust and caution. Both sides are bound to look at it differently. Muslims, all over the world, started complaining of this mistrust as many believe that they don't deserve this since they are clean.

Anyway, back to our issue. In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond comes across Carver Media Group network boss Elliot Carver goes to the extent of trying to cause a war between UK and China in order to promote his news channel in China. In other words, he is ready to create international issues and cause mayhem for personal commercial benefits.

SRK's movie was aimed at Muslims, any muslim in the world would relate to his subject. That was his primary audience. So after he himself didnot buy any Pakistani player for his team Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL, SRK took the opportunity from the fact that no one else did too. He goes to the media and blames IPL management and other teams of having maintained double standard and taking a moral highground on the issue of not a single Pakistani player being bought out in IPL auction. This was on January 25, 2010, (His exact statement was, “They are the champions, they are wonderful but somewhere down the line there is an issue and we can’t deny it. We are known to invite everyone. We should have. If there were any issues, they should have been put on board earlier. Everything can happen respectfully”...."Pakistan is a great neighbour to have. We are great neighbours, They are good neighbours. Let us love each other. Let me be honest. My family is from Pakistan, my father was born there and his family is from there," he added.)

The idea for him may have been to create a favorable image for himself in order to promote his movie in Pakistan. He had gone round the muslim world, especially, to promote his movie, in addition to NASDAQ and Berlin.

But calling Pakistan a good neighbour was going a bit too far. Can you imagine the reaction of people who lost their loved ones in 26/11 or any of the terrorists attacks that are sponsored by Pakistan? Or imagine the reaction to a statement like this of people who have their family members in armed forces, or those who have lost relatives who served in armed forces or those who's relatives are working in the CIOPs areas. No one who loves his country and understands that Pakistan is killing our innocent people over an agenda where India is not even wrong, to start with, will make an insensitive statement of this sort. Media may have ignored and tried to make others also forget this statement by overloading with other info. But this statement is bound to haunt Mr. Khan for a long time to come.

I have no reason to believe that SRK is a foolish businessman or doesn't understand the local political environment and Shiv Sena's interference with any such statement. He knew exactly what he was doing. Mumbai could have contributed Rs.45-50 crores to his kitty. Not a small amount. But he still took a chance on the eve of his film release. He started the ball rolling 3 weeks before the film release. This was his big gamble.

How? Simple, even if he lost Rs.50 crores from exhibiting the movie in Mumbai, in case his matter with Shiv Sena doesn't come to an end, all the ruckus created through unrest in Mumbai would ensure better audience in the Muslim World. That would more than compensate for his losses in Mumbai. The date was also far enough because for Shiv Sena to continue a campaign for three weeks would be a bit much. Especially, if SRK tones himself down as the release date approaches. He followed exactly this strategy in practice.

I have no issue with Film Producers/Actors promoting their films in any way as long as it doesn't create a law & Order situation for the country. This is exactly the situation SRK created willingly to promote MNIK. The areas witnessing protest may have seen small traders and shopkeepers losing business for a few days, all this so that SRK could earn money for himself, few more crores to an already mega empire.

Such selfish men are a burden on the society. They not only create mayhem for personal, selfish gains but also do not repent their action. They find it perfectly suitable.

There is no doubt that media had something to gain from all this mayhem too. So they contributed their two bits to the entire situation.

I am no supporter of Shiv Sena, if anything off late they have become more of a Stupid Sena. But that is no reason for forgiving SRK and his kind for how they use sentiments for their selfish goals, even if it causes violence and could have taken lives of common innocent men.

As for the message of the film, I think while a part of it is true that all muslims are not terrorists, it doesn't give a sensible solution to the problem that an entire world is facing.

When educated muslim youth like doctors and IT professionals and engineers, who look perfectly innocent are involved with heinous crimes of terror and proofs of the same are coming in every single case, how can the civil society segregate between law abiding citizens and terror suspects?

Countless innocent people are dying across the world due to such incidents and they have every legitimate reason to be cautious and extra-cautious, if need be, to protect the lives of their innocent citizens. If the govts. were not doing even this bit, there is going to be complete anarchy. Common citizens do not maintain a non-governmental security establishment like the terrorist organizations do. The govt. better do something and something drastic to deal with such situations.

What Mr. Khan has had to say is not the answer to the problems faced by the world due to a considerable size of Muslim population taking to terror in order to achieve their ambiguous objectives.

This message from this movie will add to further appeasement of muslim community in a country like India where votebank politics is at its worse.

The effect of such immoral political strategies has caused a major security hazard to this nation. In the recent case of Pune Blasts, I completely agree with Mr. Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister, when he says that there is no intelligence failure.

Politicians cannot hide behind Intelligence failure sort of lame excuse everytime. The fact of the matter is that the govt. has all the intelligence it needs to take corrective action, it doesn't have the will to take action. They are worried at two levels:
1. They might anger their votebank if they arrest terror suspects on the basis of intelligence report
2. Human rights activists will mushroom everywhere because the crime is yet to be committed, preventive measures have this loophole.

In such a weak position that India finds itself, the message Mr. Khan has tried to give is wholly undue. I would have been a lot happier had Mr. Khan taken the pain to create a movie that urged muslims to participate with the rest of the world in fighting terror and terrorists. Security agencies and country will get so much relief if muslims start sharing information on suspected activities of specific individuals and not accuse govt of atrocities when there have been none. Recent Shopian rape case and statement of Mohsin Choudhary's mother in Pune Blast case is a good example of what is not in favor of the country's interest.

Its time that actors start using there influence for constructive purposes especially when they are trying to address strategic issues.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rann - My Perspective


When I watched Rann on Sunday, and saw the plot unfold, not only did I find myself forgiving Raam Gopal Varma for his Aag and the faux pas immediately after the 26/11, but also thanking him for bringing out few important and urgent issues in front of the public.

What were these important and urgent issues?
1. Media is sold to some very dirty politicians
2. Truth behind major events and involvement of politicians for their own personal agendas
3. Size of the financial scams taking place in the country and complete possibility of involvement of high offices (including PMO). It has always been difficult for common men to accept the scam figures running into thousands of crores. But then its an unprovable fact.

Many may have seen and forgotten the movie, some would have raved about it for few days and few would have understood the meaning of this movie. This is the real dirty truth of India and its high and mighty.

I also came out of the movie with my own take on subjects.

1. Prime Minister Digvijay Hooda: Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the best PM India had after Shri. Lal Bahadur Shastry. The only fresh breath that I have seen Indians refer to cutting across party lines.
2. The anti-Terror Bill: POTA, undoubtedly
3. Mohan Pandey: Looked more like Laloo Prasad Yadav to me, but could have been any old hand of Congress. Typically, sluggish, uninterested in national interest, clueless about burning issues and how to handle them and yet determined to be the PM of the country. Ready to do anything to realize that dream.
4. Harshvardhan Malik: Is it Dr. Prannoy Roy? Afterall, NDTV was a loss making unit all this while and yet launched channels after channels.
5. Jai Malik: Also, Dr. Roy? Compromised form since Channel is a lossmaker.
6. India 24x7 = NDTV 24x7
7. Amrish Kakkar: Looks almost like Rajdeep Sardesai. ex-employee of NDTV. Running the no.1 channel. He did that CD trick with BJP during the Confidence Motion in July 2008. After promising to expose Amar Singh and taking the CD from BJP he back-tracked at the last moment.
8. Naveen Shankhalya: One of the Ambani bros.
9. Purab Shastry is the common man's hope from the media and journalism.
10. Anand Prakash Trivedi was representation of most of the news presenters, esp the crime reporters and those from India TV.

Of course, it just my imagination of things because I connected some real life issues with the reel life characters. Anyway, these characters are not as important as the real life situation, which is surely true.

I have a firm belief that while there are some very corrupt newsmen, who have secured funding from some very powerful politicians, and therefore, have become popular, there are also those journalists as depicted by Riteish Deshmukh.

I wonder if influential Indians are ready to bring these honest, hardworking, sharp-minded and focussed journalist to prominence by creating channels and newspapers that provide some real, unbiased news to common men.

Also, there is a need for the journalists to make some disclosures while reporting. Financial analysts across the capitalist world have to do this when coming on media. This disclosure will tell the viewers and readers which camp's story they are listening to.

Look forward to a new revolution leading to evolution of media in India.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hind desh ke nivasi, sabhi jan ek hain


The statement by RSS Sarsanghachalak is bold and characteristic. I, for one, am with Shri. Mohan Bhagwat. Wish this statement was made back in 2008 when the goons of MNS were let loose on helpless north-Indians in Mumbai.

It was also shameful to see that Shiv-Sena, our ally in Maharashtra, was begging for a footage in such a dirty, unwanted and desperate scene.

May be it was the compulsion of electoral politics that BJP kept quiet. Afterall, General election 2009 were not very far away and to have a break-up in the alliance at such a time needed courage. Simply put, no one mustered it then.

However, better late than never. I am happy and satisfied to see RSS and BJP coming clean on this account, finally.

More interesting is the tone of the statement. It simply makes it a moral duty for all elements of the Sangh Parivaar to stand by the helpless north Indians in Maharashtra, should Shiv-Sena or MNS goons stand-up to beat them in public.

I am sure, over the next few days, BJP will come out with a detailed policy on this subject and this clarity will allow the party to prepare a future roadmap with a sharper focus on priorities.

However, I am appalled at the intellectually, morally and courage-wise bankrupt Congress running helter-skelter and going to the extent of doubting the sincerity of such a decision. All said and done, RSS is not known to make frivolous comments, the way the current bunch of Congress spokespersons do.

Lets look at what Congress govt. in Maharashtra, as well as the Centre, did to control the violence that erupted due to this issue. They just issued an ineffective GAG order. That useless order didn't stop Raj Thackeray from speaking his mind and his goons from perpetrating terror on poor north-Indians. Congress had an entire govt. law and order machinery at their disposal and all of it seemed defunct.

Raj Thackeray has so many summons from various courts in different states, and he has cared two hoots for these judicial calls. He's clear that he's not submitting and the Congress govt. at the centre and the state doesn't wish to correct this aberration.

The govt. even went to the extent of trying to impose a law, making it mandatory for taxi drivers to know Marathi before they get permission to operate. Ridiculous.

Keeping this shoddy track record of handling the matter of anti-north Indian slant, Congress should just keep its faltering mouth shut.

The Bold Mr. Bhagwat

Mr. Bhagwat has also reminded the nation about its oneness, of its territorial integrity and the administrative compulsion for creating states.

I am reminded of that interesting video on Doordarshan, made by Films Division of India, which was in heavy circulation back in early or mid-80s. I was a small kid then and often sang this song. Interestingly, this short film was made by a Maharashtrian by the name of Vijaya Mule. Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK_TnmNJqao

I am sure that this new statement by Mr. Bhagwat will inspire the correct line of thought amongst the Maharashtrian masses and will defeat forces that seek to divide the country on linguistic, religious and casteist lines. It should give moral strength to all Indians to defend the integrity of India.

However, as a true Indian we will also do good to remember that the regional identities do exist. But these have to be harmoniously united with the National Identity. I had posted my views on this subject in an earlier post. For those, who want to read further: http://thinkers-pad.blogspot.com/2010/01/jai-maharashtra-differing-perspective.html

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

IC 814 - A Panic-button for National Policy not Politics


It's ten years since that very unfortunate event of IC-814 getting hijacked. What a drama that followed. Much water has flown under the bridge since then. The matter still remains alive though, not as a matter of Policy making but as a matter of politics.

One must remember that hostage crises of such magnitude are a double edged sword and we will bleed either ways, when faced with such situations. Question is what do we want to bleed for - Love for our citizens or hate for the terrorists.

The IC-814 matter was resolved through an all-party meeting decision which unanimously decided to save the innocent citizens against the other alternative of not letting out the terrorists who were demanded to be released.

I look at it as a matter of choosing love for our countrymen over the hate and despise for the terrorists and their activities. It could have been a national doctrine, a policy of the country to be followed, as far as possible, when faced with such hostage situations.

When BJP-led NDA executed the decision taken unanimously at the all-party meeting, little did they know that Congress was looking forward to rejoicing the dirty political opportunity this national tragedy had thrown open. Any well-thinking man knows that decision on either side of the available alternatives is going to bring disaster one way or the other. This event shouldn't have happened at the first place, but that it had happened was surely not any well-meaning Indian or politician's choice just like 26/11 didn't happen by choice. It happened through a chance the terrorists got because of lack of proper security measures in the system.

But to try and make political gains out of the matter was the work of a wicked and desperate mind. Only a mind wanting of arguments to hurt BJP's track record on security of the nation will use such a lowly instance for political gains.

It also marks a loss of an opportunity and, even today, a need for a National Policy against such unfortunate incidents. The politicising of this matter has confused the Indians over what should be India's response to such hostage crises in future. Should we save our people or nail the terrorists even if our innocent civilians die.

That a policy wasn't framed and politicising this matter by Congress has added to the confusion in our National Response is even more unfortunate than the instances themselves. It has caused the decision makers to tread too carefully when responding to such situations. Every decision maker will hope that he doesn't get nailed for taking a call one way or the other.

Destiny gave another opportunity to India to address this issue in the form of 26/11. While in action we were doing essentially the same thing as we did in IC-814 case, which is Salvaging and saving the lives of our innocent civilians, the polticising of IC-814 matter continued through Congress offices in order to divert the nation's attention from the 26/11 disaster.

BJP shouldn't be embarassed at all about its decision on IC-814. Some leaders who have in the past distanced themselves from the decision in the last few years must think carefully.

While Congress was busy fooling the country by raking up the issue of IC-814, India was losing another chance to give a guideline to its policymakers on how they should respond to these situations. Of course not every hostage situation may require the use of such a policy and the prevailing ground situation will decide the plan of action on the day, but we need to define what happens when someone presses that panic-button.

Sometimes, I think Congress would not want the nation to be clear on our National Response to Hostage situations as, invariably, there is going to be a larger consensus for saving the citizens. And, if that gets enshrined as our National Policy then Congress will lose their cheap tool of showing down BJP on the unfortunate matter of IC-814.

This nation can only hope that the better sense prevails on Congress and they allow for defining of action whenever a panic-button is pressed during hostage situations. I also hope that senior BJP leaders introduce a bill on such a subject at the earliest.