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.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jai Maharashtra - A Differing Perspective

Jai Maharashtra is a matter of pride for Maharashtrians and apparent discomfort for many non-Maharashtrians living in Maharashtra. Of course, the non-Maharashtrians rant it along whenever a situation of the sort arises but purely because they do not want to get into any squabbles with the local goons who refuse to indulge in any dignified discussion and have the least tolerance for a differing view. They simply get into a high-decibel drama and apply brute force. That doesn't mean it creates any more respect in the mind of the person being attacked, rather things become more a matter of going-through-the-motions, whatever goodwill the person had for the issue gets jumbled in the emotions arising out of being man-handled and so, the respect goes down the flush.

Does that mean it shouldn't be Jai Maharashtra anymore? Not at all. Maharashtra is not the property of these goons. But the more dignified mass of Maharashtrian society needs to stand up against this sad and sorry portrayal of Maharashtrian Asmita.

I am very sure that MNS and SS goons will not find it easy to assault physically such Maharashtrians.

Some may ask, "But Why Jai Maharashtra?". I ask, "Why not?". Every citizen should be proud of his inherited cultural background, provided he knows what that background is. He should then be motivated to contribute similarly towards the constructive nation building process.

Some may say, "That's regionalism.". Yes, it is. And Regionalism proposed to motivate people to feel the self-respect and contribute to the society in a constructive manner is not at all bad.

People do compare nationalism with fascism and nazism, giving rich accounts of Hitler's misdeeds on such a premise. I think thats not right at all to start with. When a fool gets the power in his hand, he can make an ass of any idea. Look at Democracy in India. Its not really much different. Voters are only trying to salvage things within the democratic tradition because that also appears to be the best tool allowing representation for the masses.

Too much of anything is bad, so they say. A concept of loving your own nation by hating others is not nationalism. Nationalism has a pre-occupation with our own nation and not with others. It is about behaving like any self-respecting man would and there's no self-respect in disrespecting others. It is about understanding your true past, the philosophy and the deeds that our ancestors did which are worthy of quotation to the new generation to motivate them to follow the footsteps and take that contribution forward through contructive means allowing for adaptation to new times, respecting the new emerging society and its needs.

India being a federal structure, must start recognizing the regional aspirations along with the national aspirations. Contribution to national goals will come from the various regions and those regions should find self-expression as part of the national culture. Nation cannot ask the people to forget what they are and have been. Its like taking away their identity. How do we expect a person to behave normally and contribute positively when he's completely confused about who he is?

When Pt. Nehru gave the slogan of 'Unity in Diversity' he clearly recognised the diversity first and emphasised on the need for unity without having to forego the diverse nature of Indian society.

But that diversity cannot be stated through violence as is the means chosen by MNS and SS.

A very large percentage of locals do not know their past with much clarity. They are unable to summarise the philosophy that guided the actions of greats like Shivaji Maharaj. For most of them, Shivaji is the beginning of Maharashtrian History. Many don't even know when the term Maharattha (Pali for Maharashtra) was first used. So, they hardly realise that Maharattha Pradesh was in existence even during the time of Ashoka the Great. Maratha is the changed form for Maharatthaa, the name for people who belong to Maharattha Pradesh.

All this has happened due to a culture of not respecting our history. By giving significance only to current affairs, today's requirements of our lives etc. and socially supporting it has caused the people to forget or never know what their ancestors stood for. In this loss of true identity, people display fake regionalism and nationalism. And this lack of knowledge takes away the self-confidence, which would have otherwise kept them focussed on delivering positively, and leads them to use brute force to assert and make others accept their point of view.

The lack of respect for our history coupled with lack of moral science has led this nation to create a band in this society that sets no limitations in their social behaviour. It has affected their ability to discriminate objectively between available alternatives to solve specific problems and more often than not we see vested interests, biases etc. guiding their decisions thereby harming others in short-term and themselves in long-term. Aspiring leaders are unable to open their eyes to ways in which everyone's interests are taken care of. We called this positive behaviour "bahujan hitay, bahujan sukhay" in the past.

What the proponents of regionalism and even nationalism must be concerned about is the quality of thought amongst the public.

1. Are the people thinking individualistically or are they thinking socially?
2. Do they really, in action, believe that good of the society will bring the good for the individual or do they think the reverse is true?
3. Do they seem more proficient in the matters of page 3 or do they seem to have a grasp of what kind of policies are being formed?
4. Amongst the below poverty line category, do they know the problems that plague them and ask the govt. for solutions to that or do they blame their problems on reasons that have no consequences on their current economic status?
5. Does the conversation they indulge in show a sign of solid self-confidence or do they want to grow on the back of reservations?

One can go on and on adding various questions to this list. We can also produce a list of questions that such leaders must pose to themselves.

1. Do they clearly understand their own role as a leader and a policymaker?
2. Do they understand the role of policymaking in the governance of the people?
3. Do they feel answerable only for the bunch of people they represent or are they able to grow out of that mould and add the entire nation to this list?
4. Are they able to grasp the needs of the people and is their policy making going in accordance with these needs?
5. Are they able to create a self-confident society?

They also have to be clear that having agreed to be a part of this federal structure called India, the national aspiration must take precedence over the regional aspiration. Regional aspirations that undermine the national aspiration will create an unwelcome imbalance and will always meet with strong social opposition.

In the population of 1.2bn we will find all shades. What leaders need to focus on is the shades that don't seem to be on the same page as the national and the regional aspiration.

I must also point out at this stage that these "isms" are being discussed on this blog only because I believe that these "isms" have the potential to unlock the true potential of Indian youth. The potential will be unlocked when our youngsters are full of self-confidence and don't feel the need to cut someone else's line to make their own line look longer. They will have the patience to let there line grow on the basis of their own capability and nothing less will give them the satisfaction of an achievement. If this task is possible in our country without these "isms", then so be it. The objective of these ideologies is more important than the ideology itself.

However, for now, I believe that Nationalism and Regionalism are important as history is not wanting of cases where leaders not keeping the nation first have always brought despair to its people. But that is a much longer discussion, which we will get into some other day.

Till then, Jai Maharashtra, Jai Bharat.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jharkhand - State ka Adesh

I must admit that for a few days after the announcement that BJP and JMM are getting together to form a government, I was pretty confused on how to react.

The very first reaction was of opposition to any such idea. How can BJP which had raised a bugle against Shibu Soren shake hands with him? Why can't BJP senior leaders let go of this short term gain over a long term vision? And many other questions which were certainly the first rise of thought when the name of Shibu Soren got attached with the name of Bharatiya Janata Party.

I did have the impulse to write a piece of my mind and circulate it to whoever cares to read. But somehow that didn't seem to be a good decision so it never happened. I gave myself some more time to figure out the logic for a call like this.

As I see more and more of this issue, I realise that it was not BJP's choice, it was the compulsion that the voters have created.

Out of 81 seats BJP and allies have 20 seats only, Shibu Soren's JMM comes second with 18 seats, Congress stood at 14 seats and, their pre-poll ally, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha at 11 seats. The polls had thrown a wierd statistics at these parties. India Today has reviewed this situation very well and the link to their article is attached to this post.

Politicial parties had little choice. Congress tried partnering with Shibu Soren but couldn't go ahead because Soren wanted to lead the front. BJP, through their decision, has made it clear that they respect the mandate of the people and if the circumstances do not allow for a BJP Chief Minister, then so be it. At least stay in the govt. and do some good things so that next election brings in better results.

I think if BJP wants to come to power in Delhi, it has to allow more and more of its party members to learn the habits of being in power and acting responsibly when they get it. This strategy looks more consistent with its objective of coming to power and govern this nation on the basis of its vision for India. BJP needs to start ignoring suggestion of sitting on the opposition benches. If it is targetting Treasury benches then that's what it must head for.

People will always point fingers and raise debates on BJP's moral standing. But the debate is wrong to start with. If people of Jharkhand didn't want to see Soren, then they shouldn't have brought in JMM into the Legislative Assembly with 18 MLAs. Nobody could have formed a government without Soren anyway.

I like to think that BJP has done a smart thing. It has avoided wasting time on unnecessary discussion and debate on morality of such a decision. Its moral enough for it to have respected the democratic traditions and in spite of openly criticising and attacking Soren in public, they have set those differences aside and allowed the formation of the new government. I will be happy to see someone place arguments in opposition to this logic.

No doubt that by supporting JMM govt. and partnering Soren, BJP has put itself in a challenging position. Critics and Congress may have a field day, every day that this government survives. So its up to BJP to decide what's negotiable and what's not, in the governance of Jharkhand. BJP cannot idle its time away while in this govt. Soren may be the Chief Minister, but BJP is the backbone of this government. It is certainly a senior partner of sorts. It has ruled Jharkhand for 6 out of 9 years of it's existence whereas JMM and Shibu Soren have done it for a mere 10 days.

If I may take the opportunity to list out what I think should be BJP priority while they share power with JMM in Jharkhand, it should be following.

1. Make the governance of Jharkhand the most transparent thing in this country. People believe that Soren is out to rape the state by indulging in rampant corruption. BJP has to ensure that no such nonsense is possible if they want BJP's support. Every contract, order, administrative work should become transparent enough for a common man to have the faith that BJP can safeguard the interest of the state. BJP's allegiance is to the people and not JMM.

2. Push for major initiatives of infrastructure and other initiatives. May be take a leaf or two from Mr. Modi's book, as BJP President Mr. Gadkari suggests.

3. Ensure proper implementation of initiatives instead of behaving like Pt. Nehru, who was known to just delegate the job and forget about it. NDA's habit of advertising progress of Golden Quadrilateral and other projects of national interest was a good one. Not only does that keep all stakeholders informed, it charges the atmosphere. People always know that things are happening.

4. Do something about the Naxaliites. At least modrnize the Jharkhand Police through more recruitment, better training, sophisticated weapons and surveillance devices and high morale.

5. Use this position for only the long term gains. If visible changes are made and people are informed well about BJP's role, and this good work is coordinated well with the Jharkhand BJP's recruitment drive, then who can stop BJP from becoming the strongest political organization.

Away from all this, the Party needs to create a mechanism to stem the growth of dissatisfied party men. Mr. Babulal Marandi's party winning 11 seats is a very good example of what dissatisfied partymen and internal "dirty" politics can do to BJP.

All the above is of course easier said then done. But let's at least start in that direction.

Best of luck to Jharkhand BJP.