Article 370! Common Man’s View!

On 5th August 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind issued a constitutional order revoking the 1954 order, and making all the provisions of the Indian constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir void. Following the resolutions passed in both the Houses of Parliament, he issued a further order on 6th  August declaring all the clauses of Article 370 to be inoperative.  

To me, as a layman, 15th August 1947, 26th January 1950 and 5th August 2019 are the dates of equal importance. My thoughts are without any political views and prejudices. Who did it? Which party took the decision, to me is immaterial. I have been reading about the situation in Kashmir since childhood. As the world in my youth, the people who were involved in the issue were naïve. The naivety kept the problems below the boiling point most of the times. Except for a few serious incidents, nothing major happened, till 1989. The situation started changing after the 1971 war with Pakistan. Ninety thousand plus Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the Indian army in Bangla Desh 

It was the first golden opportunity for a strong leader Indira Gandhi to repeal article 370. She could have done this change in exchange for the return of POW’s. But in those days, India’s finances were not very strong. India’s stature in the global arena was not very high. It is said that Nehru followed the doctrine of NAM (non-alignment movement) by remaining out of groups formed by the USA or Russia. The analysts of those times said that this was done to win Nobel Prize for peace! But post-1965 and 1971 wars, India realised the folly of NAM and joined hands with Russia. The fall of the Russian Empire later led to India slowly switching over to the American group. The last twenty years has made India economically powerful. Adding to this, India got a strong leadership in the form of Mr Modi.  

Countries world over started looking at India as a stable country (though it was accepted reluctantly by some countries). While these changes were happening, our friends Pakistan went in reverse gear. Their leadership had only one agenda that is how to trouble India. They started with supporting the Khalistan movement. India handled the situation assiduously. International relations with other countries were handled with great aplomb. The world supported India in handling the Khalistan issue. Under the leadership of Director General K P S Gill India crushed the Khalistan movement in Punjab. 

Whenever the infiltrations happened or terrorists attackedit was being discussed until 4th August, as terrorists attacked so and so place in Jammu and Kashmir. (Some even wrote Indian occupied Kashmir) The narration always talked of Kashmir. But friends, from 5th August the narrative will be terrorists attacked so and so place in the Indian state of Kashmir! Now the attack will be on India and not on disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. The article 370 helped some nations to always refer to the region “disputed region of Kashmir”. The narrative has now changed for good; incidents, if any, will be in the Indian state of Kashmir! The events of 5th August are game-changing events. 

There could be different views about the Indian government’s action on article 370.  Some people feel that the procedures followed were incorrect.  Others think that the move may not stand the legalities in the court of law. Some are discussing the illegality of the action itself. In today’s world, anything and everything is challenged by differing opinions and views. It is because each individual, each organisation or each country needs to decide what is right for them. Perspectives in the international arena are many a time diagonally opposite to each other’s views. Why India delayed this decision for 70  years is anybody’s guess. But I felt that India needed leader with total clarity about world affairs to take such a bold decision. The resounding victory in recently held elections helped the matter for the current government. Though there was no majority in Rajya Sabha, the bill was first introduced there. Modi-Shah had absolute clarity that this step would be supported by even opposition parties, barring a few. 

There is an attack on freedom of the press, and people’s voices are muzzled; opinion of people of Jammu and Kashmir was not taken on the matter. These comments are genuine if taken out context. The context is when 5th August dawned, the people making such comments had forgotten the previous 70 years. What had the article 370 achieved for Kashmiris?

Three main achievements of article 370 were that it helped Pakistan to create vicious separatist atmosphere and continuously send terrorists in India. It created a situation where religious cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits was done systematically. It forced India to keep a large number of armed forces permanently, leading to some coercive actions from them. From 5th August onward, point 1 and 2 will change for better  but 3 might become worse before tapering off.

It was used more cunningly by Pakistan by continuing with proxy war when they could. Another issue with the Kashmir problem is hyphenation. It was always said to be Jammu-Kashmir issue. But the issue was more about four or five districts in Kashmir valley rather than in Jammu or other parts of Kashmir. Another point was Ladakh also came to be dragged because of the geography of that area.  

The central government was transferring a huge sums to Jammu-Kashmir area every year. Kashmir always got the lion’s share because it cried loudly. People from Jammu had to fight for the development money but managed to get it as their population was substantial. Area of Ladakh is enormous, but since it has a small population, it always lost on funds. Ladakh’s MP Namgyal put this point succinctly during his recent speech in Lok Sabha when the discussion on article 370 took place. Declaring Ladakh as a separate Union Territory was well thought of act.  

All said and done, will this be a smooth ride? No, it will not be a smooth ride. How people will react to this action only time can tell. The Indian government was managing the issue for 70 years within certain limitations. Now it can use the carrot and stick policy which could be under more control. There are such regions all over the world. The Kashmir issue was born due to the actions taken by the British rulers when they were forced to leave India. When something did not work for seventy years, it was time to at least try something different. I am sure the concerned people have come up with a well thought of policy. There must be plan B and plan C if plan A fails. But these will be under controlled conditions unless Pakistan opts for a nuclear option in desperation.  

I have some thoughts about experts on these issues. For such an important issue, why some of them grind their axe with the current government? Why do they discuss such issues with prejudice? If they are totally against the action of the government, it is perfectly okay. They can write the reasons and argue why they are against this. There is no need for rhetoric and diatribe. India is a democracy, and all of us can write our views. Is such rhetorical reporting going to help anyone other than Pakistan? What Pakistan does is, from such speeches and articles, they pick up some parts out of context and try to show the world that even Indian media is against the action. 

I saw one video where NSA Mr Ajit Doval is asking a young Kashmiri boy, “Are people in Kashmir happy?” Next to him was an old man who says, “Is anyone happy in Kashmir?” The irony of this video is that Mr Doval is protected by Z level security! One thing it proves is that this is not a doctored video! Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh are work in progress! How long? Only time and God can tell.  

 

 

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Wake-up People!

When we are born, we do not know what we are going to do in our lives, most of the times. But some are born, and their destiny is written at the time of birth! Like some are born to become kings and queens, or heir to a business empire, some are born to become Presidents of a political party. Children following their parents footsteps and sometimes parachuting at high positions is a routine phenomenon. It is known that such children listen to the subject discussions at home from childhood, so they are likely to be more mentally ready than other children 

But what is the Dharma of whatever we do in our life? We should try our best to act from the bottom of our heart and true to our ability. But does the world behave this way? People under the garb of modernity, liberal thought, show as if they are giving the yeomen service to the society. But in many cases, it is observed that the denominator is self, to hell with everything else, including the nation.  

During and after the recent election, a lot of discussions were going on about Political Pundits, Experts, Reporters and their ilk. What is the job profile of these people? To my understanding, these people are supposed to be connected with people at ground level, have the feel of what is happening. The ordinary person like you and me are supposed to be enlightened by these Gyanis! But have things happened this way? The answer is an emphatic NO!  

PranUncle

How did things go out of hands? Years back, I had met Mr Pran Chopra, who retired as the chief editor of The Tribune. We met at Naukuchiatal, near Nainital during a holiday. We were together for almost a week, and the insights that we got about the life of reporters and the way newspapers worked in those days were interesting. The gist of what he said was that in whatever they did, the truth and the nation were the two main interests. Everything else was secondary. Now everything is reverse of what Pran uncle mentioned.  

We have been hearing about Luteyns gang or Khan market gang often. But these are not the only people who took this route. At the local level, too, in every state, in every capital, in every significant newspaper, the sycophants and people with selfinterest existed in large numbers. All these people had become blind with their own thought processes, their analysis of the situation and their prediction about the electoral mathematical equations, the usual caste and religion! They forgot about a small thing, the people. People who vote were last on their mind. They were all busy cursing Modi, looking down at NDA and assuming that caste, equations, statelevel bosses were good enough to win the election and form a non-BJP government in Delhi. They appeared to be drunk on their self-judgment. They were so blind to the realities of life that even when exit polls started indicating a resounding victory for NDA, they simply refused to accept the polls. Many said that the lowest numbers shown in a poll were the correct numbers and those too were exaggerated. Reporter after reporter would give his/her theory how finally “Acche Din” (good old days) will come once the current government loses.  

Personally, I am for any leader or a party that tries its best to improve the state of the nation, the society and the people. I really don’t bother if party A is winning or B. All governments, leaders make mistakes, have their quota of blunders. But the government should have the least number of corrupt people. In India, we have seen that the number of schemes that have been floated since independence are the means to make money. The leakage in such programmes was reported to be very high, and only 15% of the money reached the people. The % is very similar to social work done by Rotary Clubs where their social work “achieves” the same success rate! In the case of Rotary, the money is spent on dinners, parties. In one example, the money is blown, and in the other, it is made; but the result is the same.  (Disclaimer- I am NOT a rotarian and this information is shared with me by some resrious rotarians!)

How did such close groups start? In Delhi, you were either an insider or then you were an outsider like Modi. The insiders went to the same schools and colleges like Stephens and Oxford. Everybody knew everybody; either your brother or sister was together in the class, or you were neighbours in Delhi, of course, Lutyens Delhi. Your address could never be Chandani Chowk or Nizamuddin! The coterie was formed, and modern court jesters were born. You got the exclusive news leak and were always the part of the gang of reporters on foreign jaunts on the Prime Minister’s plane. On TV shows or in your weekly columns you wrote and discussed whatever was fed to you; your stomach was too full to challenge anything.   

Of course, some reporters did their job and somehow managed to “break the news”, in spite of the coterie! Such people were challenged and openly called to be working for “interested” groups. But the coterie never bothered to take a look at their own face in the proverbial mirror!  

Why were these people against Modi and BJP? I can understand having a different political viewpoint. But is it possible that anything and everything that is done by a government is wrong? Chidambaram was finance minister in the previous government. He writes an article in Indian Express, every Sunday, discussing how all the steps taken by the government are leading India to the precipice of no return! In the financial world, every decade or so, we get recession, stagnation or sometime stagflation. But this is the part of the natural economic process of correcting itself. The world had the same issue in 2008, and in 2019 the same problem has started. Car sell is plunging by 25%. Instead of talking about the economic cycle, these people start blaming the government as they are now out of favour, out of their “dole” from the government.  

One crucial thing everybody forgot was that everybody’s assumption about the default people in India. Some kept on thinking that default ruling party or an alternate option was Congress; like people thought that default business families were Tatas and Birlas. When Dhirubhai Ambani came and took over, nobody knew. Ambanis turnover is now Rs. One lac crore. Similarly, when Congress got 44 seats in the 2014 elections, the same group thought that it was a matter of time and Congress would be back with a bang. NDA was the new Ambani of the political scene, was never understood by these people.  

But some of the intellectuals have realised their error and have openly started writing about their mistakes of perceptions. Shekhar Gupta, a well-known commentator, has  publicly accepted in the interview below that somehow he was blinded  

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=372025410115387&id=234508140533782 

Meghnad Desai is another person who is bluntly telling Congress about the irrelevance of Rahul Gandhi.  

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/out-of-my-mind-dear-rahul-just-go-5760615/ 

It comes back to the same thinking; a democracy prospers only when there is a good, positive opposition party. Opposition should be constructive. Even today, Congress made a statement that with around 50 MP’s, they can make life miserable for the government in the Loksabha. Is that your narrative? Where does nation come into the picture? Where is the positive intent?  

These changes will happen only when people introspect, (Ashok Chavan has made a statement that Congress lost in Maharashtra because of Vanchit Samaj party ditched them at the last moment, Congress was perfect in what they did), show positive intent, have pragmatic policicies, not just shout the slogans.  

We should learn from the Westminister System followed in Britain by having a shadow cabinet. The Shadow Cabinet or Shadow Ministry is a feature of the Westminster system of government. It consists of a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mirror the positions of each member of the Cabinet. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to scrutinise the policies and actions of the government, as well as to offer an alternative program. The Shadow Cabinet makes up the majority of the Official Opposition frontbench. Is it not a better alternative to stopping work in Loksabha at the drop of a hat? 

 

 

Sequel to Election-nama!

My previous blog was about Election results concerning the path taken by Indian Democracy post-independence! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/status-quo-election-nama/ 

But I could not write more things on the subject, as I limit my blogs to less than certain number of words. For want of a better title, I have given the title to this blog Sequel ….”! I had written about the Khan market gang, Tukde Tukde gang and others who were dead against the Modi regime. Somehow I was very uneasy with their extreme discomfort. Why were these people so uncomfortable? What is the difference between these people and others like you and me? 

I read a blog by Shobha De in Times of India dated 26/5/2019.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/politically-incorrect/how-liberals-living-in-la-la-land-misread-the-asli-hindustani/

She has accepted in the blog that she is from this group of people who thought Modi might just survive or lose the election. ( I feel that gang is too harsh a word). She felt that people like her have now become irrelevant. She has also said that she had hoped that all of them would wake up on 23rd May, the election day, with a big smile on their face. Shobha is one of the very few who have accepted what has happened. 

Some of the reactions from liberals on the election results were

  • Don’t underestimate ‘intelligence’ of voters! They had also voted Hitler, Mugabe, & Marcos to power! They have also voted Trump, Putin & Erdogan to power! 
  • It is a wave; it was always meant to be a wave. The hate wave has gripped India for a while. 
  • I clearly remember 16 May 2014. Everyone was rushing to JNU Students’ Union office to watch the Lok Sabha results. I had a naive belief that @ArvindKejriwal would become PM, that India would reject a mass murderer. That was the first time that I felt like a Muslim in India. 

I have nothing against the different views that people have. One of my closest friends is dead against Modi. I must have discussed election results with at least 50 people known to me. They are all professionals. They have been there and done that! Out of these 50, only one friend was against Modi. But he expected NDA to get 250 seats and he was not against everything by NDA. On the similar basis, I assume that comments above were from a specific group of people, who are in Media, who are in public eye, who had  enjoyed the government jaunts of foreign trips with Prime Ministers and other ministers in “olden days”. (Translated to preModi days). They have also been saying how much Modi is wasting money on foreign trips by taking a jumbo jet with very few advisors; he should travel in a smaller plane! (Translates into reporters don’t get free rides!)  

The 50 people I am talking of are very successful people in life, intelligent, smart and what have you. They were the CEO’s and owners and directors. Does it mean that all these liberals speaking diagonally opposite are better and more intelligent than my friends group? No way.  

Another thing I noticed was the discussion on the exit poll day. On a Marathi channel, there were many reporters as experts. The exit poll figure swung between 237 to 350 for NDA. All the “experts were unanimous in saying that figure would be much less than 237 and could go to as low as 137! It looked as if they wished it to happen. The reporters are supposed to be in touch with the ground realities; they are the knowalls! How can all of them be so wrong? When such vital predictions go wrong, does it affect their performance card? Are they demoted because of such blunder in the forecast? Are they forced to take a salary cut? Such project failures would, in any other job, could lead to people being terminated. I have not read any such news about reporters. 

Reporters, Liberal experts, along with the opposition politicians, have proved one thing during this election that they did not have the pulse of the masses. When they use the word masses, they mean to say, idiots. Other than these groups, no one else  knows what is happening in India.  

I am again quoting from Shobha’s blog because no one else has the guts to accept that they failed to predict the people’s verdict miserably.

The toughest thing people like me — like ‘us’ — have to face up to is our irrelevance. And do so, while keeping that stubborn chin up! Do we have what it takes to look within and find out what changed when we weren’t looking? When were we busy trying to convince ourselves, the past five years were nothing but an aberration? How wrong we were! Not just wrong in our assessment but wrong about virtually everything else! We were clinging on to our nostalgia — our over-romanticised idea of India — while refusing to accept the cold, hard reality that India had changed. It wasn’t even India anymore! It had become Hindustan!  

What by the way was an alternative to Modi? Naidu who could not retain his government? Banerjee whose workers created mayhem during the election campaign? Banerjee who refused to meet the prime minister (as per her- the “Outgoing PM.”) who wanted to discuss what help Central Government could give to cycloneravaged Bengal? Mayawati who asked a question, “If we can have Ram statues all over, what is wrong in having my statues too?Lalu Prasad who is languishing in jail with a 13year jail term. Rahul Gandhi who proved his merit by the Congress score of 0 in 17 states, including losing at Amethi.  This opposition governing us, was the “over-romanticised” idea of the experts!

I will share with you how people think, differently. A family friend, an excellent mathematician, has different views. She said, “It is the pharma and weapon lobby in the world who made sure that Modi, the hawk, won the elections. Modi will make sure that their products will be bought by India as Modi will definitely go to war with Pakistan.” I do not argue with such brilliant ideas.

All these wise, bright, sharp people were hoping to get the alternatives that are mentioned above. Had this group of politicians won the election to form a government in Delhi, where would they take India? Consider each persons expertise, and we can imagine that they would have been squabbling, fighting all the time with each other; each state trying to steal the projects irrespective of  whether they were useful for India. Yes, the foreign jaunts of the reporters in Jumbo jets would have started. Politicians and business people could have continued to try and loot the institutions and banks without fear.  

All the “experts” sit in their ivory towers in Delhi. Has anyone travelled to villages in Assam? Has anyone seen the bloodletting happening in Bengal? Following a few TRP story of Gau Rakshak killers make these people think that these incidents are controlled from Delhi. Yesterday when all channels were showing Modi’s speech, one channel showed breaking news Video of some horrible beatings in MP. I am all for Exposés! But we should not forget that bad things have been always happening in the world.  There is no extraordinary increase in these numbers during Modi’s time.

Social media and TV has its pluses and minuses. When a bad incident is telecast repeatedly for TRP we feel that the world is bad. Same is the case with WA and FB. But what people actually have in their minds will be known only by direct contact with them. So let us hope that the media, the opposition, the gang all learn their lessons and become responsible and thereby more effective.  I also hope that they stay away from their romanticism and live in the real world! Amen!

Status Quo, Election-nama!

Status Quo means the present state of affairs, especially regarding social or political issues. In life, we humans try to avoid change and want the status quo. Such a status quo is what politicians always hope to achieve. When the status quo is maintained, life becomes easy for them to manage. India gained independence in 1947; we were a vast nation with a significant population. British had plundered the national wealth for their benefit. Add to this the partition that created a new nation Pakistan. The Indian nation survived the first fifteen years on the goodwill of millions of Hindu Gods! There were crises after crises which were somehow overcome with the help of the United Nations and other countries like the USA and Russia.

British had left behind the legacy of brown sahib’s in the form of Indian administrative service. The charismatic leadership of Nehru took over the reins of running the nation. Majority of people poor and rich, both were awed by Nehru and the ICS/IAS officers and their ilk. After Nehru’s death, with a small break, his daughter took over the Prime Ministership. It was the Dynastic succession, and all others were treated as commoners. Commoners had no chance! Running a Dynastic style strives for the status quo, to hell with India, especially poor and uneducated Bharat. To maintain the status quo, you need sycophants. Suddenly, training schools giving a degree in sycophancy mushroomed! Ironclad administrative infrastructure and the sycophants made sure that the whole country was anaesthetised! Whatever the kings and queens did was accepted without much challenge. Masses were kept uninformed and poor! Those questioning the royalty were steamrolled! A minor spectre of a group of people challenging the Dynasty was a blink on the horizon with a couple of seats in the Loksabha, in early ’80 s!

The nation was on the growth rate of around 2%, which many called as Hindu Growth rate! In 1992, India had to take significant loans against the national gold reserves. We were forced to improve laws to make the atmosphere business friendly. After a gap of a few years, the Dynasty again took over as if the nation was bereft of competent and capable leaders. The dynastic grip led to the birth of influential regional leaders. The era of coalition governments had started. Still, the status quo was primarily maintained by the rulers with license raj and coterie of prominent businesspeople. Nation had started growing at a faster pace from 2% to 7%. The more rapid growth was the result of changes in laws and the birth of the IT industry where Indians showed a flair to shine! The world started to notice India and many multinational companies started coming to India. Still, the dynasty rule by proxy came back with a break of five years. While they ruled, the status quo was maintained. But during their latest, ten-year stint, many scandals and financial irregularities came out. The scandals finally broke the stranglehold of the family, and the current government came in power. But this new government was the culmination of the spectre that was seen as a blink in early ’80 s of the last century. Modi took over as the prime minister in 2014.

It became evident that the new government wanted to do things differently to change the way of people’s approach. They wanted more participation from people; they did many things to bring back the anesthetised population to senses. But dynasts and their coterie treated this victory as beginners luck. They were a bit stunned with the idea that a non-Delhi person with no propah English accent became the prime minister. This person was neither Oxford-educated nor was he from a great family lineage. The rulers of India have to be Oxford/Harvard guys as they had to handle the IAS led infrastructure. The administrative gang was one group which knew that once they came out of Mussoorie school, they were the kings! No one in this world could touch them except for transferring them. How can a senior bureaucrat be expected to reach his office every day at nine am and swipe his card? On top of this, there were stories that their team of servants was likely to be eliminated. Please read the article below on the subject.

https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/modi-government-lok-sabha-elections-2019-indian-bureaucracy-ias

Combination of status quo raj and relaxed approach to administration was one of the primary reasons India was able to continue with large scale corruption, loan frauds which remained hidden due to quid pro quo approach by business people and administrators/bankers. The group of dynasts and administrators was complimented by the creation of a group of media gang which is now infamously known as Khan market gang. Khan market gang supported the dynasty and their coterie irrespective of results of their work.

Along with the new government came up another group, which came to be known as “Tukde, Tukde gang”, came to the fore! This gang was leftist, liberal and generally sympathised with anything that was done against the government, including armed rebellion. Showing support to proven terrorist was their specialisation. This gang was not afraid to go to jail. In real life, they were perpetual postgraduate or doctoral students. They got free publicity from the media all the time. Their main aim was to keep turmoil boiling, under the guise of liberal views.

During the current election campaign, all the above were anesthetised into thinking that what Modi government had been doing, was despised by the common man. There was a big hoopla about how the days of the government are numbered. Regional satraps like Naidu, Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and others started behaving as if it was only a question of crossing 23rd May to start taking oath in the new government at the Centre.

They never knew what the population of India was thinking. The highly educated, middle class, poor all were enlightened by the revolution of social media; caste, was not in the equation this time. Caste politics was thrown out of the window. Citadels were flattened, dreams of the above gangs were shattered. Campaigns reached such low levels that the prime minister, the chief ministers and other senior people were openly called thieves. The opposition parties continuously kept on challenging the Supreme Court and Election Commission with frivolous petitions.

The opposition parties had raised the temperature of the system in general. They created hype and started believing it. Rajasthan chief minister had claimed that since Congress had won the state election only six months back, they will win all 25 Loksabha seats in Rajasthan. They lost all!

When the exit poll results started coming out, there were indications that current the BJP government could get 300 plus seats. At one end of the spectrum, the figure was around 240, and at the other end, it was 350. The 350 number predicted by Axis/India Today combination was trolled by saying that they were “sold”. The “knowledgeable” gang of reporters/experts started sharing their knowledge and opinion that these are final days of Modi government. Anaesthesia effect was seen again. In the end, Axis/India Today predictions were vindicated.

Friends, I can keep writing on a lot, on this subject. What I have written is not about parties, candidates, results etc. But I tried to write about how the nation was put out to sleep by a combination of Dynasts, non-flexible bureaucrats and their ancient systems formalised by British, to suit them. Later the team of Liberal, foreign-trained Oxford or Cambridge educated media experts joined the bandwagon. All of them supported the old style, Dynastic style of working and put everybody to sleep. Unfortunately, they also went to sleep and did not know that India had moved on. The opposition simply did not accept these figures. Mamata Banerjee went to the extent of saying, “All this is gossip which I don’t believe. But I am afraid by calculating these extravagant figures, the ruling party will hack EVM’s all over India and cook the figures to match exit polls.”

There is one funny side to hacking theory. Rahul Gandhi lost in Amethi but won in Waynad with the highest margin. Supriya Sule, Pawar’s daughter, won but his nephew lost. Which EVM’s were hacked?

Finally, when they woke up from the deep slumber on 23rd May, 303/353 and 17 times 0 and few times 1 per state were the numbers that became famous! Majority population had woken up, and they have given BJP a mandate to take them on a progressive path for the next five years. I hope that the opposition team also wakes up, pulls up their socks and forms a robust and healthy opposition with constructive politics! Jaihind!

Tango- the Elections!

My friends Nandu suggested I share my views about the Indian elections with others. I am allergic to politics, though I have voted in every election since I became eligible to vote. Maybe I am allergic to politicians! I don’t know; I am confused. Democracy is a necessity of our lives like Roti, Kapda and Makan (Now the latest additions to the need are cell phone and internet!), i.e. Food, Clothing and Home! (For my non-Indian friends!)

Why did I give the title, Tango – the Elections! Meaning of Tango is a ballroom dance originating in Buenos Aires, characterised by marked rhythms and postures and abrupt pauses. In a democracy we expect the ruling and opposition parties to perform the Tango, sharing their views of how to run the country; but our politicians have gone for the last part of the definition, “abrupt pauses”. They take abrupt pauses, change directions, from gentlemanly behaviour switch to use of nonsensical use of language. The attacks this time have become personal, and it appears that there is no end to it! Bad words are used against very senior leaders, Chief Ministers and Prime Ministers. What direction are we taking? There was a verbal diatribe on a lady candidate, below the belt, literally! No pun intended!

When I was in school, India had become independent, and people were thrilled to be allowed to vote. Democracy continues very successfully. (Except for a hitch in 1975) India has adopted electronic voting ahead of all the countries in a big way. We don’t use ballot papers.

I read a story told by Chidanand Rajghatta, TOI US correspondent. He was called in a University to speak about modern election systems in India. At the end of his speech, he was asked to advise the Americans. He said (tongue in cheek), “Outsource elections to India”! There were huge claps all around!

The voting method is where all confusion starts. When parties win elections using the current process, they are ok with the technique. But when they lose the elections, the same method is declared as the vilest system. It gets challenged in the Supreme Court- they have promptly thrown out the petition. Parties catch hold of some engineers who are supporters of that party. These engineers make a big drama of how hacking is simple etc. To overcome such issues, sometime back Election Commission declared a date on which all the parties could come together and prove to EC, how hacking could be done. Not even one political party registered for the event. We make millions of financial, purchasing transactions electronically. Passport system in India is entirely electronic. In India, Visa on arrival is given electronically. But our politicians periodically challenge the electronic process, as an election stunt!

Another issue that is seen this time is the defection from parties. It is on the rise and shows that people are only interested in standing for elections and not working for the party. The usual sprinkling of cine stars is there, and a retired cricketer has also joined the fray.

Another significant change, to worse, is attacking the independent institutions. Decisions given by Election Commission received comments that it is working for the ruling party. Similarly, Supreme Court judgments were twisted to make claims that suit the arguments of the parties. Supreme Court took these people to the task, is a different issue, but such twisted statements waste the time of the Supreme Court.

One state that has galloped ahead of others in “reforms” is West Bengal. Many summers ago, Gopal Krishna Gokhale had said, “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” Bengal is the land of Rabindra Nath Tagore, Swami Vivekanand,  Netaji Subhashchandra Bose; it is the Bhadralok (prosperous and educated people), Calcutta was India’s capital at the time of British in the initial phase. All industries started in Bengal first.

https://indiatoday.app.link/ylVjmRhPKW

The article in India Today tells us about the anarchy in Bengal. It is titled, “How to rig elections, Bengal style”! I will not go into details as the report covers what is happening today in Bengal during this election. It will suffice to say that the Election Commission acted “Suo Moto” or on its own and disallowed election campaign meetings on a day before the last day, to prevent further anarchy. The indication of such a situation was seen for many years. During the change of government last time, there were attacks and murder galore which continued all through. Shifting of Tata Nano factory to Gujarat was the clearcut signal to the powers that be! But they were too busy appeasing their electorate, and god knows who! I hope India does not start thinking like Bengal, in future!

Another first in this election is that none of the experts can predict anything. No waves are seen, no indication is seen from any patterns in voting. The voter is the ultimate God, who does not talk to anyone. As usual, the caste, religion equations are being discussed, but nobody can come to any conclusion. Most crucial conclusion every expert is saying is that an unstable government will bring chaos to India, but it appears that the opposition may not be able to form a stable government.

In large cities like Pune and Bangalore, voting % seems much lower than most other places. These two cities are cosmopolitan, and the migratory population is very high because of the easy availability of work. The community is young, and for both towns, the voting day created a long weekend. People went away on holiday. Plus transient nature did not allow people to change their voting location from their original city to the adopted city. Times of India has started a new slogan, “Let your vote travel with you”! In days of internet and computers, people should be able “to carry their vote” with them to where they are staying. Technologically it is possible, but the Election Commission needs to change its laws and people should be educated to change their thinking. This change can be connected to something straightforward and doable. For example, if you file your IT reruns from a city A, this can be shared with the Election Commission to change your place of voting. It is just a way it can be done, but it is doable.

What can be done about the criminal records of candidates? Our laws need to tighten further. Another observation is that many candidates become very rich in between two elections. Most of these people never go to the office like you and me; they are not known to have businesses, but where does the wealth come from?

I have discussed mainly systems in Indian elections. One more thing that needs to be tackled is why not hold national as well as state elections at the same time. It will save a lot of costs. Last national election cost Rs.3800/ crores i.e. US $ 0.5/ billion, in 2014! We can assume a 20% increase in five years. If both elections are held together, there will be substantial cost savings. But somehow many political parties are against this. Probably this the cost of democracy!

All said and done, warts and all, we all should be proud of the democratic process India is following. Voting this time is done in seven rounds; these many rounds are needed to manage logistics! After all, we have states like Bengal leading the nation!

Election musings!

Dance of democracy is on, and words after words are written, spoken, shouted on TV. People are feeling happy about the largest democracy going through its rights, luckily now every five years! All this is bliss, what more do you want in life.  People are seen debating on TV to enlighten people of what, I am not sure; in the slanging matches you can’t understand what is being said. In public meetings the leaders, the candidates are offering schemes and money. It appears that even funds available with the World Bank may not be able to provide cash to fulfil promises given to people. A billion here and a billion there does it make any difference to the speakers? But one thing is for sure, despite the politicians the nation’s do progress, things change and improve, albeit slowly. Indian growth in the last twenty years has been phenomenal.

What are the feelings in the minds of the people? For those directly involved in politics are excited and are looking forward to winning the election. Why is the win so important? It is the ticket to wealth. Barring a minuscule % of candidates, most are millionaires and billionaires. During the five years after the previous election, the wealth of many of these candidates has galloped. They never seem to work the way all of us work on a day to day basis. The assets jump beyond imagination, but it appears that all are hand in glove; no politician is ever troubled by Income Tax people.

Percentage of people voting does not change much except in a few constituencies. Why does this happen? There are so-called middle class and higher middle-class people who are too busy to vote, and there are people too poor to have time think about elections.

People, in general, look at democracy and the process of justice as if it is a wild animal; they look at it as a mirror where they want to see the reflection of their own eyes, nose and teeth. The picture is not very pretty. Probably it brings a thought in their mind that there is no alternative to the situation and they accept that they get the candidate they deserve. The feeling of desolation comes to their mind after realising that things may never change. Optimism is good, but after seven decades of Indian democracy, it is observed that things are going from bad to worse. The ugly words are used to describe opponents, calling the head of state a thief, calling a senior leader and his family as a family of marauders. My knowledge tells me that Loksabha and Rajya Sabha are the highest bodies in India. The speeches made there and allegations thrown at each other cannot be taken to the court of law. But the statements made in public are equally terrible, but the action taken by election commission is to debar these people from making speeches for a few days during the election rallies!

People go to the voting centre with a frame of mind as they go to any government office; with half the expectation that their name may not be there in the official list. They are in the least bothered if voting is done electronically or using ballot paper. On the voting day, the voter gets up tying his shoelace and hopes that his vote will improve pollution in the city. Though the initial thought that comes to his mind is, from where will he get his next meal? The ideas in the minds of the candidates are when will they be able to get a BMW or a Mercedes after this election. The candidate does not have to worry about improving the condition of the poor; their party has already declared that they will give a dole of a few thousand Rupees in the bank account of the poor. It is a collective responsibility which is conveniently considered as nobody’s responsibility.

Why is this apathy shown? Why the numbers of people voting not to go up? The first significant reason could be errors in creating voter lists. Over a period, the errors have come down, but still, that apprehension of missing names does not go away. Jaya and I have been lucky that we have taken part in each election. In the last election, my name could not be located for a long time when I went to vote. Since we have the same home address and have always been listed together, how could my name got transferred to some other list is still a mystery to me? This time also our names have been found in the list when I did online checking. What can happen at the booth is another story.  Please read my blog on the similar subject written sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/my-voting-rights-were-on-hold-almost/

The second reason is that now a lot of people migrate within India. A person moving from Ahmednagar to Bhatinda does not know anything about local politics and candidates. Such people sometimes do not register themselves in the new place and don’t vote. In the days of the internet, a system can be created where people can have the option to vote at their original location. There will have to be checks and balances. But it is doable. A person’s vote should be able to travel along with the person.

This apathy of not taking part in the democratic process can lead to Brexit like situation. When the referendum was held in Britain, the young people stayed away from voting as they did not realise the meaning of the vote. When Britain voted to come out of the European Union, the young people and not so young people realised the folly of moving out of the EU. Being in the EU means to travel without a visa. There is easy access to around 25 countries in Europe for work and leisure. During our holiday travel to Europe a couple of years back, we have observed the ease with which travel is done. By stopping and checking at borders a tremendous amount of time is wasted. For those who are travelling for work, it is the waste of productive time. But now both Britain and the EU are in great turmoil as the majority in Britain want to remain within the EU. But it is not easy as there are laws and rules in an international relationship where it can not be based on whims.

There are liberals, prestitutes, bhakts. Liberals generally discuss the democracy with a glass of Chivas Regal. I am not sure if they are worried about the conditions of the downtrodden. But they support Naxalites movements and are generally anti-government. When the party in government lose an election, then they become partners with liberals. Prestitutes are “Intellectuals” and sometimes appear as if they are paid by someone to air their views. Somehow, they are anti-common view and anti-majority. There are bhakts present in every party who religiously follow whatever their  “God” will say. All these make for small but loud numbers; substantial numbers go by issues on hand, economy, development, international relations et al. But finally, it comes to a vast number of people who are swayed by money paid against each vote, as their primary need is to come out from jhuggi to at least a brick house. They don’t want the struggle of day to day living problems like power, food, water and sanitation. These are things which you and I take for granted. But will these people go and vote in large numbers if their problems are resolved? Maybe not, they will then treat the election day as a holiday like many people do and start enjoying a free holiday.

Three cheers for democracy!

Please listen to me!

 

arguments4Argumentative Indian is a book by Nobel Prize-winning author, Amartya Sen.

The Argumentative Indian has brought together a selection of writings from Sen that outline the need to understand contemporary India in the light of its long argumentative tradition. The understanding and use of this argumentative tradition are critically important, Sen argues, for the success of India’s democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

So far so good. But do we deserve to be allowed to argue? I have observed that in the public domain sometimes discussions are done for the sake of discussion. The level of such talks has reached the nadir; speakers have literally reached below the belt, pun intended. A male candidate talking about a female opposition member has made a statement, “I never knew that she was wearing a khaki chaddi (underwear) all these days.” Can one make an argument worse than this one?  Unfortunately, such statements are appreciated by their followers; nobody questioned the candidate while he spoke such vile words.

I am all for freedom of speech, but I would never like to live in an emergency like situation, nor would I like to live under a Hitler or a Mussolini. Everybody loves to argue, but it appears that the art of argument is lost at the altar of the new God, social media. The problem is that even in the public domain, the arguments done in Loksabha or Rajyasabha are more about personal attacks on each other from the ruling as well as opposition parties. Logical speeches are a rarity these days.

Another observation is that social media has created world-class commentators, in thousands. Everybody comments on politics, Indian cricket team selection, whether Priyanka Chopda is pregnant or not! Not only that but there are big fights shown on TV under the names like “Big Fight”, and the same gets reflected on WA groups. On Facebook, people write essays about how Modi is wrong or how Rahul Gandhi does not know anything. It is possible that the writer in every person is waking up, thanks to cell phone and easy to use keyboards in all languages.

About political arguments, the older you become rigid are your views. So on WA groups fighting tooth and nail about your point of view does not make sense. I have known of a few cases where childhood relationships became tense because of such arguments. Another important aspect we forget is that it is not worth fighting on issues on which we have no control. People take Alcohol; some like whisky and some like to drink wine. Some are fond of Beer, and some are Vodka fans. Of course, there are some teetotallers. Is it right that teetotaller calls others drunkards? Can teetotallers be called conservatives? Each person has his/her own way of living life; we should respect the views.

I recently read a poem धूप में घोडे पर बहस (Arguments about a Horse) by Kedarnath Singh. It is fascinating to understand how the poet has looked at the word बहस (argument or discussion).

Three friends were sitting in the Sun (must be winter time) discussing a horse. The first one said that the horse is lovely and the second friend added that the horse is sturdy! The third one said that if the horse is so sturdy then we should not even discuss it. The first friend shouted, “What do you mean we can’t discuss”? The second one said, “Of course, we can discuss.” The third friend looked pleased as he blew the cigarette smoke and said, “But where is the horse?” First one said, “So what if the horse is not there, we can always discuss about him.” The second one said, “I have never seen a horse in ages.” The third one said, “The population of horses is reducing fast”. The second one said, “Why is the population reducing?” The first one said, “That is because horses are being sold.” Now it is immaterial which friend said what. Just enjoy the arguments. “Who buys so many horses?” “We can get this number from somewhere!” “Why, why we can not get the numbers?” Then the first one whispered, “God knows what these numbers will reveal?” Finally, the third one shouted as if coming out of a trance, “Friends, one day we will know the correct numbers and the real story will come out.” After this statement, there was pin-drop silence for a long time. How did Kedarnath know that this will be the future quality level of arguments?

Inferior is the quality of arguments that we have on TV channels and social media. Subjects may be essential for discussion, but the treatment and direction given to subjects are abysmal, sometimes the arguments are nasty. The title of the blog “Please listen to me” is ironical. The word please is never used in discussions these days. In public domain people do and say anything to earn some brownie points.

What is an argument? There are many definitions of arguments, but I have chosen a couple of them.

  • a reason given for or against a matter under discussion
  • an angry quarrel or disagreement

The argument is a way of life and is used at home, in business, in education, in research besides many other areas. While arguing both sides are expected to be professional and polite, giving respect to each other. In science, the argument is put forth in trying to prove something new which may be compared with an existing method, process or a product. By arguing, different points of view come forward. The idea is to discuss and find the best possible solution or resolution to issue being discussed. But every time it may not be an issue. When two people from opposing political parties argue, they are putting their thoughts in front of us and are trying to prove how their party or candidate is better than the other.

I feel that the maturity, dignity, and style are more important while arguing. Shouting match starts when nobody has a better argument, or it reflects on that person’s culture! The discussion should be talking about the chosen subject matter and  unparliamentary words should never be used.

In a housing society committee except for the head, all were young people. This head used to shout to prove his points. In the first meeting after I joined the committee, this person started shouting to prove his point. I told him to speak normally, but he argued that his voice was loud. I told him “Sir, learn to speak softly and then speak, otherwise you need not to speak.” After this incident, he never shouted again.

arguments1

Now regarding the arguments/ shouting match on social media, above mentioned rules should be followed more rigidly. The groups that are formed are for a specific reason. The groups can be an alumni group, office groups, ex-office groups, society group, and many more. But all these people come together because of a specific reason. On such groups, one should not make unnecessary political arguments; these are uncalled for and counterproductive. For those who are politically minded, should form a separate group and keep on doing what they feel is right. My observation is that all groups 90 to 95% are not interested in such arguments.

Kedarnath Singhji has found it long back the way people argue. He has explained it in a light-hearted manner. So, let us go by his advice and suggestions, refrain from arguing on social media and if you are in an argument, use the word “Please”! Let me assure you good arguments are fun, and they are enjoyable, if done the right way!