An open letter to Manmohan singh

An open letter to Manmohan singh

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Dear Manmohan Singh,

Or should I say Mr. Ex-Prime Minister Sir!

Congratulations for your 10 year stint at PMO. Congratulations for bringing in some reforms like Right to Information, Right to Employment, Right to Food, Land Acquisition Bill and much debated LokPal Bill for which you’ll never get the credit though. But above all, congratulations for the end of your exile. Congratulations for having some peace.

I can definitely say that I am not the only one who thinks so, given what opposition leader Mr. Arun Jaitley said, “personal integrity was always above board”, “Prime Minister goes out with dignity and grace. He will remain an elder statesman and a man of credibility to guide the nation”. Truly, this can’t be denied.

Surrounded by corrupt ministers, vested with a limited power and lifting the burden of a damn-so-smart prince, your inability to speak on important issues is the only thing the masses of the nation noticed. It can’t be blamed because staying meek for 10 long years was way too much for the country. “Hazaron jawabo se achchi hai khamoshi meri, na jaane kitne sawalo ki aabru rakhe. (My silence is better than a thousand answers, it keeps intact the honour of innumerable questions).”, explains your take on this as well. Your decision of not rocking the Congress boat actually made you a scapegoat and now, you will be blamed for everything that went wrong because Congress has got a long list of people to take credit for everything good ever happened.

You are the best Finance Minister India ever had. Transforming Indian economy from a slow moving snail to a roaring lion, coming up with new economic policy, making sure that it gets implemented is something we all agree with.

When it comes to your stretch as Prime Minister of the nation, though media has said enough about it and a lot of cartoons have already been published but let me differ from that a bit. It was indeed a period which India will look back as a golden era. And I have my reasons for that. At the time of economic crisis, when banks were failing within a single day, India continued to grow above 7% and became the third largest economy on PPP basis.

Rightly said by Obama, you were distinguished, decent and dedicated! You were often criticized for being reticent, perhaps in the times that we live in, being seen and heard has become more important than the act of doing things itself. A standing ovation and emotional farewells from your staff is proof of that.

A personification of humility! A paragon of grace! Someone to look up to!  An exceptional economist! A scholarly thinker! You have served the nation well sir!

Thanks for everything!

 

Heading Towards a Hung Parliament!

Heading Towards a Hung Parliament!

Parliament

A hung Parliament is one in which no party or coalition has an overall majority, which means that no coalition is able to attain half the number of total seats in the parliament which is often referred to as Magic number. In case of India, if UPA, NDA or the third front are not able to attain 272 seats in the upcoming elections, then it will lead to the situation of hung parliament.

The parliamentary system has suffered a rapid decline mainly owing to efforts on the part of our politicians to subvert the system in the name of democracy. Mushrooming of political parties has also resulted in a large scale erosion of political values owing to growth in electoral malpractices. Emergence of regional parties and multi-party system at the centre further in fumigate the problem. These developments are not good either for our democracy or for our growth and development.

Country hasn’t come out of its leadership crisis yet and considering the current scenario, it seems very difficult that any coalition (let alone any single party) will be able to gain majority at the centre. With Nitish still having firm stand against Modi, despite the loud ‘NaMo Namah’ chanting in BJP, they haven’t been able to nominate Modi as their Prime Ministerial candidate. On the other hand, anti-incumbency, inflation and ever increasing corruption in the country have made it difficult for Congress to regain power and run the country for another 5 years. Stand of SP and BSP is always hard to predict but this time they have decided not to play the role of (just) king-makers and both Mulayam and Mayawati are eyeing on Delhi to be their next destination. Even Jayalalithaa is not far behind. The only outcome possible from this situation seems to be a hung parliament.

Power in Hands of Pranab Da!!!

In case of hung parliament, power lies in the hands of President of the country, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. He has the right to invite party of his choice to form the government at the center level. The person who had always dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister of the country can get a chance to play an even bigger role. If Congress tags itself as the Pandavas of Indian political Mahabharata, then Pranab da was definitely Lord Krishna for them and finally he may get chance to prove his worth.

Both the major political parties of the nation are aware of the fact that it will be hard for them or their alliance to reach the magic number in the parliament and hence, they can be seen flattering the President. Each policy of UPA is being passed only after consultation with him. Don’t you think it is too much power already in his hands who is often considered to be rubber stamp in our nation? Moreover, Modi who lashes out his anger on all the leaders of UPA never gets tired of praising the old man in his speeches. Both parties realize how important role he can play if none of them is able to get the majority. With just one year left for the elections, it will be interesting to see what new emerges out of Indian politics and how it shapes up.

Damned if you do, Doomed if you don’t

Damned if you do, Doomed if you don’t

Capital Punishment

9th February 2013 witnessed hanging of Afzal Guru, prime accuse of the attack on Indian Parliament that took place on 13th December 2011 causing a loss of many lives. The ‘said to be’ main conspirator in the Parliament attack case was executed and buried in Tihar jail in secrecy making it second such event within 3 months. Protests by the various sections of the society, curfew in Kashmir, celebrations by the right wing marked a final closure to the case. It has disturbed some and settled others. The situation of the government can be simply described as: Damned if you do, Doomed if you don’t

Marking of another Separatist Movement?

The graveyard of the Tihar Jail where Afzal has been buried houses the body of Maqbool Bhat in the very vicinity. Bhat, executed in 1984, was accused of conducting Pakistan’s military operations in India, recruiting cadre to launch a secessionist movement and robbing a bank intended to raise funds. Though the death of Bhat was ignored by the state, from 1987, as the secessionist movement in Jammu and Kashmir started gaining momentum, Bhat’s political heirs finally began getting a hearing. The anniversary of his execution has been among the biggest events on Kashmir’s secessionist political calendar, commemorative protest marches and strikes. Hence, it’s not very hard to believe that Afzal will also become a rallying point for the separatist movement, drawing a new generation of young people to join the cause.

Curfew, yet again

The event has turned out to be yet another nightmare for the people of Kashmir. With questions being raised over the fair trial of Afzal, the whole valley has been put under curfew following the unease created by his execution. Apart from blocking the highways for public use, authorities have also snapped the internet and mobile services in the valley and restrictions have been imposed on media so that the turmoil can be controlled. Anger outbursts of Kashmiris with Anti-India slogans and violence at many places have disrupted the normal life in the state.

Time to Celebrate?

Just after the execution took place, supporters of Bajrang Dal and VHP were found celebrating on the streets, distributing sweets and bursting firecrackers to mark the victory of the nation over the terrorism. They were witnessed fighting with the Kashmiri students who were protesting against the way Afzal was hanged. But has the war against terrorism ended? Have we knocked down the masterminds behind these terrorist activities? Aren’t we making a mistake again by crushing the puppets when the real devil is still out there, roaming free and wild? Moreover, with our own nation boiling, is it actually a right time to celebrate?

Political Gains Indeed

With the hanging of Afzal Guru, UPA hopes to finally shed its soft image. The decision of the execution comes right before the Parliament session forcing BJP to change its track and putting it on the back foot. It will also help UPA in making some development in the saffron terror cases. Moreover, it has become difficult for the BJP to target Sushil Kumar Shinde over his Hindu terrorist remarks as he had taken an active role in the decision of execution of Guru and has cleared the stand of the UPA-led government against any type of terrorism in the country. It will also help UPA counter Modi, who was seeking a muscular action against terrorism.

Vengeance or Justice?

Execution of Guru triggers the debate of capital punishment once again. There were no protests seen in the country when Kasab was hanged. Being a Pakistan’s nationalist, involved in the firing himself didn’t have the support of Indian public but in case of Guru, who surrendered himself after the parliament attack and whose family is still awaiting his body, the question of validation of death penalty rises again. It also goes opposite to the growing global consensus against death punishment. It seems like there is no other principle strengthening the laws of capital punishment in India except vengeance.

India needs a better Leveler!

India needs a better Leveler!

Cartoon-Ashis-Nandy-JLF

Jaipur Literature Festival: Two prominent personalities, one editor of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal and another one listed on the  Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll of the Foreign Policy magazine, Ashis Nandy made headlines after a panel meeting called the Republic of Ideas.At the discussion, Mr.Tejpal elaborated on the topic of corruption, how rich people get away with sophisticated ways of corruption and how people on the other side of tracks (a phrase he used for lower castes)  get caught because of their immature ways. He went on to call corruption a leveler, bridging the gaps made by caste. Mr. Nandy picked up from here and claimed that about 70 percent of the downtrodden people (he explicitly mentioned the SC, ST and OBC) are the major contributors to corruption.

There are massive demonstrations in the country since this discussion. Media is increasingly paying attention to the part where Ashis called lower caste most corrupt. Most of the leaders have condemned this statement and politicians are exploiting it for their vote banks. There are debates on the freedom of speech, cultural terrorism, intolerance of society. Focus is on the part where a specific part of the society was blamed for corruption, but after the official statements are out it is evident that the entire conversation was a shocker

We had been aware of various forms of corruption before, but this distinction made on the basis of caste is not only new but simply uncalled for. In the 21st century, intellectuals like him should work on removing caste biases and distinctions, but he simply made things worse by his statement. Does our country need a leveler like corruption? India ranks 94th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).  Do we need ways like his speech for making the influence of corruption even wider in the country. Since revelation of 2g scam, there have been massive protests against corruption, making it evident that Indians are ready to drop corruption as a way of life. But Mr. Nandy was so interested in revealing his new finding that he could not hold it and sit back, despite knowing the fact that its vulgar!

India is making attempts to get rid of this bias. There are laws, there are reservations in jobs and higher education and yes there are volunteers working for their upliftment. Caste system has plagued our society for thousands of years, it will take more than 60 years(of independence) to get rid of it and yes the country definitely has progressed. Association of corruption with caste is not a confidence booster for the country at this stage. Mr. Nandy and Mr. Tejpal, I wish you had discussed education as a leveler in the festival.

Hear No Evil

Hear No Evil

Hear No Evil

The Right to Freedom in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech and Expression to each individual stating that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” India is a home for many different communities and religions. Indian Population is poly-genetic and is an amazing amalgamation of various races and cultures. Learning different values, following different cultures, living in different scenarios leads to difference in opinions and beliefs amongst various societies. Yet, India has given each one of them a stage to express their emotions.

But using this freedom of speech to realize the political motives and supporting separatist movements is precarious for a secular state. In such an incident, Akbaruddin Owaisi crossed all the lines with the pure poison he served up in his speech at Adilabad on 24th December 2012. Akbaruddin Owaisi is floor leader of All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin in Andhra Pradesh and MLA of Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly. Owaisi has got a past record of making inflammatory speeches. In 2007, he threatened to kill Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen. On 24th December 2012, while addressing a rally of about twenty five thousand people, he criticized the police force of India and called them impotent and raged all the Muslim community against the Hindus.

However, Mr. Owaisi is not the first person to thumb his nose at the laws of the land through hate-filled utterances. In India, Hindutva and Islamist leaders and activists have often mobilized men and materials through inflammatory hate speeches. Rival religious extremists survive by feeding off each other. VHP leader Praveen Togadia, the late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, and BJP leader Varun Gandhi are prominent among the many in the Hindutva parivar to have made hate speeches. The law enforcing authorities prefer not to touch these extremists citing that their organizations will unleash violence in the event of an arrest. As a result, these hate speeches become a never ending phenomenon endangering the secularism of our nation.

Mahatma Gandhi used three monkeys to spread his message of  ‘See no Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil’ and if someone is using these speeches as a tool of accomplishing political motives than its our duty that we act against such instances. Examples are required to be made of starting from Owaisi himself. Civil society needs to make it clear that those who incite hatred and violence against people on the basis of their religion or any other identity ought to be punished one way or another. If the police or courts won’t prosecute, convict and send them to jail, such would-be ‘leaders’ must be boycotted socially and politically. One should give zero leverage to all opportunist ‘leaders’ who love exploiting religion for political ends. Only harsh actions can curtail these speeches and the time is quite right to begin with.

Indian Leadership Crisis

Indian Leadership Crisis

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Year 2002 – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam , former Indian President envisioned India as a Developed Nation by the year 2020. The whole country was celebrating , people were excited to be a part of fore coming transition , youth motivated enough to start planning and aligning their vision with that of their nation.

Year 2013 – 10 years since Vision 2020 was announced and there is no sign of its subsistence. Our government is lost in corruption and opposition in washout of the parliament sessions and the common man? Well, we have nothing to look forward to for we haven’t seen a vision since 2002. That year , a man gave us hope and pride and motivated us to give our best, to make gold out of sand and now the government is completely oblivious to it.

Our leaders haven’t even given us a vision in the past decade that is as compelling or at least worth remembering. Dr. Manmohan Singh , a man everyone looks up to has been a constant shame. Our vision is lost in politics and our pseudo leaders in corruption. Prime Minister’s speech on 15th Aug is something everyone eagerly waits for, but since Dr. Manmohan Singh it has been worth a miss. No doubt he is the man behind various 1991 reforms, but is he a right Prime Ministerial candidate? On issues of national importance when everyone is glued to television to listen what our leaders have to say, we have been constantly disappointed; sometimes by the manner of speeches and sometimes by its matter.

A nation without a leader is a nation without a future. Do we forget this while casting our votes or we are amongst the ones who don’t even get off our beds on days of election, rejoicing a national holiday. But is it our fault exactly? We have likes of Manmohan Singh , Sonia Gandhi , L K Advani as PM prospects. These candidates are either tainted or simply not suitable to lead a developing nation. We definitely don’t want a leader who keeps mum or is involved in religious riots or corruption as our Prime Minister.

We are a country with ample of natural resources, good core competency and great talent, a nation with the largest population of youth for the coming years. Given the right opportunities, motivation and a leader with right vision, Vision 2020 might look like an achievable goal. But ‘A leader with Right Vision’ , is there even a slightest possibility?

Indian Patriotism: A Lost Spirit

Indian Patriotism: A Lost Spirit

patriotism

Once again there was a time when the whole country stood united and cheered out India!! India!! in unison. And why not, we were playing against our arch rivals in a cricket match. It was the high time when each one of us showed how much love he has for his nation. But let me stop here and ask for a little introspection. Is this the definition of Patriotism for us? Why the Indian inside us emerges only when there is a terrorist attack on our nation, whenever we come out of a cinema hall after watching a patriotic movie or as in most of the cases, when India-Pakistan cricket match is going on.

Patriotism as we believe is a formality, a formality of saluting our national flag and 52 seconds of freezed stature during the national anthem. And in some cases, even that becomes too much for us. We prefer to limit the whole concept to our freedom fighters, army men and sports stars. But one does not need to be in the defense forces or represent India in sports to perform patriotic duty, but all of us, in our own little way can perform this duty every day.

Patriotism comes from the innate belonging to the idea of nation. It’s a feeling one experiences only if he is able to rise above the religion or caste. We felt the honored, glorified and proud when India won the world cup, celebrated it going berserk on the streets but we definitely forget it when we cast our vote in the elections, when we shamelessly throw garbage on the roads and yet so many times more.

When we talk about India, one major class of people can be easily forgotten. It is the economically and thus as a result socially impotent and backward class. It is rightly said – An empty stomach cannot blow the seditious sound of the war bugle. Thus one cannot expect them to play an important role in reforming patriotism. This situation should be unraveled in course of time and not suddenly.  Only when family upbringing and school education have inculcated in the individual a knowledge of the cultural and economic and, above all, the political greatness of his own country- then, and only then, will it be possible for him to feel proud of being a citizen of such a country.

I can fight only for something I love. I can love only what I respect. And in order to respect a thing I must have at least some knowledge of it

On the other hand, we are the educated and a bit more favored section of our society. We know our glorious past, our freedom struggle and the sacrifice of the martyrs. We know our rights as well as our duties and steps that we must take to see Vision 2020 becoming a reality through our own eyes. But the truth is, we try to draw mileage from every loop hole in the society and engage ourselves in building heavens of comfort and luxury. We portray ourselves to be a puppet in the hands of the politicians, but in reality we find our own profit in every act provoked by them let it be corruption or reservation. After all, we are the ones who select these politicians.

The lines from Rang De Basanti do create a buzz. “No Country is Perfect, You’ve got to make it Perfect! The country will change, we will change it!”

Adlai E Stevenson has said, “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” Patriotism need not have a mass motive, it need not be national. Small things and actions persuaded with a notion of doing good to other countrymen is patriotism. Thus we need to give up the ignoble thinking that we have nurtured towards our society and surroundings. Having pride in our hearts for our country and performing the duties towards our nation and society will make us a true patriot.  After all, if not you, Who? If not now, When?