Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Count your Guests before you marry!
Marriages under Essential Commodities Act! If you ever believed that legislation could change social problems, surely you'd think twice now!
Marriage ceremonies will never be the same again in Jammu and Kashmir. The state government has brought nuptials of all religious hues under the Essential Commodities Act to prevent wastage of food at wedding feasts. [...] The order stipulates that not more than 45 kg each of rice and meat must be consumed at a wedding. The bride's side must not invite more than 75 guests, including 25 baratees. The groom can invite 50 guests, Mohiuddin said.No Intelligence, No Bureau
Laloo trains for 007 marathon.
RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav said when he becomes prime minister, which is a certainty, he would dismantle the Intelligence Bureau, as journalists were doing a better job of exposing corruption. [...] Projecting himself as Mr Clean-up, Yadav said he would attack corruption, the railway mafia, officers responsible for accidents, and poor hygiene within trains, on tracks and platforms.I already feel so safe!
Biwi Ho To Aisi!
David Beckham's wife has said in a magazine interview that her husband had never been unfaithful to her, despite the claims of two women who said they had affairs with him. [...] "I really do believe deep down that I have the most faithful husband I could hope for," the former Spice Girl has been quoted as saying in the interview. (From I have the most faithful husband)People talk about how Sonia has lived upto the Vedantic or whatever ideal. Maybe it's time to give Posh a honorary Indian citizenship for her pativratagiri. On the other hand, maybe she knows exactly what to hope for! ;-)
Why Not Have Your Cake And Eat It Too?
Cong wants 'human killing' case against Modi. What for? So that he can be part of the cabinet later, like Jagdish Tytler?. Well the Akali's are anything but amused!
Colonel Anil Athale's Guest Column on Rediff, Some politically incorrect questions is more than politically incorrect.
The recent election campaign saw constant reiteration of the Ahmedabad riots, with documentaries being screened in Bengal to revive memories of the horror. Secular activists went on an all India tour staging street corner plays on the Best Bakery episode to drive home their point.This is getting repetitive, but there is a difference between state complacency, sabotaging of judiciary process etc. and plain acts of terrorism. NDA government is being accused of the former, and that's why they are a valid campaign points. Are the then opposition parties being charged for those random acts of terrorism listed here by the Colonel?
If in retaliation the opponents also showed footage of Godhra, Akshardham, Ghatkopar and the Gateway of India bomb blasts, would it have been acceptable?
(In any case, all those happened with the same NDA government in power. So if they want to show it as the evidence of their incompetency to deal with terrorism, it would perfectly acceptable ;-)).
Now that a secular government is in place in Delhi, would some of the anti-national and pro-Pakistani members of the Muslim community (mark the caveat: not all, but some Muslims) stop aiding and supporting agents and terrorists?This is like asking, now that India is a liberal democracy, would terrorism subside? Muslim Terrorism (happy colonel?) is as much anti-liberalism as it is anti-hindu (whatever the hell that this means). So why would it seize overnight because of a secular government? Hell, it didn't reduce one bit with the strong nationalistic government and POTAs.
Will we ever get people to testify against the arrested terrorists? Or did the bomb blasts in Mumbai, the attack on Akshardham and Parliament never happen?Would there be good monsoon for five years? Would there be no floods? Would there be no earthquakes? What is the point of these questions?
The Left and DMK have demanded scrapping of POTA. Has the terrorist threat to India ended so we do not need a stringent law like POTA? Is that the assessment of the intelligence agencies?Isn't a more relevant question: has POTA delivered? Has POTA been used or abused? Was POTA such a good idea in the first place?
The Left is also demanding an end to the special relationship with Israel... (blah blah)...Does the new government want to help the infiltrators?Did the previous government want to help Israel to kill the Palestinians? No, I'm not defending the Left (I don't want to fall to that level), but this is plain irrational writing! Even Bush will be proud of it.
Is the Congress aware of the Marxists' past and their loyalties to China?Wasn't the BJP aware of track record of each and every of its ally? Does the Colonel really not understand the compulsions of coalition politics? Are all those who voted for left anti-India or pro-China?
Do the secularists believe that tolerance and pluralism in India began on August 15, 1947?How many explicit statements from the so called secularists would convince the Colonel that they don't?
There is a law in some states where using casteist abuse against Dalits is a criminal offence, but similar abuse against the so-called forward castes is not. Repeated rhetoric against the so-called forward castes is permitted by the law and extolled as 'progressive.' Is this not absurd?No, it is not. Not till the point that there is a social resolution to the problems of caste. In USA, for instance, if you call a black a nigger, you'd face penal charges, but a black can use castiest language and get away with it. This is because, the former is an instance of racial/caste superiority, while the latter is mostly retaliatory.
Spreading hatred or disaffection on the basis of religion is wrong and is also punishable. But the Marxists continue to spread hatred on the basis of economic class. Is this progressive? How is one hatred less damaging than another?Again, I'd rather not speak for Marxism. And I agree that spreading hate on the basic of economic class (rich people are bad, say) is equally bad.
These are some questions that come to mind in the light of recent events. Will the India/Hindu (not RSS) bashing 'intellectuals' respond?This, I submit is a master-stroke. As if anyone responds, to start with, s/he is a India/Hindu basher! You create a class of enemies, brand them, and then ask that brand to come forward and respond! Bravo. So a disclaimer, Colonel. No, I'm not India/Hindu bashor. But I find your questions quetionable. So I've responded. I'll leave it to the India/Hindu bashers to speak for themselves. Regards.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
The Naidu Legend
Naidu realised that to sustain power he must surrender it. He knew that as long as he gave the global powers what they wanted, he would get the money and stature that count for so much in Indian politics. So instead of devising his own programme, he handed the job to the US consultancy McKinsey.Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for privatization, disinvestment, labor reforms. But trusting a multinational firm with developments plans for state/country is worse than having a naturalized Italian prime-minister, me thinks. Especially corporations that belong to powers that have known colonial/neo-colonial tendencies.
Vision 2020 contains 11 glowing references to Chile's experiment in the 1980s. General Pinochet handed the economic management of his country to a group of neo-liberal economists known as the Chicago Boys. They privatised social provision, tore up laws protecting workers and the environment, and left the economy to multinational companies. The result was a bonanza for big business, and a staggering growth in debt, unemployment, homelessness and malnutrition. The plan was funded by the US in the hope that it could be rolled out around the world.Assuming that this is the same media outfit that gives leftists like Roy large space, everything needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Leftists can put any spin on any delivery, and never will there actions be under scrutiny ;-). Still, one needs to look at the claims before we throw the baby with the bathwater. For instance, UK Funds Scheme to Throw 20 Million Indian Farmers Off Their Land, kind of makes similar claims. Is all of this just leftist anti-development cry?
The Guardian report goes on:
In July 2001 Clare Short, then secretary of state for international development, finally admitted to parliament that, despite numerous official denials, Britain was funding Vision 2020. Blair's government has financed the state's economic reform programme, its privatisation of the power sector and its "centre for good governance" (which means as little governance as possible). Our taxes also fund the "implementation secretariat" for its privatisation programme. The secretariat is run, at Britain's insistence, by the Adam Smith Institute, a far-right business lobby group. The money for all this comes out of Britain's foreign aid budget.Wouldn't you get suspicious, even at this point? If not, don't worry, there are more entry points ahead...
The return of the East India Company?
As Stephen Byers revealed when secretary of state for trade and industry, "the UK government has designated India as one of the UK's 15 campaign markets". The campaign is to expand opportunities for British capital. The people of Andhra Pradesh know what this means: they call it "the return of the East India Company".Why should the UK Government take this undue interest in India's development all of a sudden? If they're feeling guilty, they could just return all that loot. We don't mind at all. But then it has to be returned with no strings attached, right?
This isn't the only aspect of British history being repeated in Andhra Pradesh. There's something uncanny about the way in which the scandals that surrounded Blair during his first term in office are recurring there. Bernie Ecclestone, the formula one boss who gave Labour £1m and whose sport later received an exemption from the ban on tobacco advertising, was negotiating with Naidu to bring his sport to Hyderabad. I have been shown the leaked minutes of a state cabinet meeting on January 10. McKinsey, they reveal, instructed the cabinet that Hyderabad should be a "world-class futuristic city with formula one as a core component". To make it viable, however, there would be a "state support requirement of Rs400-600 crs" (4bn-6bn rupees). This means a state subsidy for formula one of £50m-£75m a year.Being a believer in right-of-center politics, I see subsidies as a bad things for a state to engage in. But then if they have to be given, you'd expect them to go to those who would die without them. But subsidies to Formula One? Whatever happened to the concept of sat'-patri daan (charity to the deserving)? Hang on..
Then the minutes become even more interesting. Ecclestone's formula one, they noted, should be exempted from the Indian ban on tobacco advertising. Naidu had already "addressed the PM as well as the health minister in this regard", and was hoping to enact "legislation creating an exemption to the act".There is no such thing as free lunch, eh? But then who's gonna pay for this lunch?
The Hinduja brothers [...]have also been sniffing round Vision 2020...in 1999 their representatives held a secret meeting in London with the Indian attorney general and the British export credit guarantee department, to help them get the backing required to build a power station under Naidu's privatisation programme. When the attorney general began lobbying the Indian government on their behalf, this caused another Hinduja scandal.Another conspiracy theory? You be the judge. But with UK, US and Hinduja's around, conspiracies may just turn to be pale shadows of grim reality.
Indeed, if true, the uneducated Indians, the very same people whom some of the educated elites want disenfranchised because of the election 2004 results, might have shown a great collective sense, even if in pure self-defence.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Now ask yourself, slowly, exactly why is a government which seeks to retain profitable state-owned companies and continue to provide employment to its citizens such a perverted thought that 3,00,000 crores of market capitalization needed to be wiped out?To ask such a question in a isolated manner is to ignore the prevalent market realities. But since you want us to ask it to ourselves, I did. And here are my2cents.
The basic question is should state own companies at all. If it does, should it create coercive monopolies either through permit raj/legislation or through subsidies and bailouts, thus harming the market in the long run? That, should government give pentions and other benefit from public coffers to a choosen few, from taxes that it collects from others who're denied these benefits?
If a company wants to do something bold by disregarding established stock-market norms then we laud it for being “bold”. But when a government wants to reverse an earlier government’s policy of selling off profitable state-owned companies, the same becomes “backward” and “anachronistic” because the “market” doesn’t like it? WTF?!?Well, this is so because when a company screws up, it pays from the wealth it created. When Government screws up, it pays from the others' money, that it neither created nor has a moral right to hold. So when a company challenges markets, it's indeed bold, when government does that, it's rarely bold, just arrogant. (and in this case the arrogance comes from a economic position that is inherited from policies that they're trying to reverse).
The government in power is a Congress-led one, not a BSE/NSE-led one in case you forgot.Right. But that doesn't mean that those whose money is wiped out due to their stupid statements (and hints at stupid policies) cannot question those statement/policies?
Monday, May 17, 2004
- Indian markets crash with the news of Roman-Catholic+Communist alliance in the centre
- Christian Sonia couldn't stop Sensex from sliding on another day
- Naxalite sympathizers have no problem with a reluctant Italian being the PM of India
- Congress to prove numbers with the help of Seperatist Left, anti-hindi DMK, casteist SP, Muslim friendly BSP, corrupt RJD.
- Anti-privatization Left pulls the Sensex crashing down
- Dynasty to continue from where it left
- Fear in the Dalal street, with the genocidal, anti-national Left lending outside support to Italian Roman-Catholic led congress
The hysteria on the markets is akin to a pampered child throwing a tantrum. The markets need to understand the electoral verdict, instead of nosediving in the hope of exerting some kind of policy pressure on the newly elected Congress-led formation.I don't know if to laugh or cry over this! This is written as if markets are a thinking entity. Forget thinking, that market is some homogeneous (what's their favorite word for it, yes monolithic) entity that sits there and in a cool and composed manner decides or understands things. And it is the market, that needs to understand the stupid statements or silence of the government, whereas the government is free to do whatever it wants. This, I submit, is the epitome of unconventional wisdom, to say it in a politically correct way. To be honest, this is plain bull.
The mandate questions precisely this euphoria and instead calls for reforms with a human face. The inability of the markets to accept the altered political situation underlines their disconnect with the ground realities of this country, where the poor and unemployed are no longer reconciled to being left out of the growth and development process.So the market now apart from being cool and intelligent also has to have empathy, you see. What next? Should the markets also develop an ability to have a collective orgasm over the intelligent gems of the left such as these?
They should have seen the writing on the wall when the Andhra Pradesh assembly results were declared. It was clear then that those who had focused on the emblems of ‘India Shining’ such as IT, while overlooking the concerns of the masses, would pay the price.And others will make the exchequer pay for the rice that they'll distribute freely?
Therefore, the prospect of a Congress-Left government at the Centre should not have come as a shock.Ha! If that is the case, how come the all intelligent media failed to even hint at that possibility? With exit/opinion polls at their disposal?
The frenzied response of the markets to Left presence at the Centre not only suggests a lack of respect for the mandate, but also a feeble understanding of the political economy of reforms.So, in short, left can ignore any understanding of the market -- which is nothing but diverse individuals, who are putting their money where their mouth is (unlike the Left, which is putting other's money where their mouth is) -- but these diverse individuals -- in another context I'm sure the left would have used the word microcosm here -- instead need to learn/respect/understand the political economy of reforms (sic!).
It is about time investors realized that the Left is opposed to the sequencing of reforms, not to reforms per se. Whatever the rhetoric, the Left, in practice, welcomes foreign investment, selective privatisation and service sector growth.In other words, the Left is big hypocrite! In practice, they'll use the market economy when their asses are on fire, all the time shouting rhetoric that undermines the market sentiment. They want to have their cake and eat it too. And worse, the markets should help them to pretend that can have their cake, and eat it too.
In the popular perception, profit-making PSUs were being sold at a throwaway price to big industrialists. The presence of the Left would ensure a course correction in the form of employment-oriented industrial development and a package for farmers.LOL! What is this popular perception? The farmers? Do they give a shit about selling of the PSUs? Or the small investors? Who are hit in the worst way in the yesterday's crash? What has fifty years of farmer friendly packages done for either farmers or the small urban investors?
If this agenda is dubbed market-unfriendly, then the markets run the risk of being seen as people-unfriendly.As if markets care! Well, may be now markets even need to learn to care about the popular perception... If they get time from the collective orgasms over Left's intellectual gems, that is.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
"You mean Prime Minister? Me?. Mommmmmmmyyyy"...
Finally Soniaji was convinced she's awake. "Kaun hai woh jo mere bete ko rula raha hai?", she screamed out word-by-word, only to find Priyanka next to her son. "Priyanka.. why do u trouble him?"
"But I was only telling him that he could be the next PM, mom.."
"Muze Mom mat kaho.. ab se hum sab hindi me hi baat karenge.. maa kaho.. ab main hindustaan ki maa hun.."
"Mom, we still don't have the majority.. and your origin issue.."
"Shut up.. Mera matlab hai, chup raho.. main kuch nahi sunana chaahati.", turning to Rahul.. "Rahul, beta why are you so tense"..
"She says I could be the next PM!"
"So you should be happy"
"But mom you only said that I don't need to worry about being a PM till 2009! Now I don't even know what a PM does! They don't teach that in business school"
"But that's okay.. Even I don't know it.. Even your dear father -- who lost his life in selfless service to this country, just like his mother (may peace be upon her) -- didn't know it either. You'll learn"
"I want to be the PM", screams Sharad Pawar, and then realizes that he is not fit.. asks for a glass of water and sits in the corner.
"What if they oppose Soniaji?", asks someone..
"Who would oppose her"?, thunders Priyanka.. Anyway, we'll have Left support, and Left doesn't believe in trivial issues such as nationalism"..(in a low voice) "aur rahi baat pawarji ki, unko raksha-mantripad de denge phir-se"..
"Nahi... Main Soniaji ko PM nahi banane dunga", pawar having taken his rest break, manages to speak out.
"Then we'll have to go in for Mulayam", Priyanka adds, "he wouldn't mind even Imran Khan being our PM. And as it is you just have nine seats.."
"Well, I've changed my mind!", Pawar chips in.. "Afterall, Italy and India both start with an I, and have five characters each."
"It's settled then, let's go to that Kalam fellow", Sonia says.
"Mom, we still haven't talked to the left", reminds Priyanka..
"oh.. yes.. silly me.. I just can't wait to be the PM.. the meeting is adjourned"
"Sonia ji ki jai.. " (chorus)
Time for some Pizza...
BJP falters: What went wrong ?Just proves my point about simplistic media spins. How about Bad Alliances, Overconfidence, Misjudging the extent of caste-politics. You get the drift. It's the very choices that they've given irritates me. Of course there is a "can't say", but the simplistic choices reveal the media mentality to say the least, as if it's either BJP's performance or Cong's promises. Utterly hopeless...
- Incumbency factor
- Cong 'promises'
- Can't say
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Mum-bais or Chennites, Dilliwale or Chandigarhwallis, they all had only one question of the candidate who came calling: ‘‘What will you do about sewers, streetlights and the security of our young women and old parents?” You’d think it was a municipal election.Are they, really? Okay, so Dixit factor turned Delhi around, but what about Govinda taking Ram Naik to the wire? What about TDP's complete rout in TN? What about BJP taking a beating in Gujarat? Can all this be explained by :
It’s a disturbing blow to our metropolitan arrogance: bijali-sadak-paani is as compelling a metaphor of urban discontent as it is of rural anger.Of course, not! Indian political scene is a kichadi of caste, religion and region. Bijali/sadak/paani is actually the main casualty, to the extent that voter has now accepted that no political party is every going to make that their priority -- and that's why they vote along different lines of caste and creed.
Why is BJP suffering badly even after a decent (if not great) performance on economic and indeed infrastructure front? Of course, Bachi accepts that region/neighborhood is a main factor. But why is media hell-bent on fixing the data into its ideological curves? Roti-kapada-makan, paani-bijali-sadak. If it's that simple, why are all political parties missing the message. Every time Rajdeep Sardesai shrieks, that people want good governance -- pointing to anti-incumbency, why are the BSP and SPs the king-makers? What is their record of governance? What is Congress' record of governance -- the party cannot even boast of a national level leader?
These results are indeed retrograde. They have proved that "communal politics" is what pays -- BJP's Assembly triumph in Gujarat, BSP's rise in the UP (caste-based politics is a form of "communal politics"), Laloo's Yadavi politics winning in Bihar, whereas moderate and development centric politics (NDA's National level performance, to a large extent) doesn't pay. Hardliners in the BJP will gain strength because of these results, again. And that's unfortunate, because if ever BJP deserved a mandate, it was this time. The rise of BJP as a moderate national party will suffer a setback with this election, and it won't be surprising if the Mandir and other agendas become louder again. And that would be a pity.
The performance of Congress in these election is nothing but shrewd tie-ups. They have no agenda, no leader, no program's.. Still they seem to be set for a claim to the power. The message is clear. Indian political wisdom is more of an art. Each region has it's idiosyncratic voting patterns, that are subject to change on random factors. That any theories of roti-kapada-makan and it's variations are simply too naive to explain Indian politics. I just hope that Indian media learns it this time around.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Let's take, one by one, the arguments against exist polls that we've heard recently
Polls Influence the Voters
It's argued that the exit polls of previous rounds may discourage the voters from voting at all, or influence them (herd mentality). Any conclusive evidence for this claim? No. Assuming that there is, what's the problem? In this country where voters are influenced by cast, religion, regional issues, money, violence, film-stars, cricketer, sympathy waves, family legacy and what not, what's wrong with exit polls influencing the voters?
Polls are Inaccurate/Unreliable
Of course, I won't dispute that. The point is, compared to what? Every news paper, magazine keeps on talking about possible outcomes of the election. Such reporting is: extremely prone to biases and pressures, uses much more unsound methods, etc. So do we stop the news-papers? And in any case, isn't that what the media keeps telling you all the while -- that they are unreliable. Why deny voter a closer to reality estimate about the current standings, while giving them all sorts of (more unreliable) info like trends, speculations, etc?
Don't work in Indian conditions
This is a claim made by Abhishek Singhvi, the congress spokesman. My point is, okay, so what? Let's assume that exit polls were perfect. Would then it be okay to declare the poll results in the interim? Exit polls are just another barometer of moods, say. They will get better over the time, once the specific Indian realities that cause them to fail are accounted for in some way. It may or may not happen. But still, voters have the right to that information, however inaccurate it is. Why? Because, anyways voters rely on various other inaccurate information to make his "reasoned choice" (or emotional choice). For example, say there is party A, B and C. A voter would have voted for C, ideologically but s/he sees that if s/he does that B will benefit, and as it is C has no way of coming to power (this is the trend/assumption s/he is relying on). So s/he votes for A instead. Now that's the voter's choice! And if exit-polls assist that choice, they are good for the voter.
Power to Media
In fact, that seems to be the biggest cause of concern for the political parties, that the information channel is not really controllable. With normal reporting, one can afford to be diagonally wrong, but the credibility of the media is not under threat. With polls, there are specific claims made, and the credibility is very much an issue. That is why it is unlikely that media will manipulate the polls, they're themselves to lose. There are ten other guys publishing the polls...
However, a more important point is, how many people watch the polls? And who are these people? There is a curious paradox here.. The very people who watch the polls -- the educated middle and upper-middle class, are the most apathetic of the voters! So pray tell me, how is this class going to change the outcome of an election? And if it's not, then what is all this brouhaha about?
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Of course, they're not the only party advocating people to shun the elections -- they're in a good company, the great Hurriyat Conference! But that's a digression. This is a basic rejection of the Indian constitution. Not that it is surprising coming from communists -- they have had a history of negating the very idea of India, of strong affinity to external legacy, etc. But the matter of fact rejection of elections -- and mind you these aren't elections that are run on a gun-point, or rigged by the party in power, or anything like that -- is eerie.
Ironically, these very people take moral highroad in any political debate -- when they're against the founding principals of Indian constitution. Of course, it's their utter frustration because of a prolonged and multi-point failure which gives rise to such excesses.
- dismal record in governance, economy, human rights
- lack of penetration in most states of the India
- the global failure of Marxism/communism on all counts
- loosening of the grip on the intellectual scenario, which is going to get worse, with the ubiquity of Internet
Problem isn't with CPI-ML. The problem is with India, where some party which does not believe in the fundamental device of democracy is allowed to contest elections! It's the ultimate Indian fallacy -- of being so inclusive that even the exclusivists are warmly embraced. If anything needs to be shunned, it's the exclusivists.
Why blog at all? Well, it's probably the best medium to get things out of you, without pressures of article submission -- all that excessive stylistic $hit, or any need for judging your audience, nothing! Just plain, stream-of-consciousness (isn't that what they call it?) writing. It's the best known anti-dote to the writer's block (well, known to me that is ;-)).
Still, why blog? Do I have something interesting to say, or do I want to say something hoping that it might interest others? Frankly, who cares. That's the best thing about blogs. No one has to care. Not even me!
Now that's what I call ramblings...