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Posts Tagged ‘Manmohan Singh’

Can I ever live this down …

April 23, 2012 1 comment

Was Manmohan Singh badly advised. At that level, unlikely.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation fro client states.  |  A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey  |  Published December 27, 2011  |  Click for image.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation from client states. | A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey | Published December 27, 2011 | Click for image.

Looking back

Over the last 65 years, Indian foreign policy has been a remarkable record in response to global realities.

Broadly Indian foreign policy has gone through 3 different phases, based on the shifting situations and power balances. Remarkably independent, it has been attacked usually without complete understanding.

But even to the most accommodating analyst, this incident has left most people puzzled.

Manmohan Singh leads the largest democracy on earth. But India’s prime minister is gentle of manner and speaks in whispers. One struggles to imagine him professing love without shyness to his own wife. And so it meant something when he recently laid the L-word on a little-loved man: George W. Bush.

“This may be my last visit to you during your presidency,” Mr. Singh told Mr. Bush in Washington in September, “and let me say, Thank you very much. The people of India deeply love you.”

Laura Bush is not alone, after all. (via India Has a Soft Spot for Bush – NYTimes.com).

At such levels, leaders are well-advised – and are unlikely to behave like loose cannons. One day, I would like to understand this ‘incident’ better.

Till then …


Lethargy As Opinion

August 16, 2011 3 comments

Examining governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world could throw up some surprises.

Colonial motivations

The British Raj needed to mock and diminish the Indian politician. The Indian political leader was trying to dislodge the colonial Government from their position of power. Churchill’s famous descriptions of Gandhiji as ‘that naked fakir’ and Indian politicians as ‘men of straw’ was a sentiment shared across ruling elites in Britain.

Seems like in India, too

Post-independence, this mockery of the Indian politician has only grown. This criticism, carping and mockery has no basis in fact – statistics, measurements, performance metrics. Anything at all.

The drag government’s been on the Indian story is astonishing. No government in the world’s been such a burden to a country. It’s done none of the things it’s meant to while it seems to eye private success with greed. There’s only so long this frame can hold…

One of the things making me happiest in America was the man coming up was celebrated. In India, I sense disgust, revulsion for that person, that he should suddenly have aspirations, riches, ambitions. In Noon, I’ve tried to get at this. (via ‘I think of myself as Indian in a sense that includes Pakistan’ – Page 2 – Times Of India).

Aatish Taseer, whose books and writings have been met with much fanfare, publicity and soundbites, is another one who bites into the dust of empty criticism.

If we are to examine governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world, Taseer’s emptiness (he is not alone) will stand exposed.

These 10 governments four from Europe (France, Germany, Italy and UK), two from South America (Argentina and Brazil) Japan and USA, China and India. Looking back at the 65 years after WWII (1945-2010), the context and strategies of these ten countries throws up some surprises. India would definitely be a part of the Top-3 anyway that such a performance can be rated.

Image source and courtesy - economist.com.

Image source and courtesy - economist.com.

Just on what basis have other governments have done better? All that bedevils Indian governance are present in all other countries. And the answer to all that ails ‘modern’ governance, can only come from India.

You can do a 10 country evaluation here and vote. And maybe, Taseer-miya …

You should read about भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, .

Rahul baba is coming – Drumbeats get louder …

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment
Trial by media - on an unprecedented scale. 3 senior politicians scalped. Corruption being made a hot-button issue. Rahul baba wins with his 'clean' image. (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Trial by media - on an unprecedented scale. 3 senior politicians scalped. Corruption being made a hot-button issue. Rahul baba wins with his 'clean' image. (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; courtesy - indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

Drumbeats get louder.

It is Rahulbaba’s footsteps that you are hearing. An unprecedented media campaign based on the ‘corruption’ hot-button.

Kalmadi resigns on CWG issue. A.Raja resigns on the 2G scam. CBI arrests CWG officials. CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report criticizes Telecom Minister. Supreme courts questions PM on 2G scam.

2ndlook had outlined the following situation nearly 2 months ago – post linked above. The projections seems to be getting real …

What if …

Manmohan Singh takes moral ‘responsibility’. Resigns. Congress veterans beseech Rahul to ‘save’ the country, ’empower’ the youth, and ‘renew’ the Congress party structure with its glorious tradition.

A ‘reluctant’ Rahulbaba immediately rejects the idea. He expresses full confidence in Manmohan Singh’s leadership – and his moral stature.

The charade

Manmohan Singh submits his resignation to his party’s president. She urges him withdraw or at least reconsider his decision. Manmohan Singh refuses.

15 days later, after repeated requests from Manmohan Singh, and under ‘great pressure’ from party workers, Sonia accepts Manmohan Singh’s resignation and Rahulbaba accepts the post of Prime Minister.

Rahul-baba must save the country! (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; courtesy-indiatimes.com)

Rahul-baba must save the country! (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; courtesy-indiatimes.com). Click for larger image.

A plausible scenario …?

Endgame for Manmohan Singh?

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment
(Montage courtesy - Sunday Magazine of Faking News dated 30 May 2010.). Click for larger image.

(Montage courtesy - Sunday Magazine of Faking News dated 30 May 2010.). Click for larger image.

Tom-tom drums

In the deep jungles of Indian politics, tom-tom drums are beating. Some people who know how to read these drum-beats are saying that the message reads “Rahul baba is coming … Rahul baba is coming …”

Will Indira Gandhi inspire Rahul Gandhi

It is some 15 months of UPA-II. Will it be like the 1971 election of Indira Gandhi. Leading a lame-duck, Government for two years, after a flurry of populist tokens, like abolition of privy purses, bank nationalisation, Indira Gandhi called for ‘garibi hatao’ and an election.

Will we see an ouster of Manmohan, installation of Rahul Gandhi as PM, another flurry of populist tokens – and an election in 12-18 months.

Going by personal experience, the few 2ndlook posts in the last 3 months, on Rahul Gandhi have had unusual traffic. Reader interest has been higher than what the content would justify.

Listening posts

A report in The Times Of India reads

our economist PM’s lack of leadership gets manifested best in his absolute abdication of responsibility on issues concerning the country’s economy … foodgrains continue to rot for want of storage space … even as Naxals continue to kill our forces at will … the home minister’s response suggests it to be a ‘law and order’ problem, Digvijay Singh thinks otherwise … as the killing spree continues, the government’s absentee railway minister addresses a massive rally at Lalgarh with Maoist support and even supports an investigation into the death of a Naxal commander.

Cartoon date - Sep 06, 2010; Cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - outlook.com. Click for larger image.

Cartoon date - Sep 06, 2010; Cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - outlook.com. Click for larger image.

Pranab Mukherjee disapproves of Mamata Banerjee’s antics. But soon the Congress’s own heir apparent takes a dangerous left turn. Addressing a massive tribal rally alongside a suspected Naxal leader, Rahul Gandhi talks of being a soldier of the tribals in Delhi … What is most unbecoming of the ‘honest’ Singh is his constantly looking the other way on issues involving gross corruption. No wonder then that telecom minister A Raja and CWG chairman Suresh Kalmadi have seemed to carry on their reported exploits with impunity.

India deserves a more ‘in-control’ PM … what makes the PM-in-waiting, Rahul, choose to remain ‘shielded’ perpetually? Has he done a reality check and concluded that he is not prepared for the job? Is he worried that he might face the same flak when his opportunity comes? What is equally surprising is that our ‘PM-designate’ is just as invisible on almost all important issues. (via No Nightwatchman’s Innings – The Times of India; parts excised for brevity.).

Is Rahul trying out his grand-mother's strategy? (Cartoonist - RK Laxman; Cartoon courtesy - outlook.com) Click for larger image.

Is Rahul trying out his grand-mother's strategy? (Cartoonist - RK Laxman; Cartoon courtesy - outlook.com) Click for larger image.

National Advisory Council (NAC) takes over

A web-zine, MeriNews in a recent analysis points out

The SIX-year old trusted political equation between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh is said to be under pressure. Since the revival of National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by Sonia Gandhi …

All these six years, perfect understanding was maintained among these two power centers. While Sonia Gandhi looking after political issues of Congress-led UPA Government; Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was given free hand with regard to the affairs of the government. But the growing interest shown by Sonia Gandhi in the governance seems to be widening the gap between the two political titans.

At this juncture, the revival of NAC is seen as Sonia Gandhi’s efforts to take control over the administration on her own to pave way for the coronation of her son Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister. …

Manmohan Singh  is taking all due care avoiding the media focus on himself. He has hardly given any full-length interview for any news paper or news channel. He is also not happy with the attitude of some ministers, who did not cooperate with him … only Home Minister P. Chidambaram interacts with the Prime Minister on a regular basis on all major policy issues. While all other ministers are trying to show that they are more loyal to `madam’ than the prime minister.

Manmohan Singh was upset when AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh had written an article questioning Chidambaram’s anti-Maoists policy at a time when the government was facing crisis following 76 CRPF jawans massacre in Chhattiasgarh. Whether Rahul Gandhi will be allowed to lead the nation or some intermediate arrangement will be preferred, is yet to be seen. (via Has Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh equation as a team ended?).

It wasn't easy then ... (Published on - Jul 14, 2010; cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - outlook.com.). Click for larger image.

It wasn't easy then ... (Published on - Jul 14, 2010; cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - outlook.com.). Click for larger image.

Insider knows

A BJP MP, Chandan Mitra, writing for The Pioneer, paints a similar picture. Some edited (for brevity) sections are reproduced below.

What happened in the Rajya Sabha on August 31, last day of the Monsoon Session … was probably the most incredible example of a Government under siege … from within. The … next day, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister sought to drape Congress MP Keshava Rao’s rebellion against … Kapil Sibal with the cloak of “inner-party democracy” reveals the … bewilderment. Later the same evening, … P Chidambaram and Digvijay Singh were back in the ring …this time over the term ‘saffron terror’. Was it mere coincidence that two efficient … Ministers — Mr Chidambaram and Mr Sibal — bore the brunt of Congress MPs’ wrath? Some … believe that … Mr Keshava Rao’s … access to 10 Janpath, the rebellion must have been staged … (knowing) that no consequences would follow.

leaders have begun jockeying for the post-Manmohan era. With Rahul Gandhi’s mounting visibility, carefully calibrated by sections of the media, Congress know it is a matter of time before the heir-apparent takes direct charge.

the Prime Minister sat through all five hours of the Nuclear Liability Bill debate in the Rajya Sabha. Congress MPs later complained they couldn’t even take coffee breaks because it would have been improper to gad off while he sat on impassively. From this unusual action it has been deduced by many that Mr Manmohan Singh is in the final stage of repaying his debt to Washington on the nuclear issue.

So now that the nuclear deal process is complete, Mr Manmohan Singh may prefer to walk into the sunset once US President Barack Obama’s visit happens in early November.

Proponents believe that 2011 or latest 2012 will be the year of transition … a political crisis may be deliberately stirred so that a fresh election has to be called to legitimise Mr Rahul Gandhi’s ascendancy since his mother believes electoral endorsement is what’s kept the dynasty going. Congress strategists have calculated that if an election is held within the next 12 to 18 months, with Mr Rahul Gandhi projected as Prime Minister, the party will win a majority on its own. …

some seniors in the party are already positioning themselves for such an eventuality — Mr Digvijay Singh for one [.] has been consistently making jholawallah-type noises … significantly, he has targeted Mr Chidambaram who is clearly doing his best to uphold the dignity and power of the Indian state. … Rahul is building a jholawallah team around himself, some inherited from his mother’s National Advisory Council, which now acts as a super-Cabinet, and the rest drawn from from across the globe, potential British Labour Party leader David Miliband included. I would rather have Mr Rahul Gandhi take over right now than permit his ambitious cohorts to inject chaos and disorder in governance so that they can herald the Crown Prince’s arrival into South Block as the knight in shining armour destined to ‘rescue’ India from drift. Who knows, maybe Ms Sonia Gandhi will time her ‘voluntary retirement’ to coincide with that so daughter Priyanka begins a long stint as Congress president! [Significant caveats and qualifications by the author excised for brevity. Read original, linked at the beginning and here to verify the credibility and degree of certainty of the analysis].

Remember! Congress has won just 3 elections in the last 40 years. (Cartoon By Sandeep Adhwaryu; courtesy - outlook.com; publication date - Jun 28, 2010.). Click for larger image.

Remember! Congress has won just 3 elections in the last 40 years. (Cartoon By Sandeep Adhwaryu; courtesy - outlook.com; publication date - Jun 28, 2010.). Click for larger image.

Which way the wind blows

The wide- coverage of Rahul Gandhi’s support  to Omar Abdullah by the media was indicative of the way political winds are blowing. Did Omar Abdullah with nearly 12-15 years of experience in governance need Rahul Gandhi’s certification? The shrill attacks on the Government using Commonwealth Games is another indicator. Will the Ayodhya judgement by the Allahabad High Court be used as a trigger for displacing Manmohan Singh?

Time will surely tell. In the meantime, Rahul Gandhi would do well to remember that the Congress has really won just three election out of ten in the last 40 years. No doubt, the Indian Voter exudes warmth towards Rahul Gandhi.

To assume that this warmth will translate into votes is immature.

I bet you say this to all the boys!

Can we foret that behind Pakistan is the US?

Can we forget that behind Pakistan is the US?

However, US President Barack Obama’s decision to attend the reception in honour of his Indian guests at the conclusion of the first day of the strategic dialogue between Krishna and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today, caught on well with the Indian team which is taking heart from the gesture.

Clinton opened the meeting with a passion reminiscent of the days of the Bush administration’s honeymoon with Delhi, emphasising that India was not only the “world’s greatest democracy and the world’s second fastest growing economy, but also a rising power. “The 21st century will be defined by India,” she said.

Certainly, the first high-powered strategic dialogue between the two governments is symbolic of a wide-ranging partnership between India and the US. The Obama administration wanted it this way; they had done the same thing when Obama, and more recently Hilary Clinton, went to China, in an effort to infuse the strategic dialogue with more meaning beyond security issues. (via 21st century to be defined by India: US).

What did you think I meant? Dirty, one track mind ...

What did you think I meant? Dirty, one track mind ...

This can turn a man’s head

If an American woman, much in ‘demand’, tells an Indian, “you have the biggest” you can imagine what happens. Especially if she says it to Sardar!

That is what Hillary Clinton did. Talk about India’s ‘biggest’ democracy!

She then went ahead and talked of his ‘rising power’. Now any Sardar will be happy to hear about his ‘rising power’. Naughty Hillary!

I bet you say that to all the boys!

The post-Lehman world – TN Ninan

The British were palpably relieved when India joined the Commonwealth

The British were palpably relieved when India joined the Commonwealth

Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times, refers to India and China as “premature superpowers”, countries that have low living standards but huge economies. Premature or not, he suggests that Britain should give up its permanent seat in the Security Council to India. That is not about to happen, but Wen Jiabao’s defence of the indefensible, namely China’s currency policy, underlines the ineffectiveness of American pressure on the rising power, even as an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs debates how to deal with a post-nuclear Iran thus looking forward to the US failure to prevent such a denouement. Even more abject is America’s apparent willingness to let Pakistan and the Taliban take over Afghanistan, after having fought a war for over eight years to prevent just such an outcome. (via T N Ninan: The post-Lehman world).

Western stamp of approval

Martin Wolf’s recent post on India would endear him to the FEW (Fragile Egos of Westernized) Urban Indians. He has suggested that India should replace Britain in the UN Security Council.

To the ears of the FEW Urban Indians, whose self-esteem depends on Western approval, Martin Wolf’s words are music. My feeling is that we will hear about this in India for the next 5-15 years. The Urban FEW will see Martin Wolf’s endorsement as vindication of India’s ‘greatness’. It will soon be picked up on the Internet, endlessly tweeted and much chest-thumping will happen.

The context

Should the EU 'win' or 'lose' members?

Should the EU 'win' or 'lose' members?

Without seeing if the UN itself will last or survive. After this Great Recession, will Western and related economies do a double-dip? With the West in debt and with the sword of inflation hanging over their heads, who will exactly fund the UN? (No, I can’t see the logic of India funding the UN – assuming it has the means).

Will the UN last for as long, as it will take India to get this Security Council seat. Will a permanent seat at the Security Council be of any use in a world where the UN will become increasing irrelevant? These dubious clubs depend on victims to approve and finance their own slaughter – and these memberships don’t appeal to India.

Many decades ago, India helped sustain the illusion of British super-power by joining the Commonwealth. Will India rush in to join the OECD? Will India expend energy, goodwill and influence to get a seat at this ‘high table’ – which Manmohan Singh has set his heart on?

I wonder how many Indian newspapers and media houses will flock to Martin Wolf after this post – with lucrative syndication deals?

Shashi Tharoor patterns Indian foreign policy on US-Israel template

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office this month, he has avoided the fawning praise of India that has become fashionable in some Washington circles. But experts on the region say that India-US ties now have a momentum of their own. Industries in each country now have a vested interest in deepening ties with their counterparts.

“In 20 years, I expect the Indo-US relationship to resemble the Israel-US relationship, and for many of the same reasons,” said Shashi Tharoor, an Indian writer and former undersecretary general of the United Nations. (via Will the love-fest stoked by Singh, Bush bear fruit? – Economy and Politics – livemint.com).

Am I missing something here?

Am I missing something here? Look at the cartoon date!

Why is the Israeli model a bad idea

The first disqualification against accepting the Israeli State model is the fact it is heavily dependent on America, for fiscal and military aid – which “since 1974 totals roughly $80 billion”.

Do I sense envy when an article from Daily Times Of Pakistan says “The United States has poured $140 billion into Israel since its formation”. That is about a US$56,000 for every Israeli family.

Is this what you learnt at the UN Tharoor Saar

First, did it ever occur to Tharoor Saar to check where is the guarantee that the US will be in a any position to underwrite India’s long term requirements?

After satisfying himself, did Tharoor Saar ever ask, “Why would the US underwrite India?” In case of Israel, the US had good reasons. After all, (as NYT says)

America has vital long-term strategic interests in the Middle East. The gulf has well over 60 percent of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves and nearly 40 percent of its natural gas.

To some it may look like a boon, but is surely the kiss of death.

American policymakers began regarding Israeli strength as an American asset in the Cold War, they supported significant aid as a matter of strategy, not charity. … American aid continues to flow to Israel. … critics on the opposite end of the political spectrum argue that while aid to Israel may be tied to the best of intentions, it does more harm than good to the Jewish State by propping up a big and inefficient government and making Israel dependent upon the U.S.

For how long can any country, society, individual survive on foreign largesse? Note how during the 1973, Arab Israeli War, the tide of battle finally turned when the massive US airlift of weapons, tanks, spares happened! Which itself, is self-serving – American assistance, emerging as a disjointed policy that urges a peaceful resolution to the conflict while boosting military aid to Israel.”

Another client state of US, Pakistan enviously records, that

Israel is the only country that receives all of its U.S. aid in a single package, while others only receive it in quarterly installments.” It continues, “Most recipients of military aid are obliged to spend it in the US but Israel is permitted to spend 25 percent of what it receives to subsidize its own defence industry,”…

Doubtful motives, suspect intentions

Three aspects of the Israeli behaviour makes Israeli intentions doubtful.

One – Israel surely knows that US support cannot continue ad infinitum. What will be the Israeli response after they stop getting US support?

Two – After consistent and constant efforts to make enemies, over the last 50 years, how does Israel plan to continue living in a hostile neighbourhood – without American aid?

Three – With a population of little over 50 lakhs (5 million) in Israel and a world Jewish population of less than 1.3 crores (13 million), how does the Jewish population stop itself from going extinct?

Is there a pattern …

Tharoor Saar’s statement needs to be read in light of two other incidents. For starters, read Manmohan Singh’s speech at Oxford, praising the Raj,  while receiving his honorary doctrate. Continue with Chidambaram’s decision to end “abject poverty” in India that he seems to “have known for 5,000 years.” And now add Tharoor Saar’s stated objective to make India into a US-client state in another 20 years. Are these three incidents stray and unrelated? Do they form a pattern?

Any which, Tharoor Saar’s thinking is a cause for concern.

‘We needed to make a demon of Jinnah… Let’s learn from our mistakes’

August 18, 2009 2 comments
Could Advani have made such a misstep ...!

Could Advani have made such a misstep ...!

How seriously has India misunderstood Jinnah?

I think we misunderstood because we needed to create a demon.

We needed a demon because in the 20th century, the most telling event in the entire subcontinent was the partition of the country.

Your book reveals how people like Gandhi, Rajagopalachari and Azad could understand the Jinnah or the Muslim fear of Congress majoritarianism but Nehru simply couldn’t understand. Was Nehru insensitive to this?

No, he wasn’t. Jawaharlal Nehru was a deeply sensitive man.

But why couldn’t he understand?

He was deeply influenced by Western and European socialist thought of those days. Nehru believed in a highly centralised polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity.

Because that would give Muslims the space?

That even Gandhi understood.

You conclude that if Congress could have accepted a decentralised federal India, then a united India, as you put it, “was clearly ours to attain”. Do you see Nehru at least as responsible for partition as Jinnah?

He says it himself. He recognised it and his correspondence, for example with the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal, his official biographer and others. His letters to the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal are very moving.

(via ‘We needed to make a demon of Jinnah… Let’s learn from our mistakes’).

A ‘victorious’ Congress, ruling for most of the 60 years of post-colonial India, had three clear propaganda imperatives.

The Masters Glee - Confusion of Indian Independence

The Masters Glee - Confusion of Indian Independence

1 – TINA, There is no alternative

They needed to prove that it was only the Congress which could ‘take on’ and  ‘defeat’ the ‘glorious and the mighty’ British Empire on which the sun never set. The logic went, “what could India(ns) have done without the Congress”. This thinking went deeper and dirtier, when a certain Deb Kant Barooah, declared “India is Indira and Indira is India.”

Similarly, Congress decided to re-write history and take all credit for the departure of the British colonialists. Contributions of leaders like SC Bose was ignored or the importance of the February 1946 joint action by the Indian Armed Forces against the colonial forces, was minimized to the ‘Naval Ratings Mutiny.’ Leaders like VD Savarkar (the first to write a non-colonial history of the War of 1857), or Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (the founder of the Jana Sangh-BJP) was dismissed as fascism.

Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India. Fact is, that for a 150 years – from 1797-1947, many rebellions, wars, individual hits were made against the colonial British Government. The myth of non-violent Indian freedom movement, served both colonial and Congress interests. It showed the British as ‘civilized’ colonialists – and the Congress as ‘enlightened’ leadership. Just like most Western literature caricatures African-American characters as hard-working, humble, docile, placid, obedient, gentle!

2 – If you don’t have an enemy, create one!

The Congress needed to create an enemy. A demon, who they could blame, use, abuse – and Pakistan fitted the bill perfectly. A failed state (!), a hotbed of terrorism – and to top it all, an Islamic State. What more could the West-Congress combine ask for?

Easily slipping into colonial legacy of ‘divide et impera’, the Congress went onto a disastrous foreign policy trail of Hindi-Chini bhai bhai. A solid realtionship with Pakistan would have,  arguably, saved Tibet from the Chinese maws – which Nehru’s foreign policy predicated.

Basking in the glory of Western approval

Basking in the 'glory' of Western approval

3 – Craven desires

To gain Western approval, acceptance, favours, privileges et al.

Consider the English language policy of the post-colonial Congress Government. It has massively subsidized English education in India so that the children of the elite could ‘escape’ to the West. The demeaning ‘population control theory’, the English language education – all, a result of this need of the Congress Party.

The deliberate colonial distortion of Indian history continues unchecked and unhindered. You only have to read Congress Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s speech at Oxford, praising the Raj,  while receiving his honorary doctrate, or Chidambaram’s decision to end “abject poverty” in India that he seems to “have known for 5,000 years.”

Coming to the BJP

When Advani goes to Pakistan and praises Jinnah, it cannot be an accident, or a slip of the tongue. It had to be a deeply thought out, well considered move – one can say, after watching Advani for nearly 30 years now. The man does not go out and missteps so wrongly. The ‘Advani-Jinnah-comments-fracas’ was for media consumption – and BJP party workers. If Advani wanted to re-write history (about time too), that was one way!

And if there were any doubts, then Jaswant Singh’s book, seals the argument.

PS –

  1. Dutifully, within 48 hours, the BJP decided to ‘expel’ Jaswant Singh from the party, for his pro-Jinnah book on 19th August, 2009.
  2. Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, promptly banned the book, in Gujarat. I see good sales for Jaswant’s book – and rehabilitation of Jinnah in India, BJP willing.
  3. On 23rd August Arun Shourie, ‘tore’ into the BJP leadership on the subject of Jaswant’s Singh’s book. India Today reported that he said, “Jaswant Singh’s book is a scholarly work. It deserves to be read,”, criticising the party for pulling the Jinnah remark out of context of the entire book.
  4. One day later, on 24th August,  KS Sudarshan, the former head of RSS weighed in on Jaswant Singh’s side. It was reported that
  5. “Jinnah had many facets. If you read history then you will come to know that Jinnah was with Lok Manya Tilak and was totally dedicated to the nation. And when Gandhi started the Khilafat movement, with the idea that currently we are opposing the British and if Muslims join in then their support will help gain independence. But at that time Jinnah opposed it saying that if the Caliph in Turkey has been dethroned, what has India got to do with it. That time nobody listened to him, which saddened him. So he quit the Congress and left for England and only returned in 1927,” Sudarshan said.
  6. On August 26th, 2009, newspapers reported that in response to BJP’s Jinnah-offensive the “Cong threatens protests against attack on Nehru”. Additional reports, stated that the “Cong(ress) plans defend-Nehru movement”. Manish Tiwari, the Congress spokesman rationalized that, “approval of Jinnah could easily come from the BJP-RSS leadership because “they had no role in the freedom struggle”.
  7. On 30th August, 2009, a former general secretary and vice-president, Pyarelal Khandelwal, wrote a letter suggesting that
  8. “Jaswant Singh’s expulsion should be taken back and the matter should be discussed with him in a respectable manner to resolve the problem,” the letter states. “The case gives the impression that while acting against the senior leader some party leaders had a well-planned intent to corner him and they showed too much haste,” Khandelwal says in the letter. It would have been proper and in keeping with the party’s image if the controversial portions of the book had been seriously discussed before taking action, as was done “in the case of Arun Shourie where a lot of patience was exercised”. Khandelwal also suggests that had Jaswant Singh himself kept the party view in mind and sent in writing details of the book before its release or discussed the issue with the appropriate people in the party, this situation could have been avoided. “The discipline of the party could also have been kept intact,” Khandelwal said.
  9. On 5th September, that “though BJP has expelled Jaswant Singh from the party, its parent organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has invited his son Manvendra Singh to its national meeting in Mumbai.”

The Indian Voter does it – again

May 17, 2009 9 comments
Complacent Congress was jolted by the Left VoteThe Indian Voter does it – again

March 18th 1957 Cartoon by RK Laxman - Complacent Congress jolted by the Left Vote

The Indian Voter has again shown that he has a mind of his own – an independent mind. In spite of various allegations, which come in very superior sounding tones, the Indian Voter has displayed a few common patterns.

1. Risk Taking

The Indian Voter has not stepped back from electing new parties and leaders. The 1956 election, saw the Indian Voter challenge Nehru himself. The Left gained nearly 20% of the popular vote – and became the first Communist Government to be elected to power in the State of Kerala. Leaders like Ram Manohar Lohia, JB Kripalani and Jaya Prakash Narayan became legends in their own life time – in many ways, with greater regard and respect than Nehru himself.

These worked outside the system’ – and pioneered land reform, proved to be a check on the Nehruvian onslaught on Indian languages (along with the Dravidian parties) and sensitized the indifferent colonial-cadre bureaucrats to be more responsive and caring. To many this looked like Western Socialism (including the practitioners themselves), but it was nation building at a different level.

This election verdict is again a risk – that a victorious Manmohan Singh and hard working Rahul Gandhi may revert to the imperial ways of the old Congress Party. Earlier, the Indian Voter cured this imperiousness by underwriting the rise and use of regional parties. Purpose served, these regional parties have been sent back to the drawing board – to reinvent themselves.

Jayaprakash Narayan gave up electoral politics

Jaya Prakash Narayan gives up electoral politics

2. Power and hubris

Time and again, the Indian Voter has chastened political leaders – whose hubris and power overwhelmed them. Nehru in 1956, Indira Gandhi in 1977, Rajiv Gandhi in 1989, BJP in 2004 at a national level and many at the state level.

In this election also, the hubris of the regional parties was broken. Sharad Pawar with a few MPs projected himself as Prime Ministerial candidate, as did some other bit players. Film stars like Chiranjeevi thought they could make a power grab by just announcing their candidature.  In Maharashtra the Shiv Sena /MNS goons also got their comeuppance. To all these players, went out a clear message, from the Indian Voter.

The national alliance of BJP /NDA did not do too badly! It was the ‘Third + Fourth” Front that has been decimated. Possibly, this election was also about BJP hubris – with LK Advani appearing at every website. Similarly, the use of Varun Gandhi was also in bad taste – if not bad strategy.

3. No sops and no bones

To many, brought up on the Western schools of political understanding, the Indian Voter will vote for cash, sops, caste and allurements. This displays a profound disrespect for the Indian Voter – and greater ignorance.

The Indian State has been gradually and steadily retreating – and the Indian Voter has been at the forefront of this retreat. For all practical purposes health care in India has been privatized over the last 70 years. The vestigial State support for health care can also go, if the State cuts away its exclusive dependence on Western medical systems – and the complete collapse of Indian medical systems. The Western Voter will not let go of the subsidized health care system – while the Indian Voter has been gradually shifting the the private sector.

Similarly, the dependence on subsidized grain has been steadily decreasing. Inflation may give a false impression of increasing food subsidy bills. However, fact is that from about 75% of the population in the 1960-1970 decades, the dependence on subsidized food grains has reduced to 30%-40%.

Similarly, in other sectors too, the reduction of the role of the State is becoming apparent and welcomed – by the Indian Voter. The resistance is from the bureaucracy and the vested interests of Big Business.

In this election, Chandrababu Naidu in AP promised a cash transfer scheme to all families – even middle class families. His welfare stat-ism has been soundly rejected.

NTRs Chaitanya Ratham

NTR's Chaitanya Ratham

4. Hard Work

Similar to Gandhiji’s Dandi march, which galvanised the nation, NTR Rama Rao’s epochal ‘Chaitanya Ratham’ rewrote politics in India. His 180 day campaign,  in 1982, covering an estimated 75,000 km, across Andhra re-wrote Indian politics. For the first time, a political party of a few months, unseated a century old party.

It provided the inspiration for LK Advani’s ‘rath yatra’ in 1989 – which saw BJP gain a national following. YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the Andhra Chief Minister’s padayatra, which was ignored and ridiculed by the then TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, (‘as Budabukkalodu, a village jester who wears outlandish clothes and asks for alms during Sankranti festival’) was patterned along similar lines. Covering 1500 km in 60 days, YSR’s padayatra saw Congress re-capture power in Andhra Pradesh after 20 years.

Rahul’ Gandhi’s 2009 campaign was no less. With limited use of helicopter’s and low media  coverage, it was  a combination of courage and the sheer drudgery that saw Congress come out on top – winning in 60 constituencies out of the 106 in which Rahul campaigned”.

5. Negative campaigns

The 1967 election came closest to breaking the Congress rule in the pre-1977 India. In 1969, further, a significant group of senior leaders, split from the Congress, and formed the Congress (O). A highly negative campaign, saw Indira Gandhi come back with a stunning victory in the 1971 election.

Her party program was summed up in the simple but highly appealing slogan, “Garibi hatao” (Remove Poverty). The old Congress, led by Desai, responded with the unimaginative, inane campaign slogan, “Indira Hatao “ (Remove Indira). (from The making of India By Ranbir Vohra)

The opposition to Indira – the ‘Grand Alliance’ consisting of the Congress (O), the Jan Sangh, Swatantra and Samyukta socialist parties – all knew that she was the issue in 1971, and they made the mistake of choosing a personalized campaign slogan to reflect this: ‘Indira Hatao’ (Remove Indira). Indira retaliated with the simplistic but effective battle cry of ‘Garibi hatao’. (from Indira By Katherine Frank).

Her speeches had simple logic. “Main kehtin hoon garibi hatao. Voh kehten hain Indira hatao. Ab faisla aap keejiye.”

LK Advani’s anti-Manmohan Singh campaign made the same mistake that Congress (O) made 40 years ago. PM Singh, who is seen as a well meaning, honest, ‘politician’ started looking better – after Advani’s attacks. Rahul Gandhi’s riposte, “have you ever seen a weak Sardar?’ killed this line of campaigning.

The legal processes against Indira Gandhi, by the 1977 Janata Party Government, was again seen as a vindictive and negative campaign, which started off Indira Gandhi’s comeback campaign.

Indira Gandhi’s own negative campaign and ouster of NT Rama Rao, by engineering the split in TDP with Nadendla Bhasker Rao, ensured that Congress was out. The tidal wave of Voter solidarity with Rajiv Gandhi, in post-Indira Gandhi’s assassination elections of 1984, still saw the angry Andhra Voter shun the Congress Party. Varun Gandhi’s abrasive campaign, in contrast to Rahul Gandhi’s inclusive agenda, was albatross around the BJP neck.

The Indian Voter will simply not accept negative campaigning.

Fractured Verdicts ...

Fractured Verdicts ...

Cause for optimism

LK Advani (?) and Manmohan Singh are possibly going to be the last colonial-era Prime Ministers of India. The next generation of political leaders will be Indians who have grown in the post colonial India. This vote is vote for consolidation – for the national parties and for performing administrations.

Colonialism is hearsay, propaganda, exaggerations – a second hand experience, to most young post-colonial Indians. Brought up on a diet of nation building, socialism, (opportunistic) English education, limited exposure to the rest of the world, they have seen rapid change. From an India, which was a ship-to-mouth basket case, to an emerging power, seems to be have been a facile and an easy experience – with little credit being given to Indian political leadership for managing the post-colonial Indian system.

India’s successes have been built on Indic elements retrofitted on Western models. Renewing an Indian model – how will India’s young leader’s face up to this challenge? Will they ‘fall into the trap’ of copying successful countries or take the (really) easier path of renewing the Indic model, which may initially, seem difficult.

The continuity will be provided by the Indian Voter, who has seamlessly handed over political power – to tested and untested, to the imperious Indira Gandhi and the humble LB Shastri.

Similar to Gandhiji’s Dandi march, which galvanised the nation,

Scenarios and Outcomes – Indian Elections 2009

May 14, 2009 5 comments
Only if it was that easy!

Only if it was that easy!

Opinion Polls and India

The 2004 elections in India was a watershed – for opinion poll industry. After 20 years of work, the opinion poll industry thought that they had the models, the tricks, questionnaires and had the Indian Voter all figured out. 2004 changed that.

What looked like a certain victory for the BJP, turned out to be victory for the ‘no hope’ Congress Party – a surprise front runner. It was not just one opinion poll – but nearly half a dozen opinion polls that got it wrong. No wonder, this time around they, the opinion pollsters, were subdued when the Election Commission decided to finally implement the ‘no-opinion-polls-during-elections’ diktat.

Congress has its troubles!

Congress has its troubles!

That said, a post in India’s Times of India writes about how the diplomatic “grapevine will tell you, the entire diplomatic corps in New Delhi called the 2004 election results wrong — except the Russians.” I would like to know what methodology the Russians knew – and the rest of the world does not know about. Or was it just a fluke?

Unlike most Westernized ‘readers’ and ‘experts’, 2ndlook believes that the Indian Voter has been a smart voter – who has taken risks with ‘unknown’ parties and given opportunities to ‘risky’ elements. This has ensured that the Indian Voter has a large electoral choice – compared to the typical two-horse towns that passes of as elections in other countries.

This elections seems to centre around four scenarios.

Scenario 1

Congress wins between 170-200 seats. Their allies win another 70-100 seats. At the higher end of the spectrum, the combine will easily form the Government. At the lower end, the UPA combine will fall short of about 30 seats. This may not pose a significant problem. This is of course subject to who the winners of the 70-100 seats in the Congress are. That  will be the crucial factor.

Cricket and politics - whatta mix!

Cricket and politics - whatta mix!

  1. If Mamta Banerjee wins 15-20 seats, getting additional 30 seats from the Left Parties will be difficult.
  2. That may leave the Congress to look at the ADMK – if the DMK does not do well.
  3. If the DMK also does well, then Andhra Pradesh will hold the key. Will TRS /TDP combine break up and TRS will join the Congress? Will Chiranjeevi upset the apple cart? Or is that the Congress will make these Andhra parties irrelevant.
  4. NCP, Mulayam, Lalu and Paswan will possibly go quietly with the Congress in this scenario.
  5. If Mamta does badly and so does DMK, then Congress will have easy time – as the Left and the Third Front may simply fall in line and negotiate a good deal for themselves.

Scenario 2

BJP wins 170-200 seats. Their allies win another 70-100  seats.

  1. The biggest worry for BJP will be the President. Who will the President give the first opportunity to – in case of a close result?
  2. BJP will have a tougher time – as the Congress will try for the same allies.
  3. BJP has an advantage with an inside track with TRS, BJD, ADMK. Unlike the Congress.
  4. Will Shiv Sena rope in Sharad Pawar to join an NDA Government? Possible!
  5. How much of a chance does BJP have with Mayawati? Considerable!
  6. In this specific scenario, the big thing for the BJP will be the number of seats that the allies win.

Emosianal atyachaar!

Emosianal atyachaar!

Scenario 3

Congress and BJP get less than 150 seats each. One gets 130 – and the other gets 150! The Third and the Fourth Front get around 250 seats by themselves.

  1. BJP has said that it may partner with Congress to form a ‘stable Government! A BJP leader has gone on record saying the same!
  2. NCP leader PA Sangma has independently suggested that since there is “not much difference between the economic and foreign policies of these two parties and that their coming together could make India a “different country”.”
  3. The other thing will be a Third Front Government – which is seeming improbable as the two main forces for a Third Front, the Left and Telugu Desam’s Chandra Babu Naidu both seem to be doing badly. “Better a junior partner in a stable alliance like the UPA or NDA than a unstable Third Front” kind of thinking may win the day – and kill the Third Front.
  4. The Third Front may gravitate around Mayawati – whosesarvjan’ ideology is very Indic – and unique. Unlike others, who are talking about reservations, only Mayawati talks about everyone’s welfare. Her bit abouttilak, taraazu aur talwar … teeno ko maar jootey chaar’ is again something that is a very Indic and  a welcome development.

    This stereotype hides an interesting fact

    This stereotype hides an interesting fact

Scenario 4

The most uncertain outcome.

Congress and BJP get between 140-165 seats each – leaving just about 220-260 seats for all others. None of the three Blocs are close to a majority. The Third and the Fourth Front get seats in the 2:1 ratio. BJP /Congress  are not in a position to form the Government and neither do others!

Two possibilities – a rump party will form a Government depending on support from Congress or the BJP – a la Chandrasekhar, Charan Singh, Deve Gowda, IK Gujral et al. Or the BJP or Congress will cobble up a weak alliance – a Government that will bleed to death by a thousand cuts.

Getmo’ …

  1. Nitish seeks special status for Bihar
  2. Naveen Patnaik to back Cong govt at Centre
  3. Mayawati stands by Third Front
  4. Left ready to back Nitish as PM
  5. Cong indicates willingness for Nitish’s package formula

    Post poll alliances

    Post poll 'alliances'

  6. Did Maya ride to secret LK meet in M-800?
  7. DMK or AIADMK? Cong plays it safe, waits for 16th
  8. BJP eyes Naveen Patnaik & Chandrababu Naidu
  9. Will Ms. Mayawati be PM, wonders India’s Dalit capital
  10. Less seats for Left won’t make it drive hard bargain: Cong
  11. Meeting with Rajnath was not political, says Amar Singh
  12. Mad Woman Theory of Politics in India
  13. No 2007 repeat, but Maya tally to rise
  14. AGP wants Advani as next Prime Minister
  15. Congress to emerge as single largest party: Rajasthan bookies
  16. Congress may dump DMK, may not need Maya
  17. The Kingmakers
  18. Third Front a fractured front: Praja Rajyam
  19. Marandi’s party to maintain equidistance from NDA, UPA

PS – This post continued getting interested readers well after the result came out! Was it possibly because that as one reviewer put it,

Nostradamus

To begin with albeit a little late, is poll scenario analysis by Quick Tale. I call the post Nostradamus like because from the 4scenarios laid out in the post, the very first assumption became the election result. Comprehensive thoughts at: Scenarios and Outcomes – Indian Elections 2009

Scenario 2
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