(A truncated version of this was X-posted on CRI)
Friday, February 24, 2012
(A truncated version of this was X-posted on CRI)
Friday, February 17, 2012
(X Posted on CRI)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
And then the Congress had a glorious chance to go a step better. And what they did after that need not be said; you got my hint I suppose. They transformed the chair into a chair for loyalists of the party – in the one chance they had. And the next chance, going by the grapevine, does not seem to be going in a radically different direction.
Their record of appointment of the CEC also is not a record worth noting – the least of them being the appointment of Navin Chawla. The said person’s only meritorious accomplishment is finding a mention in the Shah Commission report, ““unfit to hold any public office which demands an attitude of fair play and consideration for others”. The outgoing CEC had sent in a note of dissent on his appointment and that was conveniently ignored by the government. Post Chawla, the current incumbent has, like all Congress appointees, stuck to the Congress interest firmly. The most recent decision was the ruckus regarding covering pachyderm statues in Noida, ostensibly because it harms voters to see elephant statues and the statues of their Chief Ministers.
And then we move onto the CVC - The Central Vigilance Commissioner, where the least ask was to appoint an upright officer. The government chose PJ Thomas (despite a dissenting note from the Leader of the Opposition) and had egg on its face since the case went all the way upto the Supreme Court. The SC ruled that his appointment itself was illegal.
The Congress record of appointing governors has also been less than exemplary – and they have used loyalty over merit every single time. Karnataka’s current governor was a law minister and has always been more than eager to interfere in what can be called matters of governance. One Andhra Pradesh governor, an ageing Congress politician was also booted out after being seen on live on TV in a not so uncompromising position.
The CBI and the IT Department are long been handmaidens of the ruling party. Their current use is restricted to conducting raids on opposition supporters. Either the raids begin when the person moves out of Congress or is about to and miraculously the raids stop when the person switches allegiances back. Just a few days ago, there were raids on a Mr. Ponty Chadda supposedly close to BSP Chief Mayawati, who suddenly became an outlaw and invited the ire of these departments. A few months ago, it was the turn of Jagan Reddy, son of Congress favourite chief minister YSR of Andhra Pradesh. The CM was the blue eyed boy and the moment his son shifted allegiances, he invited the wrath of the CBI. Not to forget the government’s top law officer asking the CBI to close the case on ally Mulayam Singh’s disproportionate assets case.
And that brings us to the Army. The latest controversy regarding the army chiefs age was needless. And we are not done yet.
The curious case of Madhavan Nair ex-chairman of ISRO who finds himself a scapegoat alongwith 3 scientists is too recent to be forgotten. The Antrix-Devas deal in question in which government finds itself in a soup was carried out as per procedure keeping the government in the loop as per Madhavan Nair. And yet, he is the fall guy. He has demanded that the reports of committees on the deal be made public. Given the record of the government, I am inclined to believe Madhavan Nair more than anybody in the government.
And thus continues the Congress saga of denigrating institutions. These institutions which were created to keep the government in check are slowly but surely being checkmated with political appointments. A final word on the Lokpal – whose fate is in limbo currently. What is the guarantee that this government will make a mockery of a position like this as well? Given that the CEC is also a constitutional body but nicely malleable to the whims and fancies of you know who?
Monday, February 13, 2012
Pretty cool song - catchy, tuneful and very well picturised! Song from Govindaaya Namaha. Had heard it in a bus for the first time and had no idea what it was - was a cool song I thought. Much later, surfing around, I found that at least one "popular" blog has put out a post stating, it thinks it is "offensive", but perhaps wants others to view it as "offensive". The youtube video has garnered a huge number of views though!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
PS: Note that I am not against development or road widening project or the Metro, nor do I aspire to take Bangalore to the stone ages. I would like the city to have more skywalks while the development continues. I would like cycle lanes to be built alongside the roads while we are at it. I would like the city to take into account pedestrians as well while planning for the excessive number of motor vehicles in the city. Anyway...
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Rahul Gandhi has been marketed to the minions as the "new leader" for a few elections now. He is the choice just around the corner for his cheerleaders in the party and the media and the invisible hand for many of the good things that happen in the government.
Depending on when you read articles of his likely ascendancy, there are paeans sung to the organizational change he is trying to bring into Congress. At other times we are offered shades of hope. Sincerity is highlighted at other times. He is supposed to be the glue that keeps many arms of the Congress together. He is really supposed to be the change we (and possibly he) are waiting for.
His speeches though offer very little insight, beyond the bromide of "two Indias" and "I am your sipahi in Delhi" (whatever that means). His interactions have been rare and frankly, quite, unimpressive.
But the definitive test of a new leader is their ideation and articulation. What are the fresh ideas a leader brings onto the table? Or talks about? Or promises? Or has delivered upon?
And then we see Rahul (and his sibling Priyanka) campaign in UP. What do they do? First they talk of creating divisions after divisions in the form of quotas. They attack the existing government without having anything to show at the centre where his party is heading a government for the better part of the last 10 years. He has no answers for the large scale corruption which is a feature of this government. They talk of doles and subsidies. Rahul visits Madrasas as part of his campaign instead of outlining to the electorate his vision for the country or state. Where is the leadership in this? His leadership team as part of the campaign makes vicious promises and all he has to offer for such faux pas (if they were indeed) is a weak, "personal view".
And his sibling, curls her hair, wears a sari ostensibly to look like her grandmother and a former Prime Minister of India - Indira Gandhi. And when the Congress mouths slogans of Garibi Hatao (Indiras famous slogan in the 70s), the media sings praises of her looks and the voters are expected to vote en masse to herald the return of Indira Gandhi.
One of the fundamental tenets of leadership is to “be yourself”, however raw, however naive. If you cant think for yourself, surely never imitate someone else. Thats a basic rule of leadership - except if you are in a communist country like North Korea where apparently the incumbent Kim Jong Un underwent plastic surgery to resemble Kim Jong Il.
And while you there proving to be a leader - do pause to remember that anybody who has risen to leadership has always risen to leadership unifying people for a cause. Think any leader, and you will find this to be true.
Mr. Rahul Gandhi, you are supposed to be a young, educated, politician. And apparently many people look up to you. And when they do look up, what do they see? No vision, no inspiration, but a singular mission to convert certain people to vote for you on the basis of vacuous promises. What, exactly is your stand on corruption? What exactly is your stand on governance?
And a final note, when Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, nobody can argue that his mind was not in the right place. While he did make a few missteps, his vision for India was very clear. He wanted India to be technologically advanced. He employed technocrats (famously Sam Pitroda) to help put his vision into action. Things did not really pan out as he had planned, but atleast we knew he was trying from his heart.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Our country has a myriad set of laws that are ostensibly designed to protect the small farmer - who at one point was supposed to be the backbone of our economy. Thus there are laws that prevent farmland from being bought by "non farmers". The part which prevents easy conversion of agricultural land to residences is a good one IMO. We will come to that in a moment.
Around me, in the past couple of years, there are quite a few people who have bought agricultural land (wherever the law allows them etc.) and started farming. Now these are not the kind of farmers newspapers report will glorify or our youthful politician scion will visit. These are fairly well to do people who are passionate about horticulture, agriculture and grow exotic stuff or organic food or just like to grow something. They are not your so called subsidy seeking farmers, nor are they poor. They are into farming as a sabbatical from corporate life or as a hobby or business.
Yet, a lot of people even if they wish to cannot go ahead and do so - because of the rules that make it tough for them to do so.
My view is that such interests should be encouraged - even if they have sign an undertaking that they will use the land only for agricultural purposes etc. This does two things. One, the land stays as farmland. Second and more importantly, it puts people who want to pursue farming as a hobby or a business and pushes out those who want to do as a form of subsistence. In my view, this is a good thing - because the government can focus less on subsidising agriculture and giving out job schemes like REG schemes and focus on the real things that matter. (Anyway with the current government all this talk is useless, but whatever.)
Wishful thinking, but well...why not?