#AAPCon or #AAPOpportunity

I still believe that AAP has a glowing chance to rebound. They need to stop this relentless and merciless media posturing and shut themselves from everything and everyone to re-define clear objectives and ideals. A strong centre-to-left or left leaning agenda needs to be developed and showcased to the Indian population and diaspora. They need to build a party of strong anti-corrupt foundation that returns democracy to the electorate.

AAP

In the recent times, nothing has been more politically significant as the rapid growth of the Aam Aadmi Party in India. Due to rampant corruption by the current ruling dispensation in India,  there were widespread protests organized last year by a deeply frustrated and growing middle class. With incessant plunder of everything and anything of value in India, the growth story of a country that only till 2004 was looked upon with much reverence world over was effectively stunted. These non violent protests was led by the octogenarian Anna Hazare and a host of civil activists. All the political parties in the ruling coalition of India were hand in glove in opposing this movement since the primary objective of the former was in exposing the misdeeds of the latter. The principal opposition party of India which was responsible for one of the highest growth periods in India’s history ensured that this movement was well supported politically. Many members of the BJP and RSS ensured that this movement was not quashed by the ruling dispensation which was accustomed to quelling protests such as these by tact or force.

During this period, the world was seeing a plethora of political activism in almost all developing countries. Bolstered by a rapid growth of technology and social media, these movements flared effortlessly. It was the same case in India. The ruling dispensation in India tried all they could to break the agitation. Having been well versed with pursuing a minority appeasing and a centre-to-left agenda that relied heavily on handouts and subsidies, the ruling party effectively infiltrated this genuine movement with their supporters to ensure that even if the party was compromised, the dynasty that this party stood for and was led by, wasn’t compromised. A political strategy was developed where political overtures were made by certain members of the movement to fight for its ideals in the political forum. Thus a movement that was born out of Gandhi’s non-violent movement took a political turn. This caused rifts in the organizers and among the people of the movement as a political outcome was never the motive but the creation of a strong anti-corruption machinery.

The rise of a nationalist politician in India, Narendra Modi frightened the various NGO’s who have been actively working for the Balkanization of India. With their friends in the media, these groups understood that their only means of survival was in hijacking the splintered anti corruption movement. With heavy funding by the Ford foundation, these supposedly non-political groups suddenly became the fore-bearers of this movement. The ruling Congress party led by a wily leader ensured people closest to her was part of this new political dispensation that suddenly grew enormously from its humble origins.  Everybody who realized that there was an opportunity to be part of a political movement that dint have any ideology suddenly began harping on this bandwagon. Loyal supporters of the ruling dispensation frightened with the astronomical rise of Modi coupled with their inability to effectively pin him guilty to Gujarat riots suddenly became overnight evangelists of this new movement. Arvind Kejriwal who was part of the troika that led the movement along with Kiran Bedi christened this new party with an apt title ‘Aam Aadmi Party’ or the ‘Common Man’s’ party. Arvind Kejriwal, a Ramon Magsaysay Award (an award funded by the Ford Foundation) winner was the only seemingly respectable person in a party formation dominated by highly dubious people.

Riding on a strong anti-Congress incumbency, this new political party finished second in the first election it ever contested In the state of Delhi (which is also the national capital of India). Suddenly the left-leaning liberals, the NGOs, the anti-nationalistic and noisy Indian media found for themselves a ray of salvation. However this party never had a mandate to rule but was egged on by outside support from the Congress party to rule Delhi. In a cruel twist of irony, the infant political party took support from the very corrupt  dispensation that it had vehemently opposed at one time.

Three weeks into ruling Delhi, the party has shown its political immaturity take the better of its efforts to showcase itself as a viable political player.  But these acts can be easily pardoned by any political observer. But what is alarming is the anti-India and furthermore the anti-democratic stand reminiscent of Stalin’s Politburo being taken on various issues by members of this party.

Being a silent observer of Indian politics, I feel disappointed at the turn of events. For an anti-corruption movement that sparked the imagination of the entire world, when similar political movements took a violent turn worldwide, to disintegrate into a masked version of the radical left is pathetic. Here a golden opportunity to redefine the way politics was being conducted in India was so effectively squandered. The opinion of the fastest growing middle class in the world was twisted and ripped off mercilessly to meet nefarious objectives.

I still believe that AAP has a glowing chance to rebound. They need to stop this relentless and merciless media posturing and shut themselves from everything and everyone to re-define clear objectives and ideals. A strong centre-to-left or left leaning agenda needs to be developed and showcased to the Indian population and diaspora. They need to build a party of strong anti-corrupt foundation that returns democracy to the electorate. They need to iron out all their ideological differences and just as they pledged to fight from within the system for its betterment, they need to do it convincingly and with strong commitment. Without these beliefs, just as Tahrir Square unleashed anarchy on the poor Egyptians, this party might end up being something similar.

NDTV: A Colossal Media Mess

More than a decade ago, yours truly was one of the happy Indians residing in the Middle East when the first visuals of an English Indian news channel, Star News was beamed into his home. The channel was owned by Star TV of the Rupert Murdoch owned News Corporation International. In a strange twist the entire operations was handled by a little known studio based out of New Delhi, with a name synonymous with the place: New Delhi Television (NDTV).

Those were the days when India bolstered by the liberalisation policies of early 90s, was slowly making its mark in the world map. The new channel had a young, vibrant set of talent of the likes of Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami, Vikram Chandra, Barkha Dutt, Sreenivasan Jain etc. It was amazing to see such passion and drive among almost all the reporters in the channel. It had some really good programming and some path breaking journalism. Those days the channel was objective, aggressive and to me it had a suave, savvy reporting methodology. The stories showcased on the channel was highly successful in painting a new young India, its interesting politics, obsession to cricket and Bollywood. This potent mix was well broadcasted by the channel.

In the beginning years of the 2000s, NDTV having made enough money from its once in a lifetime deal with the Star Networks Asia, ventured out into forming its own channel or group of channels: NDTV 24×7, NDTV India and NDTV Profit. The channel with no time topped the ratings and was unstoppable. Many of the stories carried by the NDTV studios like the coverage of Kargil war, 9/11 coverage, first NDA government, ascension of Sonia Gandhi and even the amazingly pulsating election coverage. Who can forget how Prannoy Roy along with Rajdeep used to make the whole election news coverage into an ODI cricket match.

Slowly and steadily, NDTV’s success brought in lot of eyeballs and slowly and steadily it started losing its stalwarts one after the other: Rajdeep let with a huge set of people to form his own channel CNN-IBN, Arnab who always had his issues with Rajdeep left to join Times Group, Appan Menon one of the finest Indian journalists passed away. The channel was left in the hands of a still vibrant team of Barkha, Vikram, Sonia and others.

The group simply grew from strength to strength. By 2008 it was in talks to launch its own Hindi GEC NDTV Imagine, it had regional English news channels all over India and it was simply unstoppable till the 2008 recession gave the group a reality check. Suddenly overnight, the channel crumbled and sold most of its assets. Incidentally it was the time when the UPA 1 government was embroilled in the cash for votes scandal. The silence of the channel in the major scandal did raise eyebrows.

When the avalanche of scandals hit UPA-2, the channel was caught neck deep in the Radia tapes scandal with its Senior Editor Barkha Dutt implicated with recordings of her conversations with lobbyist Radia becoming public. The silence employed by NDTV since then and till date on almost all the scandals of the Congress led UPA 2 government has shown it was it was complicit with one of the most corrupt government India has seen its history. Even during the Anna Hazare Lokpal protests to the emergence Narendra Modi as a capable right wing alternative to fix India’s mess, the channel worked overtime in destroying its reputation among the Indian youth, fond nostalgic memories of non resident Indians like yours truly and everything it once stood for. This media powerhouse has become a helpless tool of the hypocritical Indian Congress party PR machinery.

These days, yours truly reads and watches NDTV just to discover the new lies that they bring to the table each day. It is an indeed sad moment as one of prime examples of fond television viewing memories while growing up is now even worthless than the toilet paper being used by yours truly each day. It is a prime example of how hard it is to build a life of integrity, ethics and values  and how easy it is to destroy it.

Image courtesy: http://drop.ndtv.com/albums/GADGETS/indianapps//ndtvapp.jpg

Indians and Money

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“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

Many of you would have come across these famous words by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay who was primarily responsible for introducing English education to the Indian masses during the colonial era. These words does remind each and everyone of certain interesting but forgotten facets of the Indian history. First of all, from reading the first few lines it is very clear that Indians of the 18th century were really wealthy both morally and materialistically. This is a matter of pride for us Indians of the 21st century.

In hindsight it can also be argued today with alarming prudence the present condition of the Indian masses. With more that half a century of freedom from any imperialistic domination, today’s India is a poor shadow of its former self. These days while one traverses the news that comes from the Indian subcontinent, it is seen to be filled with notorious tales that puts to shame any claims of the high moral fibre that we once possessed. In addition, the never ending reports of inglorious corruption by the ruling elite and the common man, the high and low, resident or non resident Indians shows the depths of our degeneration.

Thiruvalla, my hometown is a small hamlet in the southern part of India. Home to a meagre population of about 50,000 people, this town is the wealthiest town in the whole of India purely by the monetary deposits in two SBTs (State Bank of Travancore) present in the town. The infrastructure of the town is always in a state of disrepair with  water clogged roads, never ending traffic congestion, poor civic services etc. The true asset of this town is its residents and a huge diaspora of non residents settled comfortably in Western Hemisphere, Middle East and elsewhere. The wealth accumulated in these banks are the savings deposited by this hard working and extremely successful diaspora. It is always an irony to any casual visitor of this town when he compares the infrastructure and the condition of the town with the hidden and inaccessible wealth hidden in its banks.

This is the situation in many parts of the country. All Indians, resident/ non resident expects a lot from the government to resolve many of their issues, while hoarding wealth which could benefit in the betterment of the lives of their fellow beings. This is a cultural issue and it stems from the very fact that Macaulay boasted in his statement. The educational system in India stresses upon the importance of quantity rather quality in its approach to developing the attributes of a citizen early on his life. The intense competitive spirit, cramming of subject content matter before a rigorous examination system drains the ability of many Indians to subjectively think, decide and rationally approach problems and derive logical solutions. The former also induces a stress filled environment which claims the lives of thousands of students as victims each year. If there is any intention to change the culture of any Indian, it has to start with a total revamp of its bloated educational system, that teaches its pupils how to be mere workers rather than entrepreneurs.

Religion is a big facet of the Indian culture. The temples, churches and the mosques overflow with unheard of wealth and pomp.  There was a news item recently about unheard quantities of wealth found in Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum totalling to about US$22 billion with a note saying that if the value of antiques were taken into account these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.  This is the case with all the religious organisations in India. The gods of these organizations in India are indeed wealthy and fortunate.

At the same it was also reported recently that the total outflow of black money from India since 1947 and till 2010, was $232 billion which is roughly about 12% of India’s GDP in 2010. These are all big money figures. Tragically the GDP per capita income of India is only $3650 and is ranked 126th in the world.

These are some of the figures that show how humongous amounts of wealth is being ‘pissed away’ as the country rots to the ground. India is home to the world’s largest youth population of which a majority of them are jobless. 33% of the entire population of India lies below the poverty line. Rampant corruption ensures that while this figure increases, the percentage of the middle class compresses. The stagnant percentage of the wealthy simply becomes wealthier.

In the 21st century India, most of the wealth is inaccessible or stolen from Indians. As tall claims are being made of India being the 21st century’s tiger to China’s dragon, these figures show how India has failed to channel these enormous amounts of wealth to the welfare of all its citizens.

To summarize this article, I would like to recollect a famous quote by Allan Watts: The reason we have poverty is that we have no imagination. There are a great many people accumulating what they think is vast wealth, but it’s only money… they don’t know how to enjoy it, because they have no imagination. Our imagination has been successfully stifled since we are completely enslaved and dominated. Macaulay’s reforms has successfully ensured that India is dominated by its own contradictions and passiveness.

Rise of Naxalism

Due to the IPL fracas, the news organizations in India have shown a certain laxity in the coverage of the Naxal attack on politicians in the Indian state of Chattisgarh. It is a dastardly attack, no doubts on that. But the event offers certain lessons the corruption laced Indian polity needs to remember.

Development and progress needs to be an inclusive activity to every section of the population. India being a developing country needs to understand that it is the fundamental right of every human being to avail the basic necessities of life- food, shelter and means to survive. Denying these would instigate the rudimentary attribute of every human being-one that of a beastly nature.

Today the Indian polity and media does a fantastic job of fooling the Indian society with the excreta of their misdeeds in the form of scams, scandals and loot etc. The middle class Indian enslaved to the idea of prosperity in the form of materialistic wealth and relentless consumerism, turns a pathetic deaf ear and a blind eye to this misdeeds. They are living in a make believe world. Just like the other side of a coin, the mighty Indian rich, polity and media should realize that their adversaries in the form of the downtrodden, poor and needy will not behave like their middle class counterparts.

The problem of Naxalism is a real one and a true one. If there is one thing that we can learn from the scams and scandals that plague every facet of the Indian society is that we are all adulterated with the same scum and filth. But this new found adversaries are much better than us, they are fighting for what we irresponsibly denied them and are feasting on today. That ugly battle is one we should learn to avoid as it is not a fight worth fighting for.

Image courtesy: http://www.instablogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/naxalism_j6o2t_2263.jpg

Indian woman: Goddess, Mother, Rape victim

In the beginning of this year, the horrifying tale of Amanat or Nirbhaya or the nameless girl (who was brutally raped by sex starved dastards) became a staple diet for media outlets all over the world. Since then, the news regarding women from India has never been the same. Check out this damning Kindle single:  India Dishonoured: Behind a nation’s war on women. Every day has produced at least one sordid tale of rape or sexual assault on Indian women. The question being asked around the world at this moment is ‘why does the world’s oldest culture not treat its women with due respect?’

Hindu mythology is filled with tales of goddesses like Durga, Kaali etc., mythological characters such as Sita, Panchali etc. Every Indian is well versed in the deeds of at least one of these female characters. Generally to the Indian male, his mother remains the cornerstone of his emotional support. He is also seen to be over-protective of his female siblings. Why is it then the Indian male cannot respect the life and dignity of another fellow female human being?

In the aftermath of the Nirbhaya episode, the Indian ruling elite were asked as to why did this ghastly incident ever occur? Their haughty answers clearly showed how out of sync they were with reality. The Indian media generally seen as argumentative sans any reason, vomited these gibberish to a frustrated Indian populace. Reactions and counter reactions were severe. And as all things in India, the issue died soon, while the ’rapes’ happily progressed.

The situation regarding women in India is pathetic. Thanks to the dowry economy, and the progresses in ultrasound scans,the girl child population in India with the exception of a few states is decreasing rapidly. On top of it we have stalking, sexual assaults, rapes and dowry deaths of a good percentage of the remaining females. Alas! it takes guts these days to be an Indian female living in India.

Now my readers might wonder from this blog as to why I am hyping it too much sitting in a foreign country? Again as I said, India is an idea of a country to the millions of NRIs around the globe and home to a billion other. Whatever happens in India or anywhere to an Indian, affects us all!

Now what is the solution to this issue? I would like to present some of my opinions for a constructive discussion.

  • I believe first and foremost, mixed or co-ed schools must be compulsory to all Indians irrespective of caste or creed.
  • Next sex education should begin in primary school itself. This education should explain to both genders the advantages of responsible consensual sex and the disadvantages of irresponsible and ghastly non-consensual sex.
  • Dowry system in any form or factor must be severely dealt with by the society and judicial system.
  • Honour killings in addition to aborting the girl child after determining the sex must be severely penalized with capital punishment.
  • The judicial system needs to be revamped to tackle these cases efficiently and ruthlessly. Check out this book on the pathetic state of rape trials in India Public Secrets of Law: Rape Trials in India.
  • The age for consensual sex must be determined as per the needs of the society and should resonate with the times that we live in.
  • More women need to be involved in social and cultural leadership positions and the much awaited Women’s bill must be approved in the Parliament.
  • The media and the film industry should understand that their visuals must resonate with the realities of modern India i.e., blatant export of western cultural ideas doesn’t have to work here.

All these are ideas, they might or might never work. The root cause here is one of lack of respect for the opposite sex. ‘How can we consider the opposite sex as one among equals’ should be the question for the Indian polity, civil society and the general public.

Women empowerment and gender equality have been a thorny issue for a long time worldwide. But many of the developed countries have shown the resolute to make the much needed changes. If India should have any thoughts of being the much hyped ‘Asian tiger of the 21st century’, it needs to learn to treat its daughters with fairness, dignity and respect.

Image Courtesy: http://veroniquegauthier.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/indian-lady2.jpg

Modi and the idea of India from an NRI

These days, Narendra Modi, the current chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat is much in news. The main opposition party of India has virtually endorsed him as their choice for the important post of Indian prime minister. In a parliamentary democracy, this position is of utmost importance. Barring two terms by the incumbent, where the sanctity of this position was defiled, it is a position that governs India and defines it to the world.

India never had a proper right wing party because the whole idea of India is unique to its diverse population. India being an ancient country with a 5000 year old history is but a modern state that is only 66 years young. The fuel for any right wing party to encompass the feelings of ‘being a part of a nation’ with the populace, hasn’t had a chance to materialize yet. In the early years of its existence as a modern state, socialist policies exported from the erstwhile Soviet Union were used to sustain the enslavement of the Indians. When the latter collapsed in the beginning of the 90s, India was left with no other choice, but to change, else perish. Capitalism was finally ushered in the country, disguised as liberalization.

Liberalization spread like an epidemic in India and within a decade, a seemingly right-wing party called the Bharathiya Janatha Party was able to cobble up a coalition of convenience and stake power in India. Though eventful, the 6 years of this government was highly successful in ushering India to the modern 21st century with the help of an emerging middle class, which grew into the largest in the world. However, a majority of the population still stuck in the socialist ideologies of past, enticed with the benefits of alms, voted out the right wing party and returned the country to its erstwhile socialist rulers.

Socialism like communism is dangerous because it always fed the people rather than teach them how to feed for themselves. Sans any ideology but with due reverence to the dynastical rule of a family of sycophants, the new feudal lords of India disguised as politicians, and under the umbrella of a ‘Congress’ party, looted the country along with other privileged opportunistic oligarchs. The common man of India was fed always with freebies from the state to quench any dissent. This arrangement worked well when socialism had its hey days. In today’s world, where there isn’t enough wealth in this world to catch up with man’s aspirations, socialism is a sure cut route to total social anarchy.

It is to this India, a man called Narendra Modi comes into the picture. A few years into his term, he was caught in the muddle of the worst sectarian violence his state witnessed. Despite conflicting reports, his involvement in the carnage to this day has never been proven. But what happened after the bloodshed, changed many a narrative for the bourgeoisie. Three convincing election victories, rapid development in almost all sectors, innovative growth, he rewrote the growth story of an entire state. All this while, the socialist ‘Congress’ party, mimicking the very same coalition formula, it once disdained, ruled unchallenged for two whole terms, the entire country, with an ex-Italian waitress at the helm and her band of corrupt, chauvinistic sycophants. Widespread looting in all sectors of the economy stunted the growth story of the emerging Asian tiger to a whimper. While the other Asian dragon in the North roared, the socialistic contradictions of the Congress hegemony was in full display, where growth was diminished and the aspirations and dreams were reduced to a carcass and shovelled into the abyss.

Today, while the whole world is growing old, India is growing young because three quarters of its population belong to the youth variety. The 21st century is different from the earlier ones, because the challenges are enormous.How will we take care of our battered planet ? How will we address the issue of population growth? How will the humankind open up and ensure equality and fairness for all human being despite of colour, religion and ethnicity? How will we conquer worlds afar from our heavens? These questions needs to be answered by the youth of today. A majority of this youth reside in the South Asian tiger’s den.

It is to this youth, that a leader like Modi is needed to usher and guide them. A closeted approach being used today in India to shunt the messenger with a different message, will deny India of its place in modern history. He might or might not be a sinful man, but his sins, if any are to be hated, not him. The idea of India is owned by Indians all over the world. Our opportune time in the humankind history has arrived, but can we be able to grab it ?