Yesterday we derived confidence that the rule of law which we often skeptically say is plummeting in India and is often considered to be more absent than present finally made itself felt. The Supreme Court packed off “Sahara Shri” Subrata Roy to Tihar Jail as a common prisoner for his inability to come out with a concrete action plan to pay back Rs. 19,000 crores due to his investors. Continue reading
Yesterday, we saw the Chief of India’s Naval Staff hand in his resignation which was promptly accepted. Admiral D K Joshi submitted his resignation taking moral responsibility for the criticism against the performance of the Indian Navy over the last year. The Indian Navy, as you know, came in for a certain amount of flak after a series of accidents big and small. The sinking of the INS Sindhurakshak following a dockside explosion in August 2013 was shocking and this was followed by the recent accident involving the INS Sindhuratna. Continue reading
Whenever a person of Indian origin makes the headlines in the United States, people in India tend to get very excited. I guess we take a vicarious pleasure in watching his/her achievements and feel proud that “one of us” has got to where he has. A recent story, of course, is that of 46-year-old Satya Nadella, who was appointed CEO of that powerhouse Microsoft yesterday.
Usually I don’t blog about politics but I am making an exception today as for the last month or so, the AAP ( Aam Aadmi Party) has been the centre of attraction in India after their most praise worthy performance in the Assembly elections in Delhi. As the name suggests the Aam Aadmi Party (as I understand it) seeks to represent the common man and largely came out of the phenomenal anti-corruption movement that caught India’s imagination under the leadership of Anna Hazare.
Some members of the erstwhile “Team Anna” went into active politics like Arvind Kejriwal and they formed the AAP. I must mention here that during the agitation led by Anna Hazare, I admired Kejriwal for his ability to connect with people and bring greater vigour to the movement. Shouldn’t I then be rejoicing that the AAP has formed a Government in prestigious Delhi? Here are the reasons for my disappointment:
1. I expected new standards of political conduct from AAP when they said they would do things differently. It was shocking to see them form the Government in Delhi when they accepted the outside support from the party they abused the most as being corrupt, the Congress party. I don’t think their explanation that the people of Delhi asked them to form a Government is a good one. On the contrary, it sets a dangerous precedent because in real life important decisions cannot be taken only because a large number of people support it by sending SMS. What was the alternative? If they were as principled as they claimed to be, and I expected them to be, they should have opted for a re-election. I believe they may actually have got more than 28 seats if they had adopted this course. Anyway, they didn’t and what followed disappointed me even more.
2. Their political decision as regards water and electricity smack of short-term expediency. To say they exempted a section of people from paying bills because they had not done so at their behest is most dangerous as a trend.
3. I am disappointed that their whole anti-corruption plank stands exposed as till date they have not taken steps to initiate any action against those like former Chief Minister Shiela Dixit who was roundly abused by them day in and day out. At one time Kejriwal said he had 300 + pages of proof of her corruption, now they are asking the BJP to provide evidence. Their website Pol Khol also no longer has mention of Shiela Dixit’s corruption.
4. Lakhs of people are said to have joined the AAP. Here’s where it becomes essential for them to have made a framework of their national policies on a variety of important issues such as defence, economics, internal security , health, education etc. They have been in power for less than a month, but they became a party formally over a year ago. This gap had led to controversies with Prashant Bhushan’s stand on nuclear power and referendum in Jammu & Kashmir.
5. While more eminent people like Meera Sanyal, Capt. Gopinath and Mallika Sarabhai have joined the party, this raises the question of who is an aam aadmi? These are very well off, to put it mildly and hardly qualify for being the typical aam aadmi in a literal sense. If you go by the earlier understanding that the aam aadmi was someone who was not the big bad, corrupt morally weak politician, this no longer holds true as they have joined a political party and have become politicians themselves. It is now emerging to be a left of centre party.
6. Controversies regarding U turns in decision-making , be it about Kejriwal’s accommodation or about Janata Durbars are not exactly adding to my confidence of the maturity of its leaders. I believe they tend to oversimplify things. Kejriwal said there was not much difference between the number of rooms in his current apartment and the new one he planned to take up. He forgot to take location into account, there being a world of difference between his current location in Ghaziabad and the apartment in question in a posh area of Delhi.
The next few months will be very crucial for the AAP. They have made it clear that the Congress is not a factor in the General Elections in 2014. How they will perform is anybody’s guess. They may shine, they may fall but as of today, these are some reasons why they haven’t got me on board the AAP band wagon.
This is my small tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel whom I rate as one of India’s tallest political leaders ever, on his 138th birth anniversary which was on October 31. A controversy is brewing in India where the 2014 General Elections,still some 6-8 months away, threatens to swamp everything else. Was he a greater leader than India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru? Would India’s first few years as an independent sovereign state have been different had he been at the helm of affairs? These are questions that are being widely debated in the last few weeks.
My tribute is not to make comparisons between Nehru and Patel but to share what I have learnt of Patel. He passed away in 1950 before I was born so I have no recollections about him. I do remember Nehru who I saw as a child since he lived till 1964 when he passed away not being to come to terms with the disaster of the Indo- Chinese war of 1962.
To my mind, Patel was a very efficient administrator, who was admired and respected both by the civil servants in the bureaucracy as also by the rank and file of the Indian National Congress. He was a man of strong principles who did more than anyone else to integrate a motley collection of states and kingdoms, large and small, to form what we now know as India.
It is said that Gandhi persuaded Patel to give up his claim to head the Government in favour of Nehru. We know that he was more practical than Gandhi and Nehru who were if anything too idealistic in their expectations of the new nation of Pakistan. I am one of the many who believe that Sardar Patel was not given his due primarily by the followers of the Nehru clan. Consider he was given the Bharat Ratna 41 years after his death, (becoming the oldest ever recipient at the posthumous age of 116 !). Surely leaders who had far less impact on Indian history received the award before him.
The Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, wants to build the Statue of Unity to honour Sardar Patel. Whether this project will be completed smoothly and how it turns out remains to be seen. What we cannot forget today is the enormous contributions Sardar Patel made to India when it needed a strong man at the helm of affairs. Sure, there will be more debates about his role vis a vis Nehru’s in the fight for Independence and the first few years after we became an independent nation. These are inevitable. They cannot take away from the fact that Patel’s contributions with respect to the integration of India, the maintenance of law and order in the fragile years after the horrors of Partition, and his founding India’s own administrative and police services can never be forgotten.
Join me in paying homage to a true son of India.
This is one book I would definitely put on my reading list. The story of Jeff Bezos and Amazon, one of the companies that have changed the way the world shops. Today with revenues of $ 61 billion Amazon has everything you would want to shop for.
“The Everything Store” by Brad Stone, published by Little, Brown and Company looks to be a very interesting biography of a company that “placed one of the first and largest bets on the Internet and forever changed the way we shop and read. “
Like I did yesterday, I am sure all over the world many from The Wodehouse Society of which I am a proud member would have raised a toast to celebrate the 132 nd birth anniversary of one who I believe is the finest writer in the English language, Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975). Continue reading
As a kid, I was fascinated by a book on the winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that an American in uniform can earn. This book cataloged the bravery of all the winners of this prestigious medal.
It was with interest therefore that I read about the feats of the then Sgt. Nicholas Oresko, who passed away recently aged 96 being the oldest surviving winner of the Medal of Honor. He won his during the Second World War, in January 1945, in the closing stages of the Battle of the Bulge when he single-handedly knocked out two German machine gun positions.
When I grew up the Cold War was a major event that affected countries around the world. I read of the U2 and other spy planes and the constant battle between the US and the USSR to steal a march over the other. In this context, comes news of the demise of Albert D. “Bud” Wheelon, who played a major role in the 60s in developing the technology to do aerial spying for the US.
Times have changed. The world has changed but it was people like Sgt. Oresko and “Bud” Wheelon, that made the United States the superpower it was in the years when I was growing up.