One politician tries to bring the poison of communal passion into the hallowed portals of the Indian Army, another declares her wealth to be far less than one would imagine considering her stature over the decades, and the third was slapped by one of his own party men, not the first time either that this has happened. The General Elections 2014 are already here and indeed some parts of the country many of our huge population have already exercised their franchise.
Last week, I was saddened to hear about the demise of one of India’s most prolific writers and editors, Mr Khushwant Singh. For many like me who grew up in India, he remained a larger than life figure who was known to be outspoken, firm on what he stood for (though not everyone may subscribe to his views) and often controversial. These perhaps hid another part of his life which was that he was a prolific writer who covered a variety of subjects over the decades by way of his published work. Some knew of him as a historian, with his History of the Sikhs being a top-notch contribution to the story of that illustrious race to which he himself belonged to. Others remember him for his novels, including that moving story, “The Last Train To Pakistan.” I read this decades ago but I still remember the story quite vividly. Yet others may remember him for his fund of jokes bordering on the risqué which he published in book form.
Last week, I posted “My View of India’s General Elections” and covered the period 1951 to 1977. The objective was to share thoughts of major events that took place at the time of the General Elections. 1951 was a natural year to start since I happened to be born in this year and the First General Elections took place then. Continue reading
I know at least two people who were born in India, not just on August 15 but on August 15 of 1947. You can quite easily guess what they were named. “Swatantra” means “freedom” so these boys were named Swatantran and Swatantra Kumar reflecting how this sentiment held sway both in the South and the North of India. They entered a world when India became independent after decades under the British Raj. We then became a democratic Republic in 1950 and started having General Elections, usually once in 5 years. Continue reading
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.