Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Performer versus vapourware

Imagine you walk into a hospital for anything – as small as a common cold or as complicated as a heart surgery. For some reason, the doctor does not turn up. You have the choice of meeting the doctors kid who has no medical degree who will diagnose and/or operate upon you or you have the choice of going to another hospital pronto. (I can already picture you running…)

Imagine that you are the caption of the Indian (or any other, gully) cricket team. You have a big match coming up. And your star player has retired. Who would you choose next? Would you go in for someone who is the backup? Or would you choose the star players kid who has little to show by way of playing in cricket at an international level?

You perhaps know where I am heading to, but bear with me.

Imagine that you are working on something important at work and you need your boss to take a look at it for some final, crucial inputs. But the boss is a little busy and recommends that you meet his son instead who graduated yesterday.

Sounds funny? Almost laughable? Does it not? Given any situation, you would always pick a person who is a performer – a track record of performance and something to show for his skills rather than someone who is fresh off the block. Hell, you would do that for a cook. If you cannot verify the cooks degree, you will ask the chap to give you a trial day to check and perhaps a week before you confirm.

So, when faced with the choice of the Prime Minister of the country, who would you choose?

Would you vote for the kid of a dynasty who has little to show by way of administrative experience? Whose party (and various alliance) has been found guilty of various corruption allegations? Whose party members and alliance members have spent time in jail – just in the last 8 odd years of delivering what in their words is ‘Bharat Nirmaan’? Who has till date, not given a live interview? Who has not thought it fit to attend parliament regularly and ask questions of those who he purports to represent? Whose, one constituency, is not a showcase of how he can handle a constituency (one out of the 543 that make up India’s parliament), but a disaster across almost all human indices?

Or would you cast your vote for someone who has delivered good governance in one state over nearly 15 years now? Who has gone against the grain of offering freebies to some section of the people and delivered them some of the basic needs that have not been met in most parts of the country since 60 years of independence? Who, as of today, stands regarded as one of the most capable and able administrators? Who has managed to inspire a government, a population and many beyond his own home state? Who constantly connects with people over traditional and non-traditional media? Whose state, despite being one of the rain deficit states has managed to show agricultural growth year on year? Whose state has attracted the best industries to set up shop over the last many years? And whose state has had no whiff of corruption scandals while the entire country reeks of corruption and bribery. And I can go on and on…

I don’t know about you, but I will go with experience and proven ability than the vacuous marketing of nothing. When Gujarat’s election percentage jumped, there was a collective orgasm amongst some members of the media who thought that all that enthusiasm was to vote out a performing government and get in a corrupt one? Really? The people are smarter than that – at least that is what those state and subsequent lower level election results from there tell me.

And that in a nutshell has been the story of our ‘new’ old hope that is being marketed to us. Now, it is entirely plausible that the new improved hope will deliver us yet another puppet who will stay put in the saddle for another 5 years. Which is worse? I leave you to think about it.

One last point. There are reams and reams of paper being written about whether Gujarat’s development numbers are a decimal point here or a decimal point there. Or whether the last third decimal is better than other states or if Gujarat is behind Mizoram in power. Or how two surveys have a percent point gap.

But everywhere, there is uniform agreement that even Amethi and Rae Bareilly are in the boondocks despite years of being the dynasty’s constituencies. Think about it.

One state which is developing versus a couple of constituencies which are still languishing?

Still want to enthusiastically vote for a non-performer? Sure. Go ahead. In that case, you surely get the government you seek.

(This piece was posted at Niticentral.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It cannot be done, it cannot be done

More reams of newsprint have been written on and more airtime spent and more internet bandwidth, gigabytes have been spent on Narendra Modi than perhaps anyone else in Indian political history. Possibly, the rulers at the center have spent more money propping up these cardboard props as well.

Many talking heads have shaken their heads, very solemnly and pronounced, why Mr. Modi cannot become the Prime Minister of this country. And as they are wont to, they put the cart before the horse each time, pronouncing the verdict even before the chargesheet is filed.
Truth is that, right now, the only thing that is known is that Modi is clearly a frontrunner to be the candidate from the BJP whenever the 2014 elections are announced. Not even his actual candidature has been declared thus far. And even if his candidature is declared (and there are many including yours truly who would like to see it happen). From that point onward the BJP needs to win seats - which in my mind is the easier thing to do.

Post that, it has to match the shenanigans of the Congress and its money power and its rather magnetic ability to attract allies who are ever eager for a slice off the large pie that the 'service of people' often offers (which lesser mortals euphemistically term corruption). And then of course, the badge called secularism - the form practiced by Congress and eagerly supported by their media which is a perfect foil for indulging in corruption.

And as you can see, these are tougher than the mere formality of winning seats.
And I saw this video of CRI Editor Sahab trying to defend Modi amidst 3 other entities whose sole claim to fame is establishment worship or thereabouts about why Mr. Modi cannot be the Prime Minister of India . And that too on a channel that is known for dynasty worship. That is when it hit home.
This whole scene of the triumvitrate reminded me of the quote,

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it - variously attributed to multiple people.
and
Those who say it can't be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it. Joel Arthur Barker
And also of the so called Crab mentality.

For all those talking heads saying it cannot be done for various, apparently, scholarly, reasons - the man, Narendra Modi is doing very well himself - for his 6 crore Gujaratis who are doing very well, thank you.

If these naysayers went ahead and did something productive, it might be worthwhile for the country
, instead of airing their views on why someone should not be a Prime Minister candidate. Unless they are on the payroll of some National Berozgar Journalist Scheme.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A note on health

India is supposed to be well on its way to become the diabetes capital of the world. Lifestyle diseases are on the upswing in India. And it is not something that happens to others - it will happen to anyone of us.

Look around you, in your workplace. There are people with diabetes, cholesterol and having medication for the same. This is not normal. Mostly, these diseases used to afflict people in their 50s and 60s, but now we see people in their 30s being treated for these diseases.

The reason is very simple. In the olden, pre-prosperity days, we ate local, ate traditional local, simple food and had rich food only in feasts. Now, with our new found prosperity, technically, we have a feast everyday. And quite obviously, our body cannot take it.

The average distance my dad used to walk was about an hour each day. My grandfather probably walked more than that each day (simple observation based on his daily routine). I walk much lesser (left to myself that is). Which is why we need to exercise.

Net result? Cholesterol, Diabetes and what not. 

Do remember this, lifestyle diseases are not as genetic as people make them out to be.

This is not about crash diets, crazy workouts or any such thing. It is a simple daily balance sheet. What you do each day is what counts. Each day you overeat, adds up those inches at your waist. Each day you under exercise, the fat accumulates inside your arteries and the sugar level increases. Each day you sit more than you stand, your body idles more.

So, do something each day. There is no secret to good health than this. As Peter Drucker said, 'Excellence is what you do each day', so too is fitness - what you do each day is what keeps you fit. More on this later.