Saturday, May 31, 2014

A new government takes charge

Obviously, this blogger is an unabashed supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As he was of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. And feels proud that he was one of the people the Chief Minsters twitter account followed one fine morning a few years ago. And he was filled with pride. And like many others, this blogger also did his bit over the last few years. Writing. Influencing. Talking. Campaigning. On the ground.

Honest admission: I did not do as much as I had envisaged once upon a time and do wish I could have done more.

But yes, when the results came, many congratulated me, called me, messaged me, personally wished me. As if it was my personal victory. Surely, many of us felt like that.

And this new government has taken charge. The first few days give immense hope - of giving wings to dreams. Of a new India rising.

A country, to echo Ravindranath Tagores immortal words," Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

The fear of all those opposed Narendra Modi is that he will succeed. In making the people dream and achieve. Of providing the air under their wings.Of opening a country. Of instilling in them a sense of pride.

And finally, this country will get its independence...

Yes, this is the hope...I share it with many others. And yes, I am willing to do what I can to make it happen...

A Leader who does not walk the talk?

Think of a leader. Any leader. From any point of history. Every single leader has led from the front.

Whether it was Abraham Lincoln, Chatrapati Shivaji, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Churchill or anyone else.

Even Hitler. Or Genghis Khan. Or Alexander. Or Napolean.

Or any of our innumerable freedom fighters. Subhas Chandra Bose. Tilak. Laxmibai of Jhansi.

Or Narendra Modi. Or Vajpayee. 

The list is long and endless. But show me a leader and I will show you Acumen. Insight. Communication. Purpose. Vision.

Every leader has communicated with their troops.  Led from the front. Seen at the thick of the action. Stepped in. Taken decisions. Taken action. Resolved Disputes. Created next level leadership.

Over the last few years, we have been fed this incredible belief that a particular leader is actually a very sharp strategist who maneuvers only in the backroom. Speaks only to a few people. Is incommunicado most of the time. Never appears in public. Does not give interviews. Or speaks without preparation - but only reads out templates speeches. Or motivates. Ever. And by the way - the number of leaders inspired or created by this particular leader is a number tending to zero.

Highly impossible. Unless one is speaking of dons who cannot appear in public for security reasons. And even they have lieutenants - very powerful ones. Who do the motivating. Nowadays, some of these dons are given to releasing video messages until the drones get them. Given all this, something is seriously rotten somewhere.

Is it possible then that this so called leader has no leadership qualities? And the reason for the selective exposure is to preserve this myth. Are the lieutenants running the show? Using the name of the leader?

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? Sherlock Holmes, immortal quote in the book 'The Sign of Four'

Global Warming as a pseudoscience

Matt Ridley poses some really hard questions here - it is a convincing piece.

The whole speech is worth every minute - reading or listening. But the big question, really is, whether global warming exists or it doesnt, maybe there is a difference is in degrees, but is human lifestyle sustainable? Global warming, in all its untruthfulness is ultimately an outcome - and whethere or not the outcome is as bad as predicted, it does not necessarily mean that we continue to live the way we are.

To put it in a different way, we may not be sure bad diets cause cholesterol, but that is no reason to not live a healthy lifestyle.

And this is what I had said in a post some time back.

The idea is to solve the root causes.

Oil pollutes - whether or not that pollution leads to global warming or not.
Water reserves are going down - even if it has really no connection to global warming - our rivers have to be clean, our lakes and their ecosystems must be restored.
Forests are dwindling - and with them the flora and fauna and the system. Again, an urgent need to sustain our natural resources.
Oceans are dying due to over fishing - the reports on this count are very very alarming. And apart from this, we continuously pollute our oceans - and other water bodies.
Plastics, Fertilizers, Junk - you name it.
And so on.

Global warming - whethere a pseudo science or not - cannot be solved by trying to solve global warming. The answer lies in living a sustainable life.

At an individual level - one can ensure that one does composting, leads a sustainable lifestyle without consuming too much, not wasting any resource, polluting less, recycling, reusing and so on and so forth. Global warming be damned.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Narendra Modi - the disruptive innovator of Indian politics

If there is an inspirational tale these rather uninspirational times, it is that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

His journey from the son  of a tea stall owner to that of the countrys highest office is inspirational to say the least - but is also a story of hard work. Beyond hard work it is also a story of creativity, of execution and of inspiring leadership and charisma. For those who bother to study it (and I hope a book is written about the whole journey), they will find nuggets of management and leadership experience. These are just a few of my own observations.

I was reading recently about disruptive innovation. A disruptive innovation is something that turns an idea on its head, challenges assumptions and makes it impossible for the entrenched in the industry to respond. The disruptor, usually, makes, use of his or weakness and converts that into a strength. And Narendra Modi has disrupted, not one, but many entrenched belief systems over the last few years. And he has done it consistently - consistency is a virtue for any leader. Narendra Modi, is perhaps, the Steve Jobs of Indian politics.

The media went hammer and tongs after him. They had their vicious agenda and wanted him to succumb to it - to show their power and hold over him. If they could get him, they and their masters, thought, they could get anybody. And of course, unlimited power and pelf from those who wanted to see his back.

But, as he resisted the media, a new fan club was being formed. A group that saw their voice being heard through this man. This cut across party cadre and others who would otherwise not have anything to do with politics. This was the middle class, the class that needed and appreciated development - the class which wanted jobs, not doles - the class which wanted education and opportunities. It helped that the internet was available more and more - in the crucibles of Indian IT, in cybercafes and in homes. He continued to develop his state relentlessly - disrupting everything on the way. Disrupting votebanks, disrupting caste alliances, disrupting established notions of development - for example that farmers will only want subsidised electricity and would not pay for it. He also worked very hard. He has barely transferred bureaucrats in his 14 year tenure. As he worked his fans grew in number and spread the word. These were the early adopters of the Modi model - and they were spread across the world. He, at age 60 saw the potential of social media - the internet - of getting these early adopters together. He harnessed it to good effect. An ability to see new technology and harness it. And he has demonstrated it in Gujarat with green power among other things.

The future prime minister of India - started using twitter (he already was on facebook) and started off by following ordinary people across twitter (yours truly being one of them). What an honour for someone who is there on twitter just as a hobby. And each of those nearly 1000 people who he followed - were inspired that a man who has such lofty goals - seeks to follow and interact with common people like anyone of us. Now that was disruptive. It took the wind away from the medias sails before they realised what was happening. A leaders ability to see beyond the obvious - priceless. And slowly, but surely, his voice gained momentum across shores, across people. And may of these pioneers on social media were good influencers on the ground.

The media fought back trying to censor social media, call them names and ironically calling social media as paid. What an irony coming from the same journo tycoons for whom advertisements from companies and politicians are a source of revenue.

But the media continued to be as blindsided as they were. They hounded him for 12 years saying that he was responsible for the Gujarat riots. For them, the only target was Narendra Modi. He could have very well played into their hands and given an apology. But he stuck to his stand - he said, If I am guilty hang me, apologies are for those who are guilty. And he stuck to this stand for 12 long years (even as we speak). And those blindsided stuck to villifying just one person - even as riots happened every few months in state after state - even as terrorists hit the country every few months in city after city - they were interested in castigating only one person. And soon, people began to see through the mask of the media. Why are they so hell bent on one person? Why are they letting the others let go scot free?  He stood steadfastly to his values while others around him were losing theirs. Through every controversy he stuck to what he thought was right and was consistently proved right as well. Standing by ones values - a sign of a great leader.

Very soon, he started his own site, his own blog. His team independently records every interview he gives - the media often edits facts to their convenience as we saw just early this month. DD, the government broadcaster did some convenient edits that he was able to counter using their own recorded evidence. This was just one example, but he was able to counter the influence of mainstream media by unleashing the power of social media. Those fringe writers, bloggers, columnists (most likely, ignored by the powers that be) and of course - the internet - which when one looks back is the single biggest reason for 'right wing' discourse to come back in the country - began as early adopters and also created many fresh voices both online and offline - including this writer. Communication, communication, communication - with clarity, with regularity. Essential for any leader.

And when he did grow in popularity - he continued to bypass those who had a disproportionate share of voice, but less weight. Lesson - listen to the masses - not necessarily only armchair experts - look for maximising impact, not pleasing the chatterati.

The more they villified him, the more he grew. He used their weakness into his strength. The media (and his political opponents) found ever more people willing to lie and slander to gain favours. However, his value and ethics stood by him - and this is the beauty of values. The more you stand you own - you only need to continue while others fall victim to their own unethicalities. Every single person who has pointed fingers at him - turned out to have dubious values and ethics which they traded to get a clean chit from the ruling dispensation.

Then he turned Indias Prime Ministerial elections into a Presidential one - that of Modi - and of every vote for candidate from every village going to make him the Prime Minister. He unveiled a vision for the country - which the others did not. He covered a whopping 500 plus rallies across the country - which the others did not, or could not - connecting a chord across states - talking local issues, talking about youth issues, but had the entire election fought only on development. The same Congress which after nearly 60 years in governance had very little to talk in terms of development found itself blindsided by the candidate (the candidate they did have was a dud) and the issues (no leaders left with any credibility to talk). Plus Modis zero tolerance of corruption - as opposed to a dispensation mired neck deep in corruption. Again, he disrupted the election into a one versus no one contest. And the others obliged - by attacking him instead of attacking issues. The more they attacked the more he grew. Lesson - change the game. Dont play by what the opponent wants you to. Attack relentlessly - use everything that the opponent provides. Dont be afraid to speak the truth - he spoke about Article 370 in Jammu, about Saradha scam in Bengal, about riots in UP - which most politicians would have avoided. A leader is not afraid of facing unpleasant facts and leads from the front.

He inspires - right from the bureaucracy to the man on the street. The sheer number of people who have given their time to this campaign over the years - and in the past few months - is amazing. People from different walks of life. Getting the middle class and the youth interested in voting - again a big inspiration. Who said current political personalities are not inspiring - he is the one!

Isnt Modi a disruptive innovator at every level?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Diary of a Left Liberal Columnist

June 2013: Narendra Modi gets a post because Rahul Gandhi has been nominated weepy of Congress. This is hilarious. Modi wants a post because the first born of the dynasty got a post. Hell, he was born into it, but this fellow - he needs a position - so much ego. And guess what, Nitish Kumar has quit. This guy will be a future Prime Minister. I can write three columns on this. Bihar model is better than Gujarat model. JDU holds the keys to a future government. Lalit Modi, no Sushil Modi is better than Narendra Modi. This is the beginning of the break up of NDA. Congress is so happy they have decided to two three more scams - no maybe I should not write that. They may take it literally.

September 2013: These BJP guys are foolish. They have actually nominated this Narendra Modi as Prime Minister candidate. As if anybody cares. The last two elections they have not learnt. LK Advani lost. Vajpayee also. Who needs a candidate. And that too Modi. This is great news. I can churn out columns by the dozen now. This is such a great opportunity. I can create columns just by using a few key words. Polariser. Dictator. Arrogant. Majoritarian. Chauvinist. Gujarati (not sure if that fits in with the previous words). RSS. Hindutva Lab. Muslims. Riots. This fellow will break up the NDA and the BJP will have no allies. Maybe they will win 100 seats. Good riddance to Hindutva. India will become a leftist haven. Sigh. How I wait for that.

November 2013: This Modi is giving many speeches. But he has not said anything interesting yet. No 56 inch chest yet. No communal vitriol yet. Wait, puppy is a communal word. And Shehzada. What is he upto. Giving speeches all across the country. Who will hear him. Last elections he gave so many speeches and still the BJP lost. He never learns. Somehow, some people seem to be turning up - must be more of curiosity I suppose. Or they must have been paid in Khakras. As if people are interested in the Gujarat model. These unwashed masses he is speaking to do not even know where is Gujarat. Look at us intellectuals, we diss the model without knowing it and his audience loves the model without knowing where Gujarat is. (This sentence may fit twitter)

December 2013: Arvind Kejriwal is Indias new hero. Should I quite writing columns and join the party? Or should I write columns about the party first and then join? No, I will just wait and watch. Kejriwal is Indias saviour. Man, that man is lefter than leftists. And yes, he will take on Modi with his left hand. Prashant Bhushan, cool guy and that Yogendra Yadav - is even better. What a victory for these guys in Delhi. They have punctured Modi. This should be a good theme for a while now. Kejriwal. Kejriwal. Kejriwal. Kejriwal.

January 2014: Modis campaign has peaked. People are bored already. Plus he used the word Shehzada  to refer to Rahul. From here it is only downhill.  And then there is Arvind Kejriwal who will storm the country. 44% of metros will vote for Kejriwal tells that newspaper - but on a sample size of 400. Ok. Will cut the sample size from my column. But Kejriwal will win - look at the governance by dharna - this is a great idea. One does not need an opposition with a government like this. Brilliant Idea. Plus he hates RSS. He removed that Bharat Mata poster also. Man, how I love Kejriwal. That Rahul interview is a disaster. Let me ignore that. But wait, Modi is only giving speeches - That may deserve a column by itself. Modi gives no interviews while Kejriwal gives interviews while he is not on dharna and while he is not giving dharnas, he is giving interviews. What a strategy.

February 2014: This Kejriwal is a dude. He quit Delhi. To do what? Let me write a column on that - will write that his national stock has gone up. The future prime minister rises. Meanwhile this Modi is still giving speeches. Whatever for. Crowds are still turning up. Let me ignore that for now. There is no Modi wave. There is no Modi wave. There is no Modi wave. There is a AAP wave. If only that Ashutosh could write better English on twitter. I can ghost write for him? No. I cannot. But he wrote a book. Wonder how. AAP is contesting 400 seats. They will stop Modi. This country cannot afford a stable strong government. We are too fragile to be held tight by a strong government. The days of strong governments are over.

March 2014: Modi is going to campaign from Varanasi. Ah, the rich secular history of Varanasi - which Modi wants to polarise. Let me see. What is this Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb. Sounds like a secular sweet. That paanwaala may know. Kejriwal will defeat Modi. This is a great news. Let me write a column on Modis chances in Varanasi. Modi runs scared sounds kind of appropriate. Kejriwal will keep Modi locked down in Varanasi. This is brilliant.  Now this Modi is giving even more rallies. Why? As if people vote for the Prime Minister. This is a parliamentary system. People vote for candidates. This guy just does not get it, does he. He has sidelined Sushma Swaraj. And Advani. And Joshi. That is enough material for a few columns. I can retire in peace.

April: There is no Modi wave. There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave. There is a Priyanka wave. There is a Priyanka wave. There is a Priyanka wave. Priyanka is wearing a red saree today. She looks like Indira Gandhi. AAP is on the downswing it seems. Idiots - these psephologists. Let me write a column on cutting a saree figure.

May: There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave.There is no Modi wave. He has only got 31% of the vote. Not the remaining 69% and still they win so many seats. Democracy has lost. Even in democracy people can make bad choices. Yessssss, there is no Modi wave in Kerala. Or Manipur. Or Mizoram. Let me write a story on the Manipur model. Mizoram next. Where is it?

A little objectivity

See this article on the Varanasi elections before the elections. Reading this one would think that Arvind Kejrwal had a chance against Narendra Modi. A 49 day chief minister versus a 3 term chief minister.

"The holy city is in a state of confusion with too many suitors putting its social fabric under stress. People wake up every morning to a new twist in the gladiatorial fight between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal."                                                                                                                                Gladiatorial batle indeed.The elections got over and Mr. Modi won by a wafer thin margin of about some piddly 3.37 lakh votes.          ...counting of votes was over and Modi had secured 5,16,593 votes as against 1,79,739 votes of Kejriwal.
About 10.28 lakh votes were polled in the constituency where voting was held on May 12, and with more than 50 per cent of vote share, Modi appears to have received the support of the electorate cutting across caste and communal lines.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 This , is by no means, a gladiatorial battle - the way it was projected. As far as my limited understanding, a gladiatorial battle is a battle of equals and the media sought to project it that way. Why I do not know. Partially explained by their own hope perhaps or their own bias. Or in a funny way wanting to sound neutral. Whatever it is clearly, the objectivity is lost.
And then we had this sociologist, who never once takes off his bias and writes a  piece   that is a perfect reflection of the bias. On the whole you would expect a sociologist to be objective, like an engineer - who may like wood but to claim that it is stronger than iron would be a little too much. Not this one though - who wears his bias on his sleeve. Sometime earlier, Times of India projected 44% vote share for AAP  in the metros in a shockingly biased article. Clearly, unless they sampled a set of committeed AAP supporters, this sort of a number if impossible to get.And here is another one, blah blahing about the possibilities.                                                                           And for the record, only about 22/24 candidates of AAP saved their deposits out of the 400+ candidates they put up.  So, when these analysts and reporters and scientists report one would expect them to show a little objectivity. PS: Not so, for bloggers ;-)              

Friday, May 16, 2014

They said he cannot do it

First they said, he wont win the Gujarat elections. They shifted their goalposts. He won it.

They said he wont win it again. They shifted their goalposts.

And the third time, they said, if he does not win by a particular 'absurdly high' margin, he is finished. He won by an absurdly high margin and made it home. They shifted their goalposts again.

They said, he cannot ever be the BJPs acceptable face as PM candidate, after all he is one of the leaders and there are many others who have a better stake - and therefore, he will not the PM candidate. They  also said, the BJP itself will not declare any PM candidate and fight the elections without a declared PM candidate. He used the same third Gujarat elections and converted it into a platform for establishing his own stamp on the party. While his detractors were busy campaigning against him in the Gujarat elections, he was busy building a platform to catapult himself into the national arena. Talk about being blindsided.

Slowly, but surely, he got the BJP to declare him a Prime Ministerial candidate. They said, he could never be a consensus candidate for the BJP. And indeed, they even pitched for Advani - who from the Vajpayee days and before was a famous hawk. But anything is kosher when it comes to stopping Narendra Modi - and Advani was branded as secular. Among other things, Modi was also accused of somehow not being true to BJP (whatever that meant).

They then said, that he would polarise the NDA - especially after the JDU blinked and walked off in a puff of secular smoke. Post that the NDA has assiduously built a large coalition - of about 25 parties and entered terrorities where it hitherto never even bothered to contest. That coalition was bigger than any previous NDA coalition. So much for being a polarising figure. He won the party far more votes than the BJP had ever won in its history. Counting is still on, but it does not look like BJP will get 272 seats (50% of parliament) on its own. With allies, the number will cross 320 for sure.

Now they may say he cannot rule. Well, he has come this far. We are willing to wait and watch. And as for the naysayers, please write your columns continuing to shift goalposts.

(Cross posted at CRI)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dear Kejriwal, who is paid media now?

Nobody could have put this better, than Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) in summarising the results of the elections 2014.

AAP & Sikkim Democratic Front may be similarly placed in Parliament. Hope TV studio graphics will show Chamling beside Modi & Rahul Gandhi.
With AAP getting less than 1% of Lok Sabha seats, will the media finally give up the absurd conceit of projecting AK as a national leader?

The only reason Dhume says this and not any of out big talking journo tycoons and their lesser known minions is because Dhume is not a part of India media that created a hero out of Kejriwal.

A short history is in order. The AAP - borne out of the India Against Corruption movement had a chance to rule Delhi - which it did and transformed Delhi in 49 days. And they decided that the 49 day transformation was enough and decided the transform the country without even governing. This, they would do, they decided, by contesting in some 200 odd seats (forget the numbers, they are not important). Why wait for the messy process of governing when the country can be transformed by simply campaigning? And so they did.

Exit polls suggest that they would win 1% of vote nationally and in some pockets may win about 3-5 seats. The polls suggest a complete loss in Delhi where the above mentioned transformation happened.

All along, the media - which Mr. Arvind Kejriwal routinely accuses of being 'paid by Ambani or Modi or whoever catches his fancy' depending on what they say about him and his minions in his party - has flashed pictures of him and the other two as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate. So, most intellectuals (see previous post) believed that Kejriwal was a potential Prime Ministerial candidate too - alongwith the dynastic incumbent, Rahul Gandhi and the only anointed Prime Minister candidate from any party - Narendra Modi.

Opeds upon opeds were written about how the AAP would win seats - and I remember one insane piece on the front page of a leading advertisement supplement with a newspaper about the AAP would sweep (pun intended) cities - about how Kejriwal would make a difference, even though his government made did very little in Delhi in those 49 days - other than an interview and dharna a day. There are many links - which I intend to put up - once the results are up. But all throughout, as Dhume says, the media continued to project Kejriwal as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate. And that is something - considering that the vote share of Kejriwal would fall in the league of Sikkim Democratic Front headed by Chamling. Chamling who you ask? Then why not Kejriwal who?

Well, because Kejriwal was a media creation. A creation that ruled television sets. A creation that feasted on interviews. With each interview, the Kejriwal bubble grew and grew until Kejriwal himself and many of his followers believed it. Except the unwashed masses did not watch TV - they probably did not have electricity. Or did not buy newspaper - the dolts. Or perhaps, they did both and watched those interviews like one watches a Teleshopping ad - watch but dismiss it right at the outset. (If there is a parody to be made, here is one.)

And hence, this question to Kejriwal. Who is paid media? The media which projected you as a Prime Minister - despite the party projected to win 1% of vote? That is not the tail wagging the dog, but the flea on the tail wagging the dog.Why did they do that?

While I am reasonably sure they did not do out of money, most likely out of intellectual love emanating from a blow to Modi perspective - it is a question worth asking. Why did the media project Kejriwal as a potential PM and not, say, Raj Thackeray or even Chamling? 

Note: Putting this post where my mouth is. So that if the exit polls are proved wrong and AAP wins a massive, landslide victory, I can be called a paid blogger or even an Ambani agent.

(Slightly edited version cross posted at IndiaFacts)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Intellectually yours

Here is an article for me to troll. This time it is by Salil Tripathi. And it opens with this gem of a paragraph.

"Only one man knows the mind of Narendra Modi, and his name is Narendra Modi. And yet, discarding cynicism and skepticism of political manipulation, several business executives, intellectuals and economists appear to have taken him and his supporters at their word and accepted him as an exemplar of good governance, a protector of equal rights, the harbinger of a Reaganite small government (even though in the Reagan era, US government spending only grew bigger, with larger deficits), a magician who will spark entrepreneurship, and a champion of safety and security for women.”

Replace Narendra Modi with a certain scion named Rahul – and see the number of intellectuals who have ‘bought’ into the brightness and hardwork of Rahul Gandhi (with photographic evidence every time) –though he has nothing – not even a constituency to show for it. And the number who have also brought into the so far unknown brightness of Priyanka Gandhi – whose only real claim to fame is the investment acumen of her husband (and that is sarcastic).

And if that seems an unfair comparison – for what it is worth – Rahul has been around in politics for a while now – eating at Dalits houses, travelling in local trains, occasionally repairing EVMs. 

Now replace that with Kejriwal – the same Arvind Kejriwal who ran away from Delhi after 49 days – in which he claimed (and I suspect, still does) to have done more work than any government after independence. Well, if governance was so easy, why not appoint Kejriwal Chief Minister for every state for 50 days – till he completely transforms India. Yet – the number of intellectuals – who have brought into his vision of ‘Swaraj’ is huge. And this, for an unknown unproven quantity.

Then what is wrong, if people (intellectuals or dumb unwashed masses) have brought into Modis vision with a track record of 14 years, give or take a few decimal points here and there over which there is a continuous quibble? 

Now, I do not know what is an intellectual. But are those who support the other 2 or 3, intellectuals? And if not, should they not be called out too. And then again, who or what should an intellectual support in Indian politics? Sonia? or perhaps Fai?

Be that as it may, the article plunges into more intellectual depth. Where he accuses Modi of using others in his party to say unsayable stuff – but guess what – Congress nominees for these elections, a certain woman chief minister from Bengal, an ex CM of Kashmir, MPs of various hues have said quite a few unintellectual words, the aspiring Swaraj chap often tweets plain lies and worse – and all in these election times – but this is a blow to Modi article, so hold your breath. 

Then with some comparisons with Suharto and Deng Xiaoping (intellectual Rahul said that first – aila,) he rushes to downplay the Gujarat model with some strawman arguments. That Gujarat was a progressive and entrepreneurial state for a while – atleast about 5 centuries now. And that communal riots are common in Gujarat in Modi rule as well – post 2002 - but guess what the other big riots in the country are ignored - voila. 

But all this is just hot air. The real meat of the piece comes later. Where he accuses certain intellectuals of switching sides to Modi – for self preservation – by and large - why, because he has decided so. Nice logic.

And then he says that Modi can damage institutions – not forgetting that much of our institutions are in trauma after the last 10 years of continuous assault by UPA -  but then intellectuals are supposed to support that I suppose.There is no institution left untrampled - starting from extra consitutional NAC to compromised CBI to support in Parliament to extra constitutional authorities looking over PMO files. 

Sorry Salil, tough luck - the unwashed masses here are just not intellectual enough - they are dumb fools to not have continuously believed in the greatness of Sonia and Teesta. 

Hopefuly time will tell if they made a good choice and then we can revisit this piece.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Misplaced intentions and Google

Sign in faster and easier, says Google.

The reality is that it makes signing in slower and painful.

The idea is that Google stores the user name of a particular account so that the next time you sign in, you can sign in faster. Great idea.

Except that most us folks at home would have a machine that is used by a minimum of 2 people - and sometimes they have multiple accounts. And there is no way we would want to stay signed on a machine with multiple users...

So, if Google, did not, helpfully, remember the name - all I would have to do is enter the username and the password. Now, thanks to google, it chooses to remember one id - because of which I have to navigate 2 other pages before I get around to entering the user name and password.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The dog barked at the car

But the car never did stop. Did you ever notice that? A speeding car never stops at the barking dog.

Thought that came to me as I read Swaminathan Aiyars latest column in Mint - where he rather pompously claims that Narendra Modi wont create a second miracle in India. The ending goes somewhat like this!

"If Modi becomes prime minister, can he replicate all over India what he has done in Gujarat? Not a chance. Agriculture and irrigation are controlled by state governments. New Delhi cannot order any state to reform its electricity corporations, charge farmers for power or build check dams. The crucial rural functionary in India is the district collector, who takes his orders from his chief minister, not from New Delhi.

However skilled Modi may or may not be, the notion that he can somehow transform India into an expanded version of Gujarat is a fantasy. At best he can point to the state as a model for other chief ministers to emulate. Leading by example is a slow and uncertain process, however—in India no less than anywhere else."

Somehow, like all devils advocates in the past, Aiyar thinks that it cannot be done. And why so? Because of some archaic power structure. So effectively Aiyar believes that India will continue to be the morass that it is in many parts. Thats it. Personal incredulity, Aiyar is a logical fallacy. Just because you dont think it cannot be done, does not mean it cannot be done.

There are a million other reasons it can be done. A few BJP states have done it. There is no reason to think that Congress wont like development - or if Congress chief ministers wont read the writing on the wall. They may, they may not, the model may not work, may work - there are as many arguments for it as much as they are against it. But, I am an optimist. I would rather give it a shot.

There is a Chinese proverb - The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

I used to be a fan of Swaminathan Aiyar. I must admit though that over the last few years, I am not. Because from being an economics columinst of note (I wanted to write fact based stuff the way he does) while I was in college, he of late, descends into not letting facts come in the way of his opinion.  

Not that I matter to Aiyar. But then so does Aiyar not matter to Modi.