Thursday, January 29, 2015

A note on the Delhi elections

Of course, you are aware by now that the Delhi elections are a test for Narendra Modi. Exactly like the Maharashtra assembly election was and the Jammu and Kashmir elections were. Exactly like how the Bongaigaon and Jhunjhunu Municipal and Panchayat elections will be. Unless you live under a rock in an uninhabited island somewhere.
But what you might not have noticed is that the party which is now the darling of all those who flocked to the Congress not too long ago - the Aam Aadmi Party which is fast becoming an Ek Aadmi Party is still doing very very well as per many surveys, bar a few.

More than that, you would have noticed that there has been no "Blow to Kejriwal" at all. None at all. Atleast none that is reported by the friendly media. Think about it. A founding member of the party has no time to campaign for the party, has submitted a list of tainted candidates from his own party and his father (A founding member) has made fairly critical comments. And there is no blow to Kejriwal at all. And of course, there is no rift, none at all because sources say so. Another member, Shazia Ilmi has now joined the BJP and that is no blow to Kejriwal at all (though the piece I have linked does use those words).

Now go back to the Lok Sabha elections 2014. If Advani sat two seats away from Modi there was a rift. If he did not turn up for a meeting there was a rift. If Sushma Swaraj did not smile, there was a rift. And even post elections, any random utterance by a random functionary is played out as a huge blow to Modi and Amit Shah and what not.

But why is it that Mr. Kejriwal who has now taken the space of the Congress in the political spectrum that is Delhi is teflon coated? The only other leader who is coated with teflon is the great Sonia Gandhi. What gives?

Well for one, this is the acid test for media. Right in their backyard, there is an election being fought.  If they (media) don't win this one, for Mr. Ek Aadmi Party, then their strategy is completely under question. So, they are pulling out all the stops, gushing over EAP strategy, like this one:

Trawl through typical Congressi journalists and you will find similar paeans, platitudes and praises for EAP. However, this has not gone unnoticed. Here is Amit Shah on one particular channel campaigning for EAP:

Epilogue: As always, we wait till the elections happen, till that point, everybody is a psephologist, including yours truly. And then everybody is humbled by what the electorate decides. At which point, everybody comes up justifications very very quickly as to why they always knew that the electorate is always right. Such is the circus for every elections. 

Friday, January 09, 2015

The Story of Shivaji

The story of Shivaji ought to be inspirational for any Indian. Or anybody. Anybody who thinks in a situation that the chips are down or if it appears like there is no way out.  I finished reading the book Shivaji by Sethu Madhavarao Pagadi. Translated in English - it is a book badly put together. It is a series of paragraphs strung together and some historical accounts - and there is so much of a story to be told. This book is a mostly a compendium of events of Shivajis life through various historical accounts.

A story of inspiration. A story of bravery. A story of a motivation. A story of a dream. A story of having the odds stacked against an individual. A story of a repressive regime. A story of a mother. A story that is the true David versus Goliath. Where against all odds, one man brought an empire down to its knees (from which the Mughal empire never recovered). A story of how one man (or his mother - Jihabai) inspired an entire generation or more of Marathas to ultimately rule the country. It is also a story of strategy. Not just military, but non-military, of foresight, of negotiation, of justice. There are so many aspects to this story, it is amazing.

But more importantly, it also brings an underpinning of something that is so important when you are up against something so daunting. Shivaji, was a disruptive innovator. And as a disruptive innovator, he broke rules - impudently. He fought battles on his terms. He used his strength. He hit his enemy when and where it was least expected. He built alliances out of thin air. He used everything around him - for example, staying friendly with the English while attacking the Mughals. Or staying friendly with the Mughals while doing something else. He broke rules when he realized that his opponent was an unethical opponent to begin with. And he broke rules impudently - while still remaining true to certain human principles. And he broke what was accepted as conventional wisdom as well. And he always kept his opponent guessing. And of course, he used the 'my enemies enemy is my friend' to great advantage. And in doing so, started the irreversible decline of the Mughal empire and created a Maratha empire (not duly recognized by our historians, IMO) that ruled from present day Tamil Nadu in the South to nearly Attock in present day Pakistan.

Without breaking the rules, he would never have succeeded.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

I used to be a fan of...

Yes, when I grew up, we had one TV channel that became two. We had one newspaper which mostly everybody bought - and there was another lesser known newspaper which few people bought. We all watched the same things, spoke about roughly the same things and therefore, we idolized the same people.

So, there were times when I used to wait with bated breath for a stupid newspaper. I stopped buying newspapers a few years ago - because well, the entire newspaper is like a Russian joke. The only truth was on the sports page, the weather was half lies and the rest were all lies. Plus, I really do not want to know the latest happenings in the film world or be bombarded with advertisements. So, yes, I used to be a fan of this newspaper waiting for each morning.

I used to be a fan of this columnist there. Yes, the one who made this comment.
I won't go into the history of all this because its all well known now, but thanks to Social Media, one is that much more 'knowledgeable' if you will.

I was a fan of this satirical columnist - who is reduced to writing pieces like this and taking potshots (yes, at you know who). Well, columnist, a) give the man credit for trying and b) many say it cannot be done, but there are some who are getting it done.

I was a fan of this intelligence columnist - well, this chap was outed yesterday for writing an apology of a piece which was taken down by this piece written by bwoyblunder - who is, well, a twitterati like anyone of us. He has been taken down in the past one, here, by Jaideep Prabhu. And of course, he is best known for the grandmother crossing border story which in turn was preceded by someone 'predicting' the story - obviously someone who planted it. And here is B Raman storified by emanin on this episode.

I was a fan of some of those reporters who made their name when Indian TV news channels blossomed. One of them used to run this weekly program, The world this week and I used to wait for it with bated breath.

And I was a fan of his protege, who, well, is as discredited as can she can be.

And I was a fan of this chap, who started off writing interesting stuff on the sports page and later one became more of  a pugilist than a journalist.

And I was a fan of, actually this columnist held me in thrall for a long time. And of all the people, this columnist was also someone I highly admired. I hoped to have my own (pardon me) column in a newspaper of repute like this persons columns. And I used to await each of his weekly columns, but sadly, sometimes, ideologies precede ideas and of late, said columnist has often descended into rant (well, I do that on my blog without a column). And results in stuff like this:
Yes, we all make mistakes...but as someone said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?"