Sunday, July 13, 2014

The threat of learning

Seth Godin writes, brilliantly, as usual on Literacy and unguided reading:

Unguided reading is a real threat, because unguided reading leads to uncomfortable questions.
Teach someone to read and you guarantee that they will be able to learn forever. Teach an entire culture to read and connections and innovations go through the roof.

Yes, and this is the precise reason there are cultures that prevent the spread of education by censoring books, websites and deciding what their population should read or know. (And yes, India does have a sorry record here). And then there are comunties that deny education to women (mostly). Because once a woman is educated, she will teach her offspring - and that is a danger to those who want to keep their population in ignorance.

Show me a culture that discourages the education of women (the Taliban for example) and I will show you deep rooted ignorance, bigotry and superstition and then some.


Homo unius libri...

Learning is a threat for many. If they learn to fish, they may not be dependent on the master, the provider, the benevolent mai-baap sarkaar. They may fly away if you gave them wings. So, they keep them hobbled, dependent and unlearnt..

Slightly incoherent post, but well...this was a Seths post of yore. Inspired in one sentence...Unguided reading is a real threat

Making money out of paper

And now for something totally different. Once upon a time, I used to be a business blogger. But then a few things happened along the way and I wrote mostly about the country, politics and related things. So, this is a post that is more like the old days.

A few days ago, someone gifted us this.

Nothing much. Just a box of chocolates, masquerading as a gift box of chocolates - there are no pretensions here - the box is truthful and says what it contains and all that. And these are not those fancy gilt wrapped or home made chocolates, they are just normal, usual Cadburys chocolates hiding under the box. Which is a bit of a letdown really because these are not gilt wrapped in colourful foil with fancy names for flavours and fancy shapes, but when one opens this box, all one gets are usual Cadburys chocolates in their usual wrappers. There is no duplicity here - what they say is what you get. (For lazy gifters I say - please pickup a box of authentic mithai, not boxed chocolate - even Haldiram Soan Papdi is beter. But that is another rant for another day.)

And the better half picked up this and read through and found this at the back. Interestingly, she observed, this box is priced at Rupees 150, MRP and contains this.
The individual units add up to an MRP of Rs. 115 only. Which means, the customer is paying 150 for chocolates worth only 115. And that means that the company is making money on packaging. 

Let me explain. Leaving margins, aside, selling 115 MRP of chocolates as they are will get them 115.  But putting 115 rupees MRP of chocolates in another layer of plastic and cardboard, get them 35 rupees more - without selling a single gram of chocolate extra! How cool is that. The company which makes chocolate, makes money off paper as well.

And you dear customer are the idiot. 

(If you chose to buy such things that are the epitome of these days. Mediocrity giftwrapped in exotica. You can find it everywhere. Fancy names, fancy locations and very often fancy prices. And instead of gifting somebody something thoughtful, you walk into the nearest store and buy chocolate masquerading as a gift box of mithai. Yes, surely you care about the person you gift it to - they will 'appreciate'. Unless, of course, you intend it that way. And yes, this is also another rant for another day)


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Maratha role in Indian history

If there is one book of Indian history of be written, then it is the story of the role of Marathas in Indian history. Most of it would actually trace back to one man and the inspirational leadership he left behind that practically resurrected India for a period of about 200 years after him.

The man, of course, was Shivaji, but apart from the fact that he led a resurrection of a Hindu kingdom at a time when the most brutal of Mughals was ruling - Aurangzeb - a little known and even lesser celebrated is the lineage of rulers and warriors he left behind.

The two books I have read in the recent past seem to reinforce what my friend has been saying for a while now.

In one of the final chapters of Aavarna, SL Bhyrappa details out the role of Marathas in reclaiming Kashi from its ravaged state. How they tried to get back Kashi and re-build the Kashi Vishwanath temple many a time through wars and pacts and other means - but never got around to rebuilding the temple to its original glory. The original structure was razed to the ground and a mosque built over it - by Aurangzeb. It was news to me that the present structure at Kashi Vishwanath temple - a smallish structure was built by Ahilyabai Holkar. Indeed much of the ghats at Varanasi by the Ganga were also built by various Maratha kings and queens over the years - and all this was because they were practically rebuilding the place from the time it was ravaged by the Islamic invasions.

And they played a stellar role in recapturing much of the coastline from Diu to Goa from the Portuguese - most of it in present day Maharashtra.

And then course, their role from Tamil Nadu to the Mysore kingdom to Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan...a great story to be told indeed...

The Maratha empire

So, why is this story not being told to us or why does our history not glorify it. One version of course is that this resurrection of Hindu kingdoms kind of came in the way of the British reinforcing their dominion over India - they used to justify it saying that they were just one in a series of invasions of India - starting from the Aryans (now discredited) to the Mongols to Turks to whatever and then the British/French/Dutch/Portuguese. The later version is of course is a left wing driven academic agenda that prevents glorification of anything India and one version of the justification I have heard is, Yes, there was a Maratha empire, but it was never an empire, but a loose confederacy and they never really were in control - which can almost be applied to all earlier invasions as well.

But whatever the reason, it is a story worth telling...

The story of Chimaji Appa

Chimmaji Appa wont ring a bell in your mind. Neither did he ring a bell in my mind. But a whole lot of real bells that ring in Maharashtra temples, ring because of Chimmaji Appa. And thereiin lies a story. I read Guardian of the Dawn about the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa - which again, is a chapter omitted in whatever history I have learnt. I learnt about it on the internet. And then I asked my friend from Goa about it and one thing led to another and I found myself reading about Chimmaji Appa.

Here is what the wiki entry says:

While Portuguese naval supremacy had been weakened by the British, French and Dutch Navies, they still maintained a strong presence on the western coast of India, from the Gujarat coast, through the Konkan, down to northern Malabar. They maintained well defended fortresses all along the coast located in islands and harbour mouths. From their headquarters in Goa they ran a theological Christian state all along the western coastal region from Daman and Diu down to Mangalore. To further the spread of Christianity, Inquisition was promulgated throughout the Portuguese possessions in India, and a program to annihilate Hindus through conversion or massacre commenced. Hindus were subjected to torture frequently surpassing even the barbarity of contemporary Islamic rulers.

And

It was in this milieu that the Marathas arose, ignited by the call of swaraj given by Shivaji, to restore the land of India to the sons of the soil. While Bajirao was waging war against the Mughal empire, Chimnaji Appa concentrated his energies towards the Western Ghats. Vasai (formerly known as Bassein) was the ultimate objective of the war, as this was the capital of the provincial government of Portugal's northern Indian possessions.

Now this campaign is all around the Mumbai area - Vasai, Belapur, Mahim, Vajreshwari - and guess what,  having lived in Mumbai for a long long time I had no clue that there is so much history in each of these places. As per my knowledgeable friend, there is but one statue of Chimaji Appa in Vasai, near Mumbai . And no history book in Maharashtra covers this - atleast did not through the time I studied.

And coming to bells, Chimaji Appa, after his victorious campaigns, gifted bells from the Portuguese forts to 5 temples - which can be seen there even today.

A unique bell (Roman style) can be seen in front of the temple which was presented by Chimaji Appa (Brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa). Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won in war against the Portuguese from Vasai Fort. He offered one here at Bhimashankar and the others at Menovali near Wai in front of a Shiva Temple on the banks of the Krishna river, Banshanker temple( Pune), Omkareshwar Temple( Pune) and Ramlinga temple ( Shirur) [Link]

What a story!

Aavarna - book review

I finally got around to buying SL Bhyrappas Aavarna translated by Sandeep Balakrishna. The book is a tough read - not because of the writer or the translator, but because it does not hold anything back. The book is all about the history of India and it pulls no punches. And when I say, pulls no punches, it really does not pull any punches and you feel that when you read the book. The book hits you as you read it.

The brutality of the Islamic invasions, presented to us in our history books and movies in its sterilised glory, is an open wound here, bare and bloody and rotten and stinking. The author relies on historical sources (which is given in the end) and also points the hyporcisy in the left wing circles through caricatures and nearly realistic presentations.

The translator has also done a great job - since the book genuinely makes the reader 'feel'.

All in all, we have been fed a Hello Kitty version of our history - as if we as a population cannot handle the truth.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

History we are not taught

At the time of Indian independence, the outgoing English government (if we can call them so) was replaced by an Indian government. Very little changed. Instead of white masters, we had brown masters. The bureaucracy continued. The framework continued. The exact system of government that the English instituted to exploit the natives was passed onto the natives themselves who now continued to do the same thing that the English did.And the natives did worse. They moved onto so called socialistic principles which has left the country languishing at the bottom of the pile on almost all developmental parameters. Part of this faux socialism demands that the population be taken care of by a gargantuan and benevolent government that is supposed to know what is best for the populace.

And therein lies history.

We are taught a very doctored version of history in our schools. If I had read only my school history books, and made a movie out of it, this is what it would look like. The movie would have two heroes - Nehru and Gandhi with a few bit actors coming in and going out and most likely clowning around. None of the side actors would add any value to the story and at best, they would provide nuisance value coming in the way of great warriors Nehru and Gandhi. It took me many years until I read India, a history by John Keay and Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre and then again other books like Tamas by Bhisham Sahni and Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh to read more of the reality and the horrors of English rule. There is surely more and I gathered more tidbits from Amitav Ghosh Opium series and so on. And I am sure I have not got the whole story yet.

The Mughal rule was presented to us as some sort of a benign foreign rule where they levied a teddy bear tax known as jaziya which made the rulers want to hug the locals by leving a friendly tax. Of course, they accidentally demolished some hundreds of temples which were mostly weather beaten. They also took great care of the population beating them up when the weather did not. They accidentally converted a few temples into mosques and a few million people as well. Of course, they were benign rulers and they developed India into a superpower. But a Narasimha Rao book gives a quickish idea of the latter part of their rule in the Hyderabad state. And of course, Mughal court chronicles give a great picture of the rule - which our historians prefer to ignore. And then again, the rise of Shivaji and his own documentation of the brutality of Mughals (and exhibited in how they treated his own family). Also how they treated Guru Gobind Singh are all dismissed as some of sort of footnotes in anotherwise peaceful takever of the Indian subcontintent. The truth is probably the reverse.

And in these big stories - Mughals and the English and their atrocities hides the very little known Portuguese rule in Goa. And the last post refers to a novel set in that era. Till then apart from stray articles on the internet (Thanks rediff - this is a must read), we had no idea that this happened. The Wiki page is here.

Kanchan Gupta writes:

And this silence is not because there exists no evidence: There exist, in full text, orders issued by the Portuguese viceroy and the governor. There exist, in written records and travelogues, penned not by the persecuted but by the persecutors, full details of the horrors perpetrated in the name of Christ. Yet this silence has been maintained -- a silence willed by secular historians and politicians; an illegitimate silence legitimised by the popular belief that missionaries and their patrons were, and remain, a benign lot who could never hurt a fly.

All in all, the story of Indian history in a nutshell, is how two foreign powers and religions committed atrocities on Hindus. Exploited them. Exploited the resources. Looted, plundered and killed. And how the Indian kings fought back. And by the way they also left no stone unturned in spreading their religion through various campaigns of hate, destruction and violence - apart from peaceful means of offering money or forgiveness. Both these intruding civilizations thought that there offering deliverance or civilizing them - this ignorant Hindu population. This, is the big story. There are footnotes of goodness, of secularism, of large hearts and so on, but the big picture is the bad story. This, then is the story - it is not the reverse as it is often painted in our history books in school.

Should we hide behind the layer of falsification or tell the truth to our citizens or have successive governments thought that we are immature to understand the true history of our country?

South Africa created the Truth and Reconciliation commission to bring the truth in front of their population. Can we?

Guardian of the Dawn

Guardian of the Dawn is a book by Ricardo Zimler which I chanced upon after this interview by the author which I later realized was a 2005 interview.

The book is a delightful read. The author skilfully depicts Goa set in the 1600s as he takes us through the travails of a Jewish family living under Portuguese rule. (Goa was under the Portuguese, remember?) As he tells us this story, one gets an idea of an India then. And then the Inquisition begins - which is a sordid tale in itself (but hey guess what, our history books forgot to teach us that - a post on this coming up soon) and this family gets caught in the Inquisition.

What is the inquisition? The wikipedia has a chapter on it. Goa Inquisition.

In this process, he meets other prisoners and they narrate their story (based on the authors research of Inquisition documentation). And it is indeed a sordid tale.

The rest of the story is then how the protagonist comes out of the inquisition and get back his life - and that part is quite a page turner with some surprises at the end.

All in all, I liked the book. One, for bringing alive a chapter of Indian history which has all been buried from Indians. Second, for interweaving a story within it that brings it alive in all its forms rather than a boring historical chapter. Third - the details. The book feels like an Amitav Ghosh novel where the history, fact and fiction interplay in a glorious tapestry.

This is a must read book for anybody who wants to know the story of the Portuguese story in Goa which often escapes attention because they were a smallish occupant of India as opposed to the English, but in many ways, more brutal. And then again, they are given a free pass because they are 'Western' but that is another topic for another day.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Start a revolution - start composting

Nobody likes garbage.

Not you and I and people like us - because we like to collect it each day and throw it out for 'others' to collect, sort and do whatever with it. After that, we do not want to know where it goes. And definitely, we do not want garbage in our own backyard or in own house. Houses are meant to be finicky clean no?

Nor does Mandur. The place your and my garbage goes to stink. They have protested against Bangalore - yes, that same Bangalore which is the Silicon valley of India and the same progressive Bangalore that is known for its pubs and festivals and nightlife and what not. This same Bangalore dumps its trash in Mandur? 

Why? Why are progressive citizens from the ultra progressive city of Bangalore who are the so called uber chic people in India dumping their garbage in Mandur? Well, the obvious answer is that it is not us, not people like us, who are dumping garbage, but the Municipal corporation no? But why is so much trash generated in the first place? Because the callousness of people like us - who simply keep throwing trash out.

It is all very good to see revolutions on TV and people agitating for regime change. But this is a small revolution that every single one of us can initiate. Start composting. At home.Get our offices to compost waste - at any rate they have a large cleaning staff. Get apartments, hotels to compost and get an environment friendly label. Narendra Modi gets it.

But it is not enough that he gets it. It is important that we get it. This revolution has to begin at home - and those of us who strive hard to clean our home out of every dust mite alive or dead can surely care about keeping our villages (like Mandur) and lakes clean.

And start composting. We have been doing it - for 3 years now and with great results!

And you can give the compost as fertilizer to farmers - and in return get organic food - and not fertilizer treated chemical veggies...

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 ;-)