Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lessons from the Modi victory

No one, not even (I suspect) the BJP had expected a clear single-party majority like this one! But it did happen. There are strong lessons from this astounding victory. Though most poll-pundits were cautious enough in giving a victory to the BJP led NDA, but no one expected it to be a clean sweep like this.

Lesson No. 1 Astounding victories are possible
Irrespective of history and geography, a single national political party can drum up enough support to get a simple clear majority in the national Parliament of a fantastically diverse nation like ours. All excuses are out. Naysayers will crib about the funding and the flights, but it's all futile now.

Lesson No. 2 Leaders have to lead from the front
Rahul Gandhi would take full credit for Congress victory. Today, in defeat, he is nowhere to be seen. This went totally against him, and his party. People are not fools - they see and analyse things. On the same note, worthwhile to realise that Modi ji would have been in a soup had BJP not pulled it off - he had taken all onus on himself. That needs guts.

Lesson No. 3 Social media it is, all the way!
With 4 million Twitter followers, Modi ji was taking active lead in interacting with the youth and twitterati. Rahul is being shielded pathetically by partymen (at least till 4 pm when he apparently accepted his failure). With the 50 cr+ youth of India, this approach does not work.

Lesson No. 4 Remote controls are out
People are sick and tired of the double power structure with one pole enjoying 100% authority with 0% responsibility. Sonia ji's "plausible deniability" theory has led to the junta denying her chances totally nationwide. It has failed Madam. A great economist Dr Manmohan was wasted in the process.

Lesson No. 5 Jo Yuva Hit Ki Baat Karega ...
... wohi desh par raj karega. Young graduates are frustrated with the pace of jobs growth. They see no hope. No redemption at all. Hence, such a wave of support for Modi's simple promise - I will develop the GDP and generate jobs. Rahul also said the same thing but the youth thought "Why didn't you do it for the past decade" Why didn't you become a minister yourself"?

Lesson No. 6 No beating the RSS grassroots networks
It remains the largest organisation with grassroots reach in India. And when it pulls out all stops, miracles can happen. But then, a political icon at the top is needed to convert it into seats.

Lesson No. 7 Coalition governments are out, for the next 10 years
The people have decided - coalitions are bad for India. Let us give this gentleman a chance and see if he performs. We may choose local parties for local assembly seats, but no point sending them to the Parliament. The shameless greed of the octogenarian from Chennai in looting national resources did its bit in public disenchantment.

And what about the AAP? Well, for all their good intentions, the tremendous folly of spreading too thin has ruined them. At least Kejriwal should have fought from a seat in Delhi/Punjab and ensured an LS entry. India needs talented people like him. I think the party may splinter now, and all celebrity-faces may desert them faster than they joined. The no. of votes polled, though, was an impressive 1.1 crores. 

In an earlier article, I had discussed the dangers in raising expectations too high. Those dangers remain, all the more necessitating quick decisive economic action from the new government lest the mandate should fritter away like the Rajiv Gandhi govt's tragic decline in 1980s.

Go ahead Modi ji, ensure the release of all the latent potential that India has. Make us all realise that the potential is within us, and we should all take steps forward in unison. What an historic opportunity for India. Truly!

|| भारत बदलेगा पर याद रखना, भारत हमारे बदलने से ही बदलेगा ||

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why the Indus Valley civilisation remains a model worth emulating

Taught to most Indian kids as a chapter in an early stage History book as part of the curriculum in schools, the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) is forgotten as the students move on to higher classes. Neither do we hear about it anytime, nor does any teacher ignite the fire in our hearts about the miracle the IVC really was. I feel that the IVC is the strongest cultural gem we have, a proof of how mighty the Indian (Hindustani) minds were then, and how it still remains a model worth emulating. Not even the mass media covers the flurry of excavation activities still happening the way it should.

I feel the cold neglect that India has shown to the IVC is a big mistake that needs rectification.

Sample some startling IVC facts, first.

  • It was an urban civilisation, not a rural one! So, in an age starting 3000 BC (that's 5000 years earlier!) our ancestors had perfected the art of building cities! That's not trivial at all.
  • A minimum of 1000 settlements have been identified so far, making it the LARGEST civilisation of its kind. The two contemporaries - Egyptian, and the Mesopotamian - are not even half this size.
  • Of the 100+ sites dug up, the cities show a remarkable similarity in conceptual layout, the citadels, the homes, the sewer lines (imagine!), the wells, the granaries, the fire altars (in later day cities), etc.
  • The people were non-violent. Imagine, a 1000 settlements, all existing in mutual peace and harmony, not fighting, not developing weapons, but trading, and reaching out to each other - sharing! (we have no working model like that even today! We compete, destroy, raze.)
  • They were global traders - in their small and medium sized boats, they reached out to the entire middle-Eastern cities then including the giant Mesopotamian civilisation which was to thoroughly impressed with the trading and material capabilities of the IVC people that it left many written accolades that archaeologists are discovering now.
  • There was no forceful established religion for most of its duration of existence. Even the rulers (if there were any) were not megalomaniacs and lived in regular citadels, unlike the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians (and definitely every single one following that - what to speak of the violent marauders after the first century AD). That's the reason no huge temples, or pyramids are found. It's all generally egalitarian. Amazing, isn't it?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Prisoners by choice

  • Steve Jobs was not an engineer, forget about being an alumnus of an MIT or IIT. He redefined everything in consumer electronics.
  • Satya Nadella never went to an IIT. He passed out of the humble Manipal Institute of Technology. Did a weekend MBA. Is now the CEO of one of the most powerful firms in the world.
  • Walmart's founder built its HQ in an unknown town, the founder's own. In a backward state. It is one of the largest corporations in the world.

Despite the clear presence of these shocking facts in popular media, most of us would just brush them aside as, well, asides. Or better still, will use them as quotable facts in our concocted speeches to be given as part of some lame competition in college. Never for once stopping to gulp them fully, and allowing them to affect our thinking deeply.

We - especially us urban, middle class, aspirational Indians - remain firmly wedded to the notion of the archetypal successful man or woman. We just cannot accept that anything beyond an IIM or an IIT can ever be hope inducing. We allow our lives and hopes to be destroyed by silly entrance tests (often conducted by mediocre professors with zero accountability). We accept defeat right at an age when our optimism needs to break through the concrete ceilings on top of our heads.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lessons from the 65th Republic Day celebrations

The immensely successful celebrations on 26th Jan 2014 brought with it some clear lessons, and hidden messages. Here is an analysis of the same.

  1. India and Japan are drawing closer than ever : The common irritant China is bringing the two giants close enough to warrant global attention. Exactly the same story is with Indonesia as well (1950 and 2011). 
  2. A clear message to China : Past few months have been acrimonious between China and Japan, with Mr Abe's nationalistic fervour (post the ADIZ of China) rubbing the Chinese wrongly. India seems to have seized the moment well. 
  3. Women are marching ahead : The presence of lady officers throughout the parade, including at IAF's lead position, is an unmistakable message to India. Way to go ladies! 
  4. We are one, the system is such : Despite intense rivalry bordering, at times, on the ridiculous, all political leaders were present as part of one big system. The system is above all. A healthy sign. Not all nations enjoy this privilege. 
  5. Shinzo knows no English, Japan won't become undeveloped : Mr Abe was being helped throughout by his translators in understanding the commentary. So the top guy at the top economy knows little English, but he is neither ashamed of it, nor is Japan affected by it. Food for thought for Indians. 
  6. A wide spectrum of competencies : Much to everyone's surprise, the proud display of mighty Agni V was replaced by a scaled down version of the Arihant sub. While this reflects India's respect for Japanese sensitivity towards nuclear missile displays (remember 1945), it shows we have enough in our arsenal to not miss the overall opportunity. 
  7. What a diverse nation we are : Yes, we know it already, but when the colours run riot on Rajpath on the 26th, it can bring tears of happiness to all Indians' eyes! There surely would be very few in the world that can claim a matching pedigree.
With 81 crore voters - that's 81,00,00,000 individuals! - we are entering into a totally new level of political game in India. The next 10 years will change everything. And rest assured, no single man or party will come to dominate the system, given our diversity and constitutional structures. So good for us.

Jai Hind!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dear Arvind Kejriwal

Dear Arvind Kejriwal,

I am your admirer. Partly because you are an IITian like me, partly because of the RTI thing you got done, but largely because you've displayed courage to do things on ground to change India that I have secretly aspired to, and failed, for years.

Don't let your beautiful AAP experiment fail so soon, as is becoming faintly evident with each passing day. Some unsought advice.

  1. Don't expand too fast : Reckless physical expansion without systems backup has proven to be a recipe for disaster for organisations always. Avoid it. There's no hurry buddy. Select 4-5 states for 2014 LS elections, and don't go beyond. Then work on solid issues, get results, and jump in fray for 2019.
  2. Don't let dissenters stay : Your party is too young to have dissenters! And people like Capt.Gopinath (sorry for naming) whose contribution to AAP so far is zilch have no right to say anything. So avoid such people.
  3. Be careful of Kashmir and Naxalism : Till Nov 2013, you and team were activists, and thus enjoyed freedom not possible for elected reps. But now, don't make the mistake of talking bullshit on Kashmir and Naxalism. Referendums are a NO-NO. India's sovereignty and undisputed integrity is beyond debate. This one mistake will undo AAP forever.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mankind's basic questions

Why is there so much friction in the world today, when we have so much technology and thousands of years of wisdom behind us?

A friend's FB question (on a different line) prompted this content.

When man started off, he lived in small groups, not more than 150 when they tended to drift away. We can safely assume that this was his 'natural' state of being, as nature made the first version of man thus. All property was shared. The cave, the stones, the tools, the bones (of animals killed), the animal fur used as clothing, everything. No husbands, no wives. Only a community. Some natural affinity must have existed between specific pairs, otherwise raising kids would have been a problem. But that was it. Since food was always a problem to find, man had no time to think of anything else. (Reflections of these situations are found in today's world problems).

This went on for tens of thousands of years. Man was perfectly well suited to it, and then came development!

Monday, January 6, 2014

What India has become now

After 65 years of independence, this is what India has become now:
  1. One of the topmost satellite technology powers in the world : The success of recent GSLV launch has catapulted India to the top of the world league of satellite launch powers. We can now launch heaviest of satellites from biggest of launchers, and commercialise it. This, despite all technology bans on India regarding cryogenic engines. ISRO scientists developed the cryo engine in-house, and it worked! Manned missions, here we come!
  2. One of the most powerful missile powers in the world : Our Agni V (still being improved) can hit targets, with multiple warheads, 7500 kms and beyond. Enough to scare the biggest bullies of them. And Agni V is but just one of the huge arsenal we possess.
  3. The fastest attack missile in the world : Our Brahmos (made in collaboration with old friend Russia) is the FASTEST missile in the world, with speeds approaching 3 Machs! And it is being upgraded by a factor of 2. 
  4. One of the largest standing non-political militaries in the world : Indian military is one of the largest, non-political professional armies in the world, with a record of never interfering in domestic politics, or international affairs without an explicit request from political executives.
  5. One of the few to have a nuclear triad : It means we can attack (in reply) from land, air as well as sea, in case some fool decides to test our patience with a nuclear device. Only 2 or 3 nations in the world have this strength.
  6. Most well desinged nuclear energy programme : With facilities spread across the length and breadth of the nation, our nuclear research programme (NRP) is one of the most integrated, advanced and well-designed. Given the right political leadership, it can actually make us energy independent in another 25 years.
  7. Third biggest economy PPP wise : Not a mean achievement at all. We are the third biggest on purchasing power parity basis, only after US and China. Way to go.
  8. One of the strongest soft-powers in the world : The depth and richness of 5000 years of tradition and history cannot be wiped away by anyone. The philosophical thoughts of the Vedas, Upanishads, Vedantas, and Puranas remain the guiding light for any soul searching for peace and liberation.
And all this while we remained chaotically democratic, diverse, different and argumentative, holding elections frequently, changing governments, shuffling bureaucrats, fighting corruption, and battling traitors!

Yes we still remain a work-in-progress society. But we are getting there. 

Let's all be positive and contribute to Mother India's forward march, in our own small ways, instead of mocking, ridiculing and berating the system.