Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What has Arvind Kejriwal achieved as a politician?

In my view, he has achieved the following -

  • Given hope - that you actually can rise in politics even if you are not the son or daughter of a big political hotshot
  • Provided a mirror - to the BJP & Congress that India is not at all a homogenously winnable equation, and that the strangest of challenges can erupt as long as genuine poverty persists
  • Provided a voice - to the poorest of the poor urban classes, in a political system that has no respect for them except during election seasons
  • Given birth to a new political class - Unknown individuals till yesterday could rise and shine as people's representatives, in a system where it is otherwise literally impossible to do so
  • Leashed the mighty - Love him or hate him, he is the embodiment of the key democratic principle that "People power actually is supreme" and no Party can assume its continued reign as a God-given right

India, Arvind Kejriwal, AAP, Politics, Delhi, BJP, Congress, PT education, Sandeep Manudhane, Indore
Not a pleasant sight for the traditional political classes
In a horribly corrupt and criminalised system, where the sole motive of many who enter is rent-seeking of the most merciless variety, these surely count as massive achievements. While growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I remember distinctly how nearly everyone lamented the lack of educated people in Indian politics. Well, now we have one, with a bang. Let us hope he can deliver, in a spirit of cooperative federalism.

In a vast, diverse, complex and densely populated federal nation like India, even a powerful new idea will take time to show results. Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party deserve their fair share of time.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why did communism as an economic philosophy not succeed

To understand the reasons for its ‘failure’, a quick look at its evolution is necessary.

  • Communism as a theory was a result of the brutal working conditions in the English factories during the Industrial Revolution. Men, women and children were being massacred through 18 hour workdays seven days a week, in hazardous conditions. Society and families in the newly evolved ‘urban areas’ had broken down (except, of course, for the factory owners).
  • Founding Fathers
    This prompted Karl Marx to postulate a wonderful response in his seminal work Das Kapital - the Proletariat Revolution - which was a revolution of the industrial working classes against the newly-rich bourgeoisie. But for all its wonders, communism was still a theory.
  • It was turned into a ruling ideology with Vladimir Lenin’s communist takeover of royal Russia in 1917. The Romanov dynasty was murdered (removed), and communists took over through a series of brutal machinations, internal and external. That grew into the Soviet regime. Then came the Chinese communism with Mao Tse-tung unfurling the PRC red flag in Beijing on 01–10–1949. Both the Soviets and Chinese tried to spread their influence worldwide, the Soviets succeeding to a greater extent. And today, communism is in retreat worldwide.

Reasons why communism as an economic ideology did not succeed -

Saturday, June 18, 2016

No more Rajan for the RBI

Finally, the cat is out of the bag. The dashing RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, whose 3 year stint as the boss of India's central bank saw him handle multiple grave challenges with aplomb, has finally called it a day. He will not accept a second term, is what the official RBI note (released 18-06-2016) says.

I find this amazingly sad, and very unfortunate. I feel so because he achieved much more in a limited three year period than many would have imagined. Here's a quick list-

Raghuram Rajan, RBI, Governor, Ministry of Finance, MoF, Government of India, USA, Prime Minister, PM, Narendra Modi, PT education, PT, IAS, MBA, Sandeep Manudhane
  1. Stabilising the boat when everything was choppy - In 2013, I distinctly remember taking classes discussing economic developments and the mood was of despondency. The rupee was in free fall, everyone was doubting the economy's long-term prospects, a rudderless administration was all that was visible, etc. In that scenario, he accepted the challenge and rose to the occasion like a mighty warrior. His presence soon was enough to calm nervous temperaments. In retrospect, if he did not believe in the India story, and was not "Indian enough", he could easily have refused the offer. I read in various publications that international investors found his mere presence very reassuring. There are fears that the rupee may take a hit now, fearing many populist measures by the new boss (that's pure speculation, though).  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Narendra Modi, India's diplomatic ambitions, and the US Congress speech

India has traditionally been a non-aligned nation. It has neither been a very close friend of any major power, nor has antagonised anyone unnecessarily. However, developments over the past two decades in global politics, especially the Sino-Pakistan all-weather friendship in India's backyard, created serious threats for Indian interests not just in the sub-continent but globally. Hence, the Indian establishment has taken up a proactive global diplomatic relationship-building on multiple fronts. This picked up pace post the inauguration of the Modi government in 2014. 

Narendra Modi, PM Modi, India, Pakistan, China, MTCR, NSG, Sandeep Manudhane, SM sir, PT education, PT's IAS Academy, Indore,  IAS, MBA, IIM, Civil Services
Namaste, from the emerging superpower
Multiple energetic initiatives followed, not the least of them being Prime Minister Modi leading the global charge personally. Despite constant ridicule he faced at home from a shrill media, and multiple WhatsApp memes, labelling him 'a visiting PM India has', he has continued undaunted. For all that, the results are beginning to show in a big way now, beginning with India gaining a positive edge for MTCR membership, further strengthening its case for a berth in the NSG, vital to our long-term Uranium needs.

In this background, PM Modi delivered a speech to the joint session of the US Congress on 08-June 2016, which summed up his multi-directional efforts. Undoubtedly, to my mind at least, it was one of his best speeches. I share a few pointers as to why it is so -