Monday, January 23, 2023

The 'Reductive' India

The public discourse in India has gone down so drastically that even an innocuous joke can now invite a police complaint. And no I am not talking about the self-righteous, self-proclaimed, so-called woke, liberal 'artists' shouting murder, murder at every juncture. But at the same time, the so-called right-wingers going nuts over a shade of heroine's clothes (or lack thereof!) is stupifying. Just the way insulting for the sake of it should be condemned, taking insult literally at everything should also be ridiculed. The larger point here is Indians, including awful leftists and cranky right-wingers, need to chill, relax and take a deep breath. Keeping controversies alive is a hobby for some and for some, it's a money-making enterprise. I can assure you no satisfaction or no money will ever find its way to the agitators.  

Now before some numbnut self-styled liberal giggle at above, I positively believe we, as a country, have reached this point solely because of leftists and mindless west aping 'woke'. See, the righteous anger of right-wingers is somewhat understandable. They should not be so angry. But they are! These entrants to the 'club', labeled and lampooned as such by the so-called 'secular', 'liberal' mafia in India, feel cornered since their beliefs, their deities, and their views are regularly marginalized as a fringe. As Gandhi ji once said (or maybe he did not, I don't know!), the moment you are called fringe, you should know you have arrived. Instead of feeling confident and backing it up with more material, the so-called right-wingers lash out at everything and everyone. Sometimes, not responding or not agonizing over is the best response to an insult. An art lost to right-wingers. However, these new entrants to the insulted club have nothing on the old-school, backbenchers of the class - the woke liberals and the leftist mafia. 

These self-styled 'liberals' are truly the blue-blooded insult takers, the pioneers, the Firsts. They invented this profession and took it to dizzying heights. To be sure, their agendas are different. Lumping all of these creatures together will be a mistake. For the woke liberals, their agenda is a weird mixture of individual choices (basically only choices, no responsibilities. And only 'my choice' and no one else) and NGO-funded activities. These NGOs have become new-age WMDs. They work for church-funded anti-national agenda (see, church opposing Kumbakonam nuclear plant), they work for western power-funded objectives (opposing any sort of developmental project), and they work for the billionaire-funded initiative. They do not have any scruples about the objective. As long as money is flowing, they will go to any extent to destabilize the situation. And one of the key activities they do is rile up the 'liberals' at the slightest notion of a disagreement. The discussion ceases to exist and what is left is the muck of name-calling and shouting hoarse. Not all 'woke' are agents of NGOs. This group does have the truly stupid ideologues who do not have the faintest idea of reality. They think history is unidirectional with cascading effects on the present. History is a precursor of the present but it is multidimensional and multifaceted with actors impacting it from all directions. The moment you lose nuance on how it connects with the present is the moment you become a self-styled activist attempting to right the wrongs of the past. And unfortunately, the number of such crazies is increasing rather rapidly lately. 

The other part of these professional agitators (or as Modi ji rightly called - 'andolanjivis') are the original leftist and communist ideologues who have morphed into a multi-faced demon. They are still very much communists at heart but they have gone underground. They understand that the commie ideology is currently dead and there are no takers of it in India. But that does not deter them. These shape-shifters will latch on to any issue to constantly bombard their subversive messages. Whether it is a developmental project or a religious celebration, they howel at every juncture. Freedom of speech, a right that was banned in all communist states in the past, is a favorite bush they would like to beat around all the time. If you disagree with them, you are a right-wing, Hindu chauvinist, casteist, anti-Muslim fundamentalist. These adjectives can be a Ph.D. dissertation! If you ignore them, you are killing democracy. If you call out their lies and deceit then you are a facist. In any case, heads you lose and tails they win. Whether its nullification of Article 370, CAA or Indian Army's Agniveer scheme, each step towards betterment is opposed by these creatures. These elements are increasingly getting in bed with shady foreign organizations, biased and raciest news agencies (NYT and BBC!) to toe the interests of either European countries or China or worse, Pakistan. 

Creating controversy, riling up enough dust to obsecure the actual issue, creating enough anti-narrative lies to bury the nuansce is a modus operendi repeated ad-nausem in last 20 years. It's not that India did not face such vested interest before but this time the emerging narrative of India is truly not good for host of actors mentioned above. Though current government dispostion does not back down from the initiative and determined to push their a positive narrative, these leftis ideologues, woke liberals and religious fundamentals masquerading as secular are unfazed, deep pocked and equally determined. 

In grand scheme of things, I genuinely believe, these knuckleheads will be a mere footnote. But they certainly have killed humor and open dialogue in our public discourse. It will be sometime before we can laugh at everyone and at everything! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

It Is Not Just About The (Gujrat) Elections!

I predicted BJP will win Gujrat comfortably. I was probably one of roughly one billion people who predicted the win. However, the extent of the BJP's win still caught everyone off-guard. The party winning more than 150 seats in a Vidhansabha of 182 seats is truly astounding and without any precedence. Yes, the Communists in Bengal probably won with such a margin but then apples to oranges people...apple to oranges! 

The political pundits are having field day post results. The oneupmanship generally leads to rehashing, reusing, reiterating and repurposing the same points ad nauseam. At this point an AI bot can write a better analysis since it's only wordplay and word jugglery. BJP won because of Modi. Ok. They won because of Hindutva. Ok. They won because of the massive amount of money. Really? They won because of EC, EVMs, and everything in between is working for BJP. Got it. BJP won because of Majoritism. Isn't that a wordplay on Hindutva? BJP won because of AAP's fragmented anti-BJP votes. Ok. BJP won because the voters did not come out to vote. What? BJP won because Congress let them. BJP won because the party and the PM are always in electioneering mode. 

The list just goes on. Yet no political pundit ever delves into how hard it is to run for an election and run a campaign. Any sort of respect to the voters is virtually absent. No one thinks that maybe voters know the  better option and what is best for them. No analysis talk about the politicking that goes behind getting a ticket or giving a ticket, the caste equation, the gender equation, the religion equation, the booth level management, the list is long but true nature and true reasons for any win by any political party in any type of election can be found only in such details. In short, treat the analysis in NDTV or TOI, or Indian Express at par with Filmfare gossip column. 

For any political party, to win an election is an achievement. To win it consecutively is simply outstanding. It requires variety of factors to work in sync. It starts with a strong ideology and strong pride in that ideology. It requires strong leadership, a strong cadre, strong grass-root support, strong party functionaries, and strong election mechanization including exhaustive public outreach. It requires identifying long-term issues voters are facing and aligning these issues with short-term controversies to rile up the masses. It requires close alignment of the political party's long-term and short-term goals. It requires dropping some candidates and being ready for heartburn. It requires picking up new faces and betting on them. It requires media management. It's like an orchestra. And everything has to work just perfectly to produce a melody and not white noise. 

What political party has all the above? It's a rhetorical question. Only one political party currently checks all the boxes above and that's BJP. The other political party that comes a very distant second is the Communist Party of India (CPI). Though it's safe to say that CPI is so irrelevant that I will just stop my sentence here. Pretty much every other political party in India is a family-owned business. An overwhelming majority of these political parties are regional parties with regional ambition. The parties that are not a family business are a fiefdom. For example, AAP or JD(U). These two parties revolve around a single individual, a dictatorship. The party is likely to cease to exist in case if Kejariwal suddenly emigrates to the US or if Nitish Kumar suddenly retires. In any case, none of these parties have any ideology, any strong cadre beyond the state border, no developmental agenda or a national-level message, no governance to manage the party, no long-term goal beyond holding on to the power by any means. There is only so much controversy one can generate, there is only so much fooling one can do. As Lincoln famously said "You can fool some people sometimes, everyone one time but you cannot fool everyone all the time. 

If we apply above parameters to recent election results then suddenly the current success in garnering voter percentage BJP does not come as a surprise. I specifically called out voter percentage and not the seats won. For example, BJP's vote share went up only 3.5% in BJP but the seats went up by more than 50. While in Himachal Pradesh, BJP's vote share did not go down at all, yet, their tally of seats came down by quite a bit. The party is steadfastly working towards garnering the voting share and not just the seats since they know eventually, the voting share will increase their probability to win. The party has grown drastically in the last decade or so but it was the only one that has been growing since 1989. Their identity and ideology have not changed. Their election manifesto on key issues remains the same and their promises, whether on Hindutva or development, are also intrinsically same. Their cadre has remained strong and the party is run like a well oiled machine. The central leadership does have the last say over everything but the regional leadership still gets to shine brightly in their regions. They have short-term goals of winning, literally, every election in their stronghold but the long-term goal is to spread wings in the states where BJP is historically weak. For that goal, they are ready to invest time and money. They are investing in younger leaders and patiently waiting for them to grow in their shoes. Take the example of Tamil Nadu. Mark my words, BJP will be a force to reckon with in TN within this decade. 

Nothing lasts forever and BJPs success will not be an exception. Currently, most of the political parties are unable to counter BJP.  BJPs' greatest success won't be all the good work they are doing. It will be creating a credible political opponent that are similar to them with a strongly nationalistic ideology and with a progressive developmental agenda. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

The Iran Protest - Again?

Iran is witnessing another round of protests. These protests are not a novelty. They keep happening periodically. Imposing harsh lifestyle choices on the masses is a futile exercise. Sooner or later, the masses will simply move on. They move on peacefully or they may choose violence but the general masses will stop listening to the zealotry imposed through banality like dress code or food habits. In the case of Iran, it is enforced head-covering. The liberal Iranians are proud people. The pride comes from being an ancient civilization, from being an ancient land. Ironically, this pride and identity infect the Islamic fundamentalists of Ayatollahs as well. Though they consider themselves the vanguard of Shia Muslims, their confidence comes from the belief that they are an ancient civilization. 

In short, the two factions at loggerheads are deriving their 'strength' from the same source. What's more interesting is, this is the reason these two factions are confused with their objectives and tactics. 

The Hijab protests or any sort of anti-establishment protests are not new to modern Iran. This is the third one in the last 15-odd years. The protest of 2009 was quite big, quite international, and quite bloody. It was a student-led protest. Then the one five years ago was also very big. The rising petrol prices and subsequent inflation led people to respond with fury. And now, another protest is ongoing, started because the Islamist police brutally beat a woman in her 20s for not covering her hair correctly. The woman died shortly afterward from that beating sparking the uprising.Young people are throwing everything they have at the establishment and as much as I appreciate the bravery, it's simply impossible for them to break the wheel here. Revolutions do not succeed. Even with medium success i.e., it manages to overthrow the current establishment, revolutions usually unleash violence. And usually, the strongmen take over who are far from the ideals the original revolutionaries espoused. However, by then society is battered, bruised, and tired. It can no longer fight with the new entrant and the whole cycle begins again. This is what transpired during the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution 

The revolution was a mixture of religious fervor, foreign-backed actors, young people drinking too much of democracy cool-aid, and foreign powers meddling in Iranian matters. Not all revolutionaries thought they overthrowing a system far more liberal than what is about to come. Not all revolutionaries thought they are overthrowing a stable monarch system that did not answer to the people with an opaque ruling class that will not answer to the people. The liberals wanted freedom, democracy, and modernity. As the struggle went on, these liberals who weren't necessarily atheists, tolerated fundamentalist theocrats around them. As Shah increasingly found himself in a precarious situation, the Islamic theocracy sensed the blood and pounced to grab the power. The western powers, always ready to meddle in Iran, immediately helped Khomeini to reach Tehran in style to complete the takeover. And the rest is history. 

Religious heads are not known to run good government or governance. Khomeini was certainly not the exception to this rule. The hijabs, the veils, the Islamic fundamentalism, the rabid theocracy, the out-of-date economic policy, overdependence on oil, taking up Islamic causes that do not help the country's self-interests, meddling in affairs of neighboring countries that, again, do not help the country in any sensible way, the list goes on. You have mullahs whose key objective is to ensure the religious supremacy of their faith. And if that is to be achieved at the expense of the welfare of people or the betterment of the state, then so be it. 

The liberals are completely lost at this point. They do not have any leader, no critical objective nor do they have any means to achieve anything strategically. Violence is probably not feasible against the state machinary when even a peaceful protest is met with state violence. Their only hope is that the so-called hawks in the US ruling class will lead to a war on Iranian Mullahs. Suffice it to say, it's foolish to believe the US ruling class is anybody's friend. This brings us to these widespread protests that bubble up every few years. These protests follow a pattern. The protests achieve a great success in the beginning, the international press gets more excited and with the rise of social media, every bozo with zero knowledge of ground reality starts hashtagging. Everyone talks abou thow the demise of Khomenis is just around the corner. Every analyst lists out reasons on how this protest is different than the one before. But protests need to achieve its objective in short period of time otherwise it fizzles equally quickly. Protests is not a natural state of any society. All previous Iranian protests fizzled out in a similar fashion. The Mullahs and the police state only has to wait it out. I believe the current protest is nearing its natural demise as well. It's almost time to get back to status quo. The liberals will be beaten down again. 

It's not that Khomeini-inspired revolutionaries are clear in their vision. They are clear about their identity - a religious dogma upholding Shia fundamentalism. Unsurprisingly they think their religious fervor has any value in world affairs. No one cares about their religious beliefs. In this age of capitalism, these Mullahs hold very little capital to matter anything worth the salt in the world affairs. So the Iranian Mullahs resort to counter-productive statecraft such as supporting and funding the violent organizations in Palestine. They consider themselves children of the elite Persian past with illustrious long history and culture that ought to be spread across the world. When the reality is their geopolitical ambition is checked right at their border by Pakistan, Saudis, and Turks. The Sunnis, within the Islamic world, do not particularly like them. No one beyond the Shia world cares about the Iranian past or history. In a perverse way, their prized possession and a potential power of strength - larger reserve of oil and gas, actually attracts all sorts of wrong attention from western capitalist vultures.  All this makes their situation precarious at best. Yet they soldier on. 

The benefit of being a religious zealot is the ability to persevere one own's stupidity. 

Where does this leave Iran and Iranians? For now, nowhere. The status quo will be maintained. World affairs and world powers do not have any appetite for another wild card change in the middle-east. The Ukraine conflict already has impacted the global economy. So, concerns for Iranian stability cannot be afforded. If the protests are to continue and gain further momentum, international forces will help the regime to crush the dissent. The strait of Hormuz has to stay calm and quiet at any cost. 

Unfortunately, innocent young lives are already lost in this protest. And more deaths are likely to happen in near future. Let's hope in the long run these deaths help Iranians to free themselves from the clutches of ruling Mullahs. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Incoming Tsunami of State Elections.

The State Elections heat is gradually rising. First, we have Himachal Pradesh followed by the prestigious Gujrat elections. Next year will see critical elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhatisgarh, and Telangana. The political games, controversies, accusations, and rebuttals will all rise to a deafening crescendo soon. And it should be. These successful elections are the hallmark of our democracy, the badge of honor for our country. 

Each of these elections throws different problems and scenarios. Indian electorate does not necessarily vote in tandem for State and Central elections. For example, Delhi overwhelmingly votes for AAP in state elections while votes for BJP in its entirety in the Central elections. Madhya Pradesh and Gujrat strongly back BJP in both Central and State elections. Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh always witness a tight and seesaw race between BJP and Congress over the last couple of decades. In Rajasthan, BJP and Congress are changing seats every other election. 

Karnataka has a unique situation. It's the only southern state where BJP is quite strong. At the same time, it's one of the rare states where Congress is also quite strong. The regional party Janata Dal (U) has a sizable vote bank as well. This trifecta tussle gets real in Karnataka. The state of KA is a prosperous and industrialized state with a rich history. The caste equations, the defections, and the religious divide all play a big role. Corruption somehow is not a big issue that speaks volumes about the 'incorruptibility' of political parties! If I predict, I believe the election results will be between Congress and BJP. The JD(U) will melt away. However, there will not be a clear-cut majority giving rise to the potential for either horse trading or defections. In any case, 

Madhya Pradesh has been a BJP bastion for more than 20 years ago. People of Madhya Pradesh faithfully elect BJP at State and Center (except for the one seat of Chhindwara). I believe that trend is likely to continue. There is no regional party in MP and Congress has increasingly become irrelevant. The infighting allowed one of its senior and young leaders to leave the party couple of years ago. Which led to the fall of the Congress State Govt that they unexpectedly won in the last State Elections. And since then Congress is simply coasting without any thought of reaching any destination. This means people are left with no choice but to vote for BJP. Plus, BJP has done quite a bit of developmental work in MP. They should win the election on the merits of work completed rather than because of the disarray of Congress. 

BJP is likely to win comfortably in Gujrat. The state has been a solid backer of the BJP for more than 25 years now. The situation is unlikely to change this time. The party probably felt overconfident last time and got a bit of a rude lesson from the electorate. This time it is very evident that party leadership is all in and working very hard from top to the bottom. Plus, Congress, instead of building on last election's win, has squandered away everything. Even one of Congress's firebrand leaders - a new entrant to the party, was left in the lurch, leading to his defection to BJP. The only question that remains is how big will BJP win this time. Will it break Modi's decisive 2007 election? 

Rajasthan is the polar opposite of Gujrat. The Congress has maintained its stronghold through Chief Minister Gehlot. Though there have been rumors of Searching Pilot breaking away, nothing has materialized so far. I don't think Pilot has enough ground-level support to rebel but he has enough to cause headaches for Congress internally. BJP on the other hand is not a united house in Rajasthan. The former Chief Minister is not entirely on board with the powerful Central govt. party figures. Though nothing has come out in the open the seesaw trend that was witnessed in RJ in the last few elections may not happen this time. It will be a tight contest with some hope for BJP to form the government again. 

Whatever may be the results, the so-called political commentators will jump to the conclusion about the Loksabha elections in 2024. If BJP wins big in all four states then they will conclude that Modi is winning with a thumping majority in 2024. And even one loss will be projected as the end of the Modi era. The reality is fairly clear even in 2022. Notwithstanding all state elections - the Modi government is coming back with another massive mandate in 2024. That is a certainty. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Boycott Business or the Business of Boycott?

Boycotts have been the flavor of the month lately. Especially when it comes to the Hindi film industry. Even British colonists did not have to bear the wrath of boycotts as Bollywood is currently facing. But let's not get carried away here. Boycotts' impact will be limited in terms of revenues and will have an expiry date. The reality is that Indian moviegoers care only so much about boycotts beyond a certain point. The moviegoer will not be missing out on a good movie because of #trends on Twitter. Case in point - the movie Dangal. It is the same Aamir Khan of Lal Singh Chaddha and he had already made a lot of controversial statements, yet the movie was a blockbuster. It made hundreds of crores in India and then crossed the border into China to make a few hundred crores again! 


But these boycotts are necessary and were long coming. Good to see the arrogant Bollywood facing the consequences of their actions. It's already unfortunate that Hindi movies, for most purposes, debase the art of storytelling and narration. On top of that, these entitled brats venture into social and political issues with incredible tone deafness and ride the horses of stupidity sermonising 'India' on what's what. I am all for actively participating in social and political issues but instead of leveraging their status in society to enrich the debate, they purposefully stroke the controversy. 


Let's go into a bit of detail here. Bollywood has increasingly been funded by unknown sources. At least since the late 90s. Many believe that the Mumbai underworld funds the movies as a way to profiteer but also to launder money. And since money is flowing from anti-national sources, it is obvious that the agenda will also be set by them. Though they are not brazen enough to paint India as a villain, they try. As part of the soft agenda, Pakistan is increasingly shown in a positive light, and Pakistanis are painted as good people. (Latest, Lal Singh Chaddha) Indian army is shown as either neutral or from the perspective of Pakistanis. (Main Hoon Na, Haider) Politicians are painted badly but then only Indian politicians are painted yellow. (Kashmir File) Similarly, only Hindu fanaticism finds prominent mention while Islami jihad and terror are expertly shown as victimhood. (PK?). The list of agenda-driven, narrative-setting, and biased movies is long. Shahrukh Khan pontificates in Main Hoon Na about Humanity and war crimes where an ex-Indian army man is shown as a war criminal while in reality, it is the Pakistan army that has repeatedly resorted to war crimes against the Indian army. The movie was superhit though. Why? The subtlety was not lost on the Indian audience but till the very recent past, they simply did not care enough. The aforementioned movie had great songs, good comedy, a decent plot and of course, movie had a superstar as a lead!


However, the situation started changing with the advent of social media and with the rise of the Modi-led BJP. The dissenting voices against such Hindi movies grew bold since they knew they won't be ignored and they won't be 'taken out by either the Underworld or by the state machinery ruled by non-BJP governments. They found an audience who were either clueless about the subtle narration or just needed someone to lead them. The dissent was earlier ignored, then ridiculed and when the impact was hard to miss, it was branded as fascist. The reality is that Bollywood is no longer immune to a backlash. It is no longer a one-way street of portraying stories to their whims and fancies. It is no longer the discretion of a few producers and directors to set the anti-Hindu or anti-India agenda. It is no longer acceptable to defame one religion just so that they can capture the movie-going market of Muslim countries. The audience will be calling this bluff and will ensure the impact is seen in the bottom line. 


As if this was not enough, South Indian movies started making inroads into the Hindi belt. Telugu or Tamil movies are abashedly Hindu in outlook and do not hide or defame their faith for the sake of secularism. The production quality and storylines were much better than the majority of the Hindi movies that came in the last decade. The South Indian movie producers astutely collaborated with Hindi movie distribution houses, which ensured same-day release in Hindi. I believe this strategy is adopted by the massive budget Hollywood movies. 


The twin shock meant that big-budget Hindi movies took one after another. Old stupid utterances and old tweets defaming Hinduism or Hindu sensibilities by anyone involved in the production of the big star movies were dug out and became a war cry. The right to speech is for all. If one is free to defame then others have the right to protest. 


However, I don't see this trend of boycotts surviving for too long. It's a legitimate dissent but it is a leaderless movement. Such movements cannot hold for too long since people have work to do. Also, since it's leaderless the agenda is set by everyone. So, everything will be in line for boycott and that means, the boycotts will soon not work for anyone! Sooner or later, a superstar and a good director will make a good movie. Someone will attempt to boycott it and the boycott will fail miserably. After that, the boycotts will be boycotted since they will no longer be taken seriously. 


Though the boycotts will lose steam, the impact of this people-led movement will be everlasting. 

Sunday, August 07, 2022

The Catch-22 - Corruption, Politicians and Indian Voters

One of the key complaints I had about the Modi government was that it is not inclined to pursue the corruption scandals from the UPA era. Be it the coal scam or the 2G Spectrum scandal or even the Karti-PC Chidambaram scandal, Modi Government's first term came and went without anything useful being attempted. This does not diminish any of the Modi government's other achievements. But Indian voters were tired of numerous scandals by the UPA government. The Manmohan government is likely to go down as the most corrupt government in the first 75 years of Indian independence. And that's why Indian voters overwhelmingly voted for Modi and BJP in 2014. Naturally, the expectation, then, was government to prosecute the corrupt officials and politicians from the UPA era. 

But that is not how it happened! There are two key reasons that the Modi government could not and would not go after the corrupt. One is the corruption and ineptness of the judiciary and by association, of prosecution agencies. And second, the common Indian voter's fickleness. On one hand, the voters would like to put corrupt politicians on trial but on the other hand, they may very well change the tunes and feel that the government is persecuting the opposition for political benefit. And, then vote for the corrupts. 

This sort of sorcery has happened before! 

Let's look at the first point. The Indian justice system in its current avatar does not have much to do with the 'Justice' part. Whimsical in nature, lethargic in action, and corrupt to the core, the institution seems to be interested in maintaining the British era decorum rather than dispensing justice. A self-serving institution that likes to pontificate from the perch, and readily cries victim while holding power without any sort of accountability. The process of getting justice is a sentence in itself for both the accused and accuser. The system has completely forgotten, perhaps willingly, that the purpose of justice is not only to ensure honesty and law abidance in the society but dispensing justice on time is critical for the survival of the society itself. All these issues and concerns about the justice system are most evident when it comes to prosecuting politicians. Most of the accused politicians are on bail, which gets granted more generously than the 'Prashad' at any local temple. Cases run not just for years but decades. When there is no fear of the justice system, the law becomes optional and it is treated merely as a minor inconvenience. Just look at the percentage of MPs and MLAs across the country with criminal past. To be honest, I am okay with this category. What we should be looking at more closely is politicians without any sort of prior criminal past who are now accused of criminal enterprise. This category is worse since they became criminals after attaining the legislative power, essentially giving them power over the law system as well. In such a situation, even if the Government wants to prosecute the criminals, how is it supposed to do it? One sitting Judge of Delhi HC gave bail and anticipatory bail 16 consecutive times to P.C. Chidambaram in various criminal cases lodged against Chidambaram. 16 consecutive times! That same judge also acquitted all accused of 2G spectrum. Should government even waste time and resources in prosecuting Chidambaram then? Also, during the long-drawn court proceedings, the political career and political prowess of the accused do not diminish at all. Most of such accused leverage the situation to advertise their brand and project themselves as a victim of malice!

Now, the second issue is a bit tricky. One can argue that the general populace tends to forget the criminal enterprise of the politician because it's not their job to convict the politicians. But in a sense, it is their job. But let me come to that point a bit later. Let's see how prosecuting a politician boomeranged in the past. Indira Gandhi was accused of massive corruption during the Emergency period. The next government, the Janata Party coalition, decided to pursue the cases. And even though there was no 24 hours news cycle in that era, the process to go after Indira Gandhi became quite a spectacle. And guess who emerged 'victorious' from this episode? The Indian voter not only rejected the Janata Party coalition but backed Indira Gandhi so strongly that in a subsequent election of 1984, the Congress Party managed to win the highest number of Lok Sabha seats ever won by any political party before or since. 

Given how Indira Gandhi was rewarded for her corruption by the Indian voters, which politician in her right mind would even bother to make corruption the key agenda? Let's look at it this way. Think of politics as a corporate where politicians pursue their careers. Their clients are Indian voters. They try to sell a vision or an agenda to garner votes, which gives returns to the politicians through legislative seats or government ministry. Politicians have realized that going after corrupts not only not gets corrupt convicted but gives additional political milage to the opponents. And if Indian voters do not value their votes enough to not vote for the corrupt, why would politicians care about corruption? They will create a system that whoever wins will get to eat the pie and if the opponent ever wins he/she will have a tacit understanding of not going after the prior establishment. 

The arrest of Indira Gandhi did not lead to her conviction, the cases in the Courts continued aimlessly and police and other law agencies essentially gave up on being the 'law' agencies. Indira Gandhi emerged unscathed and then proceeded to institutionalize the corruption. She managed to build a corruption pyramid where she and her family are perched at the top while the money made its way to them from the bottom up. Almost 40 years since her death, we are still struggling to deal with the corruption model that emerged from the Indira Gandhi era.

Modi government to their credit did quite a bit on the corruption front. There has not been a single financial corruption scandal or even an accusation against any of the Modi government ministers in the last 8 years. It's a grand achievement in itself. But the government also worked hard to close the avenues and opportunities for corruption. No central minister gets files at home. All Babus and Minister have to show up to the office and files are to be kept in the offices only. DBT, Aadhar card, and UPI killed mid-level corruption which used to impact the common man the most. Big ticket defense items such as Rafael jets acquisition were done at the Government level instead of through a middleman. GST and updated Income Tax procedures also took away a lot of avenues for corruption. The government also tried to shake the justice system - whether forcing the system to leverage more technology or attempting to insert some transparency and accountability in the selection and elevation of Justices in the courts. All this is good but as I said at the start of this blog, the Modi government was voted to go after the Chidambaram and Raja of the prior government. And we are still waiting for that movie to start.  

The government did try to go after Chidambaram, the chief architect, and kingpin of the numerous UPA era scandals. But apart from Chidambaram spending a few nights in Tihar, nothing substantial came out of that case. But 3 years since the start of the second term, the government is showing signs of going after the head of the corrupt snake. The apparent resolve can be because of multiple reasons. The opposition is scattered and does not pose any grand challenge. Congress is politically marginalized (they currently rule only two states on their own) and Gandhis are increasingly becoming irrelevant. From an electoral politics perspective, going after Gandhis will not lead to any voter backlash. Or it may very well be that prosecuting agencies finally have everything they need to put at least two of the Gandhis behind bars for a good long time. Remember, Al Capone was never convicted of bootlegging, extortions, or even murders. He was taken down for measly tax concerns. Similarly, it's hard to prosecute Gandhis for any of the frauds they committed when they ruled the country. It is also almost impossible to prosecute them for all the anti-national activities they did. Hence, the prosecution is going after them for the frauds they committed at their level. The frauds like National Herald are shockingly lazy. I think they never thought anyone will dare to prosecute them. The hubris had set in by 2014 and hopefully, that will be their undoing. I also don't think the government will be going after small, figuratively speaking, fishes. The A Raja will go free. But if Gandhis are taken down, it will set a good example for future generations that no one is immune. 

Whatever may be the case, it's heartening to see the Modi government trying to do one more thing they promised. 

Better late than never! 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Indo-Pak: The story of the Hyphen

Lately, I have been noticing a theme on the NDTV news portal where there always a random quote from some Pakistani player is presented as news. It's not like India is playing Pakistan.  Yet, day after day, "Babar said this about Virat Kohli". Now I don't know who Babar is or why he is talking about Virat Kohli. But the most important question is why NDTV has decided to put what Babar has to say on their front page. Then today I noticed two articles in Indian Express. One is about how "Gavaskar, Bedi ...... kept the Indo-Pak hyphen alive" Interesting. India and Pakistan last played a full bilateral series in 2007. That was 15 years ago. Then I noticed another article in Indian Express - this time about new podcast series that connects, and I kid you not, cultural connect between India and Pakistan. I suppose the worse thing than having this emerging pattern of positive news about Pakistan is to have a podcast that talks about the cultural connection between India and Pakistan! Couple of important questions to ask here: Who is planting such news? And, Why?

There's an assorted group of activists, politicians, and academics who continue to peddle the lie that Pakistan is our long-lost brother. That, Pakistani suffer equally from the inept bureaucracy and corrupt political class. And, and this is where it gets nauseating, India should continue to have brotherly feelings towards Pakistan, and continue to maintain cricketing and cultural ties. Somehow this cabal never allows counterarguments and never allow debates on this topic.

Pakistan has been an abysmal failure on all fronts. A cancerous terrorist nation that has not only supported and trained violent Jihadi mindset against India and the rest of the world but has also subjugated and terrorized its population. Such failed nations generally become irrelevant in the world and cease to be a cause of any immediate concern. But Pakistan is unlike any of the other failed nations in the world. A nation born out of massive bloodshed, built on the foundation of religious extremism and zealotry has found a unique formula to bed with world powers for its survival. The concept of a nation, national identity, welfare of citizens, etc. are long forgotten and what is now left is the enrichment of the Pakistani political and military class. It's not like only politicians and military leaders are to be blamed for this sorry state. The common Pakistani has antipathy towards non-Muslims in their own country. They also have deep-seated anger and hatred towards India for being Hindu. They readily voted, when allowed, for politicians who failed in building a nation but readily provided framework for hatred towads India and towards Hindus. The politicians played a crucial role in developing an India-hatred-centric worldview as a cornerstone of domestic and foreign policy. 

India has its share of problems but no country in the world, barring China, has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty in the span of few decades. India has become the third largest economy in the world from a PPP perspective and the fifth largest economy from a GDP perspective. While Pakistan's economy is comparable to Mumbai's economy. The hyphen in Indo and Pak does not exist. There is simply no comparison between India and Pakistan in any shape, way, or form. In every facet, India and Indians have continued to work hard and continued to excel while Pakistan is known as a hideout place for Osama bin Laden. 

Yet, the self-styled woke liberal, secularist mafia attempts to compare every issue in India with Pakistan. We can keep aside the foreign-funded talking heads or academics (aka Amartya Sen, Raghuram Rajan) who have a vested interest in keeping the hyphen alive. The rest genuinely believe in the hyphen for two reasons. One is deeply personal - the space this cabal occupied gave them lots of opportunities for government funding and government-appointed jobs. The macabre of peace candle-marching gave them national and international attention in the media. Second, these people may have fooled themselves into believing the utter nonsense that Pakistan wants peace with India. Delusion comes in various forms. And love for Pakistan and peace with Pakistan is one such hashish-level potent delusion. By the way, these people and tendencies are amply nurtured by Pakistani interests through various means. They know the advantages of keeping Indian strategy and political class soft towards Pakistan. They know they can virtually get away with anything - land grabbing, intrusions across the border, bombing civilians, and sending AK-47 armed terrorists onto Mumbai streets. 

And it seems those delusions are rearing heads again. They may be too afraid to come out outright. Modi govt. has done a great job in burying the hyphen. The govt. has acted strongly against Pakistan, shunned them, and showed them their place. Though we cannot wish them away, we can certainly act from the position of strength and power. Modi govt. has done exactly that. Which lead to the suffocation of the pro-Pakistan lobby in India. Especially since the Balakot attack, this lobby has kept it very low. But they were down, not out. And through this innocuous news, they are attempting a comeback. NDTV is a great vehicle to sow distrust and spread misinformation. Cricket gets everyone's attention. Hence, this daily news is about Paki players' opinions about Indian cricketers. It's an attempt to show how Pakistanis are similar to us, how they are a cricket-loving, peaceful nation like us. It's an attempt to not let Indians forget about this Islamist jihadi nation that given a chance will destroy India in a heartbeat. 

Let's see whether this strategy succeeds. The political scene has changed quite a bit in India. The ambiguity towards Pakistan has gone down. Being a pro-Pakistani peace activist does not pay anymore. I mean, literally, it does not pay at all. The ED raids on Kashmiri terrorists fronts, on NGOs etc. is paying dividends. But I will still be wary. Pakistanis has time and again proved to be masters of survival. And maintaining the hyphen is one of the critical aspect of their survival. The only way India can decisively destroy this hyphen by completely dismantling Pakistan. It's not as audacious as it sounds. It's doable. But should it be attempted?