Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Anna Hazare should keep in mind

Peaceful and violent revolutions are destabilizing well-entrenched political dispensations around the world. The mood indeed is catching. It is sweeping over India too, but on a more complex level. The movement triggered off by Hazare is not a fight against suppression of man’s inalienable rights. It’s against the rot that is endangering a political system that ensures fundamental rights. And sadly, the fundamental rights are taken so much for granted that Hazare, the anti corruption messiah, allows sidelining of man’s inalienable right to existence. This we saw when he endorsed Narendra Modi, and held him up as the role model for politicians.

We, the people of India, are so fed up with corruption, and frustrated at our inability to fight it that we look up to Hazare to provide the leadership – as Gandhi and JP did once. JP’s Janata did not survive because groups whose ideologies were fundamentally incompatible were thrown together for a short-term goal of dislodging an autocratic but democratically elected leader who slaughtered fundamental rights through amendments after amendments. One good thing Janta government did in 1977 was the put in place certain built-in defences against easy declaration of Emergency.

I digress, but I wanted to make this point clear. Indian democracy is strong and indestructible, because it is a state of mind – of the people. It is not something that is superimposed on a reluctant people. It comes from within them. Hence it survived famine and poverty, violent and nonviolent left and right wing ideological invasion into its polity, dictatorship and economic lows, wars, terrorism and communalism.

Today, its greatest enemy is corruption. To repeat the cliché, corruption has become a way of life in the country. But we will not allow it to destroy us, destroy our democracy. The country has always thrown up solutions when a crisis that threatens our democracy reaches a point when it cannot but be imperatively addressed. The rise of JP is one such case. Now it is Hazare.

Hazare was destined to be. So it is absolutely important that he keeps himself above blame. He should not indulge in impulsive statements like endorsing a person who committed the worst imaginable crime against helpless humanity. He should not keep the company of people whose credentials are suspect. Not only Caesar, but his wife also should be above blame. If Bushan’s name has to be cleared, take someone else. Our country provides a billion to choose from. Bhushans may be innocent, but the country cannot wait for them to be cleared.

Hazare should not put anyone above the cause. The cause is all-important. Let him not get dragged into a minor tug of war when a great war is being fought. His loyalty is to the cause, not to those who surround him. He should be wise enough to see that efforts are being made to hijack his movement. Unless his vision his clear, his goal is clear, he will be hijacked by vested interest. The movement will then lose its momentum – and direction.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Of Old men, Amul baby, Shashi Tharoor and Kerala elections: Post election disconnected reflections.

The elections are over but the generation war continues. In the media, which is trying to prolong it.

Yesterday, Shashi Tharoor, the super diplomat (a misnomer? – has been getting his foot in the mouth every time he opens it) took up the cudgels. The Amul Baby is a symbol of development, he tweets. Of White Revolution, of the success of cooperative movement and what not. And the NIE, 15th April 2010, has done everything in its power to sensationalise Tharoor’s tweet as another instance of foot in the mouth. They are using it to launch another controversy on Tharoor, the media’s pet.
‘NEW DELHI: While the entire Congress went hammer and tongs against(sic) Kerala Chief Minister V S Achutanandan's "Amul Baby" remark against Rahul Gandhi, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor says he does not find it insulting.
"Don't see why "Amul baby" an insult. Amul babies are fit, strong, focused on the future. Symbolise white revolution which brought milk to the masses,"
The party on the contrary had slammed Achutanandan for it.
And then the paper continues “this is not the first remark by Tharoor in which he has taken a different stand from that of the party. His cattle class remarks blah blah blah - - - .

The NIE efforts will come to naught 'cos the party would like to bury the issue in which Rahul Gandhi was the loser and Achumamman came out victorious!

And the people of Kerala had a good laugh - with Achumamman and at R Gandhi. Many, however, were annoyed by R Gandhi’s remark, which was very much in bad taste – particularly since he was backing to the hilt another octogenarian CM in the neighbouring state who has proved to be a super manipulator from his wheel chair, beside being the godfather of scamsters.

Unlike Karuna who has become the very epitome of corruption, Achumamman is known for his uncompromising integrity. But then, the Congress party has perfected the art of backing, and leaving no stone unturned to shield a corrupt or evil ally. They have intelligent, articulate and glib spokesmen (Abihkek Sanghvi & Manish Tiwari to mention a couple) to do that for the party. The KPCC leaders, the Congress spokesmen and that Bong heavy weight FM found Achuthanandan’s remark ‘uncivilized’!!?? oh, come on, give me a break! And they were deafeningly silent on the most objectionable remark made by the 40 year old R Gandhi!!!

This is a country which reveres gray hair, and the “old man” remark by the uncrowned king of the Congress party was most unwarranted. It would have been most appropriate for the Congress party to admit that it was R Gandhi who had his foot in the mouth, and tendered an apology on his behalf, if R Gandhi’s overblown status prevented him from apologizing himself.

Coming to the damage coalition governance has done to the Congress party, the scams rocking the Centre will testify to it. In my state , the most unpardonable action of the party was the way the KPCC and the Opposition leaders went up the hill and down the dale defending Kujnalikkutty. The least they could have done was to keep silent. Oommen Chandy whom I’d always admired crashed beyond redemption in my esteem.

I’m happy about my inability (technical reasons) to cast my vote. It would have seriously affected my integrity to vote for the Congress party that has been mulishly giving protection to scamsters and rapists. To vote the LDF back to power would have made Kerala an unlivable place for the next five years with Gunda Raj of the DYFI taking over. Of course, in the opposition they are even worse – they will not allow a single day of proper governance.

How long are we, the silent majority, going to take this predicament lying down, I wonder?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Narendra Modi’s letter to Anna Hazare

A strange letter. It thanks Hazare for daring to praise him, but “him” is equated with Gujarat. ‘And it was yesterday that I got the encouraging news of your expressing kind words for Gujarat and me.”

The letter betrays the desperation of a man who has been smarting for over a decade from the political ostracism he has been subjected to after the post Godhra riot. Modi uses the open letter to Hazare as a tool to rationalise his ideology. It has the endorsement of Anna Hazare, a man who is at the moment a national hero, and who reflects the frustration of the Indian citizens furious at being swindled by politicians who are worse than conmen. Modi’s effort is to project himself as the alternative to the present political dispensation in the Centre by showcasing his Development agenda at the industrial and grass root levels.

Modi is a smart man. The mood in India is one of intense anger at being swindled by the Congress led government for two terms. And the party did this hiding behind the shield of secularism they know that the people of India are fiercely possessive about. But no one can fool the people all the time. We, the people of India, are throwing up our hands in sheer helplessness at the absence of an alternative. Whom do we vote into power? The BJP? Are they any less corrupt? What about Yeddyurappa? Isn’t he going the Congress and Deve Gowda way? What’s the BJP high command doing about it? So when it comes to corruption and power, they too are of the same ilk. Only, they didn’t get as long an innings in power as the Congress to get deeply entrenched in the unspoken ideology of corruption.

So why not BJP? Speaking for myself, I’m afraid of casting my vote for a party which is professedly communal. Congress, without doubt, plays/has played the communal card. No one can deny it. But its official position in anti communal. Does that mean anything – to swear by secularism while cashing in on communal politics for votes? I think it does. A party which has a secular image to maintain will not make fascism (loosely used) the official policy of the state – as Hitler did. This party will not officially adopt an anti-minority policy as Hitler did, making anti-semeticism a national policy.

Will BJP do this once it comes to power? Probably not. The Assange leaks have shown a hardcore and vocal BJP leader confessing that Ram Mandir was only a political launching pad to catapult the party to New Delhi. Most BJP leaders have democratic values and are committed to secularism and pluralism.

But not so Modi. The post Godhra riots showed his true colours. In his letter to Hazare, he never once mentions why people vilify him. Let him categorically state that he had nothing to do with the carnage which followed the horrible torching of the train by a group of Muslims at Godhra. Let him declare that he was totally innocent of what happened, that things went out of his hands. Never once has he said that. All allegations about his government’s complicity in the pogrom have always been met by silence. When Karan Tharpar tied to get him to talk on it, he walked out of the show in a huff.

And he has been consistently making efforts to parochialise the issue by saying that the rest of India is against the people of Gujarat. There is not an element of truth in that statement. It’s Modi that India rejects, and fears. And when Gujarat keeps voting him back to power, democratic, secular India becomes anxious. What if he becomes the Prime Minister, which is not an impossibility. Modi for PM lobby is a powerful one in the BJP camp.

The very thought of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India is scary.
The Indian democracy is in a precarious position today, and the Congress which has been at the helm of affairs for a long long time has itself to blame for this. Alphonse Kannanthanam, the maverick bureaucrat known for his honest ways has joined BJP. Anna Hazare a Gandhian applauds Modi. True, it’s his development agenda that he lauds, but the message is loud and clear. Ignore his human rights violations. Development at grass roots level, taking care of the villages compensate for crimes against humanity. This is the subtext of Kannanthanam joining BJP,Anna Hazare lauding Modi and the people of Gujarat voting him back again and again.

This is worrisome. Disgusted with corruption, there appears to be a shift in people’s attitude to democratic values. A willingness to compromise on the fundamentals.

This does not augur well for the great Indian democracy.