Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Competence in election depends on competent criteria in selection

April 10, 2014

This write up is inspired by Mr Gurucharan Das’s article on the current Indian elections, “Secularism or Growth-choice is yours” in the Sunday times of April 6, 2014 where he says “ “where he suggests how economic growth is crucial to the lives of the youth who represent demographic dividend. The last line states “ There will always be a trade off in values at the ballot box and those who place secularism above demographic dividend are wrong and elitist”.

Former Union Minister and Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani had written in his book “Imagining India” how demographic dividend could make or break India. This is only possible through good governance which obviously implies a sincere, competent and experienced prime minister which in turn reminds one of Mr lal Bahadur Shastri . One should learn from history how he came about being prime minister on sheer merit unlike today’s dynastry politics. . Apart from performing very well in several party posts on different occasions , he was also a capable minister in many spheres- He performed with distinction as Railways minister, Transport and communications minister , Commerce minister and even union Home Minister. In the book “The Prime Ministers of India” compiled by Dr R.K.Pruthi, it is mentioned,” In 1964, Pandit Nehru fell ill while attending the annual sessions of the congress. It was decided to strengthen the union cabinet to relieve the prime minister of some of his routine work. Persuaded to return to the cabinet, Mr Shastri became Minister without portfolio whose task was to perform such functions as may be assigned to him by the prime minster from time to time in relation to the ministry of external affairs, atomic energy and Cabinet secretariat.” It is further mentioned that though Nehru did not name a successor, he had been grooming Lal Bahadur to step into his shoes. He had been entrusting to him the most pressing problems of the country and he had tackled them well. This has proved his ability to the masses and when the time came, he was unanimously elected the new leader. Perhaps Mr Rahul Gandhi could have tried something similar under Professor Manmohan singh for getting valuable governance experience. Mr Nehru has spoken extremely highly of Mr Shastri’s competence.

Mr Shastri had governance experience even before Independence- Mr Shastri was elected to the UP assembly in 1937. In 1945, he became secretary to the state government parliamentary board. Re-elected in 1946, he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the chief minister. The following year, he became minister for police and transport. There is mention of exceptional service under state chief ministers as well. It may not be out of place to mention here that he went to Jail for a total period of nine years during independence.

In contrast today’s candidates seem to be found wanting . Though Mr Modi has become chief minister of Gujarat several times, he has no experience of central government. Though not officially announced, one gets to hear Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal’s names is possible PM candidates. Neither has any governance experience to speak of. Mr Kejriwal won the Delhi elections, made a lot of announcements and quit for dubious reasons. Those announcements were touted as achievements which no government had achieved in 49 days. This is like trying to compare cricketer Vijay Merchant’s test batting average of 47.72 to Saurav Ganguly’s 42.17 forgetting the fact that while Mr Merchant had played only 10 tests , Ganguly played 113. This comparison can be misleading as Mr Kejriwal does not have any performance to speak of actually. Well known management writer Ram charan in his book “Execution” states how the best of students of ivy league colleges are found wanting in execution skills though they have excellent articulation skills. Venture capitalists say “ We fund teams(execution), not ideas”. Mr Kejriwal maybe a well meaning man but taking execution for granted and making accusations without proof make his seem naive.Even internationally, there is seems to be quite a gulf between President Obama’s oratorical and execution skills..Mr Kejriwal’s pet issue corruption is a major issue but a less corrupt politician who is not capable enough is equally undesirable.

As for Mr Gandhi, him and the congress party should have a look at what his great grandfather stated on electing his successor “Do democratic leaders choose their own crown princes? Are we Roman Emperors? I know that the ordinary process of democratic politics will pick my successor. Four hundred million people are capable of selecting a leader for themselves. I am not going to do it for them. It would be insolent for me to do it. “ On paper, the congress party may profess to do this but there is clearly a predominance of the Gandhi family. According to media reports, Mr Gandhi has made sincere efforts to induct professionals from other streams. From my experience, professionals only accept somebody who has superior capability as their leader or maybe that does not apply to politics where the stakes are much higher than the corporate world. Apart from shastri all the other prime ministers from the non Gandhi family had plenty of governance and administrative experience and performed better as well. Though we all want competent politicians, the mainstream media rarely highlight this fact. How somebody like Jagan Mohan Reddy can straightaway aspire to be chief minister of a large state like Andhra Pradesh also defies logic. It reminds me of my college days thirty years ago when, being an impressionable teenager, I used to think that the short cut to success was a rich father. I would go around saying

Whether your father makes profit or loss,

When you join him in business, you become automatic boss.

When your father is in business, you can be sure of one thing.

Whoever may come and go, you will be the king

Whether it is restaurant, factory or shop

The principle is the same, replace the pop at the top

Practical life proved to be totally different. I worked in one company where there were four candidates from the same management institute- one person got three double promotions over a year but the others got only one promotion which was obviously because of difference in execution skills though everybody had the same degree.

I never thought that my short poem would apply to politics one day which has become a business, a thought well articulated by former cabinet secretary, TSR Subramanian in his book,” Governmint in India”. In an earlier article, Mr Das had stated that there is nothing wrong if a son or daughter of a politician chooses to follow in their parent’s footsteps but nature rarely distributes talent that way. How true. I grew up in the era of Amitabh Bachchan and Sunil Gavaskar. Their sons are hardly a patch on their superstar fathers as many others from bollywood and cricket. In politics, legislative and governance talent is not highlighted or monitored strongly. Bollywood and cricket superstars have to be on their toes(latest hit or latest match) but politicians have a five year term and public memory being short, they can many times get away with being incompetent.

Since I am likely to be accused of Gujju bias where Mr Modi is concerned, people can draw their own conclusions after reading the latest issue of India today on the possibility of replicating the Gujarat model or on the internet. His governance credentials are much better but for somebody who is asking votes for good governance, inducting actors/actresses as legislators in place of people with strong grassroots experience does not augur well unless they really have the capability and sincerity(I read long ago how actor Vinod Khanna had done a lot of good work in Gurdaspur and had won twice from there). Inducting an erstwhile dream girl as a candidate reminds of the famous Sholay song “Jab tak hai jaan, jane jahaan, main nachoongi, main naachongi”.. It seems her sunset years are being used for a different kind of dacne. How different reel and real life can be- for an exceptional display of dance and body, the same lady is not willing to even come out of her Audi. How competence in politics has to be promoted vigorously is something everyone needs to and should study.


Heart over head;democracy is dead

May 14, 2008

In the Sunday Hindustan Times of May 11,2008, Vir Sanghvi has written in is article “The American President” that whatever be the merit of Barack Obama, Americans are likely to choose republican John McCain as he fits more into the mould of White Anglo sexan protestant which, historically in the recent past, a majority of American Presidents have tended to be. Sanghvi is so sure of this assertion that in his own words he is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

I had read somewhere that Democracy has meaning only in a literate society and in the same vein, American and British democracies were more vibrant. There is some merit in this as we have evidenced how in Bihar Lalloo Yadav ruled Bihar by person and proxy over a period of 15 years without commensurate merit. One can imagine poor, illiterate people casting their vote parochially in favor of their caste or religion without giving a damn to merit but if educated people also allow themselves to follow heart over head, one wonders what is in store in the long run?

Apart from Americans, the emotional element is very much evident in British society where monarchy persists though in this day and age, it is clearly our of vogue. Though South Indians are perceived to be down to earth, it is not too tough for a filmstar to become a prominent politician without any commensurate merit. Heart predominates also because the head does not decide the merit parameters of politicians.

In his Article “to woo UP, Rahul should tie the Dalit knot” of 5/5/2008 , journalist Jug Suraiya says “The proclaimed Yuvraj of the congress party, Rahul should emulate kings and emperors the world over who have used marriage as an instrument with which to forge links with other principalities and powers to help them extend their own domains. “
That’s a new one but may not be a bad idea while the going is good. Had India been a completely literate society, dynasties would never have lasted for four or five generations where American and Russian Presidents cannot stay in power for more than two terms.

It is really strange that people like President Putin of Russia who has given a superb performance in terms of turning around Russia has to think of abdicating power even if technically whereas other politicians can continue without merit on the strength of heart alone. God alone knows when genuine democracy will arise on sheer merit. Democracy seems more dead unless we use more of head.


Gaping holes without goals shall put us on the mat in a world that is flat.

December 9, 2006

I just finished reading the wonderful book “The world if flat”. by three times pulitzer winning author Thomas Friedmann.It is basically about how flatteners like outsourcing, off shoring, supply chaining among other flatteners were creating a level playing field for all countires in the world. It spelled out the consequences from several perspectives on the United states in general and the world at large in particular. While saluting the manufacturing and service prowess of China and India respectively, the author is of the view that unless education in America is radically transformed, Americans shall have a tough time coping with global competition.

The book has several interesting references to India including the TCS contract in the state of Indiana, interactions with Infosys President Nandan Nilekani and former Wipro President Vivek Paul, India’s prominent role in business process outsourcing and supply chains, India’s rural mismanagement , role of NGO etc.

Though on the whole the book salutes both China and India, it has certain misgivings about Indian misgovernance. Some excerpts:-

Foreign investors “ When we go to India and are asked about opening plants, we say “You don’t have the infrastructure. Your electricity goes four times a day

“Dinaker singh, the hedge fund manager regularly goes back to India to visit his family. In the winter of 2004, he went back to New Delhi for a visit. When I saw him a few months later, he told me about the moment when Inida’s economy as a whole, had still not taken off as much as it should have- outside of the high-tech sector. “I was on the sixth floor of a hotel in New Delhi and when I looked outside the window I could see for miles. How come? Because you do not have assured power in Delhi for elevators, so these are not many tall buildings” No sensible investor would want to build a tall building in a city where the power could go out at any moment and you might have to walk up twenty flights of stairs”

“There is no question that china and India are better off for having at least part of their population in the flat world. But there are many, many others living outside this cycle. They live in villages or rural areas that only criminals would want to invest in, regions where violence, civil war and disease compete with one another to see which can ravage the civilian population most.”

In the same context, this is what was written in another part of the book “ At the same time rural Indians understood, at the gut level, exactly why it was not happening for them: because local governments in India have gotten so eaten away by corruption and mismanagement that they cannot deliver to the poor the schools and infrastructure they need to get a fair share of the pie. India can have the smartest high-tech vanguard in the world, but if it does not find a way to bring along more of those who are unable, disabled, undereducated and underserved, it will be like a rocket that takes off but quickly falls back to earth for lack of sustained effort.

This reminds me of a statement that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi often said and which was repeated time and again “ I know that from every one rupee that the government allocates for the poor, only 15 paise actually reaches them. “ A strong prime minister with 400plus MPs in parliament was powerless to do much about it. It so happened that when Rajiv Gandhi died in 1991, I used to be executive assistant to the managing director in a washing machine company. Earlier I had also functioned as executive assistant to my father in a lighting company that he had helped turn around. My experiences as an executive assistant in these medium sized companies can be best summed up in these words- there is a slip between the cup and the lip. So many things can go wrong after instructions are issued because of the hassles of communication and other things that one really wonders how a country as diverse as India with all its powerful vested interests can ever be governed without executive assistants who monitor implementation and report directly to the prime minister or the concerned union cabinet minister in some cases.

Another thing that amazes in politics is the lack of transparent goals. After one elects an MP, one does not even know what that member of parliament is doing. There should be websites on which there should be clear cut goals for each MP, minister or whoever is there in an office of responsibility. The book says that with the way India, China, Russia and certain countries of Latin America are expected to progress, if rural development does not catch up and rural population continues to migrate to the cities in search of a better life, these countries and the world at large shall be in serious trouble because of infrastructure problems and pollution.

Management consultants emphasize that setting goals is so important that it is a habit that should be cultivated in school days. My wife, a nursery school teacher told me that they have goals even for the tiny tots to develop their gross and fine motor skills. Politicians without goals are like naughty boys in need of regulation. There is no point in blaming them all the time if there is no proper mechanism to ensure accountability. Information revolution and mass communication are usless without clear cut goals and effective monitoring. The media should not just report misgovernance but monitor the issue to its logical conclusion.
Our so called “democracy” is quite infructous if not useless without this.

If governance does not cope up with economic progress, it could be counterproductive and India could become a veritable hell impossible for anybody to nurse back to health.


Lalu denied entry at the India International centre, There and at IIMs, who is really eligible to enter?

October 9, 2006

Yesterday(8/10/2006), the Sunday Times reported that Railway minister Lalu Yadav was refused the much sought after membership of India International Center which is considered a kind of “arrival statement” by Delhi’s Intellectual circuit :-

Elite IIC refuses to take lalu as member

The high esteem membership was refused on the grounds that Lalu was charge sheeted in criminal cases. One is prompted to ask “What’s new?”. If he could lecture impressively at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad on September 18, why such a hue and cry over membership of another elite institute? Five days after this post, on 13/10,2006, former Union minister, Dr Karan singh(son of Hari Singh,erstwhile king of Kashmir) resigned as one of the life trustees of IIC on failing to deliver on his promise of securing a membership for lalu. Now, if people of that kind of stature want lalu as members, one can hardly grudge him that.

In an article,”Are you club class?” in the Sunday Times(15/10/2006), Meenakshi Kumar says that some clubs like Delhi Gymkhana insisit on a certain status and stature( a Janpath shopkeeper being refused membership)and some like Delhi Golf club insist on sporting talent. At the Gymkhana, people may have to wait upto 35 years. IIC on the other hand insists on members who help sustain the international character of the centre. On being told once that the Japensese can turn Bihar into a Japan in a few months, Lalu replied that he could turn Japan into a Bihar in a few days. That’s all the internationalism lalu’s got but jokes apart, he would simply be as much of a misfit in these clubs as a club member would be in his native Bihar.

The Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh has publicly praised Lalu very highly for his turnaround of railways.However, following the news that lalu was going to address the students of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and after he gave his lecture, a lot of blogs questioned the validity of granting him such an honor stating that the railways turnaround could not be attributed to him directly. Some argued that even if for a moment, it is believed that he had a major role to play in the railways turnaround, considering that he had made a mockery of democracy and governance in Bihar for a decade and a half, his overall record was grossly negative and a person like him had no business lecturing at premiere Management institutes of India.

Laloo interacting with management students at IIM, Ahmedabad.
(from Hindustan times archives)

In the book “The war for Talent”, the authors day” Manegerial talent is at the epicentre for the war for talent. Mangerial talent is a combination of a sharp, strategic mind, leadership ability, emotional maturity, communication skills, the ability to attract and inspire other talented people, entrepreneurial instincts, functional skills and the ability to deliver results”.

Lalu may not be a manager in the true sense of the firm but one wonders how much of this applies to him.When lalu first became CM, he was lauded for his unique administrative style like doing surprise checks at odd hours among other things. Personally speaking, I admired him for his rustic wisdom and supreme artistry at playing to the gallery. However, he flattered to deceive badly and also got embroiled in the fodder scam.

Rather than get into debates on Lalu’s credibility, one should focus on those who really deserve the honor. Where are the Shahrukh khans and Sachin Tendulkars of management? Can the information revolution and mass communication unearth those chupa rustams(hidden talent). Unfortunately, such talent is not as transparent as acting or sports. I had the pleasure of coming across one such prodigy.

Ashish Kundu and I were in the same school and same class for four years between 1977-81. We bumped into each other in the Kedia group(1992-1995) in September ‘1992 when he joined as Assistant Manager(Exports) and I as Assistant Manager(MIS). The kedia group which specialized in liquor had a turnover of about Rs150 Crores at that time. Though he used to come on a motorcycle initially, his prodigious talent soon got him three cars(two from the company) and several promotions within a span of a year and he rose to become CEO. Eminent novelist Agatha Christie had once said that everything could be done creatively and it was my pleasure to see Ashish do something as mundane as administration in a unique style( doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way-it is one thing to read about it and another thing to witness it). He excelled both vertically(each post from assistant manager to CEO) and horizontally( Finance, Marketing, Personnel, operations etc).

He completely outclassed the powers that be in the company in front of the political leadership of a southern state and foreign collaborators with whom they were contemplating various projects. Much later,after leaving his job, he established a big project consultancy business of his own in next to no time.

Poetry being the spontaneous flow of powerful emotions, he inspired this out of me in August’1995 when we parted ways in the corporate world. The quality of poetry is not as important as the fact that his brilliance inspired it. It is more of prose in poetry than real poetry.

I have said in other posts that Greatbong is my favorite writer in the blogoshpere. Here is the other greatbong in my life. As I say this I would like to add that had it been possible ,maybe the people of Bengal would have loved to see his meteoric rise as much as Saurav Ganguly’s. It was like watching a superstar take off. Here then, is a tribute to a wonderful friend and an outstanding business executive:-

Poem- Tribute to an outstanding corporate executive

Within the first month of our bumping into each other in the corporate world, on watching his razor sharp business brains and superb communicating abilities, I predicted that one day he would make it very big in the corporate world. Now, If only I could predict share prices like that, I would have become the Indian Mr Buffet by now. Despite knowing each other since school days and being regularly in touch, I always think of him as boss first, an attitude which is at great variance with some of the other bosses I have come across in my life

Jokes apart, can there be two opinions on whether or not such people should be allowed to address premiere management institutes? IIM ne bulalaya lalu, inko kya main bulalu?


Salute the new wise guy, Lage raho Munnabhai- Bapu ke Lal or Jessica Lall?

September 19, 2006

The word “lal” in hindi implies one’s children and Gandhiji was revered as Bapu(Father) by many. The movie “Lage raho Munnabhai” is a very good attempt at remembering his legacy. The director has tried to show quite humorously how truth and non-violence which is what Gandhiji stood for are still one of the best ways to deal with day to day life situations.

Jessica lall more than anybody else in recent times symbolizes the fight for truth and Justice. Almost the entire mainstream media united in appealing and making presentations for justice when her murderer was adjudged not guilty by the court. Priyadarshini Matto is another case- she was raped and murdered by the son of a police officer who again managed to get away because of a priviledged background. In a country where the father of the nation is deemed an apostle of truth and non-violence and whose professional integrity as a lawyer is unquestionable, such incidents are clearly a blot on his unique legacy.

The Times of India supplement September 17,2006 in an article “Gandhi kaun hai” states that though a majority of Indians still believe in a peaceful way out in settling a dispute, a whopping 64% of Indians and 90% Delhiites believe that Gandhigiri does not work anymore.

The Chairman of Infosys, Mr Narayan Murthy, a man known as much for his integrity as for his numerous achievements in the software Industry admits in the book “Business Gurus speak”, “Since all our operations were outside, we had very few operations here(India) and had no need to bribe anyone. Maybe we would have done it, if forced to by circumstances. Every corporation can take only a limited amount of nuisance; beyond that it becomes very difficult“. One has to admire Mr Murthy’s forthrightness in admitting this.

Speaking from my own experience, the best boss(an outstanding CEO and later very successful businessman) that I worked under told me once that ” I draft a legal agreement with the assumption that the entire world is a cheat.” He said that that is the best way to be safe because practically everybody cheats.

Exactly the same words were mentioned by a lady on NDTV in a program on Karan Johar’s “Kabhi alvida na kehnai” . She was talking in the context of extra marital affairs and said that eveyrbody who thinks that he can get away with it cheats.Cheating is something that has become so common that one is more surprised when it does not happen. A government organization’s “commission” almost trippled over a decade.

It’s an all pervasive culture- some doctors misguide patients for money, some lawyers delay cases deliberately for money, some chartered accountants collude with the taxmen and fleece the client etc. Some teachers force tuitions on their students, one gets to hear corruption by the police now and then and one has even heard of some elements in the media indulging in corruption of a different kind. One wonders how “Gandhigiri” can work with such people . The question very often is “Who polices the police, who educates the educationists, who watches the watchdog, who makes law for the lawmakers etc or to sum up “Who keeps the keeper? They remind you of one of the all time great songs of Hindi Cinema from the movie Amar prem Chingari koi Bhadke(taken from

The whole song, which has one of the best lyrics of all times tries to explain that if the people who are responsible for certain duties do the exact opposite, nobody can save you. Not only Gandhigiri but nothing can work in a situation like this. God alone knows what the proportion of such people in the total is- whether they are an exception or the rule? The legal system being perceived as “remedy being worse than the disease“, the common man feels stifled and helpless.

Well known management consultant Arindam Chaudhary uses the words “practically defunct judiciary” and “inefficient and lethargic judicial system on perpetual strike for all practical purposes” in his book “Count your chickens before they hatch”. It sounds like a sweeping statement and one can’t help wondering how far it is true. Not only in the Judiciary but elsewhere, people take their professions for granted. One’s occupation sustains oneself emotionally(for a majority of waking hours)and financially and one should have the highest regard for it.

Contrast this to what is said in Gandhi’s autobiography(those not inclined can skip),
” As a student, I heard that a lawyer’s profession is a liar’s profession. That did not influence me. I had no intention of earning either position or money by lying.” “I have never resorted to untruth in my profession and since a large part of my legal practice was in the interest of public work, I charged nothing beyond out of the box expenses and that too I met myself”. “The true function of a lawyer is to unite parties driven asunder”.

Gandhiji was practical enough to admit though that “Truthfulness in the practice of a profession cannot cure it of the fundamental defect that vitiates it”

Gandhiji’s views on funds management-” Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for every organization. Without them, it falls into disrepute. Without properly kept accounts it is impossible to maintian truth in its pristine purity” . Gandhi always insisted on receipts being given on the amounts paid.

Gandhiji’s views on truthfulness in business- ” I strongly contested my merchant friends views when they said that business was a very practical thing and that pure truth was out of question in business. I reminded tham that their conduct in foreign land is how Iindians would be judged in general.”
Sometime back, there was another movie called ‘Maine Gandhi ko nahin mara” which stated how Indians remember the father of the nation only during his birth and death anniversaries. The truth is that he and his legacy have been murdered in a variety of ways and there can be a post on each of them. He being a lawyer, apart from “Truth” being explored above, our laws merit some detailed mention:-

In our colony. some people have let out their property to Banks. This causes traffic problems of Herculean proportions. About a week back, I received a call from the security to remove my car. I was surprised as I had parked it in the right place and said so in so many words. A young lady pleaded “You maybe right but I am very late and my children are waiting. Please remove your car and let me go”. She was almost on the verge of tears and I had no alternative but to remove the car. Banks in the immediate neighborhood apart, someone had dumped the construction material nearby(with no fear of the law) which compounded the problem considerably. Traffic is a daily nuisance and it probably takes even the bank customers more time to park the car and go back than the time spent in the bank. What can one do if the laws themselves are idiotic? Why allow any commercial activity in a residential area? The resident welfare association had once closed one gate in desperation as a result of which some people could not back to their own houses after going to the local club and were up in arms. This can have an endless spiral in stupidity but the basic fact remains- why are such stupid laws there in the first place? Some years ago, there was an article in a magazine by the name of “The law is an ass” which gave details of stupid and obsolete laws. Can “Gandhigiri” work in such cases? Indian businesmmen often complain of default in payments. In the United states, anybody can purchase anybody’s credit for a nominal sum and nobody tries to fool around with their credit history as everything runs on credit. Why can’t such laws be introduced here?
There must be donkey number of such cases where people have to face mental and emotional rapes without any hope for justice. It may not be possible for everybody to be as truthful as Gandhiji was but at least we can have sane laws.

I have always admired Gandhiji for his integrity and his sincerity. Some of his views on giving more emphasis to rural India have also proved correct. On the negative side, some of his conduct against the leaders who were against his non-violent policy leaves a lot to be desired. His family also suffered because of some of his obsessions. Forcing “Prohibition”(in Gujarat) on poor gujjus like us some of whom believe in enjoying their drink is actually a farce which is why maximum bootlegging deaths occur in cities like Baroda. Thank god they did not similarly try to impose his views on sex.

In Ganghigiri’s context, no system is infallible and if you need a Gandhi against a Churchill, you need a Churchill against a Hitler. No one strategy works all the time; it is the situation which dictates the leadership style. Lord Krishna himself orchestrated the Mahabharat(epic war) because the situation demanded it. One must mention here that the leadership likely to succeed in the stress filled 21st century -mother and servant leadership is similar to Gandhiji’s style. Gandhigiri maybe back in business not just in reel but in real life as well.

Today(25/9/2006), six days after the original post, I came across an interesting post which stated how Gandhigiri had failed with Pakistan(I had read similar posts after the recent Bombay blasts and some even suggested that we should follow Israel):-

It reminded me of what the Mahatma had said once which I wish I had mentioned earlier. Gandhiji had once specified in the context of the Hindu-Muslim riots ” ‘Ahimsa’ does not imply that when your sisters are getting raped, you standby and do nothing. That is not Ahimsa but cowardliness”. One has to see the situation and then act instead of being overobsessed with any one strategy, whatever it maybe.

Movies like “Lage raho Munnabhai” and “Rang de basanti” are very good symbolisms but some of our problems are too deep rooted and need a surgical operation. These problems cannot be solved by token symbolism no matter how much we eulogize the father of the nation.

I am a firm believer in “Without danger, one cannot go beyond danger”. When things go completely out of control, maybe Gandhi II will emerge from the teeming millions of India once again to our rescue. It is said that the hour produces the man. Till then, while trying to solve our problems and live like “Bapu ke Lal”, we have no option but to suffer like Jessica lall.
This post has an excellent presentation of both podcast and videocast
Remembering the Mahatma
After I wrote this, while bloging I came across a couple of more websites
Indian legal system
Teachers disgrace

This corroborates what is written earlier. How can Gandhigiri or anything work if people do the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing. One only hopes that such people are in minority.


Is it Vande Mataram or Bande Baatram ?

September 3, 2006

I go to play Tennis early morning but because of the rains could not do so today. Since I had woken up early , I thought might as well do some blogging. I read a couple of new blogs on Vande Mataram. After that , I read the newspaper, where I saw the Hindustan Times editor, Mr Vir Sanghvi  himself writing a full feature in the Sunday edition(3/9/06). Then I realized that it was a big controversy.

About 3-4 years ago, when the BJP was in power, they issued some order by which you heard the word “Vande Mataram” everytime you picked up a phone to dial somebody. Does a coining of a slogan make anybody patriotic? Similarly the founding fathers of the constitution coined the word “Satyameva Jayate”. Today, even a child knows that the single most discredited people in this context are the politicians. I even recall reading somewhere that Mrs Sonia Gandhi had expressed surprise and concern that the mere mention of the word politician implied corruption.

Anybody can coin a slogan and shout over the rooftops but does that change anything.? Endless verbal gymnastics over  anon-issue  is nothing but a lot of intellectual masturbation. If the Mahatma had the advantage of today’s information revolution and mass communication,  he would have become popular at least four times faster. Former Lintas chairman Mr Alyque Padamsee in his book, “A double life says” Gandhiji also had this incredible knack of speaking in homilies and one=liners. Like “An eye for an eye making the whole world blind” is a marvelous summation of  non-violence. In my opinion, one of the greatest slogans coined in our country is “Quit India”. In just two words, it gave all Indians a nationalistic rally point. A good slogan emotionalizes the message. It acts as a guiding star.”

The difference is that the Mahatma blended style and substance very well and nearly always walked the talk by saying things like “Be the change that you would like to see in the world.” Even if you compare the Mahatma ;s integrity as a lawyer to some of today’s lawyers, it really makes you wonder what is the point in endless verbal interactions.. If anybody has read Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, it is clear that he was a very sincere man where public service was concerned:-

It would not be out of place to mention here that former PM Indira Gandhi had coined the slogan “Garibi hatao” but actually it was former PM Narsimha Rao and his finance minister and current Prime minister Manmohan singh who set the ball rolling by introducing liberalization in 1992 and that too after being forced by circumstances.

Last week, in We, the people on NDTV, Vande Matram happened to be the topic of discussion. In the end, one gentleman summed it up well when he said, “ I have never sung Vande Mataram in my life. Does that mean that I am less patriotic than you?”. It is a foregone conclusion that nobody should either force somebody to sing the song or not sing the song if the person so desires. Using force is stupid and what is the point in superficial singing anyway. I like “Saarre jahan se accha” over the rest and it is my prerogative to sing whichever I want to.

Some politicians say something absurd(baat) to get votes and arouse emotions over a non-issue and some elements in the  media go overboard in verbal chain reactions( baat)  to get more eyeballs rather then using it power to make things more transparent and make public servants more accountable.

The Mahatma did walking before the talking . God knows when another will emerge and walks the talk. We are clearly missing the wood for the trees. It is talk, talk, talk and nothing but talk- it is not Vande Mataram but Bande Baatram. Sab bande(people) bolte hi rahte hain. I hope the trend reverses someday or else , because of non-performance, it may become a case of  Dande laatram( Sticks and kicks till the public servant ticks). This may not be a reflection on all public servants but the general perception in the eyes of the public leaves a lot to be desired.

This blog has the English version of the song along with the videocast and podcast-

(I saw the movie  “lage raho Munnabhai” on 5/9/2006. It reminded me of this post because of the continous references to Gandhiji and Vande maatram in the movie but that’s just a coincidence. It is a very good movie and it is good that movies such as this and Rang De Basanti are at least trying to inculcate a kind of national consciousness and aprising the younger gerneration of the past in a langauage they can relate to.)


Desipundit or Desibandit ?

August 21, 2006

It is a well known fact that the United states always acts in its own self interest (nothing wrong in it within the right limits) .Though being a superpower, it tries to project that it knows best(pundit) what is good for the world at large, it is its own self interest(desi) that guides its decision making. It’s a different matter that it turns out to be short term gain long term pain(bandit) when such decisions prove counterproductive..

In the article “Why the war on Terror was lost” on Sunday,August 20,2006, editor of Hindustan times, Mr Vir Sanghvi describes how vulnerable the world has become because of terrorism despite all the measures taken by the US since 9/11. The recent Bombay bombings, the  shutting down of Heathrow airport, the stringent security regulations that all international passengers are subjected to, the US warning to India to guard against attacks in the subcontinent are all pointers to the fact that we are probably much worse off than we were around 9/11.

Mr Sanghvi further tries to explain the phenomenon of the terrorist(those who were caught) not belonging to any particular cause or organization but normal people like you and me. He says ,” By invading Iraq, George Bush and Tony Blair convinced the world’s muslims that the west had targeted their religion. By failing to rein in the Israelis when they wreaked havoc in West Asia, they bred the fear that Islam had to fight for its very survival. In the process, Bush and Blair achieved what bin Laden would never have. They made Muslims feel like global victims and they radicalized Muslim youth from Bali to Bombay to Buckinghamshire. They gave terrorism a new raison’d eitre.”.  The US support to Gen Musharraf and Pakistan also made it a hotbed of terrorism as a majority of the caught terrorists hailed from there.

The article concludes that the world that we shall bequeath to our children shall be tense, hate-filled and a dangerous place.

The United states has a penchant for shooting itself in the foot and there have been articles on how its short sighted policies(desi) often boomerang on itself. Therefore, in this context we can conclude that Desipundit and Desibandit are one and the same and since it’s a superpower the word Videsi(International) can also be used instead of Desi.

Now for some sub-local and self terrorism:-

I have been blogging for over a year now and though I was vaguely aware that had a good reputation for recommendation, I had never bothered much as I went about my nomadic excursions through the blogosphere.  Then, when The Times of India  evinced interest in some of the contents of my other blog ( Make your passion your profession – and told me to write a series of short articles(ironically the first article got published just a day following this post for details-   after a reputed magazine had already published one article on it in April’2006.. It just struck me out of the blue that how come no recognition had come from Desipundit. Is the standard of the blogosphere more stringent than that of professional magazines and newspapers?

All kinds of doubts began to invade my mind. I began to wonder about the credentials of people at  One comes across examples of people who become critics when they cannot master the basic art and of some people who become judges when their practice as lawyers does not flourish. I started wondering whether the powers that be at Desipundit were in that category. Could their be a collusion between them and some of the bloggers? I sent an email(asking for advise) to the main  person behind Desipundit, Partix which went unanswered. This coincided with the controversy where  Kiruba Shanker’s blogstreet rating as the top Indian blogger was questioned by someone. This fuelled my doubtful mind even more and I began to wonder whether the top bloggers were trying to perpetuate their standing as some of our so called spiritual leaders.

 As it so often happens with me and poetry being the spontaneous flow of powerful emotions, I ended up writing a rather unflattering poem on Desipundit., Patrix, Kiruba and god knows who. My apologies. I am not desperate for recognition but I make no pretensions of false modesty either..

The way things turned out, Patrix replied to my second email and Kiruba Shanker himself made a post where he stated that the ratings of  which rated him 24th were more reliable from a certain perspective. Patrix also pointed out that a majority of their recommendations were sent by others. This made me feel sheepish as a long time follower of Osho and Krishnamurthy as to what havoc even a slight lapse in an unobserved mind can do. 

Both have taught that witnessing is the essence of meditation and one had to be constantly be watchful of one’s thoughts, feelings and actions. Krishnamurthy in particular always stresses that the root of all kinds of conflict lies in the mind and the thought process itself and no real transformation is possible unless there is transformation at the level of the individual.. Even the root cause of international terrorism is belief in a particular system or and  strongly identifying with it. That is why both are against organized religion because that itself implies division and goes against a truly religious mind.

This corroborates the views of blind poet Jhon Milton who said that the mind within itself(and outside if I may say so) can create a heaven of hell and hell of heaven. The unobserved mind can itself be a pundit or a bandit which can have either national(desi) or international (videshi) connotations. The source of misery is inside(desi) and the external is just a manifestation.

Digressing slightly, it would not be out of place to mention what Devdas menon says in his book “Stop sleepwalking through life”. He says the guru(dispeller of darkness) had yielded place to the pundit(learned scholar). “. Knowledge being food for the ego, it sometimes goes against the very essence of spirituality.It is not uncommon to find egoistical tendencies in the so called pundit whose spiritual knowledge has made him a bandit from inside. Only constant dispassionate watchfulness can curb such and other negative tendencies and therefore act as a guru. To put it poetically:-

Hope I have been able to convey the vagaries of the mind

My apologies to those who may have thought that I have been unkind

Just wanted to highlight what all an unobserved mind can think from behind

Watching  our thoughts, feelings and actions is a meditation and not doing so is tantamount to being blind.


Mind is like a drunken monkey stung by a scorpion

One should be circumspect and think ten times before forming an opinion

Whether it is an outsider or your lifetime companion.

To be objective, conditioning has to be peeled like the layers of an onion

That alone can reduce conflict in the stress filled 21st century and promote genuine union.


The Iraq war has proved that man can resort to war without any reason

For all democratic traditions and civilized conduct, it was actually a treason

Only an intellectually inclined world statesman with  the right vision

Can remove conflict permanently by addressing both the root cause and effect of division.


I hope I have conveyed that whether desi or videsi, it is the mind that is the real  pundit or bandit

Whatever research is possible on dispelling negative notions and thoughts, one should fund it

It is self introspection that acts as the best guru, one does not require a pundit.

For any conflict , thoughts have  to be observed dispassionately; that alone can  permanently end it.


Why fear the blogosphere, why chase the cyberspace?

July 20, 2006

So much has already been writren about the “Bloggers Block” that I was wondering whether or not to add a post on the issue when an incident today in the monrning  helped make up my mind.

I had an appointment with a dentist early in the morning. I started on the normal route which was a right turn 100 meters away from my house which goes inside the colony. I was astonished to find that the gate was closed. I parked the car to inquire the reason. From across the gate, I met another young man who told me that he stayed only three houses away from me. He was seething with rage. He said,” Not letting the outside traffic inside the colony does not imply that you cause so much inconvenience to residents. I am coming back from the local club. You mean to say that I can’t go to my own house from the local club just to accomodate outsiders. Who decides what is right and wrong and with whose interest in view. Which ###$$ did this. Is this the wayto make decisions?Does he have any common sense or no.”  I suppose voltaire’s statement of Common sense being most uncommon applies as much to a residential welfare association as to all  governments.

Since I had an appointement I could not afford a conversation with him and went by the longer route which had a horrible reputation for peak hour traffic. Though normally it takes around 10-15 minutes,it took me thirty five minutes to reach the destination. The inconvenience caused and the analogy with the  bloggers block  can be viewed in two contexts:-

The narrow incidental context:-

In my case, the gate was opened within 20 minutes(came to know later) but in the case of blogging, three full days have passed and the governement has neither given a satisfactory explanation not taken back this deplorable step. Some five minutes back, I came to know that somebody had posted a couple of pages of inflammatory stuff on a blog to defame a particular religious community and to avoid inflammed passions from getting out of control, an order was passed to block just two pages but the ISPs blocked the entire blogsites.After four full days, the govt relented and restored the accesability to the affected sites. If the reason given is true, the ISPs are as ignorant as the government. The issue is -does it take so much time to realize  in an age of information revolution and mass(instant) communication? Considering the earlier impression, many people have written that techno-savvy terrorists would manage to communicate through the net anyway and it would be a little amateurish for professional terrorist to use blogs for this. Then, can so many people be put to inconvenience like this?

The broader context:-

The remark that the guy made about who decides what is right and wrong haunted me and reminded me of a book that I had read years ago about “The survival of the individual” by Ama Pant. Though the book was first written long before the personal computer was introduced, the author probably had blogging in mind stating “Intelligent attempts to create a vast new range of relationships between man and man, between man and his environment and man and his society are becoming more and more prevalent and came enable an individual to survive meaningfully and creatively. ” Hasn’t blogging served as an excellent tool for the above?.  

What better way to remain alert and intelligent than through blogging. Whether it is the murder of Jesicca lall or whether it is the uprising of students against politically motivated reservations  or Gaurav Sabnis v/s IIPM; for a non celebrity, blogging enables mass acess to other individuals that no other tool has. 

The basic jist of the book is how the individual is a cog in the wheel not just in organizations but society as large. It talks on how the party that holds on to power tries to retain it at all costs whereas the individual continues to remain depressed, surpressed and exploited and has feelings of fear and anger against authority. It talks of depornalization of people in companies I remember reading on some blogs on how some people made matters of their organization public through their blogs and were taken to task for that.  In the David(Individual) v/s Goliath( Society/government/ company) battle, blogging can prove to be a great leveller in the future.

Internet in general and blogging in particular is the first mass media tool directly in the hands of the individual. Nobody in the entire history of mankind had such a unique tool for interacting with complete strangers all over the world. Can we be deprived of it  in such a brazen and arbitrary manner for such a long time without a real reason? If not properly highlighted and redressed, we will have an encore in the future for some different “reason” .

Some major newspapers are getting into the act and trying to gain public support through singature campaigns on the net. They, however are the mainstream media. This is first and foreost our tool and we should be vigilant about our accessability to it at all times. 


Bombay – Can the Bombs be permanantly kept at bay?

July 12, 2006

About 24 hours ago, there were a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai which left more than 200 dead and two and a half the number injured. No words can express killing of helpless innocents wherever it may take place. One really wonders whether there will ever again be permanant peace. Deplorable though they are, such incidents bring about serious introspection.

Though important measures should be taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur, one has to look at the deep rooted reasons as well”

In this context it is worth mentioning the Alliance of Mass humanity ( one of whose founders is Dr Deepak Chopra. When one comes across violence of such magnitude, one is thankful for such initiatives. Just as the attitude of the Western world towards Indian terrorism changed only after 9/11 and the London blasts, significant change only happens when preceded by serious crises. One hopes that complacency does not set in again for another crises to prove that “without danger, one cannot go beyond danger”.

Continuing in the same vein, in the words of the late intellectual/mystic, J. krishnamurthy ,” Everywhere in the world, we are justifying murder as a means to a righteous end which in itself is unprecedented. Murder, whether it is of a person or a group of people is justified because the murderer or the group of people the murderer represents justifies the means to achieve a result that will be beneficial to man. Man has no significance or importance and millions can be sacrificed as long as the end result is justified by ideas”. Krishnamurthy spoke in the context of division between man and man in most of his teachings which were devoted to resolving conflict by understanding the thinking process.

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions. Though this poem was written by me in 2002, it applies to all situations of mindless violence because of division.


The world on the whole continues to bemoan September Eleven;

As if before that, the earth was some heaven.

The  events of September eleven were a blot on mankind’evolution;

It indicated that  mankind has not progressed beyond the cavern.

The information revolution and mass communication

should have enabled  a religious break-even.

It could have heralded a religious and political revolution.

Art and sports bind people together, we need many a Beethoven;

One has to be as spiritually agile to ensure


What we need is a spiritual James bond;a spiritual 007

To investigate into, contrary to what it preaches,


Whether an Asian, European, African or American,

Whether Manhatten or any other nation, new ways are needed to enlighten

If there is one legacy that will always be attributed

to the events of September eleven

Applied spirituality needs to be as successful as applied science


Humanity must be the sole religion to avoid another September 11.




Only the Media can save India

March 6, 2006

On Sunday(26/2/2006) evening, NDTV showed a program to get Justice for Jesicca lal whose murderers were recently acquitted by the court even though she was shot in front of over a hundred people. The people participating in the show were a supreme court lawyer and a judge and a deputy commisioner of police apart from another victim who had a case similar to that of Jesicca. Ex-miss India Shobha De and actress Preitty Zinta spoke for Jesicca from Bombay on television and the owners of the place where the murder took place, Bina and Shalini Ramani were speaking from Goa.Many finer points were contributed by all concerned in the program on how to prevent such a recurrence in the future.

Since then, the print media has also been persistently following up with a reference almost every day.It was heartening to see the media finally taking up the cudgles on behalf of the victim and play its real role as the watchdog .  

The main issue is where do we go from here. What about the rest of us whose cases may not be high-profile or who may not get the attention of the media for one reason or another.  This is the most glaring case of the dictum “Without danger, we cannot go beyond danger”. Things got completely out of hand in this case and the media was forced to take a stand though trials by the media are generally deemed undesirable.

This brings to mind the opt repeated statement that “Public memory is very short” and everybody forgets once the issue goes on the backburner. The issue here is -why does the media let it get on the backburner in the first place? Is the role of the media confined merely to highlight the wrongs without seeing to it that there is redressal? A couple of years ago I read in a weekly newsmagazine how prominent politicians were occupying bungalows which they should have vacated after losing power. There was no follow-up after that till one fine morning one read about the governer of Bihar being forced to vacate. The media should have a page at the back of their publications “Issues unresolved” in which such issues should be mentioned. In corporate management, one is constantly told to follow-up. Why can’t the media follow up?

Talking of mangement reminds me of the concept of goals. There are umpteen number of workshops conduting people teaching the importance of having proper goals to the extent that even students should be habituated early in life about setting goals in all spheres of personal life- family, health, social life, financial independence etc. I even learnt from once consultant that daily goals were too restricting while having monthly goals made one a little careless but weekly goals were the best- they could be set realistically set and achieved. This was in the individual’s context. I have never understood that why there are no goals for politicians. You elect somebody, he sets no goals for himself and you can’t do a damn thing for five years if he does not perform properly whereas in management one would be kicked out in a very short time frame if there was a slip-up in performance. Why can’t there be goals for each member of parliament in each constituency and why can’t the media follow-up and see to it that they are fulfilled. This would be good for politicians themselves in the long run.Its a win-win situation for everybody.

Mrs Shobha de mentioned in the program that if the Judiciary also became corrupt, all hell would break lose. Everybody knows that cases get delayed and “Justice delayed is justice denied ” is more a rule than exception in India. From a common man’s perspective, how does it matter because as far as he is concerned whether it is lack of efficiency or corruption, he has to suffer. Why can’t the media get after the root cause?-how cases get delayed in the first place because that is the root cause of all the mess. People are scared of the courts because the remedy is worse than the disease.

I have heard cases of judicial corruption but not experienced them myself. However there is one type of corporate corruption that is very common. Many suppliers of raw-materials are always scared that their payment shall be held up. Recently, a friend told me how demeaning he found to almost go begging for payments. Many are scared to increase the volume of their business because if payments get stuck , they stand to lose more. In the United states, there is a credit history of a person which one can check on the payment of a nominal sum. There, nobody fools around with his credit rating because the whole system operates on credit and he would stay nowhere if his credibility in this respect were questionedor lost. Why can’t such a system be followed in India? On one hand the finance minister talks on business matters at “Davos” but if the basics are not right, how bright are the chances are success. Here again, the businessman is scared ot the law because it takes its own sweet time.

This Jesicca case has set a good precdent. Some elements in the media have earned a bad name in recent times because of sensationalizing issues.Why can’t the media do good work by highlighting and speaking up on behalf of the common man as it has done in this case. There must be thousands of such cases. A discussion forum can be created on the internet on each issue and then cases can be tackled case by case. Having talk shows without followup on discussion forums is efficiency without effectiveness. Only the media can make things totally transparent and effect a “Dood ka dood, aani ka paani”.

Congratulations to both NDTV and whoever took up the cause.Talent and motives are more important than the tool and now it can finally be said that the informtion revolution and mass communication revolutions have been successful.