Can I Hug You Once More?

Kanhaiya Kumar, head of the student's union at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University is escorted by police outside the Patiala House court in New Delhi

Just after the Bihar Assembly results were declared, an old friend, a hard core Bhakt put up a post saying now that the Bihar results are out, can we be friends again?

It wasn’t a strange request. Since the past two years there is a definitive social division that is splitting the country. You don’t need Kanhaiya’s speeches to blame. On one hand you have the Rightists, who believe that anything that is not supporting BJP’s agenda is an act of sedition, treachery and that all opponents of BJP are anti-national. On the other hand, the “liberals” feel that they can say anything because the Constitution gives us the freedom of speech.

During our formative years we would hold near violent debates at the rock or on days we felt a little richer, continue our debate at Sarkar da’s Moghlai Paratha joint in front of the Taxi Association Office at Esplanade. In the late sixtees and early seventees we were not sure if the “M-L” line was the right thing to support or whether George Fernandes was the rockstar with the Railway strike—but despite different viewpoints, Sarkar da was paid for in full. We shared the cost. I remember, once I lost an argument supporting my left liberal views but the friend, who was a hardcore Congresswallah took me out for a chai session and told me where all I had faulted and where all I could have put him on the mat!

Today, a close friend who I have known for over 30 years, a dear colleague now turned bhakt, curtly told me to sponsor a bust of Ajmal Kasab at VT Station and also that I should migrate to Pakistan!! I took him off my list. He did not like my views on the JNU fiasco either.

The good old rock has been replaced by the social media. For those of you who may not know what the rock was (in the past tense since the culture is gone), the rock was a centre of addas in Kolkata where you freely discussed politics to football. It was an impromptu club in every street corner, in front of old buildings where people assembled after work hours and spent some good time discussing sex to saxophone. Film stars, theatre artists, judges of High Court to the babus working in what were called “Mercantile firms” and banks would converge and discuss the world. Many of us were labelled Rockefellers for being a part of the culture. It was a bit like what happened in Greece or in Italian “squares”.

Sadly, the flip side of social media is showing up. It has become a forum for debates just that many of the participants do not know the art of debating. It has become a platform for abuses and allegations. Taking on people who have been marked as non-conformists. Rajdeep Sardesai and Sagarika Ghose, for example, are abused day in and day out. The other day someone charged Dilip Sardesai with doing deals with Dawood Ibrahim for fixing matches!! Anyone who is not toeing the prescribed line must be a Pakistani and better, a terrorist. Only the bhakts know what is good for the country and what they know, they know best. Muslim bashing seems like a pastime, not realising that the Constitution does not allow you to do that. Who cares? Only when a video tape which now seems to be doctored is played out by a select few channels that the charges of sedition is trumped up.

What is happening in essence is that the “traditional” values which the bhakts claim to uphold is running contrary to the values of freedom in which we grew up. Now, now, don’t point out at the Emergency of 1975 as a case in hand. You better know what happened to the Congress Party after 1977. Unless BJP wants to go the same way, they are welcome. What amazes me is that the bhakts don’t have any original ideas to spurn. Most of them seem to state a common “party line”, a cut-paste job. Which means a large number of educated elite have already surrendered their freedom to Mephistopheles and should soon get a copy of Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, though I am not sure if they will be able to comprehend the narrative.

Sadly, there are well-known “right” economists but very few “right” intellectuals in India, unless you include Giriraj and Sadhvi Prachi. I am not sure if they consider Swapan Dasgupta as a right right. Chandan Mitra not only confuses me, I think he also confuses his party. I am, however, very proud of them. We share the same school tie. M J Akbar certainly lacks credibility, so does Shazia Ilmi. Opportunists, both.

Today it is not just a debate between Tolerance and Intolerance. Not pointing fingers at Modi who may be wanting to do great things for the nation, it is the neo-rightists who are doing their best to divide a wedge between “Us” and “Them”. It is like George Bush’s infamous “Either you are with us or you are against us.” Here “them” is equal to being an anti-national, a Pakistani, a secessionist and anything outside the Jumla. In their urge to keep the nation together, the country is being divided. Take it or leave it. You can’t go Muslim bashing and then add whoever is not in agreement with you to be a terrorist. When a Bhakt friend had asked me why I am not with “them” I had replied that I was a Hindu and hence could not agree with RSS and BJP’s ways of dictating terms for their political gains. I told him that I have done some reading of Swami Vivekananda, who had a socialistic thinking and was definitely against the caste system. He was aghast. When I added that I wanted to spend some time doing some more reading on Sister Nivedita, I found he had never even heard of her. Finally when I told him that my maternal grand-father and a maternal great grand-father were probably signatories to the original draft of the formation of the Hindu Mahasabha, he was speechless. I was sad that he wasn’t a Rockefeller like me.

This policy of dividing the people is not getting the BJP anywhere. Post-2014 they have lost Delhi and Bihar. On May 19, they may at best win Assam, that too with a narrow margin and share power at best with Amma in Tamil Nadu. People are getting tired of the bakwas otherwise termed “Humkars” in BJP parlance. What happened in UP in 2014 may not happen in 2017, so the Rajya Sabha majority will still be a distant dream. Same with Punjab, with old enemy AAP playing the spoil sport. It does not bother me as to what happens in the forthcoming state elections. What bothers me is that it is time to take stock of the situation by everyone, no matter to which side of the divide we belong to. Social media, paid media, any media, this is not doing any good to the country. Instead of providing an atmosphere of unity, we are splitting. Harsh reality, but that is the truth. We need to stop ourselves from taking sweeps at whatever we don’t like and accuse whoever we think are “wrong doers”. Left, right and centre. The nation has to stand up together outside the cricket stadium, which is the only time we seem to bury our differences. Say what you have to, but be sensible. Stop sending people to Pakistan and running anti-communists/religious gaalis.

Tomorrow there will be more Kanhaiyas. Till then come, let me give you a big hug.

The AAP in KHAAP: 57-3 and Now

The AAP in KHAAP

Till a few months ago, I was an ardent supporter of AAP. At least the concept of AAP. I even became a 10 rupee member and looked forward to some assignments for the party matching my core competence and skills. Perhaps I was looking at Yogendra Yadav more and less at the Sisodas of the world. To me AAP was slowly taking over the space vacated by the Left with which I had always associated myself. The Left was clearly a disappointment, having messed up their position by greed and obstinacy.

The moment the euphoria of the 57 seat mandate died down, the armchair middle class self-styled political analyst in me moved up to the cautious pessimism mode. This could mean trouble, as managing a mandate required top class management skills which none of them had. The proven managers had been swept off by the Modi Wave. Somehow, I did not think the Sisodias and the Bhartis would allow Meera Sanyal and Gopalkrishnas a hand in the affairs of the party.

I wasn’t off the mark. Within a month or so, the makeshift house of cards started falling apart. Two key people, considered to be the major brains and even more, the intellectual faces of the party went public with their grievances. Instead of managing the crisis, Arvind Kejriwal, backed by his hand picked yes men, decided to brutally expel them. Once the mask fell off,there was no looking back.

This blog is not a narrative of what the Delhi Government has achieved or otherwise in the last 7 months. It is the shameless attitude that we need to look into.

The party is full of contradictions. One of his ministers is in jail,another is about to join him. They talk of removing corruption, but back Tomar. Except the first day bonanza of Bijli Paani, nothing has happened. They talk of woman security, but have a hero in Somnath Bharati whose own wife has brought charges of violence against him. The same Bharati talks like a MCP.

It is not that anyone expects that a new party will turn around and implement all their electoral promises within a year. But surely there could have been a better way of filling up the vacancy of Lokpal in the party after the last one was unceremoniously removed. And this is the party that had made the Lokpal issue a major agenda!

Surely there could have been a better way of not replicating the much abused self propulsion practised by all political parties. Of creating an individual bigger than the party. Soon Kejriwal will be within the touching distance of a Mayawati, the Gandhis and his bete noir, Modi. In fact, the way he was plastering the city, specially the public toilets and now with his voice on TVCs, he is winning hands down.

If AAP could have their way, very soon they may pass a Bill renaming Delhi as Kejripuram.

They can. After all they have a brute majority in the Assembly. The point is that even if you had the remaining 3 seats, they still have to work within the Constitution. You just cannot frame a new set of rules by repeating that you have a 57 seat mandate. And Delhi has Special Constitutional clauses and any Government running Delhi has to work within the frameworks. Running a gun battle with the Lt Governor and taking on the Delhi Police and using them as an excuse for non-implementation of pre-poll promises will only add to his losing credibility. In fact, his lost credibility.

AAPs scripted battle against Narendra Modi is not helping them either. Nor are the charges against their Kumar Vishwas. The party seems to be suffering from a false sense of persecution mania.

One day they beg for donations, the next day they announce a 512 crore media budget. Instead of talking about their plans and achievements, the TV ads simply try to take on the system. Change it by all means, but simply abusing the system will not help.

In the party or outside, you cannot take on Kejriwal. His hired goons will take you on. You will be branded a “bhakt” or a “10 Janpathi”.

He is always right. He has no sense of governance. He is enjoying the power. He sees himself as a Modi. Better, a Stalin.

The Left parties have a lot to teach us. During the Left regime they had drawn a line between the organisation and the government. Even Jyoti Babu was answerable to the Left Front Chairman, be it Pramod Dasgupta or Anil Biswas. As long as the Left maintained the gap, they showed results.

AAP, sadly, has become a KHAP.

Return to my native land: Indian Advertising Laughter and Tears by Arun Chaudhuri

Indian Ad book

The last few days I have been leafing through the pages of Arun Chaudhuri’s latest book Indian Advertising Laughter and Tears(Niyogi Books) and I could no better than to borrow the title of a poem which had a lot of influence on me during my formative years. I think it was Bappada (Nabarun Bhattacharya) who put me on to Aime Ceasaire, reading aloud from his poem, A Return To My Native Land.

The land Chaudhuri takes me back to is no geographical space. It is a world to which we all belonged. The world of advertising (rather what we knew it to be, till, as Chaudhuri puts it, became more like the business of 24×7 TV station reporters). The book is about the history of Indian Advertising between 1950 to 2000. It is about the development of the business, historically and  about the shift from classic illustrations aimed to “inform about a product”  to building brands. Of Ghosal, Swamy, Padamsee, Mani Ayer and Zafar Hai, names which may not mean anything to the current crop of professionals, but people who meant the world to us. I guess no body is bothered about a man called Kersi Katrak, who perhaps singularly deserved a chapter. They are more bothered about what the Finance Team sitting in Dubai will mail in the Excel Sheet at the end of the month!!

Chaudhuri’s book is the fruit of sheer hard work combined with his first hand knowledge of the business. He has researched. And researched. Not just data but also old ads. From Satyajit Ray illustrated  ‘Sunday is Paludrine Day’ to a young Gavaskar in Dinesh Suitings. He has detailed the shift in the business formats. From being a business run by elites ( not to mention that a large number of them were Communist Party card holding members) to the growth of  research and media platforms which  influenced the change. From Classified Advertising (including one offering a sale of a python) to advertising by political parties. From  a forgotten L A Stronach to Umesh Rao. To the use and choice of type fonts in the ads, even in cinema posters of the 60’s.

There is just one wish list from my side. Like the archieval picture of Kanu Basu discussing an ad with Tara Sinha, Subhash Sen and Subrata Sengupta, I hope there will be a few more added on in the next edition. I know it is a tough call, but I am sure Chaudhuri will agree.

For any one in the business of advertising, this book is a must even though I am not sure how many in the business today care for the history of their profession. Times are changing but all institutes who teach Mass Com in India definitely need to have a copy in their library.

Arun Chaudhuri has put in a lot of effort. It deserves a read.

The book can only enhance our knowledge.

The Accidental Prime Minister

The Accidental PM

This is not a book review. I am not a qualified reviewer, and neither am I knowledgeable enough to review a book by an eminent journalist like Sanjaya Baru. But having just finished the book, I thought it might be worth commenting on the political situation—for after all, in a democracy, everyone has a right to air their thoughts.

Unlike what everyone thought (especially the media who were looking for a byte from Baru in the chat shows that were held immediately after the launch of the book) the book was not a part of the BJP’s election campaign to ensure that the timing of the release was to deliver the final knockout punch to Dr Manmohan Singh. In fact, the book is a sincere attempt to establish Dr Singh as one of the finest Prime Ministers that we ever had. If anything, it is a book directly attacking the Congress Party, especially the 10 Janpath caucus, who let down a man who won the 2009 Elections for them. Baru has also been open about the fact that Dr Singh should have tried his hand to obtain a Lok Sabha seat and that he should have quit when his own party dumped him lock, stock and barrel. Even if he did not seek a popular mandate from the people, Dr Singh should have walked out with dignity, rather than allowing himself to get maligned by his own party members and the Opposition.

The book calls for an introspection of two major parties in the Indian political system. The Congress and the CPI (M)—or rather, whatever is left of them. There is an amazing similarity. Despite being a part of the democratic process, both parties are run on the whims of a single person whose words are accepted as the final solution—Sonia Gandhi and Prakash Karat. In case of Sonia Gandhi, there is a team of flunkeys waiting in the wings to carry forward her diktat; in the case of Karat, he is the sole petitioner, arbitrator, jury, judge, and ironically, his own executioner. Sonia has an one-point agenda: Rahul; Karat too has an one-point agenda: Karat. What is disgusting is that they are the leaders of two major political parties who operate within a democratic system. The bad seeds they sowed have reaped huge dividends. The Congress Party has been vanquished and with a self-destructive leadership in place (thankfully, it is being questioned by many in the party itself now), it is not difficult to predict the rise of another splinter group. What Indira did in 1969 may just be the path that some Congressmen may adopt. The sooner we have another few splits in the Congress Party, the Nehru–Gandhi family party may be over forever. And that will be good for the party and the country.

The CPI (M) has been decimated in Bengal. Even in Kerala they are weak (the ruling party being Congress may help them out). There is already a lot of dissatisfaction amongst the cadres in Bengal about the way the Central leadership (read Karat) have messed up matters. Many of them have publicly asked for his head. The way out will perhaps be another 1964 type split with Bengal and Tripura coming together.

This may read like a list of wishful thoughts, but while the wishes may not come true the way I hope, there will be rumbles. Some people in Congress are getting vocal about Rahul’s leadership, or rather, the lack of it. Many do not want him to campaign in the forthcoming state elections. Abdul Rezzak Molla and a few others have already quit the CPI (M). Either way, BJP will get stronger. In a state like Bengal, where they once had a token representation in the Jan Sangh era in Haripada Bharati (later in 1999 they won two seats in the Lok Sabha, as also in 2014), hordes of Congressmen and even Left cadres are joining the BJP. It may be a case of survival for now, but like elsewhere, the BJP is only growing stronger. A much-splintered Congress, or a CPI (M) will only help the BJP gain higher ground. Simply put, the BJP is here to stay, with more states going BJP. If their ‘Theory of 44’ works out, we may soon see a BJP government taking oath in Srinagar.

And if my assessment is correct, then we will soon democratically turn our selves into a single party rules for the next two decades. The way out will be to dismantle the current leadership system of a one-person rule (in many, rather most cases) to a one-family rule. The Yadavs, the Paswans, the Thackreys, the Gandhis, the Karunanidhis. And a Karat.

Till then, lets keep playing on Facebook.

Shankar da: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

Shankar Ghose

I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by a few father-figures who came in to my life after my father’s death. Shankar Ghose, who took me under his wings gave me the emotional support and inspired me to a life beyond the routine, passed away last Sunday night.

When I got the news from Chitra on the following Monday morning, I got the same feeling of losing a father once again. Since I was in Mumbai, I could not make it to his funeral.

When did I first meet him? That must have been during our ASP days at one of Chitra’s lunch parties at Bharti Nagar. He would swing in wearing a flashy Sunday shirt, have a drink, whizz out after chatting with Jog Kaka. He was then a corporate honcho, much sought after by the advertising crowd. He was a great friend of Jog Kaka and when Jog Kaka passed away, he sat next to me at a bench in the Lodhi Road crematorium without speaking a word.

In the early 90s I worked for an agency which was owned by a lady known for her great networking capability. One day she told me to come with her to a meeting with Shankar Ghose, as she had fixed a pitch presentation. At the appointed time we were called in and the lady introduced me to Mr Ghose.

“He has worked in…” and she rattled out the names of some of the agencies where I had worked, trying to impress him.

Mr Ghose interrupted her and added the names of almost all the agencies in India.

I thought this was being rude but before I could react, he virtually threw us out of his office saying he was committed to his ad agencies and had nothing new to offer to us. The presentation remained canned, but somehow I admired him. He was a true blue professional. He would not be a party to any poaching and would not entertain any new entrant, no matter how good the contacts were. I wished most clients were like him.

After his retirement, I would meet up with Shankarda at Chitra’s over lunch or dinner. He had slowly transformed and had become Shankarda. Often I would gate crash to his dinner parties as I performed the role of a chauffeur for my good friend, Rajni Raghavan, who was close to the Ghoses. In a huge gathering it mattered little who you were, so I helped myself to a few drinks and tucked in to a scrumptuous dinner. What I found interesting were the huge dogs in the house, almost the size of tigers, who neither barked nor growled. They seemed to me like God’s gift to mankind—just that once dinner was over and the desserts were being laid out, it was discovered that one full cake had gone missing. One of the “tigers” had silently licked it all up when people were not looking!

“He has a sweet tooth,” Shankarda apologised to his guests, but not before firing the sweet animal who tried to hide himself in the corner. He needed a cave, may be.

Around that point of time I had started my small business and in one of Chitra’s lunches he asked me to see him at his office at the National Foundation of India at the Habitat Center. By then he and I had been warming up to each other. He was no longer the boxwallah and had moved in to the social sector. This was around the time that Sanjoy had gone missing and we were all in the dark since there was no information of his whereabouts. The rumours and leaked news added to the confusion.

When I went to meet him at NFI, I found he was talking on the phone with someone, expressing his disgust at the dress code. I think it was about Delhi Golf Club not allowing collar-less Ts or something to that effect.

Then he turned to me.

“This is no business. You will make no money from NFI,” he roared.

“What am I supposed to do?”

“What you do for all your clients. Provide communication support. We only pay you for actuals on cost basis.”

Before I could agree or disagree, he called in his colleague, Niloy, and the briefing started.

I loved the way he took me for granted. It just showed his affection for me.

For the next few years I made regular trips to Habitat, attended his seminars—where once I even sat next to Dr Manmohan Singh, then not the PM but silent nevertheless. More than any work, I think it was the addas which I enjoyed and yes, once in a while, a trip to Habitat eateries were a part of the drill. My agency took great pride in “working” for NFI. In fact, we placed NFI as the Number 1 client we had in our roster. He gave me an opportunity to position my agency to be socially conscious and it added to our prestige.

Once during the NFI days, he asked me to meet him in the evening at Shunu Sen’s office, as the great marketing guru (who was related to him) had agreed to help NFI with his thoughts on how to position the brand. These were the returns I was getting out of my association with NFI—much more then the payment of a bill.

A small team from NFI and I met a very warm Shunu Sen and we tried to sound him out. However, he had five such meetings happening at the same time and would wheel in and wheel out of these clusters and keep apologising to us for not being able to give his full attention.

“Shunu, I know you are busy, but will you stop doing a Stephen Hawkins,” Shankarda quipped.

Shunu Sen told someone in his team to leave the office and meet him later at the Delhi Gymkahan Club and then turned to us.

“What we need to do is to think of what all Bengalis have…a daak nam…” Andthat blew my mind. He had demistified Brand Positioning for me.

The meeting remained inconclusive, with a promise to meet up again. It never happened. Shankarda left NFI and moved to revitalise Charkha. My professional association with him continued—working on documents, some folders, Annual Reports, interspersed by seminars, meeting up with celebrities like Dilip Cherian, Mrinal Pande over lunch. The Charkha offices were in lal doras—at Motibagh, Malviya Nagar, where it was difficult to park your car but for the love for that man, you did everything.

Many years ago he called me up to say that he wants me to be a part of a forum which will be “teaching values to children” and that I should attend the meeting. It was an initiative by the Divisional Commissioner, Gurgaon and I was to play the role of an ‘expert’ on communication in the group. The first meeting was at the Palam Club in Palam Vihar, which was chaired by the Divisional Commissioner, a very decent man. The participants were introduced, most of them were either school Principals or Haryana sarkari Education Department people. Shankarda proudly introduced me as “dyed in the wool advertising man” and while I tried to appear humble, I think barring the IAS Officer, no one understood what he said.

When the clock struck seven, Shankarda, almost with a hickory dickory dock precision got up and demanded that drinks be served. I was a little astonished, but the IAS Officer quickly apologised and drinks were served immediately.

Ki Shankarda, how can you ask for a drink like that?” I button-holed him.

“What the hell! It is my drinking time,” he announced.

The meetings kept happening, though nothing progressed. The Principals kept saying what good work they were doing and the sarkari people kept producing some stupid data in each meeting.

In one such meeting he did not call for drinks at 7, so I tried to draw his attention and point to the watch. He did not react. The drinks came, but he stayed out of them.

“I am maintaining roza,” he explained.

“Roza???”

“Yes, after the winter season when you are drinking too much and eating at parties, I give my system a rest. So for three months I maintain ramzan.”

After a few months the Divisional Commissioner got transferred and the plan to teach values was over.

One of our regular meeting points were at the Old Martinian dinners, which he often attended. He had this stock story as to how he was a witness to the Union Jack being lowered and the tricolour unfurled atop the school building at La Martiniere, Lucknow. During his school days, I think in 1948, the school had invited Sarojini Naidu, the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh to be the Chief Guest. Shankarda had overheard the Englishmen discussing as to how this lady will deliver an address in English till she started speaking.

“They were awe struck at her English and clapped the most when she finished,” he would recount.

When my memoirs, Life in a Rectangle was being launched at the Habitat, I was not sure who I should invite to formally launch the book. I knew Shankarda was not keeping well, but I wanted to take a chance. I spoke to Chitra and she suggested that I call and ask him.

“You have written a book?” He had a big laugh.

“And you have to launch it. I want you to come. I want you to launch it.”

“I will. Of course, I will.”

It really felt so good to have Shankarda formally launch the book. When he ripped open the cover I must have choked. It was not just the book launch. It was Shankarda doing it. In my small talk I said that though I call him Shankarda, I have a father–son equation with him. I could never say no to him, and he too could never say no to me.

The last time I met him was at the launch of my good friend, Paranjoy Guha Thakurata’s book on Media Ethics at the IIC. We sat next to each other during the launch function and when it was almost over, he left.

We spoke on the phone a few times, but somehow I did not meet him again.

Shankarda used to tell us, “If you want a change, be the change yourself.” It is time for my generation to carry forward this legacy. If we don’t, we will fail him.

To him, I can only quote from Walt Whitman’s epic on Abraham Lincoln,When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d:

Here, coffin that slowly passes,

I give you my sprig of lilac.

India Modified

Modi

 

Finally Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister backed by a huge mandate. He has single handedly led his party to this massive victory. It may have been a bitterly fought election, but finally he won.

Now what?
First, I don’t think people in this country had an option. Barring regional party supremacy in some pockets, BJP seemed to be the only solution left to the countrymen. No party, nationally, was a viable option. The Congress was the party people wanted to vote against and though AAP had put up some good candidates who could added value to the new Parliament, the “party” failed as an organisation. The Left has slowly eroded from the political scene and will have to spend a long time in their drawing board. As expected, regional parties, wherever strong and did not have an alliance with BJP did well.
No matter how much you disliked BJP or Modi, no matter how much noise you made in the social media and addas (and that included me), finally it was a mandate for Modi.
What can we expect from the new PM?
The country has a huge wish list.
While some quarters credit Dr Manmohan Singh the economist with keeping the country afloat despite international economic downturn, the results did not exactly translate in to economic prosperity. Business has been down, the middle class barely survived, and poor got poorer. Dr Singh may have tried his best and may be his appreciation will have to wait for some years, it was the functioning of UPA II that the people protested against. It was a highly disorganised alliance, total policy paralysis, the PMO running their writ and to top it all, a total take over by the Gandhis who even controlled the PM. What would have happened if Dr Singh had quit in between we will never know, nor will we know why he didn’t quit and played to the 10 Janpatth gallery.
Finally, UPA Governments reeked of corruption. So much so that it gave rise to a new party! I have already talked of the problems that plague the Congress Party, this blog is to talk about Modi’s dhobi list.
I don’t know if this is the right order, but what we are looking for, in my estimation:
1/ The Government that works for the people, not for themselves or any address. A corruption free India.
2/ Bettering financial growth, at least up to a comfort zone and reduction in prices of daily ka daily items like subzis and food grains. And in absolute tangible terms.
3/ Affordable Health facilities, efficient public systems and affordable education system. Both Health and education are now in the hands of big business. Can we have Government sponsored health care cantres and higher education.
4/ Better infrastructure. Toilets, transport, roads ( we have blown money in developing airports while the bus terminuses, which is frequented by aam junta is in shambles). Ever been to the Gurgaon bus stand?
5/ Communal peace. Yes, Uniform Civil Law, yes, Article 370. Remove the word minority from the system.
6/ Strong action against state governments who are unable to rule. UP and Bengal top the list. (A minister in Bengal has gone public saying if drugs, gambling etc are not supported it will lead to chori and dacoity!)
You can add your list, but while we understand there is no Quick Fix solution, we are looking at directions. So far, Modi has made the right noises. His advantage is that he is a single man who controls both the Government and the party and I am sure he can handle the RSS as well. He has years of experience as an organiser (some say he is a great event manager) and has 12 years under his belt as a Chief Minister.
This is perhaps the time to let the entire nation experience pages from his Gujarat model, if there was one.
To the accusation that Modi represents big business and that Nawaz Sharif was invited to pave way for a Adani gas pipe line via Pakistan, I am fine with it. As long as the big ticket projects, FDIs, new investments all add up to lesser number of people in BTL, increases the wealth of middle class and if the wish list is complied with, I am fine if the rich gets richer.
Modi has everything going for him. Even a lack of opposition.
I think this is time to give him time. He has no magic wand. But he has the right settings to make India a super power. We have to declare a moratorium on being critical of Modi, at least for the next two years. Pulling out Godhra at the drop of the hat is not the solution. And the Opposition, or whatever is left of it, better get business like. Not turn the Parliament in to tamasha.
There are concerns, however. It is not Modi but the overnight growth of the Hindutva brigade. They seem to be on an attack mode. More loyal than the king, eh? All they are doing is generating divisions which I don’t think Modi would approve of.
The other concern is the freedom. Both of the Media and the People. Some how this is an area that needs addressing.
I have been no lover of BJP or Modi. But as on date he is our Prime Minister who has set out an agenda which needs to be supported by us.
We all have a Judgement Day, so no hurry.

Should AAP quit electoral politics?

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Frankly, I think so. What options do they have?

One of the major issues that all of us who belong to the advertising business have to manage is the implementation of a great idea. Else such ideas remain on paper. The scandalous heights the nation had reached during the last 10 years did call for an AAP. But my feeling is that despite the genuine support they got from the people, they did not know how to effectively carry it forward.

Euphoria is not a solution, not unless you know how to encash it successfully. And euphoria is short lived. Generating euphoria also has its limitations.

The other factor that seems to have gone against AAP has been their unplanned actions, added with total lack of communication. Let me amplify:

1/ The Theatre of Referendum:

They should have stayed away from Government formation in Delhi. This business of asking people and then announcing that people have voted on mobile phones and internet was a ridiculous idea.

Did they ever expect Congress to support the Lokpal Bill?

What did AAP gain by asking people of Varanasi as to if Arvind should stand? People love a real time WWF contest. There is a hidden desire in us to watch a Gladiator take on the lions, or a matador taking on a charging bull. The people of Varanasi simply opted for one such specatacle and in the process the contest drained out the emotional and financial and political resources of AAP.

Sorry, but this was like playing to the gallery. And it proved to be disastorous.

If they really wanted to go by a referendum, they should have asked the people of Delhi as to what they should do when the Lokpal Bill hit a blind alley, instead of just quitting. With that decision, they lost the trust people has entrusted on the party. That decision directly smashed the hopes of the people who wanted a change. It cost them votes in Lok Sabha elections.

At times you decide on your own, sometimes you put it on the people. Then when things go wrong, you spend more time giving explanations. The Bhagoda tag was paid squarely in the General Elections. AAP supporters had to spend hours trying to justify that they were not Bhagodas.

2/ AAP had a faulty road map

I am surprised that with so many brilliant minds turning up as volunteers, many of whom I am sure are from the world of marketing, the power(s) at AAP ran a poor strategy in competing in 443 seats. In today’s business, you play in the segment where you think you can carve out a market share. You run niche marketing programmes. Not go for mass marketing across all geographical and socio economic spectrums and that too with a niche product.

What did AAP achieve? Brand recognistion across the country? In any case everyone knew about AAP, even in distant Assam. You needn’t have put up candidates just to mark presence on the shop shelf. Alright, if we are to go by what Yogendra Yadav says that they wanted 6% of National vote Share, how much did they finally get? And I am surprised a much respected Yadav, with years of managing election data, could not see through the gamble?

What was this great need of putting up celebrity candidates? Was Anita Pratap a political weight? Did Soni Sori have the election winnabilty? Or were they playing blind? Lack of electoral experience did not make them realise that the art of winning seats is a different ball game altogether. And I hope that they never for once thought that they could form the Government. Then why this mass contest?

Creating awareness in areas where you are lesser known is a good idea, but one has to see the cost benefit ratio. And what was the final result? In more areas than one, AAP has been the loser. Also, in many constituencies, the locals were shunted out and a ‘notable’ was given the AAP ticket. So where is the local Aam Aadmi?

And now see where the party has gone. People are now saying they should dump Delhi and focus on Punjab! Incidentally, one reason for their success in Punjab was the choice of the right candidates, supported by the right noises.

 

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3/ Is there a democratic system within the party?

Or does a Kejriwal decide what to do? And where are so many voices of dissent? There must be a problem within and if all decisions are taken by a single person or a coterie, then where is the difference with the Congress Party? Are the aam junta taken in to serious confidence? Or just left to respond to a referendum by sending sms?

During the glorious days of the Left, they believed in one principle. The party was run by a set of people who did not contest elections. It is time AAP does the same. With one Kejriwal who is the biggest asset, you can flog him as the horse for different courses. I appreciate, the AAP leaders are brilliant people in their own right, but they don’t seem to be having any organisational experience. And those who do, are sent to fight elections. Meera Sanyal, Balakrishnan for example

Somewhere, this is becoming too identified with Arvind Kejriwal. And there is loose talk of him trying to run his writ on all issues. It is bordering on arrogance. You cant keep an issue live by getting too critical in its presentation, mocking at the “competition”.  Yadav, on the other hand, is a brilliant debater. I try and attend any talk by Prahsant Bhushan in the public fora. However, there are too many people doing their own thing. Shazia Ilmi talks out of line and then spends more time rationalising. Somnath Bharti presented the movement with an unplanned, non priority issue, handling it in the worst possible manner. He sure had good intentions but it was a totally wrong implementation. Worse, Arvind tried his best to justify Bharti’s actions.

They seem to forget that when in power you use the power to sort out things, you don’t do it by being a street fighting vigilante.

Bharti certainly cost the party’s image.

4/ Should the party be disbanded?

1/ India needs the concept of AAP. Particularly when you have a single party in command with a huge number. Not as a mere vigilante or a whistle blowing NGO.

2/ They need time to set up the party structure first, without running in to one battle front to another, without taking sporadic decisions, without taking whimsical decisions, they need to devote time to work on a road map. What do they actually want to do? You cant have double speak of “Hum gaddi ke peechey nahi hain” and then contest in 443 seats, of “hamari raaj toh junta ki raaj hai, junta jo chahegi hum wohi karangey” and take unilateral decisions.

The people of the country who support the AAP cause and who are the only financial support to the party need to know of a long term plan. And the implementation strategy. Let the plan be debated in groups of supporters, let their views be heard.

If you ask me, the concept will die a spot death if they keep focussing on electoral politics. They will never make it. Not before 2019. May be a Punjab and Haryana in between. Going in to Delhi Assembly polls without a blue print will be a case of ‘fools rush where angels fear to tread’. The elections will be called any minute, as soon BJP takes oath in the Parliament. BJP have all the forces on their side. Money, power and I dare say, even people. (Many Congress votes may be polled by BJP as they will be seen as stability, AAP as instability).

There is no hurry. It is a great idea. It has the right response. They need to play a test match, not a T 20.

A lot of people have begun to feel disappointed.

Arvind Kejriwal. Don’t kill the idea.

Arrogance. Thy name is Congress.

 

It is the morning after. The Indian National Congress have just recorded their worst performance in their history. They have won only 44 seats. Only 5 of the winners had something actively to do with the previous Government. The rest are all eating humble pie, one of them is thinking of opening a tea stall in front of the BJP Headquarter in Delhi.

I am being rude. And though I too never wanted the Congress to have any hand in forming the next Government, I still think I want to open up my feelings. Not that I care how Congress manages themselves after this defeat. It does not bother me if Digvijay Singh is made the party President or they replace a Rahul with a Priyanka. My anger is directed at their arrogance. At taking us for granted under the garb of development. At their indifference to fill their coffers at the people’s expense. At an Accidental Prime Minister who never spoke. At mocking their opponents.
If the NDA has touched 334 seats with BJP alone crossing the half way mark, it is not because of any Modi Wave. It was a definitive anti Congress/UPA wave. Today it is not a matter of speculation. It is for all to see. Right there, staring at us. 44 seats. I would love to hear what Mani Shankar Ayer, the man who has not grown beyond the Stephen’s Debating Club has to say about a chai wallah. What a darpok in P Chidambaram will say in his clipped English? What is the vision of Mr Shinde? How much will Smiley Sibal smile at his own defeat?

 

What is equally sad is that no one in the party for a minute thought that they have no connect with the people. Actually they have never been bothered about the people of the country. Just a few window dressings like MNERGA (which many suspect was a channel to siphon off money) does not make you win an election. On the other hand the crony capitalist whom they supported promptly shifted their loyalty on seeing which way the wind was blowing.

What surprises me is the way they are still trying to hang on to their masters, read 10, Janpath. I have never understood why they do this? Survival? Perhaps, but then you sink when your anchor sinks. And what good does 10, Janpath do to them? This is not the grand old party, it is just a new party. A party which has gone out of their way to protect a Robert Vadra. And paid for it. A party which talks about their role in the Indian democratic system but has no democracy within. Remember Jitendra Prasad? He was perhaps the last person to have contested for the post of the Party President and the powers that are saw to it that he lost.

The only academic interest that the Congress party can now provide is to tell the world how they plan to revive. All that big talk, aimed at keeping the Gandhis happy “we are a big party…we will turn around…” will not help. Can Rahul Gandhi come out of the shadow of his mother? Out of the shadow of the Digvijays, Kamals, Anands, Sibals? Can he be allowed to decide for himself what he wants to do? The way he wants to do it? Can he get rid of the sycophantic system that cripples the party? Does he himself want to be a part of the party?

When you are down, people offer all kinds of advices. I am sure the Rameshs, the Ayers and many of his friends must be doing so to win brownie points. For once, can Rahul listen to himself? Cut the umbilical chord? Get on board people who can offer positive advise?

My bet is that he will never be allowed to do it. The Patels, the Singhs, the scam tainted Chavans will never allow sane voices near him. That will ultimately decimate the party further. Their only route to survival and resurgence is dependent on the performance of Modi Sarkar, rather the slips in the new Sarkar. But Modi is a grass root man, who has come to power on his own, and how! He has experience in administration, in the organisation, right from his RSS days. He may have sold chai, but he also master minded Advani’s rath, and later got Advani to sit on the sidelines.

Living on some hope that Modi will blunder is a long way off. The Congress Party has to take a leaf from the Communist Party of China, do some purging, do some Cultural Revolution. You will recall Rajiv Gandhi, for whatever reason he thought best had got rid of the strong men in the Indira cabinet and that included people like Pranab Mukherjee (who subsequently left the party) and Ghani Khan Chaudhuri. He may take a leaf from his grand mother’s 1967 cabinet, when she had got a number of people outside the party fold like Kumar Mangalam, T A Pai and included them in her cabinet.

To start with, can he show that he means business by really keeping the promise to the bhaiyas of Amethi, not by leaving it to another set of crisp khaddar kurta types, but by a set of professionals? And getting a fresh team of non political people to manage his affairs?

Once he takes the first decision, the rest will follow. If he is being made to take the rap, he should also extract his pound of flesh.

 

 

 

The Way Old Friends Do

(Borrowed the title from an old ABBA number).

 

 

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With the great Indian democracy now under way, state after state going to polls, I suppose the debates and arguments on social media will now taper off. In a democracy, we all have our own way of thinking, our beliefs and our loyalties. In the earlier days friends from different political groups would meet for their evening ritual of catching up at the local chai wallah, get in to heated arguments, points, counterpoints, sleeves would be rolled up (and stop there), and yet, we would all share the cost of the chais and local bakery biscuits, went home together, only to return next evening for the same ritual. There were times when post the debates a friend from the opposing party would point out where I had gone wrong in placing my point of view and even tell me what I could have taken on to stop him on his tracks. As I grew, I did the same. “Vaia, you are such an idiot, how come you did not raise that issue? Fool, I would have been dumb struck. You lost a chance.”

Today, sadly there is more abuse than substance. It speaks of our frustrations with the political class. More than ideology, we are trying to clutch on to what we think is best for the country. And we have our reasons to do so. We are all aware that the nation’s collective values are on a downslide, we are not just coping with economic downturn, social decimation but simultaneously fighting corruption and criminalisation. Elections have become a game of winnability. It does not matter if the party’s candidate is corrupt or facing rape charges. Poll speeches have become an opportunity to spark hate. Name calling, inflammatory speeches, taking on communal and ethnic groups. We are living in vote bank politics. In TV debate politics. In the politics of Tu Tu, Main Main.

The debates in the Indian Parliament has also been reduced to a mockery. We have moved from an eloquent speaker like Vajpayee to a silent Manmohan Singh. The high class debates between Nehru and Shyama Prosad Mukherjee has been replaced by plain rhetoric and gaalis.

Despite our divergent political views, we all want this farce to end. We want a “new, improved” India. Not just for us, but for the generation after us. We are responsible for this decay as much as our chosen masters. We can make the change over only if we come together, use our tolerance, be sensible, rational and think of “India first”. Today an opportunity has presented itself. We must make the best of it. Make the right choice.

Years ago, Field Marshall Cariappa had come to our school taught us the value of saying Jai Hind. Today I am tempted to try and do the same to the next generation. Somewhere down the line we have lost the love for the country. We have started loving individuals and groups who can be of help to our own agenda. Not the collective good of the people.

During the last couple of months I have had some of the most enjoyable debates and arguments with my friends on Facebook. Specially with those who hold opposing views. I have made more friends. There have been surprises as perceptions have changed. Never ever have we crossed the line. My friends have been so decent that even if they did not agree with my point of view, they have desisted from getting in to scrap. They have even “liked” my posts. In many cases we have agreed to disagree with full respect for each other.  I too have tried to respond accordingly.

The way my friends and we have tugged along has given me immense pleasure. This is like the India of my dreams. It is the decency of my friends that has given me hope. Across all political spectrum, all age groups.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was a privilege interacting with all of you. We will meet again. In a new India.

The Signs of Four

The Contenders
The Contenders

Sign # 1

The Indian National Congress. Lost.

Even before the match started. In the final analysis it turned out to be a party full of darpoks, shirkers, escapists, liars. I say liar since all these years they said they were at the beck and call of their “owners”, the Gandhis, and are now refusing to take calls from 10 Janpath, per chance they are told to contest. P Chidambaram, the man most people hold responsible for the economic debacle (and according to many others, the person who controlled the stock market) has fled — both from his responsibility and his commitment. I am sure he wants a “safe seat” via Rajya Sabha.  His son says, “Daddy said to smile!” Atta boy, Karthi!! Manish Tewari, the monotone speaker par excellence who crafted the Bharat Nirman campaign has had health issues and does not want to contest from Ludhiana. What he is doing is what school children do before the exam day. Fall sick. His case may be genuine, but we people see nothing good about the UPA. Poor Mani Shankar Aiyyar. He has had to prove his loyalty to the Gandhi family by opting out of the Rajya Sabha and return to Mayuram. Poor Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambica Soni (oye hoye, I thought she was a discarded colleague), Amrinder Singh have all been coaxed and cajoled by 10 Janpath to be brave in the face of adversity. Even Anand Sharma is looking elsewhere when his name is being called out. MMS is busy packing up his boriya bistar, he will soon be occupying the bungalow vacated by Sheila Dikshit.

I had mentioned in one my earlier blogs that people close to Sonia Gandhi do not want Rahul Gandhi to come to power as it will mean transfer of the power base from Team Sonia to Team Rahul. Fact is, poor Rahul, and I say this with some genuine truth, has been left to fight for himself. He is doing his best, mouthing good intentions; but he does not seem to have any takers even within his party. His Unca Diggy is still smiling, waiting to be named the sacrificial lamb as the Congress candidate from Varanasi. As of now, a Kalmadi is sulking (what cheek, he had suggested that if he is dropped, the party may nominate his wife, if not his daughter! Constituencies are becoming personal fiefdom of some politicians, referred to in Hindi as ‘baap ka raaj’), Ashok Chavan is still hanging, but another scam-under-investigation minister, Pawan Bansal has been gifted Chandigarh. Sheila Dikshit has been moved up to a Constitutional Post so that she is insulated from the CWG dust. Very honest party, indeed. Also, as of today, Shinde continues to have tea with 2G accused, Mr Balwa, and accuses the former Home Secretary, R K Sinha of speaking bakwas now that Mr Sinha is a BJP candidate.

The status of INC, who are not even finding candidates to field is indeed a sad commentary. Where is the party discipline? Where are the grand ideas of Rahul Gandhi? Where is the party? Have they left everything to the mercy of Sanjay Jha? Why do we see so little of their spokesperson brigade led by Jayanti Natarajan? Party work? And I guess like Jayanti Natarajan, loud mouth Renuka Chaudhuri would also like to return to party work. Yes, they should all return to party work — except that to me, the Indian National Congress will soon be relegated to a foot note in India’s history.

 

Sign #2

One thing is certain, no matter how much we speak of our great democratic traditions, the way politicians are changing their jerseys, I think the people need to stand up and seek total reforms. Every day, nay hour, a news break tells us Mr X of so and so party (read Congress) has joined so and so party (read BJP). And BJP is happily accepting these Congressmen. Satpal Maharaj, Jagadmba Pal, Col Sonaram…it looks like a parade. Even N K Singh, the man who was the principal advisor to Nitish Kumar all these years and was credited with the Bihar Developmental Blueprint is also looking for a way out. Suddenly these deserters find that the party they ‘served’ was giving them a cold shoulder, that it was turning dictatorial, the High Command was “not listening to them” (read, ‘they did not give me/my followers the seats I wanted’). Digvijay Singh may be on record in saying that BJP is engineering these defections, but did these deserters go through a spell of realization just after EC declared the election dates? I suppose till yesterday they were all in awe and admiration of their High Command (read, 10 Janpath).  With no respect to the political class, you don’t serve your High Command (irrespective of the party). You serve the people. That is just the single reason why you are in the business.

I can understand people opting out of the party they served for their personal agendas — but how come the BJP has had an open door policy? Isn’t this the party with a difference? Isn’t this the party which is promising to deliver us from evils? Development? Governance? Ram Rajya? Free us of corruption? Communalism (hic!)?

With the likes of Yeddurappa? Sriramulu? Reddy Brothers? Under the garb of ‘Winnability’? Not sure, are you? These guys will make the difference? As will Amit Shah, who is not even allowed to enter Gujarat?

BJP is not sure of a sweep. Else they would not have run the winnability program. And if they were looking for a sweep, their slips have shown up so badly that may do some rethinking.

Let us do a reality check. Here we have had a Congress led-UPA Government, which by all accounts have sunk the nation. Particularly, corruption. There we have a BJP, the other large party, almost like a port in storm, who come forward and say let us take over, we will clean up and give the economy buoyancy. Fair deal. In fact, the UPA has laid it out for them on a platter. What they should have done is to have come forward as a party, talked about the success of their state leaders like Shivraj Patil, Narendra Modi, Dr Raman Singh, showcased a team full of identifiable and respected politicians like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, backed by stalwarts like Advani, Jaswant Singh and told the nation, we are ready, bring us to power. In the process they should also have collectively decided to make Advanis of the world as Peetamahas, what they call in corporate circles ‘Chairman Emeritus’, and put them on a pedestal, sought their blessings.

What they did was just the reverse. A group of four, led by Rajnath Singh actually hijacked the party and upfronted a Narendra Modi, who till the other day was the face of communal violence. We would like to accept it or not, he has not been cleared of the Godhra riots and what with charges against his own ministers (one of them has been sentenced to a 28 year term), it is difficult to accept that he is squeaky clean. Throughout his campaign, he has not, at least to me, spelt out his vision of the ‘new’ India. Look hard, he has taken on the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, the Left (and parties who they know will never ever join them), economic downtrend; but in between his Bhaiyon aur Bahenos, he has not talked about a blueprint. All he wants is a Modi-Sarkar.

Voting for individuals has always resulted in a disaster. Man who comes to my mind is Debkanta Barooah, a former Congress President for his now infamous, ‘India is Indira’. You vote for a manifesto and if you look hard, the BJP had it all ready — courtesy the UPA, of course. The BJP as a party would have been more acceptable as an alternate solution — but the Group of Four, in their wisdom, have moved to an individual, dumping the collective decision process of a party. In demolishing the party, they have created more problems within. And you can’t help it, no matter how much erudite right wing thinkers like Swapan Dasguptas try to defend — the BJP is a party split wide open.

Godhra or no Godhra, Modi is responsible for the development of Gujarat. This was another mistake committed by the Group of Four. It is not exactly true. His efforts have been as good or as bad as those of Nitish in Bihar, or Shivraj Chauhan in MP, or even Dr Raman Singh in Chattisgarh. On the hind sight, by showcasing Gujarat they have opened up the Pandora’s Box. The “development” is now being defended more by Modi than opening it all up and letting people decide. Somewhere there is a lack of confidence.

To my mind they should have presented all BJP run states. It would have given more confidence to the people. The people would have felt far more comfortable in bringing them in — as a body.

Political analysts say that in the last ten years Modi has cut to size any leader and has hogged the show all to himself. Is this what he is likely to do when he becomes PM? He does have a dictatorial attitude, and right now he has the support of Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari. These four constitute the BJP, or whatever is left of it. And one day he will get them out, barring Shah. What and the way they did to Jaswant Singh, Haren Pathak, M M Joshi, I am sure did not leave a good taste in their own mouths. There is an open revolt which is breaking loose.

You may, dear reader, think that I am putting him down. No, I am asking you to look at issues rationally and you will know what I am talking about. Sure, go ahead and vote for Modi, but before you do that let me make you think hard for a moment and trash me in style. Not a la FB way. You may say all you are saying is fine, but what is the option? Can’t have the UPA back for the rest of our lives… Today it is not time to say “Yes, he is bad, but Congress is worse.”  But the way they are playing the winnability card (they even had that Pramod Muthalik in for a while) I am not seeing them any different from the Congress. And don’t feel very elated by Akbar having crushed Rajdeep. A piece of advise. Yell your NaMo to stay away from this man. He is more insecure than NaMo!!

Well today we don’t have an option. We are jumping into the water chanting ‘Har Har Modi’. The Modi brigade, led by the editor of Manusi had even said that we have a ‘sarkari Shankaracharya’!!

 

Sign # 3

You know, when channels keep showing their poll predictions that Kejriwal is a likely choice for the PM post, I feel like getting up and giving them a tight slap. Why is this question asked at all? The PM race is between Rahul Gandhi and Modi, with fringe players like Amma, Didi and perhaps even ‘dil se hain’ Mulayum. But Kejriwal? Come on! You expect a leader of a rag tag party, who is not likely to get more than 4 seats to be the PM? Why ask?

There is just a point. With a Modi (er, not BJP) in complete control, it may be to our benefit to see to it that they get about 10 seats (which even I know is a wishful thinking). At least they can act as a watch dog. They should, and would, never come to power — but they can do wonders by staying out of it. To start with, they may not have done anything worthwhile in their 49 days, but they have got the Election Commission to ask the Oil Ministry to defer notification of new gas price till general elections are completed, after taking cognizance of Arvind Kejriwal’s letter to the EC. This is just the kind of things we want them to do. The AAP really have no wish to sit in power, even though they have fielded some great candidates, including a Nobel Prize nominee. She will not win, nor will Medha Patekar, or Meera Sanyal, or Gul Panag. Sad, these are people, along with Rajmohan Gandhi (whom I have followed ever since he was into Moral Rearmament, more since West Indian opener Conard Hunte was a part of it) and Yogendra Yadav are people we want to see in the Parliament. Why have I included Gul Panag’s name? From what little I have followed, she is doing a much better job than many seasoned politicians put together. I doubt if the BJP and Congress band of stars can do the same. One TMC star (Dev) has declared that when being raped, one should enjoy it. Another, a Congress star, was kissed in public by a leader of her own party. Disgusting!

One big mistake that the AAP have done (and I am sure they had no option) was to have gone into the General Elections. With a party that has not yet been set up, structured and organized, they cannot afford to win Lok Sabha seats. So, as far as the Congress and Modi are concerned, they have no fear. An odd upset here and there may be just OK. I blame them for the Somnath Bharti episode, but not for the 49 days in power status. Again think hard — both the BJP and Congress have played games and actually come together to ease them out. No, next time I am sure they will be better organized. Once the elections are over, they will have all the time to rework on themselves. They certainly need help and that they will get.

Right now let’s keep them out of the mainframe. They have a specific task to do and let them do that. How they will fare in the future is in the realm of speculation. But they don’t seem to be a flash in the pan.

 

Sign # 4

The worst thing that has happened to out social and public life is the role of the media. Paid, Unpaid, Corporate-supported, TRP-supported, whatever; they have taken the democratic process to the pits. And to quote them back, “Hamam mein sab nangey hain.” My generation have been brought up by Girilal Jain, Frank Mores, Alfred Evan Charlton, S. Nihal Singh and today, to see the dumb charades and motivated writings both on the electronic and print media, it is more than a culture shock. The role of the media today is absolutely crass when it comes to politics and added with the social media, we have reduced political debates to a farce.

Why? The Nation wants to know! Will the media owners stand up and tell us, please?