Monday, March 23, 2015

Why a strong Indian National Congress (INC) is essential for India

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don't want to jump to that conclusion yet but fair to say that the indicators are not too good. The BJP having got a full majority on their own has made them feel invincible. Remember the India shining campaign. Similar thing is happening now with the kind of advertisement spree of the BJP. It is such a shame that they think they won the general elections 2014 due to a strong media blitz. Such lack of respect to the then Prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and his team of lieutenants.

This government won on the basic premise of development with the Gujarat model of development as a benchmark. I do not want to dwell much whether the Gujarat model is a model which can be emulated nationally or whether the model is itself self-sustainable, as the naysayers would say. The Prime Minister has been quite forthright with his views and is in a combat mode to get the economy back on track. His direct interactions with people, and putting India on the world map through international engagements and diplomacy has no precedence in Indian politics. Kudos to that. However, all these good aspects have been over-shadowed with various aspects of Hinduism, ghar-wapsi, attacks on minorities among other things.

If BJP believes they won the general elections 2014 because of direct interaction between the PM candidate through Twitter then it should also realise the double-edge of twitter. Every small mis-step is blown out of proportion on Twitter and can come back to bite BJP in a big way.

Here it is required that the Indian National Congress, a national party in true sense of the word steps in. If INC are not strong, BJP will face un-sustained resistance from other parties and it will not be good enough. And it will allow BJP to get away with unpleasant things. Moreover, 4 years down the line when the general elections are due in 2019, the electorate would not have a viable option if BJP fails to perform. The Indian electorate has been intelligent enough to not give a fractured mandate in 2004, 2009 and 2014 and I would not want them to be a position where this could come true. Because as they say, lesser of the evil is better. The small regional parties in the Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and a few other states do not have the vision to take India forward nor are there enough intellectuals to know what is good. They have too many vested interests to be good for the country. Therefore, like it or not, do wish and pray fervently that Rahul Gandhi takes on the mantle and is ably supported by good people in the Congress. The Gandhi family is the glue keeping the INC together and we have to take the thorns for the roses.

A special note for AAP considering the positive attitude it gets amongst the middle class for taking on the establishment. It will be naïve to think that they will be a national player anytime soon. I wish I am wrong. They need to prove themselves in New Delhi before venturing on the national stage. It will be better if it proves itself in a few other states before going national. Else it too will add to the possibility of a fractured mandate in 2019.

To be less harsh on the INC, there did some miserable mistakes during their two terms. I hope they have learnt their lesson. Only if they get their act together will they have a chance of redemption and give India a viable and strong option, come 2019. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Live for money or money to live

When the Sensex is down a few points, it becomes a headline. Farmer suicide never becomes a headline. Corporate awards are headlines. Why are there never awards for agricultural excellence. Attack on the rich in Taj Hotel becomes a headline. Attack in Assam never becomes a headline. Subsidies and loan waiver to farmers become a headline. Land at concessional rates and tax breaks to industry never make headlines. Oil spills in the Sunderbans never make headlines. Restrictions on industry to pollute makes headlines as anti-industry. Minimum Support price for farmer output makes headlines as subsidy but salary increments in April for industrial employees is a right. Profitability is measured on the Sensex but is employee life measured on the Sensex. Down-sizing of employees starting with blue-collared workers is acceptable when real down-sizing will start if white-collared workers in middle and senior management are asked to go. But that is not palatable because a white-collared worker is considered to be an asset for profit-making whereas a blue-collared worker is a liability during weak economic demand.

For all its good aspects, Capitalism fails on these points miserably. For a country like India where there is such a large population without basic food, shelter and clothing and there is constant pressure on urban infrastructure, capitalism can never be the answer. Because the vested interests for a capitalist mind-set will hinder increased standard of living across the spectrum.

We all have lost our first identity as humans. We prefer to identify ourselves by our nation, religion and name, in that order. Humanity and compassion are being lost in pursuit of materialism.