Monday, April 14, 2014

To my fellow Bangaloreans

This is with a disappointment and rather a sense of guilt that I am writing this post. All my attempts to get my voter enrollment bombed, thanks to my crazy travel schedule among other things. I am not voting this time :(
So it only makes sense for me to appeal to those of you who have a chance to vote, not to miss that opportunity. And since, I have declared my loyalties long time ago, I will not make one of those sweeping statements.

Do your bit to give a strong and stable leadership to your country. Vote for BJP.
I will not be writing a long post this time, just a few very important points.

Misconceptions you should get over:
  1. Don't be boxed into the 'secular vote' nonsense. Those asking for 'secular vote' are posing a threat to our secular fabric by bringing religion into elections. BJP is as secular, if not more secular than Congress (or its B team AAP).
  2. Congress and BJP are not on the same plane with respect to corruption. Kalmadi's (A small fish in Congress's pond) corruption is bigger than all the corruption charges of all leaders in all the BJP ruled states put together.
  3. AAP is just a spoilsport. Even AK said winning Varanasi and Ameti is his only priority. Don't waste your vote there.
  4. You don't have to vote for NOTA, just because it is introduced (or because you are disillusioned with AAP). You will have more elections where that might option become relevant (like the assembly, local body elections etc or even national elections at some point). Now is not the time.

Real Issues:
  1. Jobs - you may be employed. But think about all those people who are graduating every year, and the companies doing fresher drives for 2012 pass-outs till date. Even your jobs are not so much secure, with our very own Nandan Nilekani pitching for reservations in private sector.
  2. Inflation and price rise- The fact that "NO AMOUNT OF MONEY IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOUR RETIREMENT" may serve the insurance companies well. But that is a real scary thought with the inflation rates that are on the cards now.
  3. Development - it matters. The only person/party talking development is BJP/Modi.
  4. National Security (and pride) - if not pride, security cannot be ruled out. 26/11, kargil for profits, INS Sindhuratna, Serial Bomb Blasts in Bangalore in 2013. Those are not emotions for a day.
Think about all these for a moment, for a day, because others may not be thinking about any of this. They may just be taking their 2000/- and a liquor bottle for voting.

After all this, if you are:
  1. Not voting like me, who couldn't get your name on the list or if you are not in town or if you are voting elsewhere- spread this message, in your own way.
  2. Not voting, even if you have your name on the voter list (may be because you hate lines or you have work or you hate politics), don't claim that you care for your country. Seriously, your vote matters- go and vote.
  3. If you are voting, but voting for congress- you will have to live with this decision for another 5 years. Don't think that you are voting for your MP (or something else) and rest of the country will somehow magically get Modi to power.
  4. If you are voting for AAP or NOTA, your vote is worth more. Think about it.
  5. If you were anyway voting for BJP, go ahead.
  6. If you were doing something between 2 to 4 and ended up voting for Modi (BJP) after this post- you are helping me repay my sin of not voting this time!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

BJP and secularism

In this post, I want to talk about the perception that we carry about BJP. And by the way, this perception not only talks about BJP, it teaches us what secularism means. It tells us that the India is a developing country. It tells us India as a county has no hope. Hope can only be given to sections of society by treating them differently, at the cost of the others. A zero sum game essentially.

"Vajpayee is good, but the party is not" was the general perception. "BJP is good, but Modi is not" is the perception we are being sold now. Advani, who couldn't become the PM, because of this perception, suddenly becomes a saint. But I think in reality, it is not so much about people.

"They did stupid things before coming to power, but they did really well after coming to power", a friend of mine was saying. The stupid thing was obviously a reference to the Ram Mandir. I do believe that the evils of the past should be left to rest. I do believe that religion is a private affair that will look ugly if not silly if brought to road. In fact I did also believe that the exploitation of the Islamic innovations on India are just a paragraph in history books, that are rightly followed by tones of good they did. I did also believe that the epics are just myths and fiction has no relevance in real world. Things like an existence of a bridge to Lanka or an underwater city near Dwaraka are just a coincidence. My younger cousins go a step further. They believe that Harry Potter is more real than Ramayana (since the former is written later and by a Brit, may be) and (Chota) Bheem is a cartoon character. It was hard for me to understand why my grandfather stopped following sai baba, after his statement on Ram Mandir.

But my biggest surprise was the Allahabad High Court verdict on the very issue of Ram Mandir, when even a right wing liberal like me has given the judgement that there is no place for a temple there.
May be there is a reason that these thoughts find more validation in real courts. May be there is a reason why Modi gets a clean chit, and Lalu gets punished in these real courts. Or may be Salman Khurshid is right when he said in London that courts and EC are overdoing.

I would like to believe that secularism doesn't mean you reserve yourself from speaking for yourself if you are the majority. If I have so many apprehensions talking and writing about these, I don't blame Muslims or other communities, to carry this negative perception and a few conservatives either getting offended or exploiting it.

If there was an easier way, and this could be done away with a BUT, like, BJP is communal, but they are the only alternative, I could have left this to rest. If Vajpayee can talk about Bhagawan Ram in the parliament, and deliver a corruption free government, I think it's an 'and' not a 'but'. If Modi can work for 15+ hours a day, not to make money for his next 15 generations, I think it's more than just his ego.

Its a simple 101 that a riot or a communal clash happens when two communities are involved, and how come, it is always one party that represents the wrong. On the other hand, if there is a political party that you treats different religions differently, or treats different castes differently, that represents secularism or pluralism for us. Even a party like 'All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen' is not communal, forget the parties coming to power taking their support. But a party that allies with Bhartiya Janta Party have to think twice. Such is the state of affairs, and we are too very righteous to call it hypocrisy.

Did you notice that, you don't see BJP showing favoritism a lot, in their manifestos or otherwise. That is the reason they talk about development, and not communalism. Did you notice that Vajpayee's government built roads, not temples. Did you realize that the tough decisions taken by NDA are things like Kargil war or Pokhran tests, not dividing a state though a parliament blackout.

And yet, we see that BJP has to fight these perception battles, while we are happy to buy everything that is sold to us about this very perception. Finally, I believe that religion should be left as a private affair. And I see that it is the congress (including this B Team of AAP)  that is not letting us do that. They to be are the biggest threat to the secular fabric of our country, not the BJP.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are you also 'boxed'

Its hard to explain how and when it started. But how far we have come as a country in supporting the things that do not matter - is shocking.

India is probably the only country people fight to be (called) backward. Reservations etc, have successfully turned India into a bunch of vote banks. And they will keep doing so! I always thought that this populist polarization is the worst thing that can ever happen to the country. But last couple of months/years, our negligence has allowed the political parties to take this absurdity to a whole new level. Here are a few examples-

Vote banks have become such a norm that Congress has given a new state (Telengana), on a verbal promise from TRS (who can get some 10 MPs), that they will merge with them. After the shameless division, the congress has audacity to float the pitch in the rest of the Andhra Pradesh, that they will include a (kapu) community in BCs. This would apparantly give them 20% of the votes. Taking hint I guess from the blatant act of malice, recently one of my friends has been hinting the idea of starting a political party that would voice the (sizable number of) Telugu's in Karnataka.

Oh, wait - its not just one state. Jayalalitha, is all set to release the assassins of the former prime minister- just before elections. That will give her the much needed people's support to take the same chair whose honor she is happy to let go off. The ripples are felt up north, in JK there were protests demanding an explanation for hanging a Terrorist that attacked the parliament.

A riot 12 years ago, is still the biggest thing when it comes to how we vote, even though that was the last time a riot took place in Gujarat. How much did we care to understand the steps taken by this person we blame to control those, and make sure they never happened again?

Even a match of cricket is not left alone, when it comes to political gains. "Everyone has a right to support a team they like", Sashi Tharoor goes on record to lick the boots of a few extremists who control a some votes. (Celebrating when your country looses apparently is not provocative)

If you are a normal Indian news follower, at this point, I am pulling our the communal card or at the best being one sided, ignoring the BJP that is sitting on the other side of the fence. So let me give you one more. AAP, who says communalism is the biggest threat, has wakf board promotion in their agenda and backs khap panchayats.

But guys, frankly, if any of the points I made above have hurt your sentiments, its only because you have been successfully 'boxed' by the 65 years of evolution of the 'divide and rule' doctrine, our own guys adapted from the colonial rule and eventually mastered. For those of you who are not offended, you don't have a good news either. You are also boxed as 'the rest'. They know that we have to solve every *other* problem thrown at us (most of which do not matter). We have come to a point that, any fringe issue can become a mainstream. And rest of the mainstream just doesn't care.

What about corruption that is been happening every year? (Yedurappa - check. Lets move on?).

Talking about national security is out of context, so let me not even mention it. The terrorist attacks are like bad monsoons, lock ourselves down in our house, watch TV, eat popcorn, make a few phone calls. When were they ever an election issue? (But we watched 'The Wednesday' - check. Lets move on?)

What about our own jobs (forget that of our children)? We are good as long as Uncle Sam and his country can get some cheap work done, without actually saying so. What next?

Should we always be happier giving alms to a beggar than not having to have one in the first place. Shouldn't our mindset towards what is right be altered, if not changed? Its either that someone is super smart, or a lot of us are just dumb. But the subtlety at which our thought process is being manipulated should be admired. This quote from 'The Matrix' sounds so apt - isn't it time that we wake up?
Have you ever had a dream, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

To my fellow Andhraites

The biggest state of South India breaks into two. The local media and the national channels have made amply sure that this news is not missed. While the international media got a chance to see the new lows of the biggest democracy in terms of the disruptions, national media did not miss a chance to expose the rowdyism of the Andhra MPs. For the 17 seat stake the Congress bought from TRS at a price of forking out a new CM seat, whatever happened is the party. Irony it is - while the people of Telengana have no reason to celebrate in this political ploy, Chidambaram who must be doing Lungi Dance in his Madras Cafe, is shying away from partying!

Most of these are just pass time politics. But what concerns me (and probably many others) is the fate and fortune of Andhra Pradesh and the dignity of Andhraites. For the Telugus who fought hard to establish their identity in 1953, things seem to be at square one again after 60 long years. While it appears now that the Andraites are parasites claiming unlawful stake on the beautiful Nizam city, everyone conveniently ignores the fact that Andhra never wanted Telangana to be merged into Andhra State, in 1953. It was the other way round.

So they were never meant to be together. And the division is just - right? Yes, but there are only 3 problems.

While Hyderabad gave the poor country a few buildings to run the state government, in 1956, a lot was paid back. 13 governments, of 175 MLAs from the Andhra region (along with 119 MLAs from Telengana) built the state centered around the capital city of Hyderabad for 60 years. [Don't give me that argument that Hyderabad is developed by people for all places. No MLA from a different state passed any resolution towards development(or otherwise) of Hyderabad].
"When Money is lost, Nothing is lost"
Gandhi already said. (but who can take that high moral ground!) But then he also said, 
"If Health is lost, something is lost". 
How much is something? Hyderabad will the common capital for both the states for 10 years. Really?? Its like having your bedroom in your neighbors house. A hostile neighbor I should say. I am not even talking about the bigger problems of water, electricity, the government/bank jobs etc.
Well, this can also be a temporary thing. Turbulence is expected when great things happen and some of these could be induced fears.
But the perception that was created by the Telangana movement, supported by the paid media (when Congress choose to support it), hits me the hardest
"If character is lost, everything is lost"
"Its a tale of one city, not a tale of two states" one of the prominent Congress men was spotted saying. It does appear so from what I've said so far - isn't it? Hell, no! It much bigger.
Did KTR (another Raj Thackeray) forget the rampage they created (including breaking the statues on Tankbund) while he is giving these austere speeches on national media debates these days?

The real problem is, Andhra strategically victimized, orphaned and ignored. To all those Sharukh Khans of Chennai Express, Arnab Goswamis, Kumar Viswas-es, and all those who think South Indians are all Madarasis, how would you explain the costal culture of telugu speaking, intelligent and industrious people that has its own identity, different from the Pepper Spraying, spicy foodie, disruption-ists fighting to steal someone else's city. (since I have taken pain to write such a big sentence, you better read it one more time ;) )
But why even blame them, as if own house is in order. We have elected leaders who would do anything to grab Hyderabad (even for a short period), but couldn't ask for a tax holiday for the Andhra after the division. But they have given free money- right? Caste based politics are still more important. Its a shame to see the congress men fighting for the CM post (in the present situation) with election in 3 months. What you pay is what you get!

This post however, is not to just vent my frustration out, even though that is what I have done for the most part. Is it not time that we wake up, and realize that we need to awake the pride and dignity of Andhraites? Like 3 things that were wrong, lets talk about 3 things that can make things right.

May be asking of people to choose the right political leader is too much. But should we not begin there? I don't vote in Andhra, but if you do think about it. Or if have someone who does, can you not ask them if not persuade them to consider this. Should our MP at-lest not talk fluent english/hindi when they represent us, Andhraites in the parliament? Do we not need MLAs who want to grow with the state instead of growing in the state?

Then comes my second point. I have friends who have started small businesses (like Dairy, poultry etc) in Andhra. Please encourage them. Invest with them/in them, if you can. Most of us have very short term goals. Have you ever decided where and how you want to spend your life after retirement? If you are an Andhraite, you should consider returning back- that is the only way you can keep your stakes alive in the building of the new state. My personal stand is, I will move to Guntur, whenever I have something substantial to do (at this point, it looks like its either when that region gets IT opportunities or when I get to a point where I rise enough capital to start my own firm)

The most important thing though is, keep talking about it. For long, we have been told that all talk is not good. But not talking is worse! If you talk, may be 5 others will. If 100 people talk, may be 1 person will do (something about it). If 100 people do, 1 might succeed. We need at-least a few 100 success stories, to get the dignity back! You start by talking about it.. Share this post if you think it makes sense, comment on this to let me know your thoughts. And one day, we will deliver!

If an Andhraite can become the 'next Bill Gates', how practical is it (not) for Andhra to become the next Silicon Valley? Wanted to leave you with this positive thought!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blogging till Elections 2014

2014 is here! India is going to elections, this very year. And I want to get back to blogging. The amount of time I spend on news channels these days, I definitely need a channel to vent my views out. And this blog has, for so many times in past been a good friend to my mine, listening to all that I had to say. Frankly, Facebook hasn't been the best place, at least without making me feeling guilty of polluting my friends' timelines! And of-course I can feel like Arnab Goswami, in this own little blog of mine!

For as back as my memories go, I always did have an active interest in politics. My grandfather is a graduate (hons.) from BHU, Varanasi, 1948. If there is a reason I can think beyond what the mainstream education/media constantly prescribed me into, he probably has the largest contribution. As much as it is true that social media has given me a voice for promotion of my views, of late, it felt cluttered and unstructured. And that probably is the main reason I want to construct my view in a series of blogs that go till the general elections at a minimum. And after that, lets see where it takes us to! (Long story short, I am trying to prove my credibility to even write something as tiny as this, and you better be convinced)

And whatever I write in this blog, I completely understand that, it is 'a' point of view and there can be other points of view that are equally valid. And I encourage you to read my writing as a argument towards that point of view I am representing and give it a fair hearing.

Now that I have beaten enough around the bush, let me come to the political views I represent/support:

I am a believer of BJP. This is not so much because of Modi (exclusively). Nor is it because of the fact that Congress Govt. sucked big time. I will hopefully be able to explain, in enough detail as to why BJP stands closest to the ideologies I believe in- but that is for another time. All that I wanted to say at this time is, I am pro BJP and not anti-congress.

As many of you might have known, one of my very good friends, Rakesh, has joined BJP  recently Here is the 'yourstory' article, for more details. Having seen him closely in BITS, Pilani as Gen Sec and otherwise, I can see the value he can bring on to the Indian politics. For me, promoting him, is the closest I can get to, in claiming my contribution to the greater good of the Indian governance and politics.

The cultural identity that we are happy to let go of, is actually alarming. It is true that the urbanization has its own impact in terms of making us culture neutral. But if you keep that aside, as Indians, we are programmed to disown our cultural roots. So much so that following our traditions is considered ethnic in our own land (Dictionary meaning of Ethnic: Associated with or belonging to a particular race or group of people who have a culture that is different from the main culture of a country)

India, as of now, is growing despite government. Its high time that we have a government that can help the growth and development. Loosing the smartest of the people as brain drain or to unemployment has to stop. And that can only happen through a strong stable government and a political will.

There are many more, but these are the primary ones, and the reasons for me to start putting my political thoughts on this glass pane of yours! Trust me, politics can be more interesting than many other things that you do not probably know (like- lets say ice skating) and is as rewarding as the plant that Ashoka planted in our history books. Looking forward for your comments.