Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Oh the drama!

My, my ! If this were a movie, I am sure it would be a great hit. I agree with Byron that Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

The drama started with the NDA surprised at the polls by the UPI (something that's supposed to be progressive). Even though senior leaders of the BJP were graceful in accepting defeat, the middle rank leaders raked up a lot of muck about Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin. Now, the BJP very well knew that Sonia Gandhi would become the PM if the Congress won. Their shrill propaganda on this issue proved to be distasteful to the voter. Narendra Modi was the worst of the lot. Anyway, after all this happened, Sonia was chosen as the consensus candidate of the Useless Parties of India coalition. Then Sushma Swaraj, for whom I have had great respect, started going bonkers. She vowed to tonsure her head and live as a recluse or like a widow even when her husband was alive, if Sonia became the PM. Govindacharya, (I don't know much about him) also threatened to boycott Sonia's PM-ship. One person even committed suicide and several others threatened to do so.

My question is : Was it OK when Sonia was the leader of the opposition ? Why the sudden display of patriotism and nationalistic fervour now ? I had always respected the BJP for being a party of ideals, but now it appears to be on the same level as the Congress party.

With the Left parties supporting SG, some of them got a bit adventurous and ventured really stupid statements about divestment that sent all the wrong signals to the investment community. The investors are to blame too. Their irrational clinging to one government without even bothering to listen to the policies of the new government causes one to rethink India in the new mould of economic giant. When the Sensex lost around 500 points on Monday the 17th, it reflected the selfish foreign investors too. But that's how the world is now.

In the middle of all this, SG met the president APJ A. Kalam. Something happened there and SG suddenly refused the post of the PM. A whole new act in this whole drama began! While the reasons for her withdrawing her nomination are unknown, it was widely speculated by the media that the President had something to do with it. The Rashtrapati Bhavan later clarified that it had nothing to do with this. But it was high-voltage drama!

Sonia wearing the garb of the victimized woman and the family woman, scored a lot of points with Indians everywhere, citing personal reasons and the inner voice as having changed her mind about ascending to the top post in India. I am a bit cynical; I saw this as yet another play. But only time will tell what transpired in SG's mind. Or not! The suicide threats came from the Congressmen this time.

The Indian English media in India have a general editorial left slant. This was well seen in their editorials praising SG's selfless sacrifice and even elevating SG to the ranks of Gandhi and the Buddha. While the reasons for her withdrawal are unknown, her sacrfice doesn't seem to be selfless. She probably foresaw the endless lawsuits against her - courtesy Subramanian Swamy, the eternal dissident and a bunch of other people. The reason that Sonia's children feared for Sonia's life doesn't cut it with me. When they were not afraid when SG was campaigning, why would they be afraid when their mother would be the most protected individual in India ?

This decision magically seemed to change the stock market's fortunes.But so much volatility about nothing ? The faith in the Indian Economy seems to be lacking in these investors.

The situation seems to have stabilized now with Manmohan Singh being named to the post of the PM. The stock market at least seems to like it. MS is known to be clean guy with a good head on his shoulders. His political skills are questionable; but he will probably have protection from SG; just as he was protected by Narasimha Rao in his cabinet.

But it is not over till it is over. We have to wait and see if MS will actually be sworn in as PM, or if something else happens in the meantime.

Monday, May 17, 2004

We Indians have lost our pride

Indians have lost our pride

This is exactly what I am feeling. This guy has put it in words really well. The way a PM is elected has to be changed to be more like the US presidential elections. Otherwise people like Deve Gowda and Sonia Gandhi will end up PMs and that too with their hand on the nuclear button.

Also, is it true that Sonia Gandhi is still maintaining her Italian citizenship ? If that is true, we Indians are indeed the most foolish people on the planet for having allowed her to become PM. Becoming an MP is fine, but PM ?

She is also a political novice. It is because of all this and the stupid left (who said dinosaurs are extinct?) that the Sensex fell by more than 700 points. While it was a bit too much of a reaction by the investors, it speaks volumes about the people's and the business community's perception of this thing known as the Congress + Left.

Anyway, waiting with bated breath to see what transpires in the next few days.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The election aftermath

The elections in India are over. Astrologers and psephologists were again seen as clueless in their own supposed fields of expertise. Sonia Gandhi will most definitely be the Prime Minister of India. Newspapers around the world waxed eloquent about the vibrant Indian democracy and how the people of India taught a fitting lesson to the 'Hindu Nationalist' party. Arundhati Roy made a tidy sum of money for herself by bringing the attention of the readers of the Guardian to the plight of the poor in India. Well, to each person his thought!

I still find it amazing that after fifty years of Indian independence, the Indian voters were stupid or liberal enough (I don't know which!) to elect a party that had a political and administrative novice as its leader. Sonia Gandhi is not an Indian; that is a whole different can of worms. But that aside, she has no experience in politics and administration other than being the widow of yet another member of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Administering India is no joke. One needs a lot of experience like Narasimha Rao or Vajpayee to be able to lead a nation. But then, who cares about administering a country ? I don't know what these people really think of themselves. I sincerely hope that the advisors of Sonia are experienced administrators.

Many Indians (both in India and abroad) have been crying hoarse about Sonia's ascension to the top post of the land. Some of the reasons are as follows:
1. Sonia, being a non-native Indian, as PM can easily jeopardize India's internal security
2. The whole ignominy of picking up a person of non-Indian origin when there were so many qualified politicians
3. Conspiracy theories about her non-Hindu (especially Catholic) origins causing religious strife in India
4. Her being a novice in Politics and Administration

Some people are going to the extreme extent of leaving India or not visiting India at all. I for one, am not so happy about the results, but I don't think that the situation is so dire. India is too big a country to be ruined by a bunch of nincompoops. Also, not all people in the new administration are nincompoops. Yes there are Laloo and Mulayam, but there are also Manmohan Singh, Sam Pitroda, Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh. So, it is not all that bad. Moreover, we should remember that it was the Congress that actually initiated the economic reforms responsible for India Shining on the economic front. So, I hope some of that is still sticking with the Congress.

What I cannot stomach is the presence of the Communists. Communism is not suitable for a society such as India. Moreover, the Communists in India are not the least bit patriotic. They have been known to support powers such as China and the former Soviet Union over their own country. They want to destroy individual enterprise and haul India's progress back by a hundred years. Communism is good for a uniform society and not for a society as diverse as India. This is just to show my distaste for things Communist. I feel that Communism breeds Corruption for all the benefits it can bring to the 'worker comrades'.

The Missionary-Mullah-pseudo-secular triumvirate is becoming more powerful. Indians can refuse to recognize them at their own peril. More about this later.

Anyway, these were some of my thoughts on this occasion. My prayers are with and for India and her people. I hope the Congressmen have the good sense to continue the good work started by themselves and continued by the NDA and not be shackled by the communists.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

India and Elections

India is a developing country. It is considered by several as a third world country. But compared to the other countries which achieved freedom right about when India got hers, even the harshest critic of India has to agree that India has done a lot better. It may not be as advanced as say, the United States. But India is a very functioning democracy and I feel proud that I am an Indian.

The largest exercise in democracy is undoubtedly the current election season in India. India has slightly over a billion population. It is no joke to conduct free and fair elections for so many people. The other nice thing about the current elections is the use of Electronic Voting Machines. Why, even in advanced countries, all elections are not electronic. By using the EVM, India has become a pioneer.

Many countries the size of India have broken into pieces. But India is still one strong nation. It has never been under a dictatorship. It has never been under military rule. The military has always been subordinate to the elected representatives of the people. While this costly exercise in democracy has resulted in lesser progress than what would have been with an authoritarian form of government, we should understand that freedom has a price.

Yes, there are pockets where India is not developed at all. But one should recognize that India is the fourth largest economy in the world. India has a vibrant middle-class that is rooted in secular ethos. The word secular now is much maligned and I for one do not subscribe to the British notion of secularism where religion and state are totally separate. For me, secularism means the equality of all religions under the eyes of law. No one religion is higher or lower than the other. Minority-ism which has unfortunately been the hallmark of several modern Indian political parties is really despised by me. I am not against minorities. I am against mollycoddling them for selfish political gain. Minorities should be one with the nation. While genuine needs need to be fulfilled, the not-so-genuine ones have to be curtailed. We don't want to get into a debate between the genuine needs and those not so, but I feel issues when looked at by an impartial set of eyes can be easily solved.

Anyway, isn't my blog called Random Ramblings ? So I have rambled for a while. But getting back to what I was trying to say, elections are a very colorful affair in India. Since it is a multi-party system in India, you have many parties occupying many positions on the right-left spectrum. It is interesting to see many different ideologies and visions vying for the attention of the voter. The different ways of propaganda - ranging from the posters pasted on the walls to the decorated loud-speaker bearing auto-rickshaws blaring party slogans to the namastes by the widely grinning politicians - are definitely interesting, to say the least. One has to be in India during the elections to experience this.

As a child, I have watched election campaigns and the counting with bated breath. In those days, Doordarshan, the government-owned channel used to have frequent counting updates on television, with movies as fillers to hold the viewers' attention. Though there were no established psephologists, Prannoy Roy(NDTV) and Vinod Dua took the post-election hungama to new heights. There were voter projections, voter swings, nice colorful graphs, interviews with the winners and losers and so much more. Nobody had anything else to discuss.

I lost interest as I grew up, (But hey, I have alwaye voted when I had the chance!) but now, since I will be heading back to India very soon, my interest has perked up quite a bit. The NDA combine had a thrashing in Andhra Pradesh, but it will be interesting to see what happens next. Astrologers are also in the guessing fray with psephologists. It is another thing that both of them don't know their legs from their mouths when it comes to forecasting election results.

Counting begins very shortly (in around 45 minutes) as I type up my blog.

If you see this blog by any chance, please let me know your comments on the whole election festival (yep, that's right!) in India.


Monday, May 10, 2004

Why did I start blogging ?

That is an interesting question.

The immediate reason is because I saw a news clip about Google improving its blogging service. I've been generally curious about new things online and I believe Google is doing many interesting things. So, I just decided to check the whole blogging thing out and in what better way can I check it out than actually start blogging myself ? So there you are.

The other reason is more than a couple of years old. There are very personal thoughts which we don't like to share with everybody else. But then, there are those other thoughts and opinions about everything under the sun for which we need a sympathetic ear. Blogging fits quite nicely here. Putting thoughts to words is an interesting exercise and I've been considering doing this ever since I started dabbling in some writing (for my eyes only, though).

So these two things fell into place and here I am, posting my second post within a span of a couple of hours.

More to come...


Well, this is my foray into the world of blogging. I just wanted to test the blogging setup to make sure if it worked or not. Once this works, I will post some more.