Lalu Prasad Yadav Rally in Patna
On August 27 in Patna!

LaluLalu Yadav,  the  Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Lalu Prasad Yadav, the major Opposition leader has called for a rally of major Opposition parties has called for a united  rally, called  BJP Bhagao Desh Bachaoa on August 27 in Patna to oppose some of the raids ordered by the Central government against   the Opposition parties and leaders.

In recent past some of the high profile raids by the Income Tax Department against Lalu family members, also against the Congress leader, P.Chidambaram’s son, Karti Chidambaram and also against some of the Trinamool Congress party.

Nothing wrong for a government department, more so the Income Tax Dept to do its routine duty of raids to unearth hidden wealth or non-payment of tax and other allege3d offence of money laundering etc.

Now, given the current texture of the government functioning, given the Modi government’s successive State Assembly elections, there is a sort of roughness, so to say, in the way the government is going about in dealing with some issues. The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, so too the former Haryana CM in his concessions given to the land deals of Mr. Robert Vadera, son in law of Sonia Gandhi and also in some other issues like Kejriwal’s current troubles, there is a distinct feeling that Modi is rattled by the new unity talks in putting up a combined candidate in the forthcoming Presidential elections.
There is also a distinct feeling that the Prime Minister is also uncomfortable even if the Opposition parties manage to show some unity and puts up a respectable fight.

There are all indications that given the current political formations, that the Opposition parties might get some modest strength in opposing the BJP allies’ candidate.
The most crucial issue now in the Indian polity, in our opinion, is the shape of the polity.
India is a democracy and in a democracy, it is as important as the ruling party, the role of the Opposition party and Opposition unity.

In India, as politics evolved in Independent India, the domination of the Congress party, first under Pandit Nehru, then under Indira Gandhi, there has come a feeling that the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is born to rule the country for years to come.

This endangered feeling was cut short in the 2014 general elections which put an end to any such perception and now there is a new party, the BJP, with an absolute majority.
Now, the very important point here is not about the right and wrong of the raids on Opposition parties.

Their alleged misdeeds. Now, it is very important to look into some of the weighty points. Certain ideological and doctrinaire issues too. India is a democracy and a very large democracy and a rather new political and social order.

After Pandit Nehru, there has not been much of a deeper debate. Nehru too was more affected by the then Soviet Russia and its Socialism. Nehru never used the word Communism. But he adhered to Democracy and a Republican Constitution.

Harold J.Laski
Now, there is before me a book by Harold J.Laski, it is called, “The State in Theory and Practice”. (Allen and Unwin, 1935, Seventh impression, 1960)Laski was perhaps the brainiest political theorist of Nehru’s generation. I was particularly drawn by his theories from an early age, when I was a junior student at a College in Chennai. My i9nvolvement grew over the years and by the time I went to Oxford Laski was dead and yet I continued to study Laski and I have in my library almost all the books written by Laski. I also read the biographies written by a few, one was by Kingsley Marti, the then editor of the New Statesman weekly.

Now, in this book before me, Laski asks some hard question as to the power and justification of the State. We in India know very little, our politicians are plai9n illiterates when it comes to a State’s philosophy.

Now, as Laski says we instinctively obey the State. This is human character. Then, thinkers from Plato onwards asked questions as to the morality of the State. Plato denied the rule of the stronger as justice. What does that mean? The State must have some higher justification, to protect and safeguard the rights of the citizens.
In a constitutional government which is what we have in India, there must be rule of law and there must also be the role of Opposition parties!

This is, currently, under debate. How far the ruling party can intrude into the workings of the Opposition parties and its leaders. Right now, on the everyday or thereafter, the Secretary of the Coal Department was jailed for corruption. On the relevant dates the Minister for Coal was none other than the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh!
Now, how far the political head of the dept responsible and how far the officials responsible in committing the alleged corruption?

So, the ruling party has a duty to prove that the Opposition party leaders are committing corruption while the officials are unquestioned.

The point here is that in the present case, the Opposition has some right to question the political vendetta!

Now the media is pro-active and so the damage done to the reputation and credibility of the Opposition is quite considerable.

The Opposition parties in India are now a divided house. So, they have certain disadvantages to unite and stand up.

It is time the Congress, very weak and leaderless has to go slow. It has to concede ground to the ones that has some dynamism and energy to fight. That is now only with Lalu Prasad Yadav.

He can be projected to articulate the Opposition case. Nitish Kumar with a clean face can be projected as the alternative Prime Minister.

You see, politics is the art of the possible sometimes. That time is now here. So, Opposition leaders must shed their egos and come together with a certain clear articulation of principles, philosophy and an ideology.

But the ministers, policy makers turn it into a consumer product

The rest of the crowd, the private sector educators and the money-minting machines turn it into a fast moving consumer goods sector!

chairmanIs this all about education we have got to say? You see we are at this sector, at this journal for the past half a century. But we are not called a brand, or an icon or a legend! We would have called ourselves so if only we too played the marketing game, right?

But education is after all something above all these petty and narrow considerations. Education, we believe and it is actually so through all the historic periods, is all about man’s imaginations, aspirations and search for some certainties only through education and speculation and daring to predict the future forever! Education, to quote another famous line, is a search for beauty in all its simplicity!

Man has evolved through the history by this constant search and unceasing quest and we see where we have come all through these processes. That is education, please all stakeholders, understand and concede to some of these eternal verities!

Now, we read that the HRD minister, the hon’ble Jawdekar has a quota to allot seats in the Kendriya Vidyalayas under the HRD control. Is this news, we ask. Yet this is reality on the ground. The HRD minister this year has allotted 6,500 admission requests, commands that we all know would be obeyed instantly! His quota is only 450 but he has exceeded owing to pressures. His predecessor did the same. So, this continues, this process of recommending admissions to some of the low-fee high quality secondary education! But as a HRD minister he has an obligation to the larger society.

Education in India, right now, is not in the best of health. We don’t know, there is no way to know it, whether the Prime Minister knows what is the state of education. Education in a society like ours is a highly exploited subject. Society being what it is, an unequal and inequitable society has to have some long-term perspective.

Given the stage at which we find ourselves as a free country, we have to go a long way ahead. We have to fight for justice, social justice and an enlightened society; we have to debate, articulate what sort of an enlightened society and a civilization we aspire to. The class structure in the country is such that we have to reach out to a better integration of the various classes. Then, there is the caste society, that too the Hindutva conception of the Hindu society as it is, we have to weaken the hold of the entrenched caste system. There were just some nine or so castes, we are told in the beginning. But today the castes are getting  split into new castes and sub castes and we do practice still a caste based politics, right? Or wrong?
So, politicians, given their mental horizon would only play for consolidation of the castes only.

So, we as thinkers and leaders should have a moral duty, commitment to see that at least in our education system, as we are able to have now, no undue advantage is taken by the middle classes that are now becoming more and more prone to corruption, corrupt practices to get admissions to other consumer goods and services. So, the middle class driven quotas and reservations and the quotas in the KVs must be resisted. The education minister must set a good precedent to resist this temptation to corrupt our education system.

Once you resolve to resist this temptation then other good things would come about.  The secondary schools in the states, mostly run by the state governments are in dire need of up gradation. So, the government schools where the poor go, would get justice in terms of any new facilities. Use the IT tools to impart quality education in the government schools.

Just now we read that the SSLC results in government schools show very varying standards.
Where the poorest results come through the governments must introduce only the latest technologies in imparting quality instructions. Some balancing of government policies in terms of allocation of funds to introduction of IT tools must be the high priority. The HRD must bring some of the tools, like corporate social responsibility into the government schools sector in the most neglected regions, say in the tribal belts or backward regions.

The HRD ministry news must be about the big picture, not about the nitty-gritty of pandering to the petty demands like admissions to schools. We know from our personal sources that even the other Cabinet Ministers, why even the PMO sometimes come into the prestigious secondary school domains.

Public schools are another area where we have to concentrate. These schools are supposed to to produce leaders, of society and polity! Now, they too produce only clerks and other jobs seekers category only. A great pity, indeed!

Indian democracy? Towards transparency, accountability and ensuring citizen’s  freedoms?
What is Modi’s new talk of New India?
Can Indian democracy succeed without fighting corruption and black money menace?

Mr.Modi after the series of victories in the Assembly elections seemed to have changed his goals too. He was till now, that is, in his first two years was promising many things. Many pet schemes. Swatch Bharat etc. Now, suddenly he started talking of New India.

Also, after the third meeting of the Niti Ayog meeting with all the chief ministers in attendance, the Prime Minister started talking about his three year action plan, seven year development plan and fifteen year vision plan!

Even the traditional jargon had been dropped and new words and phrases had come in. Is this enlightening? What the assembled Chief Ministers had told in the meet? No information, no news. What sort of transparent governance is this? This is very unsatisfactory.

Also, suddenly, the Supreme Court had ordered to create the Lokpal, the top anti-corruption institution that is hanging fire for a very long time. (Add from the previous writing). It is unlikely that this would be complied with.

It is time India brings about  proper political reforms to ensure that the Parliamentary system adheres to the British model of the two party systems. Two major parties, the ruling and the Opposition party and the rights and privileges of the Opposition party’s functioning. Now, there is a certain distortion.

The ruling party with an overwhelming majority with a strong-minded Prime Minister tries to dominate and over-ride the checks and balances and tries to drown the voice of the opposition in many ways.

And if this comes at a time when the leader of the opposition, not the formal front faced but the real power concentrated, as it is, at the hands of a dynastic member like Rahul Gandhi and when Rahul Gandhi is perceived to be weak and temperamental and highly arbitrary, then, the parliamentary system falters. Why, now even in the media, on TV screens there are open debates about sidelining Rahul Gandhi and bringing to the centre stage either Mamata Bannerjee or Nitish Kumar as the new face of Opposition unity. Whether this would work or Mr.Modi might find new ways to scuttle the opposition unity?

This is the big question. As it is proved right now in India there are still discordant voices in the ruling combine as well as in the opposition ranks.

India has a legitimate role as a leading democracy of the parliamentary type in the world outside UK. Even in the USA there is no such clear demarcation of the roles of the ruling and Opposition party.

Or, the various coalitions, we find in the UK. There is the Liberal Democratic Party in the UK with a long history and pedigree of liberalist political tradition. In India, we had had some Left socialist parties in the beginning of our Republic. But now, they have gone and in their places are the very many regional parties, many smaller, splinter parties like JD(U) and JD(S) besides the left-over other small outfits, including the two Communist parties.

The Indian polity is also highly polarised after the emergence of the BJP. But our religious communalism is very different to the Islamic communalism, the extremist, violent and terrorist parties and groups. The point here is that while democracy is spreading everywhere, the spelling out of the basic core values of democratic practices are not yet fully made clear.

In fact, in our time, there are not enough clarity, no theoreticians have emerged or high profile critics have come forward to clearly define what are the next critical steps to deal with this worldwide crisis in the democratic systems and practices.

Russian democracy in crisis.
In Russia Mr. Vladimir Putin, the incumbent president is perceived to be authoritarian, war monger and also using intelligence to interfere with other democracies, in the USA, now in Turkey and even in France.

In India itself we see these various distortions making democracy and an open society highly corrupt, so many criminal cases pending before a delayed judicial system and also the media curbed and subtly terrorised and of course much false propaganda and brainwashing also noticed.

In  Russia, for instance, we see the suppression of democracy in a more brazen manner.
The Russian Opposition leader ,Alexei Navalny,(put Navalny picture here)who conducted some popular protests in Moscow and elsewhere, where his protests drew big crowds, he was arrested and handcuffed and his hand tied to the policeman guarding him in the court was highly publicised abroad and had earned Vladimir  really bad name!

So, this type of democratic government  can be also a big power in international arena.
There is no Opposition party in Russia, recognised in the constitution, we believe.

17 years as president?
blogVladimir Putin is in power for 17 years. Putin also changed his roles, first as president, then as prime Minister and then again reverted to President Office! But then Russian democracy is  hugely corrupt.

Only now, it seems the Russians are taking to the streets, to protest against corruption, the Opposition leader had faced three criminal trials in the past  six years. Charges for what? For organising protests! The Putin is criticised for spreading intrigue  abroad and not facing challenges at home.

There was an online video by Mr.Navalny accusing the number Two, Dimitry Medvedev, prime minister and one of Mr.Putin’s most loyal lieutenants, of a huge scheme of corruption that allegedly brought him to own large luxury estates and vineyeards.

There is a tradition of suppression of political rights of citizens. Even before the 1917 Communist Revolution. Even in the pre-revolutionary Tsarist Russia. There even now, the Russian citizens are also a bit politically apathetic. May be the authoritarianism practised under Putin.

72 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 voted for the Russian military occupation of Crimea in 2914.Russia is not bothered about the world opinion on this blatant military  adventure. Are the Indian citizens politically more awakened than the Russian citizens? Better, we study this question in India.

Leading political parties in India must set up research wings  and study a comparative party systems and politics in some of the big nations, say, Russia, USA and China?
There will be many useful lessons for us.

So this is not a democracy as we know it. In India also we see many distortions. The Congress party, the historic party that won political freedom in the last 70 odd years, had progressively deteriorated  into a third rate family dynasty.

Sonia Gandhi’s incompetency is coming out, as she tries to hold her supporters together. Almost every day, some senior leader is deserting her or being “sacked”! What a leadership  she is displaying?

The ruling BJP  is becoming more and more aggressive and trying to consolidate its power of the party and government in many novel ways. The Opposition, especially, the Congress is being marginalised by several forces, a series of electoral defeats, the new corruption scandals linking Vadra and Gandhi family. Also, other senior leaders of the Congress are also drawn into the corruption scenario, thus making the attempt to forge Opposition unity impossible. As commentators have noted that Mr.Modi might find Rahul Gandhi, to retain him as long as possible, is the best bet for him to remain  as the only alternative before India.

Times are ominous. Indian democracy’s biggest challenges are here, right now!

Note: Excerpts from a forthcoming autobiography of Mr.V.Isvarmurti, M.A.Visva Bharati) M.A.(Oxon) former Member, Madras Legislative Council, formerly of the AICC, 1962-1967. Worked with Kamaraj, Atulya Ghosh, Sadiq Ali and others.

Capitalism is good and needed for faster economic growth!

Unbridled avarice and greed bad! Capitalism as an economic growth engine!

narayanamurthyCorruption under Capitalism can be fought, as proved in South Korea and Brazil where elected Presidents were impeached and removed! Actually Indian politics needs to be sensitised over how to tackle the corruption that is now unbridled and almost unstoppable!

A recent controversy erupted over Infosys founder N.R.Narayanamurthy’s criticism of his own company now managed by professional management paying high salaries to the CEO and the COO, as high as Rs.50 crores to 40 crores. But then the board quickly justified saying the high salaries are in tune with the trend. Of course, other Indian companies to pay high salaries! The point here Infosys has set a target for 20 billion dollars in the next few years!

Some experts, from management and other sectors argue that capitalism is after all what it is and what it does. Capitalism is good and it creates wealth. So too jobs and cuts poverty. It is another thing that Capitalism had a very controversial past, starting from Karl Marx days.

Capitalism has a great history : Capitalism has also a great history. It is the economic system where the entrepreneur takes big risks and invests capital and triggers economic growth.

Now, in the new century, with India, China and the USA in mind, we have to see that it is the US economy, the engine of economic growth. But China’s growth rate is 6.7, India 6.6 and the US So, the whole world looks to India as the next big story! Also, China, a Communist country has adopted the capitalist system, with state enterprises and has shown to the world, it is now the world’s third biggest economy, India is predicted to become the third big economy. Russia is nowhere in the picture!

What if, if there are millions under poverty. At least we have found out new ways to accelerate economic growth. We have the technologies, Internet, also technologies like AI (Artificial intelligence, Robotics and many else!

Education has also spread as never before! In every country of the world, from Africa to Asia and elsewhere, there is a furious spread of education. So too medical help and healthcare. Take agriculture, a field in which we are engaged, in spite of much indifference and ignorance of policy makers, there is now the realisation that we can now feed the world. World hunger is attacked squarely by FAO and other agencies.

If you study the big economies there is great deal of poverty in the world and also inside India. To cut the story short, we have to see that Capitalism is the only way, it seems, that thrived and transformed the post-war world. In 1989 Communism collapsed that was hailed as the end of history! Even in the IT and Internet era it is Capitalist, the knowledge economy where you find the new IT billionaires coming from. The world under the new economy has produced unprecedented wealth on the global scale. It is rightly observed that we live at a time when we witness the world poverty significantly and world’s wealth production scaled new heights on an unprecedented scale.
The per capita income on the global scale has increased, though, as it is often quoted that still there are millions of people who live on 1.25 dollars a day!

This new wealth and new hope has to be welcomed and recognised by all concerned. So, the world is now a much better place than ever it had been!’

Capitalism now changed : It is now a caring capitalism, a compassionate system. Capitalism and the history of the modern world is a fascinating story. Max Weber’s (1864-1920) “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” is one classic every one of us, who are all concerned with economy and the economic policy making must read and get some enlightenment. Max Weber saw capitalism as a rational organisation of formally free labour. Capitalism is also seen as dominated by the making of money. Economic acquisition is no longer seen as subordinated to man as the means of satisfaction of his material needs. We all seek material comforts and economic security. And so Capitalism is getting a good grade!

But for various reasons that capitalism always attracted criticism, from the time of Bible to the present times. Property was seen as a ‘theft’ and somehow man’s greed came in for much criticism. The Bible asked: “Why are the many poor?”No suitable answer is forthcoming!

Yes, it is for the profit seeking motive of man only Capitalism exists. As Adam Smith famously said:”It is not by the benevolence of the butcher you get your dinner. It is for the self-motivated benefit only the economic ends are met!

So, in spite of calling for an ascetic way of lifestyle, simplicity and restraint and all that, you have to admit that capitalism exists, existed for all the wrong reasons, as Marx would argue. Marx thundered about the bourgeoisie exploitation and the class conflicts that was to lead to the capitalist collapse and the rise of the dictatorship of the proletariat! We know how history has proved!

Karl Marx’s later years : But as I read in one of the latest biographies of Karl Marx(Karl Marx, Greatness and Illusion, by Gareth Stedman Jones, Penguin) how Marx too became a sort of bourgeois gentleman himself in his London days and enjoyed certain material comforts!

So, every one of us who speak of high moral principles have to be modest in our language and expressions.

The exploitative capitalism is still there, right here in our own midst.

But at the same time we have to see how capitalism also has changed over the years. It is now a lifeline for the millions of poor in one generation to get out of the poverty trap.

There is much optimism on India’s economic future

Fine! Then what are the Prime Minister’s priorities to reach out the poor?

modiThe Prime Minister, after the flush of victories in UP and other states, has now come to the theme that he would reach out to the poor. Wonderful! But are his new priorities to attack poverty? You see, it is an old theme. The poor are very much here and they also constitute the world’s largest population, you know?

So, no government honestly anywhere in the world had given any new mantra to accelerate the economic growth.

If the PM sits for a moment and thinks, then he would find himself against a rock! The UP farm loan waiver to the extent of Rs.35,000 crores is in a large state where the expenditure in the current year in agriculture comes to just 2-3%!

So, what sort of relief the farmers would get. And so too other states. The states are in heavy debts. So, the farm loan waiver is no sure remedy to help the poor farmers, not just farmers but other poorer sections. So you need serious policy framework. Rural India is a complex web.

So too the urban migration. Jobs haven’t been created at the rate as Yogi Adityanath imagines.

So, the CM has to spell out more job creating industries. More innovative industries. So, industrial investments also need incentives. The Yogi too has to go for full-page ads and global investment conference. But he seems to be still talking about other priorities, including a Hindurashtra!

Also, the PM has to have an all India perspective. The rivers, from Teesta to Ganga-Southern rivers link is a high priority. But there is no such indication from the PM’s pronouncements so far.

It is also important that other parties too much co-operate with the government.
It is for the Congress to realise that its persistence with dynastic politics doesn’t take it anywhere.

We have to say certain uncomfortable things about the opposition party. Manmohan Singh can help either the ruling party or the opposition party. Otherwise he has to just retreat. He seems to be giving conflicting signals. He should advise Sonia and Rahul what use he can have to the party.

Otherwise, he should allow the party to do things in a different way. The Congress is a large party. It is a historic party. It has to rediscover its mission. The party, to start with should conduct a weekly seminar, though a small seed, on the future ideology of the party. Every week, an evening one speaker must be speaking to a small audience on the critical next steps. It should be a political topic. Say liberalist politics for a multi-party and multi-cultural society.

There should be open discussions and debates within the confines of the party headquarters. Sonia or Rahul must receive visitors or they should make up their minds to retire and be advisors.

Let us all be a bit honest. Our meetings with senior leaders in Delhi show a pathetic picture. Every senior seems to give the impression that the existing state of affairs with some office and a bungalow seems alright and they seem to imagine they can hang on for an indefinite period!

This is a foolhardy affairs. We warn them. Politics doesn’t wait for messiahs! The bad guys are pushed out. Today, there is a wide awakening. Education has spread. Migration has woken up even the illiterates. Old time loyalties are weakened. Let there be a national consensus on the basic economic and Parliamentary political agendas! WE are a democracy. There is no point to look for any nostalgia. Let us look forward and move towards a honourable self-introspection! Thank you!

l say that the world did not prepares to deal with the emerging risks. Gates says that “getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe”. we are concerned with immediate military conflicts and refugee crises but then, as Bill Gates has warned in a recent speech that climate and technological threats are a reasonable probability ,catastrophe may cost millions of lives in the next decade.

Why, here is one more dire predictions! Next 50 years, we are told, are crucial and depending on how countries are able to cut emissions over the next 50 years will determine the conditions of people’s lives on earth. This is from the Stockholm university’s Resilience Centre! The dire predictions are too much and when we think of future we have to keep this aspect of the Paris climate agreement in mind as well.