A new optimism, high expectations mark the beginning.


Mr.H.D.Kumaraswamy, the new Chief Minister of Karnataka has taken over power in a more daring and a politically complicated manner. Yes, in politics sometimes things happen not in all rational and transparent manners.

But then political power is a reality. And now the new CM has taken over, there seems to be a great deal of earnestness and a serious minded commitment for giving the state a new deal.

Certainly the speed with which the new CM had gone about in launching the Metro Rail project would earn him a historic place in the scheme of things. All the signs of the times and his horoscope (he seems to be a great believer in god’s mercies) seem to be in his favor.

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Police States in today’s India!

A people can be traumatized  by the fear of the state. Even now in states like Tamil  Nadu under the Dravidian ideology, Shivsena in Maharashtra and also under Lalu in Bihar the “democratically-elected leaders have turned dictators by more subtle and pernicious methods.

An awe and a fear of the leader as a demi-god is created and carefully built up, cadres fall at  the feet of the leaders and worship as gods! In TN no society will talk freely, openly of state affairs. Teachers, government servants, why even the  entire middle class and upper classes are cowed down by this all-pervasive power of the leaders, in office and also in Opposition!

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It was a revolt of the masses and the intellectuals!

Has the world become a better and safer place after the fall of Communism? Views could differ. America as the sole Superpower is a good thing? or, what are the alternatives? All big and difficult questions. Politicians are no better judges,as they are transitory persons. Today they would hit the headlines, tomorrow they would be gone!

Yes, the intellectuals could help.But who are intellectuals and how many are really independent? Historians are better guides. They look at the past, the current situation and interpret what they know. Paul Johnson, Eric Hobsbawm I had read just once again. Johnson in his Modern Times and Hobsbawm in his, The Age of Extremes, a history of the world, 1914-1991 have much to say on how the fall of Communism in 1989 came about how it can be understood in the wider context. Johnson, given his broad sweep of historical look,puts the emphasis on religious forces, Catholicism in Poland, the late Pope John Paul’s involvement with the Polish trade union, Solidarity as the real trigger for the subsequent events. Given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the post -Communist historic phase, may be the religious forces could have played a role. In Eric Hobsbawm’s (he still calls himself a Marxist historian) view the fall of Communism was owing to the internal contradictions in the former Soviet Union.

Johnson, in a telling anecdote says how in 1987 during the Gorbachev-Reagan summit, Mrs.Gorbachev (Raisa Gorbachev) went for shopping in New York with her American Express Gold card.An illegality in Soviet Russia but Russia was crumbling and succumbing to the capitalist economic forces.

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Prof.Irfan Habib’s  insightful criticism of the PM!

What is at stake?

Dr.Manmohan  Singh, the Prime   Minister,   had been duly honoured by Oxford  University with a honorary degree. It is Doctor of Civil Law, not D.Phil, as the Hindu newspaper’s typical longer than usual ponderous editorial wrongly carried it! On reflection I thought it is how the Indian mind still works! Dr.Singh’s speech to suit the occasion with lots of scholars present was mild and quite typical of the man, soft spoken Singh had soft pedalled many touchy topics. The India-British connection is at best a controversial one.

As we grow into a mature country, with a sense of mature independence and with some wisdom, we Indians must also grow into a more assertive self confidence. By this we don’t mean we should be offensive to other’s sentiments. At the same time an occasion like the Oxford crowd gives one a rare opportunity to give an indication of what India today means to Indians as well as to the outside world. In this perspective the Prime Minister of India hadn’t done his job in keeping with the power and prestige of his high office. The PM had dwelt with certain light-hearted, if not lightweight observations. May be he and his speech writers would have wasted quite a lot of time as to come up with some typical English sahibs’ style self-deprecatory humbug! There is every indication in the carefully written (or constructed) with many juicy ordinary jocular-like remarks on Indian English is “okay” provided you also give some “embs” to the so-called stiff upper lips in the audience!

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