Media comments are noteworthy!

MODIThey say fine to the PM’s long term vision. But the short-term is challenging. Two highlights of the PM’s speech were GST and demonetisation. Fine, fine.

But then are there only two critical issues for sustained economic growth?
We believe that the government economist writers or input givers there are more challenging questions.

What we have achieved so far, in three years. Sustained growth or hesitant growth?

Now for the other sectors, there is not only no clear road map, for education, health and social security etc.There is also no clear road map for other more critical challenges. How to combat corruption that has seeped into the system so seamlessly!

Only an institutional mechanism, LokPal, Lok Ayukta can solve or tackle the issues in a systematic manner.

Also, the very many anti-corruption agencies?’ Are they free from blatant political interference?
Let the public opinion pronounce on it.

You see the recent very many raids by the CBI are seen to be targeted only on the Opposition leaders or the ones who might strengthen the Opposition unity.
This, the PM, must remove this misconception or the real motives behind the series of the raids.

No, this won’t do for a mature democracy, the largest democracy in the world.
There is no point in playing with words as for the events like Quit India etc. Also, the RSS activities in Kerala are worrisome.

Please arrest the violence, the record of communal violence and those lost the lives are every blatant. Between January and May this year, points out the editorial in The Deccan Herald, 296 communal incidents! Data released by the Home Ministry in Parliament, these communal incidents cost 44 people dead and 900 others injured. Too much or too little?

So, there are reasons to worry why the PM didn’t say anything as to what the government would be doing. There are many other horrors, like the Gorakhpur children deaths, also in TN too there are reports from government doctors neglect at the Ambur government hospital, in Vellore district, because of doctors absent!

To add to the story is the TN government’s pleas to restore exemption from NEET exams. So, the Central Government and the top court were to be commended for not giving to political blackmail.

There are also issues of judicial independence and also judicial delays. What the common people think of the government’s achievements?
The media must be free to report and criticise.

“I, me, myself” doesn’t make for a government. There is the media freedom and also the media fear!

Agriculture is a dear area where farmers’ have risen in protest, in Jaipur, Haryaya, Gujarat and in TN and also elsewhere.

The land owning, middle level farming and dominant community, Jats, Patidars and TN farmers badly need freedoms to do their professions, buy, sell and invest and cultivate and start new agro-industrial ventures must be given the freedoms that keep up their social status in terms of the social hierarchy. You can’t change the rural social transformation in a day.

So, go slow but go in a realistic manner. The quota demand from Maharashtra gives an indication where the wind is blowing.

Be realistic and become socially tuned for a peaceful transition from a feudal economy to a largely urbanised agriculture sector.

So too the many concessions and freedoms in the panchayat raj. Computerisation of land records and also the services of the lowest revenue officials can reduce corruption that in endemic in the system today. So, modesty and self-effaced talk might convince more than any forced propaganda stick!

PM’s candidate is welcome!
What are the issues, if any?

meirakovind-1498155254Opposition leaders had met the Government representatives and the common candidate is unlikely. If the past practice is any guide, there would be a Government candidate, possibly a BJP veteran or someone who could win the majority vote which is likely to gather momentum as the date nears.

But then there are certain issues of the Presidential candidates, if we draw lessons from the past. All the past Presidents went through their own tensions and compulsions and each one earned the goodwill or otherwise depending upon their own acts, good, bad and indifferent!

Fakhrudin Ali Ahmed signed the Emergency Declaration  without checking whether the Cabinet approved of it. It is a blemish and we are studying it as a warning even now. So too others like Sanjeeva Reddy and yet the President followed his recommendation and dissolved the Lok Sabha. Singh did recommend while he himself avoided facing the Lok Sabha trust vote.

I remember traveling all the way from Bangalore to Ananthapur to meet Reddy in retirement. He gave me a mini lecture on what he did.

You see the President in office might look gravitas all about, while once you see them after office they are like you and me. Mere ordinary men and women.

The highs and lows we can discuss for whatever be the purpose. My view is that India is very successful democracies in the world and our Constitution, the largest written Constitution in the world and it had stood the test of times. You have to see the neighbours in our own region and see how many times Constitutions failed and broke down and how many times the Constitutions have been written and re-written.

So, we Indians seem to have some inner qualities of minds and heart, we seem to be a sort of peaceful people, peace-loving people, though we are also prone  to certain other weaknesses like corruption, why unabashed corruption in public life.

With the recent accumulation of more such cases, we seem to be also facing some other dangers. How long the courts would take time to dispose of high corruption, high criminal charges?

The cases involving senior political leaders like L.K.Advani, you see, had spoilt their chances to lead the country as possible Presidents. The best politically experienced persons must get the space to engage and lead the country through sagacious paths.

Also, our current political practices, like the bitterness we witness between the ruling and the Opposition establishments, we lose the great opportunities to tap the b4est talents in the service of our people. The wise persons, the best qualified persons, why even the rarest genius we leave out for the simple reason of the egos of the most unsuited persons who reach the offices of the party presidents! See the list of such people who end up in such difficult situations, in prison to outside with charges of many offenses.

Merely because you manage to put your own choice of favourites at the Rashtrpathi Bhavan, it doesn’t mean that you have served the country to the best possible manner.

We have to resort to criteria other than best quality of mind and heart, no less intelligence and even a sense of sacrifice and detachment so that the country, we mean the hapless mass of the poor and the disadvantaged to be served by the best of the talents.

These are some of the thoughts when we think of the recent past when the most unsuited persons were nominated for the high office and who brought much disgrace to the high office.

So, political parties too must change. Party presidents too must follow some norms of limited periods of office; there is a whole sense of democratic norms, that as a nation we learn to conduct ourselves with some sense of moral commitments. Democracy means not a dynasty, right? So too party office is not a right to abuse powers, right?

Also, public funds, be it party funds or some other funds that come into your hands and you can arbitrarily spend, right?

Yes, we want to take the opportunity of the current situation to ask some questions, however inconvenient and yet in the largest good of the people. Politics is all about ethical exercise of power, right?

So, we have a duty as citizens to ask such questions, right?

Let us hope our great Constitution gives India its great gifts of great roles for leaders to show their true strengths, both morally and constitutionally.

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.

What is politics? Why politics is a high priority?

politicsYou see that ever since the time of Plato, from the 5th century BC to the present times, we are all bound and live by what we call politics, a process of power that we, without knowing fully well, take our political binding as given. At any time, we are citizens of a government!

We are born into politics. Then, what is politics?

Many have answered that question. Even Plato himself had given his lessons. In Plato’s time itself the Athenian politics was seen with violence and corruption! So, Plato was disgusted and along with his friend and teacher, Socrates, Plato asked questions and sought answers.

Plato was not just a theoretician, he was a practical person, and he travelled and advised other kings (as in Syracuse) and also wrote Constitutions.

So, politics was essentially seen as power, political power that had an over-riding power over other forms of power, economic power, military power or religious and divine powers too.

Till now, this political power was seen as confined to the limits of some territorial geography.

Olden days we had had empires that went beyond national boundaries. For example, Roman Empire spread almost to the then known world. Also, such empires also denoted certain well-defined civilisational conduct of the people living within that boundary.
Roman empire was seen as the most extensive and also the most civilised empire.
So, arose from the Roman Empire all the modern world’s political institutions. Senate, the emperor, his paeretorian guards, the courts, the treasury, prisons, law and military and the civic amenities, roads, water channels, civil buildings, the city etc.

Now, politics means that the people become citizens and we see the first democracy in Athens, the concept of liberty. Pericles becomes the role model for later-day rulers.
Now, modern day politics is also about power and the exercise of power.

National territories define the limits of modern state power. The state has the coercive power over the lives of citizens.

How to ensure the citizens gets the fulfilment, the enjoyment of freedoms and security?
The point here is that every citizen now realises the state has power and also the state has duties.

Politics becomes a supreme form of the exercise of power and therefore we are at a point of time in history that politics and that too democratic politics too calls for new aspirations and new rules of governance.

A touchy question. No one asks and no one seems to be anywhere near to come near attempting an answer either!

The party is in clear decline. It is a leaking boat or a sinking ship. The signs are ominous.
Mrs.Sonia Gandhi is clearly not interested in the job.

congress-mainSee, even after one month passed since it got a drubbing in UP and Uttarkhand and also lost the opportunity in bidding for power in Goa and Manipur, she never bothered to call for an immediate meeting of the CWC or the other bodies to deliberate the causes and take suitable remedial measures.

She just vanished away from public view. And yet we are also seeing everyday antics, if we can say so, by Congress party members in the Rajya Sabha where the senior members haven’t done any great thing except to draw the wrath of the Chairman or Deputry Chairman for not following established rules of the House business.

Also, as if to add to our dismay we see some weak remarks, neither in the name of any new idea or any substantial reflections from the former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

Yes, Singh is an expert, his expertise in economics, finance etc. Not in politics and governance. Even the latest Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report of Parliament indicted the former PM for being “evasive” on many crucial decisions ,from the Commonwealth Games to other big projects and so the heavy loss to the exchequer.

In a book release function in Delhi the learned scholar-turned political leader has warned of “disastrous consequences, by quoting, of all people, the great inscrutable Mao Zedong! To tell the Indian audience that the Chinese leader said something about the French Revolution! And we should be beware of such a warning.

What does that warning mean?

Does Singh imagine that India might face a situation like 1789 French society and politics? A Revolution? Singh’s fears or predilections? We can just ignore such lazy talks or murmurs!

Such serious topics demand certain gravitas and certain deeper reflections! Not harmless book release functions that are dime a dozen in Delhi!

It is an irony, no, a tragedy of great day and time when the country cries for a robust democratic polity, the Congress leaders are indulging in small nitpickings!

The Congress today has become almost an ICU case from which there doesn’t seem to recover so easily.

Take the party’s functioning in the states. In many states, the party doesn’t exist. my own state, Tamil Nadu, a state once known for the great leaders like Rajaji and Kamaraj and many luminaries in law and administration, both in the pre-independence and post-independence times is today in a pathetic position.

The recently seen AIADMK party split led to many comical scenes. A by-election was held in a Chennai city constituency where the split units contested elections that was marked by large-scale money distribution to voters.

The dominant wing of the AIADMK mobilised funds as much as Rs.90 odd crores, the distribution was so meticulously planned that the Income-tax department raided the premises of the ministers and caught the funds distribution red-handed and so the election was post-poned by the Election Commission.

Where was the state Congress party? What its leaders were telling the voters?
The PCC President, a rank outsider and turncoat to boot, said that the DMK would be winning! Is he a PCC leader or an agent of the DMK. The Congress party in the state is now led by party defectors and actresses! In Delhi one actre, namely Nagma participates for the protesting farmers and in the state the party is inactive and simply witnessing the Armageddon of blatant money distribution that led to the cancellation of the very election!

AIADMK, a new phenomenon!
In fact, I like to tell the readers outside Tamil Nadu, that a candidate like T.T.V.Dinakaran who contested the by-election, I don’t see as an individual. He is a phenomenon, along with the incumbent minister, the duo make up the new phenomena in Indian electoral politics.

So, even after the demonetisation and the huge claims made by the Prime Minister Modi and his colleagues, we can say with some certainty that it is still possible to mobilise big black money hordes as done by the AIADMK heavyweights.

Now, the Income Tax Dept has indicated that it would call some six ministers to find out how they had so much money collected to distribute to the voters. Including the incumbent Chief Minister is cited as one more member in this list of ministers to be examined by the Income Tax Dept!

So, there must be now real action at the electoral reforms after all this comical election battle, if we can so call it! We have surely reached the lowest common denominator in Indian election politics. So, it is time to really act and do something radically. Who would take the lead? In all fairness, we can say that the Congress party must do this job.

Their leaders, some of the most competent lawyers and experienced politicians are ideally placed to come out with some definite electoral reforms. Manmohan Singh can lead from the front. That would also add legitimacy to their image as a party of some weight and character.

This, the Congress party must now do as a top priority. Instead, they seem to be preoccupied with some other agenda. May be they are hesitant by the fact that Sonia’s mind is not in such activities. She might be only intent on promoting her son and that is what is limiting the initiatives on a wider front.

It is for independent voices to articulate what needs to be done to reform the electoral system and punish and prevent the freebooters like the ones who manage to collect huge some, all black and unaccounted and that goes unnoticed by those who care and who are committed to do things as the situation demands.

Where are the leaders from Delhi?
What Sonia Gandhi is doing? Where is Manmohan Singh?

They didn’t stir out for one full month after the disastrous defeats in the Assembly elections?

Are there people yet in India who chooses to put their trust in Sonia Gandhi’s capabilities?

Can anyone even within the party can come out in the open and say this?
It is time she makes a graceful stand-aside and makes way for a change for others.

And the very former Prime Minister talks in a glib manner about French Revolution and Mao Zedung. The book that was released is all about cultivating hope in a challenging democracy! Irony and it is a supreme irony indeed.

The author of the book is none other than an one-time minister who had the audacity to correct the CBI report on the role of the then Prime Minister in the coal scam!
What we want to say here is that the leaders, however big or powerful he or she might be, must be persons of some basic credibility. They in their own roles, in various capacities and various roles must be observing some basic ethical and moral standards. Every one of us needn’t become the Mahatmas. We should at least be seen as persons of some moral calibre.

You lie blatantly, you do the wrongs knowing well this may rebound on you one day and also seen as leading a very self-imposed restrained life and look and do things in an ethical manner. You should not give yourself seemingly some undeserved luxuries of government bungalows and security that doesn’t really deserve your present position, right? Only when you go around in Delhi you realise how much public money is squandered in the name of protocol and keeping up forms and show!

I can’t be a mute witness to the destruction of the party that was built by great sacrifices. So, I am a bit restless and bitter in some respects. I can’t keep myself silent beyond a point.

Hence these rather seeming some harsh words. I have no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings and self-image. But then my self-image is not made by me alone. It is also made by others who view me and judge me for what I am really worth.

The outward image of the high offices would go away one day ,for sure. I would then be viewed for what I have done or what I had false imagined that I am worthy of what I imagine myself to be a person of some intrinsic value.

Sonia Gandhi seems to have arrived at her last phase as the leader of the Grand Old Party. It is time a new leadership change is brought about.

The way the party is agonising at the dilemma it finds itself is very discomforting to say the least. I look at the Indian history in a long-term perspective. The long past and also the long future.

India has now emerged as the world’s largest democracy. But the world’s largest democracy at what height glory?

As I have said often that when Pandit Nehru was at the helm it used to be said that India counted in the world forums. India mattered. But now? When India has grown strong economically and expanded in many areas of technology and trade, when the world itself had transformed what is the stature of India?

India has suddenly fallen silent, even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come about and gone around the world. Why this stoppage and what are Indian foreign policy priorities?

Take for instance the latest bombing of Syria on its own citizens. The chemical bombings killed some 90 off people, mostly civilians and children the visuals of which had shocked the whole world. A great democracy, India, didnt raises its voice! For that matter the heirs to Pandit Nehru’s legacy, the Congress party leaders, the seniors and learned persons like Manmohan Singh even dint give any statement.

What sort of message the Congress party is sending out? It is still in confusion whether to raise Rahul Gandhi as the new leader or postpone the decision? How long can you postpone? You have been indecisive for far too long. It reaches a breaking point, right now!

Time and tide don’t wait for anyone, right?

With a deep sense of moral responsibility and commitment, I say here these words.
It is of course hard to digest but the reality is so bitter. I feel that Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and now they, the party insiders, also throw in now and then the name of Priyanka Gandhi as the three key strategists for the party to draw up plans for the next round of elections. This is unacceptable for a wide section of the part. They are lightweight. Let us see things realistically. The family might have predigree but no credibility or capacity whatever to lead the party any further. The BJP is strong and could only become stronger. Modi’s stature has grown and his oratory, commitment and leadership qualities already are drawing people, more so, from the Congress party, to make BJP almost invincible for quite some time.

Neither have they any moral stature nor any education and other qualifications to articulate new ideas or policies. Modi is already talking about, not 2019,but 2020!
As it is, they are heavily protected and hidden from public view and interaction. They are also already becoming inaccessible. They have to live like that for the rest of their lifetime, it seems..So, what chance is there for them to come out and interact and mingle with the crowds and otherwise.So9,let us see common sense and start deliberating honestly.

Otherwise, other events might push things in an unpredictable manner. This is history that could only repeat itself!

So, the time has come for the party to face the realities. Some leader or some rebel must break this self-imposed punishment and come out openly against Sonia Gandhi and context for a new leader who should be elected as the new party President.
Please don’t create an impossible situation that can’t be tolerated anymore.
All subtle and not so subtle warnings have gone unnoticed. This time it might prove to be rather explosive!