Public perception and private realities!
Indian states ranked in term of the ease of doing business
Some surprises and shocking ground level realities

indian-business-peopleThe so-called advanced states, Maharashtra and TN with good track record in industrialisation find themselves dumped down in the rank with Gujarat retaining its number one rank with AP, the newly carved new state beating the others with its second rank.
What is also shocking is the fact that the so-called backward states, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and MP are ahead of Karnataka and TN. TN is at 12th rank trailing, ironically, West Bengal, supposed to be a common laggard.

What then is the explanation?

States blame the World Bank with political bias. This is simply non-sense. Why the WB must play politics in this game.

The point here is that public perception is always at variance with brain-washing in which states sometimes excel.

Who don’t know that TN is also one of the most corrupt states and also bureaucracy is very strong and also there is no transparency, ministers are so blatantly dumped down by an unexplained concentration of power in the CM who alone decides things and it takes time and also circuitous routes.
Also, Karnataka is no less corrupt state.

One can guess what must be the reason why the backward states are ahead. Very likely that the BJP governments are alter and also ,let us give the credit to the devils where they are due, they are also clean as on date.

What else this ranking can convey otherwise.
Let us, the Indian citizens be clear of one thing.
Corruption is now all-pervasive, in almost all the states. There is any number of circumstantial evidence.

We can’t go into the details here. The top rung of all governments are not free from suspicions of all sorts.

There is any number of court cases, all pending, that involves big names and the apex court is also groaning under pressure to dispose of cases expeditiously. So too bureaucracy.

Even Mr.Modi seems to be aware of this and he seems to be therefore seen as going slow!

What else can be the explanation for things not proceeding fast?
May be wherever there are ministers like, say Mr.Gadkari, things seem to move faster. We also like to mention a few more ministers and they all seem to be pushing things forward.

As for the investors’ meets in other state capitals, there is good competition and this is a welcome development.

Karnataka for its part seems to have developed cold feet and postponed its scheduled meet. But it is always welcome to get the likely investors on a common platform.

Now, it is openly talked about corruption in the state governments, the bribe-taking ministers are always mentioned, press may not report it openly, LokAyukta, in Karnataka is a point. Who believed the institution was   was so deeply into corrupt pratices. So too political corruption.

As for political corruption, we have reached a stage in India where the public silently watch and know who are the ministers who had accumulated welath, 2,000 acres of land, a few hundreds of crores. These are the numbers that are in the public domain.
You can’t prove certain corruption cases and also you can’t pin down the leaders, poltiical parties that thrive on patronage from the big corporates.

So, public perception and the reality in private would always come out in a democracy. And India has a good democracy!

Very likely, if what the insiders revealed on the national meet are true!
Kejriwal’s politics is no different from others?
Congress, the oldest party!  Aam Aadmi, the newest party!

Supporters of Kejriwal leader of the newly formed Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party attend the first party workers' meeting in New DelhiWhat is the difference between them? One is seen as one-person-centric. Kejriwal’s new party is also fallen into this trap? It seems so.

Indian political scene is however, changing, no doubt. But the Indian political parties, the political culture seem the same. The major three parties, the ruling BJP, the highly weakened Congress and the new star on the political horizon, the Aam Aadmi party are all seem to be caught in the one leader-centric cult politics.  This is no evolution of a new democratic culture. Just the reverse. There is cause for worry.

Intellectuals must worry and debate. Led by Arvind Kejriwal and the new Chief Minister of the Delhi Union territory and the flavour of the season politician   have all one typical characteristic, they all behave as if the political calling is still a feudal culture. And a personality cult built around the party chiefs. Once in power, the sycophancy becomes a cult!

Internal party democracy? Forget about it.  India, China and Russia

Indian democracy? Yes, the Indian democratic culture is rather very vibrant. The whole world sees India as a very successful practising democratic state and society.

Yes, we have to remind Indians themselves, how we are lucky in that respect. See China or for that matter Russia. They are very different societies. No democratic features there. No Opposition party either in China or even in Russia. How the Opposition leader in Russia cans can be shot down and yet we are asked to see Russia with a Parliament, elections and political parties.

So, we are lucky to have a democratic political culture.  It is only in this context the sudden crisis that had overtaken the newest party in India calls for some deeper analysis and a few questions. Yes, there are problems for India’s democratic polity.

When we compare now the democracies, the UK,USA and European countries like France and other ones with our own there is much to celebrate and self-congratulate ourselves. But then see what is the other side to Indian democracy and the Indian political parties.

2014 Lok Sabha campaign: a new high or a new low?

prashant-bhushanThe 130 year old Indian National Congress is now in a sad state. The party lost the 2014 Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) saw the not so old, BJP party under Mr.Narendra Modi ran a US Presidential style of propaganda concentrated on the one person, Mr.Modi, money was spent like water and the man himself was not free from flaws, he went for the most ‘crude, vulgar, cheap and coarse campaign’ in the words of a seasoned  political commentator, Mr.Harish Khare in his latest book(How Modi won it, notes from the 2014 election(2015).

Of course, Mr.Modi won it in an unexpected way, as Mr.Khare himself notes because the Congress, as an established party for long and accustomed to rule by a variety of coalition partners and of course at the end of its regime, the Congress coalition presided over by Dr.Manmohan Singh became a byword for large scale corruption scandals and sheer cynicism.

The projection of a greenhorn Mr.Rahul Gandhi proved a disaster. The Youngman failed to live up to the expectations of everyone.

The BJP also proved to be a party with no difference. It had long claimed to be a party with a difference, there was of course internal democracy in the party. There were many leaders and they all asserted themselves at times. There were elections and many leaders held the party presidentship. Unlike the Congress which under Sonia Gandhi progressively degenerated into a coterie of one family and that too under Sonia and son Rahul, both proved to be utterly unequal to the challenges of the times.

The party stuck to a formula and Sonia, never proved her capabilities and now, proved her dogmatic belief in her destiny to rule over the party.
So, in this context came the newest of the new party in Indian politics.

The Aam Aadmi party (AAP), came with the slogan of common man and under Mr.Arvind Kejriwal a party that raised great hopes for a new type of politics, it promised an alternative politics. In its second stint it won a massive victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, winning 67 MLAs out of 70!

This simply stumped Mr.Modi and his newly strident march towards what seemed to be an unstoppable race towards a near monopoly over power in the country. To put it bluntly, there were widespread apprehensions that Mr.Modi might even emerge as a dictator to pose a threat to the Indian democracy.

Now, Mr.Kejriwal, within among after he took over as Chief Minister finds himself in the midst of a crisis within his own fledgling party. AAP is a new party and its members, leaders are all young and educated and highly idealistic.
What gave the AAP its new glow is the idealism of its youthful leaders.

Then, why such a sudden split?

In the latest crisis, on just the other day, the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) with just 21 persons met on the outskirts of Delhi and sought to diffuse the internal party crisis.

The reason for the crisis is that two of the founding members of the party, namely Mr.Prashant Bhusan, the prominent Lawyer-turned activist, he is a tireless fighter for Public Causes and also the son of the veteran lawyer father, Shanti Bhushan who is also a founding member of the Anna Hazare’s India Against Corruption movement, he donated a whopping crore as donation and the others like the South (Bangalore-based) Captain Gopinath and also others, mostly ladies, Shazia Illmi and Anjali Damania from Nagpur, one or two other prominent women leaders from Mumbai and even from Delhi have disassociated with Mr.Kejriwal within this short period of time.

Now, the PAC met on Wednesday (4, March, 2015) and deliberated the crisis.
The new PAC sought to diffuse the crisis by asking, after a five and half hour of debate, both Mr.Bhushan and Yogendra Yana, an academic turned politician, who also contested the Lok Sabha election and lost. Both are intellectually competent and a shade above the rest of the crowd around Kejriwal.

The two refused to resign on their own and called for a vote. According to reports, the actual numbers who were present were just 19, Mr.Kejriwal who was in Delhi and yet absented himself and also sent in his letter of resignation as a national convenor of the party. In the actual voting, it was just 11 who voted against the duo, the 8 voted for the two.

And considering the party is new and its remembers are young, it is natural to ask why a good number of 8 voted against Mr.Kejriwal’s wish to see himself supreme?
Unfortunately for the Indian media and commentators, they all seem to be steeped in the Indian mindset.

All the TV channels and newspapers reported as if it was a defeat for the two founding members of the AAP and it was victory for Kejriwal for absolute power! It was neither.

It is here we like to add some clarifications.
First, the AAP party has not had any clearly spelt out ideology or any basic framework of a political alternative to the existing parties.
AAP made certain promises like clean politics. It grew out of the India against Corruption movement of Anna Hazare. Mr.Kejriwal of course brought Anna to national capital and in a sense to national attention in a prominent way. At that point of time, it was Lokpal that was the only agenda. Political ambition was absent. Then suddenly Kejriwal developed his own ideas and started a political party to act upon his ideals and vision.
It was left to many in the party to articulate the ideals of the party.
Clean politics again. Fighting corruption, transparency in running the party, transparency in election funding, delivery of public services by promising reduction in tariff for water and electricity, regularisation of unauthorised colonies etc.
Now, the two leaders. Mr.Bhusan and Yadav had, it seems, raised some questions like one-man centric power wielding by Mr.Kejriwal. Admiral (retd.) Ramadass is the internal Lokpal for the AAP. He himself raised the issue of one-man one post issues.
So, there is no discussion on this issue at the PAC meeting. Also, Mr.Bhusan raised the receiving by the party of four cheques from anonymous donors for Rs.2 crore in total. Nor the issue of transparency and even an indication of willingness on the part of Kejriwal to consult and exchange views among the top, senior, founding members were seen all these days when they were in power.
It is this aspect that seems troubling at the inner circles of the party.

Kejriwal’s track record

Mr.Kejriwal seems to have a track record for doing things in a highly arbitrary manner. He cultivates and ditches people, it seems. He has a long story to tell!
The very many young women who were drawn by his idealism are now left in the dark. We don’t see any representation of women either in the party or in the government. This, in our view, is a serious lacuna.

Also, there is no room for articulation of an over-arching ideology or vision.
It is all now back to power and perks, it seems. It was often left to Yadav to paint a big picture for the party. Now, he is dsidelined.What is Mr.Yadav’s grouse?
What is Mr.Bhushan’s grivance? No way to know.

To report in the press as if the duo were expelled. A success for Kejriwal?
Mr.Kejriwal ousted his opponents as if both Mr.Modi ousted Mr.Sanjay Joshi in the BJP or Sonia Gandhi ousted all opposition to Mr.Rahul Gandhi.
This type of media reports lowers the image of the AAP.
It is time someone from within the AAP to hasten to correct this image distortion.

Surely, the AAP can’t behave like the Congress or the BJP.
Hero-worship, sycophancy is the last thing people like to see associated with the AAP. One last word. Ideological issues or personal ego clashes?

In our considered opinion, it is the lack of a deeply-felt ideology that is absent in the AAP. First, Mr.Kejriwal himself, on the ideological front, in our view, is an unknown quantity, if we can say so. When Anna Hazare started the India against Corruption movement, the first big donor, it was said at that time, was a known Hindutva bigsot. Right or wrong? The RSS was behind it. Right or wrong?

When Kejriwal organised the Ramlila Maida fast of Anna, there were personalities linked to RSS, Ramdev and others. Right or wrong?

Now, in a hurry to capture power, the AAP promised all things to all men, including those within the party. Kejriwal practised populism with a vengeance, right?

History, at least from Hitler onwards, shows any extreme populism, any promise of paradise, carries with it many dangers; fascism is not the least dangerous.
Is Mr.Kejriwal a leftist or an ultra-left, as his admirers criticise his estranged colleague or colleagues.

Or, what is Kejriwal’s ideology? What are his political and economic crore beliefs? What vision has he, if at all for India? For this generation of youngmen and women who gathered around him?

It is only fair if we ask him to spell our his vision in brief. His attitude towards BJP, Congress, the two major national parties?

His commitment to democracy, economic ideology, secularism? In this terrorism-stricken world, surely for a country of India’s dimensions, its religious and social polarisations, what is Kejriwals’s attitude towards communal polarisation as a political and electoral strategy.

Finally, one lingering question: is he really  driven by any vision at all? Or, is it simply a personal ambition or ego play?

Politics everywhere is  vitiated by personal ambitions or  power-addiction or authoritarianist tendencies. Why, even ,simple small-minded petty egos. We see these things before our very own eyes, nearer  at home!

Surely, the time has to come to ask such rather inconvenient questions. If not we, we are sure, such questions would be asked by his own estranged rivals for sure! Very soon!

Once in power, it is natural, human only to expect they, the winners are rewarded suitably. This, may be, Mr.Kejriwal failed to do. May be he feels he is supreme. This is simply wrong and he is mistaken, if he thinks so.

As it is said by the AAP insiders, the intellectual strength of the AAP is now weakened by the ouster of the two highly competent leaders. This is also the sure way for a faster downfall. Every politician in India seems to fall for this trap.
The current dynastic political culture that is gripping the players, from Sonia Gandhi to others like the DMK,SJP,SAD to Paswan to others had given the mindset of a feudal lineage in modern  democratic politics.

The BJP may not have  a dynastic disease today. But it has the danger of authoritarian power growing. The other parties, big and small, small like the AAP or the older and regional ones like the DMK are caught by the various other diseases like inflated egos or sheer cynical dynastic narrow-mindedness. The Congress is the biggest threat to the evolution of genuine democratic norms in the Indian polity.

We have to learn to practise democratic political culture. This calls for articulation of an ideology and vision. And more than anything else, a certain personality, certain humility and truthfulness in our dealings. These are of course very rare traits indeed. And also you need a certain personal charisma and self-dignity. A belief in yourself!

To consult and reach consensus calls for men and women of great sagacity. There is a dearth of this  rare leadership in the Indian political scenario. A cause for deeper worry.

Jammu & Kashmir might also vote for the BJP?
A new aspirational generation wants jobs and security.

electionJammu & Kashmir is a very difficult state at any time. Now, with the latest Assembly polls and the BJP Pitching for a high stake looks like winning there in whatever forms and combinations those analysts are debating about.

First, there is the ruling coalition led by the National Conference, NC. Omar Abdullah hadn’t emerge4d as the undisputed leader this time as there are now a new set of challenges to face.

As observed have noted J & K is a beautiful state in terms of its natural charms. The clear crisp air, the blue sky, the clear streams and the green poplars one associates with the Valley once you land up in Srinagar you see the after effects of the floods that had devastated the state.

Now, the people are in a mood for change. Though twice before the state had gone for elections this time it was a different story. The voter turnout was huge, exceeding 70 per cent and this indicated the people are fed up with their lot so far and now they wanted a change.

Who can provide the change, except the all-powerful Mr.Narendra Modi?

So, there is expectation that a new change might come and new hope, a new dawn might emerge. The India-Pakistan story is left behind, it seems. Everyone is talking about who would get and what number of seats.

The new stars arte the PDP, the one party led by a much respected Mufti Mohammen Saif and his able draught cum politician of some reputation Mehbooba Mufti. It is noted that the large voter turnout could be attributed to three factors.
One, There is no fear that the elections would be rigged and the credit goes to Atal Behari Vajpayee who had held free and fair polls in 2002. Two, people see the elections as a sure way of effecting change to separate their grievances and their own aspirations.

This time, the grievances are kept aside and the aspirations are given effect. It seems like that. Otherwise why so much enthusiasm and also the courageous turnout?

Yes, everyone has grievances, bread, butter demands, the most impotent is also the aspirations for jobs, good jobs as the education and age factors kick in for the new generation of the Kashmiri youth.

The third factor, the most important and also the latest reaction is for the counter-polarisation.

The large turnout is the outcome of the reaction to the polarisation that is taking place in Jammu in favour of the BJP and so the counter-polarisation here in Kashmir Valley1
Though, the militating Hurriyat gave a call to the boycott of the polls, even the Hurriyat indirectly encouraged the counter-polarisation and hence the large voter turnout, observes point out.

The goal is to see that the BJP doesn’t form a government in the state. Whether this calculation will work out in the way the Hurriyat wants is another question.

How the seats might be partitioned?

The BJP hoped that at least two or three of its candidates, supported by the Kashmiri Pandit pockets of strength might scrape through.

There are indications this time that people plump for a real change. The PDP is doing well. In the Valley which accounts for 48 seats. And the BJP doing well in the Jammu region with 37 seats. The BJP and the Congress might be evenly divided in ladakh with four seats. If the Congress gets a dozen seats and the PDP with 30-35 seats can form the government. Mufti Mohammad Sayed could become the Chief Minister who has some 50 years of political experience in the state and he also knows the corridors of power in Delhi.

But will the BJP be ready to play the second fiddle?
Given its strategies in other states, it always wants to dominate or nudge the parties to fall in line with its own aggressive twitch for hegemony.

We have to wait and see how this time the J & KI state manages to give the people a stable and also a development-oriented economic strategy

Let us hope that the very troubled state gets a new chapter of real progress and security to its people.

Opposition parties are as diverse as there are parties!

Akhilesh-YadavSome developments in the Opposition parties had taken place since the new BJP government assumed office six months ago.
One the by elections saw in UP and Bihar some Opposition co-ordination. In Bihar the JD(U),RJD and the Congress got together  and the won credibly. In UP to the Samajwadi party and RJD and the Congress joined together the BJP got a shock.

Then for the second time again we saw some action. The Janata parwar of sic parties, all from the original Janata Dal and also from the anti-Indira Gandhi, anti-Emergency and also the post Janata  Party developments, now realise that it is they who have to move forward if they are to survive in the onslaught of the BJP’s ascendancy.

So, the six parties had promised a merger in December.Fine.

The latest coming together of the regional parties is the 125th birth anniversary of Pandit Nehru.Yes, here is also a pointer.

Among the parties that responded to Sonia Gandhi’s invite, are the Trinamool, the two Communist parties, besides the NCP, Deve Gowda and  a few others. These are all parties that might rally around the slogan of secularism, a word that means these days many things to many persons.

Secularism is not just pro-Muslim to put it bluntly.It means a sort of a new political all-embracing consensus, liberalism, and a sort of modern attitudes towards a range of issues. The Communists are now  in limbo and yet they have their own age-old rigidity and  a sort of fanaticism for  some foreign  weird creeds.

There has to be a strong Opposition party if democracy performs well or not.But in the present scenario that prevails in India, there is very little chance for a strong and united Opposition party or parties to come about.

The Congress itself is the very weakest party today.Why?

As one columnist puts:Rahul Gandhi has not the charisma that makes for a strong leader. Neither charisma nor a programme.
The unsaid part of this narrative is that Rahul Gandhi is there not by his any inherent strength of leadership. He is there as Nehru family heir. Dynasty?

Yes, dynasty politics is hitting at the heart of every other Opposition party.So, also there is no clear vision for the future of India from within the leaders who have now come together.

Here we like to point out that the Communists would only make matters worse if the Opposition parties listen to them.
The so-called neo-liberalism  the Communists seem to oppose is totally irrelevant.

The Opposition parties, now to take on the BJP, an avowed Centre-Right party, have to announce they are Centre-Left.
This would give them some credibility and legitimacy.
Then, also the Centre-Left parties must spell out their economic vision.

The days of Socialism are gone. So too the Communist formulations.So also we have to take on the reality.Indian economy has to grow faster.

To make this possible we need FDI, we need corporate governance norms, no crony capitalism but a private capitalist path, non-exploitative capitalism, a compassionate capitalism, if you want to say so!

Speedy economic growth and a distribution policy, populism, welfare and in so many other variations some universal healthcare policy, pensions and subsidies reasonable and well-structured, using the modern IT tools are all the basic minimum p0rogramme.

Shed the personal egos of leaders. A national consensus.
May be the Congress to could become a partner in the Opposition strategy.

An open letter to the Malaysian Prime Minister
Hon’ble Najib Razak

malaysia-airlines-projected-pathSir, your announcement the mysterious Malaysian Airlines Plane had plunged into the South Indian Ocean near Perth, Australia and the search is given up for fear of the search won’t yield any more positive results came as a great shock and dismay for everyone in the world, not the least the angry scenes and the breakdowns we have witnessed in Beijing and the continued agony and the likely unpredictable consequences for the families and also for the wider world which wont also easily be reconciled with your decision.

This is a tragedy of great impact for the world and in so many ways the whole world has to ponder over the state of international public opinion as well as for specific technological and scientific communities that have set for achieving solutions to any of the intractable challenges.

This tragedy and its human dimensions are such a challenge.

The search can’t be abandoned and in any case the search has to be resumed in whatever form that is feasible not only for the Malaysian government but also to the international community in some specific technical areas like satellite capabilities in further probing the occurrence of the unimaginable tragedy is not over and it only now becomes more serious as almost every day new evidence is forthcoming.

An internationally reputed air safety expert, A.Ranganathan (The Hindu dated March 26th has explained in detail how this mishap could have occurred and what possible rational conclusions can be drawn. He had cited two or more such plane mishaps. One the Silk Air flight MI 185 and also the Egypt Air flight 990 on October 31, 2009 and also the United Airlines flight 93.

As per his study of these air accidents, he comes to some tentative conclusions that this accident must have accured owing to some illegal human intervention. Pilot suicides could be a real possibility he says, the expert gives some very detailed and critical reasons how the aircraft had behaved once it went off air and also the very many possibilities for some such speculations, the ultimate cause for such a serious failures of duty could have occurred may be the pilot’s suicide.

Of course all this doesn’t give us any consolation, the loss of lives of so many passengers is the real tragedy that can’t be compensated by any means.

Says Ranganathan, the expert: “This flight path (as the expert details all the possibilities could only have been flown deliberately and only by someone who was highly experienced and skilled. The three tragedies studied result in heavy loss of innocent lives. It is time for the international aviation community to realise that pilot suicide is a potential threat that needs urgent attention”.

Now, there are further evidences forthcoming. A French satellite has found 122 possible debris of MH 370 in the Indian Ocean. A top Malaysian official has said this is so far the “most credible lead that we have”. The objects range from one metre to 23 metres.

Other countries in the search and their confirmation come from Australia, New Zealand besides France.

The 239 people who perished is a heart-rending experience, the wailing relatives and their kind make for the greatest human tragedy of recent years.

So, considering the possibility that in the very near or even far future such a chance to collect and analyse the debris and other evidences might come out, it is only morally correct to recall the announcement your hon’ble office made.

Please announce and also promise and commit the Malaysian government in the new initiative that could keep up the morale of the ones who lost their dear one and the kind and also for the universal community of sympathisers and they must be only too many and too persisting with the hope for some breakthrough.

Also the very international community of avaibcementyiciation experts and the governments and also big countries like the USA and European Community, also the Asian and ASEAN community to share the grief and also contribute to the further incessant search for finding the real clue to this great tragedy.

Only such new announcement would go some way to calm and sooth the impact of this great loss of lives.

Yours sincerely,

(Former Member, Madras Legislative Council and Chairman, Vadamalai Media, Bangalore)