Open Letter to Gopal Gandhi

Dear Mr Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Let me begin by saying, i hold no one in the past 100 years in absolute reverence. But i do have my preferences. And Mohandas Gandhi your Great Grand Father is not exactly high on that list. Neither is Jawahar Lal Nehru, our first Prime Minister. I was not born in those times and so on the back of 20/20 hindsight, me and millions of others can clearly see that the ecstasy and hope that Independence engendered, 70 years later have turned to a scenario of gloom and doom. 70% people don’t have basic access to toilets, lakhs of villages still don’t have electricity, millions don’t have access to clean drinking water. So yes 70 years down the line, harrowed citizens have the right to question if the founding fathers’ vision, methods and methodology was indeed right.

Nehru, Shastri, Indira, Morarji, Rajiv, Devegowda, Rao or Gujral irrespective of who sat in the hallowed precincts of the PMO, it remains a fact that Narendra Modi through sheer hard work, dedication, vision, energy, intelligence and honest ability has by one of the largest mandates possible in a Multi Party Democracy with many regional players, emerged the most eligible contender in the last 30 years. To question this fact is kicking Multi Party democracy and it’s principles in it’s face. His mandate is even more so significant that as in Nehru’s era there was no established Multi-Party system and lack of powerful regional leaders. The INC being the only big player in the early days of independence and Rajiv Gandhi winning on an emotional mandate following the assassination of Indira Gandhi were the only bigger mandates. So yes it can be stated that Narendra Modi’s mandate can be considered to be the biggest True mandate in our Multi Party democracy till date. I am also convinced that if a Jawahar Lal Nehru’s was to face off Narendra Modi today bearing in mind 70 years of the Nehru Dynasty rule, Nehru would not get the popular mandate that Modi would.

Reading through your whole letter i find it exudes more ‘elitism’ than Intelligence, an assumption that Nehru’s vision is above criticism or when you only notice who most people ‘vote against’ only when a Modi wins a massive mandate as here:

But, Mr. Modi, with that said, I must move to why your being at India’s helm disturbs millions of Indians. You know this more clearly than anyone else that in the 2014 election, voters voted, in the main, for Modi or against Modi. It was a case of “Is Narendra Modi the country’s best guardian — desh ka rakhvala — or is he not?” The BJP has won the seats it has because you captured the imagination of 31 per cent of our people (your vote share) as the nation’s best guardian, in fact, as its saviour. It has also to be noted that 69 per cent of the voters did not see you as their rakhvala


While we function as a Parliamentary Democracy and not as a Presidential one, where primary choices may involve preferences for regional leaders or candidates for many reasons and not necessarily a rejection of a candidate pers se, we do have polls which have reflected on Narendra Modi’s popularity or favorability over the country. This poll was conducted by PEW a reputable agency in February well before Modi peaked his best. It says:

Nearly eight-in-ten Indians (78%) have a favorable view of Modi, compared with 16% who hold an unfavorable view.

Image  Image

When asked if they are “very supportive” of either candidate, 60% answered yes for Modi, while only 23% answered the same for Gandhi. (Source: PEW)

In the above you can see, that people share a favorable opinion and not that of a demon as you make him out to be. In contrast the dynastic leaders that you possibly recommend and possibly vote for have thrice the numbers Modi has for him as unfavorable. The above hammers the lies, confusion and fear that you try and sow in gullible minds that 69% people fear Modi by mixing Presidential and Multi-Party parliamentary election outcomes. By your logic more people would have feared Sonia and MMS in 2004 and 2009. But then as i read more i see being logical is not your motive, sophistry is:

In invoking unity and stability, you have regularly turned to the name and stature of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The Sardar, as you would know, chaired the Constituent Assembly’s Committee on Minorities. If the Constitution of India gives crucial guarantees — educational, cultural and religious — to India’s minorities, Sardar Patel has to be thanked, as do other members of that committee, in particular Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the Christian daughter of Sikh Kapurthala. Adopt, in toto, Mr. Modi, not adapt or modify, dilute or tinker with, the vision of the Constitution on the minorities. You may like to read what the indomitable Sardar said in that committee.

Why is there, in so many, so much fear, that they dare not voice their fears?

Here you command that Modi that he should not modify, dilute or tinker with the Constitution on the Minorities. The Constitution allows the mandated powers to be adapt, dilute or change it’s provisions if something does not work. It matters little who sat in which committee 70 years ago and thrashed out which law. If something is not working as you yourself assert last line “Why is there, in so many so much fear” after 70 years, there is simply nothing wrong in adapting, modifying set parameters to course correct. So your recommendation is again not just silly, it is devious and fascist to the core. In addition it is thoroughly against the vision of the founders where you want to blunt Modi’s right to introduce constitutional amendment because Sardar Patel sat on the committee. I am certain if changes are required today in addition or in lieu to what Mr Patel penned decades ago he would be more than happy at necessary amendments and changes being undertaken.


 Reassure the minorities, Mr. Modi, do not patronise them. “Development” is no substitute to security. You spoke of “the Koran in one hand, a laptop in the other,” or words to that effect. That visual did not quite reassure them because of a counter visual that scares them — of a thug masquerading as a Hindu holding a Hindu epic’s DVD in one hand and a minatory trishul in the other.


Here you indulge in scaremongering the type that voters including Muslims in large numbers have rejected in the polls. Modi has won several constituencies with very high percentages of Muslims. The 73/80 seats in UP would not be possible without votes from all sections of society, all castes, all religions. So you’re basically inciting and regurgitating a lie with barely any sophistication.

No one should have the impudence to speak the monarchist language of uniformism to a republic of pluralism, the vocabulary of “oneness” to an imagination of many-nesses, the grammar of consolidation to a sensibility that thrives in and on its variations. India is a diverse forest. It wants you to nurture the humus that sustains its great variety, not place before it the monochromatic monoculturalism of a political monotheism.

Again above you write high sounding language little realizing that appeasement of non pluralist exclusivist ideologies and doctrines does not strengthen our pluralist culture and heritage. It is strengthening the pluralist heritage and culture and pride in this tradition that will ensure safety for all. Water those roots and the pluralist plant is strengthened. That is exactly what Narendra Modi is doing. He is not watering the ‘appeasement’ narrative but the true pluralist Dharmic tradition that is ours. He has succeeded in making a vibrant Gujarat where, by all measures the Muslim community is faring far more decently than in other states where there is neither development nor security. So your unsolicited advise can be considered devious and motivated fear mongering.

When you reconstitute the Minorities Commission, ask the Opposition to give you all the names and accept them without change. And do the same for the panels on Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and Linguistic Minorities. And when it comes to choosing the next Chief Information Commissioner, the next CAG, CVC, go sportingly by the recommendation of the non-government members on the selection committee, as long as it is not partisan. You are strong and can afford such risks.

It is fine if this advise was from a disinterested observer. But it comes from someone wanting to beat the well beaten hackneyed path of appeasement politicking. It comes from someone without the vision to course correct a methodology and approach that does not work. So my advice to Modi ji would be not to heed your message. It assumes Modi does not have a vision of his own and will have to rely on failed narratives of the past. Apologies, but the mandate for Modi is exactly not to do, what you recommend.

Mr. Modi, there is a southern deficit in your India calculus. The Hindi-belt image of your victory should not tighten itself into a North-South divide. Please appoint a deputy prime minister from the South, who is not a politician at all, but an expert social scientist, ecologist, economist or a demographer. Nehru had Shanmukham Chetty, John Mathai, C.D. Deshmukh and K.L. Rao in his cabinet. They were not Congressmen, not even politicians. Indira Gandhi had S. Chandrashekhar, V.K.R.V. Rao. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the UPA did not make Professor M.S. Swaminathan and Shyam Benegal, both nominated members in the Rajya Sabha, ministers. There is a convention, one may even say, a healthy convention, that nominated members should not be made ministers. But exigencies are exigencies. Professor Nurul Hasan, a nominated member, was one of the best Ministers of Education we have had.

Again as i read what you recommend above, as a citizen i question Nehru’s developmental model and vision as a whole. With 70% having no access to toilets, the maximum illiterates in the world, lack of basic needs like electricity and water, i think that whole lot mentioned above were failures and not successes to be emulated. I am scared of Nehru’s vision and the policies of his dynasty that gave India a pathetic 2% growth rate, chained hundreds of millions to poverty, disease, illiteracy. As a concerned citizen, i would thus advise Mr Modi to stay well away from your recommendations for the better of this country.

Your Fellow Citizen


The Skull Cap debate: Why Modi is Right


Does refusing to wear a particular kind of cap reflect a bias? This has been a topic of prime time debate in much of the Main Stream Media since Modi’s refusal to wear a Muslim skull cap. It is thus pertinent to ask what constitutes a bias to a community, particularly if one is positioning oneself for a top Constitutional post. It is also important how that bias is measured. Between Narendra Modi and the INC spokespersons it boils down to these aspects:

According to the INC: Bias is not accepting/ adorning the religious symbols. Symbolism (like adorning a skull cap) is a manifestation of ‘Non-Bias’, even if one does little to economically uplift the community or provide them safety and security as citizens and as mandated in the constitution.

According to Modi: Bias has nothing to do with not adorning religious symbols. Symbolism (like adorning a skull cap) is a manifestation of appeasement. Non Bias is economic upliftment and providing safety and security as full citizens as mandated in the Constitution.

Between both the above versions it is interesting, that most INC spokespersons accept Modi’s version as given above, but point out that it is hypocritical since Modi also wears a Sikh Turban and that amounts to adorning a religious symbol that is not his own. Modi asserts that it is his Parampara and he has the full right to wear/ adorn loudly what is his Parampara. So question is what is the bias and importantly how it is ‘measured’. If the ‘measure’ of the bias is the Constitution, then Modi scores on his point and stands soundly on firm ground. Article 25, Clause 2, Subclause (b) of the Indian Constitution clearly mandates the freedom of Hindu’s, Sikhs, Buddhists,Jains to visit and practise aspects of each others faith in their exclusive temples:

Article 25(2)(b) in The Constitution Of India 1949
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. Explanation I The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion. Explanation II In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly
Thus constitutionally Narendra Modi has every right to wear a Turban, go to Gurdwaras, Jain temples, Buddhist monastries. It is his constitutionally guaranteed right and not an act of appeasement or hypocrisy. This act defines by right of law what Narendra Modi rightly refers to his parampara. Thus the INC charge of hypocrisy is incorrect and false. An Arya Samaji going to a Gurdwara, a Vaishnav paying respects at a Buddhist monastery, a Sikh taking Devi mata prasad from a nearby temple and so on, Dharmics have since millenia intermingled and respected the purity of the different panths and their Guru’s even while they followed their own. A Sikh Guru writing a version of the Ramayana, Brahmins writing and formulating various Buddhist canons of thought, Nalanda where intellectuals of many Dharmic sampradayas taught and learnt and so on one has many examples of mutual sampradayic respect as opposed to acts of symbolic appeasement that some in the INC would like us to believe. That is the historical aspect the constitution through Art 25 acknowledges of the fluidity of Dharmic tradition. The INC cannot thus target Modi that wearing a Sikh turban is the same as wearing a Skull cap. The rest of the head gear (Manipuri, Arunachali, Marwaari) donned by Modi did not have much religious significance, which also Modi rightly acknowledges as part of his parampara. In a way the INC arguments reflect how far they have moved away from core Indian tradition.
The skull cap meanwhile is of Middle Eastern origin and is used by Muslims, Jews and Catholics alike and the Pope is rarely seen without one. Modi cannot thus by any stretch be forced to compromise on his constitutional right to follow only his parampara, but also necessarily follow another parampara that is of Middle Eastern origin on the threat of implied bias. Why should that be logically forced on anyone, even if aspiring for the post of a PM? When Modi says the Arunachal headgear, Sikh Turban, Marwari Saafa, South Indian lungi are his parampara he is right. In Sanskrit the word Parampara literally means an uninterrupted row or series, order, succession, continuation, mediation, tradition associated implicitly with the ancestry and the land. All those items that he donned are an intrinsic part of his parampara while the Skull cap is not. It could necessarily be seen as an act of appeasement if he did don the cap, and he thus avoids doing the same for exactly the same reason. Hence for him to be truly just, to the Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Parsee communities would be to fulfill constitutional provisions and not address symbolic ones as opposed to making symbolic gestures and deprive them the benefits that the constitution really provides for them as Indian citizens. Modi stresses the former and stresses consciously avoiding the latter. The INC record has been largely of symbolic respect, while little has been done to improve the socio economic status of minorities. Modi rubs that point in with this refusal to wear the Skull cap and that is a significant point by itself. This is the crux between the secular and so called Pseudo Secular debate.
There are other aspects of this debate, but the basic punchlines above hold. While the Constitution under Art 25 guarantees the freedom of religion, propagation, practice, it does not imply citizens must hold sacrosanct the symbolic gestures of all religions. It only deems the right of those of a particular faith to hold such sacrosanct and not the others. So while for the INC it may be fine to wear a Muslim skull cap, by the same logic it would also be fine and respectful if one slaughters a goat or cow on Bakr Id or if a Hindu accepts prasadam at a Jain temple he shouldn’t mind accepting a mutton offering on Id. The extension of the symbolic logic thus becomes an unending affair to appease. Even a vegetarian could be ridiculed stating that Hindu’s are not necessarily vegetarian so having reservations on eating mutton on Id and none on eating Prasad at a Jain Mandir is hypocrisy and bias only. This line of reasoning is just abandoning common-sense, constitutional norms, Dharmic tradition and indeed will only be misused by those that would like symbolic reverence at the expense of the well being of the communities involved.
Another important aspect that people should contemplate over,  is respecting the constitutional provisions for religions other than ones own, does not imply personal respect of the tenets of all religions that the constitution provides freedoms to. Respect for your right to practice your faith does not imply one approves of the practises your faith approves. Most Jains, Vaishnavs and many other Dharmics, Moksha Margi’s don’t approve of slaughtering animals in some faiths for example. All religions are not same, neither all preach the same principles. There are differences. To be a PM candidate you need not ideally approve of all practises of all religions and participate in some symbolic ritual of acceptance. As the USAF Commander outside Kalaikunda Airbase said of the CPI demonstration against US-Indian air exercise: You may not like our presence here, but the reason we train together is to protect your right to criticize us.
So let Modi be. Respect him for following his tradition. Don’t pull him down for refusing the symbolism associated with traditions that are not his. Also respect him for the reason he offered.



The General Elections are in progress, and canvassing for votes is at a feverish pitch.  Various Political Parties are presenting their view points to the electorate, and also accusing their opponents of various faults.  In this milieu of the noisy cacophony of conflicting claims and counterclaims the real issues that would shape the character of the next Parliament and the Government, and thus must be of prime concern for every citizen of India, are in the danger of getting blurred to a certain extent. These issues must be identified, and their clear unambiguous implications for guiding the voters in selecting their representatives must be crystallized. 

A number of parameters are being bandied about by various Political Parties regarding what they stand for, and articulated by many self proclaimed intellectuals, and sundry leaders of various social hues: Secular v/s Communal, Leftist v/s Rightists, Conservatives v/s Radicals, Pro or Anti Free Market Economy, Democrats v/s Dynasts, and so on.  In our opinion these terms have lost meaning in the context of most of our Political Parties, and these labels are conveniently employed to mask their inadequacies, and confuse the voters.    

At the time of an Election the voters must have an opportunity to critically examine the governance record of the outgoing government, and look at the promises and veracity of the alternatives available. One can think of a number of parameters to judge the performance of an outgoing government.   However, for a large number of voters to sift through the veracity of the claimed facts and figures, and various claims and counterclaims is a daunting task, and are guided by general impressions and perceived impact on their lives from the policies of different political parties. 


The outgoing government must be made to answer for its shortcomings, and be Accountable to the electorate who are the real masters.  Unfortunately the word Accountability has virtually vanished from the lexicon of our public, and more unfortunately from the debate in the media, and shortcomings of the party in power are often attributed to the political class as a whole, thus allowing the party in power to divert focus from its failures. For example, after the Mumbai attack there was a genuine sense of outrage.  But the anger that should have been directed at the then very incompetent Home Minister and the insular Maharashtra and Central Governments, was directed against the entire political class, and a sharp focus on accountability of the party in power was missing in many protests and in the media. This approach allows the guilty parties to escape unscathed and is a disservice to the democratic functioning of the country.  It may not be out of place to recall a similar approach after the rout of the Indira Gandhi led Government in 1977.  Declaration of Emergency was the most heinous crime in the history of India, and when the misdeeds of the powers that be were being probed by the Justice Shah Commission, a large section of the media and self appointed intellectuals started a clamour against the proceedings, opening an escape route for the perpetuators of this crime.  ‘A witch hunt has no place in a democracy’ was the loud refrain opening a door for return of Indira Gandhi.

 Thus, first and foremost, the outgoing Government must be critically examined on the basis of its performance and not on the basis of populist promises for the future.  The public must demand a factual record of its concrete achievements, and reasons for not coming up to expectations in some aspects. This is what the public must primarily have and not yet another populist manifesto.  The public must demand an Action Taken Report on the main promises made in the Manifesto during the last election.


Corruption has become all pervasive in our society, almost no area is left unaffected by this evil.  While one can think of measures like the Lokpal and Lokayukta to mitigate this cancer, it must be realized that mere enacting laws would not eradicate this evil.  Similar is the case about crime against women and the weaker sections of our society. We have to recognize that these are social problems, and leaders in various fields must strive to bring a social revolution for combating these demons effectively.  In a society where money and power are the new Gods, virtues and merit are forced to take a back seat, and corruption for acquiring money becomes attractive for many. And crime against women would not be eliminated as long as we cease to view women as a commodity.  Strong disapproval from the society and the families would go a long way in combating this slur – merely enacting laws or putting a police person in every street corner would be neither feasible nor effective. In fact, we desperately require a social revolution for combating these evils.  Lastly, the only guarantee for ensuring better Law and Order would be to elect a strong stable Government. 


The debate about secularism and communalism has been employed over many years to hoodwink the electorate.  Secularism has degenerated into an apology for minority appeasement, without any substantial steps to improve their living conditions, and they have been used as a captive vote bank. On the other hand, any one talking about the rights of the majority is summarily branded communal.  While the extreme lunatic fringe in every section – minority or majority – must be condemned in the strongest terms, it is important to examine the reality of these terms in a dispassionate manner.  The majority community of India has had a unique laudable tradition of tolerance and acceptance of diversity over millennia. Despite suffering unparalleled depredations, large scale massacres, demolition and encroachment of many of its holiest places of worship, and destruction of its major seats of learning like Taxshila and Nalanda, the fact that a vast majority of the majority community bears no ill will against the minority community is nothing short of a miracle, a fact not given its due importance – except in asking them to go on making accommodation for biased appeasement policies in every social and political sphere.  Interestingly the atrocities outlined above were carried out under the rule of a fraction of the Islamic rulers in India, and most of them realized the futility of imposing Islam on the majority of Indians.  The conquest by Delhi forces of many remote areas like the East and the South were led by Rajput Chiefs like Raja Man Singh and Raja Jai Singh.  

The exposure to the liberal and profound philosophical traditions of India led to the evolution of a liberal stream in Islam along with a composite culture in the country.  The synthesis also gave birth to Urdu, a rich language with very rich literature, and distinct and popular poetry forms.  The Divide and Rule policy of the British Imperial Power encouraged and promoted a sharp cleavage in this harmonious culture, and tragically the Indian people who fought the 1857 war against the alien rule as a united whole, were tricked in asking for a separate nation based on religion leading to the creation of Pakistan.  This was perhaps the first instance of a nation carved out solely based on religion by completely ignoring the common ancestry and ethnicity of the bulk of the inhabitants in this country.  The chaotic manner in which people were uprooted from their ancient homes and had to relocate in often alien atmosphere had tragic emotional consequences for them.  The trauma of the riots, loss of innocent lives to murderous mobs on both sides of the new boarders left deep scars for many – even more tragic for those who suffered the loss of their near and dear ones.  The society that had largely buried the trauma suffered by the majority community during the Islamic rule and learnt to live together in harmony was torn apart and many old wounds were reopened.  

Although a large number of Muslims chose to opt for the new country, a very significant section led by leaders of the eminence of Maulana Azad committed to the composite culture, opted to stay on in India.  The strength of the composite Indian Culture has ensured that a large number of Muslims in India have achieved great distinction in many fields, and have made all Indians proud of them.  In contrast, the minorities in Pakistan have been reduced to misery in numerical strength as well as social status.  However, the post independence Governments in India neglected the creation of critical means for development like education, health, food security, and adequate means for earning decent livelihood for the bulk of the marginalized sections of its society like the SC, ST, and minorities particularly the Muslims.  Consequently, a sense of neglect and deliberate marginalization grew amongst several sections.  Slowly the immense pride that the bulk of Muslims opting for the Indian Union at the time of partition, had in their significant contribution to the development of our composite culture, was lost at least in a small extremist fringe.  The manner in which secularism is being employed by almost all non-BJP parties for fear mongering amongst the minorities, aimed at arraigning them against the major opposition party has rendered secularism as a meaningless word in the political lexicon in India.  

The accusation against the BJP for being communal rings hollow when we recognize the comparative riot-free BJP regimes in several States and during the Vajpayee rule in the Center.  Those who shout from rooftops about the culpability/inaction of Narendra Modi in 2002 riots in Gujarat refuse to see that this was perhaps the only riot in post-independence India in which several hundred rioters – mostly from the majority community – were shot dead by the State Police.  It should be a sobering thought to contrast this stark reality  with the 1984 riots in Delhi ruled by the ‘most secular’ Congress, where not even one – let me repeat not even one – non-Sikh was killed either by the Police or by the Sikhs!!! And the secularists go on designating 2002 as genocide, and 1984 as a riot. 


Secularism apart from serving as a convenient means of painting the opposition in a corner by tarnishing it with a tar brush, and for using the minority as a captive vote bank, has very debilitating consequences for the psyche of the Indian population, particularly the minorities.  While the secularists never tire of lauding the composite culture, they see a red rag the moment one raises the greatness of the ancient Indian culture.  This attitude unfortunately forces a large majority of Indians to downplay – if not altogether discard – the magnificent achievements of ancient India in almost every field spanning from philosophy, science, mathematics, architecture, metallurgy, astronomy, and literature amongst many.  It may be pertinent to point out that since the ancestors of a large majority of the minority community were also indigenous inhabitants of India, this rich heritage justifiably belongs to them too.  But while accusing the opposition of dividing the communities, it is the secularists who have become instrumental in encouraging the minority community to disown their rightful ancient Indian heritage.  Every Indian must take pride in this unique heritage, but our intelligentsia has miserably failed in fostering this pride.  In fact even our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and Bangladesh must also share in this common heritage with pride, leading to more harmonious relations in all sections of the subcontinent. 

India is perhaps the only country where almost every religion known to men is being practiced; to each of these the assurance should be that we Indians are proud to have you as an integral part, and would want you remain proud of your traditions and be equally proud of being an Indian.  By preserving the traditional strengths of each section and gradually removing the areas of conflict we would have transformed the society in to a more coherent one in these decades.  Friends! a time has come to lay the ghost of secularism to rest, and elect a Government really capable of solving the grave problems faced by most of us. 


And most diabolical is the insinuation that if one particular individual comes to power in Delhi, it would lead to another partition of the present India – thus planting the seed of secession amongst a lunatic fringe already infected by the jihadist bug.  Those who are employing this slogan for political advantage should be viewed as traitors and condemned in the strongest terms, and we must declare that we will never allow another partition of India and are prepared to bear any cost for preserving its unity. 

Every section of the Indian population must condemn these traitors in the strongest terms, and see to it that they lose their security deposit in this election, and thereby make them understand the dangerous implications of their irresponsible statements. Do they realize the serious – rather tragic – consequences of such utterances?  Dear fellow citizens of India please teach them a lesson before it is too late. 


India is facing a number of very acute problems. Its economy is in doldrums, the security problems – internal as well as external – are frightening, and are likely to become even more perilous with the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan.  We must pause to look at our situation very critically, and exercise our choice of the next Government very carefully to escape the fate of being marginalized.  It is important to understand that whether we hail from Kashmir or Kanyakumari, Gujarat or Nagaland, the cow-belt or Kerala, or Andhra, or West Bengal or the hills of Himachal, throbbing Punjab or tottering Orissa, all of us are in danger of losing our distinct identities, and most of us face a rather grim future.  The harsh reality is that we are invariably left to only share the misery after the cream has been licked by the rulersThe tragedy of starving people in a country having an acute problem of finding storage space for its harvest in chockfull silos must make every right thinking citizen to hang his head in shame, if we have even an iota of it left.  Oh yes! We must be grateful for the crumbs being thrown by the ‘benevolent’ rulers.  Friends, time has come for each one of us to introspect and realize that we are also responsible for allowing and tolerating this dance of ‘dacoits’ by being gullible election after election after election. 


Beware folks! The hounds are on the prowl once again to hunt for your vote so that they can wear the cloak of being our legitimate rulers and line their pockets with the wealth of this land. In this sacred land of ours everything is available at a price unfortunately out of reach of most of its citizens.  The real common men and women have suffered at the hands of the rulers for more than half a century of self-rule or misrule, and as a consequence their future is most insecure.  We, who were shocked by revelation of ill-gotten few crores in the eighties, today are not even surprised to learn of assets of the order of hundreds of crores amassed by our political masters.  Wonder what is keeping the majority from following the footsteps of these worthies! Yes, the answer is that in spite of the sorry state in which we find ourselves today, the bulk of our people are decent and capable of hard work.  But occupied with the onerous task of survival while honestly earning their livelihood, they remain passive and allow glib politicians to get away by painting glossy futures and exploit every possible cleavage caste/region/religion to keep us fragmented in order to prolong their hold on the reins of power.  Have you ever wondered that during the last five years, when we the common people have suffered from galloping inflation and have had difficulty in making both ends meet, the wealth of most of our Netas – particularly those in power – has multiplied manifolds? 


We the long suffering people of this country have become gullible – are satisfied with a few crumbs thrown by the ‘kings or princes’, or a little ‘natak’ of sympathy, or a show of being one with the poor or downtrodden by simply breaking bread with them.  We must overcome our tendency to get satisfied by hollow promises, a smile from the neta, a garland thrown by the ‘queen’, and a mere glimpse of a cine-star.  Wake up folks, this drama of a sham democracy (for me, for mine, for ours) has been allowed this long run because we do not value our rights.  A time has come to assert that irrespective of cast, creed, religion, region or language, we the people of this great land are equal, and henceforth would refuse to be swayed by lollipops.  Each child of this country has a potential and must be given an environment to grow.  Today onwards, we the people would chart a new course to fulfill this promise.  But is it possible, and how?  Yes! Folks the coming election provides the opportunity for the proverbial worm to turn, and attempt to secure a better future for the long-suffering people of this land. 


Several political parties are in the fray with the aim of exploiting the failed record of the Congress Government and have a shot at forming a ‘this or that’ Front Government.  There is yet another party trying to ensure a hung Parliament like the experiment in Delhi.  It must be clearly understood that at this juncture when we are facing a multitude of critical problems – an economy in doldrums, rampant unemployment, uncontrolled inflation, breakdown of governance, corruption, very deficient health and educational facilities, and so on – a hung Parliament or a weak Government at the Center would spell only greater misery to its citizens.  So those who are hoping for a hung Parliament are wittingly or unwittingly playing in the hands of the enemies of this Nation.  If they are allowed to succeed they would help in only piling even greater misery on the common man and women of India, totally contrary to their professed aim.  We can only pity the intelligence of the shortsighted multitude enthusiastically riding on this bandwagon.  Wearing the cloak of “Holier than Thou” with their disastrous 49 day’s ‘governance’ in Delhi they are aiming to destabilize the Nation with disastrous consequences for the ‘Common Man’, and must be stopped in their tracks.

In the run up to the coming Loksabha Elections we are also facing battalion strength of prospective Prime Ministerial aspirants – each making claims to be the most deserving.  To this cacophony of “I TOO” add the “expert” opinion of actors, fashion designers et al pontificating through every media channel.  Youth is another word being bandied about – a young electorate must have young leaders – as if age has suddenly become a dirty word.  In this deafening noise the merit of the candidates finds little coverage. 

It must be clearly understood that only a strong and stable government lead by an experienced clear-headed individual possessing a vision for the future of this great Nation can reverse the downslide in almost every sphere. We must critically compare the physical and mental health of the alternatives.  Look at their comparative experience, administrative record, capacity of hard work over long periods, and draw your own conclusions. While voting one must rise above petty prejudices, and aim at ensuring the election of such a Government headed by such a leader in the Center.  Please understand that you are not voting for a Municipal Commissioner or a local MLA for solving local problems, but for a Government at the Center.  Have we ever realized that we often exercise greater caution while buying vegetables than while electing MPs?  Would we prefer to be shortchanged by a vendor from our caste/community even when his supply is often sub-standard or overpriced, rather than patronize someone who gives a fair deal? 

Your future, the future of your children, and more importantly the future of India, is in your hands, we wish that you would leave your prejudices outside the polling booth.  Would you barter it for a Rs. 500 note or a bottle of liquor? Your vote is priceless do not waste it, vote judiciously, and secure your future.


Should Nehru’s Forward Policy take the blame?

The real reason behind prevalent confusion over the boundaries of Northern India with Tibet today lie not so much with British, Chinese, Tibetan or Indian map makers. They would have tried their best to demarcate what possibly should never have been demarcated in the first place in this manner if China was not present in Tibet. How does one demarcate portions that have never been inhabited except in passing by nomadic tribes that moved between established positions in India, Tibet, Xinjiang for centuries? The answer is not so difficult. Tibet developed in a way that it was culturally, linguistically and religiously a special cousin of India. It contained many places which are considered the holiest of holy spots for tens of millions of Dharmics in India. Kailash Mansarover region for one where pilgrims from India, Tibet, Nepal have been visiting for millennia without Visa’s and border controls.  So how should one really demarcate Kailash-Mansarover from Uttarkhand? It would never make sense demarcating the KM region with Uttarkhand based on a Westaphalian concept by a mapmakers in London and Beijing. Thus despite whatever agreements on Westphalian lines or as Tithe between emperors in London, Beijing, Lhasa, Srinagar, Delhi may have been at particular stretches of time, the reasons for dispute must be none of these.


Border disputes today are largely due to presence of very conflicting doctrines across Westphalian divisions. A US-Canada border requires the presence of simply border guards and no armed troops to prevent Canadian or US armed forces from crossing over and certainly no armored divisions or pieces of artillery along the borders. The border in fact is just a straight line along a latitudinal parallel. EU within itself has shown the irrelevance of armies patrolling borders between Sweden, Norway or Belgium and Holland. Simply put, when nations are like minded and the people inherit a shared prosperity and respect, Westphalian border disputes become irrelevant. Yet what about India? India too with Bhutan and Nepal, holds no armed forces or artillery units neither do these countries require to do so. That is because of centuries of cultural, religious, linguistic kinship and non conflicting visions on modern development and statehood. An entire 3 generations of Indians have grown up witnessing no border controls and border problems between Nepal, India, Bhutan.

That is exactly what should have been the relation between an Independent Tibet and India. Between the two there would not have been a single armed division across thousands of kilometers on our Northern boundaries. Kailash-Mansarover would have been managed without Visa grants from Beijing and managed between Tibet, Nepal and India for the benefit of millions of devotees. Aksai Chin would be irrelevant and any agreed boundary between Tibet and India would be acceptable. Visits to Tibet would require the same formalities for Indian citizens as we require for Nepal or Bhutan. But that remains a wish dream today, even though we should be working to restore that status quo. China invaded Tibet and established complete control. The means for travel and transport in the 20 and 21st century changed the equations in many ‘no man’ lands. A Totalitarian regime was on our Northern borders with claims of agreements, pointing out thick pencil borders they did not agree to, arguing for a no nonsense Westphalian division over no mans lands and in the process bargaining over even what was in our possession. With a militant Islamic State on our West and East and a Totalitarian Communist entity on our North every inch of the border was under cartographic and actual armed assault. Armored units, artillery divisions and soldiers began to patrol areas to our North.

Nehru with his left, ‘liberal’ views and emerging from the ‘victory’ of a Non Violent movement against the British empire had sneering contempt of the armed forces. Military planning and upgrading equipment were neglected. Generals who opposed the neglect were summarily dismissed or made redundant and those that assuaged Nehru that it could be managed under these circumstances were pushed up the hierarchy. So post Chinese aggression of Tibet and a decade later from then, India’s defense capabilities were in shambles when the Chinese began enforcing their version of Westphalian boundaries on our Northern periphery. Nehru meanwhile had put all his eggs in the basket and started to appease Chinese as brothers, urging the UN to grant them entry, acknowledging their aggression over Tibet and of course neglecting his own armed forces.

As the Chinese were encroaching in many areas that were considered ours and making roads till several points on our ‘borders’ to get military and artillery supplies. Nehru had no option but to order a denuded army to take some action. The Generals claimed confidence that the Chinese would never attack and that some show of strength by establishing border posts and patrolling in those areas would send a signal to the Chinese to withdraw more North. That was more wishful thinking borne both out of complacency, incompetence and the fact that the Army had no turn around time to challenge the Chinese. Yet there was no choice to aggressive patrolling and creating forward posts. It was the only response possible, even though flawed because of the neglect of the Armed forces under his tenure. The flaws for 1962 thus lie beyond Nehru’s Forward Policy.

The reasons for the Indian debacle are simple and do not require great expertise and could be broadly, jotted as:

  1. Nehru’s criminal neglect of the Armed Forces.
  2. Nehru acknowledging Chinese aggression of Tibet
  3. Nehru’s left Pseudo liberal approach to problem solving
  4. Lack of long term clarity and vision of the region.
  5. Blind trust in a regime built on a Totalitarian foundation.

If Nehru had not neglected the Army and tried appeasing China, Tibet and KM might not have been lost in the first place. And even if Tibet was taken, his forward policy approach would have pushed the Chinese back up north. Aggressive patrolling and establishment of border posts was commenced not by Nehru but the Chinese. Nehru’s Forward policy was a response and trigger for sure because of his neglect of the armed forces, yet it was the only option. Backing out would have resulted in complacency and possibly resulted in even losing Ladhak and Arunachal. But the aggressiveness of even a weakened army and non usage of the Airforce would have made China think twice over retaining Tawang and returning. Chinese soldiers also witnessed many ill equipped units take last stands and fight to the last man, last bullet. So was the aggression shown really out of place in itself? A Forward Policy with an Army armed to the teeth was the ideal requirement that was lacking.

A Forward Policy with an Army armed to the teeth was the ideal requirement that was lacking, thanks to Nehru’s lack of strategic vision. Yet the forward policy in itself was not such a bad thing and the focus should not be that Nehru started 62 war because of the Forward policy. This is being translated across media as implying India was the aggressor. It was not. It is being translated as Forward Policy = Nehru’s aggressive patrolling and establishment of forward posts = the reason for 1962 Indo-China war = reason for India’s humiliation. Hence ‘do we need to curb aggressive patrolling and claiming forward posts that can hurt Chinese sentiments’. We will learn the wrong lessons if we take this approach. A look at some media reports suggesting same from headlines is shown below: Image

The danger in criticizing Forward Policy alone for the 62 humiliation or using it as a headline also lies in promoting leadership/ Generals that will desist from asking the Army to take tough decisions on the borders when needed on the grounds that it could evoke a 62 like response. The lessons we need to learn is not to appease totalitarian regimes, to stand by Tibet more openly, build our Armed capabilities, offensive and counter offensive abilities, even claim/ make disputed territories well inside Tibet like Kailash and Mansarover. Importantly we also must put a stop to the nonsensical cartographic aggression on our Northern boundaries, on no mans lands and our holiest spots being made by 19th or 20th century people in Beijing and London.  The agreements between Beijing and London on our Northern boundaries should have no sanctity in Independent India.

The only sanctity we can have of a Westphalian boundary is with the Government of Tibet. And we must draw up one with the elected representatives of the Tibetan people. With the Govt in Exile at Dharmasala, Mr Lobsang Sangay and HH Dalai Lama. We need to draw up an agreement with these elected, well respected and loved members of the Tibetan community and get a signed agreement on our boundaries, joint management of Kailsah Mansarover between Nepal, Tibet and India. Then we should use this map as our official Westphalian agreement on our Northern borders. Any agreement with the Chinese should be on Line of Actual control and not the Westphalian boundary between Tibet and India. That is best left between Tibet and India.

Modi: Tibet and China policy

Narendra Modi’s challenge in foreign policy will undoubtedly lie West and North of India’s borders, however the main focus of his statesmanship and vision will certainly be based on how he deals with China. Undoubtedly the biggest Foreign Policy disaster India faced was Nehru ignoring Sardar Patel and allowing China a free reign on Tibet. Though highly downplayed in the Indian media, the magnanimity of the Nehruvian blunder on Tibet is so huge that it is inevitable, that with Modi’s arrival there will soon be bitter discourse on this rusty chapter. The stance Modi takes will either elevate him to the level of Sardar Patel or more, or mark him as ordinary visionary, certainly as far as FP issues go. A further hurdle in that effort to correct past blunders, is that he will get little support from established Foreign policy mandarins schooled and regurgitated in the Nehruvian school of thought.

Image           Image

There were many lies that the Nehruvian blunders peddled our distraught generations post the traumatic independence period and one was falsely endorsing generations that China was our neighbor and not Tibet. An institutionalized lie that allowed China to brazenly link up Xinjiang through Aksai Chin, link up Pakistan and China through Kashmir without much of outrage in a country ravaged and emerging out of colonial grasp . Even though these links were brazenly through territory that rightfully belonged to us, yet these too were consequential to a bigger blunder, that of denying and cutting the umbilical cord that bound two very Dharmic souled nations together for a millenia and letting sacred Dharmic soil be over run by forces completely inimical to Dharma and its ethics. Worse, Nehru without a protest allowed them to overrun even the Holiest of Holy spots for hundreds of millions of Dharmics: Shiv Bhoomi at Kailash and Mansarover. This spot for many Dharmics is the holy abode of none other than Lord Shiva. The belief that he sits there in meditation. Almost every Dharmic in India has a picture of Shiva in meditation at Kailash-Mansarover at his or her home. Nehru passed all that to the atheistic Han Maoist guerrilla who never ever had any link to this region even by the remotest stretch. Sadly today when Dharmics want to visit the site, they have to apply for a visa to Beijing. This region happens also to host most of all major river systems that serve the Indian subcontinent and the rest of SE Asia. In abandoning our allegiance to Dharma, we also ended abandoning crucial water resources to an alien Han that with haste is working to divert these very holy resources to their mainland use at our expense.

Image             Image

Not happy being possessed of territory almost the size of India itself, China made claims all along what was essentially an unguarded border for millennia and deep into India. With a free Tibet we would have always had the same understanding we have with Bhutan or Nepal. Minimal border controls, maximum freedom and autonomy for local culture as long as pilgrimages were unhindered and minimal controls for Dharmic citizenry of both countries. With a Maoist totalitarian regime on the North and a Islamic totalitarian one on the West, Nehruvians needlessly provided physical nexus and proximity to both these countries and that too at the expense of our own troops and the blood of Dharmic kin across in the North. A large percentage of the population fled fascist jackboots including their revered leader HH Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Govt in Exile was formed in Mussoorie and now presently based in Dharmasala. They elect their PM in accordance with democratic international rules and by all ethic truly should be the legitimate recognized Governing body of Tibet.

While on coming to power it may be an almost impossible task for Modi to undo the damage which the Nehruvians and to some extent Vajpayee himself has done on the Tibetan issue, there are a few basic steps which are possible and will be suggested and analyzed in this post:

  1. Keeping discourse with China polite minus rhetoric: This is essential as what we are going to ask them will seem like asking the moon of them, but then the best and most reasonable chance we have at succeeding is asking them in the first place and doing so with a straight face and backing it up with hard reason and fact.

  2. Understanding that irrespective of China making Arunachal disputed, we can make Kailash-Mansarover, Aksai and the whole of Tibet disputed. With very valid backing of fact and international support. Simply put, there is no harm in politely making more territory on that side of the LAC disputed. We are not going to war, only making an official claim. 70 years China has harassed us with disputed areas, time we repay them with the Truth and tell them what we want too.

  3. Understanding that the original inhabitants have real claim to resources and governance in territories in accordance with International law. And the inhabitants of Tibet revere HH the Dalai Lama and would like him the Spiritual head and the Govt in Exile the rightful claimants of power in Tibet.

  4. Recognition of the Tibetan Govt in Exile as representing the legitimate and original Tibetan interests. And if disputed conducting an independently verified legitimate secret ballot poll of the Tibetan people.

  5. Understanding with the Tibetan Govt in Exile and Nepal that the first claim with China will be freeing up of the Kailash-Mansarover region. That India-Nepal-Tibet alone have Dharmic rights to manage and govern pilgrimage and resources on this holy of holiest spots. Diplomacy should obtain relevant agreements with these relevant parties and with a straight face approach China, UN, EU and every other nation that we stake a direct claim to the KM region along with the legitimate Tibetan’s authority and Nepal. We must say we are ready to talk to the Han and work on a framework of withdrawal from this region. It is obvious they will not retreat. But making the point and marking the area as disputed is winning more than half the battle.

  6. Put as official policy India’s stance that the people of Tibet must decide their future. Simply put a plebiscite to determine whether North Tibet wants to be a part of China or Independent must be Official Indian policy. We continue to be polite and do business but must not hesitate to state so and that we recognize the Tibetan Govt in Exile as the Official representation of the Tibetan people.

  7. Agreement with the Tibetan Govt in Exile, that in future to protect Tibet, it’s culture, it’s resources, India will follow a similar process / equation as with Bhutan/ Nepal. That Tibet will not allow it’s soil to be used ever again against India. If need be it must primarily allow India to supplement military logistics needed for it’s protection and not USA, Japan or EU.

  8. Agreements drawn with EU, Japan, USA, Canada, SE Asian countries that India will do all the above and that they must support India within a stipulated period. India though must have the mental strength to stand up alone if need be on these issues and external support be considered a bonus. However the fact is if India goes the hog on Tibet most of these nations will openly come out in support of Tibet.

  9.           The First Head of State Modi should officially meet must be the Tibetan PM of the Govt in Exile Mr Lobsang Sangay along with HH The Dalai Lama.This will be the finest Foreign Policy message that Modi can send to not just China  but to the world. 

Fa Hseins account of travel through Tibet clearly indicates India’s ancient Dharmic link that too in the Lop Nor region. No Han presence.

None of these changes requires a war to be fought, trade to be cut, ties to be broken. All must be done with a straight face and the conviction that only Truth and the soul of this country delivers. Meeting the PM in Exile along with HH The Dalai Lama on his first official meeting is an important step in consolidating his faith in international law and countries that want to chart a goal in consonance with India’s own value systems. The charter for the Tibetan Govt in Exile is very much in synchronicity not just to International norms but also with the Indian constitution and as follows:

 To provide to all Tibetans equality before the law and enjoyment of rights and freedom without discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, language and social origin. among the three organs of the government: judiciary, legislature and executive.

Even starting with simple instructions to refer to our Northern borders as Indo-Tibetan and not Indo-Chinese given to our diplomats and press will have an effect in nullifying the negativity of the  Nehruvian discourse on Tibet. Meeting up wtih HH DL like Modi meets up Shankaracharya’s, Sikh or Jain Gurus and leaders must be par for the course. These are not difficult to implement and will go a long way giving India reach and leverage in dealing with China with it’s interests in mind. It is important PM Narendra Modi takes the correct steps even if in limited measures towards the Tibetan issue, as every major blunder including wrt Pakstan, Kashmir stemmed from the blunders in Tibet. Modi also must keep the powder keg dry and meet up with top commanders and be briefed on all available security measures and threats. Importantly Modi must never cower down to the Chinese on the Tibetan front. The Chinese will back up when Dharma exerts.


Freedom of Speech and the Right to Offend

Both Freedom of Speech and the Right to Offend must ideally be sacrosanct. Usually when Constitutions provide for Freedom of Speech, it exempts those that yell ‘Fire’ in theaters or resort to slander which is understood as false attribution that can cause damage to ones reputation. So while Freedom of Speech should have such limitations, it must be understood that TRUTH must be the underlying ethos on which ‘abuse’, slander or yelling FIRE in a theater is disallowed. So if there is a fire in a theater it is perfectly alright to yell Fire. But for the heck of it, yelling fire, or snake in a crowded room may result in stampede and death and sense dictates that cannot be allowed. Similarly if the slander is falsehood it is understood to be slander. If one tells the truth about a person X or organization Y or religion Z or prophet K, however much may be the offense caused, it cannot be slander if the information provided on X, Y, Z or K is based on truth and put forward in a non abusive manner meant to further the cause of truth. Thus hurt caused in the process of telling Truth must not ideally be put to State censorship. The only restriction for restricting putting Truth about X,Y,Z, K in public domain thus would be issues of national security e.g, military movements, assets, troop locations. deployments etc or possible uncontrollable law and order situations.

Coming to the Indian context, let us see where censorship in India started post independence. It started via a critique of Nehruvian policy by Romesh Thapar in his weekly the ‘Cross Roads’. It was banned by the Madras High court for publishing views critical of Nehruvian policy. It led to the landmark judgement in May 1950 in the case ‘Romesh Thapar vs State of Madras’. The Nehru Government eventually made the Amendment to 19(1)(a) to the Constitution against “abuse of freedom of speech and expression”.

In India, a particular brand of individuals that claim to be liberal have managed to hijack the discourse on Free Speech and link it with Offense and Hurt. This is the worst sacrilege one can deliver to both Truth and it’s fundamental vehicle of delivery: Freedom of Speech. The basic idea of Freedom of Speech is not the act for the sake of itself, but the act is a sacrosanct vehicle for the upholding and dissemination of Truth. If we uphold Hurt/ Offense as criteria of  ‘abuse’ to curb Freedom of Speech, we may as well not have Freedom of Speech. And that is where the discourse in India has shifted since the Nehru era.

Truth may hurt one mentally as much as an antiseptic balm may hurt on a wound and thus the saying ‘Truth Hurts’ is not necessarily such a cliche. A society that endeavors to consist of an enlightened citizenship will always put Truth central to its constitutional preamble. Our constitutional visionaries took vision from an age old Dharmic saying ‘Satyameva Jayate’ and enshrined it in our Constitution. Yet we have been only paying lip service to the underlying importance this has towards developing an enlightened, civilized and developed society. We have been steadily contorting ‘abuse’ to imply ‘offense’ and ‘hurt’ irrespective whether the hurt or offense is caused by Truth or untruth.


Those who believe Free Speech should be curtailed because X,Y,Z or K is hurt or offended cause the maximum damage to the propagation of Truth and removal of Falsehood in Society. A large number of intellectuals in India that call themselves ‘Secular, left leaning and liberal’ ascribe openly to the fundamental that hurt or offense is enough cause for banning, revoking, jailing, exiling, banishing etc. All these have happened with many ample examples over the last 70 years or so since independence particularly with respect to minority sentiments. Yet whenever Dharmic voices exposed falsehood against their Dharmic Gods, Dharmic books, Dharmic texts that was met by a fiery reaction from this ‘left, liberal, secular’ spectrum.

Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Tasleema Nasreen, Salman Rushdie and plethora of writers, novelists faced the wrath of the ‘liberal, secular’ elite. And indeed they held sway and still hold sway on the discourse that being ‘offended’ and ‘hurt’ on being exposed to Truth is equal to ‘Abuse’ of Freedom of Speech and thus a violation of Freedom of Speech. Nothing could be further from the Truth. It is this travesty from this ‘secular, liberal’ lobby that puts into jeopardy the entire edifice of why we hold and should hold Freedom of Speech as sacrosanct.

Let us look at this Table below which bases itself on the axiom: Freedom of Speech = Right to uphold, propagate and disseminate the Truth, even if hurt or offense is caused.


Clearly one see’s that when security implications are law and order based a judgement call is required. But it must never be said in such a case that Freedom of Speech has been ‘abused’. The abuse of Freedom of Speech in banning say X Cartoons or Y books lies in banning Truth and succumbing to law and order blackmail. When Pseudo liberals justify twisting blackmail under a law and order implication as justification for Art 19 (1) (A), it is an abuse of the most basic fundamental for upholding Freedom of Speech. So thus when a judgement call is made to restrict a book, author, speech not because its false and offensive but it’s true and offensive and may have law and order implications, the constitution must call for the Govt to openly acknowledge it’s inability to uphold FOS and say the restriction is based solely on a Call of Judgement and not Abuse of Freedom of Speech. This clarity must be understood and implemented even if we cannot uphold Freedom of speech in many cases. Else we run the risk of blasphemy laws being implemented upon us, movies, books, literature except the very inane and banal being eliminated amongst us. A focused discourse on the right to offend must be linked to freedom of speech imperatives and only be restricted either due to security implications or when the state succumbs to law and order blackmail in which case the need for larger education among people on why the right to offend is a necessity along with the provision of freedom of speech initiated. That is how we can preserve and enhance the institution of Freedom of Speech. Else by equating Offense and Hurt with ‘Abuse’ of Freedom of Speech our liberals do nothing but encourage the rowdiest elements to harass citizenship, writers, artists, directors, producers, theorists or almost the entire gamut of our free and true liberal society.


Modi as PM: Tectonic shift of Center of discourse

Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister will be the biggest tectonic shift of India’s Economic and Political center ever since Independence. It will splurge several notches to the right. What was considered far right on the economic scene will become commonplace center and so also what was considered far right on the political spectrum be considered the appropriate center of discourse.

When Nehru became the PM, well meaning politicians of all hues and spectra aligned with a left liberal Socialist approach to build institutions and thus subsequent policies were developed centered around that base. While there were a few parties like C. Rajgopalachari’s Swatantra Party or Sardar Patels’ own views, these were offset by Nehru’s hold on the Congress and held sway without much public discontent. With the death of Sardar Patel and subsequent elections there was not much challenge to the Left centrist model that Nehru proposed. The only opposition that Nehru nurtured was due to his superficial westernized mannerisms and approach and this gave rise to a Lohia faction that had a ‘son of soil’ persona, but whose politics and economics did not wander much off Nehru’s own chartered course. Many of them are dominant in almost every political party including the BJP or have had affiliations.

With the political spectrum frozen along those leanings, it was expected that Non alignment, closeness to the Socialist bloc, antipathy to the Capitalist West would be the center norm. Most think tanks and Institutions in the formative stages of the republics chartered their doctrines/ objectives to this reality and it became the unquestioned center of political and economic discourse in India. Sociologists, Economists, Thinkers, Statesmen, Historians all emerged from these Institutions and made their mark on the discourse in India. Many were extremely tall personalities and held sway on this discourse with much ease. Within 25 years of the Republics’ existence the social, political and economic top echelons were so deeply rooted in this Left ‘liberal’ socialist political and economic world view that nationalizing industries and implementing a hard license raj system was implemented with extreme ease and little opposition. It however had it’s limitations and hundreds of millions could barely emerge from the struggling village ecosystems. Growth rates remained subdued and even as the divide between the rich and poor nations kept increasing, the capacity to self introspect  and make the necessary shift in political and economic centers could not be reached. While protests and dissatisfaction grew, an arrogant and confident Government even suspended fundamental rights and imposed an Emergency. The leadership that fought off the Emergency was tall and rooted in our soil, but the fundamental flaw was that that they did not have the depth to change the center of political and economic discourse of the nation. That possibly required an extra tinge of vision, deeper understanding and a passion to really make more than superficial changes. The lack of that was manifest in Morarji Desai and Ch Charan Singhs’ terms at the helm of affairs. Instead of bringing the necessary change required, they made the mistake of pushing the center of discourse even more left than was the usual for the Nehruvian Dynasty.

People would not forgive this for a decade at the minimum as Indira Gandhi and subsequently Rajiv again swept into power comfortably and continued with the same center. Budgets were status quo’ist, the railway budget was more important than the national budget. Many remember how people would tune into a Philips Radio set and discuss a Rs 3 reduction in some non AC sleeper fare and a Rs 17.53 increase in the AC 2 Tier fare. In the main budget if there was drop in excise on match boxes, there would be a extra surcharge on table fans. Between the Lambretta and Vespa, the Kelvinator and Alwyn, the Ambassador and Fiat, Beltek and Weston you’d be gleaning a 5% reduction on some scooter part import, a 3.21% increase in some Auto part import. It was that trivial and yes tens of millions tuned into that discourse. Stalwarts like Pranab Mukherjee with grim or beaming faces presented these inane status quo budgets. Experts with an eye to detail would analyze how that Rs 12 reduction on the Howrah-Bombay 3 Tier class would help travelers and the sagacity of the ‘wise’ FM in balancing the losses out with a Rs 24.32 increase in the 1st AC fairs. A really forward move from the ministry would be making some change where the delivery time of a Scooter after paying up full and booking would be reduced from 7 years to 3 years.  For those who are young, this indeed was the discourse and the accepted reality.

So while Wealth tax remained at 97% and import duties in few hundreds of percent, realization emerged among the ruling elite that money could be made in this License, Subsidy raj scheme of governance. It started attracting a number of people who entered the political arena because a quick buck was not just quick, but it was big too and with dollops of intoxicating red beacons, status, power in addition to the immunity from prosecution. The nexus between the corrupt politician, the police, underground mafias began to emerge. As elections became bigger this nexus became the source of massive funding and riches. No one benefiting from this scheme of things wanted to end the License and Subsidy Raj. All the misery that socialism worshiping Indians felt was attributed to a Capitalist and Western conspiracy, till one die hard left leaning socialist politician decided that since the criminal nexus is becoming so apparent, why not fight an election on corruption. Mr VP Singh fought the first Indian general elections on an Anti Corruption plank, but ended saddling the country with Mandal and left the economy even more in ruin. Cynicism started developing and an abhorrence for the political setup slowly became widespread. It was at that juncture that many new political entities and challenges to the INC started emerging. One was the BJP. Yet that too was focused on the Temple issue and comprised largely of the Lohia’ite/ Nehruvian left socialist economic school of thought. The center of political and economic discourse just would not budge.

With the population still unable to get a leadership that would lift it out of the self imposed Nehruvian/ INC leftist economic model, it still remained in the sway of sentimentalism. A wave of sympathy following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination propelled the INC back to power. An almost retired politician with nothing much to lose was put in charge. With the economy in shambles, major borrowings to keep afloat were a given. The IMF imposed conditions that were reluctantly imposed. This was the first step at shifting the economic discourse center slightly to the right. All that was done was to reduce import gold duties, decrease wealth taxes, free up forex regulations a bit. Almost overnight gold smuggling, forex black markets started easing out. Money started making an entry into India and it’s finances started looking better than ever before. More important than the fiscal improvements was the ‘pro-reform’ lobby that emerged and kept getting bigger and more powerful, that lobby started challenging established left centric positions of experts.

With the advent of the NDA setup the center of discourse did undergo a shift, it was not tectonic. The political, strategic, and economic centers still lay near about a notch or so right of the Rao setup. The Institutions were hitting back and it was only that a few infrastructural initiatives along with the IT revolution that emerged that led to pick up in growth rates. The result was that GDP growth rates stuck at 4.5% rose to 8.4% at the end of Vaypayee’s tenure. Yet the NAC controlled UPA made sure that the Nehruvian License, subsidy raj bounced back and through massive handouts wrecked the rise back to the 4.5% mark.

This is where Narendra Modi steps in with his clarity and vision. A vision that dreams of massive infrastructural shakeups. A vision that professes faith in minimizing the Government and maximizing Governance. That of intolerance to corruption both low and high level not through some additional Lok Pal kind bureaucratic community and vendetta based punitive action, but through sensible laws and  acknowledgement of an individuals desire to acquire wealth legitimately. The faith that Shauchalaya needs to precede Devalaya. That urgency that people require good quality water and power at the minimum as soon as can be achieved. These imperatives drive Narendra Modi and he has amply demonstrated that in Gujarat where a power and water deficit state was turned around only during his tenure. That of pulverizing Planning commission doled targets of 4.5% agricultural growth with a sizzling decadal 11% growth.

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To do that on an India scale however, will require a major upheaval of staid institutions and planning commissions. The shake that can awaken that lot is only a major few notches lunges to the ‘right’ shock. Modi possesses the will, aptitude and support from the people to deliver that. Once these Institutions are shaken up awake in the public domain with accountability, India cannot be the same any longer. On the political front, Modi supports the Tibetan movement and expresses sympathy to their plight. He is not averse to discussions on Art 370. He is very keen on developing the North Eastern part of India. His speeches at the Chambers of Commerce, Institutions all point to that. He lives, breathes and sleeps on development. He cannot be corrupted. He cannot be deflected in his objectives. The Institutions will have no options but to adjust to newer centers of discourse. When these adjust the old Nehruvian left socialist guard will have to go. Those sociologists, economists, historians of yore that peddled status quo will have to be replaced with a new attire and mindset rooted in delivery of fast paced development. The foreign policy satraps that have had a nice time cutting ribbons, sipping fine whiskies based at embassies abroad may still do all that but will have to deliver in trade and relations.

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Once he delivers on that these fronts, it will be impossible to revert to the NAC  freebie throwing days. While the left socialist model groups encouraged clamor to be in some special category to avail of govt jobs, college admissions, the shift Modi will bring will encourage groups not to seek special rights through caste, religion etc, but avenues in their areas whereby they inculcate in the young the right skill sets to be able to be absorbed in the emerging developmental mileau. The tectonic shift is just that: When the locals stop clamoring for reservations or OBC kind of status, but demand schools, colleges, industries, services in their districts so that their youth are gainfully employed in the big shift. That will give impetus to a breed of politicians that will campaign not for doing parochial caste or religion based favors, let alone doling a bottle of rum or whisky to buy votes, but those that promise and deliver the infrastructure and tools for participation in their constituencies. If in 60 months Modi can bring that change, he would have done something that has never been done in the last 60 years. And that is exactly what Modi has been saying and conveying in his speeches and in his fierce criticism of Nehru and his ideas. This is not an opportunity to be missed.

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