Friday, March 28, 2014

My happiest 5mins of the week

Both my 9-mth old son and I were down health-wise for last couple of days. 

He was struggling with a bout of fever after his immunization shots, and I from a nasty bit of flu & fever. Both recovered around roughly the same time, i.e. today evening.  Wife had chores to do, and she left me in charge of him. After trying a few tricks, none of which interested him, I decided to be a bit innovative.

I dimmed the lights, and together, in the dark, we watched my favorite Michel Jackson’s “Will you be there” picturized on Free Willy montage shots on Youtube.

And this was my happiest 5mins of the week. Why? Because, this is one of my favourites and I am soo thrilled that my son liked it too!! He was seeing a whale for the first time in his life, but he enjoyed every moment when the whale emerged from the water and did tricks. 

He he.
Can hardly wait to introduce him to Doctor Who, Tintin, The Lord of the Rings, Batman, GI Joe et al.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Delhi drama : a great missed Opportunity for the BJP

Some say he chickened out of his promises. Some say he was right to resign in protest. Some say he is an anarchist. Some say he sacrificed CM post for the PM post.

But say what you like, the Twitter/Facebook are all in a tizzy over Arvind Kejriwal: the one man party. He is playing the game well, where at least for the time being, he has the spotlight and (maybe) even public sympathy: a potent combination that can turn fortunes in a democracy.

The Kejriwal gambit
First lets understand how losingDelhi for Kejriwal is a step towards national success. In one master stroke, Arvind Kejriwal has pitted his fledgling party squarely against the two giants. He has not only scored a moral victory by sacrificing his CM post for the Jan Lokpal bill (JLP), he may also have succeeded in painting the congress-BJP to be in cahoots, thus gaining significant political ground. Also, he has freed himself and the top guns from the day-to-day demands of Delhi administration and brought them to do what they do best: campaign.

The BJP folly
Much as I admire the BJP and their passion for the country, I believe the BJP has missed an important chance in the unfolding Delhi drama. By standing with the Congress, and opposing the Jan Lokpal bill, the BJP took a wrong political step.
Now assume if BJP had supported AAP and helped them bring the bill. What would have happened:
  • AAP's mass appeal spent: The single most important arrow in AAP’s quiver i.e. the Jan Lokpal would have been spent. AAP would then have been saddled with the daily affairs of the Delhi state, leaving their best guns (read Arvind Kejriwal) too busy to pose a serious threat to the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
  • Counter to UPA's Lokpal claims: The UPA passed a much watered down and almost ineffective Lokpal Bill (LP) in the Lok Sabha. But toothless as it may be, it allows Shri Rahul Gandhi (Beloved and Respected Leader) to use it to project Congress as fighters of corruption. Had BJP supported JLP, they (the BJP) too would have got the credit for JLP. A senior BJP leader of Delhi had already disclosed that the BJP was willing to support the JLP. So with a little bit of imagination, they could have effectively neutralized AAP threat as well as left the Congress with egg on their face.
  • Capture AAP's vote-share: Having hijacked the AAP’s anti-corruption image, the BJP would have in one go captured the huge anti-corruption support base of AAP which would have been crucial for 2014 elections.

Why the BJP MUST neutralize Kejriwal
The NDA, unlike the UPA (or the NDA-1) is still short of powerful & dependable allies. So even in a best case scenario of the NDA winning 220-240 seats, they shall still desperately need allies, who as of today are hard to come by.

The BJP must be wary that a Delhi-like situation (or earlier, in May-1996 the 13-day Vajpayee Govt) doesn’t appear again at the centre when despite being the single largest party, the BJP is frustrated and not able to form a government.

Every vote counts, and hence its imperative, in my view that it captures AAP’s vote-share.

All is still not lost
I believe that all is still not lost for the BJP, though they may be a bit late. This is what they must do:
  1. Take a leaf out of Congress’ book and send a letter of support to AAP, with ONLY ONE condition: Mr. Kejriwal remains the CM
  2. AAP will do its best to wiggle out, but if the BJP assures it that they will vote in favor of JLP bill in Delhi Vidhan Sabha, AAP shall have little choice
  3. This will force Kejriwal & co. to be limited to Delhi, at least for the next few months giving a rather free run to NDA vs Congress battle.

I have great admiration for Mr.Arvind Kejriwal. But I believe he and his party are too raw and unstructured to hold fort at the national level.

At this time, the nation needs to decide between the Development-nationalist plank of Modi or the populist-corrupt-dynastic plank of Shri Rahul Gandhi (Beloved and Respected Leader).

And hence, while people like Mr.Kejriwal MUST be there to be the moral conscience keeper, the billion plus nation needs stability and direction. At present, I believe, AAP should prove their performance in Delhi for a few years before they aspire for the national stage.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Why we need a few more crazies

Arvind Kejriwal must be crazy. 
Its apparent even when you listen to him. He comes across as a crystal clear, rationale, albeit too idealistic to be a Politician. Yet he is in Politics. He talks how he will root out the corrupt. How he will clean up the system and punish the guilty of scams. Ironically, many of whom are from the very party which is crucial for the existence of his government in New Delhi. 

Yes he must be crazy. He must be  crazy to take on alone, the super-powerful corrupt.He must be crazy to try to reform the system screwed beyond repair by wily political biggies. He must crazy to believe that he, with his motley bunch of followers can kill the invisible Goliath of Corruption.

“The corrupt club sticks together.” Always
Reality Check. 
The Corrupt-club protects their own. Any member, howsoever insignificant, represents a cash stream to which all take a share. Hence all the fraternity comes together to shield him. Also, the network is ever growing: they have a method of preying /recruiting into the morally weak or ambivalent which constantly keeps swelling the legions. Numbers are power in Democracy.

Maybe, on their own, several corrupt officers would not be asking for bribes. But when they are part of a syndicate, an unholy food chain involving the grass-root constable to the (for example) a powerful Cabinet Minister, all are emboldened. Not only the speed money provides them the much needed liquidity, it also makes them part of a coterie that has the rich and powerful in it. They enjoy such immunity that can be seldom enjoyed by the honest.

True, an honest man has his principles and his night’s good sleep, but apart from that, he stands alone. God forbid, if a taint is aimed at him, till the time he is exonerated (assuming he is) he goes through hell. He has to bear legal expenses out of his meager salary, his savings are drained, he has to bear humiliation. Worst of all, he may stand to lose the only thing he ever had: respect from fellow men. Even if he is found innocent, cynics will always question his integrity, and the daggers will forever be ready for one slip from him.

Alas, such is the system as I understand it. I may be wrong, and I hope and pray I am. But if I am not, then the whole setup is skewed heavily in favor of the corrupt. Hence fighting corruption may be more dangerous and frustratingly tough to eliminate than some may believe.

Only a crazy person (s) will attempt this on an institutional basis. Arvind Kejriwal must indeed be crazy. But we desperately need a few more crazies like him.