Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A logical appeal, before the elections end!

Across my various interactions in the recent months, I have managed to gather 4 constructive reasons why some Indians would want to vote for BJP -
  1. Modi: First and the loudest reason is Mr Modi himself (his key attributes in this context being - Development oriented approach and Decisive and Strong Leadership)
  2. Stability: The need for stability is the second critical reason. Not having a government that depends on smaller regional parties and their so called short-sighted agendas while taking a call on critical issues. This was cited as a key reason for policy paralysis of UPA.
  3. Less Corrupt Option: The perception that BJP is at least not as corrupt as Congress, also plays a role. There may be proof of possible BJP corruption but people are ready to digest it, and move on
  4. Any Other Option? : The final reason is that most people feel there is no other valid option
If you can think of any other absolutely non-debateable reason, then please share. I am ignoring the destructive and negative reasons like Modi will be tough on Muslims, he will attack Pakistan if needed, BJP will build Ram temple etc. Yes, people who are voting for Modi/BJP for such reasons do exist, they are blinded by their social and cultural upbringing and I don’t expect them to see life any other way. It’s the sensible ones I address here.

Now lets leave our judgements and prejudices aside for a while and assess the above through logic and reasoning -
  1. Modi’s Development orientation and Decisiveness
    1. The Gujarat model of development has been debated to no end. Many figures being thrown from both sides. TN, Maha etc have claimed to be better. I have always found that from some angle or the other, all figures can be interpreted in favour of or against Modi. If you leave figures behind and want to talk about development on ground, then there are Gujaratis claiming they have seen it with their eyes, and there are Indians from other states claiming that roads and infra in their state has also developed, which the Gujarati has not seen. This debate to me seems endless. However, given the fact Gujarat Model of development is so susceptible to a raging debate makes one wonder about how true the claims really are.
    2. Lets for a moment assume that the ”development” did happen. It is only logical to expect that whatever development has happened, was based on some planning, some vision for Gujarat. And this plan and vision must have been stated somewhere. A party’s manifesto can be safely treated to be that document. It gives a road map, with specific promises.
    3. Modi made many promises to Gujarat (which we will discuss in a bit), and is now making similar development promises for India (Diamond quadrilateral of bullet train, IIT/IIM/AIMS in every state (curiously, the IIT/IIM in each city claim is missing from the manifesto, but is integral to ModiMantra on BJP site), 24*7 electricity “like already done in Gujarat”, a massive low cost housing program that will provide pucca house to every citizen by 2022 etc)
    4. So whether Modi will deliver on his promises in future, can be best assessed by whether he has delivered on his promises in past. Has Modi delivered on his 2007 and 2012 manifesto in Gujarat, and if yes then to what extent?
    5. Now, if you don’t agree with me on this simple logic that a man’s credibility is based on his past actions, then you can stop reading right here. If not then please continue.
    6. Here are the key concrete promises of Modi’s Gujarat manifesto collected from sources (Gujarat BJP website does not have the older Manifesto ) given in the annexures below-
      1. House to ALL urban and rural homeless
      2. Achieving 12% economic growth in next 5 years
      3. Doubling agriculture production
      4. 14 hour uninterrupted power supply for all farmers
      5. Reduce water Tax for irrigation
      6. Increasing electricity production to 20,000 MW of electricity
      7. Set up 1 SEZ in every distric
      8. Raise per capita income to above Rs 80,000 per annum
      9. Achieve 0% dropout rate in primary schools
      10. Pure drinking water for everyone (repeated in both manifestos)
      11. Medical insurance for all people below poverty line
      12. Good roads across villages
      13. Making Gujarat No.1 in time for the state’s golden jubilee in 2010
      14. Increase women employment to 30 lac
    7. What happened to these promises? I’ll not quote the well circulated TOI article describing “the 10 broken promises”. I’ll just park this point for now.
  2. Stability: Do we really believe that stability alone is enough to ensure good governance? UPA govt was stable for 10 years and their record is abysmal. In BJP's case, they have already announced a pre-poll alliance with around 30 political parties, to form the NDA. So even if they come to power, aren't they going to be bound by regional party demands and requirements? Wouldn’t those, who worried about a Khichri sarkar, feel rather reassured of bringing BJP to power had BJP decided to fight these elections alone? Further, its also unfair to brush all regional parties as petty and low on vision. The problem, however, with having such opportunistic alliances, is the post-poll ministry allocation dynamics. This is bound to hamper the much celebrated decisiveness of Modi. Stable govt, therefore, is not a sufficient reason in itself to vote for BJP. It has to be a clean and stable govt. Which brings us to the next point, Is BJP clean?
  3. Less Corrupt: The most avid of BJP supporters can only say this, with much hesitation, that BJP is not as corrupt as congress. In fact, they go a step ahead and say, Modi will ensure that BJP becomes clean in due course. This seems hard to believe on two accounts – First, the 'less corrupt' perception is probably a function of how much of it has been unearthed and spoken about in media. In which case it is only a matter of time before we realise that BJP is as corrupt. Secondly, one wonders as to why hasn’t Modi been able to cleanse his Gujarat cabinet in so many years and purge it of sentenced ministers and convicts? In the interest of a moral high ground, shouldn’t a minister 'sentenced' for corruption be kept away from political interference, at least until he is cleared by a higher court? Or is a moral high ground such a bad thing? Is Modi’s development agenda so weak that it will get dented by letting go 2-3 ministers? Modi claims that he will de-criminalise BJP if he comes to power, but sadly he has not given even one clear signal to make a neutral observer believe him. So, the point I guess is, there is nothing like less corrupt.
Coming back to the key question; has Modi delivered on his Manifesto in Gujarat? Basis my limited research, 11 of those 14 manifesto claims have not even come close to being achieved, 2 claims reached somewhat close (per capita income has touched 75,000/annum, Good roads do exist) and only 1 was absolutely achieved; 20,000 MW electricity target of 2007 has been crossed. But, unfortunately this increase is solely attributed to private sector, and the govt sector electricity production has actually come down. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, was it not seen to be causing an excessive strain on public resources, further fueling the crony capitalism allegations on Modi.

I strongly recommend that you do your own claim check, because whatever data and source I put here, will not generate as much trust as your own sources. I am ready to concede that may be 2 or even 3 of the claims have been achieved. But no further.

Its important to note here that Modi has had time on his side. Even after 5+2 years since his second win, he seems to have failed to deliver on his promises by a substantial margin. Even if we assume that he has come close to achieving half of the claims, is that all that we should expect from a Model State? Isn't a National responsibility much larger than a state responsibility? Does this performance at state level generate any trust? Therefore hasn't Modi technically failed at state level, and yet he has been portraying it as his strength? Is this what builds PM credentials?

Now if one tightens the noose, and critically evaluates him in the larger context of all the negative aspects of his political life (inflammatory speeches against Muslims, justifying fake encounters, deliberately distorting facts repeatedly to create impact in speeches, displaying lack of integrity by concealing his marital status and using it in his speeches to portray a clean image, dis-respecting and sidelining senior party leaders like Advani, Joshi & Jaswant, snubbing Sushma Swaraj on the Sriramulu decision, being under CAG scanner for crony capitalism, fighting against the SC to subvert the Gujarat Lokayukta and legislating a weak one, spying on women for no reason ever declared so far... its a long list) then suddenly his meager achievements seem further dwarfed.

So, is BJP really the only option?

Show some faith.


Annexures -
  1. Modi Manifesto for Gujarat 2007
  2. Modi Manifesto for Gujarat 2012
  3. Claim Check

Friday, April 18, 2014

She is alive

She is alive.

She has a universe of her own. Universes, I guess.

She throbs and pulsates with such imagination that worlds get created by a mere glimpse of her thoughts.

She makes a wanderer feel the contentment of being found. And still keep wandering.
She and innocence giggle together. She talks to wonders. She plays games with little shiny things that smile with the sun, dance with the rain, and huddle together with happiness when storms claim to dance.

She lives like no one else ever lived.
Ever will.

She is so alive.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why should Modi apologise?

Modi recently said in an interview, in his typical third person style, that, “I am convinced that if there is even a grain of truth in the allegations, I feel for India’s bright future and traditions, Modi should be hanged in the street square."

Of course he should be hanged if he has committed the crime. But he must apologise even if he hasn't, because its the failure of his state machinery that allowed criminals like Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi to distribute swords,guns, bombs etc, go on a rampage and kill innocent people. He must apologise for his utter failure as a chief minister and home minister to not be aware of the background of his cabinet and make kodnani a women welfare and child development minister of Gujarat in 2007. Gujaratis died while Gujarat police looked away and the system stayed put.

For all the bruhaha about the great administrator modi claims to be, if he claims to not have abetted them, then he must at least apologise for his abject failure to manage the riots. Further, he must apologise for the roadblocks faced by courts and the activists in trying and convicting the perpetrators. To the extent that SC had to move many cases out of Gujarat to ensure free and fair trial. As per CAG, Gujarat govt granted INR 629 crores for special courts, but only 252 crores of it has been utilised. Read the challenges, with documentary evidence, faced by Teesta (Secretary - Citizens for Justice and Peace) here. The point is, if Gujarat Govt wants the pepetrators to be punished, and so do the social activists, then why so many hurdles and cross accusations?

When it comes to 2002 carnage, Modi always speaks like a guilty man. If he had truly tried to stop the riots, he would be ridden with remorse for the women who were killed by shoving swords through them and ripped open wombs, and infants who were burnt alive, as much as for the innocents who were burnt alive in the train. He wouldn't take out a Gaurav yatra and go around spreading rumors that while a gruesome train incident did happen, but no one retaliated, no one was burnt or raped in Gujarat, and everything was fine in the state. He wouldn't shout out from loudspeakers during his so called gaurav yatra, apparently addressing a non-existent Parvez Musharraf, saying "kaan khol kar sun lo miyan musharraf, jab hindu aatankvaad aaega naa, tab duniya ke nakshe par pakistan ka naam-o-nishaan mit jaaega" (listen in at 1.13.15) Is this the foreign policy of our potential PM candidate?
Anyone who reads/sees the witness accounts of the atrocities in gujarat, and takes it with 10 pinches of salt, would still shudder with horror. I heard one witness account which was worse than what was done to Nirbhaya!

In fact, Modi would have done a great service to himself and his supporters by rendering an unqualified apology for being a helpless witness to a gruesome riot, and closing the chapter once and for all. By getting defensive and providing convoluted responses, he only ends up betraying a sense of guilt.

His lack of apology and the blind faith of some of my Indian friends in him, is only a reflection of 2 things - Hard cold brutal souls, and ignorant give-a-damn minds.

Why is all this relevant today? Because many Indians seem to want to vote for BJP on the name of Modi. How does he as in individual score, should therefore be scrutinised very deeply. Here are the alarm bells -

1. Modi seems to lack personal integrity - Across rallies he has been claiming to be the right candidate for fighting corruption saying "mere aage peeche koi nahin hai", while he was actually concealing truth under oath all this while. He says he does not want to wear a skull cap because it may amount to appeasement, while he goes around wearing the cap and headgear of every other community. He constantly uses misinformation and incorrect data to gain momentary impact on audience. Seems like he is trying to con people into painting a picture of himself which is different from the truth.

2. Modi's development model, even if assumed to be fair, scores extremely low on human development indices, especially education. For the economic aspects of the development model, Modi govt has been severely criticized by CAG.
Please note that its the same CAG whose recommendations and reports have been quoted time and again by Modi and BJP to showcase the corruption of UPA (while actual conviction and sentencing has happened only for 2 MP's in India, neither of them part of the alleged high profile UPA scams of last 10 years, like spectrum, Coal etc)

3. Modi is soft on corruption: Corrupt leaders in his cabinet, corrupt leaders in BJP supported by him, his silence on political funding coming under RTI, his silence on Gas pricing, his govt's track record of doling out tax payers money to corporates at low returns and interest, CAG's claim of financial irregularities under Gujarat govt to the tune of 16000 crore, Modi's battle against the SC to first postpone appointment of the Lokayukta and then passing a legislation that effectively makes the Lokayukta a person of his choice, the list is endless. Can you share one incident which shows his clear intent to fight corruption? Except for the anti corruption hotline which seems to be effective in Gujarat, you draw a blank. Also, help line combats retail corruption, and can never help collusion based high end corruption.

4. Modi seems to believe in the old system of politics: What is this old system? Win polls by hook or crook - opportunistic alliances, booth capturing, bogus voting; Keep the police machinery under you and use it as per convenience for political gains (right from fake encounters to election rigging, no police reforms done in Gujarat like many other states), Keep source of funding hidden, and work for industrial lobbies, and so on and so forth. Any indication that BJP / Modi want to fight these malpractices? I haven't seen any.

Inspite of all this if you believe that you don't want a fresh approach to politics, and that Modi will actually give a stable govt which will develop the country, then best of luck to you.

Intellectual Property - Beware