Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

There has been a lot of talk, rumors if you will, about how India is ready to take battle into the boundaries of Pakistan. How, if necessary, we are ready to wage war also.

As long as it is rhetoric, it is fine. But could it actually move from talk to action? Should Pakistan call India’s bluff, do we have it in us, to press the W button? I have my serious doubts.

I have no doubts on the capabilities of our armed forces. Irrespective of corruption charges in the Defense purchases, I still believe that we have enough fire power, guts and numbers, to take on Pakistan in battle, if we had to.

But for any war, there is one most crucial element, and which is the Commander in Chief. You need a strong person at the top, to commandeer and army into war. Someone who is aggressive and smart, someone who can motivate, someone who does not worry about petty politics and votebanks, but has a clear eye on the best interests of the country. Someone who, if required, can go and stand with the jawans, in the trenches, and without his Z+ security tagging along!

Do we have anyone of that stature at this time? Do we even have a Commander-in-Chief?

I can trust Dr. Manmohan Singh, our PM, to go and battle in the boardrooms of the World Bank, or position India at Davos, or pitch for investments to heads of states of G8 countries. But can he command our forces in a war?? I don’t think so, really.

Defense Minister A K Anthony who has been meeting the Defense heads? External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has been making the loudest official noise regarding war? Nah..! These guys are politicians to the core. Also they are not politicians with charisma that can make the country follow them. I cannot imagine either of them coming on TV or at the Red Fort, and goading the country and countrymen, with anything like a “jai jawaan, jai kisaan”, or a “ask what you can do for the country…”, or a “har har mahadev”.. ! Nah.. these chappies can negotiate with Sharad Pawar or Mamata Banerjee or Jyoti Basu, for poll alliances and the like, but commanding the forces in war.. no, I will not put my money on these characters.

The official designated commander-in-chief, the President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patil? As someone who could lead us in war?? Ho..ho.. ho.. ho.. Laughable to even think about it, right? On the other hand, a scary thought, that if we are pushed into war today, she would actually be the commander in chief! Oh My God.. ! We have a LOT to be worried about. Until this is resolved, I pray that there is no war..

One of the commanders of the defense forces? The Army or Navy or the Air Force? I am not sure how well the Chief of Integrated Defense Staff has been working in India now. But the potential of this Chief, being the commander-in-chief at wartime, appears to be the best option for India. The hiccup to this being the fact that in India, politics has always been supreme over the Defense forces, and it is unlikely to change in a hurry. So getting the Chief of Defense Staff to take over the overall reins of decision making and leading the country in war, looks like a remote possibility.

We had stronger leaders during war time in the past. Indira Gandhi, whatever be her other problems, was a strong woman, and one who could lead from the front. One who could fire the public imagination, and motivate the armed forces, with a strong speech from the Red Fort. The country was behind her in the 1971 Bangladesh Freedom war.

War was thrust on India, during the Kargil confrontation. It was still a conflict that was restricted to the location there, and did not become an open war, with no holds barred. Still war it was. Again, the Defense Minster then, George Fernandes, with all his other faults, was a courageous man. A union leader, he could again fire up the people, did not hesitate to go to the trenches when required, and was a suitable commander of sorts, at that time.

But at this time, we lack a serious commander in chief! No, this is not the right time to go to war – if only for this one reason!!

Come across some of the most shocking instances in recent days, that convinces me that we, the ordinary citizens, are helpless fools, and much as we agonize over things, shit happens!!

Some stark examples:

  1. Vilasrao Deshmukh, after resigning as CM, does not feel it necesary to attend the Legislature. And he justifies it in public saying that “now he does not have any specific responsibility, so what’s the big deal about attending the House?”.  Is he so pathetic as to not realize that he is an elected representative, and his constituents would expect him to be in the House, and playing a role?? CM or not??
  2. R R Patil, dropped as Dy CM, on account of Mumbai terror attacks, is made the head of the NCP Maharashtra unit. So where is the accountability factor? Punishment for being responsible??
  3. Chhagan Bhujbal, involved in Telgi scam and other messes, and who had to vacate his chair earlier, is quietly brought back, again as Dy CM..?! Again, what about accountability?
  4. The board of Satyam, a public company, involved in IT, having name brand independent directors on the board, still go and strike a deal with the Chairman’s family owned infrastructure and real estate companies, for a staggering $1.6 billion. And actually expect to get away with it. Because after all, shareholders are supposed to be suckers (could not go through, however..!)
  5. Telecom licenses which were always auctioned earlier, given away to new and unknown entities, for peanuts, and on a “first come, first served” basis. And those entities, immediately go and sell stakes in their companies, for HUGE profits. No heads have rolled so far. The minister is not feeling an iota of guilt. There will be the political protests and the Joint Parliamentary Committees, so that all the politicians can get their own share of the loot. As far as citizens are concerned, they know the public memory is small, and this too will be forgotten and forgiven!
  6. Amar Singh, crooked Indian politician contributes more than $ 1 million to a Clinton fund. As do others from India. But Amar Singh? Any questions on the sources of the income? And why the Clinton fund? What goes on here? We the suckers of the world, the citizens, cannot question!!
  7. Cabinet minister, A R Antulay makes allegations about the cause of death of ATS Chief during the Mumbai terror attack. Crass, crude and clueless as these statements are, and also for once, not appealing to ANY section of society, he still insists on making these. Perhaps with an idea to break the for once, united thought across the country. The Congress apart from distancing itself from his statements, does not have the guts to take action against the minister, nor condemn him in public. Because they fear minority vote backlash. And we the citizens of the country need to be silent observers to this nonsense.

When will things change? When will a common man ask questions and expect to be answered? Will it ever happen? Do I live in a dream that life can be different?

I have no answers. Meanwhile… shit happens!

A quick and immediate protest that Mumbaikars can go for, is to make an income tax contribution of Re 1/- as advance tax, in December!

A token payment that is a slap on the face of the government, to protest against the betrayal of the city’s taxpayers. For the government’s apathy towards the city, for their inability to protect us.

Let’s spread this message. ALL tax paying Mumbaikars must pay only Re 1/- this December. The empty coffers of the Income tax will let the country know the real value of Mumbai’s contributions to the exchequer.

Why do these politicians not worry about the people, after they get elected? Why do they think about their constituents only during election times? And in between, they behave irresponsibly, and do what they jolly well please.

The reason for this is that once elected, these MPs or MLAs are quite untouchable. They could commit crimes, they could be insensitive to public needs, they could be fraudsters. They still retain their seats. And while they may be called in old British style terms, as public “servants”, they are anything but that!! In fact, they make all service providers dance to their tunes, be it the airlines, the police, the bureaucracy.. everyone.

So what is the potential method to make them more responsible? If any?

Yeah, sure, there is the threat to re-election, if they are seen to be grossly messed up. But most times, things are not that clear. Also its a five year term, and by the time the elections come, some of their misdemeanours might have been forgotten by the people too.

The only weapon that the people could potentially have, in such cases, is the right to “recall” an elected representative. To let it be known, that the constituency as a whole has lost total confidence in the concerned MP / MLA, and would like him / her to be recalled.

This article has some background on the subject. It clearly shows that its not easy or perhaps not possible at all, in India. But as a germ of an idea, and even if there is a slim chance of it being implementable, its something that is worth considering. Especially at such difficult times… !

Even if there is ONE case of recall in India, that may be a strong message to all other elected reps, like no other message could ever give, I suspect!

This time around, the anger is huge. All and sundry have expressed their frustrations against the politicians.

Politicians who have sat on the need for a federal agency against terror, politicians who took their own bloody time to act even as the dastardly act was happening at multiple locations in Mumbai, politicians who repeat the same stupid words after each event (“we are investigating”, “we condemn”, “we will get those responsible”, etc. etc.), politicians who use up high profile security for their own selves leaving the citizens unprotected… the list is endless.

Citizens have made comments on live television saying that let the politicians not come here, as they will be killed by the peple here!!

This angry voice has finally reached the powers to be, and we can now expect actions to be taken. While many may call these actions as too little and too late, the way I see these are, being better late than never!

The first head to roll has been that of Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister.

Great! Finally! Phew! He has been one of the most impotent and uninspiring Home Ministers that India has had the misfortune to have. So I am glad that he is gone.

I also hope that other heads roll – soon. Prime candidates being Vilasrao Deshmukh and R. R. Patil, the CM and Dy CM of Maharashtra. Besides their inaction and inability to protect the state and the city, their totally insensitive attitudes convey how completely disconnected they are from the citizens and their feelings. The CM took his film star son and his director friend, Ram Gopal Verma, on a terror tour through the Taj. R. R. Patil put his foot in his mouth when he conveyed on camera that such “small incidents” happen in big cities like Mumbai. BOTH HAVE TO GO. Sooner rather than later.

In fact, there is no real ability factor that could justify a Shivraj Patil as Home Minister or a Vilasrao Deshmukh as the CM. Its clear that they had their positions due to reasons other than capability. Vilasrao is supposed to be one of the biggest “fund raisers” for the High Command, and even Shivraj Patil holds some similar aces in his hand, with respect to his relevance in the Congress. These are the only reasons why these people get to their chairs and hold them for long too.

There will be few other bureaucrats who will also have to go. One of the prime candidates for such a removal is the National Security Advisor, who has been exposed as being a total misfit, time and again.

But the other point is that in spite of such resignations, do these politicians really suffer at all? If past is anything to go by, maligned ministers lie low for a while, and since public memory is short, they make a quiet comeback after a while. Or in some cases, they are given a plush Governor’s position (if one is lucky, they could even aspire to be President), and can enjoy the good life!

Why so? If Shivraj Patil has resigned for being responsible for his inability to prevent such terror happening on Indian soil, its clearly a performance issue. Why should he be rehabilitated? If a CMO of a company has been proven to be not performing well, would you still make him a Branch Manager, or would you just give him the walking orders?? In fact, in other cases, politicians have been accused of being corrupt or being linked to violence, or of embezzlements, and they have STILL been rehabilitated!! Why do politicians never have such problems? Because of their “fund raising” ability?? When will THIS change in our country??