Friday, April 3, 2009

Votes over Values, Power over Principles!!

Everything is not black and white in life, and when it comes to politics the hues of grey are ever so many more. Everyone to his own and his will seems to have been the mantra of Indian polity forever now. So much so that its now commanplace when a politician or a political party choose to blantantly interpret a clear cut ‘black’ with its own version of ‘grey’, while everyone even a blind guy can call it ‘black’.

Take for instance the latest drama in the Samajwadi Party over their now-appointed-general-secretary – Sanjay Dutt, I mean what good on earth is he worth a place like that. The Luckhnow constituency has been represented by great statesman like – AB Vajpayee ; we have seen it contested by the likes of Karan Singh and Ram Jethmalani – both men light years ahead of the Dutt scion in political acumen and achievements in their respective fields.

Its political obsenity of the worst kind to have someone who has been convicted of grevious crimes like Sanjay Dutt to even contemplate a public office. He has not been convicted in a crime that was against his personal enemy/grudge/accident; the indictment from the Supreme Court in the 1992 Mumbai Blast case was a crime that was against a particular community – not just the Isamic one but every one in Mumbai specifically and Indians across the country generally. It was a crime against the nation and humanity, by involving himself in a crime of supplying the weapons which killed the citizens of this land, Sanjay Dutt had long debarred himself from any public office.

Just by acting in movies Dutt never transformed himself into a Mahatma nor did he ever fully cleanse himself of the sins of the Mumbai Blast. He might have changed himself but that alone doesn’t atone for what he did nor does he entitile him to a place in the temple of our democracy.

Saying this all, I am not just representing a anti-Sanjay Dutt group, if anything I am asking for more political prudence and restraint from our polity. Men who write the laws of the land must be chosen from those that follow the laws of the land in the first place. You can be breaking and making laws all the same.

If there must be an indictment of Sanjay Dutt for aspiring for a public office, there must be a greater indictment of the Samajwadi Party and its head honchos who seem to be running this circus. Its shameful to say the least, sure they are no saints in Indian politics but then there are no (sadly) bigger stars on the Indian movie scene than Sanjay Dutt, by taking up his cause to fight for public office, then are inadvertantly taking up the cause of every bloody rogue with a criminal past who wants to occupy the scared place in our democratic polity.

By glorifying the plight of a man who was caught for colliding with the enemies of this land the party has decided to call slip in a blatant white lie, when every one knows what that it is a dirty dark truth. Sure, there are dozens of Pappu Yadav’s and Md. Shahabuddins in our parliament, but none were was glorified and upholded like Munnabhai; if until today the Shabuddins and Pappu Yadav’s were the inevitable villans of the political theatre, but the Sanjay Dutt crusade has sure brought them into the big star cast.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Intelligent Oxymoron: Indian Political Activism

The ongoing feud in the Election Commission notwithstanding, the news of the general elections being held in the near future has brought about a cynical excitement to those who love and hate Indian politics – both at the same time. It would be fair to say that anyone from the News Media Industry would fall into this category ;of those – who love and hate Indian Politics - all in the same breath. There is an intelligentsia of our society which just loves to hate politics, these are the lot that cannot stand the so called stink of our polity; yet if there is one thing they cannot stop talking about - sure enough its politics. I wonder if its typical Indian shamelessness but I have to admit that I am a part of such a group.

Scathing criticism which I often reserve for the political class, somehow today seems to be directing itself to my own inner being. Not for being a critic but rather for being a critic who knows only to criticize. If there are a zillion politicians in our nation, there are a zillion others like me… who at best can criticize, and at worse can do little to change the situation for the best. Hell, there are none who would do something to change – for the worse or better is a thing of later.

Sitting in A/c office suites, wearing pristine silk suits, swishing the pen about the newsprint (haven't you heard pen is mightier than a sword…)... Screaming injustice and corruptness of the politicians into the camera, filling the blogsphere (just as I am) with ideals and contrasting how 'bad' the political class is - this is the elite intelligentsia of the great nation of India sadly though, have at best an abysmal record of bringing actual change in our social and political system.

Six decades of being an Independent Republic and one with a society that's as politically active as ours… its amazing to realize that we still grapple with the same issues of political injustice as we did in the nascent stages of our nation.


It's a question that baffles me… not because of the enormity of task which would be required to answer it but the emptiness that comes along with the question itself. The inevitable inexplicability of it is as startling as the question itself. Given the numbers of critics of our political class, it would not be inappropriate to think that even if half of these were to 'make' change rather than just 'preach' change... our graph of social & political progress would be much steeper than what it is.

I am not one to condemn political activism or an active political society... what I do hate is the hollow, only-talk-and-little-action activists that we have reduced ourselves to. What’s required is not a society full of politically-opionionated-self-aclaimed pundits... but we need more of those who are willing to throw themselves into the dirt of politics, get their hands dirty and yet keep their conscience clean. The problem today is that on one hand we have netas who don’t care being dirty - in everyway possible... and on the other hand we have a class of elite intelligentsia who only care about making noises and making them loud and big.

These loud noises can create a din... but do little to ruffle the khadii-clad-thicker-than-buffalo -skinned neta... We have enough political heads scrutinizing every political scandal... what we need are shoulders which can burden the change which is required; feet that are willing to walk the talk; and hands that are willing to carry out an idea in action rather than just on the paper/in camera/on the blogs/ etc etc...

If India has to produce its own Obama... we need to realize that they are not born over night by having great ideals... but they are made in the process of carrying out ideals in action.

Having said all this, I just don’t want to be a finger pointer.. rather I am guilty of the same offence which thus far I have argued against... I am convicted of my own conscience... and I suffer of my own guilt...

Beyond the sadness of this reality lies the hope of a 'Change' ... just as Obama said a few months ago – a ‘Change We Can Believe In’... ‘cos its one that’s a Change which is not thrust down my throat but one that should come from within.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vindicated by the electorate! Defeated by the elected!!

March-Apr 2004: BJP & TDP Fight the AP State Elections on the Anti Telangana Front.
March-Apr 2004: Congress Allies with TRS (a pro Telangana party) for the same elections.
Circa 2009 Jan: Congress’ alliance with TRS is a distant (and admittedly bad) memory; BJP is promising Telangana in 100 days of coming to power.

March-Apr 2004: Congress flays BJP led NDA alliance for ‘wasteful’ expenditure on the India shining Campaign. India was only shining for a few claimed the Congress
Circa 2009 Jan: Congress led UPA has now launched ‘Bharat Nirman’ campaign worth 100 Crore! Sure enough the BJP now singing the same song which the Congress did in 2004!

Just two of the many flip flops which our politicians have become renowned for; it’s not the flip flops which trouble me rather its often the timing and the shameless attitude which does me in most of the times. Course correction and acceptance of mistakes is always welcome, most certainly when it comes from a politician. In a polity surely there is space for a difference of opinion and also acceptance of the 'otherview' - debates, discussions and even experimentation to converge at a common point.

Sadly, this ‘acceptance’ of the other view is taken to a whole new level; and given a whole new meaning by our politicians. The tone and tenor of politicians changes rather dramatically depending on whether they are in power and when they are out of it. And surprisingly, showing an immaculate sense of timing, those on the opposite site of the divide also do a volte face – on the same subject, at the same time, in the exact opposite direction, with a precision which many of figure skaters would be proud of.

How??? Well, it’s beyond me… honestly!!

Recently, Mr. Omar Abdulla got sworn in as the CM of J & K. As the leader of the party with the highest seats, surely he had every right to stake claim and occupy the CM’s chair. And yet, when he sought the Congress to prop him up with the numbers which he was short of – in a single stroke he defeated the democratic process, which was vindicated just a few days ago. By coming out in hordes and participating in the democratic process, the people of the beleaguered state gave a unequivocal rejection of the extremist path. The elections were a mandate on the PDP-Congress alliance of the past six years. As the party in power, as the state went for elections, Congress was the only one of the big players which actually had a ‘net loss’ of seats - a clear mandate against the Gulam Nabi Azad’s government.

Against the backdrop of this electoral mandate, seeing the Congress again become a part of the government is appalling to say the least. The people didn’t want them; it was a compulsion for Omar Abdulla to get them on board; and it was sheer shamelessness on Congress’ part to jump at the first sight of power. Abdulla’s were barracked by the Congress leadership for the six years they were in power, and the Abdulla’s did vice versa. And yet the volte face for a share of the power matrix, makes me wonder, if gaining power by such blatant refusal of electoral mandate is all that the politicians are capable of, then what power and sanctity is left of my franchise? What’s the meaning of the long queues, of the ink on my index finger, of the saying “Go and vote… it makes it feel big & strong”

Honestly, I’m sure each one who exercised his/her vote in the biggest democracy in the world has been left feeling worthless and hapless of his/her vote by its political class!! Victory of the electorate so easily robbed by those who get elected... Hard to believe, yet a hard fact!

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