Friday, 29 June 2018

Four years: Modi's missed, wasted & abused opportunities

The 2014 mandate was fueled by hapless frustration with the Congress-led UPA regime and, more pertinently, the Gujarat development model as an alternative. The campaign, the slogans, the rhetoric were populated with words and sentiments that the people of India wanted to hear. The 50-plus page BJP election manifesto was as crisp as a promissory note, listing imperatives and solutions. After four years of Modi's histrionics, with one year to go for 2019 general elections, we Indians are again at cross roads filled with dilemma and uncertainty.
  1. Fighting Corruption ⬆
  2. Checking Price Rise ⬆
  3. Ease of doing business ⬆
  4. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for resolving NPA's ⬆
  5. Rural electrification ⬆
  6. Pace of road building ⬆
  7. Jan Dhan Yojana 
  8. Mudra Yojana ⬆ 
  9. Fiscal reforms ⬌
  10. Bullet Trains ⬌
  11. Swachch Bharat ⬌
  12. Railways modernization ⬌
  13. FDI In Multi-brand Retail ⬌
  14. Triple Talaq ⬌
  15. Surgical strikes ⬌
  16. AIMS, IIT and IIM in every state ⬌
  17. International diplomacy & PM's frequent foreign travel ⬌
  18. Medical insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh to 500 million low-income Indians ⬌
  19. Recapitalizing PS Banks ⬌
  20. Defense preparedness ⬇
  21. One crore jobs creation ⬇
  22. Dipped education & healthcare spending 
  23. GDP growth rate ⬇
  24. Demonetisation ⬇
  25. GST ⬇
  26. No Lokpal yet ⬇
  27. Black money from Swiss banks. ⬇
  28. Cashless society ⬇
  29. Make in India ⬇
  30. Skill development program  ⬇
  31. Doubling farmers income ⬇
  32. Empowering Women ⬇
  33. Kashmiri Pandits ⬇
  34. Abrogating Article 370 ⬇
  35. Ram mandir at Ayodhya ⬇
  36. Zero Tolerance on Terrorism ⬇
  37. Persecution of Dalits, Muslims & Christians all over India ⬇
  38. NPA's of PS Banks ⬇
  39. Privatisation of Air India and other PSUs ⬇
  40. Universal medical care ⬇
  41. Administrative and civil service reforms ⬇
  42. Ganga clean up ⬇
  43. Smart cities ⬇
  44. Aadhaar Card ⬇
  45. Implementing uniform civil code ⬇
  46. Corruption in deals like Rafale, Vedanta, Adani etc ⬇
  47. Tax terrorism ⬇
  48. Implementation of AP Reorganization Act 2014 ⬇
  49. Development Packages announced for J&K, Bihar etc ⬇
  50. Desertion of NDA by allies  ⬇
  51. Federal Polity 
  52. Institutional autonomy ⬇
Overall, the Modi government has done seemingly well in patches, due to low oil prices between 2014-2017, but failed in significant areas. Its electoral machinery is formidable. The irony is that Modi instead of imposing himself on the bureaucracy, the bureaucracy has imposed itself on Modi, imprinting its views, values, and methods. It is the taming of Modi by the babus. But after four years, BJP faces anti-incumbency in Hindi heartland states. If opposition parties puts up united face, the Modi government would be voted out in 2019. Combined efforts of Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and Sitaram Yechuri only can help the Modi - BJP escape defeat in 2019 General Elections.

By any reckoning, India is worse than it was in 2014 when Modi ascended to power. Modi squandered away the benefit of low oil price regime for 3 years, which was  God's gift to Modi & India to the tune Rs.10,00,000 crores, with his senseless adventures, shortsighted reforms with immature design & implementation. None of the constitutional office bearers today are worthy fellows including Modi himself. Modi doesn't deserve any more chances. Who ever succeeds him will be successful simply because of inheriting worst performance India ever had. Modi will be remembered as one of the worst prime ministers, even below the infamous VP Singh.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Cow vigilantism makes India vulnerable to violence

A 45-year-old man was beaten to death and another was injured allegedly over rumors of cow slaughter in Hapur district of western UP on June 18, 2018 evening. The family of the dead man, Qasim, a 45-year-old cattle trader, says that he had set out when he heard about the possibility of cattle being on sale, and the next thing they heard was that a mob had set itself upon him, killing him. Sameyddin’s relatives say he had been out getting grass for his cattle when he spied the mob attack on Qasim — he tried to run to safety, but was beaten up nonetheless. 
  • The objective of 'cow vigilantism' seems more to target Muslim traders and citizens than rescuing cows. 
  • Gandhi wrote: “As I respect the cow, so do I respect my fellow-men be a Mahomedan or a Hindu. Am I, then, to fight with or kill a Mahomedan in order to save a cow? In doing so, I would become an enemy of the Mahomedan as well as of the cow. Therefore, the only method I know of protecting the cow is that I should approach my Mahomedan brother and urge him for the sake of the country to join me in protecting her.”
  • Gandhi urged for persuasive approach, the Hindu right believes in creating a climate of fear and intimidation.
  • The Hindu right has campaigned for cow protection as a Hindu-Muslim issue, as if Muslims took to beef eating only to humiliate Hindus. 
  • Muslims eating beef is not with any intention of humiliating of Hindus.
  • Dalits too eat beef and this is a Dalit issue as well. Only Hindu upper castes are worried about cow slaughter. 
  • Despite vigilante violence, Muslims have conducted themselves with remarkable dignity, showing their unwavering trust in India’s constitutional polity. Dalits, on the other hand, came together in massive protest after the Una flogging, forcing the PM Modi to make a statement on August 6, 2016. 
  • When Mohammad Ali Jinnah campaigned for Pakistan, Muslim settlement in “geographically contiguous areas” was a favourable factor for Muslim separatists to argue for their cause. 
  • B.R. Ambedkar could not make a similar case for a Dalit homeland because he did not have the argument of “geographically contiguous areas”. Hence, he upheld the message, “educate, organise and agitate”. The Dalit uprising post-Una is a glorious tribute to that message of Ambedkar.
  • The Muslim food habits, particularly beef eating, could be a major impediment to harmonious life in a free India was foreseen by Muslim separatists. Jinnah made a categorical argument that a separate homeland was necessary on account of Muslim food habits, among others. 
  • Not convinced by the assurance that Indian Muslims, as a religious minority, would get all the freedom that they could possibly enjoy in future Pakistan, Jinnah gave a new twist to his campaign by saying, “Musalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homelands, their territory, and their state”, and opposed the tag of Muslims as religious minorities. 
It would undermine Indian democracy if the cow vigilante violence against Muslims serves to project those fears of Jinnah and other Muslim separatists as legitimate. The continuation of vigilante violence would only make India even more vulnerable to violence.

Whether the lynchings are due to fear of kidnappings or deliberate acts by cow protection vigilantes, the authorities should not treat the crime of murder and the allegations that enrage a mob with the same equivalence. Murder is murder, but the killing of another human being by a murderous crowd out to enforce mob justice or avert an imagined crime takes an extraordinary toll of the civilities of wider society. The police must make it clear, by word and action, that murder and mob violence will be strictly dealt with. The apathy of UP Police by apologizing first and then arresting just two people, so far indicates their unwillingness to do what is right.

Emotional Speech by Asaduddin Owaisi on Hapur Mob Lynching

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The slippery slope of dehumanizing language

Comparing people to animals seems to increasingly be a part of our political discourse. This type of insults are at their core, are a way to dehumanize others – a practice that can have pernicious effects. The dehumanizing messages can influence how we think about and treat people.
  • People who associate black people with apes became more likely to tolerate aggressive, violent policing of black criminal suspects.
  • People comparing women to animals showed a spike in hostile sexism.
  • Dehumanization has an increased willingness to perpetrate violence.
  • Men who showed stronger automatic associations between women and animals have a greater proclivity to sexually harass and assault women. 
  • Those who dehumanize Arab people are more supportive of violent counter terrorism tactics: torture, targeting civilians and even bombing entire countries.
At its most extreme, dehumanizing messages and propaganda can facilitate support for war and genocide. It’s been used to justify violence and destruction of minorities. We famously saw it in the Holocaust, when Nazi propaganda referred to Jewish people as vermin, and we saw it during the Rwandan genocide, when the Tutsi people were referred to as cockroaches. International NGO's consider dehumanizing speech as a one of the precursors to genocide.

As social creatures, we’re wired to empathize with our fellow human beings, and we get uncomfortable when we see someone suffering. Once someone is dehumanized, we usually deny them the consideration, compassion and empathy that we typically give other people. It can relax our instinctive aversion to aggression and violence. Once a person has dehumanized another person or group, they’re less likely to consider their thoughts and feelings.

Dehumanizing language deprives people of human qualities, attributes, individuality, personality, or spirit and is a threat to the fabric of our civic life. These patterns of thought influences our national ethos when they touch our religious practices and traditions. The tendency to dehumanize individuals, lumping them into groups, comparing them to diseases, infestations, animals, monsters or other malignant nonhuman threats, is not the exclusive practice of the political right or the political left. Jewish people living in disputed territories in Israel were once described as 'termites' and Islam as  'cancer' by some irrational people. It is easy to slip from disagreeing with a policy or a practice to demonizing a people. But this is a line we must recognize and resist crossing.

Ms. Asma Afsaruddin, professor of Islamic studies at Indiana University and chairwoman of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy warns, “The White House is a huge soapbox…The demonization of Muslims and Islam will become even more widespread.”

We know from studying history, politics, and religion that dehumanizing language can have dire consequences. Genocide is only possible when dehumanization happens on a massive scale, and the perfect tool for this job is propaganda. It is much easier to incite violence and mobilize crowds when your enemy is portrayed as an unfeeling monster or an immoral infestation. With emphasis on dismantling stereotypes, building authentic relationships, highlighting moments of inter-religious cooperation, and sharing stories that build an appreciative understanding of diverse traditions, we can contribute to cultivating a national ethos that rejects polarizing rhetoric. Educational models that emphasize the importance to know each other across lines of difference can counteract the the sin of dehumanization.

Some may have chuckled at New York magazine’s caricature of Trump. But the pervasive use of dehumanizing language is a slippery slope that can ultimately cause tremendous harm – and that’s no joke.

The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing 
is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character 
detests and despises it ... George Washington

Politics has touched a new low, though the language used in political dialogue does not cause any distress to politicians. The new normal in politics does not entail a sense of morality, fairness and dignity towards political competitors, opponents and enemies. The language of power and wealth has on the one hand become legalistic and threatening and on the other, less humane and more animalistic.  Rhetorical statements equating rivals and opponents with animals exposes an incapacity to manage one’s own affairs. Arvind Kejriwal describing Sheila Dikshit as "dalal", labeling Arun Jaitley as a “crook”, Narendra Modi describing Sonia Gandhi as a “Jersey cow” and Rahul Gandhi as her “hybrid bachhada (calf)” and  Priyanka Gandhi exclaiming that BJP leaders were scampering like “panic-stricken rats”, Devendra Fadnavis comparing the opposition to “wolves” and so on falls into same category. While politicians stooping to lows is pardonable to some extent, Narendra Modi after ascending to the position of PM should have demonstrated that he is "leader of nation" by refraining from foul language and treating compatriots with respect but you can't expect such big things from small people.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Modi's shallow talk

Narendra Modi's speech in the Lok Sabha on Friday 27th November, 2015 while concluding the debate on the Indian Constitution in the wake of the 125 birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar was not only excellent, but so appalling that even his hard core opponents were compelled to appreciate it. His statesman like flawless speech has silenced his political opponents. Rising above partisan politics, PM Modi asserted that for his government 'India first' is the only religion and the Constitution is the only holy book

Some excerpts are:
  • 5:06 PM: Everyone in the house spoke eloquently about the constitution.
  • 5:07 PM: Some people have this wrong idea, maybe out of habit, that PM will respond to everything in the end. But I am speaking now, expressing my views, just as any other member here did.
  • 5:10 PM: The growth of this country is because of all the Prime Ministers and all governments. We can never say that past government has done nothing. 
  • 5:15 PM: No praise is enough for the people who created the Constitution, we can never deny Ambedkar's contribution.
  • 5:20 PM: In my Red Fort speech, I had paid tribute to all PMs.
  • 5:23 PM: India's Constitution is a masterpiece of writing, written by Babasaheb Ambedkar. Even today Indian lawmakers are unable to write a flawless law.
  • 5:40 PM: Just because we have majority, we can't impose our will.
  • 5:47 PM: Constitution's purpose is not just to define three organs of the State, but also limit their authority.
  • 5:50 PM: Consensus strengthens democracy.
  • 5:51 PM: It is important to strengthen rights and it is as important to strengthen duties.
  • 5:58 PM: We must give justice to all.
  • 6:00 PM: 'India first' in the only mantra for our government.
  • 6:12 PM: Lok Sabha adjourned.
Whether Modi's statesman like speech is a only ploy smart politics to disarm the defiant opposition, is a matter of time to unveil. This might be smart politics by Modi to reach out to the opposition in desperate need to pass stalled reform bills including GST. Or it might also be a climb down in Modi's attitude following the worst electoral setback in Bihar. 

That was in 2015. Now in 2018, Modi is primarily the face of BJP in assembly elections and is only a BJP's superstar more than the leader of the country. BJP had reduced the character of PM Modi, by using him as a face of a political party and attacking and abusing opposition during election campaigns. Modi in his election rallies addresses should have limited himself talking about development only and maintained the image and stature of the Prime Minister. Deep desire to win every election and destroy opposition parties made Modi & BJP stoop to such unimaginary levels. He failed to continue winning back admiration from all quarters. While campaigning in elections, his vitriolic attacks on the opposition, criticizing them very hard that had resulted not only in bad relations but also diminished his position as the Prime Minister. Today, Modi is no more the leader of the nation but leader of BJP only and proved himself unfit and unworthy of PM position.

See the contrast. In 1996 AB Vajpayee resigned PM position, unable to obtain majority support and refusing to resort to unprincipled horse trading. And these days PM Modi does everything and anything, principled or unprincipled, to win an election and to form government whether BJP has majority support or not. It was well established again and again that Modi never 'walks the talk' nor 'talks the walk'. With his god gifted oratory skills and rhetoric he misleads & cheats audience again and again. But for everything there is an end. Modi's wrong doings might end in 2019. Until then, India and its poor people have to bear the burden of demon thy name is Modi.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Saint Augustine on lying

Saint Augustine analyzed the concept “lie” in all its aspects taking into the consideration intention of lying, moral side of liar, his will and circumstances which provoked lying. Without doubt, one can observe that philosopher indicated that strong will can prevent us from lying. Will is the possibility to make one's own decision, to choose one's own actions, to determine what is good and what is evil. 

Saint Augustine affirmed that it would be unmoral to lie in any case, even if you want to rescue another life or to save one's own life. As we see he was not the supporter of lying. He supposed that the action with an evil moral object is never justified in any case.

Saint Augustine distinguished such types of lying: 
  1. lies in religion
  2. lies that only damage and benefit nobody
  3. lies that damage other people and benefit somebody
  4. lies told for the delight of lying
  5. lies told to satisfy others
  6. lies that are harmful to nobody and that benefit someone
  7. lies which are not harmful that save someone's life
  8. lies that damage nobody and that save someone's “chastity”
Saint Augustine supposed that jokes or mistakes are not lying because when we listened to jokes we feel that the tone of voice and mood of joker render that his intention is to make us laugh but not to deceit us. The philosopher emphasized the importance of intention of the speaker and told that even truth thought false by the speaker is a lie.

Saint Augustine concludes that it would not be moral to lie in any circumstance, not even to save an innocent life, and not even to save one’s self from rape. Even dire circumstances do not justify lying. In terms of the three fonts of morality, i.e. intention, moral object and circumstances, Saint Augustine says that an evil act is never justified by any circumstance.

A good intention does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. He states that intrinsically disordered acts (or evil acts) cannot be justified by any intention. 

Saint Augustine stated that free will existed and people can choose to choose good (truth, sincerity) or to choose evil (lie). Man can choose a life of good will himself. According to Saint Augustine all kinds of lies are sinful in its entity and ruin moral principles of behaviour. Augustine claimed that a lie should never be told for any man's civil life (at the earth), since the value of such is one's everlasting (at the paradise) life. 

Truth is what stands the test of experience ... Albert Einstein
Always stand for what is right even if it means you are standing alone

A lie consists in speaking a falsehood and even without the intention of deceiving, lying is a wrong thing. Many persons take the position that it would be impossible to determine whether a lie is morally evil without knowing the intention and the circumstances, i.e the totality of the foreseeable good and bad consequences. This position is rejected as an evil moral object makes an act immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances, since lying is an evil and evil acts are always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances.


The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 left behind a couple of lingering images – one the staff of Lehman Brothers Holdings walking out of office during the weekend with precious belongings, and the other was police walking Bernie Madoff to prison. In a way both of them were victims of the collapse of Wall Street. But Lehman CEO Dick Fuld is back in business, while Madoff is serving a prison term in New York. The contrast between the two celebrated titans of Wall Street is: one is bankrupt, and the other is a fraudster. A good legal system is the one that distinguishes between the two. 
  • Indian banking practices have been bizarre in many ways. It is how they treated defaulters, especially the big ones. Banks feared that admitting to default is wrong, and in many cases they believed that tide would ultimately turn and the client would be lifted out of misery — not by actions, but by gods. Between the period of default induced by causes beyond the management’s control and the time of recovery, banks were throwing good money after bad.
  • In most cases, promoters enriched themselves by inflating project costs, siphoning off funds was just fraud. Even before the project went on stream, promoters equity was back in their pockets and their stake is either zero or negative. The banking system was designed and operated in a way that was difficult to differentiate between the two. Many fraudsters were exploiting the economic conditions over their crimes. Banks were hesitant to go after the criminals for ending up being pulled up for poor credit appraisals and the cursed judicial system that took decades to deliver justice. 
  • There were corporate frauds in the West, which included Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco. The perpetrators of these frauds are behind bars after prosecution. The Indian criminal justice system is leaky, and hundreds of cases have been pending for decades. The conviction ration is under 6% which lead to a popular belief that if you are reasonably influential to hire good lawyers, you can escape conviction for fraud. 
  • These ‘wilful defaulters’ are white-collar criminals. It is time to treat them so. The country has the IPC and CrPC to try criminals and frauds. Those who commit financial fraud must be tried under these criminal acts, and not through the bankruptcy act. 
  • Those who are genuinely bankrupt but are not fraudsters may be bailed out under insolvency act and exonerated from any liabilities under CrPC, but must be blacklisted for further assistance from institutions or public.
The lawmakers and banks must stop living by the concept of limited liability company and treat fraudsters as guests of honor. Unfortunately these fraudsters armed with vast amounts of robbed money are well connected and lead a privileged life in India and abroad. There is hardly any rich man in India, who had not violated laws, practices & traditions in their journey towards amassing wealth. The easiest way to getting rich is to lower the values, and rob public money with the active help of politicians and bureaucrats for a cut in the booty. And there are plenty of accountants, advocates, bureaucrats and politicians who will help these fraudsters in perpetuating this type of robberies and conceal them. 

Those fraudsters must be prosecuted and jailed for prolonged periods (10-20 years) and in any case they must be prevented to get to be back into any kind of business, debar all those people associated with ‘willful defaulters’ and should not be allowed to enjoy societal privileges. They must be blacklisted and debarred from all types of public activities and discourage from private activities. Bank privatization, without strengthening regulatory controls and improving governance, won’t prevent fraud, or curtail undue exposure to risk. The present day concept of  'privatizing profits and socializing losses' is unacceptable nonsense, as profit and loss bot must be owned by equity share holders only. In the absence of stringent actions, punishments and consequences, reckless actions and senseless risks by private people with the money which is not theirs, will continue to surface incessantly.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Epidemic of dishonesty

Micheal Bloomberg served as mayor of New York City for three consecutive terms beginning in 2002. Bloomberg has an estimated net worth of $53.4 billion, making him the 11th richest person in the world. "Americans are facing an "epidemic of dishonesty" in Washington." Media mogul, philanthropist and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg warned in his speech at Texas' Rice University that "an endless barrage of lies" in national politics poses a dire threat to U.S. democracy.
  • If you don't know what you're going to do for the rest of your life, don't worry about it. Leave that to your parents! 
  • The concept of honor has taken on different meanings through the ages: chivalry, chastity, courage, strength. And when divorced from morality, or attached to prejudice, honor has been used to justify murder, and repression, and deceit. 
  • The words ‘honor’ and ‘honest’ are two sides of the same coin. To be honorable, you must be honest. And that means speaking honestly, and acting honestly, even when it requires you to admit wrongdoing and suffer the consequences. The commitment to honesty is also a patriotic responsibility.
  • One of the first things children learn about American history is the story of George Washington and the fallen cherry tree.  ‘I cannot tell a lie,’ young George tells his father. ‘I cut it down.’ The cherry tree legend has endured because it's about what what we value in our leaders: honesty. 
  • We’ve always lionized our two greatest presidents -- George Washington and Abraham Lincoln -- not only for their accomplishments, but also for their honesty. Today when we look at the city that bears Washington's name, it's hard not to wonder: What the hell happened?
  • People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. 
  • Those in politics routinely dismiss any inconvenient information, no matter how factual, as fake and they routinely say things that are false. 
  • The plain truth about America -- the freedom, opportunity, and prosperity. 
  • The more communists had access to real news, the more they would demand freedom.
  • Today many of those at the highest levels of power see the plain truth as a threat. They fear it. They deny it. And they attack it. And we are in the midst of an epidemic of dishonesty, and an endless barrage of lies.
  • Free societies depend on citizens who recognize that deceit in government isn’t something to shrug your shoulders at. 
  • When elected officials speak as though they are above the truth, they will act as though they are above the law. And when we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality. It's in the form of corruption or abuse of power or both. Left unchecked, these abuses erodes the institutions that preserve and protect our rights and freedoms and open the door to tyranny and fascism.
  • There’s always been deceitful politicians and dishonest politicians in both parties. But now, there is now more tolerance for dishonesty in politics. The only thing more dangerous than dishonest politicians who have no respect for the law, is a chorus of enablers who defend their every lie.
  • The Honor Code doesn’t require you to be honest but also requires you to say something if you saw others acting dishonestly. If we want elected officials to be honest, we have to hold them accountable when they are not -- or else suffer the consequences. [Bloomberg was a high profile critic of Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, branding the future president as a “con” and “demagogue."]
  • Honest people can disagree. That's what democracy is all about! But productive debate requires an acceptance of basic reality.
  • If censorship solved problems, today we’d all be part of the old USSR.
  • It's always good to be skeptical and ask questions. But we must be willing to place a certain amount of trust in the integrity of scientists. If you aren’t willing to do that, don't get on an airplane, don't use a cell phone or microwave, don't get treated in a hospital. Scientific discovery permeates practically every aspect of our lives, except our political debates.
  • The dishonesty in Washington is about lack of good jobs in many communities, to the prevalence of gun violence, to the threats to the economy and threats to the environment -- because too many political leaders are being dishonest about facts and data, and too many people are letting them get away with it. [The Washington Post has documented more than 3,000 false or misleading statements made by Trump since he took office in January 2017]
  • How did we get here? How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who can not tell the truth?  From a George Washington who embodied honesty, to a Washington, D.C. defined by deceit?
  • It’s popular to blame social media for spreading false information. The problem is the public's willingness and eagerness, to believe anything that paints the other side in a bad light. That's extreme partisanship, fueling and excusing dishonesty.
  • Extreme partisanship is like an infectious disease that cripples the mind. It blocks us from understanding the other side.  It blinds us from seeing the strengths in their ideas and the weaknesses of our own. And it leads us to defend or excuse lies and unethical actions when our own side commits them.
  • But governing is not a game.
  • When people see the world as a battle between left and right, they become more loyal to their tribe than to our country. When power, not progress, becomes the object of the battle, truth and honesty become the first casualties.
  • Honesty leads to trust and trust leads to freedom. If we aren't honest with one another, we don't trust one another, then we place limits on what we ourselves can do, and what we can do together as a country. It's a formula for gridlock and national decline. It doesn't have to be that way.
  • When I was in city government, I didn't care which party proposed an idea -- and I never once asked someone his or her party affiliation during a job interview, or who they voted for. As a result, we had a dream team of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.  That diversity made our debates sharper, our policies smarter, and our government better.
  • In Washington today, partisanship is everything and the dishonesty it produces is one of the greatest challenges that the present young generation will have to confront.
  • Partisanship is not a new problem. George Washington warned against it as the ‘worst enemy’ of democracy, a precursor to tyranny. There is now unrestrained, rabid partisanship everywhere we look.
  • Fifty years ago, most parents didn't care whether their children married a member of another political party, but they didn't want them marrying outside their race or religion, or inside their gender. The percentage of parents who don't want their children marrying outside of their political party has doubled and the more people segregate themselves by party, the harder it becomes to understand the other side.
  • The country is more divided now than ever before. An era during which “alternative facts” and “post-truth” have entered the nation’s vocabulary, and like-minded groups huddle together, drowning out the opinions of others and rejecting scientific and other evidence that contradicts their world views.
  • Honesty matters. And everyone must be held accountable for being honest. So as you go out into the world, do what honesty requires.
  • No one, nor either party, has a monopoly on good ideas. Judge events based on what happened, not who did it.  Hold yourself and our leaders to the highest standards of ethics and morality.  Respect the knowledge of scientists. Follow the data, wherever it leads. Listen to people you disagree with -- without trying to censor them or shout over them. And have the courage to say things that your own side does not want to hear.
  • It will be up to you to decide how to live your life and to follow your own honor code.

Today in India, all the traits pointed out by Bloomberg are in gigantic proportions but what surprises is its resilience to survive without collapsing. Truth and facts are hard to spot. Politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen and even common man practices dishonesty and tell lies for making money and abuse society & laws with impunity. Justice delivery system is at its worst with very low conviction rate, unaffordable for majority of Indians, drifted away from common man -- serving only rich and well connected. No ordinary citizen can think of approaching courts for grievance redress. This is not democracy in any sense. The only sign of existence of some kind of democracy in India is that its general elections often unseats ruling party and once in a while anti-establishment judgments pronounced by courts.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Leaders are most effective in their first term of power

Every hero becomes a bore at last. RW Emerson observes that most politicians tend to overstay in their particularly in the developing world with young democracies, where several incumbent leaders change the constitution at the peak of their popularity to extend their stay in office. In the long established democracies also the populace generally tires of rulers who hang around for more than one term. Any goodwill generated in the first few years of their reign almost always dissipates rapidly if they remain in power for longer. This axiom is even more relevant in the current economic environment where growth and inflation dynamics are taking a turn for the worse across the globe. 
  • Russia is a prime example of such trends. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ratings were at a record high 70% while Russia's economic growth having averaged 7% since he took over office in 2000. Putin's ratings are now at 50%, lowest in the decade. Russia's economy has been struggling to grow at half the pre-2008 crisis levels. Had Putin rode away into the sunset in 2008 after completing both his four-year terms as President, he could have gone down in history as the most successful Russian leader since Nikita Khrushchev. Putin had frittered away goodwill by staying on for too long, with Russian economy struggling to regain its pre-2008 growth momentum. 
  • Leaders who seek to extend their hold on power don't realise that such a path is not just bad for the country, as their focus invariably shifts to protecting deeply vested interests rather than offering any new vision for development, but also for their own place in history. By the time the extended terms end, voters often are fed up with the ruler and their past good deeds are largely forgotten.
  • Most eminent leaders in history from Margaret Thatcher in the UK to Francois Mitterrand in France eventually lost their way. Both Thatcher and Mitterrand witnessed a major decline in their popularity after a decade in power. 
  • Winston Churchill too was knocked out as the head of government in 1945 despite his widely hailed leadership during World War II as voters got tired of the Conservative Party's many years of rule and began to favour the Labour Party's more welfare-oriented policies following a long period of economic hardship. 
  • In genuine democracies, popular opinion will do the job of voting out leaders who have overstayed. In countries where the political systems are not yet well established, rulers will figure out ways to keep extending their stint in office only to see diminishing returns during the second decade of their rule. 
The lesson from history is that leaders are most effective in their first term of power and the goodwill they have erodes very quickly if they stay on in office up to a decade or longer. There are exceptions to the rule, such as Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore who after 30 years of rule was still widely admired. Those are very rare cases; the odds generally are that after a few years in power, most leaders become a bore. 

In Indian scenario Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh were far less effective in their later terms making people feel bored. Lethargy creeps in, leader gets isolated in ivory towers, coterie wields power recklessly with selfish motives, corruption becomes order of the day, friends wont tell nor the leader likes to listen truths, and the nation and its economy takes severe beating. Therefore for democracy and nation to survive and retain its vibrancy, independent institutions must be strong, headed by men of integrity & values and must never be allowed to subverted. Fourth estate and its freedom must be protected to play vital watch-dog role.

Amit Shah meets Uddhav Thackeray, at later's residence

Amit Shah meets Shiv Sena's chief Uddhav Thackeray on June 6, 2018
BJP president Amit Shah walked into Shiv Sena's chief Uddhav Thackeray's residence in Mumbai in an attempt to talk the Shiv Sena chief regarding his threat to contest the 2019 elections separately posed many uneasy questions.
  • Only on June 3, 2018, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut described BJP as its biggest "political enemy", in one of the sharpest attacks after the recently held Lok Sabha bypoll in Palghar. The country "does not" want the duo of PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, he wrote in party's mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
  • Shah, along with Maharashtra CM Fadnavis etc had called on Madhuri Dixit at her residence and presented a booklet containing the achievements of the BJP-led central government in the last four years to her during the meeting. During his meeting with Ratan Tata at his residence, Shah had presented a similar booklet.
  • A day later Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam asked Dixit & Tata, in his separate letters, that the booklet were a “bundle of lies” and appealed to them not to fall for blatant lies of the BJP and its chief. 
  • The issue of fighting elections together in 2019 remains unresolved, as Uddhav Thackeray was non-committal, and more meetings are planned in the coming days to improve relations. If the BJP and Shiv Sena decide to fight elections separately it is advantage for the Congress and NCP combine.
  • Relations between BJP and Shiv Sena hit rock bottom in recent times. Last month's by-elections, the two allies fought against each other. Shiv Sena has signaled that as the ties between their people and the BJP have snapped. For the BJP, relationships are business calculations they opined.
  • The by-elections to the Lok Sabha seats of Palghar and Bhandara-Gondiya clearly show that Shiv Sena, which is still undecided over its support for the BJP, can play spoilsport in at least 30 of 46 seats in Maharashtra.
  • The meeting between the two leaders is aimed at cutting a political deal, nothing else. Shiv Sena going into sulking mode, indicates that the Shiv Sena was acting pricey to negotiate a better deal for itself.
  • Shiv Sena isn't the only NDA ally to be visited by Mr Shah to mend fences. Mr Shah will be meeting with Akali Dal chief PS Badal and son Sukhbir very soon. Mr. Badal, however, prepped this meeting with a message to other allies to stand together as the general elections are in a year, they should resolve differences to strengthen the NDA to emerge victorious, Mr Badal had stated.
Anyone who is following Maharashtra's political space knows that Shiv Sena will not bridge a pre-poll alliance with its BJP for 2019, as they reiterated the meet as a ‘drama’. Amit Shah's strategy seems to make Shiv Sena officially break the alliance and then make Shiv Sena explain to voters where they stand, and not resort to fence-sitting anymore. In the 2014 Assembly elections, the Shiv Sena with 19.3% votes won 63 seats of the 282 seats. BJP secured 27.8% of the votes and won 122 seats. And Congress and NCP, secured 17.95% & 17.24% votes and won 42 & 41 seats respectively. If Congress and NCP come together, and Shiv Sena goes on its own, it will be impossible for BJP to reach the winning mark. For the kind of arrogance and audacity displayed by Modi, Amit Shah and BJP in the last 4 years, neglecting and insulting allies, no one would like stay put with BJP in NDA. Nitish Kumar's humiliation is the unforgettable example. But politics & power makes strange bed fellows. If Shiv Sena goes on its own and causes benefits to INC & NCP leading to defeat of BJP & Modi in 2019, Modi & Shah has to blame themselves for their headstrong behavior with allies.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Children may not make you happy

It is a taboo that one is not allowed to say children make one unhappy and the obvious issue is why we should expect happiness from our children in the first place. It is a mistake to expect happiness from anything. Not only that, but having children ought not to be about one's personal happiness. Do we really have children only for the most selfish reasons – to please ourselves? Is it actually possible to "make" anyone happy at all? Don't depend on children because in their priorities, you get feeling of neglect. Never meddle in children's lives. Their life is theirs, not yours. Finally, reducing luxuries, minimizing expenses and simple living is sure road to happiness.
  • Wanting offspring is hardwired, but for most of us, the decision to have a child is intensely personal that  has become all the more daunting in recent years that parents are miserable and stretched to the limit. 
  • Parents experience a high point of happiness & euphoria when their first child was born. This is because in our areligious society children will give our lives meaning (as well as being our most likely stab at an afterlife).
  • Too many parents link their well-being to the mood of their offspring and end up miserable and guilt-ridden. Our happiness is inseparable from the happiness of our children. 
  • Once the initial thrill is past, do children make parents happier? Having children does not make parents happier at all and more often children make their parents unhappy. And the more children you have, the unhappier you are likely to be. Parents are no happier than their childless peers.
  • Some studies find that parents are happier and more satisfied than their childless peers but some studies find no difference, and some studies find the reverse. The question of whether parents are happier than non-parents is not a meaningful one. Rather, it depends on the parent and the child.
  • Parents have a tremendous fear of unhappiness. Parents are in the mad hope that their children will be consistently content. And it is daft because to be alive is to be inconsistent and sometimes to be unhappy.
  • Nobel prize-winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman reveals that Texan mothers put childcare 16th, almost at the bottom of a list of ordinary pleasures (after sleeping, shopping, talking on the phone). Children have a detrimental effect on marriage (parents are spending more time with their children, less with one another). 
  • Parents are needed for their children's survival. Happiness is neither here nor there. The best happiest times with my children are usually the least planned. We should try and lift the happiness pressure as parents. Happiness does not come when it is called. But, in the end, parenting is not about happiness, it is about love – not the same thing at all.
  • Young parents and parents with small children are particularly unhappy, while other types report high life satisfaction, happiness, or meaning. Whether or not children go hand in hand with happiness depends on many factors, including our age, marital status, income and social support, as well as whether our children live with us and have difficult temperaments.
People without children are as happy as those children with them. It is the childless who often turn out to be the most creative, generous and en rapport with other people's children. As a parent, one quickly runs out of steam as a child entertainer. Perhaps it is as grandparents that we may reasonably predict future happiness – because the relationship with grandchildren is lighter, part-time and with no responsibility.

Money must be spent for your comforts; it may be given away to others. 
But wealth accumulated may end up with King or under the earth.
 ... a Sumathi Satakamu poem paraphrased

Children are the source of our greatest joy and our greatest sorrow. Children give our lives purpose, infuse fun and pride into our lives, and enrich our identities. At the same time, they are also vectors for worry, anger, and disappointment; they deprive us of energy and sleep; and they strain our finances and our marriages. Keeping these findings in mind, 94% of parents say that having children is still worth it, despite the costs.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Diplomatic immunity

The rules set forth in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, agreed upon by 187 countries, clearly states that diplomatic agents including "the members of the diplomatic staff, and of the administrative and technical staff and of the service staff of the mission" enjoy "immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State." They also enjoy immunity from civil proceedings unless the case involves property or business interests unrelated to their diplomatic duties.
  • Immunity means an exemption. Diplomatic Immunity allows diplomats to have safe passage and stay in foreign nations, and provides blanket protection to diplomats from lawsuits and legal prosecution in a foreign (host) nation. 
  • The purpose of diplomatic privileges, immunity and exemptions, is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient performance of the functions of diplomatic missions that represent States. While 'privileges' is defined as a benefit or right to do something that others have no right to do, 'immunity' is defined as the exemption from local jurisdiction. Immunity have a legal basis, but privileges are a matter of courtesy.
  • Diplomatic privileges and immunity guarantee that diplomatic agents or members of their immediate family (i) may not be arrested or detained, (ii) may not have their residences entered and searched, (iii) may not be subpoenaed as witnesses, and (iv) may not be prosecuted.
  • The person of a diplomatic agent is inviolable. Inviolability of the mission is unqualified. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The Vienna convention specifies different levels of immunity to diplomats posted in various levels of the embassy, consular or international organisations such as the UN. The purpose of the immunity was so that foreign diplomats can maintain their dignity and safety in the host nation, without any threat of attack or intimidation to their person. 
  • Host countries can’t withdraw diplomatic immunity, but several have expelled diplomats for alleged interference in internal affairs and violate their laws. Even for serious crimes, the host country can generally do is expel the offender. Intimidation is a frequent recourse of authoritarian regimes, including against the families of diplomats. The doctrine of immunity represents a departure from the conventional practice of holding people responsible for their wrongful actions. 
  • The concern of protecting life was more important than immunity. Without prejudice to their privileges and immunity, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunity to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. 
  • A diplomat’s home country can waive his diplomatic immunity in particularly egregious cases. Immunity of a diplomat from the jurisdiction of the host country does not exempt him/her from the jurisdiction of his/her home country.
  • Violations of the Vienna Convention are extremely rare because countries are usually reluctant to put their own diplomats at risk. 
Diplomatic Immunity can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, it protects the life and dignity of a diplomat in a host nation, especially in times of conflict. Many international abuses of the clause by powerful diplomats and their kin has led to substantial criticism of the Vienna Convention. Many critics and legal experts want a reworking of the treaty's clauses to make the legal tool more useful of its purpose instead of being just an escape tool in the hands of powerful criminals. 

Words are one thing, actions another.
Good words are a mask for concealment of bad deeds. 

Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or wooden iron ... LC Green

Generally, Diplomatic passports are issued to people holding diplomatic status & powers i.e. the IFS officers posted abroad in Indian Missions, or deputed by the Government of India for diplomatic duty abroad and others visiting abroad for negotiations with foreign governments. Over the years, the process has been abused and misused with many getting issued the diplomatic passport thus losing its value, like VIP status granted to as many as 6 lakhs people. Almost all elected law makers, appointed top bureaucrats etc obtain diplomatic passports for themselves & families and use them for personal foreign travel and bypass the processes at the ports of entry& exit in India and abroad..

Friday, 1 June 2018

Nitish Kumar ... No where to go

Nitish Kumar is a nowhere man now and he will do another somersault because the BJP and Shah are cannibalising him and without an ally he is negligible. He will still prefer to walk out, go it alone and become a martyr allying with the winner of 2019 ... says a senior JDU leader.
  • Nitish Kumar has a soul which troubles him only when he has political power at stake. From being a contender for the PM's office to now being reduced to Shah’s collateral damage it has been a sharp and steep fall for Nitish Kumar.
  • Yesterday’s loss of the Jokihat seat to the ally RJD, he betrayed was the latest in the series of reverses Nitish Kumar has faced after he joined hands with erstwhile bĂȘte noire Narendra Modi. 
  • The latest in the serial snubs is Union Minister, Nitin Gadkari publicly turning down his demand for special status for Bihar, Nitish Kumar has had to repeatedly swallow his pride.
  • Nitish Kumar’s humiliation at the hands of the Modi and Shah duo has a larger lesson to all the NDA allies of BJP. AP Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu reportedly told senior Congress leaders that he does not want to become Nitish Kumar in the hands of the BJP.
  • Even Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena supremo who ended the longest running alliance of the BJP breaking ties has privately mocked Nitish Kumar’s plight. 
  • The biggest lesson is how dangerous the BJP under Shah and Modi has become to its partners, that the Akali Dal lost its traditional seat it had retained for 20 years to the Congress in the by-polls yesterday, must be realizing. 
  • Shah’s arrogant treatment of Nitish Kumar, his repeated insults, his gobbling up of the JDU’s political space and the recent warning that the BJP will not make any concessions in seat sharing have all been observed by the fence-sitting opposition leaders. Amit Shah's plans to cut Nitish Kumar and JDU down to size and grab more Lok Sabha seats is an open secret in Bihar. So much so that Nitish Kumar who had used Rahul Gandhi as a scapegoat to walk out of the alliance is now sending feelers to the Congress to bail him out.
  • Nitish Kumar has also reached out to “friend” West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee, who was his colleague in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. Much to his consternation Banerjee bluntly told him “Modi is no Vajpayee. He will eat you up alive”.
  • Left with no options, Nitish Kumar might break all alliances and is likely to go "Solo" in 2019 General elections, like Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena supremo. Amit Shah is likely to eat humble pie in front of Thackeray as Maharashtra accounts for the second largest number of Lok Sabha seats (48), but Nitish Kumar will be given no quarter. But it is unlikely that Thackeray will give in to Shah’s sweet talk but Nitish Kumar is desperate for any BJP deal.
  • Navin Patnaik, Odisha CM has now reached out to the leaders of the united opposition after seeing how the BJP treats allies. Patnaik already had a quiet meeting with Sonia Gandhi. Naveen Patnaik is likely to make some joint moves with the united opposition as Rahul Gandhi is in touch with him. Patnaik realises the writing on the wall that the Modi wave is over and hence sitting on the fence is no longer a feasible option.
  • Shah is facing allies bleed away from him due to his shortsighted pursuit of winning every electoral battle that has compelled divided opposition to get united for survival. 
  • Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, is acting as a catalyst of opposition unity having brought together opposite community leaders Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel in Gujarat and giving BJP a fight and fright.
  • The Congress's new MPCC chief Kamalnath is negotiating with Mayawati for an alliance in MP which would add at least another 4-6% Dalit votes. The Congress is committed to reaching out and creating a rainbow opposition coalition across the country. And uneasy Shah has put in CBI on the job of breaking the BSP away.
  • But as the Air Asia case registered against Ajit Singh on the eve of the Kairana result showed that vendetta politics of Modi and Shah have diminishing returns. The leaders being targeted are more determined to band together. Sharad Pawar of the NCP, who Modi hailed as his political guru, has also ended his tacit understanding with Modi and is now a prime mover of the united opposition.
However hard Amit Shah tries, it seems that he is unable to split and divide the opposition. The BJP’s  unprincipled power grabs are now working against it. Sources close to Nitish Kumar says that he thought Modi was here to stay. The same Nitish Kumar now privately says that Modi was an accidental PM. A bubble on a wave which will burst in the big fight of 2019. 

Nitish Kumar’s somersault has now become a statutory warning to the united opposition - ally with the BJP at your risk.