Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bonded Legislators

Congress party is hell-bent on taking one misstep after another. It has now made its W.Bengal legislators 'voluntarily' decide to give an undertaking on 'stamped' paper that they will not air any views against the party headed by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Is their forced loyalty restricted to the Gandhis? Are the Gandhis party's leaders for life? Is not the party insulting its members by seeking a pledge of loyalty? Is this any different from the practice of bonded labour?

The pledge is possibly restraint of trade affecting the legislator's right to  cross the floor whenever his / her conscience dictates so! This undertaking given by morally deficient legislators which is anyway legally unenforceable reflects the political bankruptcy of the GOP.

Digvijaya Singh created a flutter by seeking a major surgery in the party. He has now clarified that a major surgery is not what people take it to be. It does not mean excising any part of the party. Rather it means extending an invitation to former Congress people to come home. In India 2016, words do not mean what they are supposed to mean. This makes political life simple. You can say anything and get away with it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

How did AIADMK win?

Jayalalithaa was under a serious handicap. There was no second line leadership even to address political meetings to enthuse the voters. Her mobility was severely affected by her ill-health. Stalin had toured virtually every nook and corner of the state to seek people's support and all his meetings were largely attended. Karunanidhi desperately desired to become chief minister for just one more time. M.K.Alagiri had been effectively silenced so that he could not create domestic trouble for the party. Final word in Jayalalithaa's corruption case was not yet said by the Supreme Court and therefore this was creating a lot of tension for her. Anti-incumbency was looming large.

Despite all these challenges, how did she make it?

She acted smart both tactically and strategically. She released AIADMK's manifesto only after DMK had released its and this ensured that no item of interest to the public was left out. She out-freebied the DMK. She insisted on the same symbol for her allies also. So, the Two Leaves was fluttering everywhere. This certainly was a better tactic than having the Rising Sun in some places and the Hand etc. in other places. There was no diffusion of propaganda for the AIADMK.

Strategically, Jayalalithaa took care of interests of the poor. Amma canteen was deservedly a roaring success in sustaining her popularity. DMK's allegations of corruption did not stick because the pot was calling the kettle black. Cash for votes was a game both parties indulged in. If the DMK cries foul on this score, it is only sour-grapism. However, DMK's and particularly Stalin's relentless campaign deserves appreciation.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Brain-dead Congress

Reacting to the dismal performance of the Congress party in the recent general elections in five states, Shashi Tharoor says,

"The time for introspection is now past. Time for action has come…It is time to move and it is time to make some visible changes that the world and the country can see because for a couple of years after 2014, the process for consideration, reflection, introspection and so on has been taking place. It is now time for the leadership to draw on the conclusion from their introspection and take necessary action.” 

Digvijaya Singh laments, “Today’s results disappointing but not unexpected. We have done enough introspection. Shouldn’t we go for a major surgery?” 

Action? Major surgery? In any political party, the leadership is supposed to be the brain. If the brain is dead, can the patient be revived? Unlike for a human being, the brain of a political party can be replaced. When the brain is dead, it serves no purpose to indulge in transplant of kidney or heart to revive the patient.

If the party is not willing / able / ready to free itself from the toxic clutches of the Gandhi family, the Congress will soon become a thing of the past. Didi rightly said that Rahul Gandhi is Modi's USP !

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Subramanian Swamy on Raghuram Rajan

Subramanian Swamy's contention that Raghuram Rajan is acting against our economic interests and therefore he must not be reappointed as RBI Governor is plainly over the top. Swamy has taken exception to Rajan not obliging the interests of ministers and industrialists by resisting their pressure to reduce interest rates.

Contrarily, Rajan deserves to be commended for his steadfastness in tackling inflation. Swamy's argument that reduced interest rates are not inflationary will have few takers. Economics being an inexact science, there is plenty of room for contradictory views. But it is illogical and discourteous to pillory the RBI Governor for his logical actions.

Rajan is an eminent monetary economist. He knows what he is doing. Swamy questions Rajan's retention of Green Card and proffers that as proof that the latter is out to scuttle India's economic progress. This is a strange argument emanating from a pathological hatred for the person.

Rajan would be happy to get back to teaching at Chicago or wherever his proven merit takes him. Unseating him from RBI will be an unjustifiable loss for India. We don't need a sycophant as RBI Governor if that is what Swamy desires.

Added on May 26th: Rajan may even be happy if his term is not extended because the dollar value of rupee is likely to drop drastically when the FCNR deposits brought in because of Rajan's concessions when he assumed office are maturing in September and a large quantum of dollars is expected to exit the country. If Rajan stays, his ingenuity will be tested. However, he may have a trick or two up his sleeves. Swamy has thrown a googly accusing the Governor of protecting Chidambaram's son from consequences of his violation of foreign exchange guidelines. This is an allegation that cannot be dismissed lightly.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Democratic Dividend

The state of J and K is permanently on the boil because of militant terrorism. The state of TamilNadu reaches boiling point due to electoral terrorism of J and K every five years. Verbal abuses are thrown about with nonchalant abandon, reputations already fragile are ripped apart and voter inebriation touches a new high.
To perform my constitutional duty and to exercise my citizenry rights, I went to the polling booth with a lot of enthusiasm. (Scorching sun and cloudy skies alternated during the day. Was it nature’s way of bemoaning the alternate misrules of the Rising Sun and the Two Leaves? There were intermittent showers too, as predicted by weathermen. Is weather easier to predict than election results?) After the polling was over, I conducted the most scientific exit-poll ever done. Statisticians say that the more scientific the poll, the smaller the sample requirement to maintain the same confidence interval. In my eagerness for innovation, I simply interchanged the if-then sequence and concluded that the smaller the sample size, the more scientific and unbiased the survey. So, I arrived at the least possible sample size namely unity. Principles of scientific survey dictate that the sample should be representative of the population. So, I chose the one who is as confused and clueless as the countless voters. I chose myself. The exit poll results are ready though I am forbidden by the strictly enforced rules of the Election Commission to announce this.

Everybody is saying that every voter in TamilNadu has been paid by both the leading Dravidian parties as a gesture of goodwill. I was wondering why the same goodwill was not extended to me. I got enlightened in the polling booth. My name was not in the voter list. (Political parties are very shrewd: why waste money on a non-voter?) When the list was getting updated a couple of years ago, I had informed the updating official that my mother was no more. Instead of removing my mother’s name from the voters’ list , the intelligent officer struck off my name convinced that I was an embarrassingly  transparent  citizen and therefore not deserving of the ‘democratic dividend ‘(being paid by the political parties under the cash-for-votes scheme) of participating in the electoral process. (Rs.570 crore was seized by EC officials in just one incident. It is no solace to know that the amount is only a legitimate transfer from one currency chest to another. What is revealing is the suspicion of the Election Commission. Political morality in TamilNadu has got into such a bottomless pit that the EC could readily entertain such a suspicion.)

Since I was denied the privilege of voting, I do not have a burdened conscience. Whichever Thuggish party comes to power, I am not to be blamed. I feel free. Freedom always comes at a price. The price is ineligibility for ‘democratic dividend’. I understand that a voter who has not been provided the democratic dividend by the candidates can lodge a complaint with the Election Commission. (Shouldn’t rules follow the practice?) Long live our Democracy!

Obama on listening to opponents

Very sensible indeed:

"I don't think it's a secret that I disagree with many of the policies of Dr. Rice and the previous administration. But the notion that this community or this country would be better served by not hearing a former secretary of state or not hearing what she had to say — I believe that's misguided," Obama said. "I don't think that's how democracy works best, when we're not even willing to listen to each other."
He added:
If you disagree with somebody, bring them in and ask them tough questions. Hold their feet to the fire, make them defend their positions. ... Don't be scared to take somebody on. Don't feel like you got to shut your ears off because you're too fragile and somebody might offend your sensibilities. Go at them if they're not making any sense.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Oops ! What a blunder !

The Hindu reports,

"The FBI of the U.S. was also roped in to determine the nature of poison and despite the delay, the Bureau was able to pinpoint the name of the poison that was found in her body. But since August 2015, till today, the Delhi Police has been dragging its feet even on elementary steps necessary in criminal investigative procedures such as custodial death of Shashi Tharoor and others,” Mr. Swamy said in the letter dated May 12."

Mr.Swamy, this is too bad. Do you want to eliminate Tharoor?

Added on May 15: The Hindu has since corrected 'custodial death' to 'custodial investigation'.

Politicians' Dilemma

We have all heard about Prisoners' Dilemma in Game Theory to analyse the optimal strategy to be followed by players in a game. That dilemma is now obsolete. In comes the politicians' dilemma which is more contemporary and is of more popular interest.

Three vans carrying Rs.570 crore in cash were together caught by the police in Tirupur this morning. Three cars were accompanying these vans. Passengers in the cars claimed that they were policemen from Andhra Pradesh and that the money was being shifted from SBI Coimbatore to SBI Vizakhapatnam. They had no identity cards. Relevant documentary evidence from SBI were not available. Since more than 12 hours have passed, it is reasonable to conclude that SBI is not in the picture.

It is obvious to all barring perhaps the Election Commission that the money is meant for distribution in connection with Tamil Nadu elections. The parties involved can only be the DMK and ADMK. Other parties do not have so much at stake. These two parties must be knowing which party's money is involved in the instant case. The party whose money it is not can easily go public with the information. But neither party would do this because both parties are egregiously distributing money to get votes.

Hence the dilemma is simple. There is no dilemma. The truth is known to both parties. But they will keep the truth to themselves because they love truth so much!

Added on May 15: SBI has belatedly clarified that this is a normal transfer of funds from one of its currency chests to another. The very fact that the Election Commission could suspect that the money might be for bribing voters gives us jitters on the state of democratic politics in Tamil Nadu.

There is an alternative analysis. Election Commission wants to pretend that it is very agile and acting without fear. EC perhaps wants to cover up its inability or unwillingness to be strict with political parties violating the norms. Now people may be misled into thinking that the EC is not a paper tiger. It is worth noting that a substantial part of cash earlier seized by EC has already been returned.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Does PM's educational qualification matter?

Did Narendra Modi really study in the Delhi University for his graduation? Modi had declared in his election affidavits that he completed BA in Delhi University and MA in Gujarat University. The latter has confirmed that Modi had passed MA through Gujarat University, but could not confirm his BA degree.

There is no educational requirement in politics. There is no evidence that the educated ones have fared better or served better in politics. There are instances of uneducated leaders exhibiting salutary leadership skills. In Tamilnadu, K.Kamaraj has probably been the most successful Chief Minister so far in promoting alround development including in ensuring higher admissions and stayins in schools through the revolutionary midday meals scheme. He had vision which the more educated lacked.

We are more interested in knowing what the prime minister does than what he has studied. But Arvind Kejriwal has focused the country's attention on Modi's (lack of) connection with the Delhi University. The university has so far been unable to contradict Kejriwal's charge that Modi did not qualify in DU.

What is more disconcerting is that Modi has not spoken on the issue. If he had passed BA, all that he needs to do is to provide some verifiable evidence like Roll Number, Marks Sheet etc. His continuing reticence is neither strengthening his credibility nor enabling the controversy to die down.

If Modi had fibbed about his educational attainment, he would have violated the vishesa dharma relating to political leaders that they ought not to lie and mislead. The question is not whether the country has suffered any damage because of his alleged falsehood. Such mendacity will create grave doubts in people's minds about the credibility of his other claims and utterances.

If Modi had lied, what should he do now? He must quit the prime-ministership and prove that he is a better leader than Manmohan Singh who continued in his post despite popular outrage against his facilitation of various kinds of political skulduggery. True, Modi's lie (if it is proved to be one) is nothing compared to his predecessor's massive deception. If Modi sacrifices his post for what is obviously a non-venal act but nonetheless a misleading one, he would have established a healthy precedent and BJP's stock would rise.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Crisis of Faith

S.Radhakrishnan as President of our country used to warn that there was a crisis of faith in our society. He said that before coming across people like Sonia Gandhi, Chidambaram, Narendra Modi et al.

Lying about oneself and others has become an integral feature of our leaders. Signora Gandhi claims she has no black money, Chidambaram promises that all his actions are lawful and Modi prefers to ignore forgery accusations regarding his Delhi University degree.

There is no accountability for one's words or deeds. The only prevailing philosophy is to gain political power by hook or crook and once in power to misuse it beyond belief. Political crooks have abundant faith in the judiciary whose dilatoriness, deliberate and otherwise, ensures that crimes will go unpunished.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Saving Congress from its leaders

Raghuram Rajan had wanted capitalism to be saved from capitalists because the latter misuse and misinterpret rules of the game and facilitate growth of crony capitalism. Similarly, we need to extricate the Grand Old Party of India from the evil clutches of Congress (wo)men who are its present leaders.

Be it Sonia Gandhi or P.Chidambaram or Abhishek Manu Singhvi, they can only be ranked 0 in 0 to 10 scale of ethical practices (0 being least ethical). Though it is redundant to recount their egregious ethical lapses, it is impossible to forget their roles in choppergate, masking terrorism and benami transactions and unscrupulous assurances on judicial appointments as quid pro quo for sexual escapades. Such leaders deserve nothing short of social ostracism since our dilatory legal system will never catch up with their shenanigans.

It behoves practitioners of principles of Congress as enunciated and practised by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri to join together and throw these disgraceful vile elements out of  the Congress party.