ODD-EVEN: FIRST GENUINE STEP BY AAP GOVERNMENT (EVEN IF WITH GLITCHES)

I miss it or I don’t miss it – it doesn’t matter. What matters is – that it is for larger good – and so should be appreciated and accepted wholeheartedly.

It is the first initiative taken by the almost one year old Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi – a government that has been a sheer letdown since its inaugural in February 2014 – a step that can be said genuine and with vision – even if with glitches.

What applies to the logic of India’s stand at COP21 and other world environment summits applies to this step as well – that irrespective of ‘who, what and where’, we all are going to be the victims – be it the ruling class or the voting class in this largest democracy of the world – that, though falters regularly, is robustly functional – and is the on the way to become a mature democracy experiments like AAP tell.

A mature democracy – and we can say we have behaved in a matured manner by accepting what the city state government had proposed – leaving our vehicles on alternate days and using public transportation or practices like car-pooling or bike-riding.

Now, whenever (if) global warming happens, it would affect all countries, especially geographically big countries like India irrespective of the fact that it is basically the developed countries including the US who are the chief culprits in bringing us to this crisis situation.

And the same logic applies here as well. If pollution is affecting lives of people here, it will never discriminate in choosing its victims. Pollution will be ruthlessly objective, secular, impartial, unbiased, and whatever not when it comes to reducing life spans.

The odd-even traffic rotation scheme introduced in Delhi is a much needed (and delayed) effort to make Delhi’s (and NCR’s) air liveable again.

Yes, NCR’s – and it cannot succeed unless any plan to curb pollution in Delhi is extended effectively to its NCR areas – Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad and so on. Delhi cannot prevent the foul air with vehicular pollution and construction dust of NCR mixing with breeze flowing in Delhi colonies.

And Delhi cannot achieve this onerous task if its government (the AAP government) continues behaving erratically – with a good initiative – like exempting multitudes of vehicles with this or that excuse – an extension of the VIP culture that has percolated deep in our lives.

If pollution is ruthlessly objective in choosing its victims, we need to be ruthlessly objective in opting for the ways to deny it those fangs.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TWO DECEMBERS, AIIMS METRO STATION AND ‘OPEN SKY ROOF’

Two Decembers – two years – two random clicks – 2014 and 2015 – same AIIMS Metro station – same hospital (All India Institute of Medical Sciences-AIIMS-Delhi) – India’s biggest and probably the most superior hospital in the country – the hospital with the common perception that it is either for the ‘high and mighty’ or for those who cannot afford any other option and are cursed to bear the apathetic doctors and support staff of the hospital – and same story symbolic of homelessness in India and ‘open sky as roof’ in North India’s chilling cold..in a Delhi that has now a government which boasts of being a government of and for the common man..

DECEMBER 2015

20151220_210937

20151220_210927

20151220_210912

20151220_210905

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

20151220_210817

DECEMBER 2014

AIIMS 2014-1

AIIMS 2014-2

TWO DECEMBERS, AIIMS METRO STATION AND ‘OPEN SKY ROOF’

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DEVELOPMENT PARADOX: BULLET TRAIN AND SHAKURBASTI SLUM

The paradox of these two words that represent the two extremes, two hostile paradigms of development, sums the essence of the two most intense news developments these days – bilateral agreement with Japan on India’s first high speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, that we also live to call the ‘Bullet Train’ corridor – and the daylight, inhuman demolition of shanties in Delhi’s Shakurbasti area by Indian Railways.

We may go on endlessly debating if India needs or doesn’t need a ‘Bullet Train’ – but when we see such developments that need huge investment (here it is INR 98000 crore, at this concept stage, and may well end up with higher figures when it is finally done) in the context of the fact that India is still home to countless slum habitations throughout its length and breadth, including its national capital Delhi, we are forced to question the relevance of such massive projects when resources should ideally be invested first in uplifting poor people.

But like it happens, everyone in the policymaking class is busy extracting mileage here with the Shakurbasti demolition incident (with visibly poor or non-existent relief measures for those displaced) – Aam Aadmi Party, BJP, Congress and everyone else, including Indian Railways, the massive Indian government outfit that reeks of corruption and inefficiency in its operations and is headed by a Rail Minister who selects only positive tweets to retweet, sifting away all those negativities. But can he?

As per Census 2011 figures, the slum population in India has gone up to 65 million from 52 million in 2001.

And the primary responsibility of any government in India should be bringing this figure down first. Bullet Trains, that anyway are nowhere near to the primary needs of rail infrastructure in India, may come later.

Because these 65 million are the just the ones who bothered to get counted. There would be, and there are many more than this figure and that should always serve as reminder for the mammoth task that lies before us – to uplift millions from poverty, to mainstream them into society – as society in a democratic country like India – the way it has been enshrined in our Constitution.

We are committing criminal offence by leaving many of our sisters and brothers out in the open, to face difficult and life threatening circumstances – like we did so in the Shakurbasti demolition case. We forced thousands out of their homes without thinking of the cold, inclement weather, without thinking how they would battle it out without roofs over their heads.

Yes, there are many parameters and their indicators that rightly vouch for India’s rising global prominence – the world’s youngest nation, a nation with large middle class that is slated to become the largest, among the world’s largest economies, the world’s fastest growing economy, the favourite marketplace of the world’s companies after China, the example of successful democratic transition from a colonial past, and so on.

But unless and until we don’t work on to bring uniformity in lives of ordinary Indians, we will consistently face such dilemmatic propositions on development – the paradoxes that force us to think what we need first – that how should we prioritize elements of governance in a fast moving economy that still has the maximum headcount of the world’s poor.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SURESH PRABHU’S ‘SOCIAL SENSITIVITY’ OF ‘SOCIAL MEDIA ALERTNESS’

TWEETS AND RETWEETS OF NOVEMBER 27 TWITTER POSTS BY SURESH PRABHU:

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Sapthagiri M ‏@SapthagiriM Nov 27
Neatness that I hardly saw before in railways stations.. Kacheguda right now.. @SCRailwayIndia @sureshpprabhu

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Ministry of Railways ‏@RailMinIndia Nov 27
NDLS- HWH is part of most congested section, long awaited capacity enhancement work is priority of MR @sureshpprabhu

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Arvind Agarwal ‏@arvind_agarwal Nov 27
Railways offers subsidised pilgrimage packages.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/railways-offers-subsidised-pilgrimage-packages/story-hbOWgKo7vXLN3YEiPh05jK.html
@sureshpprabhu @RailMinIndia

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Gowtham ‏@gowthaam Nov 27
Travelling in train after a year in 3rd AC.can see visible difference in cleanliness in coach & beds.Thnx @sureshpprabhu ji & team

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
PRASANTA KUMAR JENA ‏@jena_prasanta Nov 27
@RailMinIndia @sureshpprabhu Fact is bigger the size more difficult to transform. Rly has set a foot in long ambitious transformation path

Suresh Prabhu ‏@sureshpprabhu Nov 27
Debate in LS @narendramodi raises it to greater height.Lets worship constitution as holy book to be followed in spirit by all to progress

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Parag sharma ‏@paragjournalist Nov 27 View translation
सच में @sureshpprabhu sir आपने जैसा कहा वैसा कर रहे हैं We r on track sir, हम दुनिया को दिखाएंगे, भारत क्या है..

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
DRM Bilaspur ‏@DRMBilaspur Nov 27
30% growth witnessed in the number of passengers at Akaltara Railway Station during fortress check.

Suresh Prabhu ‏@sureshpprabhu Nov 27
Suresh Prabhu Retweeted @GMSouthernrailway
Very important to take care of public health post flooding.IR working on it

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
SouthCentralRailway ‏@SCRailwayIndia Nov 27
@RailMinIndia @sureshpprabhu
More than 60% of the targeted #RainwaterHarvesting pits constructed on SCR
#savewater

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Ministry of Railways ‏@RailMinIndia Nov 27
Morgan Stanley report on Indian Railways : The Next India – The Return of the Transportation Behemoth

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
Raja ‏@Raja_Sw Nov 27
Still a lot that can be improved in IR. Long road still ahead. But things seem to be improving. @sureshpprabhu @RailMinIndia @drmsbc @GMSWR

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
vadakkus ‏@vadakkus Nov 27
vadakkus Retweeted CPRO Central Railway
The biggest e-commerce entity in India by far, ever since its inception.

Suresh Prabhu Retweeted
SouthCentralRailway ‏@SCRailwayIndia Nov 27
SouthCentralRailway Retweeted General Manager SCR
@RailMinIndia @sureshpprabhu
#EnergyConservation #energyefficiency #GoGreen #COP21 #GreenEnergy

Now, Suresh Prabhu, the Railway Minister of India, is one politician who looks ‘intensely’ busy on Twitter – as his Twitter feed for this day (or any other day) suggests.

And these are just some of a barrage of Tweets on his Twitter page – tweeted (and retweeted) by Mr. Suresh Prabhu on November 27.

And he does so daily.

And the issues that he looks concerned about sound holistic – clean trains and platforms, other cleanliness measures in different railway services, reforms in Indian Railways, the efforts for a ‘turnaround’ story, capacity enhancements, improvement in operational statistics, energy conservation, social obligations like ‘rain water harvesting’ and so on – and the concern of passengers’ well-being – but there is a catch.

See this:

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – Mr. Prabhu, no response yet. 12581 Delhi time is 12.20 pm. Reached thr at 2.15 pm. N it happens daily wid many trains.

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – 6th tweet 2day – no response from u who is very active on Twitter. 12581 Delhi time -12.20 pm. 1.30 pm n it is still GZB

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – 5th tweet 2day – 12581 almost not running – well behind it’s Delhi time of 12.20 pm – the IR shame continues

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu – 5th tweet today – already delayed 12581 is now crawling post Aligarh – looks more misery ahead

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu -my 3rd tweet 2 u 2day-ppl say n u also retweet-but y sum trains get delayd daily-like this 12581-a routine-still no respite

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu People say n you also retweet -but y some trains get delayed daily-like this 12581-a daily routine-today, it’s already 3 hrs!

Santosh Chaubey ‏@SantoshChaubeyy Nov 27
@sureshpprabhu People say, you also retweet – but y some trains get delayed daily-like this 12581-a daily routine-today, it’s already 3 hrs!

These eight tweets were my experimental call to check the ‘social sensitivity of social media alertness’ of our Railway Minister – who by any possible means – looks very Twitter savvy – in using social media as an effective tool of his governance.

But as expected, he did not respond to even a single one – because they were pointing to a well known, universal shame of Indian Railways that all Indian Railways (IR) officials conveniently and habitually deny/ignore/pass – that almost of the trains in India don’t run on time – that travelling by many trains are considered an absolute wastage of time as they run delayed by hours – day after day – just name them and one can count many of them – in every part of the country the Indian Railways is operating in – and that includes almost the whole of the country. There are trains that are cursed to get delayed regularly – the ‘ignorable gems’ in eyes of IR’s apathetic officers.

Here, in my case, I started my train journey at 10:30 PM on November 26 night. Though it is a superfast train (Number – 12581), people warned me of its bad reputation of running late almost daily. But I thought to give it a try, as I wanted to reignite the romance of a train journey after a long time and prompted by ‘prompt tweets’ of Suresh Prabhu, I thought I should take a chance.

But came November 27 morning, and my hopes had some serious beating. When I woke up, I found the train was behind its schedule while at Kanpur and was running late by some 2.30 hours.

Well, I had an important meeting scheduled in the evening and I started feeling sort of unease. But then, I also knew I could not do anything. Various precedents of my yore have told me that one should never trust the trains run by Indian Railways, especially in crisis hours. 99 per cent chances they will fail you. After all, you can gauge sentiments on this line by the fact that a train running one or two hours late is considered ‘on time’ by the standards of Indian Railways.

While my unease was growing, I thought to use it to ‘gauge’ the sensitivity of Mr. Railway Minister. Starting from around 7 AM, I tweeted tagging Mr. Prabhu around 8 times, expecting some response from him.

But it did not have to come and it didn’t come. Either Mr. Prabhu didn’t see any of my tweets, something that is hard to believe going by the kinds he retweets daily, or he conveniently ignored them.

And that clears one thing – the fact that is known widely – that our politicians don’t see or don’t like to see the ‘uncomfortable facts’.

There is nothing wrong in what Mr. Prabhu does with his Twitter page. Even if selectively, he is active there. No one can expect he can do some miracle or can turnaround the massive public organization with massive losses run by the Indian government in such a short time with most of its senior Railway officials turning a blind eye to what should be treated as criminal offences in a civilized society.

We know a ‘totally’ politicised Indian Railways cannot accommodate its vast network of trains to manage ‘running efficiency and timeliness’ with the poor infrastructure it has right now but just to give indications of a positive symbolism, Mr. Prabhu could have responded to my tweets (and should respond even to negative or critical tweets).

What do you say Mr. Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu)?

Suresh Prabhu Collage

Featured Image Courtesy: Collage prepared from screenshots of IR’s website, Mr. Suresh Prabhu’s Twitter page and my tweets

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

IS NITISH KUMAR GOING TO RUN THE SHOW THIS TIME?

So, Nitish Kumar is running the show again. On November 20, riding on the electoral sweep made by his alliance with RJD and Congress, he was sworn in again, as Bihar’s chief minister for the 5th term.

But, is he running the show this time?

Is he going to run the show this time?

Between 2005 and 2015, water has consistently flown in the Ganga by Patna, Bihar’s capital city and the seat of power and the latest assembly poll results show its pace has been quite chaotic, quite unpredictable. A look at the post-election trends of 2010 and 2015 bares all.

The power corridors of Patna draw strength from the rural hinterlands of Bihar and those hinterlands have rechristened Lalu Prasad Yadav again as the king and the kingmaker of Bihar’s politics with his party RJD emerging as the largest political party in the 243 members strong Bihar Assembly with 80 seats. Nitish Kumar’s JDU, the undisputed leader in the state’s politics since 2005, has been forced to the number 2 spot with 71 seats.

Here it doesn’t matter, for this analysis, if JDU and BJP won 124 seats together, commanding a vote share of over 41% – even if it going to hurt JDU now and may even cause new equations to emerge in the days to come.

Let’s put aside the arithmetic of seat sharing of different alliances in these polls and see the projection of vote shares – because JDU was always in alliances – first it was a long one with BJP that it formed to oust Lalu’s RJD from Bihar – and now with the same RJD – and that speaks a lot.

In the last assembly polls in Bihar in 2010, JDU had contested on 141 seats winning 115 with a vote share of 22.58%. RJD, which had gone for 168 seats, was restricted to just 22 seats in the assembly with a vote share of 18.84%.

Now come to 2015.

JDU and RJD, both together in alliance now, fought on 101 seats each, way below the 141 mark of JDU and 168 of RJD in 2010. Obviously, they have been helped by synergies in ‘votebanks’ and a negative campaign by BJP.

But, symbolically, what we need to consider here is tale involved in the figures and how the subsequent events have started unfolding thereafter.

RJD won 80 out of 101 seats it fought with a vote share of 18.4%, more or less similar to the numeric strength of the last time – a more than significant gain in number of seats from the last time – especially when we see that we all had started writing political obituary of Lalu Yadav and RJD after Lalu was convicted in the fodder scam and was barred from any electoral process or political office.

JDU won 71 seats with 16.8% vote share, coming to a second in terms of number of seats while third in cornering votes – while it bagged top spots in both in 2010.

So, JDU is down by 6% in vote share and is almost reduced to half in number of seats – from its 2010 tally.

Political analysts may go to the finer details like number of seats fought then and now and the subsequent trends in the vote shares, but what is also a bare reality that, symbolically, the results should bring down the morale of the JDU workers (and of Nitish Kumar) as we live in a country where elections are still fought on perceptions and are driven by impulsive considerations.

Nitish Kumar who emerged as the most preferred political personality of Bihar in 2005 did so by targeting his politics and campaign on Lalu-Rabri Devi’s rule of 15 years which he termed ‘jungleraj’.

Now, Nitish Kumar stands dwarfed by the same Lalu Yadav and his RJD – the big brother in his government in Patna this time.

It may be said that the JDU-RJD-Congress alliance fought the polls in the name of Nitish Kumar who was the alliance’s chief-ministerial nominee and so he should be given credit to this sweeping electoral mandate of the alliance he stitched.

But numbers and trends post assembly election results pose some serious questions that only time will answer.

We know JDU’s party cadre and organizational strength is very week in Bihar and so far, before these assembly polls and the Lok Sabha election last year, had driven the show on BJP’s shoulders, the party with the largest vote share this time.

These results should serve as the warning signals for Nitish – for his party’s organizational structure in the state and for his political career that is now dependent on Lalu – and that makes Nitish the real loser in all this.

And it seems the process has started on not a welcome step.

Though, it is said Nitish has started on a tough note by ordering bureaucrats to bring back the state on a high pedestal of law and order immediately like it was earlier during his tenure, the other portfolio allocations raise questions.

To ensure smooth running of administration, Nitish has kept the home department and the general administration with himself. But what about appointments of Lalu’s sons as cabinet ministers?

Lalu’s both sons are politically naïve and socially inexperienced. Coronation of a 26 year old deputy CM, i.e., Lalu’s son Tejaswi, tells Lalu has started exacting his price. The two most important sectors of Bihar, that Nitish is known to have worked on, i.e., roads and health care, are now with Lalu’s sons. Finance is also with RJD.

Yes, being a senior partner with greater numbers, Lalu’s party needed a respectable share. But had it been for a changed Lalu who would be looking for a long-term political future for his sons, this decision would not have been here. His sons could have been given other less significant ministerial portfolios to gain experience first. But, it seems Lalu has prevailed in his trademark way of politics, keeping interests of his family first, like the way he made Rabri Devi CM in 1997.

And if it is so, it is not going to stop here!

So, it is a rough start we should say and it is going to be a difficult ride with many tides – something that we all can expect by the precedent so far.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

GENERIC PERCEPTION ABOUT POLICE IN INDIA, ESPECIALLY OUTSIDE ITS METRO CITIES!

We were rightly outraged on the Mumbai incident where cops in a police station were seen badly thrashing a couple – the girl and boy who were let off later without any charge or penal action.

In fact, we need to be sensitive enough to feel outraged on every such incident and we need to express it.

The only thing that it seldom happens.

And it answers why people in India fear police. Why they avoid going to police as far as they can – approaching the ‘keepers of the law’ only in extreme cases.

And if it is so, it is for a reason that is now ingrained in our day to day lives.

Just walk out of metro cities or some big cities with big media concentration, and it is a hinterland all around where mention of police instils as much fear (or indifference) in personal live as intrusion by other undesired elements.

The overall image of a policeman has become that of a corrupt government official who is grossly insensitive to human pain and emotion, who can easily break law in the name of maintaining law, who can extort money in the name of weeding out problems and would go to any extent if he is not paid his demanded sum, who, by all possibilities, will assault his subjects, especially if they are from the weaker sections – a man who sees his personal interests and gains first.

Yes, there are exceptions. Yes, there are many good policemen. But they are in minority.

I have seen three decades of my life and I have grown up hearing tales of police stations and police beats on sale – that this particular beat or police station was lucrative for under-the-table money or convenience fee (or extortion fee) it generated every day – that police used to kill criminals and at times innocent people in fake encounter cases – that police raids on habitual bootleggers and offenders usually used to happen whenever police did not receive its share.

Such ‘experiential stories’ are galore – not from any particular part of India – but from across the country – especially in India outside its metro cities – giving rise to ‘experiential observations’ like ‘a gentleman should keep away from police, except in extreme cases, the events that everyone prays he or she should not come across’.

Now, what happened in this Andheri Police Station case of Mumbai. Some policemen, in the full glare of their uniform, thrashed a boy and a girl whom they allege were drunk and quarrelling. The incident was caught on camera and the video clip went viral. And it was not the first time. We regularly come across such incidents and video clips of police atrocities going viral.

But what about incidents of police atrocity outside metro India or its significant urban clusters?

That generic perception of police, as written above, is still very strong with no signs of letdown. And here we need to keep this in mind that the police officials who serve in metro cities, have experience of serving in other cities as well, as transfers are routine. So, a police official may be transferred to a metro city but what about his mindset? He still has that mindset that makes him the master of his subjects – the Indians staying in other parts of the country.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

IF JDU-RJD-CONGRESS ALLIANCE GETS CLEAR MANDATE IN BIHAR?

WHAT IT TELLS ABOUT NATION’S POLITICS AND SOCIETY..

Given the fact that the broad issues that the Bihar elections are pinned on revolve around caste, religion and community arithmetic, the outcome of the polls will be interesting to watch for how they would affect the further political discourse in the country on some issues doing rounds in the national consciousness.

— The poll result will, first of all, tell vehemently that the Delhi poll debacle was not an aberration but was a clear indication of things and days to come – an ominous signal which was conveniently ignored by BJP. The logic will be supported well by BJP’s poor show in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra civic polls which preceded the ‘no-go’ in Bihar.

— The most worrying social aspect of it is that the country is indeed going through a rough patch with real threat of communal and caste-based flare-ups if the fringe elements and intolerant voices are not reined in now.

— The message will be that people are not taking developments like FTII row or appointments to other institutions, JNU row, reservation policy row or the ongoing legacy wars to claim legacies of the political luminaries from the country’s past.

— It will be a direct testimony on BJP’s performance. The message will be that the NDA government, so far, has failed to perform effectively on its promises of governance and development. BJP lost even in Jayapur in Panchayat polls, a village adopted by Narendra Modi in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi. It will further reinforce the demand that people need concrete development now, not even a blueprint will do.

— Narendra Modi will need to do some serious thinking about his political branding and imagery now, given the fact that the Bihar assembly election was basically a direct personal fight between Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar from JDU. Nitish had left the JDU-BJP alliance in Bihar on NDA’s projection of Narendra Modi as its prime-ministerial candidate and had stepped down after JDU’s crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha election last year. Also, it is not about other BJP leaders but about Narendra Modi. People have given BJP absolute majority because of Narendra Modi and Narendra Modi will obviously be worried about his political legacy.

— We can soon see Shiv Sena walking out of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra. The alliance has been in consistent controversies ever since the two old alliance partners came together again last year. Shiv Sena, the big brother-turned-humiliated-junior partner in Maharashtra is freshly recharged from its gains in Maharashtra civic polls, the first big shot post Maharashtra assembly polls in 2014, the polls in which BJP has performed poorly. The ongoing war of words between Uddhav Thakeray, the Shiv Sena chief, and Devendra Fadnavis, the Maharashtra chief minister, may precipitate into something big soon.

— The outcome will make it mandatory for BJP to do course correction with its politics, especially in the light of the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab (2016) and Uttar Pradesh (2017) – with realizations and changed requirements post the debacle in the Bihar assembly polls. BJP’s alliance with SAD in Punjab is not so smooth and the party has lost every subsequent election in UP after the grand show in the Lok Sabha election in May 2014.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

IF NDA GETS CLEAR MANDATE IN BIHAR?

WHAT IT TELLS ABOUT NATION’S POLITICS AND SOCIETY..

Given the fact that the broad issues that the Bihar elections are pinned on revolve around caste, religion and community arithmetic, the outcome of the polls will be interesting to watch for how they would affect the further political discourse in the country on some issues doing rounds in the national consciousness.

— The outcome will convey the message that the situation is not as bad as is being projected – that the ‘growing culture of intolerance’ or ‘strengthening fringe voices’, though disturbing, are not disturbing enough to affect the electoral mindsets yet – something that is the primary or the only electoral concern of every political outfit.

— Or there has been no such atmosphere on the ground expect some standalone incidents and what has been presented so far on this front, is basically a splendid political imagination and propaganda.

— That, BJP’s humiliating loss in the Delhi assembly polls was more an aberration than a trend – and that BJP is performing well on its promises. The party would then emphatically like to convey that Delhi’s loss was basically due to ‘lock stock and barrel’ transfer of Congress votes to Aam Aadmi Party and not due to its ‘alleged’ non-performance in Delhi through the Lieutenant-Governor’s office or due to the negative impact that the growing fringe voice brought home. To support this, the party has in its courtyard the evergreen logic that its vote share remained the same, even if it could register win in just three assembly seats.

— That, the country’s society is getting more open about the ‘reservation debate’ – that the widespread social feeling is in sync with the deepening perception that the ‘whole affirmative action policymaking’ needs an overhaul now – after decades of ‘status quo’ compromised by political compulsions.

— That Narendra Modi is still the most popular political leader of India and still commands people’s trust.

— That BJP still has better chances to fight and win the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, something that will further bolster its claims to retake the Indian Parliament again in 2019 General Elections.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WAHT RAHUL GANDHI COULD NOT DO?

Rahul Gandhi has been missing the point – and the phenomenon is now so famous that it has become a routine stuff in Indian politics of the day.

He could not capitalize on the ‘brand Kalawati’, a grand opening that he had got in Indian politics (with a possible tag of ‘politician with a difference’), and let her be a dragging point for his political career when it started maturing.

He could not come forward and take the country’s leadership in unorthodox ways that the country needed. He had the golden opportunity of taking credit of giving India’s its Lokpal after the massively popular anti-corruption movement of 2011 and thus had the space to present himself as the ‘new type leader of Indian masses’ but he failed to do so, even if he later on, famously tore down his own government’s document to ‘protect’ tainted lawmakers.

No effective movement on ‘Lokpal’ or no effective curb on political corruption later on told us that Rahul failed to translate display of his public aggression and maturity into action. In fact, if we go by the need to set the precedent, even his family needs to come clean on corruption allegations on Robert Vadra, his brother-in-law.

He very eloquently spoke about his hatred of corruption at a FICCI event in December 2013 – “Biggest issue is corruption, it is an unacceptable burden on our people. We must fight corruption.” – while just before that, his party’s government in Maharashtra had ‘summarily rejected the Adarsh Housing Society scam report (report which implicated many political leaders and bureaucrats). While speaking at the FICCI AGM, he was silent on this report.

Questions over Rahul’s intent were being raised as early as 2010 with Congress’ debacle in Bihar assembly polls. And with every such political development where Rahul could have scored a point well above the others, something that he never did, questions on his intent became more and more routine.

Why did Rahul Gandhi took almost a week (Nido Taniam’s incident happened on January 29 last year) to call the Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, to ensure justice for Nido? Nido Taniam, a 20-year old student from Arunachal Pradesh, was beaten fatally by some shopkeepers in the Lajpat Nagar market of Delhi after he reacted to the racist comments by them, and who, later on, succumbed to his injuries.

There was a visible ‘bias’ in Rahul Gandhi’s visits to places like Bhatta Parsaul, Michpur, Maval and now to Bisada and Sunped, the Haryana villages.

Where his party was in power, Rahul Gandhi took some 8 days in visiting the crime scenes, i.e., in Mirchpur in Haryana in April 2010 where Dalits were murdered and tortured and in Maval in Pune in August 2011 where protesting farmers were killed in police firing.

While he was very active in visiting places where he was in political opposition like Bhatta Parsaul in Greater Noida (Uttar Pradesh), the symbolic point of 2011 Uttar Pradesh land acquisition protests. During May 7-9, 2011, the village had violent protests leading to death of some policemen and villagers and Rahul, despite prohibitory orders, was in the village on May 11 to protest along with villagers. Same, we can say, about Bisada in Greater Noida and Sunped in Faridabad (Haryana, that has now a BJP government).

Farm suicides in Maharashtra have been a regular curse but Rahul was never so alarmed about visiting the state when his party’s government was there, but he mapped the country in most other areas considered crisis hotbeds of farmers’ suicides and agrarian crisis.

And if we scratch more, we will easily come across many more such instances.

The nation knows Rahul Gandhi is not corrupt. Instead, most political commentators prefer to call him a ‘reluctant’ (or forced) politician.

In retrospective, it seems he could never set his eyes on his targets or we can say he could never set his aims for his trajectory ahead or he was never careful about his political future ahead.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..SILVERLINING

THE SILVERLINING

In these figures lies the silverlining.

Yes, it is true information-technology or communication revolution through deep tele-density cannot achieve the purpose alone.

But it is equally true that India cannot achieve the objective until it is technologically equipped to reach out to its masses – bypassing the ‘middle meddling’.

India needs to ramp up the process now and have to be consistent with the process – something that we can rely on more logically if it is weaved with involvement of global companies and thus many countries.

Big multinationals like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Qualcomm or even India’s Bharti are ‘big lobbying powerhouses’ that would ensure ‘straightness” of the process to keep their profits ‘straight’ and linearly up.

And they would ensure that at any cost when they get such a big market – the youngest nation in the world with 65% of its population below 35 – the population segment that is the first user of the products of telecom revolution and internet spread.

The UN Broadband Commission report (The State of Broadband) released on September 21 ranked India at 131 in ‘fixed broadband’ connections category and at 155 on ‘mobile broadband’ connections. These figures are significantly lower than what they were in earlier rankings – 125 for fixed lines and 113 for mobile connections.

But when seen relative to high telecom reach in India – to almost 80% of the population – and with 81 crore Indians below – the combination represent an unparalleled business opportunity.

The report says 18% individuals use internet in India (as in 2014) and the household penetration rate of internet is just at 15%.

So, the companies – the telecom operators, the internet outfits like the social media companies and e-commerce firms, the media outlets and everyone else – has a huge pool to capture.

India’s is already the biggest market of smartphones and is expected to have around 170 million annual of them annually shipped by 2018.

Reports also say India will have 500 million internet users by the end of 2015. And obviously most of the internet traffic would be mobile.

It is here that opportunity lies and it is here that India needs to trade cautiously to direct its politics.

Like carrying Doordarshan is mandatory on satellite channel platforms, government can make it mandatory for every operator to provide a ‘government devised’ communication channel to every subscriber – on telecom technologies – and on internet technologies. In fact, government can devise a communication package that works with mobile phones even in absence of internet connections.

India doesn’t need CSR activities but the ‘communication channels’ provided by the telecom firms and internet vendors.

Harsh Mander writes in his book – ‘Art, culture, poetry and films have a huge role to play in this (uplifting India’s poor). There are no people in the world who are as close to their cinema as we are.’

Quite logical. Add to it the most logical and most ‘pervasive’ communication tool – internet – through mobile phones.

Experts say India need huge investment to uplift its masses. Mander puts it at 10% of GDP. Other estimates also put it at such unprecedented level that it becomes impossible for government to implement that.

India needs industry partnership there.

And industries are ready to invest in India – in its huge market – on its human pool – a market with its middle class larger than Europe. A Financial Times report has put India as the favourite FDI destination surpassing China and the US.

That would provide the government the desperately needed platform for ‘insightful collaborative efforts’ to reach out to every citizen individually.

Yes, it is going to be a mammoth exercise – connecting hundreds of millions of dots – but it is the most practical way to do it.

The government needs to provide information first – and then must ensure it with follow ups – and furthering the process to weave an ecosystem intended help the last citizen of the country – through direct cash transfer – through more and more accounts – through government schemes and more importantly how to own those government schemes – through direct disbursal of every resource – ending the culture of meddling institutions like Gram Panchayats, community health centres, district monitoring committees and so on.

And the government needs to ensure that the distribution reaches to the more needy sections of the population – and not just to the middle class. The government must ensure the equitable flow – from its burgeoning middleclass to its ‘citizens-in-need’. It is good that this high tele-density reaches even to many poor – living below the global poverty standard.

These are just some of the thoughts. The universe of them to traverse is vast – and so are the opportunities.

Other parts of the write-up:
WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important/

WHY MODI’S ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ PUSH IN ‘SILICON VALLEY’ IS IMPORTANT..LET’S CONNECT DOTS
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/why-modis-digital-india-push-in-silicon-valley-is-important-ii/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/