DEMONETIZATION IS A RELEVANT EXAMPLE TO UNDERSTAND WHY EXIT POLLS FAIL IN INDIA

Demonetisation has been equalled with a demon that has sort of ruined ordinary lives in India. Its opponents have been vocal from the day 1, when prime minister Narendra Modi announced the move on November 8, 2016. The move has been widely panned even outside India.

If we go for the proponents and supporters of it, they are certainly outnumbered by the huge army of anti-demonetisation voices. The government has got some good voices, with many economics experts on its side, but they fall short of the outreach demonetisation opponents enjoy.

And they have compelling factors behind it.

Like endless problems faced by people during the last three months of demonetisation that not only affected their daily lives but also proved a nightmare for family functions, be it parties, anniversaries or weddings! Everything went haywire. Dozens died in bank queues. Many committed suicide out of despair. You were treated like a thief or culprit to claim even your hard earned money. The pain has been so deep that even the government had to accept it. People’s plight forced even many pro-demonetisation voices to question its messy implementation.

These were quite compelling factors to make an ideal case where the BJP would face complete rout in every upcoming electoral battle in the demonetisation aftermath.

But it didn’t happen. There was no aftermath on this front.

Civic polls are the primary interface in our electoral system where the smallest units of our legislature, Panchayat institutions, at village, block and district levels, elect their representatives. Theoretically, demonetisation pangs were thought to be most severe for people at the bottom of the pyramid in our society, people in our villages, towns and small cities, people who vote in our civic polls.

But post demonetisation, the BJP has won civic polls in three states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and most recently in Maharashtra where it registered a stellar victory by winning 8 out of 10 municipal corporations. In Odisha, the party displaced Congress to emerge as the main opposition and threat to the ruling BJD. Besides, the BJP also won local bodies polls and bypolls in Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Faridabad.

Theoretically, it should never have happened. These voters should have rejected the BJP en masse.

But, practically, it didn’t happen. These poll outcomes show the voters have, in fact, shown increased faith in the BJP government after the demonetisation move, a paradox to all the misery demonetisation brought.

The pundits, experts, analysts, politicians, activists and people are scratching their heads in trying to understand how this is happening. It is proving a black-hole for them.

In fact, this mindset is representative of our society which has multiple layers, something that makes it a tough nut to crack for any political party or marketer or social campaign. Most of the times it proves a black-hole. In spite of social media and internet advances, India is still not in public domain where researchers/marketers/surveyors can sift through the metadata and big data to assess society’s preferences for a brand, be a commercial brand or a social ones like demonetisation or our politicians .

And the task becomes almost impossible when it comes to gauge people’s mood on who should represent them politically. Obviously, the ‘why’ of it is inherent to the ‘who’ of it. That is the underlying reason exit polls fail in India. The pollsters don’t have data to read into people’s mind, their preferences and habits. And almost of them don’t go beyond few pockets to complete their surveys. So, the extract, based on which they make their final projections is always ‘undone’ or sketchy. And when it happens so, luck becomes the central character in bridging this telling gap between reality and ‘projection’. And we all know most of the times this ‘telling gap’ remains there to tell its tales once the chaos subsides.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT IS HINDUTVA FOR YOU?

What is Hindutva for you? Does the word Hindu signify a religion or is it symbolic of a way of life?

For me, Hindutva or Hinduism or being Hindu is a way of life. And the origin of the word Hindu confirms it. In ancient times, Persian and Greek people would use the word Hindu for the people of the Indian Subcontinent living on this side of the river Indus. So it basically connoted a geographical and cultural identity. Though there are differences on when the word Hindu became synonymous with a religious identity – in medieval or British colonial India – but it did happen so. And if we talk of the last or this Century – it is now an established fact that Hinduism or the Hindu religion is the largest religion of India in terms of number of followers.

It is said that Savarkar explained the term Hindutva in his essay to explain Indian national identity. But if the word could not gain universal or wide acceptance in India, there were inherent reasons behind it and the main was that Hindutva was still seen in the context of Hinduism or Hindu religion. After the independence, some rightwing political outfits made politics based on Hindutva their ideology and agenda. With time their sphere of influence increased and with it increased the allegations that these parties were using religion to gain political mileage – be it the day-to-day politics or electoral politics.

To continue..

TOMORROW IS A BIG DAY FOR ‘HINDUTVA’

A seven judge bench of the Supreme Court is going to deliberate on its 1995 verdict that defined ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ as a ‘way of life’.

While reinstating Shiv Sena’s Manohar Joshi and the BJP’s Ramchandra Kapse assembly election victories, Justice JS Verma had observed, “It is a fallacy and an error of law to proceed on the assumption that any reference to Hindutva or Hinduism in a speech makes it automatically a speech based on Hindu religion as opposed to other religions.”

His bench, in fact, further said that ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ represented India’s people and its cultural ethos – “It may well be that these words are used in the speech to promote secularism and to emphasise the way of life of the Indian people and the Indian culture or ethos, or to criticise the policy of any political party as discriminatory or intolerant.”

It was an epoch-defining judgment which cleared the path of the BJP and the like-minded parties who weaved their politics on Hinduism and Hindutva as it removed the legal hurdle due to the interpretation of ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ as under religion and thus as corrupt practices under the Representation of People (RPA) Act.

Its Section 123 (3-A) says, “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language, by a candidate or his agent or any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate.”

And that defines one of the many corrupt practices it lays norms for.

Now, according to this landmark judgment, any electoral practice aimed at influencing voters in the name of ‘Hindutva and Hinduism’ doesn’t constitute the case for corruption because Hindutva is not a religion but an all-encompassing term that defines the Indian way of life.

But the verdict has not been beyond questions, even from different judges of the Supreme Court. So anything can happen tomorrow.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

ACTIVISTS JOINING POLITICS: A WELCOME SIGN FOR INDIAN DEMOCRACY

“I have been fasting for the last 16 years. I haven’t got anything from it yet. I am ending my fast today. I want to try a different agitation now. I will contest against the Chief Minister of Manipur in the upcoming state elections.”

Another activist joining politics – that is always a welcome step for Indian democracy. On July 31, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, two pivots of the 2011 anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, announced that they would launch their political party formally on October 2, on the Gandhi Jayanti Day.

Yogendra and Prashant are from the latest crop of the experimental activists who are joining politics after trying their hands in activism for a long period and we can hope that their experience would push them to cleanse the system as they claim and would deliver a politics that would truly be common man centric.

We can say it all began with the Anna’s movement in 2011. It was a massively successful civil society movement in India after decades that forced the government to take notice.

First it was Arvind Kejriwal and his group of supporters from ‘India Against Corruption’ who took the political plunge after they saw that their movement was losing direction and the government was getting an upper hand. Initially, Yogendra and Prashant were with Kejriwal. But later difference cropped up resulting in Kejriwal expelling Yogendra Yadav, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan from the party. In the wave that began with Anna’s movement, many other activists from across the country soon joined the new political party that emerged from the movement – the Aam Aadmi Party.

That is a spontaneous reaction from the people who have been fighting honestly for the last many years – that is spontaneous with Irom Sharmila who has become a global icon of peace and the struggle for it. It is heartening for Indian democracy that the trend has continued and Irom Sharmila is the most notable addition to it after Arvind Kejriwal.

The world has seen the resolve Irom Sharmila has and so we can say she will follow her course even in the future with same zeal. She is yet another in the growing list of activists who are taking a plunge in the mainstream politics and that is a welcome sign for Indian democracy.

Democracy is a participatory process. Every citizen of the country needs to participate in the process to nurture it, to make it strong. Likewise, they need to participate in the acts to keep a check on the factors that weaken it.

A democracy is run by its political institutions.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

STORIES THAT WILL DO THE TALKING TOMORROW – GUJARAT AND VARANASI

Obviously the first one will be on who will be the next chief minister of Gujarat after Anandiben Patel, the outgoing CM, shocked everyone by announcing her wish to retire in a Facebook post. After her Facebook post that took the political and media circles by storm, she soon went to meet the Governor of the state to apprise him of the development.

Obviously we were expecting it – especially after the Patel reservation agitation that affected many parts of the state and was seen as a clear case of mishandling by Anandiben Patel. The agitation that got violent is now threatening the unbridled run of the BJP in the state after many Dalit atrocity incidents that has galvanized the Dalit community against the BJP.

Dalit or the SC voters may be just 8 percent in Gujarat and the minority voters may be just 12 percent, but their combine is a formidable foe in Uttar Pradesh where these two communities together form 38.5 percent of the population.

To send a message that BJP itself was worried on rising anti-Dalit incidents, especially to check the chances and social engineering of Mayawati’s Dalit-Muslim combine in Uttar Pradesh, where assembly polls are slated to be held early next year, before Gujarat goes to the polls somewhere in the last month of the year, the party had to take some tough decision.

And Anandiben Patel was the natural target here. She proved a weak CM who could not take along or tame the different communities of the state. To add to it, her family was entangled in corruption allegations.

And sacrificing Anandiben would serve another purpose – it would also help to appease the OBC voters in Uttar Pradesh. OBCs form the largest block of the population of the state – around 45 percent – and the BJP is targeting this vote bank. It has replaced its upper caste state president with an OBC face and will certainly try to encash the OBC credentials of prime minister Modi as it did in Lok Sabha polls.

To continue..

AAP LEADERS ARRESTED, BJP MEMBERS LET OFF FOR SIMILAR OFFENCES IS LOPSIDED JUSTICE

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

Some Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs are in jail. Some are out on bail. Some are in the imminent threat of being put behind bars.

If the law is catching up with them, it means they would have committed some criminal activities.

Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. So the law is bound to catch up with them, or in fact everyone who is found on the wrong side of it, irrespective of affiliations and influences.

But is it so black and white?

We all know it isn’t so. We know our legal system has taken different reincarnations based on affiliation and patronage and its most brazen consequences are seen in our policing and criminal investigation systems.

That is why our premier investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has been called a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court.

That is why the courts don’t believe in the testimony recorded before the police and prefer the one delivered in the courtroom. That is why terms like “police reforms” or “CBI independence” have become so debatable that we don’t know if they will have logical conclusions at all.
The hunger for power and the penchant to stick to that power make our policing and criminal investigation systems mere pawns in the hands of those who form the government.

These pawns are used at will – to promote one’s interests, or to settle scores, or to rein in elements that make noise or pose threats. Yes, some form of honest policing is still there but it is limited to policing the common man where no one is interested to intervene.

The trouble that the AAP leaders are in is a case in point.

Some AAP MLAs like Mahendra Yadav and Akhilesh Tripathi were arrested on charges including rioting and preventing public servants from discharging duties.

BJP’s Faggan Singh Kulaste, who has been made a Union minister in the latest Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also been accused of rioting, armed with deadly weapons, wrongful restraint and many others (including charges related to obscene acts), an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) finds. The ADR analysis is based on his latest self-sworn affidavit.

Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das who belongs to the BJP is also accused of preventing public servants from discharging duties and wrongful restraint. The ADR analysis of his self-sworn affidavit shows a total of eight cases registered against him including under two sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that deal with serious offences.

AAP MLA Manoj Kumar was arrested in a land grabbing case and was later released on bail. He was slapped with sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the IPC.

BJP’s Naba Kumar Doley, who is the panchayat and rural development minister of Assam, has allegations under three IPC sections that deal with serious offences against him, the ADR analysis says. Charges against him include “making a false document (IPC section 464)”, “charge related to forgery (IPC section 463)”, “charges related to giving and fabricating false evidence (IPC sections 191, 192, 193) and so on.

Haryana’s animal husbandry minister Om Prakash Dhankar has declared in his affidavit that he is facing charges under section 147 (charges related to rioting) and section 341 (wrongful restraint) of the IPC among others.

Former minister in the Maharashtra Cabinet, Eknath Khadse of the BJP, who was forced to resign in the Dawood Ibrahim call case and was later given a clean chit, had declared charges under IPC sections dealing with serious offences like section 354 (charge related to assault or criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modesty) among others in his self-sworn affidavit.

AAP Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan was recently arrested under the IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman). Later, section 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the IPC was also added. The judge, while releasing Khan on bail, said that keeping him in jail would not serve any purpose and that Khan was not needed for investigation.

Former Union minister of state of panchayati raj, Nihal Chand Meghwal, who is a BJP MP from Rajasthan and who was dropped in the latest round of Cabinet reshuffle, is accused in a rape case. Though Meghwal was given a clean chit earlier and the courts refused to entertain the woman’s plea, later the same was admitted and is being heard by an ADJ court.

They all are free men, in spite of the serious charges against them. And they are just few names from a long list spread across parties and states in the federation of India.

So it is still basically about which side of the law you are but with a distorted paradigm to it – whether you are in power or you are in Opposition.

If you are from the establishment or from the party in power, you are clearly treated above the law. On the contrary, if you are from the Opposition benches and in the cross hairs of the ruling party, you are likely to be made an example by the law enforcement agencies – of their swiftness and efficiency.

©SantoshChaubey

BEHIND RAHUL GANDHI’S COMING OF AGE STORY LIES THE HUMBLE POTATO

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

Today, while speaking on price rise in Parliament, Rahul Gandhi again revisited his favourite metaphor – potato – and thankfully his background team had supplied him with a logical and well-researched dataset this time.

While taking on the Narendra Modi government left, right and centre, and saying that the prices of the essential commodities have increased multi-fold during the first two years of Modi sarkar, he reined in his temptation to get longwinded with his most-loved weapon of comparative criticism – the good old potato.

He said the price of potato was Rs 23 in May 2014 and that has gone up to Rs 28 in July 2016. Well, that is the prevailing market price and has been hovering somewhere in the range of Rs 20 to 30 a kilo in Delhi’s retail markets.

We can understand that Rahul Gandhi could not set aside his temptation to insert potato in his high-voltage Lok Sabha speech today, but we should appreciate that he didn’t go on exaggerating about its price. The truth is Rahul had plenty of other data to bolster his claims, including the sky-high prices of lentils, a real worry for all.

The “Arhar Modi” jibe has really caught on, to his credit.

Rahul loves to use metaphors in his speeches. Like “Kalawati”, “Girish” and others, potato, too, is an important (and recurring) metaphor in Rahul’s speeches.

He reinserts these words like leitmotifs to express his concerns on the misery of the farming community in some pockets of India (especially in the non-Congress ruled states).

It seems, with time, he has worked on it and has learnt his lessons – and is gradually ratcheting up his elocution skills – from one event to the next.

Even the last time, when Rahul Gandhi had used the “potato” emphatically in his speech, it was quite clear that his speechwriters had worked diligently on the background behind his chosen words. The data to back up his claims reflected Rahul’s genuine concern for the poor, of which the “potato prices” were an important and sincere marker.

It was a Monday, October 7, 2013. The audience had come to hear the Congress vice-president during the stone-laying event of Uttar Pradesh’s first mega food park in his parliamentary constituency, Amethi, that was being set by the Aditya Birla group (a project that was later junked).

It being an agricultural event, the ambience was apt to come back once again to the potato metaphor, in order to contextualise how the farmers suffered in the non-Congress ruled states.

And he made good use of it. He got the clear tab on the prevailing potato prices in the area this time (unlike in Amreli in December 2012) from the crowd and juxtaposed the low potato prices with the high potato chips prices, while laying out the factors responsible for farmers’ misery.

Okay, if the potato was retailing at around Rs 20 a kilo in urban centres then, the Rs 10 a kilo price tag in rural areas was acceptable. So, Rahul’s potato wisdom sounded somewhat logical. No Monday blues.

When we see the genesis and progress of Rahul Gandhi’s “potato metaphors”, we can clearly how he has beefed up his knowledge base about his favourite idea and the difference from then to now is for everyone to see.

During campaigning in Amreli for Gujarat assembly elections on December 11, 2012, Rahul Gandhi had got confused over potato pricing while connecting it with the potato chips economics. He asked the audience about the potato price there and went on quoting it at Rs 3 a kilo. Making a pitch for FDI in retail, he said while potato was being sold at Rs 3 a kilo, while a small potato chips packet was sold sold at Rs 10.

The fact was – in Amreli, when Rahul Gandhi was delivering his speech, the minimum price for a kilo of potatoes was Rs 10 at the wholesale market, and much higher in the retail market.

Rahul Gandhi’s Congress was in the Union government in Delhi then and was trying to introduce the retail FDI, which the BJP, then in opposition in the Centre, was vehemently opposing. Rahul Gandhi and his speechwriters, in their zest to prove the FDI logic, didn’t bother to crosscheck their numbers.

Potato, for Rahul Gandhi, got cheaper than even Rs 3 a kilo in December 2011. At the Farrukhabad and Kannauj rallies on December 17, 2011, Rahul Gandhi told farmers that while the potato was being sold for Rs 2 or less a kilo, a potato chips packet fetched Rs 10.

He reiterated his stand the next month – sticking to his claim. At a Tarn Taran rally in January 2012, the potato price quoted by Rahul again came out to be Rs 2 or less than Rs 2 a kilo. While pitching for FDI in retail, Rahul said that farmers should support it as potato chips made from “half a potato” were sols at much higher price points that the potato itself. Rahul asserted that a free market sector can only be the answer to such huge price differentials where the farmer would get more and fairer options to sell his produce.

From December 2011 to December 2012, for Rahul Gandhi, the potato price had gone up by Rs 1 only, and that too, from the paltry figure of Rs 2 to Rs 3 a kilo.

Illogical, unacceptable were these outlandish claims.

And what added more to the aura of scepticism around Rahul Gandhi’s statements was the issue he was focusing on – a policy measure, FDI in retail, on which the country and its politics was visibly divided.

Gone are the days when any vegetable would be available at such low prices. Potato at Rs 2 or 3 a kilo used to be the thing of the last century, at around late 80s and early 90s.

So, from that trend, the potato price of Rs 10 a kilo from 2012 to 2013 showed a logical improvement in Rahul’s deployment of data. It was more or less acceptable given the localisation factor of the place where the speech was being delivered.

And with the Parliament speech Thursday, it seems the course correction process is complete.

Rahul Gandhi’s address in Parliament today has given us hopes that from now onwards we will see a better rationalisation of his potato metaphor whenever he chooses to use it in order to target the political opposition, particularly the Narendra Modi government.

©SantoshChaubey

WHY EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD FLOOD AS WELL..

The Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly house was scene to some chaotic developments yesterday. The political opposition led by the Congress was taking on the Madhya Pradesh government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan and an all around ruckus was in the air.

And in the centre of it was the poor common man – this time afflicted by the flood fury!

And by essential by-product of it – the designs of bureaucratic corruption!

The issue in point was distribution of adulterated and rotten wheat sacks to the flood victims. Reports said some wheat sacks contained as much as 20 kg soil in a pack of 50 kg.

The news had come from a state which has a popular chief minister who has been consistently elected by his constituency and who is now in his third consecutive term.

Well, it’s a flourishing business – the relief and rescue work in the aftermath of annual spells of droughts followed by Monsoon floods – the annual pilgrimage for bureaucrats and politicians who see them as the opportune channels to siphon off money.

We should be thankful journalists like P. Sainath who devoted their whole life to rural reporting, especially on farm suicides, droughts and agrarian crisis. The book written by Sainath, ‘Everybody Loves A Good Drought’, makes for a pithy and informed reading. It shows how droughts have become big money spinners for the governing machinery and the appendages dependent on it.

He writes, “A great deal of drought ‘relief’ goes into contracts handed over to private parties. These are to lay roads, dig wells, send out water tankers, build bridges, repair tanks –– the works. Think that can’t total up to much? Think again. The money that goes into this industry in a single year can make the withdrawals from Bihar’s animal husbandry department look like so many minor fiddles. And the Bihar scam lasted a decade and a half. The charm of this scam is that it is largely ‘legal’. And it has soul. It’s all in a good cause. The tragedy, of course, is that it rarely addresses the real problems of drought and water scarcity.”

The above paragraph from his book is enough to sum up the malaise of corruption that has deeply corroded the drought management system in our country. His book says the drought victims call the drought relief bounty “teesra fasl (the third crop), a harvest that never reaches them.

Floods are in the same category – the annual ritual of harvesting illicit wealth.

It’s not that P. Sainath was the first person to write on such issue. And as long as the human apathy goes, there will always be the concerned souls exploring our hinterlands to tell their stories who are left on the margins to die. Yes, but P. Sainath gave us a seminal book, an event to talk about, a reference to go back, again and again.

We are yet to see such a consolidated work on floods – because floods, at times, prove a better milking cow than droughts for corrupt officials.

The 2013 Uttarakhand floods disaster killed thousands. The rehabilitation process is still not over. But see the crass apathy of the bureaucratic machinery. Those tasked with relief and rescue efforts were busy in minting money – submitting forged bills and manipulating relief figures. While thousands had died and many more thousands were displaced and were in imminent danger, the Uttarakhand rescue officials were busy in ordering lavish foods in hotel accommodations that they claimed cost them Rs. 7000 a night. This and many more shocking details have emerged in many RTI replies. The information obtained clearly shows how the data were manipulated for personal gains – Rs. 200 for half a litre milk, diesel bills for two-wheelers, relief materials to the same lot of victims again and again and so on.

In the season of annual Monsoon floods, first it is about manipulating resources in the name of checking immediate human crisis elements like arranging shelter and food for the victims. In the immediate aftermath, it comes to controlling a looming epidemic because of the stagnant water that carries dead carcass and other pollutants. The rapidly going up floodwater presents a golden opportunity to push for anything and everything – no tenders, no negotiations. The rush to keep supply lines sustained sees cheaper relief materials and medicines being pushed at higher cost. Floods, in that sense, provide a better opportunity to money vultures than droughts.

Post this comes the phase of rebuilding infrastructure – roads, bridges, railway tracks, embankments – and here the big money lies. Contracts are given to the parties and we all know how it is done.

We all, every year, think about this basic question – that why can’t the administration lay out a stronger layer of concrete that would last for at least four-five years? We all know the answer – corruption. Every year, new tender is floated and fund is released to the contractor carrying the work. And it is a good deal for everyone – from government officials to contractors. Money changes hands. The process is repeated year after year, sometimes season after season.

And the practice goes long back. In fact, a 2007 report by the Financial Times, quoting commentators and media reports wrote, “Even flood prevention mechanisms, such as river embankments and sluice gates, are deliberately left unmaintained. Every time they are washed away, it means more money for the contractors, technocrats and politicians.”

The 2007 Financial Times report was based on reports of corruption that was siphoning off money that should have ideally gone to the victims of the 2007 floods that had affected India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Stories of manipulation and corruption in the 2008 Kosi floods of Bihar are yet another eye opener.

Floods present a similar opportunity, like drought – or in fact any natural calamity of big scale – but what makes floods and droughts big opportunities for money minded vultures – are their geographical spread and regular frequency. Their earning potential far outweighs other catastrophic happenings like earthquake, cloud burst or cyclone. These are localized in nature and thus are limited in scope. And even then we find our Google searches inundated with the news reports of corruption and manipulation in their aftermath – replete with stories of human misery.

Big projects, big money. Small projects, small money. Simple!

If everybody loves a good drought .. ‘that’ everybody loves a good flood as well!

©SantoshChaubey

EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD FLOOD AS WELL..

The news came from Madhya Pradesh which has a popular chief minister who has been consistently elected by his constituency and who is now in his third consecutive term.

The Madhya Pradesh assembly had some chaotic scenes today where one political class was taking on the other – the opposition over the ruling class – and the issue in point was distribution of adulterated and rotten wheat sacks to the flood victims. Reports said some wheat sacks contained as much as 20 kg soil in a pack of 50 kg.

Well, it’s a flourishing business. We should be thankful to P. Sainath, a sincere career journalist, who devoted his whole life to rural reporting, especially on farm suicides, droughts and agrarian crisis. The book ‘Everybody Loves A Good Drought’ makes for a pithy and informed reading. It shows how droughts have become big money spinners for the governing machinery and the appendages dependent on it.

Floods present a similar opportunity, in fact any natural calamity of big scale – but what makes floods and droughts big opportunities for money minded vultures – are their geographical spread and regular frequency. Their earning potential far outweighs other catastrophic happenings like earthquake, cloud burst or cyclone. These are localized in nature and thus limited in scope for making money.

Big projects, big money. Small projects, small money. Simple!

So, it everybody loves a good drought..’that’ everybody loves a good flood as well!

©SantoshChaubey

UPA APPOINTED GOVERNORS WHO ARE STILL IN OFFICE (AND WHY)..

Nine states still have Governors appointed by the UPA.

Some of them are completing their terms this year and some the next year. And none of these states have a BJP government. Yes, the party in alliance in two states – in Andhra Pradesh (TDP) and in J&K (PDP) – but the Governors of both of these states are retired bureaucrats and working with bureaucrats is always easy than with politicians. They are always amenable to be co-opted.

Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, who has the additional charge of Telangana, is completing his term next year. He is a former IPS officer and IB Director. N.N. Vohra, who is J&K’s Governor since June 2008, is a former Union Home and Defence Secretary.

Tamil Nadu and Odisha have strong non-BJP state governments with strong chief ministers and the BJP would not like to have adventures here. K Rosaiah, a Congress man and the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister, was appointed Tamil Nadu’s Governor in August 2011 while S.C. Jamir, a former Congress chief minister of Nagaland is Odisha’s Governor since March 2013.

Ram Naresh Yadav, the controversial Madhya Pradesh Governor, is an old Janata Party name though he contested his last election on a Congress ticket. As a Janata Party MLA, he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1977 to 1979.

K. K. Paul who was shifted from Mizoram to Uttarakhand in January 2015, is again a UPA appointee. He was appointed by the UPA Government as the Meghalaya Governor in July 2013. He is a retired IPS officer and the former Delhi Police Commissioner.

Governors of Mizoram and Sikkim, electorally unimportant states, have former Indian government officials as their Governors. Mizoram’s Nirbhay Sharma, who has been transferred from Arunachal Pradesh, is a retired Indian Army official while Sikkim’s Shriniwas Patil, though an NCP MP, is a retired bureaucrat. Also, either BJP or any of its ally is not in the office in these two peaceful north-east states don’t have governments.

They are either the BJP men or have been efficiently co-opted by the BJP – as is the case with non-political Governors appointed by the NDA – or even with the Governors appointed by the UPA. They hold the office directly under the control of the Union Government – willingly or unwillingly.

©SantoshChaubey