GODAVARI PUSHKARAM STAMPEDE: MASSES DO DETEST UNABASHED VVIP CULTURE, BUT..

Political opposition is blaming Andhra Pradesh chief-minister N Chandrababu Naidu for Godavari Pushkaram stampede in Rajahmundry though the report by his administration (after all, the collector of the district is from his governance spokes only) tries to blame pilgrims for the chaos that crushed 29 people to death.

Though the TDP, the ruling party of AP, dismissed any such report, the collector did send it. The TDP also says opening the religious ritual, with special planetary conditions times time which the calculations say has come this after 144 years, is ‘privilege of Chandrababu Naidu’.

Even if he and his entourage kept the ‘area’ blocked – even if he overstayed – even if the crowd there was increasing in count with every passing moment – even if the temperature was making the heat unbearable – even if the administration (including the police) there was not prepared to crowd.

Can we forgive the administration with this ‘criminal negligence’?

Can we take this argument that the administration did not expect ‘these many’ to turn up?

And moreover, can we forgive such politicians who, knowingly or unknowingly’ cause such human tragedies and then give such lame logics like ‘too great a number’ or ‘it was his privilege to open the festival and to be there’?

Certainly not!

But when would we speak up?

This is not a standalone example. Politicians behaving like kings have become so common that it is considered a societal norm. In fact, we find prevalence of VVIP (or VIP) culture among politicians and members of higher-level bureaucracy. They are in every locality. They are in every town. They are in every district. They are in every state. They are the dominant tools of India’s governing machinery.

While watching news reports about Rajahmundry stampede on television, during the course of channel sifting, a movie caught my attention. I watched some last minutes of it a movie channel. Venkatesh was hero, so it should be a Telugu movie dubbed in Hindi. The movie was complete trash and with illogical jumps for the duration I saw.

But what caught my attention was the plot element unveiling in the film’s climax – a hero fighting a politician and a servile administration – forcing the minister, who is in desperate need of some sort of surgical procedure, to go to the operation theatre of a government hospital.

Now, the minister and the administration don’t want it and the administration (including the police) is hell-bent on sending the minister to some private hospital.

The ‘element of VVIP culture’ in the movie caught my attention here because I was thinking on the same line at that time.

The hero forces the ‘health minister’ to wait like others, on ground in the lobby, with other ordinary patients there.

A sincere looking doctor assures the hero that the minister would indeed be operated in the same hospital but later colludes with the police and opens the back gate of the operation theatre and the minister is taken to an ambulance there so that he could immediately be transferred to a private hospital.

Hero comes to know it and though he is shot twice while finding his way through the policemen, he ultimately kills the minister by hanging him from the hospital wall.

Public waiting there cheers him for this heroic. And in the next frame, the hero is shown smiling and walking with the crowd. And the movie ends there.

Well, it can happen in such films only – not acceptable in a democratic society.

But films on such themes and masses watching them tell of a societal undercurrent – that – masses do detest unabashed VVIP culture.

And there are many more movies made on it – in every Indian language.

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

FARMERS MAY CONTINUE TO COMMIT SUICIDE BUT POLITICIANS FEEL THEY ARE IN A SEPARATE CLASS

They range from 600 and go to over 850 – based on different reports. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh continue to hold the ignominy of maximum farm suicides in the country.

Telangana which was officially carved out of Andhra Pradesh on June 1 last year has inherited the issue from its parent state. And has been performing even worse after that.

Its first chief minister is busy in affairs of his family and the ministerial council. He has converted the entire state into his fiefdom it seems. Had it not been so, his MLA would not dare to say that ‘no farmer has committed the suicide in the state since KCR (K. Chadrashekar Rao) took over in June 2014’.

And such MLAs (and ministers) are duly rewarded by KCR.

The minister who said this is a so-called ‘progressive farmer’ and is headed to Israel for the International Agriculture Exhibition. He is part of the delegation of eight such ‘farmers’ who will go to Israel on the study tour and would implement the learning of the ‘place’ back home.

So, Telangana is looking to grab an opportunity that would get it rid of all negative publicity. Isn’t it?

But then negative publicities are galore. And they are not without reasons.

But then, they are politicians of the day, of the lot they come from, of the land called India.

Even all the media fury and political opposition’s arguments couldn’t bring the chief minister out to speak on it.

Probably none would be so appealing for him; probably it was not bothering him. After all, for such petty issues, like farmers committing suicides, government nepotism, administrative corruption, government sponsored junkets, etc., his deputy chief minister, ministers and MLAs are there.

After all, he is a person who warns media outfits to ‘bury alive’ if its members ‘insult the state’.

Farmers are dying in Telangana but it’s a non-issue for KCR and his ministers. Drought, unseasonal rains and the mechanism of compensation to farmers have created a mix that has exacerbated the plight of farmers.

But the politicians are enjoying their time-out, like these four along with four others are going to have in Israel.

And it’s symbolic of the overall political culture in India.

‘Politicians are a class above us’ they believe. And it was once again reiterated by the union government of India when its Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapati Raju.

He ‘assured’ his fellow parliamentarians (of the political lot) that they will continue to avail the VVIP treatment at the airports.

Now airports are one of the most secure places and an MP can go like you and me to any airport in this country.

While writing so, we must keep in mind that very few of the overall Indians (the common men, the biggest but amorphous votebank) travel by the air and thus have the opportunity to see the airports.

Yet, our parliamentarians think they are above even the selected very few. After all, once in the hallowed halls of Indian policymaking, they feel themselves several notches above even the persons who avail the air travel facility in India (the world’s largest democracy, but with maximum number of poor). Once in the hallowed halls, they feel in a separate class altogether.

And the demand to continue the VVIP treatment at the airports is just one such of many reflections.

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

DOUBLED SALARY BONANZA AMIDST 400 FARM SUICIDES: WAS THE TELANGANA FIGHT FOR IT?

“I myself will represent the Telangana government and argue before the Krishna tribunal. I will create a history by arguing the case in my capacity as CM.” – K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief Minister, Telangana

Now, this statement could have been seen as a routine overstatement coming from a politician who likes to boast and likes to brand himself as a forerunner of his political breed.

But, no, this comes to us from K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), the Telangana chief minister, the top most administrative functionary of India’s newest state, who has been a big letdown after assuming the office when Telangana came into existence officially on June 2 this year.

The central reason behind the decades old Telangana struggle was the contention that the Andhra counterparts had ignored the Telangana areas totally leaving the concerned population in poverty and backwardness.

KCR projected himself as the champion of the cause and though he cannot take the sole credit, going by the political equations of the time, he was rewarded by the Telangana electorate in hopes he would bring home the change. But the downward spiral began from the day-1.

As soon as he took over, the dynast in him came out. He is chief minister who made his son and nephew ministers. His daughter is a member of the Parliament (MP). And he defends and justifies it with an ‘air’.

When the agenda should have been reconciliation and synthesis till the whole process of bifurcation of revenue and resources is complete, he chose to indulge in cheap politics of sloganeering, not delivering on ground, and finding an easy escape in anti-Andhra Pradesh slogans.

And rational minds know that is not going to work.

But, the latest KCR move shows that was never his priority probably. The latest move is certainly a prime issue of national outrage that could not find its due on airwaves as other major rating-worthy stories broke out simultaneously, dominated by the round the clock developments around the controversial Haryana godman Rampal who refused to accept the orders of different courts including the high court and his arrest came after violent clashes and a long drama.

Anyway, that is a typical Indian flavour where fake religious gurus have been exploiting the insecurities of human lives in a country where universal norms of a dignified life do not come even in dreams of the majority of the population.

And Indian politicians are not much different, the political history of independent India tells us, and KCR’s latest move reaffirms that.

In an outrageous and anti-human move, the Telangana politicians, led by KCR, came together to hike their salary by 100%. Now the salary of a Telangana MLA (Rs. 2 Lakh) would be more than that of the President (1.5 Lakh) and the Prime Minister (1.60 Lakh). While doing so, the atmosphere was of almost consensus, something that we have seen so many times in ‘doing so’, including in the Indian Parliament. The bitter TRS-TDP war of words or the Congress or the BJP voices – we could not hear them.

The doubled salary bonanza came at a time where the state is facing aftermath of drought.

Different reports say, the authenticity of which we can safely accept, that around 400 farmers have committed suicide in Telangana after KCR took over in June. 350-400 farm suicides is the range of such reports and the government attempt to put them at around 80 easily blows out when we read the reports.

The burden of the hike that the state will face (Rs. 75 crore in five years) could have easily saved the lives of these farmers had they been given the loan waivers or financial assistance in time.

But that would have happened only when the people would be the priority. The brazen defence of the salary hike by the Telangana government and KCR tells us they don’t care at all.

KCR may blame Andhra Pradesh and Chandrababu Naidu for Telangana farm suicides but that would not stop the farm suicides.

KCR’s efforts to justify the MLA salary hike and deflect the blame to Chandrababu Naidu – amidst 400 farm suicides – was the Telangana fight for it?

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

THREATENING TV CHANNELS: KCR & FAMILY – A DYNAST AND A DYNASTY IN MAKING

Three different states were created in 2000. Two have been failed by their politicians. Another new state has been created this year and the way it is heading, it looks to join the league of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand in the years to come.

The sad story and the sad story ahead – it’s all about the political leadership and the Telangana baton has slipped to the hands of a dynast it seems. He is reaping much more than what he sowed, when by the spirit of democracy – that should never be the case – something that has seldom been the case in India.

He is the chief minister. His son is minister. His nephew is minister. His daughter is a member of the Parliament (MP). And he defends it. And he justifies it.

All in the name of democracy and threaten to bury the voices, the media voices who, in his interpretation, insult Telangana.

And he vociferously goes undemocratic in doing so, assuming the role of courts and other watchdog agencies in deciding and acting on culpability, the traits of a political dynast, who always sees himself above the people who are the real currency of his authority.

Continue reading

TELANGANA IS IN: BUT BEGINS ON A WRONG POLITICAL NOTE, WITH CROWNING A POLITICAL DYNASTY

Finally, on June 2, Telangana, the 29th state of the Indian Union, came into existence. For the Telangana people, the achievement to have their own home state came after decades of struggle and they deserved the celebrations that begun as the clock hit the midnight point on the night of June 1-June 2.

Sharing the wealth of the Information Technology hub of Hyderabad with the parent Andhra Pradesh (or for that matter Seemandhra, if the state is renamed), the new state can start building and rebuilding on what is available (with the expected help from the Centre, what a state’s reorganization deserves), to undo what they have been claiming – the injustice done to the Telangana people by their Andhra counterparts.

After 2000, when India got three new states in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal (now Uttarakhand), it is now the turn of Telangana and the obvious parallels will be drawn, on social and economic growth indicators.

And we don’t need to do data crunching to come to the conclusion that it has been a mixed result.

Chhattisgarh has performed well as it could get a good administrator in the chief minister Raman Singh. How questionable is the Uttarakhand experiment the Himalayan floods of June 2013 tell us. Take a drive from Dehradun to Haridwar and you won’t find even a single street-light on the highway outside the city limits. This is when the state is claimed to be a power surplus state. And we can say the Jharkhand experiment has failed to score any significant positive talking point so far. Political instability and questionable leadership in Uttarakhand and Jharkhand are to share the blame.

And the Telangana birth would be assessed on the scale of development and change with the ‘so far’ outcome of these three states.

And as we saw in the case of Chhattisgarh and other two states, lot depends on the political dispensation and the person at the top of it.

And though we need to wait to comment on how the first Telangana government is going to be on the performance scale, unfortunately, it has begun on a wrong note.

With Telangana, yet another political dynasty has taken birth in India.

KCR (or K Chandrashekar Rao), the first CM of the state, who claims the Telangana fight as his own with his political outfit TRS (Telangana Rashtra Samithi) has made his son and nephew ministers in the first Telangana cabinet. Only his daughter is left out and we should not be surprised if she is taken in the Cabinet expansion when it happens.

We can say it a royal coronation indeed – millions fought for decades, many lost lives – to crown a family – to come to this – to handover the reins of the state to a family and not to a person – the curse of India’s electoral democracy continues.

Let’s see how this curse plays out in Telangana. The time will tell if the coronation was earned or the crown was imposed.

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

CONGRESS’ TELANGANA GAMBLE: ILL-TIMED, WON’T PAY

Creation of Telangana, ill conceived and ill-timed, is purely a political decision by a beleaguered Congress party that is looking at an absolute doom in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Everyone has written the Congress party off and it is unlike the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) days of 2004. There are solid reasons, multiple of them. Scores have been written and are being written on the grand failure of the Manmohan Singh’s government in its second term.

The only glint of hope is left with some die-hard supporters of the first political family of India (the Nehru-Gandhi family) and they are using it to improve their loyalty points in case the Congress party comes back to power in future by advising such silly steps to score political mileage.

Yes, these are silly steps that are not going to help Congress but have certainly thrown life out of gear in a large state of India. We can only hope that the dust will finally settle now with the Rajya Sabha passing the Bill today to create Telangana.

Yes, but it is not going to help the grand old party of India, the Congress party, the main party of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in any way.

These are bleeding days for Congress.

Going by the political equations on the ground and the projections of almost every pre-poll survey, Congress is going to have a historically low Lok Sabha tally this time. And this is going to happen in Telangana and Seemandhra, too.

After creating Telangana, Congress has lost its script totally in Seemandhra. It is not going to win even a single seat. Kiran Kumar Reddy has resigned and is going to float a new party but YS Jaganmohan Reddy is expected to lead the anti-Congress and anti-Telangana sentiments to drive home a sound poll victory.

Okay, there would have been this thought to handle the anti-incumbency in the united Andhra Pradesh by creating and thus cornering the seats of Telangana.

Congress would have thought of cornering all the 17 seats of Telangana by taking the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) in its fold that could have been a big reprieve in a nationally dismal projection.

But even that is not going to happen. Projections say TRS is going to win almost 90% of the seats and in that case it would not go with Congress. Why would it merge with Congress then when it is going to be the big daddy in Telangana.

And that is written.

So, who advised Congress to go this way?

The haste only affirms the low morale and lack of sensibility in the thinking core of the party. Otherwise, it was certainly not the time for the country to have a new state.

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

TELANGANA IS IN. THOUGH ILL-TIMED, VANDALISM CANNOT REVERSE IT. UNFOLLOW POLITICOS NOW.

So, Telangana is finally in. Hopefully, the process to carve it out on the ground will not be shameful as its legislative part has been. Democracy was subverted, both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha while presenting, discussing and passing the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill.

The ruckus in the Lok Sabha followed its course in the Rajya Sabha. The live broadcast of the Lok Sabha was blacked out when it came to passing the Bill but the whole nation saw what happened in Rajya Sabha. The soul of democracy was killed once again in the Lok Sabha. Its identity was once again humiliated in the Rajya Sabha.

How can these elected members representing the top-most legislative body of the country behave so irresponsibly and insensibly while passing a bill that will affect lives of millions of people spread across a large geographical area?

But then, our politicians have been like this, more so in the recent history.

Anyway, India’s 29th state is finally created. On paper, it was accomplished today.

People of Seemandhra should understand that it is irreversible now. In fact, it has been like this since 2011. Yet a whole region was thrown into chaos by a political leadership that had earlier given its assent for a separate Telangana. Those protesting today, they all had supported it in the past. And they are trying all to keep the fire burning, to exploit the every possible chance to earn the electoral mileage in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

And all at the cost of common man, his life, his routine to survive the every passing day!

People of Seemandhra should understand the intent of their politicians and start looking at a life with a friendly neighbourhood state in Telangana on their side that is going to share the state capital Hyderabad with Seemandhra for 10 years.

There is absolutely no merit in disrupting the flow of life by organizing bandhs and protests in the Seemnadhra districts. Whom will it affect? The Seemandhra people only.

Obviously, going by the populist sentiment of the masses over the issue, there would be anti-Telangana feelings but it is not going to be beyond personal opinionating after a point of time. Yes, politicians can instigate the mob-sentiment over it and that is what they are trying to do.

If there has to be some grudge, it has to be against the politicians of the united Andhra Pradesh and the Union Government. Telangana had to come, but the process and timing has been decisively ill-thought.

Can vandalism in Seemandhra address the creation of Telangana now? Never. It will affect the Seemandhra people only, putting their lives in unnecessary peril.

Now that Telangana is in, taking it constructively should be the way forward with a hope that the process will be free of the shameless bravado of the Indian Parliament in passing the Telangana Bill.

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