Where the CPM scores over the BJP and Congress…

If you thought only the Congress and BJP were singing their way to the 15th Lok Sabha election, then visit the CPI (M)’s official campaign website! One of the links in the website reads ‘songs’ and once you click on it, you are led to four CPM campaign songs – Mehengi Roti Sasti Jaan (Unaffordable food, cheap lives), Haalat Desh Ke Maange Badlao (The situation in the country calls for change), Vikalp Naya Lao Is Baar (Vote for a new alternative this time) and 100 Mein 33 Lekar Rahenge (Will get 33 in 100, in the context of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill). (http://www.vote.cpim.org/node/1352)

Party politburo member Brinda Karat had, earlier this month, released a compact disc containing these four audio songs though I chanced upon them only today.

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised after listening to the songs which are based on themes ranging from price rise and hunger to women’s reservation. These are the broad themes being used by the party in its campaign. The songs are melodious and original (unlike Congress’s Jai Ho and BJP’s Bhai Ho!) and the lyrics are relevant, stimulating and intelligent.

While the first and the third songs have amazingly peppy and catchy tunes and you take to them immediately, the second song is slow yet powerful. Though most of the songs have an anti-Congress tenor (presumably because it was at power at the center), they are not negative or degrading to the party but rather, they concentrate on the problems of the country (whether or not we agree with the CPM’s assessment of our situation is a different issue.) Unlike the BJP’s ‘Bhai Ho’, which is a direct and juvenile counter to the Congress version of the song, the CPM campaign songs are more dignified and do not seem like a childish response to somebody else’s creative (or lack of it!) attempt.

Or for that matter, these songs are not narcissistic and self-indulging like Congress’ ‘Jai Ho’, which concentrates more on praising the party than making the voter aware of its future agenda.

The fact that the CPM does not have resources to match up to the Congress or the BJP is well known, which perhaps explains why these songs are not being splashed across our TV screens or FM stations.

Which party gets my vote behind the Electronic Voting Machine remains a secret, but the CPM definitely gets my vote in the ‘Best campaign song’ category.

Jai Hind’s comments:

No doubt CPM has been innovative in creating their political campaigning material. I would call it ‘Good Marketing’ but unfortunately low on budget.
But that doesn’t ensure they would act for good without vested benefits after they are elected.
And moreover, I am totally against gender-based reservations. Rather you should ensure that everyone(irrespective of gender) gets proper and equal education, opportunities and recognition.
You should go through Sakshi‘s post

Originally published on livemint (via @livemint)

Communalism, Pseudo-Secularism and our Media

Varun Gandhi’s so called “hate speech” has become a prime time news for our media. Out of no where, Varun Gandhi has become a household name and has been certainly crowned as the poster boy. Since the day Varun Gandhi’s speech was telecasted in the media, this news has gained more and more weightage. The role of media has been such that they almost delivered their verdict before the EC in this case.

As I am developing some sense of Indian politics, what I have started to feel is that the term “secular” and “communal” should be debated in the perspective of Indian Politics. The “secular” political parties don’t have guts to stand for Hindus of this nation. And if anyone issues a “pro-Hindu” statement, he will be tagged communal. The precise reason what i feel is that in India, Hindus don’t vote as a “group”, their votes are divided. While Muslims have most of the time voted as groups. Thus, each and every political party tries to capture this group or as we more popularly call them, votebanks.

The paradox of the Indian political system is that it is fashionable and allowed to utter “anti-Hindu” or “pro-Muslim” remarks. Moreover, they are the only ways, one can prove his secularism. Mr Gandhi in his speech is believed to have said that,

“Agar kisi galat tatv ke aadmi ne kisi Hindu pe haath uthaaya ya Hinduon ke upar yeh samajh key ki yeh kamzor hain, unke peechey koi nahi hai… Hindu’on ke upar haath uthaaya, main Gita ki kasam khaake kehta hoon ki main us haath ko kaat daaloonga.”
(If some wrong elements lift a hand against Hindus, or think Hindus are weak and there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the Bhagavad Gita that I will cut off that hand).

He ended his speeches with “Jai Sri Ram”. He was basically referring to the few incidents of molestation and rapes of women in Pilibhit and no action having been taken by the administration against the culprits. As Kanchan Gupta of The Pioneer puts down in his column,

The ‘secular’ media hasn’t heard of Sonu Kashyap who was murdered on October 21 last year. “Five unidentified Muslims” were accused of murdering him. The administration did nothing. On October 23, anger turned into street protests, led by a former BJP legislator and Minister, Mr Ram Saran Verma. He was promptly arrested and since then has been detained under the National Security Act. Beesalpur police station in-charge Pervez Miyan brazenly defends the continued detention of Mr Verma.

Was Gandhi indeed wrong or has he just spoken the truth? He hasnt used words as harsh as minority. He has simply said “galat tatv ke aadmi”. If “secular” media and parties feel that he referred to the Bhagavad Gita and ended the speech with “Jai Sri Ram” was communal then i don’t have any arguments for that.

If BJP is blamed for igniting the fire of “communalism” in our country then the so-called “secular” parties are equally responsible for adding fuel to that fire. They have never left any opportunity to neglect the comments made against Hindus and have taken proactive steps if something was pro-Hindu. Our “secular” media also behaves like the “secular” parties.

Have you ever heard of an event organized in a bid to woo the Muslim community ahead of the Lok Sabha elections?
Congress had organised a rally in Jama Masjid Sector 20 of Chandigarh, highlighting its secular credentials. Nearly 23 Muslim organisations from the city have also extended their support to the party. Imraan Kidwai, chairman of the All India Congress Community, Minority Cell, said that if he had the power, he would issue a fatwa asking Muslims to abstain from joining the BJP. He said the Congress had never tried to change the Muslim personnel law. Is this not something against which EC should have taken action as well?

Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP has referred to Varun’s speech as provocative. But, the same party leader Mehbooba Mufti led the violent protest against temporary allotment of land for setting up shelters for Hindu pilgrims to rest for a while on their way to the Amarnath shrine. The same party has demanded the change of South Kashmir’s Islamabad district from the official name of Anantnag to the popular name of Islamabad. When BJP raised objections to it, they are being tagged as being called “communal”. Did any other party utter a single word? Why?

If a leader tries to identify with the Hindu gathering, he is considered communal but if the politicians addressing election rallies in Muslim areas wear skull caps and does everything possible to ‘identify’ themselves with the audience. That’s permissible. Why?

Dr. Manmohan Singh’s comments that “The Indian Muslim has first legitimate right on Indian resources” is not communal. Why?

No doubt that hate-speeches and derogatory remarks/speeches are a part of Indian politics, which needs to be curbed at any cost. But then, their should also be a debate on pseudo-secularism. In order to preserve their vote banks, it can be seen that our political parties can go to any extent. But is this really good for our nation? The media is solely responsible for transforming the “speech” of Varun Gandhi to a “hate-speech”. The yardstick is different for a Hindu fanatic and a Muslim fanatic; though both are an equal threat to this country. It is high time to understand that communalism and pseudo-secularism are feeding each other and our media should also be more responsible. They must ensure that they are here to give opinions and not to pass their judgments.

The Irony called Indian Elections…

India is a Democracy.

This is a fact that is known to all.

Another fact that is known to all is: India goes to elections every five years. And the five years of the current government are over. With the elections less than a month away, new and old alliances are being forged.

But does that really matter?

I do not think, that it does. In a country that boasts itself of having THE largest democracy in the world, elections are nothing but a mere formality. The voter, even if encouraged to go and vote, comes out of the voting booth dismayed and wonders: “How right or wrong was my choice?”

Unfortunately its not about choices. Its about, having the strongest wrist of Iron. There are goons, there are criminals, illitrate and absolute morons who nominate themselves for elections. These are the people who represent the ‘aam aadmi’ of India, in the Parliament and then in the world.

Ask the aam aadmi, and he will say that, he had no choice, it was either bad or worse. And between the two, there is no one who would even make these politicians the chowkidaar of their house… let alone they becoming the watchdogs of the country and the constitution.

Every five years, there is the Drama… of who is Better… the government that was.. or the government that should have been there… but then, politics long ago stopped being about running the country or developing the country for the benefit of the majority. It has become a job. And a dirty little pig sty where, even if you intend to do good, you end up being muddied.

2009, is being hailed as a big year for Indian Politics. It is the year of the biggest general elections… ever. The BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate is Shri L.K. Advani- A hindu Fanatic… who has never really done any good. Even when AB Vajpayee was PM, he has mostly opposed developmental issues. Oldie, who has a lot of faith in Jinnah.

Congress is, I think, betting on PM Manmohan Singh to stay on. I personally felt that he has been a spineless receiver of First Lady a.k.a. Sonia Gandhi’s orders. The best part about him, is that he an educated man, and someone who is not agitated easily by stupid remarks. And, I have always loved his Budgets. I also feel that economy plays a very important role in the running of a country and the PM being a knowledgeable person is a great thing. The BIG NUKE deal, came through thanks to his understanding. Downside- OLD OLD and OLD.

Then there is our very own Obama, Ms Mayawati. Just a thought with regards to that here: Goonda Raj is gonna officially become LAW, if at all that is gonna happen. Just imagine, someone like her at the highest seat of authority… as if our current President is not enough emabarrasment… (Remember how she claimed that GOD had come in her dreams telling her that she is gonna be the President…!!!)

Who should the people be voting for??

With the recent campaigns by Election Commission and other media, Youth is being motivated to go and vote. But, who should the youth vote for… there is no politician who shares the dreams and aspirations of a vote-giving youth. They are not allowed to wear the clothes they want to… or do as they like… normal working girls are not safe anywhere.

Its the great irony of Indian elections, that every five years we are told to excercise our fundamental rights to go and vote, only to find that its again the bad and the worse fighting for their survival instead of the good and the best working towards running the country.

Who would you vote for??

Hindu Fanatics, who say that women are to be treated like animals and women liberation is shit. Or give another chance to the learned oldie Manmohan so that if nothing else, we may be able to find a way out of recession… or have the greatest embarrassment and elect Maya aunty…

It has to be between the bad, the worse and the worst…!!! God Bless India.

Congress to extend reservations to private sector

NEW DELHI: It’s time for a re-run of the quota story. Congress, which promised quota in the private sector in 2004, has once again said it would extend reservations to the private sector and private educational institutions.

The government has been citing resistance from the corporates to explain its ability to act on the promise in the national common minimum programme (NCMP). The draft Congress manifesto has said that the consultations with the corporates on the issue could continue.

The question of reservations for SC/ST in the private sector and continuation of reservation in disinvested public sector undertakings in consultation with representative bodies of private sector will be addressed. Similar action in regard to private educational institutions, especially for higher and technical/vocational training will also be undertaken,” the draft manifesto has said.

It be recalled that the NCMP in 2004 had promised swift action on the quota demand. “The UPA government is very sensitive to the issue of affirmative action, including reservations, in the private sector.

It will immediately initiate a national dialogue with all political parties, industry and other organisations to see how best the private sector can fulfil the aspirations of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe youth,” the NCMP had said. But barring constitution of a few panels to study and negotiate the issue, the government could not go further.

The Left, which was an ally of the Congress for four years, had argued that since the government was increasingly divesting shares in PSUs, reducing the number of jobs in such entities it was becoming increasingly critical to ensure reservation in the private sector.

Besides quota in private sector, the Congress draft manifesto has proposed introduction of economic criteria for entitlement to measures of affirmative action for backward classes. The document assures a survey of socio-economic conditions of all segments of the OBCs with a view to preparing for exclusion of the creamy layer and other steps to extend benefits of affirmative action to all segments of the backward classes.

The draft also tries to reach out to the minorities by promising legislative and constitutional steps to provide an “assured share” for religious minorities in government employment and implementation of the Sachar Committee report. It says there should be 5% reservation for Muslims under the OBC quota on the lines of Andhra Pradesh. It also promises “inclusion through appropriate legislation” of religious minorities belonging to the SC/ST/OBC categories in programmes of affirmative action.

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/PoliticsNation/Cong-aims-at-reservation-to-pvt-sector/articleshow/4295240.cms

Bush signs Nuclear deal

“It is a Big Deal”. When the whole of India slept on Thursday morning, George Bush signed the legislation to implement the Indo-US Nuclear deal in the White House.  The legislation marks a historic deal that took more then three years in the making.
George Bush was all smiles as he signed the legislation confirming that there will be no change in fuel supply. The Vice President of America Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and the Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen were present as the American president signed the historic deal.
Bush went on to say, that it was a “Big Day” for strengthening the relationship between the two nations. He also acknowledged the hard work put in the by the entire team on both the sides as the nuclear deal went through a lot of ups and downs in the past three years. He further added that India is a natural partner of the united States of America as the two countries had similar interests and values.
The deal also means that India will now be able to get nuclear energy from the Nuclear Suppliers group which will end India’s Nuclear isolation for the past thirty years. India will now have a reliable fuel supply and thus will be able to meet the energy needs of a billion plus population and also will no longer have to be dependent on fossil fuels.
Contrary to reports doing the rounds in the media, the legislation has not modified the 123 agreement submitted to the congress. Thus Bush clarified the doubts that people would have had over fuel supply issues. Indian Foreign affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee is likely to visit Washington in the next two days to sign the 123 agreement.
Bush was also positive about the strong relationship between the two countries and was sure that the relationship between the two countries would only grow further in the upcoming years. “Even though the United States and India are separated by half the globe, we are natural partners as we head into the 21st century,” Bush said.
Bush also wished people in India and around the world celebrating the festival of Delhi which is due this month. Incidentally it was George bush who had started Diwali celebrations in the White House a couple of years back, a gesture that was highly appreciated by the Indian community staying in the US.
The Indo US Nuclear deal had created a furor in India with the Left parties withdrawing support over the implementation of the deal. Several old political ties were severed and new alliances came forth with the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh offering support to the Manmohan Singh government when they were falling short of a majority in Parliament. Meanwhile the Left parties and the BJP had criticized the Indo US nuclear deal severely by saying that it was a deal between two people and not between two countries. But the congress government was able maintain a majority in the house of parliament and the Indo US nuclear deal went as forward. Despite some doubts being raised by the Atomic Energy association, the Indo US Nuclear deal was giving a thumbs up and a deal which took more than three years in the making finally attained fruition.

Hail the Speaker!!

It is said that some politicians change their party for their principles but most change their principles for their party. On the day of the Trust Vote, we got to see a bit of both. But in a rare instance Somnath Chatterjee decided to go with his principles and not his party.
On the most awaited day in Indian politics, when the Trust vote was to be held in Parliament in order to determine whether the UPA still had the majority in the House, another act took the glitter away from the UPA win. In an unprecedented incident, lakhs of rupees were shown in parliament. The parliament stands as the temple of democracy and such an act being committed in the parliament is certainly very shameful for the entire democracy.
There were some who chose to abstain from voting raising speculations about their loyalty to their party and encouraging rumours that money might have exchanges hands. It is now not difficult to imagine as to why India is ranked as one of the most corrupt nations in the World. The charges against Samajwadi Party and Amar Singh might never be proved but the incident did open the eyes of millions of Indians watching the proceedings live on national TV and it went on to confirm the fact that Indian politics does have a gory underbelly which the average citizen might not be aware of.
But amidst all the fracas, one man who stood his own in the Parliament that day was the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee. He might have been expelled from his party but his neutral attitude in dealing with the entire issue will be remembered for a long time. His sense of humour helps him to maintain calm in the House where all hell could have broken lose.
The CPI(M) would have believed that they had the Speaker on his side since he was from their party, but Somnath Chatterjee preferred to act neutral at all times during the Indo-US nuclear deal fracas in the Parliament even when on the day when the Trust vote was to be held. He did the Speakers jobs so neutrally, that many now accuse him of being on the side of the Congress.

The Speaker was right in adjourning the Parliament after the BJP MLAs flashed money in the Parliament. It was the right decision to take at that point of time so that the order of the Parliament could be maintained. Once the Parliamentary session would go on to continue, he let many speakers from several regional parties talk about their issues. This was very cleverly done in order to delay the Prime ministers reply. If the Prime minister would have spoken immediately after the commencement of the Parliamentary session at 6pm in the evening, the Parliament would again have broken into chaos. Speakers like Omar Abdullah left a standing impression after their speech. Even when the Prime minister was not allowed to speak during the Parliament, the speaker went on to collect his reply in written form.

Even during the voting session, when the electronic voting did not do too well or maybe the members were not well equipped with handling the electronic machines, he maintained calm. Even though it took an excruciating hour to count the remaining votes, the Parliament was still maintained in order by the Speaker.

It is said the Speaker’s role is above that of any member of the House of the Parliament and Somnath Chatterjee played that role to perfection. Even after being expelled from his party for going against the rules of the party, Somnath Chatterjee can be remembered for not letting the parliament and the entire nation down.

Has the Indian Youth forgotten our first war of independence?

A survey carried out in various cities of India has revealed that today’s youths have forgotten its history and have no idea about what happened in the year 1857. For some, it signifies a car’s number plate. While for others, it’s a year when riots took place. There are those for whom dates don’t matter at all, only personalities like Mahatma Gandhi do. Then comes the ones who, in their wide embrace of history, attribute the events of 1857 to Bhagat Singh and Shivaji.Many historians called this First War of Independence as a ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857. For them, it was just a bunch of Indian sepoys (soldiers) who had mutinied. They largely failed to recognise the involvement of a vast section of Indian society that took part in this struggle. Peasants and nobles all were involved.

The Revolt of 1857It may be the First War of Independence, but it is a mutiny the nation seems to be in a hurry to forget. Several political parties and the government talked a lot about the year-long celebrations planned (starting May 10, last year) to mark the 150th anniversary of the 1857 revolt, but in the time of Indian Premiere League (IPL) and other more mundane things, the ‘1857 struggle’ appears to have failed to stir the imagination of the country. The struggle, which is an example of the unity, in which people from various sections of the society participated unitedly.

But our political parties are just not interested in the ‘unity’ aspect of the struggle and all of them individually carried out few events and processions suiting their ideology. The government flagged off Azadi Express, a train showcasing the events of the struggle, ‘freedom movement chair’, event in Meerut last year and some processions in New Delhi. But our political parties used this occasion to direct their guns at the rivals. Sitaram Yechury took his usual dig at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for having stayed away from the freedom struggle, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), obviously, cannot be part of any observations and celebrations of that glorious history of Indian people’s struggle. If that is the case then let me tell you that neither did communist took part in the freedom struggle, nor did the Congress in the current shape.(Congress has been divided so many times that the Congress, which was there during the freedom struggle is not the one that we have today). Neither you nor me participated in the movement, but then can’t we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the struggle?

I strongly feel that we should keep politics aside in the matter of national interest. Why blame only Communist Part of India (Marxists) (CPM), even BJP and Congress are also no saint in this. Uttar Pradesh holds a key place in the First War of Independence, but the chief minister seems to have forgotten the occasion. On May 13, the Mayawati government celebrates the completion of its one year in office. But while the state gears up for a round of pomp and pageantry to celebrate the achievement of the state’s first woman chief minister, Uttar Pradesh has forgotten another woman’s sacrifice – Rani Laxmi Bai. In the entire anniversary year, the state government organised only one rally in Lucknow in May 2007. People in cities like Meerut, Lucknow, Kanpur and Jhansi, which were focal points of the revolt , does not even know about the significance of May 10. A senior culture department official told a leading newspaper in an interview that out of the rupees three crore sanctioned for the 1857 anniversary programmes in 2007-08, only Rs50 lakh had been utilised. There is no prize for guessing where the rest of amount must have been utilised.
India’s First War of Independence carried on as late as 1859, while in some instances before it was finally over. A number of heroes and heroines of the India’s First War of Independence have been immortalised for their fight against the British rule.

But we have forgotten them. There is a common saying, “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

“Shaheedon ki chitaaon par lagenge har baras mele. Watan pe mitne waalon ka yahi baaki nishaan hoga.” Isn’t it true?

If you are interested in reading more about the First War of Independence, refer-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Mutiny
http://1857mutiny.com/

Indo-US Nuclear Deal is DEAD?

HOW OFTEN we have seen the Indian cricket team being beaten in the game after getting on top of the opposition. The same thing is happening with the Indo-US nuclear deal, which was cleared by Senate in the United States and then Indian Prime Minister went on to risk his government to move forward with the deal. But then some behind-the-stage drama led to curtains on the deal. Where is the nuke deal heading now? The issue, which dominated foreign policy in 2007, has lost its way somewhere after Left parties threatened to withdraw support from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) if the deal was finalised.

Nuke DealUS ambassador David Mulford has said, “If this is not processed in the present Congress, it is unlikely that this deal will be offered again to India. It certainly would not be revived and offered by any administration, Democratic or Republican, before the year 2010, which is after the life of this administration.”

Flash back to 1950, when India was offered the permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council but the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru refused to accept the offer because he believed it was aimed at “creating trouble between India and China.” Ever since, India has been trying very hard to get the place in Security Council. That seat eventually went to China. China grabbed it with both hands and now is the staunchest opponent on the expansion of Security Council. It seems that time has rolled on and we are back at the same stage as before. The government might have bought time to convince the dissatisfied colleagues of UPA on the deal. But till date no positive step has been taken towards the finalisation of the deal.

The top nuke scientists believe that India has got a fair deal. A major component of any clean energy strategy must be nuclear power and I strongly believe that the civil nuclear agreement that was negotiated was good for India. India is already facing crisis on the energy front and the deal could have solved the problem for India. There are several other advantages, which have been highlighted time and again.

The US is continuously warning India that it is “now or never” for India as non-proliferation groups may force additional conditions on it, considering that they are too unhappy with the deal in its present form. The political atmosphere in India and US is changing and we might not get another deal in near future if it fails this time. The backing down from the deal has also caused an international embarrassment to the Prime Minister and he will have to personally face a two-sided attack for this foreign policy failure that he himself had nurtured and gone against the tide.

The times have changed but it seems that the Left are still living in the past. The Left, which has its presence only in the three Indian states and with only 60 MPs in Parliament, has caused the government to change its stance on such an important issue.

The lack of will on the part of Congress is also surprising because it was Congress’s government that refused the Security Council seat in United Nations in 1950 and now this deal in 2007. The inability to operationalise the deal would hurt the government’s image. The prime reason for silence over the deal is that every step taken in Indian politics is backed by political mileage and economy and international business has never been on that list. I don’t think political parties think about India’s benefit while they take a stand.