Mayawati: Priorities Gone Wrong!

“Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.”

Ambedkar_Park_Mayawati1These lines aptly describe the governance of Mayawati in most populous state of the country Uttar Pradesh. She recently inaugurated 685 crore Noida Memorial Park and used the platform to settle the scores with her political rivals. Mayawati has special love for these parks and she has spent thousand of crores on building these parks. She has even said that if she gets fresh mandate she would like to have such parks in each and every district of UP. But the basic question remains that does the parks in any ways solve the problems being faced by the people of the state. A state which has shortage of power, schools, infrastructure, industries, hospitals, road networks, etc would have been happy if these problems would have been addressed. She brazenly says that she has spent just 1 pc of the budget on the park. This would have been ok if the remaining 99 pc would have been spent on the welfare measures and development of the state. But sadly that has also not happened.

Now let me take you 750 km away from the park to Gorakhpur in eastern part of the state. More than 430 people have died of encephalitis virus and mostly children. This is not the first time that epidemic has struck in this part. It has been active for last 33 years and yet the state machinery and health dept has failed to check. The hospitals are overcrowded and there are no beds available for admitting new patients. At least 2 multispecialty hospitals would have come up with the amount spend on the construction of park. And even if they would have been named after Dalit icons or Mayawati herself it would have done a world of good for the people and state. This is where the chief minister has faltered. It is the simple case of wrong pririties. In her term also she is witnessing 4th outbreak of this virus and yet she and her government is as inefficient as it was a year prior. Now if someone tells her she says that she has been targeted for being a Dalit and would point out the mistakes of earlier govt. I wonder how long she can get away by giving these lame excuses and how long the people will fall prey to her reasoning. There is no denying that Dalits have been ill treated and it is very much required to uplift them but i have doubt if that can be done by building parks and installing own statues. They need more than just statues and CM who is self obsessed.

The point is that sincerity is missing and thus she has failed the people of UP. SARVJAN HITAY SARVJAN SUKHAY is as hollow as UTTAM PRADESH slogan of previous government. She was lucky to have got absolute majority in last polls and has golden chance to work for development of state but failed miserably. She had opportunity to work for oppressed section of the society by opening schools, improving connectivity, tackling law and order chaos, higher education, providing health care and employment. It would have helped in building better image of the state and would have established her credibility as a CM.

But….

Apart from parks and her kitty she hasnt added anything significant in her tenure as CM of Uttar Padesh in last four and half years. I just hope that people of the state will look for someone who delivers on the development and solves core issues when they go out to vote next year.

Unsung Heroes: Ordinary People with Extraordinary Courage!

These days if you will observe, you will notice that you are hearing news of rampant corruption and malpractices going on which undoubtedly is suffocating the system. Every day you hear new news which makes you feel sad about sorry state of the country and we blame it on our politicians, bureaucrats, etc. But do you ever wonder that despite all this how come our system is surviving?

Real-HeroesNo, you would have not.

The fact is there are few people still existing who are doing their duties in a manner in which it should be done. If not for people like these the system would have eventually collapsed. Unfortunately, these people are not in limelight because they are silently doing their good job and holding the system together. You will find such people in every organization and department both in govt and pvt sector. Be it Satendra Dubey or S Manjunath or SSP Arun Kumar, everyday these real unsung heroes are facing all odds to keep nation moving. You won’t be able to imagine the sacrifices which is being made by them on borders and inside the main land. Lt Archit Verdia, Lt Navdeep, Lt Sushil Khajuria, Tukaram Omble and the list is endless who have laid down their life for the well being of the people. With them their family also suffers but then there has to be someone who feels not like remaining 99.5% of the population.

It is a fact that only 1 out of 100 dares to challenge the system, not bogged down the odds, fearlessly discharging the duties and serve the people. Rest all tend to adjust with the situation and do lip service during tea time by blaming and suggesting but not doing. But this is how a society is and this is main reason that people who do good work without becoming the part of wrong system are tagged as “fools”. But the one who do it don’t care as they know that their conscience is clean and what they are doing is in best interest of society and nation.

During 26/11 we had lakhs of citizen on street demanding change in the system but when the day of VOTING came they were enjoying the holiday. Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime and the day we understand this we will be able to come up with the possible solution to the problems we are facing now. We need to get out of our comfort zone. A nation is as good as its people and thus I consider myself lucky to have people in my country who are facing danger for my survival. But my endeavor does not ends there and I will ensure that I take considerable steps in nation building.

I salute all the unsung heroes and their families for struggle they have gone through in making nation a better place. Their loss is irreparable but we will always remain indebted to them.

The Indian Political System – As I See it

This is purely based on my analysis and I might be wrong in my interpretations – so feel free to criticize me and have a healthy discussion, I anyway love making mistakes , learning and then evolving from there on. And before I start , this is Quite Serious and Insightful unlike my other posts.

” This Politician Doesn’t Deserve My Vote ”
” All politician suck big time. – (PJ) What ? ”
” All are corrupt , inefficient and India will always remain this way – Lets Shift to America , UK etc. ”

During the past few years I have met many people who are part of the system (MPs , MLAs , Corporators etc.) and also people who have been constantly challenging the system like Ramesh Ramnathan ( Janagraha) , Arvind Kejriwal ( RTI ) , Capt. Gopinath etc. and my opinion about this whole system and setup has undergone a sea change. I was always of opinion that the best way to solve India’s problems is to make all the politician stand in a line and then shoot some of them, so that the rest of them start working properly. Though I still feel that it could be one of the solutions but I have also realized that leaders are nothing but a true reflection of the people they represent (Majority obviously) or as they say in Hindi , Jaisi Praja – Waisa Raja.

Let me explain better with the real life experiences I had. I am sure most of you would have seen SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and might have been angered and disgusted at the way Mr. Danny Boyle had portrayed the slums. But trust me its much more worse than that. The last time I happened to travel through an internal road of a slum, atleast half of it was filled with filth, consisting faeces and god knows what else (Just the thought of that moment , makes me uneasy) and then there are people sitting on their charpais , on the same road and cutting vegetables , making chotis , eating food, etc. like any of us would normally do in our balconies. Politicians visit such places, NGOs visit , I and U might visit(only if its unavoidable) but do you think anyone would want to clean that filth ??? None !!!! Instead we would try to teach children, give them money, clothes, etc. because we know that they live there and its them who got to make sure things are clean and neat. Even if someone takes the initiative and cleans it up, they would make sure that it again goes back to its old condition within no time because that is their system; that is how they have been living , that is a part of their habits and lifestyle.

The same applies to us in India too, when we people are so used to filth around us, why would a handful of us at the Helm of Power be responsible for cleaning it?

Now let me familiarize you with the election process in India.

Over 90% of the people do not get basic food and money to survive.

Over 90% do not understand government policies, fiscal policies, infrastructure expenditure, industrialization and other similar things.

What really matters to them is the food that they can get and its all about those 2 rupees per kilo rice, money that is spent, those bottles of Beer that are splurged,etc. which make a party win and come back to power again.

With the so-called educated population who can understand macro factors and differentiate between good and bad being just 10%, out of which only around 70% do not vote.

And to reach out to billions through people employed as “party workers”, requiring a daily expenditure of approximately Rs.1000 per person per day, it basically means that just to merely contest an election and have any chances of winning, you need a minimum of a whopping Rs. 25 Crores for  the level of a MP, 8 Crores for an MLA and around just a crore for a corporator.

And when someone is spending so much, along with other party expenses, marketing expenses, etc., with no system of Political Donation unlike America wherein people are educated, literate, self-sufficient (to the scale of 90%), what else can one expect???

Trust me, from my experience, over 30% Politicians want to work genuinely for the Public but its the system, bureaucracy and other Politicians which literally handicap them. So how do you solve the problem?? Get smarter, educated people and make them understand and form a higher, smarter vote bank with over 70% from current 10% and trust me Indian Political System will be much much better than America’s.
I will try to put up one effective solution to all the problems keeping all the problems in mind. Do check that out too.

Just imagine that you have full access to RBI with Billions of Dollars, No police, No Parents, No teachers to bother you, literally no one to ask you any questions or hold you accountable. What would you do???

Do you keep the cash for a billion People whom you don’t even know, or have sex, deposit the cash in Swiss Account, buy properties and live life king size?

Its simple. There are only a handful who have skills to play through the system and climb to positions where they get access, with hardly a handful to question, then what do you expect ??

Lastly, the other day one of my friend, during a long discussion was complaining about how the politicians have ruined this country: “They are supposed to do this and that, but all they do is nothing. Its all about criminals and muscle power”.

Later, we saw a woman who had parked her vehicle at the wrong place. I told him that i will go and tell her its wrong. That is what i am supposed to do. Whether she listens to me or not is a different story altogether, but let me do what i am supposed to do. And he said “NO NO, its her wish, let her do what she wants. How does it bother you and what difference does it make to you?”.

This is the case with most of us. We complain and expect everyone else to do what they are supposed to do without doing what we are supposed to do. :)

And frankly, most of the times we are clueless and handicapped and don’t even know what we can do. Slums are too far, NGOs are run by government officials to make money.

I cannot commit, i have no time, am not good at this – I will try to address all of these issues along with a solution – watch out for my next post.

Hopefully this can initiate a debate and action or not, I hope people will be forced to think. In case you have liked it and feel it makes sense , then please do SHARE it with your friends, family & contacts.

Rohit Begwani
rohitbegwani@gmail.com

12 unsolicited revival tips for an ailing BJP

For last 3-4 days, I have been reasearching a lot on How BJP can revive itself? I have almost finished searching and made few notes on how it can be done. But then I came across this article in Times of India dated 21stMay, 2009 and which was send to me by one of my medico friend. This article contains 85-90% of the content on which I was writing but they eleaborated in far better way. So I just thought that instead of publishing my article let the people read more on the TOI’s article. I have saved mine for some other day. :)
I was writing this article because A strong BJP is very important for the healthy functioning of our democracy.

BJP will warm the opposition benches again, in all probability for another five years. Unless, of course, their official party astrologer is privy to some once-in-a-few-million-years celestial formation that will help them ascend the throne in a few months from now. Opportunity lost, did someone say?

It is true that a in a country with a billion people, there are a zillion factors on which elections are fought and that it is unfair to blame BJP’s defeat entirely on its own failings. But, the underlying pattern in BJP’s defeats and its response to these defeats suggests that something is intrinsically wrong and systemically too.

The party, hailed as the only viable national alternative since its ascent in the nineties, has just not learnt lessons from its past mistakes, but also made newer ones. Notwithstanding whether Congress obliges it or not over the next five years,

Here are a few lessons that the BJP can take home from these elections:

Fight to win, not win to fight
To be Prime Minister , you have to win elections – It isn’t difficult to understand this as a concept. In fact, it’s quite obvious. The fundamental truth is that to be Prime Minister of India, your party has to first get enough seats in the Parliament. If a party doesn’t score enough runs err seats, it sits on the Opposition benches and plans walk-outs. But, it seems even this simple logic has been very hard to understand for BJP’s top leaders despite the party’s trouncing the last time around.

They internally squabble over who is best suited to be the party’s candidate for the top post, and what is worse, even externalize it. When they don’t reach a conclusion, they undercut each other. Some start sulking publically and yet others stop attending crucial party meets. So, with all this, they have a hope in hell to get the required number of seats. How about squabbling after winning enough seats? It will certainly be a happier situation for all those fighting as they will have something to fight for!

Action Point: Hold a US style Presidential Primary. The winner in this primary, becomes the BJP candidate for the PM’s post. Once this is done, the others need to gracefully step back; the way Hillary Clinton did once Obama surged ahead. At the same time, get a fix on some mechanism to also groom potential ministers, particularly the key ministries and also have stated key policies you would pursue. Get your A team in place and do it NOW. Since BJP calls itself a democratic party (as against the ‘non-democratic ‘ones), it should walk its talk.

The Perfect Delivery
Deliver in every State you have a government in. If there is one thing that is getting loudly clear is that people are now sick of wallowing in India’s Third World status. They want a better life. And, their finger presses the button which promises them just that. So, while the Congress can feel smug about its victory, it too needs to deliver if it wants to come back again. Ditto for BJP. It has in its portfolio some major States.

Delivering a good performance there will not only help in that State, but also have a rub-off on other States. So, if the BJP doesn’t want to go back to its ‘two seats’ status that LK Advani is so fond of boringly recounting time and again, it better whip its chief ministers into delivering concrete results. If Narendra Modi has indeed turned Gujarat into a model State, why should it not have some impact on other states? And why should Modi be left alone to thump his chest about these achievements, and not the rest of the leadership? MP and Chattisgarh too should have made public their score card.

Action Point: Fix specific delivery targets for each State’s leadership, ones that are going to be visible and helpful in garnering the maximum votes the next time round. Pursue these targets relentlessly. Highlight achievements to the local people. And do that in a united manner, and unequivocally. Also, take it further down to your workers. Make the cadre accountable and responsible for elect ion results.

Be a growing boy, Boost your reach
Strength comes from within – The last time, the BJP came to power on the back of a coalition. Now, it is smug in the belief that it will get enough friends each time to occupy the 7, Race Course Road. Of course, this theory assumes that they will get the most winnable ally each time and that each time; their long-standing ally will deliver. The fundamental truth is that these allies gravitated towards the BJP because they saw the BJP growing in size and clout. A diminished BJP doesn’t get them closer to power.

Action Point: The moral of the story: BJP needs to grow on its own in size, reach, geographies and do this even in areas where their allies are strong. How dependance on allies can cripple them is evident in Orissa. What will be the BJP’s condition in Bihar if the JD (U) too dumps them is not difficult to visualize. Its next leadership needs to work assiduously towards building the party at the grassroots level. Allies should be a bonus. Plus, if you become big and have a good shot at getting and retaining power, they will come to you wagging their tails.

So, build, build and build. Identify 350-400 constituencies around the country where you stand a chance, and work hard on them right away. Spread yourself to other states. If BJP wants a chance in the next election, it ought to stop worrying and start acting right away, preferably right after its ‘Chintan Baithak’!

Who am I? Why am I here?
Think about what you believe in…. Are you are ‘Right wing’, `Hindu nationalist’ or are you not? This is not about secularism or pseudo-secularism, or the rights and wrongs, or even the desirability or otherwise of whatever ideology you follow. The idea is not to preach the virtues of being ‘inclusive’ or ‘accommodating’. This is about thinking through what you believe in, if there is such a thing left. Who are you and how are you different from the Congress-not only in terms of Hindutva ideology, but also in terms of your approach to economy, foreign policy etc. What fresh ideas do you have?

Action Point: First sit down and define what you are and what you stand for. Get your mission and vision statements clear. Your workers have to know what you stand for. And, after that, let no party member go out and contradict party position because he has a right to express his private opinion in public.

Fevicol your beliefs
Once you have decided what you stand for, you should also consider sticking to it. Once you stick to your beliefs and promises, it will build more faith in you. Right now, voters have rejected you because they could not take you seriously anymore. For them, here is a party that promises one thing and compromises it for the sake of power.

Action Point: Stick to stated party positions and do not keep changing/vacillating as per the need and situation. This doesn’t mean that you do not re-look some of the party positions in the recent past and see if you want to stick to them. Be flexible, but, at the same time, core positions are not meant to be shifted election to election

Cure yourself of Congressitis
This disease is called so because it first affected the Congress party as per your leaders. It is characterized by shameless pursuit of power and willingness to destroy institutions, principles to get to the throne by hook or crook. You have caught the disease too. At one time, it was your perceived image of being relatively selfless that helped you; people took Atal Behari Vajpayee at face value. BJP wasn’t seen to be a party that will remove Governors, State governments, negotiate the right pound of flesh for support, encourage party switchers, field dubious candidates etc. But, today it is difficult to distinguish between Congress and BJP.

Action Point: Now that you have tasted the fruits of power, it is difficult for you to go back to your old self of coming across as selfless. But, do try to at least ‘look’ less desperate. This also includes saying ‘Buzz off’ to criminals and history sheeters. Why should you be seen as the party fielding the maximum number of candidates with a criminal background? Is there is a dearth of eligible, young people in this country who can contest?

While you are laid-off
Staging walk-outs is a valid form of protest the Constitution permits. But, this doesn’t mean that this is all you do when you are in Opposition.

This is the time to rebuild and reconnect. L K Advani should have spent a lot more time since May 2004 to May 2009 touring at least 50 of 80 odd UP constituencies and getting a hang of what people there wanted.

Similarly, other key constituencies could have been identified and worked on. You had a full five years to get yourself noticed as worthy and credible politicians. But, you didn’t do it. So, now hear the thumps from Sonia Gandhi’s hand on the treasury benches.

Action Point: We know you have the succession issue to battle out and that it will pre-occupy you because your `larger than life’ leaders never cared to develop and identify the second rung of leadership. But, coming back to point number one (which said that to become Prime Minister you have to win elections), it should be clear that you have to sort this out really fast.

Connect on the ground, not on Facebook
Connect with the people, not with TV studios. TV studios are important, you can reach out your message to millions in one go.

But, what if that is not the message people want to hear. Plus, there is no way people can come back to you in a TV studio. And Internet does not still reach Kalawati, despite what your media managers would tell you. So, we know all of you look very handsome and pretty on TV, but, it is time for some sunburn, dehydration and diarrhea.

Action Point: Get your chappals out and start walking and connecting. Pack in your sun screen and water and get going to the muddy waters of roadless villages. Go taste the real India.

(No more) Pursuit of Pettyness
We all know the depths to which politics can tumble to in India. But, do you necessarily have to meet such perfection. You ended up opposing (and looking foolish) all the things you proposed and started when in power. You were in favour of VAT when in power and you opposed it later. You would have signed a nuclear deal yourself, but, you opposed it just because the Congress was doing it.

You could just have stood up and said that you started the negotiations and the Congress must bring these to fruition. You know what, had you supported the Congress in these key legislations, the Left would have scooted earlier than it did. Plus, the Left would have accused the Congress of being hand in glove with you. Wouldn’t that have been a happy situation for you?

Action Point: Don’t be petty. The ultimate objective of occupying the seat of power is to improve the lives of all Indians. Don’t oppose anything that will achieve just that. It makes you look petty and short-sighted.

Need to develop a ZooZoo strategy
It is time BJP learns from Vodafone’s ZooZoo ad campaign and how it has scored over almost all other campaigns that tend to depend on the superstar power. The cost-effective and hugely successful ZooZoo campaign for Vodafone has taken the country by storm. Not because it has a Khan or a Sachin endorsing, but a simple script that has an emotive connect with people in light-hearted fashion.

Action Point: How about BJP formulating a series of inexpensive ad and marketing campaigns from time to time (and not just during elections) that connect with the people while delivering the intent and the message with honesty? Are the “War Room” controllers listening?

Be inclusive, love thy neighbour
At the same time, BJP needs to formulate an action plan that lets minorities know that their interests and development too will be ensured.
Instead of rhetoric, BJP needs to work sincerely towards taking them along; address their genuine concerns, have an action plan for their security and development while according them full freedom and rights, and yet not lose out on majority support. It may be tougher than said, but not impossible.

Stop counting the stars
We won’t quibble about, or debate your belief in astrology. Millions of Indians believe in it and we don’t know enough to either dismiss it as mumbo-jumbo or accept it as perfect science. All we know is that the stars may be in a favourable position, but the actions have to be performed by you.

The logic is like this – if at a favourable time, you do the right thing, the stars will help you get the desired result. Clear? It doesn’t work the other way – just because the stars are in the right place, you will do the right thing and hop into the PM’s BMW caravan. Plus, depending too much on superstars is like expecting Tendulkar to come out and hit six sixes in the last over.

Action Point: Say no to astrologers and Bollywood stars, be the star.

My Personal Views: 
BJP has an image of Party with the Difference but it has lost that identity for many reasons. 
These are definitely the desperate times for the party and the desperate time asks for desperate measure.
It will be in the interest of the party that it regroups itself and work on reaching to the masses through ground work.
BJP must do undergo a make over and should take attempts to enhance the minority voters in its base. 
In short BJP needs an overhaul and I feel that they have got good 5 years for the same. 
It all depends on the leadership as how they can pull this off.

The Challenges ahead for UPA Government

The people of the country have voted United Progressive Alliance to form the government. Dr Manmohan Singh and his new team will be formulated by the end of next week. But the faith and expectations that people have in the abilities of Dr Singh will be the tough task for the alliance. Though Left parties are off the shoulders of the Congress but still they need to deliver on few of the key issues at great pace. There are few areas which need to be looked after with immediate concern and rectify the problems gripping these areas. 

The first and foremost will be to revive the economy. With India’s best economist in the driver’s seat, a lot is being expected from the new government. PM has said in one the election rally that he will revive the economy in 100 days. Well that might be too optimistic approach but definitely a lot needs to be done to bring economy on 9-10% growth. He also needs to tackle the job losses due to current crisis. The stimulus packages need to cover both of the problems together. 

The second challenge will be the internal security and robust foreign policy. There is growing concern with volatile neighbours around. Taliban is barely 500 km away from India and hence it is imperative to revamp the security and intelligence agencies. There should be special law to prosecute the ones caught for waging war against the nation. The Police needs an overhaulment on priority basis and they should be equipped with latest gadgets and weapons. The home growth threat of naxalites should also be taken care off. Without peace all the efforts to make India stronger and leader in economy will be futile.  

The third biggest challenge for the government will be bringing the agricultural growth back on track. Not only the growth rate of agriculture sector is low but also the share of the sector in country’s GDP has come down drastically in past some years. The problem of low rate of capital investment, smaller capital formation and low share in the national income are some of the main problems facing by this sector that needs to be addressed very urgently. There are many reasons for this crisis, which mainly includes absence of adequate social support, uncertainty of agricultural enterprise in India, lack of credit availability etc. Need of the hour is to increase the productivity of the primary sector by ushering in a new green  revolution to raise the annual average growth rate of this sector to about five per cent per annum. 

One of the other major concerns should be the legitimate demand of the forces. Personally i feel this should be top agenda as well. For long time, they have not been deprived of their due by bureaucrats and policy makers. Indian Armed Forces are finding it tough to attract youth and is facing shortage of officers. If the Army cannot get youth just for the sake of low renumeration, then future is really bleak for our country. A nation is as strong as the military of that nation. Hence it will be good in the interest of this nation that the demand of Armed Forces is paid heed and their grievances are solved at the earliest. We cannot show callousness towards our soldiers who sacrifice so much for the safety of the borders and us.  Hopefully, the new government will do something positive on this front as well.  

There is tough task ahead for the new government. The way in which new cabinet will handle these issues remain interesting. Only time will tell whether Dr MMS can deliver in the tough time. I feel that he will be able to as there are no clutches of Left this time.

BJP should be a Strong Opposition in 15th Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha Elections have thrown some unexpected results. The results are unexpected for almost every political party. You can take example of Congress, BJP, Left, BSP, TC, etc. It is very clear that UPA under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh is going to form the government again. With Left out of the government, it is being hoped that India will push for economic reforms and policies. The stable government is advantage in this time of economic depression.

Bhartiya Janta Party has lost the elections and the results are very surprising for them. They hoped to encash the incumbency, economic crisis and internal security but failed in doing so. The party needs to do some serious introspection. If not then their might be some existential dilemma for the BJP. But for smooth functioning of the democracy, it is of great importance that BJP does some rethinking and revives itself. The strong government must have strong opposition and this is the essence of the democracy. The one step towards the revival of BJP will be the role it plays as the opposition in the next 5 years. The government will pass some bills/amendments/laws and it is the roles of opposition to scrutinize assess, seek for clarification and have a healthy debate on the same. If BJP can play the role of constructive opposition then it will be good for the country’s health. With every single party pledging the support to UPA, BJP’s role assumes further importance.

Somewhere I feel that BJP didn’t play the good role of opposition and went on to oppose and criticize each and every move of the government. The good opposition should oppose genuinely and support the government in the hour of crisis. The blame game should be limited. LK Advani once said that Congress and BJP should be political adversary and not enemies. This can be replicated for the government and opposition as well. It will be interesting to see if the BJP passes the post of leader of opposition to some younger member. Though LK Advani has agreed to be leader of opposition but mostly he will leave the post within a year time. A young leader of opposition chosen with consensus within the party is also essential for BJP to do well in future.

Bottomline:
We have got a stable government and now we should get the stable, strong and constructive opposition. The responsibility of this lies with BJP and hope they will meet up the expectation of voters who have given them mandate to sit in opposition and play an important role there.

Why Bhartiya Janta Party Lost the 2009 General Elections!

THE ELECTION results are the swansong for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s iron man LK Advani. His dream to become India’s Prime Minister remains a dream and I don’t think he will get the next chance. But the verdict has taken the country by surprise.

Everyone predicted a close contest between the BJP and the Congress but the difference of more than 80 seats is astonishing. I, as a young voter, feel that the BJP lost because of the following reasons:

1.   The BJP failed in its role as a constructive opposition. It opposed each and every policy of the government. It opposed just for the sake of opposition. Take, for instance, the stance taken by the party during the nuke deal. It leaders vehemently opposed it. Rahul Gandhi went on stretch to explain the benefits of the deal to the common people but the BJP failed to listen. And just few days before polling, Advani said that his government won’t scrap the deal! This shows that the BJP was not sure of its stance.

After the Parliament attack in 2001, the Congress lent the full support to the NDA government to fight terrorism. On the other hand, after Mumbai attacks, the BJP kept on criticizing the UPA for its failure to stop the attacks. Criticism was required but not the type which the BJP displayed. It showed its sheer opportunism and not the real will to focus on the solution of the problem.

2.   The website of the BJP has details of the party manifesto. While reading that I was impressed by few of the real good points. The party’s IT vision was also very well received by the Indian IT companies. But somewhere I felt that the BJP failed to make the people aware of their vision and manifesto while addressing the citizens. They were not able to make people aware of the same.

3.   The BJP failed to capitalize on the weak points of the UPA government which mainly included agriculture and internal security. Its leaders were themselves found napping when the Kandhar issue was raised. They failed to come up positively on these two issues.

4.   Frankly speaking, Advani was not perceived the “Majboot Neta”. He might be the Iron Man for the BJP but not for the country. His past track record proves that (comments on Jinnah, Kandhar, etc). He was unable to match the intellectual level of Dr Manmohan Singh. Instead of debating how the BJP would change the face of India most of the time he attacked the UPA and its leaders. He attacked Dr Singh throughout instead of his policies which did not augur well among the voters who hold great respect for Dr Singh.

Moreover, there have been so many splits within the party which made voters confused about the party.

The BJP also had no charismatic youth leader within its ranks. It had no one to engage Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia and so forth? That too, when more than half the electorate was young.

The Congress mainly won on the ability of Dr Singh and youthfulness of Rahul Gandhi. The BJP lacked both. They have same old faces which have been around for decades. It will not be wrong to say that LK Advani lacked the magnetism and statesmanship of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

5.   There has been a saying that the way to Delhi passes through Uttar Pradesh. Sadly, the BJP has ignored the state for the long time and failed to have any clear-cut strategy for the state this time as well. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi devised the new strategy and took decision to go all alone in UP. The move which has paid off heavily for the Congress while the BJP continued to lose its base in the state. The party won more than 50 seats in the 1999 elections but has failed miserably after that.

The BJP needs to do some serious introspection before seeking power in the year 2014.

Significance of 2009 General Election Results

The results of the General Elections 2009 are out. The results we must say are indeed very surprising and may be on unexpected lines. United Progressive Allaince under leadership of Congress has won on 256 seats while NDA under leadership of Bhatiya Janta Party has won 164 seats. This election has been significant in many ways. I see election results as the new dawn in Indian Politics.

The results of the election are significant in following ways.

1> The people of the country have shown greater faith in Dr Manmohan Singh to revive Indian economy and put the growth on track. There are no doubts on his intellect and honesty.

2> There have been debates that regional parties are paralysing the central government policies. This was not perceived as the right signal. The large number of seats to UPA with congress winning 205/206 will provide the stable government and the required reforms can be carried out easily without the brakes from the regional and communist parties. This is the most brownie point of this result.

3> The most significant part is that the Fourth Front has bitten the dust. This break away alliance of Lok Janshakti Party, Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janta Dal from UPA was created to have better deals post poll results. But all the dreams have been shattered with LJP getting wiped out and RJD managing only 4 seats. Samajwadi Party lost 10 seats and was able to win 25. The dream of bargaining for crucial portfolios is hanging dead.
Thus this has been lesson for opportunistic politicians.

4> The Left dream of forming non BJP/non Congress government is crushed. People of the country have rejected the idea and now it is clear that people prefer only two alliances in the central politics. The fate of other third front partners has met an end similar to that of Left Parties. Maya’ elephant will have to walk miles before it can reach Delhi. :)

5> The big mafias/dons and their family members have also lost badly in the election result of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. It is also a big achievement of this election result. The names include Mukhtar Ansari, DP Yadav, Shahbuddin’s wife, Pappu Yadav’s wife and mother, Surajbhan’s wife, Rizwan Zaheer and Afzal Ansari.

6> The people of Bihar have voted for development and good governance.
The Muslim-Yadav-Dalit alliance has been broken and caste factor has been diminished to some extent in UP and Bihar.

Overall, the people have voted for stable government.

Now it is up to Dr Manmohan Singh and his team to deliver and meet the expectations of the people.

As a citizen of this nation, I am happier with the stability at the center and would love to see India’s economy booming once again!!

Always a blind spot

I look at the rhetoric surrounding Elections 2009 and wonder – has any political party promised to improve the state of the environment for you and me? Or thought about our right to fresh air or clean water – commodities that have become a rarity in an urbanising India?

Over the past few weeks I’ve studied the manifestos of all political parties and silently witnessed the city around me change. Ancient trees are being decapitated for wider roads, a park’s been taken over for a multiplex and a storm drain, a barrier against monsoon floods, has been filled with sand to make way for a parking lot. Grab and construct is the new mantra for the ‘development’ of our cities.

We spend three hours on an average on roads, stuck in traffic jams, while one in every five Indians suffers from respiratory disorders. Indian cities are headed towards an urban disaster. Take the depleting quality of the air we breathe or the water we drink (that’s if we get it in our taps); while rivers turn into noxious black threads with methane bubbling on their surfaces and landfill sites expand.

Analysts predict that in the next thirty years, more than half of India will be living in urban areas. But does any leader or political party have a vision to address the impending environmental problems? Caste and religion continue to dominate the rhetoric of Election 2009, but is global India, with a growth rate of 9 per cent, doing anything about the toxic gas chambers that are our cities or the brown sludge flowing from our taps?

You could dismiss my angst for clean air and water as an elitist preoccupation that doesn’t affect a majority of the population. But take a look at the alarming figures collected by the Central Pollution Control Board and the Centre for Science and Environment. Out of the 100 Indian cities monitored, almost half have critical levels of particulate matter. Fifty-two cities hit critical levels, 36 have high levels and a mere 19 are at moderate levels. Only three cities – Dewas, Tirupati and Kozhikode – recorded low pollution levels.

Adding to the gas chambers are toxic gases like nitrogen oxide – a major contributor to acid rain and global warming – that are on the rise even in smaller cities like Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Nashik and Chandrapur. Indian cities can be cured of the curse of pollution, but various policy measures will have to be initiated. One way out could be the introduction of compressed natural gas in the public transport system, and financial incentives for people to buy more fuel-efficient cars or to switch to public transport.

If we look at the availability of water in Indian cities, the situation is no different. According to a 2007 World Bank study on 27 cities, the average duration of water supply was not more than four hours and in some, like Rajkot, it’s less than 0.3 hours. Not even one Indian city gets continuous water supply, and a majority are in the red in terms of plummeting ground water tables. Besides, in the poorer parts of our nation, people have to buy water and have to spend, on an average, one to two hours per day foraging for it.

And what about the impending threat from climate change? There is now enough scientific evidence to show that climate change will first affect the poor, with disastrous consequences for India’s farmers and fishermen. But has any political party woken up to this threat? The BJP, interestingly, has a separate section on the environment in its manifesto, referring to the need to move towards a low-carbon economy. Does that mean it will scrap the 54-odd thermal power projects that were cleared under the UPA government? Climate change may already be upon us in many ways. But one look at the National Climate Change Action Plan launched by the Prime Minister will tell us that most of the targets under the eight missions are non-measurable, so there’s no way to measure the outgoing government’s performance.

And how ‘green’ are our politicians themselves? While one has drained the wetlands of an endangered bird only to build an airstrip in his native village, another, with strong prime ministerial aspirations, spent more than Rs 80 crore ravaging a green belt on the edge of the Okhla bird sanctuary, while yet another in Madhya Pradesh got the course of a river diverted, to make it flow close to his private resort. Media campaigns ask voters to stop complaining and go out and vote. Yes, I too will go and vote. But I am still waiting for that one political party or candidate who promises me, a citizen of India, my right to clean air and water.

By: Bahar Dutt
(This article appeared in ‘Hindustan Times’ on May 5, 2009)

Vote India Vote!!

The third phase of General Elections will be held on 30th April. It is a humble request from the Team Jai-Hind to all the awakened citizens to get out and vote on 30th April. The states which will go to the polls are Bihar (11), Gujarat (26), Jammu and Kashmir (1), Karnataka (11), Madhya Pradesh (16), Maharashtra (10), Sikkim (1), Uttar Pradesh (15), West Bengal (14), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (1), Daman and Diu (1).

Mumbai and Lucknow will also vote on Thursday 30th April.

Get out and Vote
Because vote holds our fate
30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

If you have anger within
If you have felt helpless
If you have felt you have lost your voice
If you have felt insecure
Then vote is the only cure

30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

This is the time to be the change
Take the future in your own hand
Don’t be ignorant
And say you don’t care
The bell is ringing loud
Can’t you hear

30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

30th April is not a holiday
but a “HOLY”day
You have the right to elect
Elect the able and turn the table
Think of the coming generation
and this country
You have your duty towards nation
You cannot back out
So Get out with family and friends to Vote

30th April….30th April
Please take note
You will change the track
by casting your vote.

30th April is the date
Please don’t ignore it mate.

Make India a more stronger Democracy by voting.
Jai Hind