Advani the party man or Singh the economist?

LK Advani might become prime minister next month. What kind of a leader will he make? Let us examine his qualifications. Born in 1927 to a rich family living in a Parsi neighbourhood of Karachi, Advani is from the Amil caste of merchants. In his autobiography, My Country My Life, he tells us “as far as I can remember, I stood first in every class till matriculation” and “when I completed my matriculation, I had just turned 14”.
Do you want him as PM? Amit Dave/Bloomberg
But at DG National College, Hyderabad, Sindh, he fails to get a degree in five years. His Lok Sabha résumé mentions an LLB from Bombay University, but does not say when he got it. His autobiography’s 986 pages do not mention this degree, or his attending this college, at all.
Forced out by Partition, Advani becomes an RSS worker. He spends years in Rajasthan’s villages, where he is “scared of one thing: tapeworm”.
This is because, over the years, he sees many people with the painful exit wound this worm would make on its way out from their legs. He writes about this at length, showing that his fear, for himself and perhaps also for the villagers he served, was real. But he does no research, else he would have learnt that it was not tapeworm but guinea worm.
On a visit to Chittor fort, he is “pained to see thousands of idols of Hindu deities broken and defaced by intolerant Muslim invaders”. Such experiences “were bringing about a strange transformation within me”.
Then, for seven years, till 1967, Advani is a journalist at the RSS journal Organiser, where he writes film reviews.
His writing is lazy and he leans on clichés and stock phrases. He describes a criminal as “dreaded gangster”. He uses too many adjectives and likes hyperbole. He calls Indira Gandhi’s Emergency the “darkest period in Indian history”, but then reports its years wrong in three places (pages 259, 266 and 270).

I edited newspapers for 10 years and I can place Advani as a journalist immediately. He would not have risen beyond middle rank.
He says Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People would “clearly rate as one of the five or six life-transforming books I have read so far”.
After a brief term in Delhi’s municipal council, because of his RSS connection, Advani is nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Jailed with other opposition leaders, Advani comes to power in 1977.
His life’s first executive job comes to him at 50 and he becomes minister of information and broadcasting.
This lasts two years.
In the 1980s, he finds his cause at Ayodhya. He begins a campaign, but does not understand the nature of India, and what his movement represents.
When his fired-up audience screams: “Jo Hindu hit ki baat karega, vahi desh pe raaj karega (Whoever promises to ensure the welfare of Hindus will form the government)”, Advani says he did his job by telling them they should instead say: “Jo Rashtra hit ki baat karega, vahi desh pe raj karega (Whoever promises to ensure the welfare of the country will form the government)”.
But how many of us remember this modified slogan?
As the procession rolls, riots flare across India. Advani is disturbed by references to “Advani’s blood yatra”. He is not responsible, he tells us, because “there were no riots at all along the Rath Yatra trail”. Six hundred Indians are killed.
The mosque falls on 6 December 1992. He calls this a “tragic happening” and the “saddest day of my life”. Having led the mob to its goal, he’s surprised by its behaviour. Three thousand Indians are killed. He does not understand that his movement is not positive, for the temple, but negative, against the mosque. And that is why the issue has died after the structure was flattened.
Advani’s second executive job comes at age 71, when he becomes home minister for six years (1998-2004). The three major events concerning his work during this period are at Kandahar, Kargil and Gujarat. Advani’s home ministry fails to immobilize the hijacked Indian Airlines flight when it lands at Amritsar. The BJP then surrenders to Jaish-e-Mohammed and releases the leader of the Deobandi warriors, Masood Azhar. He’s still doing terrorism.
At Kargil, Advani’s spies are unable to predict or detect infiltration. Over 400 Indian jawans are martyred. In Gujarat, 1,000 Indians are killed on the BJP’s watch. The prosecution is so bigoted, or incompetent, that the horrified Supreme Court transfers cases to Mumbai.
If Advani has such a poor record on security, why do his supporters refer to him as strong? Sadly, this image comes from his willingness to do violence to India’s Muslims.
Having had only eight years of executive experience, the same as the average 32-year-old, Advani has no long view. He does not understand strategy.
He thumps his chest and warns Pakistan to behave after taking India nuclear, but is taken aback when Pakistan’s generals immediately use this as an excuse to weaponize their own programme. This has destabilized South Asia for generations.
He opposes the Indo-US nuclear deal. Why? Because America does not treat India as “equals”. He views strategic policy through honour and emotion.
Of his autobiography’s 48 chapters, not one is on economics. Muslims, Kashmir, terrorism, Pakistan, Musharraf, Kargil, Shah Bano, Naxalism, Godhra, Assam, Ayodhya. These are his concerns. His passion is all about what other people should not do.
Under Advani, the BJP’s three policy thrusts were all negative: Muslims should not keep Babri Masjid; Muslims should not have polygamy; Kashmir should not have special status.
He offers nothing creative, even to Hindus, only resentment.
There is one brutally tough man in politics, but it is not Advani. This man is cold and emotionless when you observe him talk.
If power means the ability to influence change, he is the most powerful leader in the history of India.
His policies, 18 years old, cannot be bent, forget changed, by leaders who came after he wrote them.
He shamelessly laughs off the sneering accusation that he hides behind a woman, and cannot even get himself elected. He is ruthless enough to discard his allies and embrace his enemies when it suits him.
He is cold-blooded enough to ignore the corruption of his allied ministers, because he understands it’s unimportant in the long run.
He has risen in the world by merit alone. Born in the hamlet of Gah in West Punjab, he studied under kerosene lamps and walked miles to school. He never stopped walking. He went to Punjab University, Cambridge University (where he won the Wright’s Prize in 1955 and the Adam Smith prize in 1956). He went to Oxford University and wrote his DPhil thesis on “India’s export trends and prospects for self-sustained growth”. At 30, he understood the problem with Nehru’s economic model. At 59, he got the chance to set it right, and he did.
He is the most qualified man ever to hold office in India, and it would be difficult to find another as qualified across the world.
Like Harvard’s Obama, he has supped at the table with the world’s intellectual elite and absorbed their ideas. Now, facing a crisis, the world looks to Manmohan Singh for answers.
At the G-20 this month, London’s Financial Times put him on its masthead next to Obama and sent three editors to interview him. All Indians who are ashamed of the quality of our leaders must try to read this interview: First question: Do you agree with China on the failures of the global monetary regime and the case for a new reserve asset in place of the dollar?
It’s not the question they would ask of Advani.
The author, Aakar Patel is a director with Hill Road Media.
Originally published on livemint and authored by Aakar Patel (via Acropol Chaudhuri)

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.

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.