Saturday, December 7, 2013

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

We are in the last month of the year 2013. In the life of a person or that of the society, there is always a beginning and hence there will always be an end. Month of December signifies the end of Gregorian calendar year. This month coincides with the anniversary of the election of Barack Obama for his 2nd term as the US President, so also the death anniversary of charismatic parochial but iconic political figure, Bal Thackeray. So is the hanging of Ajmal Kasab an year ago for the 26/11 mayhem.

India is a place of myriad things happening. The month of December witnessed things from good, bad & ugly to bizarre to macabre. Among the good things are the emergence of AAP as a force to reckon-with, in the political firmament of India, so also the long awaited agreement between Iran and the West. Bharat Ratna to cricketer Tendulkar was another strange development, besides snoop master Tarun Tejpal’s sexploits of his young lady staff being the ugly happening of the month, are only some of the highlights of the Month-in-Perspective.

The award of Bharat Ratna to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar did expose the intellectual impoverishment of powers that be, in a country where talent, dedication and achievements are measured by media hype and depends upon the Mai-Baap culture of patronizing politics. There have been many voices of opposition to the award from many eminent and from less media rated intellectuals across the country. The main stream media somehow shied away from these criticism being highlighted. That was indeed strange. We have, however, tried to discuss the issue of relevance of Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar in Focus. Hope our readers would find it different from the general run of the mill. Do kindly respond with your thoughts on the issues raised therein. Rest of issues are as usual. 
J.SHRIYAN
                                                                                                            


Month-In-Perspective

MAHARASHTRA: There was this over 1000 words article on the seamier side of Sharad Pawar, the Maratha strong man appearing in a national magazine. Most media houses, whether print or electronic has never taken on Pawar and his network, for whatever reasons. But all know that Sharad Pawar is a machinist, and yet no media directly took him on in passing a value judgement on the man. He is a politician, who is there only for his friends, relatives and cronies. Ask P.Sainath he will tell how many farmers have died, and Pawar, as Union Minister for Agriculture, may never know the exact number. Even if he is told about it, he would never bother. Thus, he is there for rich farmers, sugar co-operatives, industrialists, businessmen and real estate developers, all of whom fund his NCP. Lavasa City of Hindustan Construction Co. off Mumbai Poona Road is a standing testimony of what he is capable of doing. His daughter was the shareholder/director, courtesy sweat money! Poor Shashi Tharoor had to quit his Union Ministry for a similar case of sweat money involving IPL and his wife. Lavasa still does not have clearance from Union Ministry of Environment. It was during his Chief Ministership of Maharashtra, a plot was hatched to kill Nusli Wadia of Bombay Dying by Ambani of Reliance. Even an RIL director was briefly arrested. Nobody knows what happened to the case. There are stories floating that criminal fugitive Dawood Ibrahim’s tele number was found in the tele bill of Pawar. But it remained a story, like many other stories which didn’t see the light of the day.
The latest article dwells into the files in Maharashtra government, which are reportedly not moving. Unfortunately for Pawar, those files belong  to some of his friends and cronies, which fortunately for the state, the CM, Prithviraj Chauhan, is not clearing  for some valid reasons. So frustrated Sharad Pawar was, he reportedly used uncivil language while asking “whether their hands get paralysed at the time of signing files?” The article informs “Nobody takes on Pawar and his network. That has been the unwritten rule of Maharashtra politics for over three decades. Even BJP and Shiv Sena followed this rule. So at long last, it looks there is somebody, with a cleaner slate, dared to take the Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. Hope success attends to Prathviraj Chavan in his cleaning up measures. No wonder, Pawar is cosying upto 3rd front to keep his options open, as another report informs about his presence at a convention sponsored by LEFT parties in Delhi.
The latest Anna and Arvind tussle in public, is certainly a bit of dampener for AAP, and is most unwanted and unwarranted. The election to the Delhi Assembly is only days away and the publication of CD made some 12 months ago, most definitely indicate a method in madness. Somebody is playing dirty. It has to be somebody who is getting hurt by the surge of AAP in Delhi’s by-lanes. So, it is either the Congress or the BJP’s dirty tricks department that is desperately raking up issues, which are apparently settled. And you have this hyper journos like Arnab Goswami, screaming at his news hour interlocution, as if its ‘Eurekha’. Why is he like this? is difficult to surmise. Is he with the truth or only looking for sensation mongering!
From the visuals and the statements coming from both Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, have shown the pain and disappointment at the latest development from Ralegan Siddi. On their part, they have tried to say in many words that they are open and have never misused either the fund or Anna’s name in their political aspirations. With due respects to Anna, it will do good to the public cause, by accepting statements of both Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav, for their sincerity and apparent honesty in coming clean on the whole issue, including their demand for an investigation by Justice Santosh Hegde, who was earlier part of Anna’s Anti Corruption movement and like Anna, he too did not subscribe to the new political party being the solution to the sagging anti corruption movement.
Anna, in his own interest of being fair and square, should refrain from being used by vested interests which are opposed to likes of Kejriwal and his AAP. Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan represent hope in a hopeless cesspool of muck in India’s political landscape. They may not be able to do all that they want to do, but there is no lack of honest intention to do it. It is fervently hoped that someday Anna too would join the AAP, which will only help a much larger cause. In fact even if he announces his support, so late in the day, but before the Delhi Assembly election, it is sure to make a very positive impact on the future of this latest entrant, AAP. Hope it happens. 
There was this report “British couple attacked by junkie in Dadar”. Of course, on the face of it, the news is disturbing. In a county where peaceful co-existence is the philosophy of life, it is very important that nobody attacks physically anybody else, more so if somebody is a  guest. ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’ is our national dictum, and this British couple are travelers wanting to experience the ‘Idea of India’. In all fairness they should feel always secure. That they were attacked physically is certainly a bad news. But, there are details, of why it has happened, which also need our attention and an evenhanded approach in tackling it. 
A junkie is a drug addict and it is to be appreciated that he was sitting alone without causing any trouble to anybody. He may be a menace at times, but rarely he disturbs anybody. It is true he is ruining himself, may be  a problem, an Issue of  Concern, to his family and friends. May be he ends up as a liability to the society. He may even become violent, that’s when he becomes a law and order issue. 
But in this particular case, the lady in question, whom he pushed and she fell on the ground, and he wanted to pull the camera from her hand, herself can be blamed for the incident. She photographed the guy, who was quietly sitting in a corner. She had no business to photograph him. She proved to be an intruding type of guest, which she had no business to be. He had every right to protest, of course without being violent. Thus the blame can be on the British couple for transgressing his privacy. She should have asked his permission before taking his photograph. So what, he is a drug addict? Can U deny him his human right because he is a junkie?

GOA:  Tehelka in Hindi/Urdu means turbulance. Indeed when  Tehelka came, in its snooping avatar it did cause lot of turbulance in the corridors of power, especially in New Delhi. Then it appeared, it had a one point programme of fixing BJP and its functionaries and associates. They partly succeeded in mudslinging, rightly or wrongly, but their principal target George Fernandese, the then Defence Minister, they couldn’t besmirch his reputation, however best they tried to destroy his integrity. But their snooping business continued. They got into print media with the financial help of some corporate houses, probably with some political support of those who are opposed to BJP. With the kind of financial/political support, they succeeded in roping journalists to write for them. By any standard, they appeared successful in its reach. It built up a fair reputation for incisive writings. But philosophy remained chasing truth with sensation, since sensation had more buyers. They packaged it nicely and it was making its presence felt. They started going places. Success sometime makes people become over confident. That’s precisely what happened to Tarun Tejpal the editor-in-Chief. His name is Tarun which means youth, which he is not anymore. But then, like Jeevan, a Hindu villain of the yore, had said long ago, “Bandar kithna bhi bhooda ho, Gulati maarna nahee bhulta”. That is, “Monkey however old, never forgets to roll upside down”.
Thus, the over confidence led this not so ‘Tarun’ Tejpal, the Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka, to mouth “a bad lapse of judgement”, after he was accused of sexual assault by one of his young lady staff. On 22nd Nov., newspapers carried the story “Police probe rape charge against Tehelka editor”. Although the entire details of the attack is not available for public consumption, two statements of the victim in an email to the managing editor of Tehelka, also a lady, exposes the depravity of the attacker. According to the victim, it was not a “drunken banter” as claimed by Tejpal. ‘Banter does not involve forcing yourself on someone’. She had reportedly written. The report left things for imagination. Probably after having committed the transgression he said “Well this is the easiest way for you to keep your job”. Thus it appears a clear case of sexploiting a hapless junior staff, a heinous act by any standard.
Reportedly, the perpetrator has unconditionally apologized for the crime and the management of the paper is trying some tricks like penance etc to get over the murky situation without the intervention of legal eagles. However like Brinda Karat has reportedly observed “Jail is the best place for Tejpal’s atonement”, looks the right thing to happen, then it would be truly Tehelka coming home to roost.

UTTAR PRADESH: Speaking to the media early last month, Mulayam Singh Yadav has reportedly informed that the “Third Front will form the next government at centre”. He reportedly appeared confident. Some 17 regional parties had reportedly met in Delhi in preparation for the ensuing election in April 2014, and the UP strongman thinks that he is the kingpin and has an important role in getting these 17 parties work as a unified force. In this evolving scenario of desperate parties coming to-gether only to get into power at Delhi, Mulayam is pushing that he will be their leader, in other words, he is dreaming of being the Prime minister of India. Sometime in May this year, Business Line, from The Hindu, had reproduced what their journos had overheard in the Delhi’s corridors of power, where they had travelled down the memory lane in the making of India’s Prime Minister. They had ascribed certain adjectives to describe the persona, e.g. ‘Nehru proved that a rich man can become the country’s Prime Minister, Shastri proved that a poor man can become PM’, and came down among others to Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh. ‘Deve Gowda proved just anybody can become the Prime Minister, while Manmohan Singh proved that India does not need a Prime Minister,’ were the take of the interlocutor. 
Thus, probably Mulayam Singh Yadav is hopeful of filling the gap left by Manmohan Singh, since anybody can become the Prime Minister like Deve Gowda. The question therefore is, if Deve Gowda can be the Prime Minister, whom Lalu Prasad Yadav had famously called Nikamma (meaning-useless), why not Mulayam.
So, its wishing all the best for SP Supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, for his day dream, since he feels his party will win all 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh and will emerge as a kingmaker.

GUJARAT: Here comes another P.M. in waiting for the main opposition party BJP, Narendra Damodar Modi. He has been travelling all over India, well before time, giving people only hopes and rhetorics. Fortunately for him and his party, people have been lapping up all he said with resounding applause, and numbers have always been in lakhs. And believe it or not, he is the only politician who commanded a price for his public election address. Of course with the gift of the gab, he has been able to live with his controversial past which continues to haunt his present. However, since, despite his being unwelcome to United States, he has appeared on TIME cover. That by any standard is a climb-down for U.S., and plus for Modi. That was purely on the Gujarat development story he has been able to sell. And no wonder global investment banker GOLDMAN SACHS (GS) came calling to greet him. The 18 page report by GS “Modi-fying our view: Raise India to Market weight”, suggested a likely victory of Modi led BJP would enhance investor sentiment and would be business friendly. Expectedly Congress was irked by the over enthusiasm of the American Banker and hence asked them to be in banking rather than in political kite flying.

KERALA: Replying to an RTI query, Director General of Prisons and Correctional Services in Kochi informs: that there are about 40% of persons held in prisons not guilty of any crime, in other words, they are all innocents. This is the situation in Kerala, supposedly one of the better administrated state with higher Human Development Index (HDI). In other states, it may be worse than that.
According to Joy Pushpan, the state information officer of Prisons and Correctional Services, many innocents have landed behind bars because of circumstantial evidence against them, then there are volunteers working for political parties and other organizations undergoing jail term on behalf of culprits who are probably with power or connections or both. Another startling disclosure was that about 100 under trials are mentally challenged and therefore there is no doubt of their being innocents, but are still being held in prisons across the state.
The above picture can only be a tip of the ice-berg. There should be a comprehensive study of such situation to understand the kind of set up we are living in as a ‘civilised’ society. An All-India study can throw up very disturbing statistics to make the authorities - the executive, the politicians – the legislature and the legal fraternity – the judiciary, to sit up, take serious note and ponder. Media, instead of sensationalizing issues must try to educate and sensitise these three sectors of democratic governance to make a more humane, sensitive and responsive legal provisions and apparatus to serve the aam aadmi, the helpless hapless masses of the country. It is these faceless multitude who suffer in the hands of police and the system, because neither they have the power of money nor the physical strength to endure, since both good food and good medicine are beyond their reach. Will this happen? is a question asked umpteen times on these pages, but still devoid of answer. This is Yeh Mera India.

NEW DELHI: The speech rallies of BJP Prime minister candidate, Narendra Modi, has drawn lot of flak from opposition politicians, rightly or wrongly. Among these opposition politicians, are also the one’s who too are dreaming of becoming the Prime minister of world’s largest democracy.
Yes, it’s a free country, all are entitled to dream, and why not? 
Long years ago, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated Pranab Mukherjee too dreamt of being the PM of the country. So was Sharad Pawar, too had this unfulfilled ambition. LK Advani was another, who along with likes of Sushma Swaraj had to accept Modi, due to “public demand”. Now comes Mulayam Singh Yadav having day dreaming of some 3rd front coming to power so that he will lead the pack.
Of course, of all the people, when Deve Gowda became the Prime Minister at New Delhi, there were suddenly many contenders saying , ‘’if Gowda can be PM so do I’. 
However it is very interesting to note what Bene Prasad Yadav, a Union Minister observing “He (Mulayam Singh) is dreaming about becoming the PM. But he is not even fit enough to get a sweeper’s job in the PM’s residence”. Indeed it is a very unkind barb, but shows the level of aspirants to the hallowed job in New Delhi. 
Yes, reportedly “EC asks Centre to ban opinion polls from the date of notification”. This was the headline in the print media. So the election managers of this country do not want opinion polls, or rather public opinions, about their preferences prior to the actual polling.
For over a month, the issue of the relevance and desirability of psephology was being debated in the electronic media by political representatives. We all know election to 5 states are round the corner, so also the Loksabha election due in April next year. It is a well known fact that all are keen to know where do they stand with the electorate, especially when elections are round the corner. Cutting across party line, so also the general civil society, the interest in knowing the shifting fortunes of all political players, is a very common phenomenon, just about anywhere in the world, more so in the largest democracy in the world.
Reportedly parties favouring a ban include, the Congress, the BSP, the SP, the Janata Dal (U), the AIA-DMK, the DMK and the DMDK. While last three parties are from Tamil Nadu, other three parties are from north confined to UP and Bihar. Among the national parties only Congress seems to be against the opinion poll. 
Of course, it is true that in 2004, all parties wanted ban on opinion polls. Reportedly they had all unanimously agreed that results of opinion polls should not be disseminated during the period starting from the date of notification to poll completion.
It is also true that this time round BJP,the main national opposition party, is conveniently opposing the ban, because it suits the circumstance that the party is in. 
Besides it is true that legal luminaries too are divided in their view about the constitutionality of the EC move. If Soli Sorabjee , the former AG in NDA regime, observed that ‘ a ban on opinion surveys would not stand judicial scrutiny as it would violate the fundamental right of free speech’ while the present AG Goolam Vahanvathi has backed the ban. This divergent view may be, only to be expected, since, like a paper opined that “Lawyers can interpret the law depending on who their client is”. However, it appears a case of party in power pushing its cause. The recent such polls have reportedly revealed that the Congress may not do well. With a logical notion that such surveys can influence fence sitters or floating voters, it can truly influence the final outcome at hustings, is not entirely misplaced. But the fact remains that a ban on opinion polls would not stand judicial scrutiny as it would violate the fundamental right of free speech. 
When on July 11, the newspapers and electronic media headlined that ‘being imprisoned or in police custody for a crime will disqualify a person from contesting poles’, the whole nation said “Cheers to Supreme Court”. This order of the Supreme Court did puncture the politician’s ambition to go on and on, with impunity. For once at least, the aam aadmi will have some better choices of cleaner men and women. Most political parties had sleepless nights. The party in power even applied for a review petition, along with an amendment in the Representation of Peoples Act, opening up an escape route that since ‘the name of the person being in electoral role shall not cease to be an elector’.
And believe it not, all the euphoria of general public came crashing, when the apex court accepted the amendment saying “Jailed persons can contest polls”. Indeed it is a sad development for India and Indians. Isn’t it a reasonable desire of people, the aam aadmi, the law abiding, taxpaying voters to expect the nation to be ruled by clean politicians? So what is the government doing in ensuring this minimum expectation? Going to court to protect criminals! and courts joining them in ensuring that criminals shall continue to have their shelf life! 
This amendment truly knocks the bottom out of the argument that only persons with clean record should contest elections. With this amendment how would or how could anybody hope to have clean politics?! This has only further encouraged the criminalization of politics. Like a reader puts it “One simple amendment has put the whole clock back and consequently open the floodgates to criminals.
As we are approaching the next Loksabha election this is a very disappointing development. Hope, other restrictions do come to control criminalization of politics in the not so distant a future.    
A New Delhi date lined news informed “Won’t allow Hindu version of Taliban to succeed”. Attributing the above statement to Digvijay Singh of Congress, it only exposed how politicians have tried to keep the society divided and media only played a second fiddle. In a larger socio/political scene, fundamentalism and its related violence is something which should be discouraged and put down with an iron hand wherever/whenever it is necessary to use force. It surely should not have any sectional or religious bias, either in reported statements or any action on the ground.
Taliban, is a rigid Islamic way of life. All are free or should be free to practice, what they want to, in their private life. But the word Taliban became controversial and even repugnant because of the violent enforcement of rigid rituals. Humans, being what they are, some fell in line and some rebelled, and those who rebelled had to pay with their life. If this rigid application of certain way of life had confined to one small area, problem could have remained localized. Unfortunately they went around propagating their rigid practices and any opposition was ruthlessly and violently forced into submission or annihilated.   
It is an accepted argument, that in every set of people, there are those who accept anything new, for their own reasons, but there will always be people who do not like any force and hence resist. But it is those who are amenable to these rigid code of life, who are generally unreasonable and therefore intolerant, who have created problem for those who despite differences in their way of life opted for co-operative co-existence. Hence, in most parts of the world, Taliban, as a way of life is not opted and practiced. But because of the violence involved in the practices of Talibanis, it earned notoriety. Malala Yousuf Zai is a classic example, how one of their very own refused to fall in line. And fortunately for herself and the world, she survived very remarkably to tell her story to the world at large. The entire civilized world celebrated her global recognition.
Coming to politicians like Digvijay Singh, we need to tell that he should restrain from using the word Taliban in an Indian context. Intolerance among human beings has its origin in the idea of superiority. Humans, being what they are, intolerance is a human attribute. Hindus too therefore, at least some of them, are  intolerant, but surely they are not as violent and uncompromising as Taliban. Or else this country of 1200 + million people with 80% of them being Hindus, couldn’t have survived as a pluralistic state. Hence for politicians like Digvijay Singh to bring Taliban in an Indian context is not only misplaced, illogical but clearly mischievous and diabolic. Necessarily media must take an unequivocal stand in maintaining social coherence by underplaying or even ignoring such politicians.

WORLD: As usual Pakistan is always in the news for wrong reasons. The report “US has murdered peace in Pakistan” was sequel to the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud by the drone attack by US forces from across Afghanistan. The report was an accusation by the Pakistani leadership which reportedly complained that “drone attack in North Waziristan was not about the killing of an individual but the murder of peace in the region”. Reportedly a 3 member team of ulemas was to visit Islamabad to discuss the peace talks between Taliban and the new government of Nawaz Sharif. Clearly upset with the latest killing, Islamabad summoned US ambassador Richard Olson to lodge a strong protest stating that this killing will have negative impact on the proposed talk with Taliban.
There is no doubt that killing of Taliban’s top leader shall surely have angered Taliban, who have reportedly vowed to take “unprecedented revenge” for the killing of their leader. What is causing concern for Pakistan is the allegation by Taliban leadership that Pakistan too is involved in this attack in North Waziristan. Thus, the worry of Pakistan is quite understandable. They are indeed in a no-win situation. But who is responsible for this unenviable situation that Pakistan finds itself to-day? This whole policy of causing “thousand cuts” to India, so that India will bleed forever, of Zia Ul Haq, has at last coming home to roost. The  monster, it has so generously encouraged within its society has come back to haunt. Pakistani leadership must necessarily need to realize that hatred will only bread hatred. It will never win the day. Despite causing intermittent problems some of them very grave, to Indian socio-political fabric, it has failed to cause any serious rupture in our pluralistic social structure. But irritations are there, which are truly speaking, road blocks for possible friendship. Pakistani leadership need to realise that it does not pay to be hostile to a well meaning neighbour.
There was this report “Teacher in Abu Dhabi School defend accused in rape case”. 
On the face of it, it sounded rather bizarre, how can anybody defend an accused in a rape case, that too in a police state like Abu Dhabi in the UAE? The truth probably is, the accused, a 56 year old Gangadharan, is innocent.
It was a case of alleged rape, of a 7 year old girlchild. Reportedly the accused is facing death sentence, who has worked in the same school for the last 32 years. For over 3 decades if he didn’t have a record of any bad behavior, it may be difficult to believe the story. But, the mother of the child, along with the father had made the allegation of the physical attack on the child. Were they settling some score or the case may be having some civilizational profile?! 
With the emergence of new testimony by four teachers, it looks the justice may after all, come to this Keralite Indian. It could be a case of bad blood being exploited by some locals and chances were that this Gangadharan’s case could have been an open and shut case in the absence of any counter testimony. But the courage of 4 teachbers need to be appreciated, especially in the atmosphere that is generally prevalent in Arab world, who intervened to speak on behalf of the alleged accused. Hope this Gangadharan leaves the Abu Dhabi prison with no harm and his honour intact. 
The world will hopefully be a better place. The historic agreement between the West, led by US and Iran has put behind them the bitterness of 34 years, since both countries have ceased their diplomatic relations from 1979. Of course, by any stretch of imagination, it was a minor step foreword, but a step in the right direction. The agreement will certainly not be to the satisfaction of Iran, but having suffered 3 decades of sanctions and isolation, this consensus shall surely pave way for a far reaching positive development.
Of course John Kerry, the US Secretary of state has single handedly led most part of the discussion with the Iranian delegates, but fact remains, it was the earnest desire of President Obama that there is indeed a breakthrough in the impasse of over 3 decades of ice. President Obama needs to be congratulated for his courage of conviction, in standing upto the pressure from both Saudi Arabia and Israel besides Republican politicians and the Jew lobby in the US. Both Israel and Saudi wanted no agreement with Iran. “This agreement is a historic mistake” was the response of Netanyahu of Israel.
But surely the world realizes the importance of such an agreement and its sustanance beyond the 6 months period. Idea should be that in this global village all should co-exist as one family, taking into consideration the peculiar need of every group for a decent existence of the entire human society. Obama is qualified for that job. Hope all help him do it.

FOCUS

Bharat Ratna & TendulkarA Question of Answers

Long years ago, late V.K.Krishna Menon, had famously observed in writing on one of his ministry files, “When everybody thinks alike, nobody really thinks”. He was commenting on some bureaucratic bungling by his secretaries.  This statement keeps coming back over and over again, every time there is an occasion to think differently unlike mob psychology.
‘The Hindu’, an English daily of South India, perhaps read by many all over India and abroad, including Pakistan, prided itself on the front page, everyday, by claiming in capital letters ‘INDIA’S NATIONAL NEWSPAPER SINCE 1878’.
That this so called ‘national newspaper’ has an agenda, was never in doubt. Because, their entire approach to news publishing, its placements and comments, highlighting some and making some look very innocuous, has never been even handed. It is true, that there are others too in the media, who too are similarly agenda driven and suffer from this malaise.
Of course despite this, there is a readership who buys it for the reading material it provides. May be, the financial muscle it has, probably has a role in getting writers to write for it. Since there are any number of intellectuals anywhere in the world who do lack the evenhanded vision to see things in proper perspective, like Indian Express had observed in one of its editorials some years ago, “One of the more dangerous paradoxes of public discourse in a democratic society is that some “liberals” are often the most intolerant, some “intellectuals” are often the best practitioners of smear campaigns and some media often are willing carriers of such “liberal intellectual concerns”.
So, when Sachin Tendulkar, the cricket icon, was awarded the nation’s highest civilian decoration, it was not up-front, in its treatment of the news. It waited for the vox populi, the letters to editor, where there was an outpouring of congratulatory messages. Right enough it had a very sedate commentary in its editorials which concealed its double standard. 
Coming to the latest national award to Tendulkar, although, it was slow to come, the response is certainly mixed. Unfortunately for Tendulkar, even the political class is sharply divided with MHA giving a statement that “Home Ministry opposed Maken on award to Tendulkar”, so informs a report in The Hindu on Nov 19.
Some have complained to the Election Commission, accusing the govt. of violating election code of conduct. An advocate, Sudhir Kumar Ojha even questioned it in a court in Bihar. On the first day itself, there was this twitter “If UPA/Congress think, that Bharat Ratna to a cricket legend can shore up its sagging vote bank, they are sadly mistaken”.
Thus the claim that nation celebrates the coronation of Tendulkar is wrong. Besides, the popular feelings need not be a measure of considered response to an act, as awarding the highest civilian award to a mere cricketer.
For the fickleness of vox populi there are any number of instances. Rajdeep Sardesai & Company of CNN/IBN had undertaken a task, an year ago to assess “Who is the greatest Indian after Mahatma”. They had, as per their wisdom selected 100 such ‘greats’ and selected another ‘eminent’ thinkers’ jury to prune the list to 50 and then to 10. This jury of ‘wise men’ put these 10 names on the channel’s website for this ‘great Indian public’ to show their preferences and vote according to their own perception of ‘what constitutes greatness, after Mahatma’.
And come to think of it, among the greatest ten, they put Lata Mangeshkar with 20 points at the bottom, graduating further was Indira Gandhi with 49 votes, Nehru with 57 votes, JRD Tata with 102 votes, Mother Theresa with 168 votes, and believe it or not Tendulkar was voted 309 to get the 5th place among the top 10 of greatest Indians. Doesn’t this represent the intellectual impoverishment of our ‘great Indian public’ and of course our elite? As a matter of interest, all the five mentioned are Bharat Ratna’s for the service and sacrifice they did for the country and its countrymen. What has Sachin Tendulkar did in comparison to those five, to truly deserve this recognition?
The sad commentary is, Lal Bahadur Shastri, the cleanest politician India ever had in all its 67 years, so also a Bharat Ratna, was not even included in the 100. And the jury didn’t include even Jayaprakash Narayan in the final 10. So where are we heading as a nation?!
Bharat Ratna means Jewel of India. Instituted in Jan 1954, this is the highest civilian award given to an individual who has rendered service to the nation, of a highest order, in recognition of his/her services.
Thus it is very clear, that it is given only to an exclusive person or a group of persons over a period.
From the information available in the public domain, there were 41 Bharat Ratna’s, who were recipients of this national honour. 2014 would mark the completion of 60 years since its institution in 1954. This means there hasn’t been one every year, which also means, no Bharat Ratna was given in some of the years. Usually, it was always one person during one calendar year who was nominated and this year there were 2 of them proposed and announced. The statute covering the award informs the kind of services which include - arts, literature, science & technology and public service. Although, awards, all over the world, from Nobel to any other, thousands of awards given by organizations anywhere in the world, do attract debate. These debates have always been about the appropriateness, correctness, and the passing over of some who deserved better etc. So also the Bharat Ratna award, would have attracted debate, if not criticism for the selection etc. But, since it is given to some truly tall personalities debates were few and far between and life would go on as usual. But, it became a topic of discussion in the recent past after a section of Indians, especially from Maharashtra, including Sharad Pawar, proposed Sachin Tendulkar for the coveted honour. As all those who are in the know of things realize that Pawar is a kind of an uncrowned king in the politics of the state. He got everything that he desired, by means right or wrong, except that of Prime Ministership of India. He was BCCI president, was ICC president and currently forced himself into Mumbai Cricket Association as its president, besides being a senior Union Cabinet Minister.
Now going back to the statute, sports was not an area considered for awarding Bharat Ratna. So under sports ministry’s pressure, the statute was amended. Suddenly there was rush of names of great sports personalities of the past being put forward by different sections, from Dhyanchand in Hockey, P.T. Usha in Athletics, Vishwanathan Anand in Chess etc.
Sportspersons are generally awarded Arjuna awards, and Khel Ratna’s are very rarely given. Some of them do end up with some Padma awards depending on different considerations and yardsticks. It is true that many achievers, whose services call for national honours and public recognition, have remained unseen, unheard and therefore unrecognized in the public domain for varieties of reasons. Lack of ‘God Father’ in a culture of ‘Maai-baap’ scenario besides downright bias, have been the causes of such neglect.
“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its fragrance in the desert air” or “In a poultry show peacock did not get an award”, are some of the thoughts that cross our mind. These are universal truths and not peculiar to India alone. They are facts of life, whether we like it or not.
In such scenario, talk about giving or awarding Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar, had understandably aroused extreme reactions. Before we go any further, it is important to know what is Sachin Tendulkar.
Without any shadow of doubt, he was the presiding deity of Indian cricket, a dream of every young cricketer. Where cricket is a passion, he is a legend not many can match, anywhere in the world. He has, over a period of 24 years, hit every known swinger of the cherry into submission with cool contempt and disdain. Shane Warne, the Australian spin magician had famously exclaimed “He gave nightmares to me”. Rawalpindi Xpress, Shoib Akhtar, was made to derail over and over again by the sheer strength of Tendulkar’s bat. Thus when he completed century of centuries, the entire media called him ‘the uncrowned king of gentleman’s game’, the white man’s legacy. Thus his greatness with the willow is indisputable. There never was one like him nor shall there ever be, another like him, who can repeat his near miracle performance. Now that he has completed his 200th test, it is a benchmark too difficult to reach or over take. The nearest to him is Shivnarain Chandrapaul of West Indies, who has completed 150th test, that is full 50 tests shorter.
But friends, are these long innings and a hundred of hundreds good enough for the nation’s highest civilian award? To be part of the nation’s history, for the information of posterity, as Bharat Ratna, just being a cricket legend is a qualification enough?
These are very loaded questions. Being a public figure and in the thick of media glare for all the 24 years that he strode the cricket pitch like a colossus, it is only natural that he will be under an equally glaring public scrutiny. Thus, the first to fire the salvo was PCI Chairman, Justice Markandeya Katju. Sometime in July 2012, while presiding over a cultural function he had categorically stated “Don’t give Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar”. Of course, he didn’t give any reason for denying this national honour to Tendulkar. However this time round, Justice Katju strangely did not show his concern, neither positive nor negative to the latest announcement. He is known for his penchant for unsolicited ‘wise’ cracks.
World will never know why Sonia Gandhi never became the Prime Minister of India. But for public consumption, she renounced it, and ‘earned’ a tag of sacrifice. Similarly Tendulkar announced rather abruptly on 10th Oct 2013, that he will retire after his 200th test, when he never had any plan to call it quits. So what’s that suddenly hastened the decision. Grapewine has it that BCCI pressured him, without the public knowledge to quit. Hence quickly arranged this 2nd class West Indies team to come to India and play two tests so that Tendulkar completes his 'glorious' 200th test. Rest, as the cliché goes, is history.
It is true, whether Justice Katju or all those who do not approve of this highest national honour to Tendulkar, like it or not, he will get it anyway, since the UPA government in its haste announced the award to him. However there appears to be enough room to question the rationale of this action. Hence a kind of Balance Sheet may have to be drawn, at least as a measure of participative debate, to set the record straight.
Writing on “The God of a hundred things” in the Hindu, Nissim Mannathukkaren says, “While there were glowing tributes to Tendulkar reaching the century milestone, there was a deathly silence about the inexplicably slow innings that brought the hundred-100 off 138 balls-his second slowest one-day century, that too against Bangladesh, which eventually played a part in India’s defeat and eventual exit from the tournament. The milestone, which had become a millstone around the neck could be achieved only by sacrificing the interest of the team, that too after an year’s mortally agonising struggle”, he added, “For once, Tendulkar’s oft repeated ‘serving the country’ line clearly did not hold good”.
Naturally, the question arises ‘Was he playing for India or was he playing for his records?’ At different points of time this question did make its rounds. Thus there is, indeed, a public perception both privately whispered as well as expressed through the media, that often, the time Tendulkar took at the crease while reaching his hundreds were inordinately long. There is no denying that all players do look forward to creating records of one kind or the other and that is very human. But playing for the country and playing for the records is not the same thing. Here, it is very pertinent to quote Imran Khan , a former Pakistani cricket captain, who wrote “Records must be broken within the team winning. You should not be playing to break records. Records should be part of the win”. He was generally commenting on why Tendulkar is not retiring. At that time Tendulkar was still chasing the elusive hundredth hundred, and India had lost eight matches in a row, to both England and Australia, with Tendulkar playing in all of them. 
Then you have those umpteen sponsorships, which made him the richest cricketer in the world, which reportedly, unlikely to end even after his retirement. Some of these sponsors were marketing unhealthy drinks and products informs British Medical Journal, only to make some more crores of money for the cricket icon.
There are other human frailties which need to be recounted to refresh public memory about incidents which show this demigod as just another human being looking for personal benefits.
Sometime in 2003, one fine morning he gets a ‘gift’ from FIAT-Italy, a Ferrari  Sports Coupe, a glitzy mean machine, which then was costing around Rs:75 lakhs. This ‘gift’, as per norms attracted customs and other import duties of about Rs: 1.2 crores. It is another matter that in Mumbai in normal hours, driving this sports car could be difficult.
He reportedly called Pramod Mahajan then a Union Minister and a political heavy weight from Mumbai for help. An obliging Finance Minister, Jaswanth Singh, acted immediately on Mahajan’s request. Ostensibly in its highest tradition, the Finance Ministry, in “Public interest” decides to waive the duty of nearly Rs: 1.2 crore, to the ‘richest poor man’ of Indian sports.
Now a person worth hundreds of crores of rupees, in 2003, requesting the government for a measly sum of one crore and twenty lakhs which in all probability is much less than 1% of his net worth, asking for a waiver on a legitimate government due-which really is the country’s money, is simply unthinkable. “Sachin Tendulkar may be a good cricketer, but he does not seem to be a good citizen” said Indian Express, commenting on this duty waiver episode. Or else, how can anybody explain this request from a person who received all the adulation and the resultant wealth from the nation? Would you think, he would still deserve to be a Bharat Ratna?
Another reported incident was involving him in registering his vehicle in New Mumbai, while he is living in main-land Mumbai. The road tax and other government dues are supposedly less in New Mumbai. It was, indeed, very shocking if this was true as reported in the media from Mumbai, since the amount involved could be only in some thousands! Mahavir Pendhari, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation had confirmed that Sachin Tendulkar, Shankar Mahadevan and Anil Ambani were some of the big names in the list of defaulters who were served with notices for cess theft. And do you know what! These biggies gave addresses of some slums, the report informed. 
Then, there is, his attitude towards quitting the Indian team. He had so much of it for over 20 years-name, fame and fortune. No other Indian cricketer was celebrated as Tendulkar. His earnings from advertisements, sponsorships and other commercial appearances are legendary. The demand for his retirement became shriller after the England and Australia white-wash of India. It must have bothered him greatly that others are worried about his retirement from Indian cricket. 
Hence, as soon as he completed his 100th hundred, he combatively declared, “I will decide when I need to retire.” ‘Isn’t it dangerous for the game to put an individual above it?’ asked somebody in the media. Tendulkar’s argument was “When you are at the top, you should keep serving the country instead of retiring”. But who said you are at the top? You took more than a year to get to that elusive 100th hundred that too against Bangladesh. There are any number of instances when you have failed with the bat in recent times! You are getting old, a truth you cannot negate. You didn’t play in IPL, you gave up your captaincy of Mumbai Indians to Harbhajan Singh. You opted out of India team to Sri Lanka. Yes indeed, because you opted out, a young and very talented Ajinkya Rahane got into the Indian team. Precisely for this reason you should have opted out of Indian team for good. Just like entrenched politicians who need to give up their seats in Legislative Assemblies, Councils and Parliament, think they too ‘serve the country’ while denying others to ‘serve the country’. In truth those who hang on, only serve themselves.
Talking about being on top, Rahul Dravid, while hanging his boot had reportedly observed “May be sometime these things are better judged from outside. As a player you will never admit to weakness, to a slowing down of skills. You are not trained to admit these things”. This is in sharp contrast to Tendulkar’s attitude.
The recent nomination of Tendulkar to the Rajya Sabha too has evoked sharp responses. Many of his friends in Mumbai cricket felt, he would not accept it. But he surprised all. Bal Thackeray had reportedly termed it as a “joke”. The Supreme Court wanted to know under what category Tendulkar has been nominated, when the nomination was challenged as unconstitutional. After all, he is not even Xth  pass, according to reports. What contribution can he make to the informed debate taking place in legislative bodies like Rajya Sabha? Sachin Tendulkar is a public figure. He will therefore be under continuous public scrutiny.
Another aspect that could show Tendulkar as commercially oriented was his interest in up-market eating joints in Colaba in South Mumbai, Mulund in North Mumbai, so also in Bangalore with abundant up-market connoisseurs of good things of life. And if you go back to the entire list of Bharat Ratna recipients, only one was from the Industry & Commerce. Rest were all from artistic, literary and scientific fields besides public service. The honourable exception was JRD Tata. Can we compare Sachin Tendulkar to JRD Tata? That is like comparing Sun to 100 watt bulb. The Maharashtra government and those in the central government, for whom Sachin Tendulkar’s political nomination, duty waiver and Bharat Ratna could only be a Vote Bank exercise, need to explain a lot. Reportedly Maharashtra government want to include him in school text books, when there are so many from Maharashtra who are socio/educational icons who contributed immensely to larger social good, whom posterity should remember with gratitude and respect. This indeed is a tragedy, that powers that be in Mumbai, has lost its sense of proportion.
Democracy, we are told, is the government of the people, by the people and for the people, but the Indian experiment has proved that this is “the government of some people, by some people and for some people”. That is a sad reality.

J.SHRIYAN

A DATE WITH TIME

14th annual issue release of held in SDM College, Mangalore

The prize distribution function of the inter collegiate elocution competition  and release of the 14th annual issue of was held at 5pm at the Conference Hall of SDM PG centre for Management Studies and Research on 9th Nov.
Justice M F Saldanha,Former Justice of Karnataka High Court was the chief guest. 
Dr N K Thingalaya,Former CMD of Syndicate Bank was the guest of honour while Padmabhushan Prof B M Hegde,Former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University presided over the function.
The programme began with a prayer by Chaithra Padukone Dr.Devraj,Principal of SDM College welcomed the gathering.
J.Shriyan, editor,  highlighted the journey of for the past 13 years. He also spoke about role of media in the society-both  positive and negative.
Asreen, Law student of SDM College introduced the chief guest Justice Saldanha. Justice praised the efforts of the editor, Mr Shriyan who has made the efforts to promote honest journalism without siding with anybody. He shared his experience of how sensationalism has hijacked journalism today. He made an appeal to likeminded readers and viewers to take up the cause and promote 
Guest of Honour Dr Thingalaya appreciated  Shriyan's ability to run the magazine single handedly for 13 long years and spoke  his words of appreciation about the periodical and distributed prizes of the competition to the winners. In the presidential address Prof B M Hegde told that the journal should sustain. He also spoke about the good and bad things in the society. He shared his experience of life. Among the invitees Capt. Ganesh Karnik, MLC Karnataka, was present. J Shriyan rendered vote of thanks. Wafa compered the programme. The programme was organized by   and SDM PG Centre for Management Studies and Research, Mangalore.
- Dr Edmond Fernandese

THE LAST PAGE

INDIA’S STAKE IN SRI LANKA MUST BE PRESERVED

Dr. M. V. Kamath

For anyone -  least of all Tamilians – to argue in India that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh should not attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo is to show poor sense of political responsibility. This must be particularly impressed upon Tamil Nadu leadership – all of them, to whichever party they belong. In the first place the meeting was called by the Commonwealth office, not by Sri Lanka. In the second place India is a senior member of the Commonwealth and must behave like one. In the third place, let us go back to history for a while. In pre-independent days, it was the Tamil aristocracy that ruled the roost in Sri Lanka, leaving the 70 percent Theravadi Buddhist who were in the majority to their fate. When Sri Lanka got its independence and the majority came into its own, it sought to exercise its natural rights with a vengeance. Reacting strongly to it, the Tamilians sought to be assertive to the point of wishing to partition the country through arms. Throughout the seventies, private parties and elements in the state government of Tamil Nadu were believed to be supporting the armed rebellion undertaken by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). India could hardly accept that and had necessarily to support the Sri Lankan government which had its own defects. For that India had to pay a heavy price in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Instead of finger-pointing, it would be a wise government which seeks to look into the future and not into the unsavoury past. India needs Sri Lanka just as the latter needs its big neighbour. Both are members of several regional and multilateral organizations such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme, not to mention South Asian Economic Union and BIMSTEC. Since a bilateral free trade agreement was signed and came into effect in 2000, Indo-Sri Lanka trade rose by 128% in just four years and quadrupled by 2006. Between 2000 and 2004 India’s exports to Sri Lanka increased by 113% while Sri Lankan exports to India increased by 342%. Both nations are also signatories of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). India’s National Thermal Power Corporation is scheduled to build a 500 MW thermal power plant in Sampoor which will take Indo-Sri Lankan relationship to a new level. India has problems with Sri Lanka in the matter of fishing in the Straits but they are nothing in comparison to what India has been doing to help Sri Lanka. A number of development projects are being implemented under ‘Aid to Sri Lanka’ funds. An MOU on Cooperation in small Development Projects has been signed. Under consideration are constructions of a 150-bed hospital at Dickoya, upgradation of a hospital in Trincomalee, upgradation of the educational infrastructure of schools in the central province including teacher training, setting up of ten computer labs and twenty e-libraries all over the state and a training programme for 465 Sri Lankan police officers. Indian governments have also shown interest in collaborating with their Sri Lankan counterparts on building tourism between the two countries based on shared religious heritage. According to media reports, even Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chavan has promised to work with Sri Lankan authorities to build a temple dedicated to Sita in Nuwara Fliya. Ravana is forgotten. And that is as it should be. To show, in the circumstances pettiness is in poor taste. For better or for worse Sri Lanka is close to India not only because of the Tamil presence in substantially large numbers in north east Sri Lanka, but because of Buddhism. Buddha should be appalled with Dr Manmohan Singh staying away from the island, not to speak of Asoka who had sent his son to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism there. It is in the Buddhist spirit, again that India, has supplied medical equipment to hospitals at Hanbantota and Point Pedro, supplied four state of the art ambulances to the Central Province and implemented a cataract eye surgery programme for 1,500 people again in the Central Province. No big deal, it may be argued, but Sri Lanka is not Brazil. Its needs are commensurate with its size and India has shown to be gracious in showing care and concern for the Sri Lankan’s at large. It is against this background that Dr Manmohan Singh should have gone to Sri Lanka for an entirely non-political conference called by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is a needed institution. If it didn’t exist it would have been necessary to invent it. Time was when Britain, as the master country, dominated the organization. Now the time has come for India, as the largest member, to take charge of it, even if it is in Britain’s shadow. As many as 53 countries are members of the Commonwealth, covering 29 million sq.kms, spanning all continents, with an estimated population of 2.245 billion, almost a third of the population of the world. It is an organization to be reckoned with. Of that population, half of it is in India, a point worth remembering. So we have – and should have – a stake in the Commonwealth. There are some who even believe that the Commonwealth should be turned into a Union on lines similar to the European Union and one can just imagine what influence India can exercise in its formation and possible birth. For India, in the circumstances, to have behaved childishly to propitiate Tamil-Nadu and for dissuading Dr Singh from attending the CHGM conference is not only bad politics but poor understanding of the Commonwealth’s future. India must behave like an adult country. And Tamil leaders must learn to put the country’s interests ahead of their narrow emotional hang-ups. India now has the power and capacity to handle the Commonwealth and reap benefits. This should not have been allowed to be vitiated for strictly electoral reasons. Above all else, India must be seen as an elder brother who wishes all younger brothers with the highest consideration be it Bangladesh or, yes, Sri Lanka as well. By declining to attend the CHGM meeting Dr Manmohan Singh has done a distinct disservice to India. This was one occasion for India to show that it wants to forget the past and to begin a new chapter in Indo-Sri Lankan relations. In that, Dr Singh has failed miserably. The past has been, yes, ugly; but the future promises great results. Statesmanship, one thinks is alien to Dr Singh’s political philosophy. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

EDITOR'S COLUMN

Friends

Looking back in perspective has its own joy. Yes, its joy alright, but a deeply mixed one. We have completed 13 long years in the print media. Yes, this is our 1st issue of the 14th year. Going back to the above second sentence, ours has been a journey of cliffs and valleys. If our 150th issue release function was an unqualified success and made us feel that we shall have an accelerated paid readership, we were not exactly misplaced, but we did realise that in the world of dime a dozen ‘nay’ sayers, its not always a smooth ride especially, when it comes to print journalism. However, we have had many well meaning souls, who stood by us, beginning with Nitte Group Chairman Dr N Vinay Hegde, who sponsored 20 of his friends, relatives and colleagues for ten long years in a spirit of participative support. Yes, the trickledown effect is there and slowly but steadily our circulation is going up, as more are coming forward to sponser. Hence, it’s a big THANK YOU to all those who stood by us. 
Month of November this year has the festival of lights, the DEEPAVALI, representing victory of good over evil. The political atmosphere is already charged, with 5 states going to poll. Election to the Loksabha is only 6 months away, hence the cross country political climate too is pretty hot. What with Telengan issue taking the centre stage, with incessant rain lashing southern parts of the country, there is an air of general unease. Hope things would look up. BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and Congress crown prince are going hammer and tong at each other. Media as usual is having a field day.
With Aam Aadmi Party in its maiden possible entry into Delhi assembly and the general hype on Narendra Modi, we thought of FOCUSing on both of them. It is becoming increasingly clear that both of them shall occupy larger media space at least until April 2014, when Loksabha election is due. Hope readers will find it interesting.
We are releasing this issue at a specially arranged function along with the prize distribution of the elocution competition held this September. As usual, do revert with your comments, we do value them. We take the pleasure of wishing all our readers a very happy and peaceful DEEPAWALI.


MONTH-IN-PERSPECTIVE

BIHAR: Chaara Ghotala, which took place some 2 decades ago, actually happened in the unified Bihar before Jharkhand was carved out, when Nitish Kumar was the chief of Samatha Party in Bihar. It is alleged that some proceeds of this fodder money loot was indeed donated to the Samatha Party when, the present Chief Minister of Bihar, was the president. A key witness in the scam, in a sworn affidavit has stated that a sizeable amount was given to Nitish Kumar as political contribution to his party. Somehow this dimension of the case has not been highlighted, either by the electronic media or even the spokesperson of  investigating agencies. It is not clear, if the judgement of the special court has made any reference to it. But clearly, it appears, that CBI has not followed it up to its logical conclusion. Legally even donation to charity or other social causes from stolen money is illegal, and therefore beneficiaries too are subjected to criminal proceedings. Hence Nitish Kumar too is accountable for this illegal benefit received in the past. But the changing political equations, with Nitish Kumar cozying  upto Congress after dumping BJP, could be the unexplained reason for this CBI silence in the matter, after all CBI also means Convenient Bureau of Investigation isn’t it?
So at long last, 17 years to be precise, Chaara Ghotala has caught up with the remarkable Lalu Prasad Yadav. The month began with the print media headline, all over India, with “Lalu convicted with 44 others in the infamous fodder scam”. Two days later the special CBI court of Pawan Kumar  Singh pronounced the sentence. “Lalu jailed for 5 years” was the report next day. For once, the over confident Lalu had gone dumb with shock. It is a shock that will have reverberation all over the country. In light of the recent judgement of Supreme Court that an MP or MLA would lose his seat immediately after he is convicted for a crime with a punishment of two years or more, the future looks very bleak for Lalu Prasad Yadav. So shall it be for his baby the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
This conviction shall surely put fear into the otherwise brazen politicians, who normally give a damn to propriety in public life.
It was on June 27, 1996, this 950 crores scam, came to be known as Chaara Ghotala, was unearthed, to the utter shock of a bewildered nation. It was a fraud on the citizens of Bihar, who had voted Lalu to power. It was plain and simple loot of public money, the money meant for cattle feed. In the end there was neither feed nor any cattle. “High level politicians bureaucrats and businessmen connived to-gether and entered into a criminal conspiracy for fraudulent withdrawal of public money” observed judge Pawan Kumar Singh, delivering the judgement.
While it is true that, in the end Lalu got what he deserved, what is important is the likely message that will go across the political spectrum that you can “no more have and eat it too”. Yes, it is by far the loudest message in recent times, that stealing of public money can be very dangerous. Hope more such convictions take place and slowly but surely, the process of cleaning of the Aegean stable is set in motion.

KERALA: “Jazeera takes her struggle to Delhi.” is a news from Thiruvanantapuram. It’s a print media report from Mumbai. Not many in South have taken note of this struggle seriously, by a single lady, that too a Muslim, against the entrenched sand mafia. Reportedly she had staged a protest a year ago against this sand extraction from the beach near her village Madayi in Kannur in North Kerala. Nothing happened then and nothing happened after her recent two month long dharna outside the state secretariat. Nobody bothered even to issue a statement, either for or against, by the Oomen Chandy government in Thiruvanantapuram. In her campaign, she has been accusing the real estate sharks for causing severe damages to the fragile eco system across Kerala. Except some environmental and some socio-cultural groups, besides local media, none seem to have cared about this lone ranger, with her 3 small children in the sit-in, at the state capital. Reportedly no political party supported her. In a milieu where it is difficult to find individuals taking up common causes, a single 31-year-old mother of three minor children, that too in an educated / literate state like Kerala, is struggling to find support, is a sad phenomenon. Now that she is shifting to Delhi to continue her struggle, hope at least Aam Aadmi Party will join her. So that well meaning public causes survives socio-political apathy of our citizenry. 

MAHARASHTRA: Lot of politicians and even men and women from national media have always been harping over the financial and social ills in Karnataka and Gujarat, but rarely spoke about Maharashtra, which is just as bad or worse in all parameters in corruption and other socio political ills. Media savvy Indians would have read about the Rs: 70000 crores, irrigation scam, and the involvement of NCP MLAs and ministers including Ajith Pawar, the nephew of Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar. But, all of us are aware nothing really happened, except a drama by the Maharashtra govt. Nothing came off the state governments promise of unearthing of irrigation scam. One of the minister who was deeply involved along with Ajith Pawar was Sunil Tatkare.
And comes the news of a PIL being heard by the Bombay High Court against this Tatkare, for his, involvement in money laundering and land grabbing by his companies. Reportedly Bombay High Court has hauled up two investigating agencies, EOW (Economic Offence Wing) and ACB (Anti Corruption Bureau) for a poor and shoddy investigation into the Tatkare case. Reportedly Justice Chandrachud lambasted the complete failure on the part of EOW and ACB. “Every page of the report lacks proper application of mind. Prima facie the investigating agencies have virtually abdicated its duty”, court has reportedly observed. This again proves how things are bad in the state of Maharashtra, primarily because of Sharad Pawar’s influence and that of his party NCP. National media and central politicians have always talked about the Lokayukta issue, both in Karnataka and Gujarat, how the government in Bangalore and Gandhinagar are trying to subvert law with respect to the appointment of Lokayukta. But excuse me, where is the Lokayukta in Maharashtra, the biggest money spinning state of India? Its not even being debated. And nobody is talking about it. This is our media and politicians, always barking up the wrong tree.
It was during 2005-2009 period contractors for solid waste disposal in the Bombay Municipal Corporation raised bills of Rs: 96 crores for jobs on sewer lines and manhole, which were not carried out at all. However, these cheating contractors did not claim the bill until 2009, presumably for the time to take its toll. After all people do have short memory and that it is quite likely, many wouldn’t have remembered, whether such jobs were carried out or not, way back in 2005. So the modus operandi appeared to be 'to play by the ear'. But then, that was not to be. The old time adage, “One can fool all people some time but not all people all the time” is a time tested dictum. For the bad luck of these crooked contractors, an alert civic official was all that was needed to stop the loot. The payment was stopped in the track. But it took over 2 years, in 2011 for the Municipal Commissioner to announce a departmental inquiry.
Preliminary inquiry found some 32 contractors and 11 BMC staff from the sewage operations were involved in the failed loot. ACB launches an investigation subsequently. But perhaps there was no breakthrough for reasons unknown. So, in 2012 Dec., a fresh probe was ordered with Mr Madhukar Kamble, a deputy municipal commissioner heading it.
And as usual, files go missing, documents available are without the signature of official, photocopies are with signature space appearing blank, with probably a white sheet covering that portion. Therefore the scope of the inquiry is widened, with a senior civic official observing that in the absence of information on who signed what document, ‘conclusion about the guilty can be inconclusive’.
While the investigation is still on to find out the parties to the crime of fake billing, there appears to be no information in the media, as to how it is being tackled. However there are names available of all contractors-32 of them-who have raised the bill, and they should be in a position to spill-the-bean, to fix the officials concerned. It has already taken over 4 years. Surely ‘where there is will there is a way’.
While we are about it, it was reliably learnt, during the investigation that there is a wholesale misuse of a BMC practice of making allowance for increase or variation in project cost, which probably has led to this fake bill scam. Reportedly for 2008-09, an allowance of 58% variation was allowed, an original cost of Rs: 1031/- was allowed an escalation of Rs 600 crores for some 90 works. Similarly in 2009-10, for 122 works’ original cost was Rs 1808 crores, which was allowed to go upto over Rs: 2803 crores, an increase of 55%. These are clearly cases, where loot has taken place, in the practice of awarding contract for the lowest priced contractor, as per the rule with a proviso for discretionary enhancement under the garb of cost escalation. Thus it is evident, corruption has many dimensions. Yeh Mera India.
Like all else, every good thing too has to come to an end. So is Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest exponent of the willow, the Englishman’s game. He announced ‘quits’ from cricket. So 10th October 2013, shall go down as an indelible number, in the history of Indian cricket. Will cricket be any different from now on? Not likely. ‘Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever’ was Lord Tennyson’s ‘Brook’, the most quoted poem. So shall be the game of cricket.
Surely the footprint left behind by the maestro shall be there for generations to come, as a museum piece, a bench mark, remarkable by every sense of the word. There wasn’t one before and unlikely, there will be another in future who shall repeat what Tendulkar crafted for any cricketer anywhere in the world, let alone India . 
For 24 long years, he strode the cricket pitch like a colossus, inspiring awe. There is no handler of the ‘cherry’ who would not get unnerved by the little master. Ask the ‘Lahore Express’ Shoib Akhtar or the wiliest of the spinners Shane Warne, they will vouch for it. Reportedly they had ‘nightmares’. Thus his signature and stamp of authority was all over. Reams have been made black from white, about his exploits of the ‘gentleman’s game’, which did not remain gentle at all in these times of IPL or Indian Plundering League  of making money and money only.
But isn’t it little too long he stayed at the crease, that he denied a spot for another youngster? This was a question only some tried to ask and have tried to answer it too. Some even asked, was he playing for India or for his records and his sponsors, who made him the richest cricketer in the world!
Interestingly there was a report alongside the report on his retirement which said “Retirement not to affect sponsorship”, which convey the message. Thus it is pertinent to quote V.G. Gangadhar, who wrote “I too believed that Sachin had overstayed. Never in good form for the last three years, he hung on desperately, depriving promising youngsters place in the team. Ideally he should have retired in greater glory after the last World Cup triumph. After that it was sad to watch the little master struggle to score runs”.
Yes, although the role of BCCI is rather controversial, their decision to let Tendulkar play his last match on his home pitch and go off in a blaze of glory – amidst cheers, tears & sobs – against a weak West Indies, instead of a tough Dale Steyn & Co in South Africa, is  fair enough for a dedicated and disciplined cricketer that Sachin Tendulkar was.
Isn’t it sickening to know that “Sick baby languishes as No Civic Hospital Admits Him”, that too in the financial capital of India, Mumbai? Reportedly a 20 days old, prematurely born infant has shuttled from one hospital to another, in search of bed, ostensibly because, all civic hospitals in Brihan Mumbai (Greater Bombay) do not have vacant beds. Isn’t it shocking? All major hospitals, KEM, Nair and Sion, reportedly have been facing not only bed shortage but also medical equipments  in pediatric ward since a long time. Could it be that the richest Municipal Corporation of India has no money or resources for the health of its poor citizens?
Jagriti Mishra, the 18 year old mother of the sick child, is in tears going from pillar to post for her delicate 20 days infant. Of course she is from Bihar. Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation is run by Shiv Sena and MNS. Politics of violent discrimination, by the likes of Raj Thackeray and company and his MNS and Shiv Sena, especially against Biharis, this particular instance becomes all the more stark. Would things have been better, if the mother was a local Marathi Manoos? It’s a moot point, but the name of Mumbai surely took a beating. How can a system make a child of 20 days to suffer inordinately, in an apparently civilized world, because of an irresponsible, irresponsive, callous system? Somebody should be made accountable for the tragic situation. 
Since BCCI is a big cow giving milk to lot of hangers on, no wonder, there are any number of beneficiaries speaking in turn and out of turn, either in support of BCCI and its presidents, whether Srinivasan or any of those earlier ones. There are also many who just prefer to keep quite despite provocations to the contrary. 
And comes the yester years hero Ravi Shastri, coming in defense of Srinivasan and his ways of managing things at BCCI. “Shastri backs SRINIVASAN’S stance of not stepping down” was a media report from Mumbai. And why not?! After all he is one of the cricket commentator contracted by BCCI at an attractive compensation package. Shastri is not alone, there are any number of beneficiaries who will defend BCCI and its president, despite court observations, and we call them sportsmen, isn’t it! Even on the issue of Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement  before his announcement of quitting Test Cricket, all these ‘gentlemen players’ had kept a ‘golden silence’ while his early retirement could have benefited at least 3 players in 3 formats of the game.  People like Shastri, are all time servers, trying to make the most when the sun is shining. 

PUNJAB: Long years ago, during election time, with posters of candidates galore all over the then Bombay, party foot-soldiers were sticking these election posters on walls of most buildings. One building near central Bombay, there was a film poster already pasted on the wall, and above that poster a couple of posters belonging to different political parties were pasted subsequently. Men pasting election posters did not read the film poster, and the film was “Hum Sab Chor Hai”. All had a hearty laughter when a smart lensman clicked the photograph of all those posters to-gether and published in the news paper the next day. Indeed most of these contesting candidates could indeed be chores (thieves).
Right enough, there was this funny interlude in the ongoing battle at the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA) with Abhinav Bindra, the Olympic gold medalist. Bindra had carried a sustained campaign against tainted officials to be purged, annoying the president of the suspended IOA, Abhay Singh Chautala (ASC). Chautala took the battle right into the drawing room of Bindra, accusing him of double standard. Reportedly, Bindra’s father, an industrialist, was in prison for a month in 2009, for a cheque-bounce case. “If Bindra has a problem with tainted people then he should first disown his father or leave his father’s house” ASC who is also the opposition leader in Haryana, is reported to have said.
Of course, war of words continued with National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) openly supporting Bindra with Mahesh Bhupathi too joining the chorus for the ouster of tainted IOA officials. Here, it is of interest to note, that Chautala, who is the son of Om Prakash Chautala, a former Chief Minister of Haryana is defending the indefencible. It appears, for younger Chautala, a taint is a feather, to be kept on the crown. His father is in prison too for the recruitment scam. Hence NRAI president remarked “Its like the big pot calling the small kettle black”. This is Yeh Mera India.

UTTAR PRADESH: Ever since Akhilesh govt. took power in U.P., it has always been in news, generally for all wrong reasons. And comes the news “Dalit doctor bashed by Mulayam’s brother-in-law, cops yet to file FIR”. 
Reportedly one Dr Pawan Pratap Singh had parked his vehicle outside the house of Ajant Singh. Taking umbrage, men of Ajant Singh bash the doctor black and blue. He goes to police station and police take the complaint but do not register an FIR, instead, another complaint is registered against Dr Singh accusing him of trying to run over Ajant Singh. Police sensing that Dr Singh is a dalit and hence under the stringent Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act, can be a non-bailable offence, floated the idea, that both have compromised and that Dr Singh has not complained, with SP of Etawah, Nilabhja Chaudhary,  playing villain. Isn’t it sad that law enforcing authorities are only with power and powerful men and powerful family. Mulayam is an M.P. and his son is the Chief Minister of U.P., and Mulayam’s daughter-in-law and Akhilesh wife is an M.P., got elected without any election, and the system is  bent-on helping them perpetuate. So what is the future of Indians, may be AAP!
Shoban Sarkar – the head priest of his own temple dreamt of a ‘hidden treasure’ of 1000kg gold coins under the Daundiya Kheda fort of Raja Ram Buksh Singh in the Unnao district of U.P. And come to think of it, amidst heavy police cover, the Archaeological survey of India, the keepers of India’s heritage monuments, launched the bigger and unprecedented chase, of digging to unearth the hidden treasure. Even a Public Interest Litigation was filed in Supreme Court to order a court monitored excavation to protect the gold. So you can imagine the cross country interest that this dream of hidden treasure triggered.
Not even two weeks are over, to the horse powered excavation efforts, and ASI is likely to call it off with gold fading into plain dirt. Just about all concerned have made a fool of themselves by this absolutely thoughtless act of chasing the mirage. Quite frankly the whole operation has blown in the face of the authorities who decided to act on the wild dream of a temple priest to excavate even as deep as 20 mtrs. Now that the excavation is likely to be called off at less than 6 meter itself, shows the Geological Survey of India in a very poor light. It is clear that those who are in charge of such issues, like geologists have not done their home work. It is becoming increasingly clear that it is a wild goose chase. 
Narendra Modi, who had poked fun at the beginning of the excavation will have a hearty laugh, and this failed chase likely to become a fodder to his otherwise no-holds- barred attack on UPA and UP government, who had worked in tandem to get to the bottom of the Daundiya Kheda fort. Modi had reportedly remarked then, that instead of chasing the wild goose of a poojari’s dream, better chase the Swiss Bank black money, where it is sure to yield very positive result. But then we are Indians, chasing mirage is one of our ways of life. Isn’t it?! Like our news paper called it, “UPA digs for gold. May discover wisdom.”   

NEW DELHI: So, it is the ‘crown prince’, who is apparently calling the shots. The ordinance, which the union government so hastily and clumsily tried to push through was indeed thrown in the basket, as desired by Rahul Gandhi. The UPA II clearly embarrassed, and a deeply hurt, (but did not show), prime minister, reluctantly withdrew the ordinance meant to shield tainted members of parliament and legislative assemblies, who would have lost the right to stand for election so also their present elected position. In the event, the aam aadmi has won. Of course, all political parties have made appropriate noises in accordance with their political agenda, which is not necessarily in the interest of the nation. However question persisted what really made the UPA II to hurry through this controversial ordinance?
Like his predecessor, Shivraj Patil, the present incumbent Sushil Kumar Shinde too gets into serious trouble with his one-up-man-ship. His latest letter to all state Chief Ministers asking them to ensure that innocent young Muslims are not wrongly arrested on terror charges, has expectedly run into trouble. While his letter may be with good intentions, but can be faulted on many counts. The truth is, the police all over India, always rounds up defenceless and weak, belonging to just about all sections of society, and there are any number of men incarcerated on just trumped up charges, held in prison for interminably long periods without trial. Hence his singling out Muslim youth is completely misplaced and cannot be termed unintentional at all. As, the so-called friend of minorities, especially Muslims, the Samajwadi Party has accused Shinde of indulging in ‘Vote bank  politics’, especially with 2014 elections to the Loksabha being only 6 months away. This accusation is fairly well placed and hence difficult to deny, of course the Congress leaders of all hues have all refused to accept thus. As usual BJP has taken a strident stand and has demanded that Home Minister should not only withdraw the order so also should apologise to the nation. It is true, neither has happened. But then divide and rule policy is not a stranger to Congress politics.
Our sports bodies are run like some closely held private companies, especially when it comes to dealing with players who do not have god fathers. If Srishant and company were awarded with life ban from playing cricket for the country, for their role in match fixing, now it is the turn of Jwala Gutta, who did well in doubles, for her role in a passing-trouble in the recently concluded IBL (Indian Badminton League). Of course, discipline is an important part of sports management but outright ban for life is unthinkable under any circumstances. For every wrong, if construed as wrong, should carry some amount of punishment, which is fair. A ban to a player is akin to Death Sentence, which should be avoided under all circumstances. Although, we are a democratic country, feudal mindset is a fact of life. There should be a conscious effort to shed this mindset fully in the interest of the game.   

WORLD: In a polarized world, the 15 minutes tele talk, after 34 long years, between US President Barack Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hasan Rouhani, is sure to vibrate the world over, especially the middle east. Indeed it was a ‘seismic shift’ as someone remarked, in the relationship of these two long time adversaries. Of course, the election of Hassan Rouhani, considered a liberal by Iranian standard, has indeed shifted rather significantly, as international diplomats, especially European and US, attributed to the tone and attitudes of the evolving Iranian leadership.
While it is true that Iran-US bitterness has a long history of over 3 decades, the fact that Iran survived for so long, with all the sanctions imposed on it post 1979, has shown its innate strength, despite the 10 long years’ war with Iraq, the next door neighbour. The Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussain was killed by his own men, and Iranians have flourished, albeit slowly.
But, of course, history is a fact of life, that cannot be wished away. A mere 15 minute vocal détente will not change the hostile history between U.S and Iran, for sure. But, surely it is also true that, like the old dictum “to get to anywhere is to start from where you are”. That should indeed bring smile to all those who are optimists in an increasingly polarizing world. The very fact that, Rouhani was warmly welcomed back home by a much larger liberal crowd than those who are hardliners and opposed to U.S and chanted “Death to America”. Besides, while in the United Nations Iranian president did make positive noises and tried to reach out to the larger world, which is a positive sign. He categorically told in the US television interview that “under no circumstances would he seek any weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever”. This and all other actions including the recent release of a Human Rights Lawyer, “Iran’s high profile political prisoner, Nasreen Sotoudeh” are some of the bright spots in the emerging Iran under Hassan Rouhani.
Therefore, not withstanding Israeli protestations, the now famous 15 minute tele talk must necessarily lead to handshake and carried forward for the sake of larger good of tranquility in the troubled atmosphere of the middle east.
So, it has happened after all. Buckling under intense pressure from world over, Swiss authorities signed Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in the Tax Matters with Paris based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
This convention, reportedly signed by 58 countries including India, provides for sharing of information and mutual co-operation among all its signatories, leading to automatic exchange of details and necessary administrative assistance in tax matters with overseas authorities.
So from now on, if there is a will there is a way. All those who stashed away their ill gotten money shall have sleepless nights from now on. Not only it is possible to get all that is there, hidden in Swiss banks, but no more new illegal flight of money.
Of course, it is a dream come true. But still a dream, until the money truly reaches Indian system to fund the pending infrastructure which India seriously lacks. Yes, we have crossed the primary hurdle but more needs to be done by India to follow up on what Switzerland has done. When and how, Indian government will act, is a very big question. Yes, something is better than nothing. So also, it is eminently possible to build on what Switzerland has done.
J.SHRIYAN

FOCUS

MODI & Aam Aadmi Party
Manoj is a good friend. I know him for many years. He is a subscriber of ISSUES & CONCERNS and of course he reads too. I bumped into him in a restaurant. Touching many subjects, our talk was meandering into all and sundry, and suddenly he says, “In the next Focus, you must write on NA-MO”. Surprised at his abrupt suggestion, had to gather my response. “You do have a valid suggestion but not sure how to go about it. Na Mo is not a simple person that he can be described easily both in his words and actions. But he is not the same Narendra Modi of 2002. He is beginning to evolve. But will he be the solution to the myriad problems in this country of over 1200 million, diverse & kaleidoscopic population? Answer is a capital ‘NO’. Yet, in the public discourse of our contemporary India, he is the most talked about and written about. Therefore we at ISSUES & CONCERNS are certainly seized of the matter. However, what we hope to articulate may not be, exactly as you would want him portrayed. He shall be focused critically, but with some others as well and some issues of relevance with it”.
Indeed, since last over 6 months, Narendra Modi, the present Chief Minister of Gujarat and the proposed candidate of BJP for the position of Prime Minister of India, should the party be able to win enough seats and manage alliances to form its government, this controversial personality strode, on the political landscape of this country of 1.2+ billion people, as a colossus. Not a day or night has gone, when Modi has not become a staple of news across India and across media, both print and electronic.
Of course it is a very big IF, whether the principal opposition party shall ever make it to the treasury benches in the Loksabha after the next battle at the hustings?
But then, in a democratic set up, all are entitled to dream, not just BJP, even their current icon Narendra Modi, and why not?!
And fortunately for him and his party, at least in the public space, things are working well. Mind you, it is not because of him or his party. But because of the opposition. Like a columnist writes, “Thanks to his opponents, he has become the topic of the day in a way that Indira Gandhi was in 1971, 1977 and 1980.” That itself ,by any measure, a tribute to the man, like it or not.
Yes, nobody, I mean nobody, in the history of free India of 66 years, there has been a political actor, who has been written about and talked about as Narendra Modi, with such endearing verbose as well as deep seated hatred. Of course, it is difficult to agree or disagree with everything written about this Mr Modi. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear, in India, “You just cannot ignore Narendra Modi”.
While his history may not be of much relevance, in the context of the emerging political scene in India, it cannot be ignored for the sheer smallness of his origin, and the evolution of his persona into an indomitable pan Indian presence. There hasn’t been one like him in independent India.
From, a tea vender in trains, at less than 10 years of age, to be the Chief Minister of ‘vibrant’ Gujarat, and just tipped to be the Prime Minister of world’s largest democracy, should his party make it, it is indeed a saga of multiple dimension. Surely it makes him an institution of another kind.
A ‘married’ bachelor, a Master of Arts (M.A) from Gujarat University, and personally incorruptible, it is indeed very difficult to have anyone in whole of India, to match his Curriculum Vitae. Despite multiple controversies surrounding him, he is unique, because of his myriad dimension. He is one of the few politicians, who is also a writer. His book on Emergency era in Gujarat has propelled him as an intellectual. He is a visionary with a distinct stamp. According to his admirers he is the only leader who “thought of placing solar panels over the canals to prevent vaporization of the water and to generate power, although all states in India have rivers and canals”. He is a disciplinarian, due to his association with RSS. He is a tough administrator. He has been acclaimed by many as the best Chief Minister India have. Despite many 'nay' sayers, central govt of UPA has given better certificate on many counts on Gujarat under him. We have seen in the media, his detractors criticizing him at the low HDI in Gujarat, yet there are any number who are betting on this 63 year old extempore speaker from Vadnagar, some 110 kms from Ahmedabad.
Thus it is very clear that his credentials are excellent. Yet, he is unacceptable to many in the pan-Indian landscape. His record as the one who presided over the 2002 sectarian flare-up in Gujarat, where hundreds were killed, especially Muslims, still poses a big question on his communal leanings.
Hence, a very pertinent question, will he lead his party to power in 2014? is being asked all over the country.
If Narendra Damodar Modi, is a phenomena, the nation cannot ignore, we have another more acceptable, may be less rhetoric and dynamic, but sincere and honest, is the emergence of Arvind Kejriwal and his bunch in the Aam Aadmi Party. There are lots of positive vibes and responses coming from across the spectrum. Mostly from general public and public spirited men and women. It is true, that after the initial euphoria and the media hype on Anna Hazare/Arvind Kejriwal combine on the Jan Lokpal bill agitation, media, for whatever reasons or compulsions, went silent. Of course, from an anti-corruption movement, jumping into main stream politics is a logical development. In democracy, only the electoral politics has the power to bring about change. But, despite the basic intelligence of such rationale, the political class and the media, both print and electronic, castigated Kejriwal and his supporters accusing them of being power hungry. Entrenched politicians and their friends in the media took a silly stand that, ‘Kejriwal who consistently took the position that he will never enter electoral politics is a chameleon and hence have changed colour’. But for a larger cause, one can and should change the position  if needed,  that is what Kejriwal did in the interest of the aam aadmi and therefore the country.
Having started, slowly but steadily it has grown in visibility and presence, despite media blackout. It is making its presence felt across the country. But being a political party with no money, it had to perforce take small and careful steps in the slippery Indian political space. But they were steps of courage, integrity and honesty and hence were sure steps.
Sure enough, slowly but steadily AAP grew. Media reluctantly, but perforce, had to accept the arrival of the newest political party.
Having seen and worked in and around the capital, the decision to focus on Delhi, in the immediate future, was a right move. To take part in the ensuing assembly election in Delhi is a natural development. During the last several months, AAP has made definite inroads into the pocket borough of both the major parties, the Congress and the BJP.
There is a definite unease in the camps of both these parties. Both are accusing AAP as a spoiler and are not prepared to accept the AAP and that it could be the game changer. But that is precisely what is happening. Survey after survey has confirmed the arrival of AAP with a bang. Surveys have indicated that 1/3 of votes and therefore1/3 of seats shall go to AAP, concluding that it can be a king maker if not the king himself.
For an evolving India, currently under the burden of corruption across the national spectrum, the arrival of AAP is like a breath of fresh air in a stinking political atmosphere in the country.
Emergence of Aam Aadmi Party as a political alternative shall have far reaching implications. Should it do well in Delhi, as projected, it will be a force to reckon with, all over the country. It has caught the imagination of average men and women and its pan-Indian appeal is only a matter of time. A positive vote in Delhi shall propel it to take a pot shot at Loksabha Election due in April 2014.
Here it may not be irrelevant to recount the journey of the man, Arvind Kejriwal, and his group of men and women.
He is born into a family of better-off parents. Had good school education. He belongs to the cream of Indian educated class, an IITian from the best institute of Kharagpur. These details confirm, he is an intellectual. Then he does his IRS, and kicks the job to get into public life of serving the general public. Mind you, he was a Joint commissioner of Income Tax. In a milieu, where such bureaucratic positions are money spinners, he quits to serve a larger cause. That he can be called a hero is an understatement.
While being in service itself, he got involved in societal issues of empowering ordinary people. Right to information (RTI) was one of his principal involvements, which led to his international recognition.  In 2006, he was awarded with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership when he was only 38. There have been many awards that came his way. 2011 saw him joining hands with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, to force government for the enactment of Janlokpal Bill. Despite the central government giving undertaking to Anna Hazare and his team on the Janlokpal Bill, nothing concrete happened.
A deeply disappointed Arvind Kejriwal, while accepting that change cannot happen without political actions decided to plunge into electoral politics. Government, which was asking Anna/Kejriwal combine enter the politics to bring about change, now changed their stance, and accused Kejriwal of chasing political power. Unfortunately Anna Hazare broke away from Kejriwal not to be part of any political party.
Coming to the two gentlemen that we discussed above – Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal – they are two distinct personalities. There are the vast differences in their upbringing. Modi despite being from humble background is very ambitious and is after power.  Whereas, Kejriwal although being from a comfortable background and very well educated, and internationally recognized for his work in public life, is not ambitious and is not after power. Both wants change, but the change that Kejriwal is looking for, is the empowerment of aam aadmi, where as Modi wants change to be in power. Fortunately for Modi, there is a party with sectarian background, not necessarily sectarian in its goal, there is an organisation with huge cadre base. Same is not the case for Kejriwal, as he got his Aam Aadmi party registered only an year ago. Everything has to be built from scratch. But commitment and sense of purpose is very much there. There appears to be an air of expectation that this AAP will make an indelible mark in the coming Delhi election.
Given a choice, an average thinking Indian would vote for AAP. BJP of  Modi has history of more than 50 years including that of its earlier avatar Jan Sangh, where as AAP of Kejriwal is just an year old party and is already making waves. Between BJP and Modi, later may be better, for some positive aspects like personal incorruptibility and a no-nonsense approach. Besides, he is not driven by Mandir in Ayodhya. His comment, Shauchalay pehle aur Devaalay baadmein is distinctly different from that of his party. Even if he is an RSS man, he wants to carve out a niche which is distinct and he is distinctly coming out differently, to which his party is falling in line, rather than the other way round. Here his personality becomes more clear. “He is bigger than the party”. He reminds a Kannada quip “Adondu adamaniyawaada pravaaha, Adbhuthawaada Benki, yedurige bandaddu kochchikondu hogale beku”. Indeed, he is an irrepressible torrent, wonderful fire, whatever comes on its way will be wiped out. But, and it’s a capital BUT. There are justifiable apprehensions. He has a streak of being dictatorial. He gives an impression of being an egoist. He could have greatly improved his public image and therefore, his public stock, by apologizing for what happened in 2002 in Gujarat. He may not be directly responsible for the occurrence, but accountable all the same, being the administrative head of the state. Besides, many in the main stream, rightly or wrongly, are not comfortable in his association. Thus, will Narendra Modi bring more solutions to the myriad problems of India, or will he contribute more to its already existing Issues & Concerns, is an open question, only time will tell.
Coming to AAP, it has many positives to its credit, although yet to be tested in public life. While articulating thoughts on Mahatma Gandhi, someone remarked, in a gathering, Anna Hazare+Arvind Kejriwal=Mahatma Gandhi. And there were thoughtful approbation of the observation by some of the men in the gathering, almost instantly. It was obvious that general public have already formed a positive opinion on both Anna and Arvind as torch bearers of a positive change in the dynamic socio-political space of India. Of course, it is indeed sad that Anna is not part of the political discourse. Hope he changes his mind in time to give a morale booster to the newest political outfit. After all no change is possible without politics.
Coming to Arvind Kejriwal, it is apparent he is basically service minded with rare commitment, and he is already known positively all over the country and internationally too. Being an ex-bureaucrat, he has a ring side view of Issues & Concerns. He is an intellectual who mixes with one and all. He has been able to attract men and women of integrity and commitment. He has an ability to take people along. Following Awards that have been conferred on him amply proves his antecedents.

• 2004: Ashoka Fellow, Civic Engagement
• 2005: 'Satyendra K. Dubey Memorial Award', IIT Kanpur for his campaign for bringing transparency in Government
• 2006: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership
• 2006: CNN-IBN, 'Indian of the Year' in Public Service
• 2009: Distinguished Alumnus Award, IIT Kharagpur for Eminent Leadership
• 2009: Awarded a grant and fellowship by the Association for India's Development.
• 2010: Policy Change Agent of the Year, The Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence along with Aruna Roy
• 2011: NDTV Indian of the Year along with Anna Hazare

Thus, clearly, between Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, the later is more acceptable for both aam aadmi and main stream political leaders. Of course, in the immediate political scene, Narendra Modi may score, since the AAP has no presence except the possibility of doing well in Delhi. However future for India lies with Aam Aadmi Party, take it or leave it.
J.SHRIYAN