Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democracy. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We, The Hypocrites!

These are interesting times we live in. 
Two things happened. Yes, three things I will never understand. 

First, the oldest democracy in the world allowed 2 of the worst people to campaign for their most powerful political position. 

Hillary Clinton, probably the most corrupt woman politician in the Western hemisphere, campaigned and lost against a first-time politician Donald J Trump. The Trump wasn't even taken seriously in an election that had candidates like Ben Carson (surely, they jest) and Bernie Sanders (who is still feeling the bern).

Midway through the elections, around the time, the rest dropped out, I realized that America was doomed. I kept predicting how Trump would win partly because I knew of the power of 'memory-recall' with all the free media attention (bashing) he was getting. He also had the money to bankroll his victory in swing States, much like Bush Jr. The Donald said things most people were itching to hear but didn't have the balls to say. He wasn't a typical
politician programmed to be politically correct. He was raw, uninhibited and didn't have much to lose. He was already using his donor's money to settle his legal disputes and anything else he got was going to stay with him. Trump is a powerful orator, not in the same polished league as Obama, but effective nonetheless. The upcoming First Lady not so much, but who gives a dump?

Trump never lied about his misadventures and rarely apologized for what he was. If you've watched the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump, you'll realize how the man is actually capable of taking much and giving it back in the same way.

Hillary, on the other hand, was at best a deceptive politician. Like her husband a couple of years ago, she flip-flopped. Period. If you take away the gender card that she (and her supporters) was playing, you'll realize she tried every dirty trick in the book to trip Trump. 
She kept giving excuses for the email server booboo. How can a Secretary of State of the most technologically-advanced nation not know how to use the official email system. How could she use the same server her husband would have used? If you know what I mean. 
She got people who Trump slighted to fire salvos from her shoulder. He is guilty, but trying to play the 'holier than thou' trick was dirty. 

The US Presidential Elections 2016 was perhaps that event in political history that will be remembered for many many decades to come. It's that point in history where 'The Superpower' that was famous for bringing democracy to the rest of the world slipped, tripped and came landing on its crown. They'll never know how bad it is until it's too late. It's that time when we all asked 'So you could only get these 2 guys out of a few 100 million to replace Obama?!!! WOW'. It's that political event that made the greatest nation on earth the laughing stock of the universe. 

No matter who was finally voted, it was going to be downhill from here. And now that you have rocked the vote, you better shut the eff up and learn to either live with it or figure the best way out. You can't pretend to not know this was how it was going to happen. I am pretty sure, we would've seen similar outrage and indignation if Mrs Clinton was voted to power. 
It's the End of the World, as we know it. 
********************************************************************************** Talking about the end of something, back in India, Prime Minister Modi declared 2 of the highest paper currency denominations invalid and all hell broke lose. What followed revealed the people that we are. There were mile-long queues at each (functioning) ATM and bank branch. Tempers flared as cash stockpiles vanished and anarchists took over spreading disinformation, and rumors. There are thousands of people (including the PM) saying how we should just grin and bear it for the sake of the greater good and this is but a temporary setback and then there are thousands who say this was a terribly timed, ill-planned move. The arguments from both the camps are quite compelling and that's the beauty of the freedom of speech. 
What I can't understand is why the panic? 
It wasn't like we didn't have debit and credit cards that we couldn't use. 
It isn't like we don't use the internet to buy things anyway. 
It isn't like we didn't pay bills online anyway. 
It isn't like we didn't have time until the 31 of March 2017. We did.

But like it is typical for us, 'we rushed with the rope and water as soon as we heard the bull was giving birth', the nation panicked and ran to our banks and then when things didn't go to the best of our satisfaction, we complained. When we did manage to get our hands on those new currency notes, we took a selfie and posted it online to gloat and dissect the design. Which reminds me, the way we love to scribble stuff on our currency, no matter how beautiful our bank notes are, the designs are a moo point.

Now, I am from neither camp. I am no fan of Modi because I have had the privilege of having seen a lot more world politics in societies that are better coordinated and motivated than ours. I know what Modi is doing right with his many travels abroad, is what our elected and business leaders should have done 60 years ago. When we have a nation of people who know how to debate endlessly on national television without knowing how important international trade (free trade agreement) is to a country's growth, then we know we have a nation of dumb-fu@ks. But I digress.

I do believe we need to delete corruption from our society. The sooner, the better.  But to achieve that, we need a radical improvement of how we think and perform at the grassroots. 

If this is so much of a speck in your eye, why don't you just transact online? Why can't we have a law which mandates every transaction over ₹25,000 to be done online? Why are we so militantly resistant about going cashless? 
Here's why - 

  • Because none of us will ever abide by all the laws and rules, if we know we can get away with it. Honesty and integrity is best defined as doing the right thing when you know no one's watching. 
  • Because none of us will ever refuse to bribe when a need and the opportunity arrives. And when we do earn our money in ways other than legal, we aren't going to keep them in INR. We stash them away as luxury apartments, Mercs, Beemers, gold, diamonds, and US$. Doh! 

We will continue to see posts of Modi-haters complaining about how this 'demonetization' is 'Modi's demonization of India' while the rival camp will gloat about how much this helped our economy. 
Most people, however, will say this should have been done with minimal discomfort. Sure, this attitude is exactly why generations of politicians and businessmen have managed to siphon off trillions of dollars right underneath our noses and out of the economy. We'd prefer that our lives are as pain-free as possible. This is exactly why we are still a developing nation almost 20 years behind countries like Singapore and Japan. 

It wasn't like he didn't say he was going to go tough on black-marketers. Modi promises more such changes to mop up every illegal rupee you earned, and seeing as he has delivered so far, it will bode well that you follow instructions and surrender because unlike in the US, he is here for the long haul. Ain't no term-limit here, Sahib.

Circa 2016
United States of America : Split wide open at the center because their citizens got fed up with politicians who thought they could get away with anything. Decades of white supremacy rhetoric has finally yielded its rich crop of hate. Fu@k 'Em!

India: A Hindu nation with a visionary head of government who wants to single-handedly gallop, hoping to change the way the rest of us behave and think. The only problem is  - He is trying to do in 5 years what Gandhi took decades to do. It will take us a few generations to change but we will get here. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Yes, with some exceptions we are possibly the only species who can think intelligently, speak rationally and still manage to bastardize the system.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

[If] I Lead India

If you are a TV Advt junkie like I am, chances are you wouldn't have missed the Times Of India 'I Lead India' campaign. You can say that they spent a heck lot of money conceptualizing that ad.
What with all the furniture, the extras, the fire, the clearance for the stunt, the celebrity endorsements and the special effects. You could either be one of those who got the adrenaline rush for the 10 seconds you saw and sprung out of your couch to do the fist bump when the girl did 'the scream'. Which btw was frightening!
Or you could be one of those who watched the ad silently and thought 'What a sheer waste of money!'
Yet again, you could be one of us (like me) who watched the ad with contempt and the silent angst of how our media houses have trifled the struggle for real freedom.

Freedom is not about burning furniture, however symbolic it could be.

Downloading ringtones or the anthem is not going to do squat about anything.
Having a 'Roadies' style audition is so far from what we need, that the Lead India initiative is a mockery of how far our unemployed, educated youth will go for fame and 15 minutes of facebook/TV glory.

Public anger against corruption is not about lighting a massive heap of furniture on fire. This worked in the good ol' days of Gandhi, when lives were simpler and when every Indian was as oppressed as his/her neighbor. What happens to furniture that is not made of wood?

Today, we are not oppressed. We are comfortable. Our thoughts are not about freedom of speech and freedom to vote or some such ideals. We are preoccupied with our thoughts to buy that multi-million rupee apartment, being able to afford the EMI on that SUV and fuel, sending our children to that high-priced International/Christian school in India or abroad, going on that annual vacation to the US/Europe/Thailand, having split air conditioners / LED TVs / Side by Side refrigerators in our homes and to never age or die.
Copying and pasting solutions that worked then to our situations now can never work. We'd think the Anna debacle would have taught us this but looking at the way this and some other 'patriotic' ads have been playing on TV, I doubt if we'd ever learn.

But something good has come out of this ad. What would I do to change the way India is?
As a person who has lived more than half his life in a westernized society, I have a fairly clear idea of what might work and what wouldn't.

Let me begin by reiterating how unique India is.
Among other major countries, we have a lot of character and resilience.
But that's where the good parts end.

We lack self-respect and have a skewed perception of self worth. We are extremely judgmental and are easily enthralled by illusions of grandeur.
We don't practice nor possess dignity of labor. We are hypocritical and love looking down upon people who are not of the same socioeconomic status as we are.
We are brought up to believe that there are only a handful of professions you must grow up to be and God forbid if you are something else.
We tell our children not to cheat/break the law, yet we will jump that signal or ride without a helmet.
We preach tolerance towards women, yet we will (physically/mentally) abuse our wives, sisters and mothers.
We preach non-violence yet breed racism and intolerance towards those who fall out of grace in our sight.
We raise our children in black and white. There are no greys around. Nothing in between.
And if you have been unfortunate enough to have parents who placed a lot of importance on money, then you will grow up to be an average Indian that worships money.

While the list below is not conclusive, I do believe it is a good way to start.

  • Rewrite the constitution with the inputs from citizens.
  • Establish stronger, swifter courts.
  • Enforce existing laws.
  • Step up punishment. Punishment should be incremental, swift and profound.
  • Abolish paper money. Creates a money trail that can't be erased easily.
  • Enforce Accountability.
  • Establish minimum hourly wage. Removes prejudice and reinforces dignity of labor.
  • Increase fines by 10x. 
  • Enforce the RTI Act.
  • Increase internet connectivity.
  • Detach religion from public life.
  • Improve infrastructure. Which in itself will be a major impetus for growth.
  • Encourage public participation in all forms of governance.
  • Abolish multiple party system and adopt a bi-party system.
  • Abolish reservations and socioeconomic quotas.
  • Ban politicians (for life) who
    • have been convicted or are suspects in (criminal/civil) lawsuits.
    • have not passed a certain level of education.
    • do not have proven leadership skills.
    • have not been a part of local/national community service.
    • have been in power for more than 10 years in their active political life.
  • Revamp the educational sector.
  • Foster and reward corporate community service.
  • Reward agriculturalists who innovate.
  • Reward performance instead of tenure.
  • Reward and encourage mentoring.
  • Calibrate standards.
So there you go.. I have the good feeling that I've missed out on some here, but these are things that are not impossible to do. Many countries around the world have faced the same challenges that we are, yet when they adopted standards that suited them the best - excelled.

This could be the start! Do we really have it in ourselves to change?!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

While I was celebrating... May 2013 [1/2]

I'm nuts about May!!
I think it's because growing up, that was when my summer vacations started. And for a boy who loved getting covered in mud and the sheer thrill of adventure, May was the month.

This was also the month of some of the craziest and insaneiest things we did.
After marathons and walk-a-thons, some of us decided we needed to shag a lot and many of us used our hands and imaginations to good use in Philly. Now, to save you the trouble of searching, I've researched and found that the world record for the longest session is held by a Japanese guy who imagined his girlfriend, family, friends and co-workers to keep him stimulated for 9 hours and 58 minutes. Family?! Yew
And Porn got a healthy thumbs up too! Researchers in the Netherlands (?!) claim that porn is positive. Really?! Why don't we have studies like that in India?

In other weird news from across the planet, Jacko's problems simply refuse to die and a school in Washington closed today due to great weather.
The UN threw its weight on repealing the much maligned AFSPA in Kashmir and the North East. One of the reasons why our army will get away with this is because the huge majority of us are unaware of the atrocities the army commits in the name of peace.

Talking about peace, Americans want their government to keep their noses off Syria. The two-year long conflict has divided the Middle East and threatens the fragile peace in the region. So while most Americans are oblivious to the crisis in the Middle East, they still want to keep Modi out.

North Korea sentenced an American to 15 years hard labor, fired a few missiles and now everyone 'thinks' they could have long-range missiles that could eventually reach the great continent of North America. 

Meanwhile, America signed a deal with Australia to sell several squadrons of F-35s and modified versions of the Super Hornets. Sigh!
Now, tell me something - How can a country that fails on every infrastructure parameter manage to create nuclear submarines?

So while Uncle Sam is eager to layeth the smackdown on ruffians in their backyard, we are trying to sit pretty and pretend the Chinese incursion didn't happen. Oh, the irony! Our flag meetings and 'coercive diplomacy', or the lack of it, wasn't going to affect the Chinese outcome. They won a bloodless coup when they capitalized on the perfect time to pitch their tents in our lawn. Our paralyzed government sang its last swan song, our intelligence agencies tied itself in a knot and unlike the military leaders in countries around us, our armed forces are impotent and mere stooges of our corrupt politicians
The Chinese came, stayed for as long as they pleased and left when they wanted. All our bellicose rhetoric and empty posturing only made us look like utter buffoons. Not Mohammed Ali, Mr Foreign Minister.
Even their dailies lampooned our inaction.

The Supreme Court called the CBI, the government's parrot. While we all sighed in fake relief, the PM and his council of ministers took offense. Now, repeat after me- 'Oh Yeah!'

Israel struck out and the world looked the other way
Google touched a few raw nerves when it recognized Palestine as an independent nation and some of our text books gave Arunachal Pradesh to China. In your face, Rest of the World!

Down south, we made our political aspirants sweat it out . Eventually, we made sure we spoke (and got rewarded for it) and when the ballots were counted, the ruling party crumbled and the lesser evil rose to power. The celebrations lasted an entire week and the bubbly flowed freer than water. Alas, it is now time to walk the talk.

Meanwhile, our western neighbor got a new head and we all celebrated the novelty. Promises were made and will be broken.

It has been proven that elections can cause loose talk. The Congress-led UPA government have suddenly developed amnesia and appear to be talking utter trash. Well, seeing as how they have looted us for a decade, I think it is only fair they allow their compatriots from the other side of the fence to loot us for a few years too.

Some of us took the law into our hands when a 14 year old girl was gang-raped in LaLa Land. Not surprising because Didi wasn't really inspiring confidence in anyone with her brand of mickey mouse governance.

India isn't known for her choice of politicians, so when our honorable minister, Mr Manmohan Singh starting shuffling his feet in the mud, it was time for Mrs G to take control.

We did a Sarabjit when a Pakistani prisoner was brutally killed. India said all the right things, again. Our politicians gained political mileage and Pakistan issued a travel advisory to all its citizens traveling in India. And I thought to myself, 'so does that travel advisory also apply to their citizens who've come to kill innocent Indians too?'
Now, can we have the rest of Sarabjit, please?

While most celebrities in showbiz are reluctant to step away from the limelight, Leonardo DiCaprio announced he is taking a break while still at the top of his game. Admirable!

So it is an open secret that Apple and Samsung love to fight with each other, but Nokia said it. Switch

Like a hyena following the scent of rotting meat, Priya Rai is now set to titillate the world's largest democracy. Bring it on!

Johnson & Johnson's has struggled with many of their baby products in the US for a while, but it faced the authorities' wrath when it was using ethylene oxide - a substance used to produce industrial chemicals and to sterilize medical equipment - to kill bacteria in its baby powder and had not conducted mandatory tests to make sure there were no remaining traces in the powder. Shame!

In sporting news, Abhinav Bindra convinced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take its prodigal son back. And how!

The latest edition of IPL was spicier than a Chicken Tikka masala. Starting from Farah Khan's Jumpin' Japak to  the revelation of spot-fixing. Now, I bet Sreeshanth didn't see this coming when he did a Lalit Modi on twitter as IPL 6 began but I've always felt the KKR win last year was just a flash in the pan.

While Sreeshanth & Co is guilty beyond doubt, how many of you think he is just the fall guy? So that explains how he built a palatial bungalow even though he has played so little. Old man Katju, I hear is preparing his 'Pardon Sreeshanth' petition even as I write this post.

Apathy knew no bounds either. Doctors in the City of Oranges, Nagpur, refused to provide timely treatment to teenager who was 'brutally' raped by her stepdad.
Five deaf and mute orphans were raped and 2 jawans got 10 years hard labor. Simply great!

In the words of the 'Mask'.. Somebody stop me!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GuestSpeak: The French way forward

The elections are all set to culminate in France and all minds are wondering who would come to rile the nation ones ruled by the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte. The superficial ends there, but subtle realities present itself in the minds of its citizens with shocking bareness. The country is not in its best times, may not be its worst of times, with no Hitler to run over them and no external threads from its old enemy and new friend Britain, it’s not their worst times they have more serious problems troubling them unlike having a child at the throne this time its way more serious.

The French economy has not done much progress in the last decade; instead it was decadence that one would see in the socio-economic climate of the nation, its apathetic growth rate, the absence of virtually any trade, a utter lack of competition in the world export market, the swindling public deficits. The New France is much more inward looking, much more concerned with its own problems than its former time and rightfully so.  The nation who politics was once influenced by the factors outside its borders, like the al Qaeda, the Iraq and so can no longer afford to be ignorant of the burning in its own stomach. The New France is a narcissist. 

This electoral campaign has been wildly influenced by ideas relating to and limited to ‘French’ only, in fact a populist candidate has promised its youth all the wonderful things under the sun, if it opts to quit the euro zone, drive away its foreigners and do away with the Wall Street. This is a dramatic reversal from what the French elections were fought on the previous years and it’s very worrying.

The contending parties are as always The Conservatives and the Socialists, and the result of this election with hang in a delicate balance and far beyond the realm of predictability will have far reaching repercussions both inside and outside the nation of France or even Europe. The French is us unpredictable as it can get, after all, all of them have a spirit of revolution in their blood and it has to come out some time or the other.  It may be the same as in 1981 when France rejected the paths set by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan only to return to it in two years’ time. With this time be any different, only time will tell.

Written for 'Hold the Thought, Get the Point' by our guest blogger Rupertt Wind.
Find more information about him at Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Blogger

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Land of the rising Son [70/365]

Akhilesh Yadav, son of Indian Political stalwart Mulayam Singh Yadav and seasoned politician himself recently made Indian political history when he was sworn in as the youngest Chief Minister of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Armed with a Masters degree in environmental engineering from the University of Sydney, he is part of a new breed of sons and daughters following the footsteps of their political parents.

Winning the recently concluded elections by an overwhelming majority, the 38 year old politician and believer in Socialism has promised to revamp the state and his party and rid it of it's corrupt visage.
Unemployment (allowance), corruption, free laptops and tablets for students.
So as you can see, this manifesto is not any different from what any other politician has promised until now.

Asked how he plans on delivering on his promise, he replied he is bound to stay true to his manifesto and his constituents. Truly, the 'party is over, now bill is due'.
The promise however ran out too soon for comfort when Ministers with criminal cases against them were sworn in and the rest, as they say is a grim remainder of things to follow. He showed the door to bureaucrats faithful to Ms Mayawati while inducting many party favorites and old timers. (Read the grim turn of events here)
While politicians making hollow promises in a desperate attempt to win are never new or unheard of, what is surprising is how the Indian voters could still believe them.

Looking at how this is just the beginning of a process that would culminate in giving us new rulers in the next 10 months, this is just a trailer, the picture is yet to start.
Recommended Read:
The Akhilesh Shake

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The importance of being Ernest [53/365]

It is that time of the decade.
While we have been whining about our unfortunate choice of leadership, we can look for some consolation towards the West. Much of the western world is going through the painful rituals of elections too.

It could be the eternal fight between the democrats and republics in the US or the Congress and the rest of the shebang in India, politicians have an uncanny love towards power.

In a conversation with a dear colleague of mine, he was recounting his recent visit to the beautiful nation of Dubai.
He gushed about the cleanliness and the way the crime and disorderliness was punished and the way the law was upheld. I can't agree more. Having grown up in the Middle East, I can testify that the Arabs do know a thing or two about ruling with an iron fist. While it is easy to see how countries that were nothing but vast stretches of desert could be transformed into futuristic cities, the cities mask the millions of expats who work and live in almost prehistoric conditions.
Perhaps the lure of money when converted is too big to ignore.

But will a similar autocratic rule help India?
We surely have the laws that can we have a government that can starting walking the talk?
The show has begun. Over the next many months, as Indians prepare to be lured with gifts of televisions, food and money to vote, and when politicians put on their happy masks, it is clear that we are in the crossroads again.

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