Showing posts with label Pranab Mukherjee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pranab Mukherjee. Show all posts

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dented and Painted [362/365]

Source: Shovonc's blog
Abhijit Mukherjee, his only claim to fame was that he is Pranab's son. Today, by virtue of a typical bout of 'verbal diarrhea' that affects Indian politicians, he is trending on social media.

While I agree to his description of protesters in Delhi and elsewhere, he crossed the fine-line of what not to say when he termed the women - 'highly dented and painted'.

More than a year ago when Team Anna took India by storm, millions joined his ragtag team of 'freedom fighters' and civil society champions, thousands lampooned the movement and laughed at the audacity of his vision.

We became intoxicated at the prospect of global recognition by hoping to imitate the Arab Spring.

One of the major reasons why I believe Anna failed is because he failed to make us feel the pinch that we had long become insensitive to. Unlike the times when Gandhi fought, we are living in a comfortable bubble. We don't want to be hounded and hunted for wanting to change.

When the 23 year old paramedic was brutally raped and left for dead by a deserted road, I wonder how many of us would have passed her by without helping.
The news of the brutal rape barely got any coverage in a leading newspaper down south on the 16th December. 

While the protests prove that we are not insensitive to the brutality that we read (yet), the fact that we allowed such a crime happen is evidence that we have cultivated men to rape and women to blame the victims for 'exposing' themselves to the crime.

We might hold candle light vigils and destroy government property but we are still Ugly Indians who will not hesitate to judge women.

Abhijit quickly tendered an unconditional apology that was 'not meant to hurt any particular section or any particular sentiment...'. Where do we get such contrite statements from?
Why do we tolerate such politicians any more?
If we expect our celebrities to behave in a way that befits our society, isn't it time we expect our elected representatives to be held responsible and accountable for what they say and do?

For a country that known as Bharat Mata, we sure have a sordid reputation with women.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Good riddance [201/365]

Indian politics have begun to resemble the WWE.
We have the few 'good' guys fighting the many 'bad' guys. We have enough drama and mayhem to inspire even the most out of luck dimwitted scriptwriter.

As India's first female President finishes her term at Raisina Hill, what she leaves behind is a legacy of corruption, nepotism and charges of causing loss to the national exchequer. 

Begin, the latest feud over who gets to replace her.
Like a well publicized pay-per-view event, the ruling coalition fields its aging finance minister.
And on the other side of the squared ring, we have the former Speaker of the house.

For reasons obvious, the ruling coalition has a massive advantage over his opponent who has nothing but good oratorical skills and the tag of being tribal.
The speed at which Pranab Mukherjee resigned from his ministerial post and the half dozen other 'posts of gain' smacks of a certain disdain for serving the people in a time when our economy looks like my kitchen sink after a party.
After having made a mush of the Indian economy, the haste at which he left makes it look like he was in a tearing hurry to get out of a sinking ship. So why did Sonia choose PM? Probably, because it would make more sense to install an aging puppet at the Rastrapati Bhavan than to hope of a return to power at the Parliament anytime soon. After all, she did have Manmohan at the helm of things for a while now and as his magic begins to wane, Pranabda makes for an excellent replacement.

Against these odds, Sangma doesn't stand a chance. Playing his tribal card as he did, was a gross mistake that made him look like a competitor unworthy of representing an India that as diverse as it is progressive. Pranabda, on the other hand, is an astute politician with a knack of being at the right place at the right time. Adept and shrewd, he was no-one's pushover. Having to choose between the two, Pranab Mukherjee is the lesser evil of the two.

God forbid a president whose only credentials is that he is the former Speaker of the house and a tribal leader. Sangma definitely lacks the experience or the charisma to hold a post that can represent a country that has progressed inspite of its politicians and not because of it.

I can only hope that Pranab Mukherjee resists the temptation of corruption and the hand of his puppet mistress/master.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Show me the money [76/365]

Indians are a funny bunch of cheap people.

Until a few hours before the 2012 Union budget was announced, every broker and MBA graduate worth his share price predicted that Pranab Mukherjee, the Union Finance Minister, would cave in to the temptation to deliver a populist budget especially since his party is not really going to be winning any elections any time soon. We all thought he might give us tax free salaries, no customs duties on our Merc and Beemers and that double door refrigerators and air-conditioners.

Fast forward 24 hours and we are all ranting against how Pranabda, as he is fondly called, screwed us. Now, we are definitely not going to vote you back.

But looking at the reports and reading the fine print, I was relieved. The Finance Minister does have a spine. Against all instinct to pack his budget with sops for all, he tightened the reins of an economy that was bleeding badly.
This budget was something we needed a few years ago, but better sooner than later and here's why I think the 2012 Union budget is perhaps the best budget in a very long time.
  • The tax brackets for salaried individuals has been changed slightly, the effects will be best felt by freshers starting off at the lowest ranks. I remember how I had to pay tax when I earned 10k pm a decade ago. That left me with very little to save for a rainy day. With the cost of living spiralling the way it is now, every little penny saved is a penny earned. Good stuff.
  • While direct taxes have been lowered, he has increased the indirect taxes on good and services. Which is a fantastic thing. While it is very easy to evade direct taxes like IT and PT, indirect taxes will help mop up much of the excess money that flows around while also covering more people. Case in point: The Govt of India has only about 1.8 crore tax payers in a population of billion plus.
  • With a white paper on black money, Pranabda has, in fine swipe of his calculator, created an economic measure to check the flow of black money abroad. Even assets and property owned abroad will be covered under tax (even if you are just a signatory). Nice move.
  • With customs duties and sales taxes increasing on luxury goods and services, I think he has done a masterstroke, especially since people who can afford a Merc can certainly afford to pay a lakh or more extra. With the sheer volume of illegal money that was taken abroad by people who didn't know what do with all the extra cash lying around , something had to be done.
All said and done, I wonder what all the fuss is about. Especially after we complain about the pathetic state of infrastructure, business and economy today, what we need is urgent attention and supervision. More so at a time when fiscal wisdom or the lack of it has been the downfall of entire continents.
While this is definitely not as painful as in the US or in Greece or Italy, this is definitely what we need so that we don't end up with either of them.

Overall, Pranabda has executed a extremely gutsy masterstroke in his last outing as the Union Finance Minister. Bravo!

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