Friday, May 22, 2009

The Fall of the Tiger - A Lesson for India

The Tiger is finally dead.

After being on the run for the last couple of months, the head of the banned terrorist outfit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Prabhakaran has finally been eliminated.

There has been a lot of controversy in India on the Sri Lankan offensive against the Tigers, Tamil rights and the possible political fallout in India.

There is no doubt that Tamils do need to be treated as equals in the Sri Lankan society alongwith the majority Sinhala majority.

All that intellectual discussion is indeed good, but from a more practical aspect, India needs to learn a very important lesson from this Sri Lankan episode.

The Sri Lankan Army has indeed done a great job of fishing militants out of the hideouts. People say this exercise has been ruthless, but so have been the terrorists. The single-minded agenda of General Sarath Fonseka of the Sri Lankan Army has actually paid off. Full marks to the president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, for his unflinching support to the army for this mission. he kept the human rights activists and NGOs out of the war-zone and ignored all international criticism of this war.

Terror deserves no mercy, whatever be the cause. Sri Lanka has done it exactly that way. We, India, would do well even if we understand a little bit of this.

The new government in Delhi has a majority. It can take a tough stand on terror. We should take strong action now in Kashmir, the North East and the Naxal areas in Eastern India. Let's forget the people who would cry foul over minority rights, human rights and other shitty root-cause theories. All it takes is political will to have a muscular security policy, to send a message to the world that India cannot be messed around with..

Let's do it now, or we'll lose this opportunity.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Dream Cabinet

With the UPA firmly in a position to form a new government, I would hope they decisively push forward an agenda for a radical change in the way this nation is governed.

The choice of Cabinet ministers will be key to this. My dream cabinet would be as follows:

  1. External Affairs - Mr. Shashi Tharoor - well recognised in circles of diplomacy the world over. Articulate and suave face of India. Ex-UN insider - could push for India's bid for permanent membership of the Security Council

  2. Defence Ministry - General V.P. Malik - yes, he can be made the minister despite not being a politician. Afterall, when in 1991, Dr. Manmohan Singh was made the Finance Minister, he was nowhere close to politics and wasn't even a Congress Party member. General Malik is fine military strategist, led the Indian Army to success despite odds in the Kargil war. He knows what conflict is - General Malik is the only Army chief with artificial limbs after getting injured in combat, during the Tangail Airdrop, in the 1971 war. A fine soldier like him is required to overhaul and modernise our forces

  3. Finance Ministry - Montek Singh Ahluwalia - he has the required experience and is clued in. Knows what is required today and has a rapport with the Prime Minister

  4. Home Ministry - P. Chidambaram - he should stay on for the sake of continuity, in the course adopted post 26/11. The agenda now is building our second line of defence and internal security. A crackdown on the Naxalites should top his agenda.

  5. Education and Infrastructure - Pranab Mukherjee - a senior statesman would be required to push for education reforms. Also having handled the finance portfolio, he would appreciate the importance of infrastructure (a new ministry I propose) in building our economy.

  6. Communications and Technology - Rahul Gandhi / Jyotiraditya Scindia / Sachin Pilot or someone else from the young brigade - we need to build an e-nation and only the young can do it.

The Congress lost the opportunity the decisive mandate of 1985 elections gave them. I hope this time they make it possible to move full steam ahead. I feel this dream cabinet can make it happen.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Indian Political League - The Grand Finale

Before the elections started, I made a case for electing Dr. Manmohan Singh back as the Prime Minister in my blog post titled The Great Indian Tamasha Begins.... And, yes, I am relieved today.

For the first time since 1989, we are seeing a clarity in the voters' minds, which is reflected in clear mandate. Confusion or soul-searching (if I may say so!) of the last 20-odd years has now given way to a very clear signal that India wants political stability.

In a sense, this is a pathbreaking election for our nation.

A few days back, in one of the debates on NDTV 24x7, when strategists were debating on the possibility of a fractured verdict, the BJP's key strategist, Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni had made an interesting remark that there only two political formations that can provide India a stable government - the NDA and the UPA. He went on to sthat BJP is prepared to support the Congress to bring about political stability. Jyotiraditya Scindia of the Congress, who was also there, acknowledged the stability aspect, but parried all questions to him on the Congress and the BJP working together. This points to clear observations - while we are gradually moving towards bipolar politics with bits and pieces of bipartisanship thrown in here and there, the politics of "untouchability" is very much there. And we can blame the Congress for that.

As mentioned in my blog The Great Indian Tamasha Begins...., BJP today is a very different animal when compared with the BJP in the Vajpayee era. The BJP will now go through a major churn, an "existential crisis" soon. Mr. L.K. Advani has already offered to resign. Mr. Narendra Modi might come to centrestage, sooner than later. But who ever leads the BJP into the next election would have to learn the art of weaving a "rainbow alliance" to remain a formidable pole opposing the UPA pole.

It is indeed heartening to see the decimation of the Left and the Behenji. There is a saying in Hindi "Jo perh hava mein jhukta nahi, voh toot jaata hai" - the tree that isn't flexible enough to bend in the wind breaks down. Winds of change have been blowing in India but the Left refused to bend. And the result is there for us to see.

Behenji till a few days back was called India's Obama simply because she comes from the underprivileged section of our society. But pragmatism calls for cultivating a positive image and weaving a web of inclusion. She has failed on both counts and be shunned and ignored to an extent that she will become a spent force in Indian politics.

Hopefully, this election would close down all the "parking lots" a terminology coined by Mr. Venkiah Naidu for the Third and the Fourth Fronts. Good riddance, I would say.

And on the Congress, it is indeed reassuring that Dr. Singh will be at the helm. He will be forming the government from a position of strength and needs to capitalise on that. Today, he doesn't have the baggage of the Left weighing on him. It's the time for him to blaze ahead with reforms - in the economic, security and defence, foreign policy, electoral, administrative spheres. I am certain Dr. Singh will consolidate his image globally as a respectable statesman. (In a sense he already is - President Obama's comments point to that.)

However, power of the extra-constitutional remote controls that have traditionally vested with the First Family needs to be kept in check. I trust Dr. Manmohan Singh to do that - he did just that before moving decisively forward with the nuclear deal. Also, the First Family needs to come clean on a number of allegations that have been made by Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Mr. S. Gurumurthy, which are explosive and serious, if true.

The Indian politician is a promiscuous species - they are ever ready to get into bed with anyone and everyone, irrespective of ideology or past-differences. I hope this election, with a decisive mandate, marks the beginning of their extinction. Hopefully in the future we'll not hear of suitcases being ferried across Lutyens' Delhi.

As the Great Indian Tamasha comes to its grand finale, we can heave a sigh of relief - we can hope to have stability for the next 5 years!

Hold My Hand

When it’s wet and dark,
When I’m down and out,
When I’m cold and blue,
Just Hold my Hand.

When it’s warm and sunny,
When it’s breezy and joyous,
When I’m happy and chirpy,
Just Hold my Hand.

Wipe my tears, trace my smile,
‘Cause hands that care,
Are hands that love.
Just Hold my Hand.

Hate to Say Bye

The sun goes down,
Darkness descends.

I hate to say bye.
But you have to go.

The warmth of dawn.
The bright rays of the sun.

They all come again.
So will you.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dance of the Heartbeat‏

Days come and go…
The heart and mind…
Locked up in a conflict…
Reason and logic…
And convention…
These warriors, allied together…
Confront the heart.
With each beat, the heart seems to say:
"I beat for what I feel…
Should I accept…
Reason, logic and convention,
And then live to regret,
Not have done…
… what had to be done.
Not have said…
… what had to be said.
I’ll not live to regret,
I’ll go down fighting, but…
I’ll live to my beat.
I’ll dance to my beat!
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