Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kiran Bedi - BJP's Sarah Palin of 2015. Will BJP win?

Those who got here searching for Sarah Palin, this post might not make sense to you. The post is the current equation regarding elections in the "state" of Delhi, India. It seemed a coup of sort to get Kiran Bedi as the face of the campaign. But this seems to be the first miscalculation from the Modi/Shah duo that I am aware of so far, if I am right in calling it a miscalculation.

Yes, it has set the cat among the pigeons - taking on Arvind Kejriwal at his words "Kiran Bedi is the best prime ministerial candidate". But when Kiran Bedi got on the campaign trail, we wish she just waved and did not open her mouth. She seems to be incoherent, not able to explain the switch in her position in joining the BJP and always resorting to touting her achievements in police administration. It brings back memories of Rahul Gandhi's interview with Arnab Goswami. The fallback on some predefined position, the frequent repetitions on how she "changed the world". The spotlight has definitely eroded some of the sheen. The police officer who towed the PM's car - blown to smithereens.

The seeming gag order on Bedi of late, reminds me of the 2008 US presidential race where Sarah Palin was slowly asked to lower her interaction with the media.

I still believe BJP winning Delhi is probably the right outcome for the country. I want Modi to have the power to push laws through Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Naysayers will say that much central power is dangerous to a democracy. But as long as lawmakers dont support bills for the sake of the country but resort to partisan politics and have a stranglehold on development and moving ahead, the government has to resort to ordinances (which will then also be touted as against democracy). For a country so fed up with corruption, the entitled VIP culture, where a lot of youth had not far back said "dictatorship is not a bad thing", this might be the middle ground. A very strong and powerful leader.

The only hope is that Modi does not disappoint - He still has my confidence. At least so far, there have been no wrong moves.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dhoni Out, Kohli In

The king is dead, long live the King.

Full on disclosure: I am a Dhoni fan. So while I am trying to be objective, it might inherently be biased.

A lot of blame has been put on Dhoni for being a defensive captain. I would suggest that a team that does not have the ability to pick up 20 wickets in a test match cannot talk of being aggressive. I believe Dhoni put the team's interest front and center and not his personal ambitions. Who wouldn't want to have wins against his name. Take the Adelaide game. Everyone is gung-ho about Kohli's aggressive attempt to win the test match. Consider what he had to lose: If India won, he would have firmly staked his claim on captaincy and won the admiration of billion(s) of fans with his win overseas. If he lost, oh well, he was the standby captain anyways. Imagine if we were able to draw the match. Do not get me wrong, we should have gone for the win. But there was a stage where we are at the middle order and reaching the target seemed a tall order. This is where Kohli should have dug in his heels and played for a draw. The greatest standard of captaincy is to be aggressive, yet flexible (and practical). Kohli's famous declaration that the thought of playing for a draw did not even enter his mind is not a strength but a hint of weakness. He has preconceived notions of how the match will progress and does not want to course correct on the way.

Seeing him play his game, I believe Kohli is playing for himself. Yes, captaincy (and responsibility) brought out the best in him. But the bigger challenge for a captain is to bring out the best in the team. Can he do that? Example: Yes - Rahane and Kohli had a great partnership in the 1st innings for the 3rd test at Melbourne, but it was amply clear that Rahane was very disturbed with the developments in the middle of the field. Also, for a boisterous Aussie team that was subdued by the loss of their own, this jarring sledging and posturing could have been avoided.

Finally, Dhoni's retirement: Lot of critics are questioning his resignation from the long form of the game in the middle of the series. But isn't it true that he has given Kohli another chance at captaincy in a already decided series with very little but pride to play for. He could have continued under Kohli's captaincy but as a man who gives his fullest, it might have some conflicting and disastrous consequences playing under the captain (in waiting) who wants it all.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Nouveau Bermuda Triangle

Is the south east asia sea waters becoming the new bermuda triangle. It seems to be too much of a coincidence that the 2 flights (MH370 & QZ8501) that disappeared in almost similar fashion. Is there some other sinister explanation. At least in case of QZ8501, there seems to be some communication from the cockpit asking for a diversion. But then, how can we lose 2 airplanes over the same area in a span of 9 months.

The last thing on the mind of the families of victims are sensationalism and some conspiracy theories and this is not an attempt to do that. I just wonder aloud if anyone took at any other recent disappearance of vessels (airborne or sea worthy) in the last couple of years to find a trend.

My condolences and sympathies with the families of the passengers and the crew of the 2 flights in question.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Modi/Shah's game plan

There seems to be a lot of bad press about Modi's focus on elections rather than on governance. But there is a logic to this focus. In our system of governance, while the BJP has full majority to push its agenda (hopefully an agenda of development and integrity) in the lok sabha, it cannot pass the Rajya Sabha in a partisan environment. So Modi's focus on "conquering" the states in aimed, I assume, at beefing up the strength in the Rajya Sabha eventually. This would give him a virtual free hand in pushing his agenda (of reforms) forward without any hindrance.

So while I am no die-hard Modi fan (though I do not see him putting a step out of place so far), I do think the country should give him the benefit of doubt for the next five years.

Also, the exit polls seems to indicate a loss to Modi (& BJP) in J&K. By no means do I believe the vote share and the seats (as predicted by the exit polls) a loss. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if these exit polls are setting the stage for raising some "poll violations" if the BJP does indeed win more than the predicted seats.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Changing views on NDTV - Coverage on "Bad Taliban, Good Hafiz Saeed?"

I have been an ardent follower for NDTV. I believe they were one of the most neutral and intellectual media house. I have started changing my views in recent times due to the involvement of Barkha Dutt in the Radia tapes episode. But even more so, their coverage of the national elections 2014 (and the lead up to that) was very colored and biased. The final straw came today: Yes, I blame Pakistan for most of the external issues in India. I blame Pakistan to be sponsorers of terrorism. I blame Pakistan for giving shelter to criminals like Dawood Ibrahim and Hafeez Saeed. But....a day after the terrible incident in Peshawar, the way that Nidhi Razdan went after Asma Jahangir and Tariz Azim, it was in a very bad taste. It was a day for tough questions but those questions were better raised from within Pakistan. It was a day for introspection in Pakistan. Nidhi conveniently kept saying that she is not pointing fingers while doing exactly that. The day for external intervention could have come later. Let the country grieve and we should share that grief as human beings given the victims were young innocent children. But on this day, by crying hoarse and raising a stink about the sins committed by Pakistan as if that somehow justified what happened in Peshawar was unpardonable. Pranoy sir, I have a lot of respect for you but I think it is time you cleaned the stables. Mani Shankar Aiyar and Nalin Kohli were both almost apologetic for the direction that the program had taken.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Clamor for Winners - Indian politics (Kejriwal et al)

"Nothing succeeds likes success". Let me make a small change here. "Nothing succeeds like the hint of success". A month back media that was calling Kejriwal names like "spoil sport", "amateur" and similar, now seems to be talking about him taking on the congress and BJP at a national scale. Yes, I believe both the parties are corrupt but no, I am not enamored by Kejriwal yet. The reason for that is Kerjriwal (and AAP) has not proven that they are really above corruption yet, nor have they proven that they can govern. A totally honest government but that cannot move forward is useless and detrimental as well. One of the honest ministers (think defense) is also accused of inaction as he is always stuck in the paralysis of analysis and heavy process for any procurement. This is to ensure no one can point a finger to him. So while AAP and Kejriwal are making the right noises, I will reserve my whole hearted support to a later day when they prove they are honest AND can govern efficiently. In the meanwhile, I hope they can guard against making small compromises, which usually become a slippery slope into corruption. Allot a pump to the brother of an MLA or granting land to the wife of a minister, thats how it usually starts. Finding one honest person is tough, not to mention the grand ambitions the party seems to have arrived at for the country. Call me cynical, but a lot of parties arrived on a statewide scale deriding the corruption and dynasty politics of Congress but have ended up being more or less the same after getting into power.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dogviyay singh

It was most interesting to read the interview with Digvijay Singh on NDTV. Just in case the article gets deleted or expires, I am pasting an extract from the article here. Read the full article at Mr Singh, speaking to NDTV said, "There are ethics in politics. Never attack family. The Congress never attacked (former PM) Atal Bihar Vajpayee's son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya or (senior BJP leader) L K Advani's son and daughter. Have we ever said a word against them? They have a private life of their own." When asked if the Congress brought their names up because there was nothing to ask of them, Mr Singh said, "We had enough evidence, but we never attacked them. Don't make me open my mouth about Ranjan Bhattacharya." During the prime ministership of Mr Vajpayee, it was often said that Mr Bhattacharya had a lot of influence over the prime minister's office and in government, despite having no official position. Most enlightening Mr. Singh. So basically what you are saying is "I will scratch your back, you scratch mine". It is shameful that political niceties and necessities have taken over the need to do good for the country. Not only is this minister and spokesman accepting that they condone corruption by bigwigs, they actually expect the same in return from other parties. God save India.

Benghazi attack

Let me start by saying, I am not a US voter. So, trust me when I say I am trying to be truly objective here. But the Benghazi attack and the following handling by the administration and the media coverage has left me shocked. Two points of contention 1) Everyone is blaming Romney for politicizing the issue. Didn't Obama start with trying to politicize the neutralization of Osama-bin-laden. Even recently, the Obama camp was seen using "Bin-laden is dead" as its campaign slogan. And the Obama camp is accusing team Romney as jumping the gun in their response to events unfolding in Libya. Isn't it equally true then that the president and his administration jumped the gun in pointing fingers at a obscure video? Vulgar and pathetic? Yes. But obscure. They claimed it was the riots caused by the video, not once but many many times. I am surprised how they now talk of waiting for the investigation to conclude. And I am equally surprised that neither Romney nor the media has asked an explanation on how and why they issued a statement blaming the video in the first place before they had all the facts. 2) If there are more people dead since the Libya incident around the world due to "jihadi" Islamist, the blame and responsibilities lies with the Obama administration for making it immensely popular. Not only did they make it "ok" to protest violently, they also apologized for forcing the jihadist's hands. I am not certain why the Republicans are not digging deeper into this.