Friday, December 30, 2011

BJP :What it should do, but it won't.

(This post was written around 15 days back. Before Anna was finally told to shut up by both the Public and the Law of the land, and before Congress had pulled off a potential political masterstroke by pushing a weak Lokpal through Parliament. If it had passed, the credit was of Congress' and since it failed, it can conveniently blame BJP for it. But still I feel that this post might have some relevance.)

Bjp as a political opponent often tries to dig a hole for Congress. Now, all the opposition parties world over try to do the same. Where BJP is different is that BJP keeps jumping into the same hole before Congress even gets a chance to do so.

It did so during the nuclear deal issue just before the 2004 general elections,  did the same in 2004 general elections, repeated in 2009 , during the FDI debate and to put it concisely, several times during the history. And it does nothing to convince me that it will not do the same in 2012 elections. It painted a rosy picture in 2004, something common person could not identify with. In 2009 it bitterly opposed a nuclear bill which was set into motion by its very own government back during 1999-2004. And then it launched an even bitterer, personal attack on a person whose honesty and integrity back then was considered sacrosanct. Moreover recently it stalled the functioning of the parliament over over a bill which proposed introduction of FDI of 51% in retail. While it was not a particularly bright move from Congress who itself had stalled reforms throughout 2004-till date , BJP had actually supported 100 % FDI while it was in government    and had proposed introduction of 26% FDI in retail in its 2004 election manifesto. What was even more puzzling, as many other experts noted as well was that after 7 days in which BJP did not allow Parliament to function, when it finally did, Shushma Swaraj blasted the government in a calculated, voluble and scathing speech. I mean , what is the point of shouting in streets, when you can give a more purposeful shout in Parliament where it all matters? For all its political inconsistency, occasional hooliganism and frequent vandalism, BJP possesses much powerful orators than the ruling coalition. Yet it often deprives itself of the chances to best use them. That is why I say that it keeps jumping in the hole.

Sometimes it jumps into the hole to dig it further and then finds that there is no way out of it as it did in 2009. All it had to do was attack a policy-paralysed, left-stricken government and it failed spectacularly. And the less said about the manner in which it has handled the Anna “movement”, the better. Completely marginalised in a straight confrontation between the Congress and Anna , it could never decide and still has not that which part of the fence it wishes to stand on. Of course, with the brain freeze it is frequently prone to , it could never envisage that a middle path could exist. But this post is not about Anna and his shenanigan , but about how BJP in 2009 erred and why it will repeat that in 2014. Because the situation is the same in certain respects. BJP did not have a clear leader then and does not have one now and will find very difficult to find one in 2014. And though the Congress is in a much bigger mess now that it was in 2009 when  the mess was not visible, the next elections are due in 2014, by which time the public memory can forget an entire war, let alone something stupidly called “Second Freedom Movement”. And that is what is worrisome.  BJP has never been the one to learn from its mistakes. Actually no political party in India is such.

A big mistake BJP committed  in 2009 was that it sort of projected a 82 year old Lal Krishna Advani as it PM candidate. Sort of because later YashwantSinha projected Narendra Modi as PM candidate.   By having Advani , BJP alienated two class of voters- the young , urban voter (those who vote), and the Muslims. And then by proposing  Narendra Modi as candidate , it drove Muslims  away in flocks not only from itself , but from the entire NDA. BJP thinks that the lack of the Muslim votes can be offset by the majority of Hindus that live in India. But it forgets the fact that majority in India are Hindus, not fanatics and we are relatively comfortable with Muslims living with us. Further nobody likes to believe in somebody who says that handing over of 3 terrorists in IC 814 Kandhar case happenedwithout his knowledge while he was the Home Minister . So, that cancels two of them.  . Shushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley cancel each other. They wont let each other be the PM. Some like Pramod Mahajan and Sahib Singh Verma have died. So who does that leave? Actually, we might be close to seeing Mayawati’s dream of becoming PM of India being realised sooner that what we thought. Given the fickle nature of Indian political parties and Congress’ public anti-BSP stance for now, it might well  be possible. So, what can BJP do to save the tiger from being replaced as national animal by the elephant? Just look a little further east for its search for the next PM candidate. Actually no further than Nitish Kumar.

Now, there are two kinds of people in this world. One who understand economics and the others who don’t (Like me). Those who don’t understand economics are fed up of this Congress government over the humongous amount of corruption it has perpetrated. Those who understand economics realise that the corruption is just a trivial matter in front of the grave policy lacunae afflicting the government and the nation. During the 2004-09 term , it could blame the Left for the vacuum, but thereafter it had only itself to blame. Actually historically Congress has never been much reform minded. Indira’s “Garibi Hatao” significantly bent the back of the Indian economy and even 1991 reforms were brought about under significant pressure from the World Bank and IM when the government realised that it didn’t even have sufficient foreign reservesfor 15 days of imports . The problem with Congress’ populist measures right from “Garibi Hatao” days to NREGA to the recent food security bill has been that always it has sought to redistribute wealth without caring for additional generation of resources. It has only given rise to inflation, not poverty alleviation.

Sorry for digressing. Now coming back to Nitish Kumar, he is the exact antithesis of two things this Congress Government has come to represent – Corruption and Inaction. One can argue that Manmohan Singh is as honest a person as Nitish Kumar, but Nitish Kumar has been much more successful in keeping other around him honest as well. Secondly, he has taken Bihar from a land of buffalos, scams and caste massacres to the state with the second highest growth rate in India.  As reflected in the last sentence, the denominator Nitish Kumar had to work at was comparatively low, but still it has been a significant achievement. But, still BJP obviously will not have him as its PM candidate as he is not from BJP, but JD (U).  In India, political appointments are not made by cutting across the party lines. If that were the case, Atal Bihari Vajpayee would have been the External Affairs Minister in Indira Gandhi regime and Manmohan Singh the Finance Minister during NDA rule. But that simply doesn’t happen. Also, JD (U) is far less pushy , far too regional and far too unlike BSP to push for one of their own to be the Prime Minister.

So finally we have these four scenarios –said so for the want of a better word - which might be at hand in 2014 elections, though it is too early to call yet.

   1.  Congress  . Given its track record of the last 8 years, beleaguered, the extent of which might not be very publically visible and hoping to survive due to this.

  2.   BJP. Granting Congress its very wish by messing up again. Actually sometimes it seems to me that it is ironically what a leaked Wikileaks cable described Sonia Gandhi as – “She never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” 

   3.   A so called “civil society” which will most probably go on campaigning against Congress in most states including places like Karnataka which has a very corrupt BJP government in place. And it will have people believe that Politicians are the most evil of the species who ought not to exist in a country like ours. The only problem is that India happens to be a democracy and then fail to realise that in a democracy, come what may, always it will be a politician who will be the most powerful. The "Civil Society" will also fail to realise that in a democracy, our best chance is not some quasi-powerful or all powerful body like Lokpal, but to have honest, efficient and responsible people in our political setup. We simply need a better set of politicians. As we do not have much choice there. But this "Civil Society" will do its best to convince honest, efficient, responsible people that Politicians are hooligans and Politics is not for them, while we need the exact opposite.

   4. The general public who will believe in the above mentioned “Civil Society”.

Can't decide which is the worst.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


As I relentlessly hammered in my last post that I was in the organising team of the Annual Get-together of my firm and I did nothing, this post is all about the work I did for that. These posters and the write up at the end for some magazine I have no idea about.

The design was not by me, only the words were.

This was entirely done by me.

This was also done by me

The name was suggested by a colleague.

The background was contributed by a colleague, the rest by me. Though the original lines went something like these
We still snarl ‘kutte’ to our friends at times,
That hot girl is still ‘Chamiya’ for us,
People with “Thakur” as surnames are still asked for their hands at times.
And still more jokes are made on Sholay that on our politicians.”

And then followed all that is written on the poster. But it all was edited out.

And the write up is
The evening began with poise and ended with exuberance. In an nutshell, that was the ambience, tone and the general spirit at the annual family night “Spandan’ we had on 26th of November.
 From buffets to drinks, from dancing troupes to employee dance performances, from casino to karaoke, from lucky draw to fashion shows ,  from musical shows to couple games and from kid games to childhood picture games, we tried to incorporate all. The fact that there was fantastic enthusiasm and participation shown from the employees and their families obviously spiced it all up.
  There was a mesmerizing semi classical Indian dance performance by the daughter of one our colleague while another of our colleague chose to partner his son on “Tabla” an Indian percussion instrument to result in an utterly mellifluous ballad. A tiny tot’s dance performance completely belied her age and some of our colleagues who tried to copy her steps are still recovering from cramps!! While a senior colleague chose to remind us of his splendid skills with harmonica, the innovative couple games involved such twists and turns that the participating couples were left exercising those muscles and bones of their bodies they never knew existed.
 A family event that it was, it never could have been complete without the involvement of the newest addition to our CH2M HILL family- The Halcrow Group. Several Halcrow employees were also present and delighted us all with their active participation. One of them actually won First Prize in the Fashion Show event. Well Done Sir.
 A memorable night was rendered truly momentous with the verve of participation from one and all. It really was a night to dance, jive and feel alive.

Any creative media agency reading this post and liking it ? Anyone?? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bored Ruminations

It has been four months since I have been employed. And the only thing I have learnt apart form the fact that you actually wish your colleagues “Happy Weekend” on Fridays is to unlearn the theory that you have to work a lot while you are being employed while I was in college. Well, another thing I have learnt of course is that your supervisor will come to look for you to fill timesheets, to tell you about some non-technical training, asking you about the coming get-together, hand you your termination letter at the exact time on which you will not be present at your “work”place. Ok, he didn’t come to hand me my termination letter, but maybe he did come and didn’t find me anywhere. But Murphy taught us all this years back. Didn’t he? So there goes my chance to “learn” anything  because just learnt that before I should have learnt that. Frankly, why are you still reading this post??

And even more frankly, I don’t know why I am writing this post.  May be plain boredom at work. F act that I was in the organising team of our Annual Get-together, fiction that I actually helped in that organising. Fact that Internet has now marked my blogspot blog URl as a phishing address, fiction that I actually harboured fishes there. I even deleted the widget “Feed these Fishes”, but to no avail. Fact that I am thinking of buying a personal domain, fiction that I will actually do so. Fact that I am writing something meant to be a blogpost, fiction that I will actually post it. Ok, did you just say that it is not fiction that I will post this as you can read this blogpost. You too are damned bored right now, aren’t you?

So, if you are still with me you may have read that I was in the organising team of the Annual get-together of my firm. Forgive me if I make that sound like organising of Olympics, but still there were lessons to learn it. Like how to shop with ladies. “Shopping”, “Ladies” and “Men” have difficulty in existing together. I knew that beforehand, but I learnt it now. Then naming an event is the most difficult part and you have to start with that. Or that lucky numbers are not really lucky. Actually we had a lucky draw prize based on the coupon numbers allotted with the invitations to employees. Now as the organisers , some of has had first access to the coupons and selected numbers like 123, 111, 013, 007 or like in order to get lucky. But the numbers which won were 072, 078 and we realised that the numbers we thought were lucky were actually only good looking numbers. On second thoughts, 13 x 6 = 78. Now did you tell me to shut up?

Another lesson I learnt was that while expats got to know about the timing of event , 5.30 pm that is  by looking at the invitation card and arrive at that time , we Indians never require the invitation card to know about the timing. Like we Indians all arrived at 7.30 and that was the time the event started. Telepathy, anyone?

Also, recently we had a Rewards and Recognition felicitation at our office which is held to reward the outstanding performers of the last 3 months. Only, this time it was a little different. Instead of rewarding people with outstanding work in the last 3 months, the management decided to award everybody who worked in the last 3 months. And the awardees were in total 5 in number.

And at last, as the year draws to a close, it reminds of the number of great people we lost this year. Along with Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand , the person whose work I liked the most was Shrilal Shukl. And,

मैं श्रीलाल शुक्ल के बारे में कुछ नहीं लिखना चाहूँगा 

क्योंकि वो शब्द सूरज को ना सिर्फ दीया, बल्कि माचिस दिखाने के जैसा

होगा, वो भी बुझी हुई माचिस

And to conclude , I must admit that I have not seen many movies of either Shammi Kapoor Or Dev Anand, but of all the old songs I love and they are far greater in number than the new ones, I realised few days back that 90% of them star either Shammi Kapoor or Dev Anand. RIP All.