The North South Divide of India Narendra Modi Can Bring Back.

Everyone agrees that the self appointed next Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is a fragmenting character. Did the US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell see the writings on the wall and decided to throw in the towel because Washington won’t see?

Can the United States and the rest of the world, already beleaguered by a divisive and aggressive Putin in Europe, deal with a North South divide of a strong India, a guarantee against aggressive China, on top of all other kinds of splintering Narendra Modi seems to have abetted so far?

To list out the divisions Modi has achieved so far, critics can point out his hype of Gujarat Model Development, his professed Urban support base, his orchestrated cyber follower base, the blind admiration of young techies he has mustered and numerous other factors which the rest of India lack, as Modi’s own versus the rest of India which divide the  fabric of India in some undesirable way.

 “Give me three hundred seats and I will empower the nation”  Narendra Modi , who has so far been refused a US visa on account of his role in 2002 religious riots in Gujarat, has stated in a pre election speech.

It is the political ambition of Narendra Modi beyond India which should get everyone, especially the United States, worried. Like Vladimir Putin, who in his quest for asserting his authority to the world  seems to be blowing up Russian passion and nationalism, Narendra Modi, seem to inflame old Dravidian and anti Hindi feelings and accelerate a North South divide, basically weakening India.

Dictators  had often orchestrated some legitimate ploy like getting ‘elected’ to a leadership position of some apparently democratic body  or a less dignified coup of another dictator,  to appoint themselves to positions of absolute power.

What Narendra Modi has done to be his party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, though ostensibly democratic, is nothing less.

By staging a sort of Internal coup upon his own mentor and PM hopeful L K Advani and other senior leaders, Modi has simply usurped the power and authority he needed to  push ahead with his campaign to grab the power in Delhi and decimate the party.

Modi, in his quest to fulfil his ambition, has split his own party, which is clear from the  squabbles before and during the distribution of seats and selection of constituencies which were enforced upon grumbling  party seniors and other candidates by Modi and his henchmen.

Modi, with the religious ideology of Hindutwa, a fact which has been held against him right from the beginning of his career, is a polarising leader and poses the greatest threat of division for the secular  India along religious lines, irrespective of whether he wins the election.

His control of BJP seems complete as the campaigners of the party now say Narendra Modi indeed is the BJP. However, the repercussions of his winning the election on the rest of India’s political system, which seems to be heading for a divide will define the course and place of India in the world in the coming decade.

Judging from various opinion polls, the  hugely funded and managed campaign of the investors to install Modi in New Delhi seems to be succeeding, abetted by a wrongly placed enthusiasm of India’s new generation of voters who believe Modi will deliver them all western comforts they crave for.

However the abundance of western money which has flown in to India in the past couple of decades has accelerated different parochial ambitions, which were present and manifested from time to time even when India was really a poor nation.

Many of these regional parties have been asserting their authority over the government in New Delhi by causing all sorts of obstructions inside and outside the parliament, making the governance of India by a central government all but impossible.

India in 2014, with the breakup of the southern state of Andhra, and the ascend of regional parties in other states like West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, is indeed more fragmented than in the previous elections but not subscribing to the Hindutwa ideology as much as the BJP would have liked.

Though many of them have aligned with the BJP in previous governments, there is a very strong feeling among these regional parties that Modi’s intentions are really sinister, which has forced them to come out openly against  Narendra Modi and any post poll alliance with him.

This means even if Modi and his BJP can muster an absolute majority in the parliament and form a constitutional government based on the seats they gain from the Hindi speaking northern India, in reality, Modi will be faced with the same obstructionist environment as the present government, rendering any big ticket development  promised by Modi  virtually impossible.

Ascendancy of an aggressive Modi will crystallise this anti Modi sentiment to a formidable force making governance all but impossible.  If Modi and the BJP fail to get a majority, despite the surveys, the same forces might form a new government,  but the reality of the North South divide will remain
and perhaps acquire clearer shape and character.

Either way, India as a secular Union of people with different language and culture is losing credibility and clout which it deserves and for which it freedom fighters fought for generations. Whether the rest of the world will gain or not will be a matter of history. 

Why Does Its Manifesto Make Not Just the BJP but Everyone Else Too So Nervous?

BJP has finally released a Manifesto on the election day. The Congress party and others have questioned the delay and BJP has come with enough plausible explanations which have been ridiculed by various opponents.

As one congress leader put it, If the BJP can’t take out a Manifesto in time how are they going to manage the country’s affairs?

But  the real reason for the BJP to be so defensive and nervous about publishing its manifesto well before the start of the election instead of putting it off till the last moment is in the Manifesto itself.

Perhaps the simplest of explanation is that with the reference to Ayodhya and Article 370, the BJP Manifesto resembles the proverbial Wolf in Sheep’s clothing.

The BJP was not sure if, for the one billion voters of India, it will look anything but a dressed up version of the old wolf they have shunned twice. The party obviously didn’t want to scare them away by the inevitable media exposure, scrutiny and debate the Manifesto would have generated in the crucial weeks before the election.

All stock explanations for the last minute publishing and brushing away by its spoke persons become suspect just for the presence of those contentious issues, without which the BJP’s raison d’être  would have become questionable.

One incredibly funny argument put forth by the BJP for the last minute release of the Manifesto is that it wanted the voters to remember its promises on the way to the polling booth!

That gives some credence to the claim of Congress’s Abhishek  Singhvi that BJP has taken the whole country for granted. In fact the BJP can be accused not just for bending the rules of the nation but also for questioning its intelligence.

The reality is that the BJP has indeed taken an enormous risk by including those contentious issues, especially if it happened after intense and protracted debate within the party, as is being reported.

In fact the BSP leader Mayavathi has recently articulated the uneasy question lurking in the minds of a large number of Indians at least in her recent speech. Are we going to see an India akin to the one the world saw in 1947 if BJP comes to power with Narendra Modi as its Prime Minister?

It is not just Mayavathi who seems to think so. Numerous political leaders of all parties including the BJP itself and various prominent persons of India has expressed the same concern time and again, though no one seems to have declared it as a definite outcome other than the blunt leaser of the BSP itself.

No doubt, the BJP top brass is well aware of this eventuality, which they have willingly or reluctantly embraced in their quest for power. By moulding and releasing the Manifesto in its current form, they  seem to have consciously pulled out the sacks and put them out for drying hoping no one will notice them on the way to their polling booths.

Perhaps they are right. In a country where the party leaders themselves get to read their Manifestos days after they are released, the average voter who can barely read his ration card has no way of knowing what his Manifesto really means.

For BJP, just keeping their agenda written but hidden from its voters will give them the blank cheque they need to draw what they want when the bank opens with their account.
Monday, April 07, 2014
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Can India’s Antony Be Its Next Dark Horse Prime Minister?

Let me say this, I barely know A.K Antony except that we both hail from ‘God’s Own Country’, the little piece of beautiful land on the tip of the Indian Peninsula, the marvellous beauty of which  is preserved by its  anti development politics.

Not a political analysts by any stretch of Imagination; for that matter not even someone who lives anymore in the country, there are no pretences of erudition either in this. As a common man whose eyes and ears are not shut to the abundance of information incessantly pouring on to the a screen in front of me, I simply exert my fundamental right to venture a wild guess of my own.

In fact It is Antony’s own words during a recent campaign which points to this inevitability.

Criticising the  Marxist Communist Party, his main political opposition in Kerala, Antony has predicted that the CPM will be forced to support the UPA , the ruling  alliance  to form the next government, as they did in 2004.

The CPM  has not only vehemently denied this, but is strongly harping on the wishful idea of a “Third Font”, a political salad bowl of nuts, leaves and weeds, hardly palatable to the Indian masses.

Indians are fed up such exotic diet, meted out to them by several coalitions who only unite to fight and wither away in the past, lacking common ideology, purpose or will to govern.

The current “Third Front” so far remains merely as a photo session, with raised and clutched hands of as many leaders of regional parties as the number of those who want to be the Prime Minister of India, which has become a ridiculous icon of the fast crumbling idea of the Union of India.

Nevertheless, manifestation of  a political Phobia against the Bharathiya Janata Party,  which has unite the scattered opposition in the past, is in its highest pitch this time, thanks to a brazen and aggressive campaign of BJP’s self appointed prime ministerial candidate Modi himself.

If this manifested in the previous two elections as a force to prevent the BJP, a party with a hidden Hindutwa agenda to push minorities to second class, this time it is working as a formidable force to prevent a dictatorial Modi from grabbing the Prime Ministerial chair of India.  

Abetted by such concerns within the country’s minorities and even within the BJP itself, various anti Modi campaigns  by various forces, especially by the newly formed Aam Admi Party of Arvind Kejeriwal, can end up with the Third Front  grabbing a significant number of parliamentary seats, despite various opinion polls predicting otherwise.

Moreover, the gap between the results of opinion polls and political reality in Indian parliamentary election (different from the state elections influenced by local and regional forces), could be wider, given the massive financial influence exerted on the Indian media ahead of this year’s election.

All these factors can add up to a situation quite similar to 2004, as being claimed by Antony, perhaps less rosier than what is hoped by Rahul Gandhi, his party’s vice president and its potential nominee for the position of the Prime Minister.

Given the extreme and publicised ambitions of each of the leaders of the Third Front to become the PM, it is unlikely that they can agree upon one, especially if the combined strength is likely to be less than that of the UPA.

It  will also be not entirely unrealistic to expect  the two lady Chief Ministers to keep themselves out of the front, certainly due to the presence of their arch enemies and in any case as none of their male counterparts will concede them the coveted position of the Prime Minister.

In such a scenario, the combined determination of  everyone to Keep Modi out of power, for the good of the nation and their own political survival can crystallise in to a support of Sonia Gandhi’s UPA in forming the next government.

Rahul Gandhi, the vice president of  the Congress Party is will be , at best a very reluctant Prime Minister, who will much prefer to be its ideologist and party builder till at least another election.

In any case, Rahul Gandhi, who has taken the brunt of the political rhetoric and criticism from each of the leaders of the Front, (Remember Amul Baby?) is not someone, the elderly Prime Ministerial aspirants of the front will accept without some heart burn and loss of face.

That is where A K Antony and his stature within the party and his consensus building talents will come to the aid of all Modi haters, perhaps as a silver lining on the dark clouds the next election threaten to bring over the great nation of India.  

If that happens, the leaders of the CPM which Antony NOW says will have no choice but to support the UPA,  will be more than happy to support him, even forgetting the party ideology.

Many of them, after all,  are his compatriots  from God’s Own Country.

Sunday, April 06, 2014
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Why Does John Kerry Let the Devyani Imbroglio to Explode in to His Benghazi?

With the recent Chinese belligerence over air and naval supremacy, the US secretary of state John Kerry has a lot of tofu on his platter. Then, it is really baffling why the US state department is letting a bizarre brawl between an Indian diplomat, her Indian maid and an Indian Attorney of a new York district turn in to a Benghazi like crisis.

The looming diplomatic crisis is not between any two countries. It is between, as many Americans claim, the oldest and the biggest democratic nations in the world. For any other country, the diplomatic mission to the USA is the most important, whether some countries admit or not. For the USA, the diplomatic mission from India, the biggest democracy, is bound to be vital for the whole idea of the democratic system.

Then why humiliate the acting head of the Indian mission to the USA, who happens to be a lady, for a six months old dispute with her Indian maid, by public arrest and, reportedly, with cavity search under police custody? Surely, there were better ways to deal with the issue, which has actually sent out a message of utter humiliation to a country of 1.3 billion people. Devyani Khobragade, a medical doctor turned diplomat and acting head of the Indian mission, had this to say about the incident although disputed by US authorities.

While I was going through it, although I must admit that I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, hold up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity, I got the strength to regain composure and remain dignified thinking that I must represent all of my colleagues and my country with confidence and pride.

The predictable reaction from the Indian government has not just opened up an immense sore in the forty years old amity the USA has been trying to build up with a country with a huge population next door to China but has exposed the US mission in Delhi and other Indian cities to Benghazi like vulnerability, in country where terrorist were easily able to strike at the parliament and other famous targets. The treatment of Devyani by the US government has also lead to unprecedented public anger and outrage in India, in the Indian media and social networks which seems to beescalating with the lukewarm reaction from the US government to solve the issue.

Make no mistake, it is not an election issue.

Despite the general impression that the Indian outrage is to do with the impending election, and both the ruling UPA and the main opposition BJP have political stake in taking a tough stance against the US on account of national pride, the issue is more fundamental and hurting the Indian psyche.
In reality not many people in India are familiar with "cavity search" or understand what it involves. That is until Devyani has let the nation know .
In a country not familiar with people hiding drugs and weapons in body cavities where no police procedure exists for searching of such niches, even strip searching of a woman have connotation to the barbaric denuding of mythological characters, the whole things have only one meaning. Barbaric and utterly humiliating.

Don't Kill the messenger

That, such treatment was meted out to a country in which a large majority look at American capitalism and hegemony with suspicion despite an educated section believe in building bridges and cooperation with the US, hasn't gone well at all, no matter any amount of rationalising and justification.
USA being a nation living on Nike shoes to a million other things made with cheap labour from China and sweat shops from Bangladesh and India, and out sourcing work to India at quarter of the rates, the argument about the wages to an Indian made appear nothing but a farce.

The US has touched the Indian Caste Nerve.

To make things worse for John Kerry and the US, Devyani Khobragade happens to belong to a schedule caste, a factor with extremely sensitive socio political implications in India and something which its most outspoken leader, Mayavathi, has already taken on herself to fight for.
The US State department may be adept at dealing with diplomatic crisis, but certainly not equipped for Indian caste system which many astute Indian leaders find hard to tackle.

Born an Indian, always an Indian.

The US Attorney General, Preet Bharara may have political ambitions and a need to prove himself by following Giuliani and Christie by acting tough. But for 1.3 billion Indians, he is just another one of them, no matter what he does in New York, the villain of the piece and someone who is out to harm India.

The timing couldn't be worse.

Unfortunately the whole episode of humiliation of one of their folk in a friendly foreign country has coincided with the painful anniversary of the mass rape and murder of a girl, which has shaken the conscience of the country and many abroad.

John Kerry and the State Department undoubtedly has a crisis of unprecedented gravity at their hands which seems to be escalating by the day. An effort to assess correctly and not underestimate the Indian sensitivities is the need of the day.

How Blogging By Experts Can Help Comparison Web Sites Get Personal and Gain Customer's Trust and Google's Love.

With the evolution of the web, if you have a presence and a website on the internet for any reason, you are going to be compared with someone else. Even a mere search for something on Google in fact shows up a comparative statement, based on some criteria for relevance set by Google!

Even if you don't own a web site, comparison sites have become an indispensable part of 21st century life whether you are aware or not. From booking an air ticket to finding your life partner on matrimonial sites, the web just don't offer unprecedented choice for everything you need in life but leave you little option to do without some form of comparison. That is unless you live by your emotions and go after your needs for a spouse to your pet merely by your impulse.

However all comparison sites are not equal on the web. While many are free and unregulated in what they offer as comparison, of products or services, often from different countries, sites offering comparison of financial products like loans and credit cards strictly regulated by local governing authorities.

They are also limited by the size of the country or population covered by the service providers under comparison and can't resort to high technology like monitoring internet chatter. They are indeed limited in using innovative technologies, with data collection, filtering, analysis, curation and interaction capabilities, to learn what people are thinking right now about a product to refine the comparison process.

In fact, remaining under the regulatory scrutiny they are subjected to, there is very little a price comparison site can do to differentiate itself and increase its presence and popularity except one thing, increasing customer trust. There are many savy sites which are effectively using simplest of technologies, blogging, to achieve this.

" Trust is becoming a more important issue than in the past and price comparison sites as a group must work on building greater trust from users through transparent practices and support once users go off-site"

A study released in 2009, way back when price comparison sites were just catching up as a palpable benefit of the internet, had already concluded that: is one such site which is effectively using everything in the rule book to achieve this. In fact the site is a good example of implementing everything the experts recommend to increase trust of a website. 

The site has great usability with recommended features like Showcase your team, showcase your community, great site design, media coverage, client logos, customer engaging offers, social media endorsement counters, testimonials, customer reviews, influencers et al.

However the one predominant and the most trustworthy feature of is its blog, which may not be unique but certainly account for building the trust in a great way due to the fact that its bloggers are all industry experts and their posts amount to free professional advice most useful to the visitors and clients.

For example their blog Money Wise contain posts on " What Share Buy Back Mean For Investors" and " Bank Of Canada Removes Future Rate Forecast From Announcement", really esoteric topics useful for anyone dealing with real money like the visitors and customers.

The authenticity of the blog is further fortified by a who is who list of the expert bloggers with their pictures so you know they are real and a category list of posts so you can search for something you want to know about.

Of all the features of this price comparison website, this blog which dishes out valuable and helpful financial information to those who really need it free of cost is certainly the one to gain the trust of its visitors and make them loyal.

However, the best benefit of all comes from the recent changes in Google's algorithms and policies promoting websites with unique content really useful and relevant for its visitors. The blog feature of definitely goes a long way in attracting the favourable attention of Google's Penguin and Panda crawling the web for relevancy of content to be ranked higher and higher.

How Rahul Gandhi, Amul Baby of India Has Become the David Of Indian Politics.

All of a sudden, the story of David and Goliath has once again been enacted in Delhi, which 1.3 billion Indians proudly call the seat of their democracy.
It is believed that the original purpose of the story was to show the identity of David, the champion of the God of Israel, as the true king of Israel, who could kill Goliath, the representative of paganism with the help of God.
Rahul Gandhi, often ridiculed by his political opposition and the Indian press as "Amul (a brand of milk in India) Baby" for his un assuming and low key leadership, seems to have done nothing less by his openness and courageous stand against a piece of legislation which would have continued to protect criminals who get elected as representatives.
Rahul Gandhi has surprised India and the world with a few spontaneous but thunderous words dispelling all notions of lack of leadership and trouncing a the painstakingly created image of Narendra Modi of the BJP as a political Goliath and the only person worthy to be the prime minister of India.
"This day Jehovah will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that God saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is God's, and he will give you into our hand."
Though David had to remind his opponent Goliath of the importance of being on the right side of goodness and justice, Rahul Gandhi didn't have to address his opponent to radically change the Indian political equation and trounce his Goliath in the bargain.
All Rahul impatiently blurted out in a sudden and unplanned appearance in a press conference were a few ordinary words of a young Indian, which will surely go down in the history of democracy, for the profound changes they are bound to make in the politics of the future In India and countries looking up to it.
"My opinion of the ordinance is that it is complete nonsense and should be torn up and thrown away."
However, for political observers and millions of Indians who were eagerly looking up to Rahul to somehow get in to the perceived leadership vacuum despite his assuming the role of the vice president of the congress party months before, those few words a stamp of authority and real power he has wielded for some time.
The reason is, no one would have dared to pronounce such a blatant disapproval of what his party's own government, headed by Dr Man Mohan Singh tried to do which was widely thought to have the backing of top Congress leaders and his own mother Sonia, the President of the congress party.
The legislation, in the form of an ordinance issued in a hurry would have saved a key political ally from prison and a number of legislatures of all parties facing similar predicament, ensuring wide support for the ruling alliance to win the next round of elections.
Besides, the ordinance also symbolised the supremacy of the elected body over the branch of justice by overthrowing an order of the supreme court, which politicians across the board would have enjoyed doing.
However , unknown to the leadership, a real swell of public resentment, magnified in the backdrop of allegations of various scams and opportunistic clamour by the opposition had built up which would seriously dented the credibility and electability of the UPA.
The real political genius and un ambiguous proof of leadership of Rahul Gandhi has blossomed in his ability to correctly judge the mood of the nation and act in time with enough force, which was always at his disposal, to remedy the situation.
In many ways Rahul Gandhi's instinct to judge the public mood and boldness to act are reminiscent of another great leader, his grant mother and past Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
What Rahul has done and achieved is no less than the legendary act of Nationalisation of the banks declared by a young Madam Gandhi braving the establishment and Congress leadership of the time. The courage Rahul has shown in denouncing the ordinance despite the ire and apparent damage it could cause to his own party and government is akin to what Indira Gandhi showed in repealing the emergency, which she recognised as a huge mistake.
Some are born great, some attain greatness by their own merit, but it is doubtful if greatness can be imposed on anyone one merely by lobbying and political propaganda.
It is also doubtful if anyone can call Rahul Gandhi an Amul Baby anymore.

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