My compliments to UPA for keeping off Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government must be complemented for helping the Sri Lankan government crush the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) movement. There was so much pressure on his government from their DMK allies to intervene but Dr Singh stood firm. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is a crook and must be isolated from creating any more problems for Sri Lanka or India. LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was in some ways DMK creation and was largely sustained by Tamil jingoism in India. Indira Gandhi did not help matters by extending her covert support to LTTE in its early secessionist struggle against Sri Lankan government. India paid a heavy price for that with the life of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Now that the whole sordid drama has come to an end, Tamil sub-nationalism must be dealt with firmly and conclusively. Indian National Congress must develop its own presence in Tamil Nadu.

Bengali and Tamilian politicians do not seem to understand that Burma and Sri Lanka are two pillars of the ‘Gateway to India’. China has been drooling at the unique opportunity by the instability in both Burma and Sri Lanka. Our dumb politicians in either state do not care about India’s national security and play ethnic politics in other countries. India must have deep and widespread bilateral relations with Sri Lanka as well as Burma. We should develop huge trade with both countries even if we have to subsidize our imports. China is waiting in the wings to fill the void in all our neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. China has the means and money to stiff India out of all these countries. We are no more a third world country. India is not only growing as a regional power, it is likely to emerge as a major global power by the middle of this century. It is time we take our share of international obligations seriously and not look towards America or Russia for orders.

Only poor people vote in India…

Rich do the rest, like counting the votes, analyzing the vote, putting the government in place and of course bitching about everything! Disgraceful is the word that comes to mind. Especially after 26/11 we thought South Bombay voters would come out in big numbers and repose the faith in our democratic process. But that was too much to ask for. The rich people in India obviously do not value the price some Indians paid for their independence and their right to vote. Most non-Western countries around the world envy us for our liberties and our political institutions. One day in not too distant a future, a Mayawati would become the Prime Minister of India and institute a “Jazia” on our elite and only then these people would get the message. Just THINK about it!

Indian political movement was started in Bombay in 1885 by the Parsi/British elite of that time. It remained an obsession of the rich lawyers and businessmen of India till the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from South Africa in 1915. It was Gandhiji who transformed this urban movement into a national rural revolution. But for him, Indian National Congress and all political activities in India would have remained confined to the metropolitan cities of the country. The legacy of Gandhi has survived in the regional parties of India but the urban leadership has slowly dissipated. The prominent national leaders of India have virtually no appeal in the vast rural areas of India. Dr Manmohan Singh and Lal Krishna Advani are strangers to the rural India.

Last night I was watching the show, ‘We The People’ on NDTV and the topic of discussion was ‘Who’s afraid of Mayawati?’ in a town-hall format. The expert panel was good and the audience questions were also relevant. The obvious concern was “what if Mayawati becomes the next Prime Minister of India”. It was refreshing to see the reaction was acceptance of the situation on the ground and no real panic amongst the elite. The reasons could be the maturity of the electorate and the confidence in India’s bureaucracy. This confidence of Indians must be watched around the world. It shows the resilience of India’s democracy and existence of strong civil institutions. An autocratic politician like Mayawati could be elected the leader of a ‘Third Front’ coalition and thus assume the role of a Prime Minister. This is actually possible!

This has happened before and it could happen again. Remember the rise of Chaudhary Charan Singh in 1979, Chandra Shekhar Singh in 1990, H D Deve Gowda in 1996 and Inder Kumar Gujral in 1997? None of them lasted for more than a year in office but still hurt the economy and our foreign policy. Gujral the most articulate of them all was the biggest disaster when he blew the whistle on our own R&AW (Research and Analysis Wing) in Pakistan. Yet, India did not fall off the cliff, it survived. We will survive Mayawati too but it should wake up our non-voting middle class in Bombay and elsewhere! Mayawati is only 53 years old and has a long way to go in not only the Dalit politics but the entire minority victim hood. She is a solo-star of her party and might be tempted to appoint only Dalits in her central cabinet!

Mayawati to Maneka Gandhi on Varun Gandhi

What has Sachin Pilot done for Dausa?

Go to Dausa, Rajasthan and see for yourself. My wife and I did go to Dausa on November 14, 2006. We were shocked to see the state of Dausa, the city and the district. It could be located in a country like Somalia; you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Sachin Pilot is the Member of Parliament from Dausa constituency in Rajasthan, India. What has he done for Dausa in the last five years? The simple answer is nothing! This guy is a dandy like Shivraj Patil (former Home Minister) and is good for nothing. He is now contesting from Ajmer, Rajasthan and chances are he might get elected. This is the tragedy of India. A US educated, articulate and English speaking young MP is too busy enjoying a cushy and comfortable higher-middle class lifestyle in Delhi to bother about some poor and wretched folks back home in Dausa. These characters must be exposed to the people by our equally docile media.

Sachin Pilot is the son of late Rajesh Pilot (Rajeshwar Prasad Singh Vidhudi) a major Gujjar leader. Sachin was born on September 7, 1977 as Sachin Prasad. His last name changed to Pilot when he was only 3 years old. Sachin went to Air Force Bal Bharti School in New Delhi. He is a graduate of St. Stephens Collage, Delhi University as well as Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Ghaziabad. He worked for General Motors in the United States after which he attended Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Sachin’s father Rajesh Pilot died in a car accident near Jaipur on June 11, 2000. Sachin Pilot returned to India and joined the Indian National Congress as a replacement to his father. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Dausa Parliamentary Constituency of Rajasthan on May 13, 2004. Sachin became the youngest Member of Parliament in the country. He married Sarah Abdullah (daughter of Farooq Abdullah) in a Hindu ceremony on January 15, 2004.

Nilkanth Mahadev Temple, Dausa, Rajasthan, India

Nilkanth Mahadev Temple, Dausa, Rajasthan, India

Sir David Frost talks to – Sachin Pilot – 13 June 08

The Gujjar community in India is classified by the government as OBC, or Other Backward Class. But the Gujjars want to be relegated to one of the lowest castes so they can gain access to better jobs and education. While the Hindu caste system has been officially abolished in India, it remains a powerful influence.
Sir David is joined by Sachin Pilot, Member of Parliament for the town of Dausa where 20 Gujjars have already been killed. Pilot says that while violence has ceased, the situation is still precarious.

The evolution of India’s foreign policy – Part VIII

Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and his administration had a profound impact on India’s image around the world. He was himself a consummate diplomat. Rao understood the importance of nation’s foreign policy and its impact on the domestic growth. He implemented his life-long agenda of unshackling the Indian economy. He was the first non Nehru-Gandhi Prime Minister to have completed a full five year term. Naturally his impact on India was very significant and long lasting. Narasimha Rao’s world view was significantly different from the Gandhi family. India is believed to have covert relations with the state of Israel since 1969 but it was Rao administration that established full diplomatic ties between the two countries on January 29, 1992. Madhavsinh Solanki was the Foreign Minister of India at that time. Israel has become a strong ally of India since then. Prime Minister Rao was intellectually persuaded to declare India a full and open ‘Nuclear Power’ but Americans leaned on him heavily to give up the idea. According to Vajpayee when he became the PM in 1996 Rao handed him a piece of paper which simply stated ‘Bomb is ready. You can go ahead.’ (referring to a nuclear device) and asked that it should not be made public. Vajpayee revealed this only after Rao’s death. Rao also launched the Look East foreign policy.

While Narasimha Rao succeeded in transforming the Indian Economy and Foreign Affairs, his administration was very week domestically. Kashmir insurgency that was brewing since 1989, flared up during the 5 year term of Prime Minister Rao. He was successful in curtailing the Punjab militancy but failed to stop the demolition of Babri Masjid by the goons of VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) on December 6, 1992. This destruction of the disputed structure, which was widely reported in the international media, unleashed large scale communal violence, the most extensive since the Partition of India. It is widely believed that the 1993 Mumbai Bombings, which claimed hundreds of innocent lives and left thousands injured was the Muslim underworld’s retaliation for the demolition of the Babri Mosque. This proved to be the single most damaging incident in India’s domestic policy. As I have written earlier, it was a phony excuse for Muslim extremists who were waiting for any such opportunity to create sectarian unrest; it was an idiotic lapse of judgment as far as Ministry of Home Affairs was concerned. This unnecessary violence gave India a very bad name in the international media and damaged the country’s reputation. But for his failed domestic policy P V Narasimha Rao would have been acclaimed as one of the most successful PMs of India! Despite his failures, Rao would remain the father of Modern India.

General elections were held in India in 1996 to elect the members of the 11th Lok Sabha. The result of the election was a hung parliament, which would see three Prime Ministers in two years and force the country back to the polls in 1998. The May 1995 defection of high profile Congress Party leaders like Arjun Singh and Narayan Dutt Tiwari divided the party into smaller factions. Bharatiya Janata Party emerged as the single largest party with only 161 seats in the parliament followed by Indian National Congress with 14o seats. The then President of India, Shankar Dayal Sharma, invited the leader of the largest party in parliament, Bharatiya Janata Party to form the government. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on May 15, 1996. He was required to prove a majority in the parliament by May 31, 1996. Vajpayee tried to build a coalition but failed to convince the moderate parties to support the BJP’s agenda. Instead of facing a loosing ‘confidence vote’ on May 31, he decided to resign as Prime Minister in just 13 days. Congress Party then declined to attempt a majority as the second largest party. Instead they agreed to support H D Deve Gowda, Chief Minister of Karnataka, as the next Prime Minister of India. He took office on June 1, 1996. Meanwhile the country drifted and India’s foreign policy was non-existent. Deve Gowda couldn’t last even a year and resigned on April 21, 1997.

BJP seems to have shot itself in the foot!

Bharatiya Janata Party has once again decided to play its Hindutva card for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in India. BJP which is part of a larger National Democratic Alliance had a 50-50 chance in 2004 general elections as an incumbent party. It was shocked when it was defeated because of its failure to look after the rural population. NDA at that time was led by highly regarded Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and a record of solid performance. Ever since Vajpayee retired as the head of the alliance, BJP and NDA have gone back to an old and discredited ideology of Hindutva. Do they really believe that this is a winning platform? If they do then they are stone deaf to the voters of this country. Lal Krishna Advani ought to know this!

There are 30 million middle class voters like me in India who are not exactly thrilled to see UPA back in power. When we look at the alternatives, we either stay at home or are resigned to vote for the Indian National Congress and by implication the United Progressive Alliance. Indian voter for some strange reason had the impression that NDA was tougher on the national security issues. It could be because India carried out the nuclear tests under Vajpayee’s leadership. Similarly, Advani was considered a tough Minister for Home Affairs, notwithstanding his actual record! Whatever the merits for voting the BJP to power, it was certainly not for building a ‘Ram Mandir’ or saving the outlandish and a relatively recent phenomenon of ‘Ram Sethu’.

India has been included in G-8 plus 5 as well as in G-20 summits not because of Hindutva, Ram Mandir or Ram Sethu, but despite such backward tribal issues. Indians do not consider themselves as ‘Hindus’ specifically, they are just happy to be a part of the rising tide of India. Indians are thrilled to have a Zaheer Khan and a Harbhajan Singh demolishing the New Zealand cricket team. They are proud of Ratan Tata to have produced a ‘Tata Nano’ or a Rehman for giving music scores for the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. They are not obsessed with some remote Ram Janmabhoomi or long forgotten Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. India is a rising power and could become the biggest economy in the world by the middle of this century. Does it behove India to have a racist political party? Just THINK about it!

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