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Some reasons for the outcome of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections

May 18, 2009
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Post-election analysis of India’s 2009 Lok Sabha elections is on big time. All over the media, amongst the people and behind closed doors in secret meetings. Two parties. The BJP and the Left. Opposite ends of the spectrum. Both falling flat on their face. WHY? BJP’s loss is being blamed on everyone from Varun Gandhi and Modi to Rajnath Singh and L.K. Advani. In Sunday’s Indian Express Tavleen Singh also blamed the Hindutva ideology which she feels had gotten stale. Issues such as BJP going against the nuclear deal upset people too, and I was one of them. And some say that tickets were given to the wrong people…

But as some wise people said, each state had its own reasons. Regional parties like the MNS did the BJP and the Shiv Sena mischief in Maharashtra. In Rajasthan they say it was the reservation (Gujjars) issue

The BJP played the game wrong. It was all just a game after all. Parties are supposed to have ideologies but in reality only a few individuals have any inclination to follow them. Parties crush anyone whom they believe threatens the survival of the party even if the person is simply following the ideology. They will encourage those who go against their ideology if it means more votes. The survival and growth of the party is paramount. Parties (and I mean all parties) will sacrifice India as well, without blinking.

The Left has gone from 61 seats in 2004 to 25 in 2009. It is a decimation. Some reasons being offered are their opposing the nuclear deal and almost bringing the government down over it and their opposition to most economic reforms. Their game plan to tie up with AIADMK instead of the DMK, trying to forge a so-called Third Front (which now seems a joke) all apparently helped to take them down. The dictatorship of Prakash Karat and the infighting in the Kerala unit points to leadership failure. But most important, the forcible land acquisition for industry by West Bengal’s communist government worked against them. When the Nano was forced to pull out of West Bengal Ratan Tata blamed Mamta and her Trinamool Congress, but the people of West Bengal have sided with Mamata, not with Tata.  The ruling state (communist) government trying to industrialise the state has been shown the door, at least in the Lok Sabha.

A lesson for the so-called communists is that they should take cognizance of the fact that this is a democratic nation. The communist tactics of force do not work in a democracy. Forced land acquisition may work in China, not here. I could not help thinking of the forcible sterilisation campaign led by Sanjay Gandhi which led to the downfall of the Congress in the seventies.

In any case selling economic reform to the poor and lower middle classes in exchange for votes doesn’t work. Political analysts have always said that economic reforms do not win elections because those who benefit, the middle classes and the rich, don’t come out to vote in large  numbers, not in India.  Chandrababu Naidu, who spearheaded economic reforms in Andhra Pradesh found out the hard way when he lost the Chief Ministership in 2004. The BJP lost power in 2004 they say because of the India Shining campaign. India wasn’t shining for the poor was it. And today if the Congress won it’s not because of the economic reforms that Manmohan Singh wants to push through or because of the nuclear deal, but because of smart politics, pandering to vote banks, playing caste politics, offering freebies, clever allocation of seats and in Maharashtra letting the MNS rear its head. However the Congress also won because the BJP made some blunders. Today if I think of the BJP I think of one word: Confused.

We have another five years of the Congress ahead. One hopes that the few good individuals in the party do good work and India’s infrastructure improves, particularly the educational infrastructure, so that every Indian has a fair chance of participating in an India Shining. The opposition should focus on national interest and not oppose the government for petty party gains. I see hope as there are fresh faces in parliament this time round. In Uttar Pradesh for example, sixty per cent of the sitting MPs who contested the elections have lost. And those criminal candidates who fielded their wives because they could not contest, lost. Now, there is the hope. That the fresh faces make a difference.

(Photo credits: bbc)

Related Reading: Our elected representatives don’t really represent us
Which is better? Voting for a political party or the individual?

All posts on Development and on the Economy.
All posts on Primary Education and on Higher Education.

124 Comments leave one →
  1. Vinod permalink
    May 18, 2009 12:29 pm

    Am I the only one dismayed by the quality of Indian democracy? I reckon not. It is all over your post. The sadness is palpable.😦

  2. May 18, 2009 1:12 pm

    Nita

    I think in the coming days, more such analyses by the electorate rather than the pundits will emerge. I think they would be more meaningful and interesting than textbook explanations by armchair. I was watching Indian TV on the web and it was amazing to see how few chatterati actually have anything meaningful to say about the rural areas, their issues, economies and concerns.

    As for change: I think the numbers of young MPs have gone up and there are rumours many will be in the cabinet (although I do hope the likes of Jyotiraditya Scindia can muster some independent thinking; his sycophantic ‘Rahul-ji must be PM’ was lamentable and embarrassing). India has also chosen more women MPs than before (58 women MPs compared to 45 last time) although there is more scope to have more. Amongst women I think many old-timers have retained their seats ranging from Sushma Swaraj to Priya Dutt.

    On a pedantic note, you say: “The Left has gone from 61 seats in 2004 to 25 in 2009. It is a decimation.”. Technically it is not a decimation. That would have resulted in 54-55 seats for the Left.😉

    • May 18, 2009 7:33 pm

      I was disappointed that the Union Minister for Women & Children’s Affairs, Ms. Renuka Chowdhary lost. I think she was doing a good job.

  3. May 18, 2009 2:47 pm

    I think Narendra Modi has also fallen into the economic development trap like Chandrababu Naidu had…As you said, if the poor are not taken care of, no amount of economic development will help win votes…This time, BJP lost only 0.9% of the votes in Gujarat but if Modi is not careful, the figure could be higher the next time… In fact, the BJP lost the general elections in 2004 even with their ‘India Shining’ slogan for the same reason…

  4. May 18, 2009 2:56 pm

    I would like to tell my personal view. Unless BJP gives up issues like Ram Mandir and Ram Sethu, I wont vote for them! I dont want yet another temple. I want a hospital or a school or even a dharmshala but not a temple.
    here are some interesting facts about the 15th Lok Sabha:-
    The 15th Lok Sabha will have 46 women, the second highest after the 13th Lok Sabha’s 49. Uttar Pradesh elected 12 women, and Bengal and Andhra Pradesh six each. Only 556 of the 8,070 candidates (6.9 per cent) were women, but they had an 8 per cent success rate (one in 12 won) compared with 6.5 per cent for the men.

    U can find more here
    http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090518/jsp/nation/story_10984155.jsp

  5. May 18, 2009 4:12 pm

    Hi Nita,

    Good analysis. I’m also delighted to see the ‘fourth front’ of useless parties like SP, LJP, RJD trashed to size. Such opportunistic and agenda-less parties deserve to die eventually. Atleast the BJP has a temple agenda!

    I associate myself more with BJP leaders as individuals. However the party itself has a murky image – they have neither defined Hindutva (religion based parties have no future anyway) nor have taken strong stance on economic or policy fronts. I think the guys there need to examine their ‘party with a difference’ speak and kick out Varun Gandhis because he doesn’t speak for us Hindus. A confused opposition is no opposition.

    Finally, its also good to see one party emerge strongly in the winning combination. Mamata is kinda schizophrenic but atleast she isn’t leftist. There might be some nice things happening in the near future.🙂

    Priyank

  6. May 18, 2009 4:43 pm

    It is always the case,when you lose,there are millions to tell us what went wrong.None of the parties had any idea of the seats they will win.This election was fought in the TV studios,hence media has played a major role.At the same time,BJP had lost focus half way through.

  7. May 18, 2009 4:48 pm

    “Today if I think of the BJP I think of one word: Confused.”
    Exactly. They did not have a clear agenda other than going hammer and tongs on the PM. They were more interested to woo the younger web savvy youth who do not go to vote anyway, rather than work in the grass root level.
    Hope they realise the mistakes(yet again) and work on it next time.

  8. rags permalink
    May 18, 2009 5:05 pm

    I don’t know if you’ve forgotten one important reason…. There was actual disitribution of money. here in TN by the D.M.K…. That’s how they won this election here…. I think the NREGA scheme might have brightened the Cong’s prospects in the rural areas…

    Its quite sickening to see the Cong. sycophants clamouring for Mahatma Rahul to be P.M and attributing this victory to him. Its plain ridiculous t0 call him a ‘youth leader’. He doesn’t represent the youth of this country at all… If anything the youth believe in people who come up by their own grit and determination, not someone who inherits the throne. Honestly I don’t understand why people keep voting the Cong. back to power.. I’m quite disappointed…….. There’s nothing spectacular about democracy in India…. We only have a slightly different form of monarchy here….

    • May 18, 2009 5:49 pm

      you are so sadly right, Indian democracy is the poorest in terms of mass participation in the world I think. Kaisey hoga agar half the people don’t even know their rights or can be educated about issues? Education, education, education is the only answer, nai?

  9. rags permalink
    May 18, 2009 5:12 pm

    I don’t know if you’ve forgotten one important reason….
    There was actual distribution of money here in TN by the D.M.K…. That’s how they won this election here…. (also the distribution of 1 kg rice for 1 Rs. and other freebies for the poor, idiotic sabre rattling for the LTTE and Elam all seems to have palyed a part in fooling people).

    I think the NREGA scheme might have brightened the Cong’s prospects in the rural areas…

    And all this talk about people rejecting B.J.P.s “communal agenda” is plain BS. India’s ‘secularism’is the last thing on the minds of most poor people.

    Its quite sickening to see the Cong. sycophants clamouring for Mahatma Rahul to be P.M and attributing this victory to him. Its plain ridiculous t0 call him a ‘youth leader’. He doesn’t represent the youth of this country at all… If anything the youth believe in people who come up by their own grit and determination, not someone who inherits the throne.
    There’s nothing spectacular about democracy in India…. We only have a slightly different form of monarchy here….

    • Vinod permalink
      May 18, 2009 7:08 pm

      And all this talk about people rejecting B.J.P.s “communal agenda” is plain BS. India’s ’secularism’is the last thing on the minds of most poor people

      (i) I’m not sure that the minority community among the poor are not minded about India’s secularism. I think India’s secularism to them is as relevant as whether they get burnt alive or not.

      (ii) Even for the middle and upper class, I think it has to be an issue (even if it is not for the poor) to prevent communalistic parties from coming to power. One form of fundamentalism is not an answer to another form of fundamentalism.

      • rags permalink
        May 18, 2009 8:31 pm

        Yeah, I’m not denying the minority vote bank exists….I was thinking of the 800 million majority who make up the chunk of the population.

        “I think India’s secularism to them is as relevant as whether they get burnt alive or not.”

        But aren’t we over dramatising the B.J.P’s capacity here….. If India’s ‘secularism’ had developed as was visualized in the Constitution we wouldn’t be having this problem would we? There’s a good reason why Hindus feel they aren’t represented by anyone… I’m no B.J.P supporter but I find the very idea of Congress and its dynasty politics abhorrent.
        “Even for the middle and upper class, I think it has to be an issue (even if it is not for the poor) to prevent communalistic parties from coming to power.”
        I’m not too sure you’re right…

        “One form of fundamentalism is not an answer to another form of fundamentalism.”
        What does this mean?

      • Vinod permalink
        May 18, 2009 8:52 pm

        If India’s ’secularism’ had developed as was visualized in the Constitution we wouldn’t be having this problem would we? There’s a good reason why Hindus feel they aren’t represented by anyone… I’m no B.J.P supporter but I find the very idea of Congress and its dynasty politics abhorrent.

        Nothing to disagree there, rags.

        But aren’t we over dramatising the B.J.P’s capacity here…..

        It’s not the party’s capacity that is relevant but what it can do when in power in supporting communalist grassroot parties and their narrow minded agendas and world views.

        While vote bank politics is definitely demoralizing, does it get as bad as the tensions that flare when uncontrolled muslim fundamentalism (shariah civil law ) is confronted with untramelled hindu fundamentalism ? Do Hindus want to define themselves as a reflection of the muslim image? Has vote bank politics itself led to deaths or carnages? No. It is so only when vote bank politics is dealt with with clarion calls to asserting one type of Hindu identity against the religious identity of the muslims.

        All that I’m saying is that when objecting to vote banks politics that panders to the muslims and other minorities one has to be careful not to swing too far to the other side as well, even if that be indirectly. Furthermore, speaking very pragmatically, fundamentalism is better contained when it is among the minority than when it is among the majority.
        Lastly, Hindu anger against minority vote bank politics is not without an inkling of communal prejudice in the mix as well.

        • rags permalink
          May 18, 2009 11:03 pm

          “While vote bank politics is definitely demoralizing, does it get as bad as the tensions that flare when uncontrolled muslim fundamentalism (shariah civil law ) is confronted with untramelled hindu fundamentalism ? ”

          This uncontrolled Muslim fundamentalism seems mild only because Muslims are a minority here. We all know what happened to the minorities of Pakistan and Kashmir… What we have is not “uncontrolled” Hindu fundamentalism…. If we had that we’d be a Hindu rashtra by now…

          “Do Hindus want to define themselves as a reflection of the muslim image? Has vote bank politics itself led to deaths or carnages?”
          Yes I agree, but it has done serious damage to the secular fabric of our country. You can only be as good as your neighbours. Perceptions and ideas are not absolute and unqualified, they are relative and will change according to your environment and circumstance. I am going to repeat myself and say this: for too long secularism has been a one way path here. What goes around comes around. If vote bank politics do not stop Hindus will consolidate under a single banner (though they have been divided until now) and if the BJP finds a way to do that God save the minorities… (if they are smart enough they will).

          • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
            May 22, 2009 8:29 am

            Rags:

            //We all know what happened to the minorities of Pakistan and Kashmir…//

            Leaving Kashmir aside for the moment — what, indeed, happened to the minorities in Pakistan after the heat and dust of partition had settled? By most accounts they are not unhappy, not living in fear for their lives.

            Coming to Kashmir: If you consider the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a whole, according to the census of 2001 it is 67% Muslim, 30% Hindu, 2% Sikh and 1% Buddhist.

            The Valley is 97% Muslim.

            Jammu is 65% Hindu and 31% Muslim (the remaining 4% being predominantly Sikh).

            Ladakh is 46% Buddhist, the rest (a close 54%) being predominantly Muslim.

            So what constitutes a minority in Kashmir depends very much on which of its three vastly heterogeneous (and heteromorphic) regions you are referring to.

            • rags permalink
              May 22, 2009 9:01 am

              @ Vivek:
              “By most accounts they are not unhappy, not living in fear for their lives”

              Do they have religious freedom in Pakistan? Can they practise and profess their religion freely (like minorities of India)? Do they have equal rights? Or are they under the constant fear of persecution and conversion? (I’m just wondering). I don’t even have to mention what’s happening in SWAT…..

              I was mostly referring to the valley population, not Ladakh and Jammu.

              • May 22, 2009 11:57 am

                Though, proportionally VERY FEW had stayed back in Pakistan, most who did had to contest. This is my knowledge.

              • Vinod permalink
                May 22, 2009 5:12 pm

                Rags, Pakistan is more concerned with and has been beating down Ahmadis and Shiites than Hindus and Sikhs.

                • rags permalink
                  May 22, 2009 6:20 pm

                  Ive heard about that too…. How Ahmadis are treated. But I thought this discrepancy was because Hindus are a miniscule minority to matter much in Pakistan. And also because Ahmadis are considered traitors and heretics.

              • Vinod permalink
                May 22, 2009 5:15 pm

                The Hindus in Pakistan face a bigger pressure to convert to Christianity than Islam.

                • rags permalink
                  May 22, 2009 6:21 pm

                  This is news to me. Christian missionaries in full form in Pak too?

                • Vinod permalink
                  May 22, 2009 8:12 pm

                  Education in pakistan would not be half as good as it is now if not for the Christian missionary schools there.

                  • rags permalink
                    May 22, 2009 8:48 pm

                    Good. More heathen souls for harvest.

        • May 19, 2009 12:31 am

          “While vote bank politics is definitely demoralizing, does it get as bad as the tensions that flare when uncontrolled muslim fundamentalism (shariah civil law ) is confronted with untramelled hindu fundamentalism ?”

          Vinod, would you like to elaborate on your statement? What confrontation of muslim fundamentalism are you talking about (a few examples)? At least you acknowledge this muslim fundamentalism exists instead of denying it. And what’s your solution for countering it without encouraging “untramelled hindu fundamentalism”? Thanks.

          • Vinod permalink
            May 21, 2009 4:34 am

            Amit

            Here’s roughly what I have in mind about dealing with the problem of muslim fundamentalism:

            What the problem is NOT – handful of militant groups who wants to impose Shariah on the world

            What the problem IS – a social engineering and TRUST problem where a particular strain of islamic interpretation gains currency through a shared feeling of disenfranchisement, betrayal of trust and isolation of the muslim population

            Futile and counter-productive aims – muslims should be Indians first and muslims next (think: Sanjay and Goan Identity), muslims should give up Shariah and madrassah education – these are essential elements of the muslim identity

            Realistic and Achievable aims – win support and cooperation of the muslims in preventing the radicalization of sections of their community + muslims governed by a form of Shariah that can co-exist with modern secular democracy + a madrassah curriculum that builds a muslim who can be in harmony with his religioon without feeling any conflict in being part of India

            Preconditions in attitude – Bona Fide, principled and consistent engagement of the muslim community

            Objectively explore existence of any multiplicity of power centers in the Indian muslim community – do Tamil Muslims want a different form of shariah than Urdu muslims? Care to be taken in not creating a split in a conspiratorial manner.

            Appreciate that the jurisprudence behind Shariah is versatile enough to deal with the perceived arcanity in the form of shariah that is pitched around.

            Broadly Identify the diversity in muslim identities based on the role of religion in their life – the pan-islamist who does not see muslims under a secular democracy (A), the orthodox muslim desiring Shariah but having a legal pluralistic model of governance(B), the quasi-religious muslim with a communal muslim identity (C) but no particular view on governance model, the westernised secularised muslim (D) for whom religion only provides a fringe contribution to his identity.

            Appreciate that muslims are controlled by type B, which itself comes under a whole spectrum, and that type D muslims are a fringe minority. The bulk of the muslims are type C and they form the resource pool for recruitment into type A/B or type D. Appreciate the relationships between A, B, C and D type muslims within the community.

            Appreciate that the dominant mode of the relationship between the muslim community, who are influenced by Type B, and that of the larger Indian union is that of a contractual nature and not that of a fiduciary nature

            Identify leaders from type B who can meaningfully dialogue with the modern mind, who believe in the co-existence of a pluralist society and who also have credibility within the various grades of orthodoxy within the muslim community. Groom them as representatives of the muslim community. They will be the medium through which dialogue with the muslims will be sustained in the long run. They will also ensure that Type A muslims are marginalized within the community, that a suitable middle ground is reached in the form of the Shariah that governs muslims that does not threaten the larger social fabric, that madraasah curriculum is suitably modernized with a clear emphasis on diversity. Marginalization of such Type A muslims can only occur if sincere efforts are made to address social and political issues of the muslims that may be ariticlated in the course of such dialogue. This includes cultivating a strong sense of appreciation for diversity as an object in itself in the secular curriculum. Education is the key to eradicate communal tensions in the long run.

            Appreciate that Type A muslims can be reformed through religious and psychological counselling and can even be restored back to the community – both the local religious and the wider Indian – as constructive contributing individuals. Provide avenues for such reform.

            Formulate policies and administrative mechanisms and structures to achieve stated aims through a constructive dialogue with the muslim leaders.

            • rags permalink
              May 21, 2009 8:44 am

              @ Vinod:
              Thanks for the detailed answer. You have addressed them to Amit but I’m going to take the liberty of discussing them.

              “a social engineering and TRUST problem where a particular strain of islamic interpretation gains currency through a shared feeling of disenfranchisement, betrayal of trust and isolation of the muslim population”
              I assume you are talking about Wahabbi ideology. Have you ever wondered why this particluar strain has gained so much of approval? Does it have to do anything with a desert nation flush with petro dollars? Or is the root cause always ‘disenchantment’, ‘disempowerment’ and ‘poverty’?

              “muslims should be Indians first and muslims next (think: Sanjay and Goan Identity),”
              I repeat, religious identity is not the same as a regional or linguistic identity and should never be treated that way. There is no international association of Goans wanting to secede from India. But whenever there is any issue affecting Islam or Muslims there is a ripple throughout the Muslim world (case in point: the cartoon controversy).

              ” Shariah and madrassah education – these are essential elements of the muslim identity”
              Is this your assumption (that Sharia and madrassah are essential elements of Muslim identity) or did you come to this conclusion through your interaction with Muslims?

              “muslims governed by a form of Shariah that can co-exist with modern secular democracy + a madrassah curriculum that builds a muslim who can be in harmony with his religion without feeling any conflict in being part of India”

              I’m sorry, but by advocating this you are only going to perpetuate the backwardness of Muslims. A Muslim kid (or any kid for that matter) doesn’t need Sharia education (however tolerant and diverse it may be). It’s like saying Hindus need gurukulas. He needs a normal school with Maths, science and History which will help him compete with other kids. We don’t want to produce unemployable Muslim youth who don’t have a chance in the job market and the real world out there and thus perpetuate the vicious cycle of unemployment, poverty, disenchantment and terrorism. If anything we have to vigorously advocate modernisation of Muslim schools.

              “Appreciate that the jurisprudence behind Shariah is versatile enough to deal with the perceived arcanity in the form of shariah that is pitched around. ”
              What is so great about this Sharia rule and why should medieval laws coined in the tenth century be used to live in the twentieth century? It’s like saying Hindus should live by Manusmriti….

              Besides did you ever think about this: Muslim women might not want to live in this Sharia paradise that you’re talking about? We all know Sharia blatantly supports the rights of a man over a woman (all medieval laws are like that).

              Just because women are voiceless doesn’t mean they are willing to be subjected to tenth century islamic laws which curtails most of their freedom. Or do the rights of women don’t count in a man’s world?

              “Formulate policies and administrative mechanisms and structures to achieve stated aims through a constructive dialogue with the muslim leaders.”
              This I agree with.

            • rags permalink
              May 21, 2009 8:50 am

              @ Vinod:
              Thanks for the detailed answer. You have addressed them to Amit but I’m going to take the liberty of discussing them.

              “a social engineering and TRUST problem where a particular strain of islamic interpretation gains currency through a shared feeling of disenfranchisement, betrayal of trust and isolation of the muslim population”
              I assume you are talking about Wahabbi ideology. Have you ever wondered why this particluar strain has gained so much of approval? Does it have to do anything with a desert nation flush with petro dollars? Or is the root cause always ‘disenchantment’, ‘disempowerment’ and ‘poverty’?

              “muslims should be Indians first and muslims next (think: Sanjay and Goan Identity),”
              I repeat, religious identity is not the same as a regional or linguistic identity and should never be treated that way. There is no international association of Goans wanting to secede from India. But whenever there is any issue affecting Islam or Muslims there is a ripple throughout the Muslim world (case in point: the cartoon controversy).

              ” Shariah and madrassah education – these are essential elements of the muslim identity”
              Is this your assumption (that Sharia and madrassah are essential elements of Muslim identity) or did you come to this conclusion through your interaction with Muslims?

              “muslims governed by a form of Shariah that can co-exist with modern secular democracy + a madrassah curriculum that builds a muslim who can be in harmony with his religion without feeling any conflict in being part of India”

              I’m sorry, but by advocating this you are only going to perpetuate the backwardness of Muslims. A Muslim kid (or any kid for that matter) doesn’t need Sharia education (however tolerant and diverse it may be). It’s like saying Hindus need gurukulas. He needs a normal school with Maths, science and History which will help him compete with other kids. We don’t want to produce unemployable Muslim youth who don’t have a chance in the job market and the real world out there and thus perpetuate the vicious cycle of unemployment, poverty, disenchantment and terrorism. If anything we have to vigorously advocate modernisation of Muslim schools.

              “Appreciate that the jurisprudence behind Shariah is versatile enough to deal with the perceived arcanity in the form of shariah that is pitched around. ”
              What is so great about this Sharia rule and why should medieval laws coined in the tenth century be used to live in the twentieth century? It’s like saying Hindus should live by Manusmriti….

              Besides did you ever think about this: Muslim women might not want to live in this Sharia paradise that you’re talking about? We all know Sharia blatantly supports the rights of a man over a woman (all medieval laws are like that).

              Just because women are voiceless doesn’t mean they are willing to be subjected to tenth century Islamic laws which curtails most of their freedom. Don’t women have a right to be treated equally? (only secular laws can ensure that). Or do the rights of women don’t count in a man’s world?

              “Formulate policies and administrative mechanisms and structures to achieve stated aims through a constructive dialogue with the muslim leaders.”
              This I agree with.

            • Vinod permalink
              May 21, 2009 9:52 am

              About Wahabi ideology, the local imams who follow the established 4 schools of jurisprudence – Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi and Shafii – already detest the Wahhabi ideology. But they lack the resources to do anything about it. If they are supported well, they actually stand strongly for a tolerant education syllabus and even girl’s education.

              The Wahhabi ideology already faces stiff resistance from the 4 schools, except that they have money behind them.

              About pan-India muslim identity, I think it will be an issue for discussion. There should be no pre-conceived ideas about it. An open mind is a must. The muslims could well want it. We don’t know and we can only know from them. We cannot assume about them what their identity is.

              About madrassa education, I know that not all muslims want it. It will always be an alternate course to the main secular education and something optionally available to the muslims. My point is that if a section of the muslims want it, one can expect this section to be fairly large and not something that can be dismissed off.

              About Shariah, there are huge assumptions about the Sharia in your mind. I believe that a little bit of education on what the Shariah is, the ‘usul-al-fiqh’ behind it will go a long way for anybody to talk about it with muslims in a meaningful manner. Let’s remember that Thomas Aquinas derived a lot of his ‘Reason and Revelation’ writing from Imam Ghazali’s writings and that the jury system in the common law can easily be traced back to the Maliki’s school’s court system. It is important to not let the Saudi form of Shariah pre-judge what the Shariah is.

              About muslim women wanting to live under Shariah…I think those topics will be well convered if one has a good grounding in legal pluralism that tries to work out how individuals can move between such legal systems. These again will be issues for discussion. My point is that, one should not underestimate the desirability of the Shariah in the minds of the muslim women. Once again, an open mind would go a long way.

            • May 21, 2009 9:44 pm

              Vinod,

              What’s of greater concern–how the majority or the world interpret the Islamic scriptures, OR the one who’re going to follow them? The former has long-term consequences, agreed, but the latter is a more contingent issue–because it has extreme consequences–the various bomb blasts, Godhra train burning, unsustainable population growth and not getting kids vaccinated (none of this is in the realm of theory). What do you realistically think was the inciting event for Godhra train burning or injustice against Kashmiri Pandits?

              I concede, I don’t have any magical solutions for the situation, but listen to what one of the moderate and well-educated Muslim reformers–Dr. Zakir Naik (MBBS) has to say about how to lead one’s life (for instance earning interest on a bank deposit, or earning any kind of commission, say booking of train tickets on internet are all sinful)–and you’ll understand
              why it’s so difficult for such laws to gain currency in the mainstream.

              TC.

        • Vinod permalink
          May 19, 2009 7:11 pm

          And what’s your solution for countering it without encouraging “untramelled hindu fundamentalism”?

          Amit, that’s a big question. I kept thinking about how to respond to it shortly. But I can’t. The answer is pretty long because the first bit is to understand the cause of fundamentalism, not from the political analysts, but from sociologists, psychologists and historians. Once a better understanding of the phenomenon is got, then meaningful policies can be formulated.
          To reduce fundamentalism to mere ideological dogmatism is to oversimplify the issue.

          Sorry Bro. I got to stop here. Am pressed for time.

          • May 20, 2009 9:20 pm

            “The answer is pretty long because the first bit is to understand the cause of fundamentalism, not from the political analysts, but from sociologists, psychologists and historians.”

            Vinod, try me. I’m quite open to understanding.🙂

            BTW, you still haven’t answered the first question regarding some examples of confrontation of Muslim fundamentalism in India.

            And I’m sure Nita won’t mind if there’s a discussion – that’s the very reason for blogs – to exchange views.

            • rags permalink
              May 20, 2009 9:54 pm

              @ Vinod:
              I did study psychology as an allied subject and have studied sociology too. There’s nothing in these subjects that’s hard to understand nor do they give any special meanings to terms not understandable by the general population. A dictionary meaning would suffice.
              A sociologist would say the causes of fundamentalism are relative deprivation,poverty and a state of anomie . A psychologist would say the causes are more individual- a broken family, authoritarian parents or a maladjusted personality. Would this help one to tackle fundamentalism in anyway? I don’t think so.

        • Vinod permalink
          May 19, 2009 10:49 pm

          Amit, I couldn’t resist adding this. Do you know the title that the ‘evangelical Christians’ in US used to give themselves before they took on the title ‘evangelical Christians;?

          The answer is – ‘Fundamentalist Christians’. That’s right! They actually used to refer to themselves as ‘Fundamentalist Christians’. After the term ‘fundamentalism’ got associated with muslims, they realized it didn’t quite help their image and they swtiched. Clever lot!
          🙂

          • May 20, 2009 9:15 pm

            Vinod, not sure what your above comment has to do with the questions I asked. It seems irrelevant to me.

          • Vinod permalink
            May 20, 2009 9:29 pm

            Yup, it is mostly irrelevant. Wasn’t trying to answer your question. But the only hint I was dropping is that fundamentalism itself requires an understanding, given that its meaning is not just currently vague but that it has changed over time.

            • May 21, 2009 2:43 am

              Yes, I already knew that (about definition of ‘fundamentalism’), but thanks.🙂

          • Vinod permalink
            May 20, 2009 9:36 pm

            Vinod, would you like to elaborate on your statement? What confrontation of muslim fundamentalism are you talking about (a few examples)?

            I was thinking of 2 things –

            (i) what the Narendra modis do in public rallies and the VHP and Bajrang Dal do at the grassroots level

            (ii) Using brute military power in Kashmir.

            • rags permalink
              May 20, 2009 9:44 pm

              Your first example is slightly flawed. Your second example outrightly so. How is Indian govt.’s action in Kashmir construed as Hindu religious fundamentalism?

            • Vinod permalink
              May 20, 2009 10:21 pm

              You’re right about the second one. . Thanks for pointing it out.

              It has no connections with Hindu fundamentalism.

  10. May 18, 2009 5:45 pm

    Narendra Modi has been pro- developement in Gujarat at least, however, in the pan India context al this crap talk about doing away with computers (comp studies) and retrograding leaves me numb with shock.
    Anyway, I could not even vote altho I had travelled all the way to my home State, just bec they goofed up my photo ID card. My name was on the voter’s list. I had produced an ID proof too. But my picture wasn’t there on their list which isn’t my fault.
    Anyway, like you am banking on the ‘fresh’ ‘new’ leadership. Yes, you are right, if they are wise they should pay more attention to Education, as education would bring in more people from the rural areas into the dev beneficiaries fold and increase votes for them.
    Thanks for doing this post Nita, it is good.

    • May 21, 2009 10:08 pm

      Rolling,

      Tough luck!

      I don’t know if my empirical observation is too hastened, but it’s educated middle/upper class Indians that face greatest issues with voters’ ID et al. Otherwise, even illegal Bangladeshi immigrants don’t face much problem voting (in India!).

      TC.

      • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
        May 22, 2009 5:58 am

        panchalkc:

        Since your observation is by your own admission ’empirical’, I wonder how much experience it is based on? Especially among uneducated, non-middle-non-upper-class voters, or among ‘illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’.

        • May 22, 2009 11:54 am

          Vivek K,

          Not much observation, just that around 1 in 8 to 10 persons I know couldn’t vote in spite of actually going to the polling booth and possessing a valid voters’ ID. And, I also know Bangladeshi immigrants get to vote…yes, I concede “without much problem” part was just for the effect; you could ignore it.

          TC.

  11. May 18, 2009 6:39 pm

    One thing which I want to see happening is reservations being abolished..it is sicking to see in the college admission forms i got a box to fill in my caste before even my parents name or my marks…

    Whatever people say or do , I think this for the better . As you said at least a few good people are there , let us hope they do something…

    What do the poor in India want ? well that is a question which only they can answer and to do that they should first calling it their destiny or whatever and start thinking and to make them do that we need education .

    And that education is not going to be provided unless the discrimination stops and people from good families( well k , people with sense let us say) develop a sense of patriotism and love for the nation . Then we can have them teach and educate . But with measures which seem to be just a glass of water on a sunny day , we aren’t going anywhere .

    The next five years will decide where we are going as a nation and if this quasi democracy is worth being kept alive or not..

    • Vinod permalink
      May 18, 2009 8:12 pm

      About reservation, I think a more principled application is needed than the current form. I think a rigorous study needs to be undertaken to see how the reservation regime is working out in each state. I’m sure in some States it is still very much needed and continues to remain beneficial and in some others it may not and in some states it can be reduced. Has there been such a nation-wide study? I don’t know. Hope that some politician brings that wild horse under control.

      • rags permalink
        May 18, 2009 8:37 pm

        Leave alone the nation wide study on the effects of reservation we don’t even have a proper study about the percentage of OBC population in India (the available figures are quite outdated). I support reservations too but it’s done in a very flawed manner here.

        • May 18, 2009 10:59 pm

          hmmm…..if the philosophy behind reservation is to ensure every person gets the chance , then I agree . But frankly now what we have is discrimination of the ‘ upper castes ‘ . Now in what way does this ensure equality ?

          My argument is simple , if more than 60 years of this , hasn’t got us anywhere , it won’t get us anywhere in the future .

          I think there should be a different system . By giving reservations in the IIM you aren’t doing the country any good . The people who are going to fill those seats may not be really ready for it . So why not give them special ‘coaching ‘ and make them compete with the rest ?

          • rags permalink
            May 18, 2009 11:15 pm

            Well the criteria for discrimination has been caste all these years before independence, so how do you expect the remedy to be divorced from the cause? If caste based discrimination has been practised it is only logical that you have caste based reservations.

            “My argument is simple , if more than 60 years of this , hasn’t got us anywhere , it won’t get us anywhere in the future .”
            Hmm.. I don’t think you’re right. It has helped SCs and STs gain upward mobility, not as much as we’d want them to, but to a certain extent, yes.

            “So why not give them special ‘coaching ‘ and make them compete with the rest ?”
            The answer is quite simple. It’s easier giving reservations. 😉
            It comes at an enormous social cost but whoever said govts. behave responsibly….. A truly resonsible govt. would try to strengthen primary eduction and make the basics strong. Our govt. would do neither because it doesn’t have the vision or the will.

          • Vinod permalink
            May 20, 2009 8:33 pm

            hmmm…..if the philosophy behind reservation is to ensure every person gets the chance , then I agree . But frankly now what we have is discrimination of the ‘ upper castes ‘ . Now in what way does this ensure equality ?

            Do you know the percentage of the dalits in the Indian population? (choices: 20, 30, 40, 60) Do you know the percentage of Dalits in the IITs and IIMs today? (choices: <10, 20, 30, 40)

            My argument is simple , if more than 60 years of this , hasn’t got us anywhere , it won’t get us anywhere in the future

            I think you will have to look for studies on this to see if the policy has helped. There have been studies from Tamil Nadu that have shown clear benefits. I hope you have not made an opinion based on your personal experience alone.

  12. May 18, 2009 11:45 pm

    I believe that people get what they deserve. A party with communal agenda would not have developed so much if people didn’t want it to and a party with blatant kingdom style inheritance policies would not have succeeded if people were against it.

    And there is a lot of economic connection behind the election victories. We would not come to know of all that if we do not want to probe them.

    In a democracy, the people get what they deserve. And that’s the best thing I like about it🙂

    Destination Infinity

  13. May 18, 2009 11:58 pm

    Ultimately it has come down to Politics as a Game of Chess. Who made the right moves won! whether is it caste or money or hitting on right issues. The only thing we can do is sit on the sidelines now and hope that the things will be better. Absolutely right about the left!

  14. May 19, 2009 1:02 am

    Hey Nita, nice concise analysis of the elections, but there’s one part of your post I majorly disagree with.

    “…And today if the Congress won it’s not because of the economic reforms that Manmohan Singh wants to push through or because of the nuclear deal, but because of smart politics, pandering to vote banks, playing caste politics, offering freebies…”

    I strongly believe that this election marks the coming of age of the Indian voter. Let me explain. Mayawati is the biggest example. She played the caste card for years in UP and won the assembly elections. In fact, she did all of the things you accuse the Congress of doing – freebies to Dalits, pandering, caste politics etc. But she lost.

    I know, I know, there most definitely are a number of factors in play. But my take on this is optimistic, perhaps foolishly so, but pray humor me. I believe that the people of UP (and consequently, the people of India) are much more discerning than we think. They know that Mayawati can lead a state, she will fight incessantly for the rights of the people of UP. However, that does not mean she can lead a nation. A caste-based populist political approach would never work at the national or international level, and the voters knew that. Hence, they chose to vote for a more pragmatic leader like Rahul Gandhi, a leader who is more qualified than Mayawati to lead a country.

    Coincidentally, I blogged about this very topic a couple of days back, do check it out if my argument makes sense to you.

    • rags permalink
      May 19, 2009 7:54 am

      Um, how is Prince Rahul anymore qualified to run the nation (or M.M. Singh for that matter) than Mayawati? If she becomes a P.M. she’d obviously abandon caste based mobilisation because that wouldn’t be pragmatic. She did that in U.P. because U.P. is aligned along caste lines…
      Atleast Mayawati knows what it has taken to reach where she is. Can’t say the same about Yuvraj and the He Who Has never won a Lok sabha seat…

      • common man permalink
        May 19, 2009 10:28 am

        Are you joking, man? How is Rahul more qualified? Check out his profile here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahul_Gandhi
        And, now that he has won the MP seat as well, all doubts regarding “He Who Has never won a Lok sabha seat” can be put to rest. And here we have a young dynamic leader who has no scandal associated with him, no scam whatsoever! And are you jealous of him or what? Do not swim against the tide! People love him for what he is, not because of his dynasty! And I don’t understand… a family which has sacrificed so much for India — his grandmother, father… they deserve some respect, don’t they? Yes, Mayavati may be good. She may have done much to uplift the condition of the poor and the downtrodden, but I don’t think, she can go far with petty caste based politics and plots of dividing the vote bank. And you talk about Dr. Manmohan Singh? I have never seen a more well behaved PM than what he is (apart from probably Mr. Vajpayee). Don’t go by his calm appearance. He has an iron determination inside. He doesn’t need to flex his muscles in a gym to show how tough he is! He is the ideal face of India (calm outside, tough inside)… And remember, India did not succumb to economic downfall even when the whole world reeled under recession effect. Do all these have any meaning for you? Come on man, see what the future holds! Think positive. We do not want criminals and petty politicians to the throne, do we? So what, even if a family rules?

        • rags permalink
          May 19, 2009 6:40 pm

          First things first. I am not a man.

          I did check his profile… Nothing remarkable there.

          “And here we have a young dynamic leader who has no scandal associated with him, no scam whatsoever!”
          Well, the young dynamo has not yet even been a Minister…. So how do you know he’s clean?

          “I have never seen a more well behaved PM than what he is (apart from probably Mr. Vajpayee).”
          Ofcourse, M.M.Singh is a well behaved school boy. Even I wouldn’t deny that.

          “We do not want criminals and petty politicians to the throne, do we?”
          Do we have something different now? Why wouldn’t Rahulji qualify for a petty politican? Wooing the Muslim voters of U.P. is very much a mark of a petty politician.

          “And remember, India did not succumb to economic downfall even when the whole world reeled under recession effect.”
          This had nothing to do with him. India has lost several decades of growth (thanks to the policies of a certain party, even reforms we did only when we had absolutely no choice) and is only now growing rapidly. The developed world already had a declining growth even before the crisis hit them.

          “And are you jealous of him or what?”
          Thanks. This made me laugh.

          “So what, even if a family rules?”
          Oh, no problem at all… I’m just hoping Rahul bhaiyya marries some exotic woman from another part of the world so that after he is dead (or gets killed) we have a beautiful foreign woman to lead us (our voters would love her – they habitually vote for film stars anyway). Then we can have Chnitu or Pintu or whatever ( think of some nice names for his kids) rule us for another 50 years. Hail Indian democracy!! I love India. What was I even complaining about?

          • common man permalink
            May 19, 2009 11:10 pm

            “I am not a man”

            You are then a superman!😀
            Or probably a woman!🙂

            “Well, the young dynamo has not yet even been a Minister…. So how do you know he’s clean?”

            So, why don’t we give him a chance before giving our verdict!

            “Ofcourse, M.M.Singh is a well behaved school boy. Even I wouldn’t deny that.”
            Thanks. And show me a school boy who can handle economic reforms and myriad international (or desi) politics like what he did and is doing.

            “Wooing the Muslim voters of U.P. is very much a mark of a petty politician.”
            wow. You are suffering from ‘I don’t know what’!! Show me a politician who doesn’t woo common people before elections. And why only Muslims? I thought he wooed Hindus, Christians, Buddhists… Shit, he was partial to all of them!!!

            “This had nothing to do with him. India has lost several decades of growth (thanks to the policies of a certain party, even reforms we did only when we had absolutely no choice) and is only now growing rapidly. The developed world already had a declining growth even before the crisis hit them.”
            — Agreed to a certain extent. But lets talk about the present and future, not the past. But I vouch, it would have been worse. Do you remember Chidambaram giving way to Mr Singh is a haste as soon, the financial policies seemes tipsy turvy! And my word, he steadied the ship.

            “Thanks. This made me laugh.”
            — Even I laughed while writing that.

            “…I’m just hoping Rahul bhaiyya marries some exotic woman from another part of the world so that after he is dead..”
            — Sad. Very sad. Are you referring to Soniya ji? Well, I am sure you would have been happier, had she taken the path of a so-called- Jemima Khan (remember?) She could have. Why? I say, she should have. I am sick of mentalities like you. Tell me something that she has not done well. She has taken up the Indian culture. Guides the biggest party (not a joke!). And she is every-part an Indian. India has seen numerous foreigners who have come, seen and won our hearts. Let me not compare. But Sister Nivedita, Mother Teresa, Derozio are a few names. I am not placing her in these ranks. But is she so worse? Its time for globalization, ma’am. And please, please do not go by skin color. Racial hatred does not augur well for the Indian culture. And oh! I have little doubt that the same people like you watch Hollywood movies with rapt attention and sing a ‘Jai ho’, when Danny Boyle bags Oscars. Double standards ? Think. Think well. Do not go by what others think. You will get your answer.

            And yes.
            I LOVE MY COUNTRY, INDIA.
            JAI HIND.

            ps. I would love to hear from your about politicians like JaiLalita, Karunanidhi, Lalu and Mr Modi.😀
            Do enlighten me, please.🙂

            • rags permalink
              May 20, 2009 9:35 am

              @Common man

              “So, why don’t we give him a chance before giving our verdict!”
              Exactly. Let him do something as a Minister, let him walk the talk . Then we can talk about him being P.M. We shouldn’t let the highest post in this country be a cakewalk for anyone just because he is son of so and so.

              “You are suffering from ‘I don’t know what’!! Show me a politician who doesn’t woo common people before elections. And why only Muslims? I thought he wooed Hindus, Christians, Buddhists… Shit, he was partial to all of them!!!”
              I am quite tired of this argument. Rahul specifically wooed the Muslim voters of U.P. If you still can’t get it that’s not my problem. If Mayawati is blamed for caste based mobilisation then he should be blamed for playing votebank politics. All politicans are petty and Rahul shouldn’t be made out as something different just because he talks about secularism now and then. Read my response to pranav , you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m not going to explain myself further.

              “I am sick of mentalities like you.”
              Frankly I don’t care.

              “She has taken up the Indian culture”
              I don’t care about that too.

              “And she is every-part an Indian.”
              No, she’s not.

              “Its time for globalization, ma’am. ”
              I don’think so. How many European countries would let an Asian rule them? Frankly all this talk about nations without borders, the world being one big happy family is all crap. In these times of recession with countries trying to curb immigration it sounds hollow.

              “And please, please do not go by skin color. Racial hatred does not augur well for the Indian culture.”
              You’re quite clueless aren’t you? Indians who support Sonia are not all that tolerant actually. Racial hatred is very much a part of the Indian culture (infact all cultures). Indians are obsessed with European features. Watch any Bollywood movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about. That is one of the reason (I’m saying one, not only) why Sonia is popular. Indians are quite racist. If Rajiv saheb had married an African or a Chinese woman response of Indians would have been very different. They’d have considered her an alien.

              “Do you remember Chidambaram giving way to Mr Singh is a haste as soon, the financial policies seemes tipsy turvy! And my word, he steadied the ship.”
              Please check your facts. Shivraj Patil was sacked and Chidambaram was made in charge of Home. Chidambaram didn’t run away from the post because of the financial crisis.

              “I would love to hear from your about politicians like JaiLalita, Karunanidhi, Lalu and Mr Modi. ”
              Just because I oppose Rahul doesn’t mean I support all these people. I have no time to explain my stand on them.

              “And oh! I have little doubt that the same people like you watch Hollywood movies with rapt attention and sing a ‘Jai ho’, when Danny Boyle bags Oscars. Double standards ?”
              You’re assuming a lot of things about me. I watched the movie, its prettty average and Jai Ho ws average too (for Rahamn’s standards). Nothing spectacular about them. I still have no idea why it won the Oscars.

              • common man permalink
                May 20, 2009 2:29 pm

                Oh great! You seemed to finally agree to a lot of my arguments!😀

                Regarding a few that you did not agree…

                “How many European countries would let an Asian rule them?”
                — Why only Europe? Talk about the States and the UK as well. You know about Lord Swaraj Pal, don’t you?
                You know about the country Fiji, don’t you? Who was Fiji’s Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhri? remember? In any case, it is a democracy and there isn’t exactly a dynasty in place, though many people make out of it…

                “If Rajiv saheb had married an African or a Chinese woman response of Indians would have been very different. They’d have considered her an alien.” — lets throw ‘would have’s and ‘could have’s out of the window. I agree, if I would have been Bill Clinton, I would have done a lot of ‘different’ things. 😛

                “Shivraj Patil was sacked and Chidambaram was made in charge of Home.” — That was an eye wash and a coincidence (with the timing of recession) as well. You must be knowing the circumstances under which Patil resigned. The Stock Exchange bull was not exactly in the pink of its health after the Taj massacre, was it? And, we all know Mr. Singh’s expertise in matters related to finance. Little doubt, he took it under his wings.

                “I still have no idea why it won the Oscars.” — LOL 😀

        • May 19, 2009 8:08 pm

          And I don’t understand… a family which has sacrificed so much for India — his grandmother, father… they deserve some respect, don’t they?
          ================
          Weren’t their “sacrifices” of their own foolish making and a result of their dirty and misguided politics? If Indira Gandhi hadn’t propped up Bhindrawale in the first place, and if Rajiv Gandhi had stayed out of Sri Lanka, maybe there wouldn’t have been a need for a sacrifice. I fail to see how those actions of Indira and Rajiv were positive for India, and why should their actions give a free pass to their progeny.

          • nehru mantri permalink
            May 19, 2009 8:41 pm

            Amit
            “own foolish making”

            Whatever that be, at the end of the day there was sacrifice. I think Rajiv Gandhi handling the office after his mother’s death was a sombre moment in the life of all Indians no matter which side you were on. And now for the first time you have his children who are coming in with some serious input from the female side in the family unlike all others we may have known. I listened to Priyanka myself just a bit and she conveyed a message much better than either Rajiv or any of the pompous and shrill politicians. You just have to compare the input that went into her cousin.

            • May 19, 2009 11:05 pm

              “Whatever that be, at the end of the day there was sacrifice. I think Rajiv Gandhi handling the office after his mother’s death was a sombre moment in the life of all Indians no matter which side you were on.”

              Yeah, it sure was somber, especially for the Sikhs who lost their relatives when a big tree fell.

              • nehru mantri permalink
                May 20, 2009 2:18 am

                Amit

                But then taking your logic sikhs did themselves in. However it doesn’t seem so. Not a single sikh in spite of the evidence we all saw wants to admit there was some wrong _ always harping on the aftermath (the public in India don’t even know the full story of UK and Canadian sikh commu. maneuvers). Most tamils willingly admit their collective guilt at Rajiv’s murder.

              • rags permalink
                May 20, 2009 9:41 am

                Good one!

                • rags permalink
                  May 20, 2009 9:43 am

                  oops!I commented in the wrong place. That was in response to amit’s comment.

          • common man permalink
            May 19, 2009 11:14 pm

            I am not running away from your arguments, I have every answer, but lets not dig up the graves. There’s tension big time about these topics.

          • rags permalink
            May 20, 2009 9:46 am

            I agree.

      • May 19, 2009 11:53 am

        @rags: I say Rahul Gandhi is more qualified based on a few things: a) he is better educated. In all reasonable terms, this would give him an edge over Mayawati. b) His politics tend to be cleaner, again on purely relative terms. c) His agenda is development, not caste-based development. There is no guarantee that Mayawati would abandon the caste approach at the centre. That’s the only sort of politics she has ever known or tried.

        Agreed, Rahul Gandhi has had an easy entry into politics, given his lineage. And Mayawati has struggled all her life to get there. But that is no reason to discount one or the other. We need to be pragmatic and look at their manifestos, instead of how they became leaders in the first place.

        • rags permalink
          May 19, 2009 7:00 pm

          Education is no qualification. If it was we should have only Ph.D. scholars as P.Ms. There have been several leaders in TN who had no education but did remarkably well as leaders. Education has nothing to do with leadership qualities.

          “His politics tend to be cleaner, again on purely relative terms.’
          This again is speculation.

          “His agenda is development, not caste-based development.”
          We still have no idea what his agenda is.

          “There is no guarantee that Mayawati would abandon the caste approach at the centre. ”
          There is no way she can do that once she becomes a P.M. Every regional leader knows that. Rahul Gandhi can project himself as secular and above caste based considerations only because he doesn’t have the complusions that a regional leader faces. He knows that and he plays that card very well. U.P. is horribly divided on caste lines and I find nothing wrong with her caste based approach. Doesn’t mean she’d do the same when she becomes a P.M. I have no idea why the mainstream English newspapers always project Mayawati as incapable of being P.M.

          • May 19, 2009 8:17 pm

            @rags: You make fair points, but I still have a contention or two, so hear me out.

            a) With regards to education, I do not suggest that it is correlated to leadership qualities. That said, I believe that the value of education increases phenomenally for a Prime Minister, as opposed to a CM. A CM needs regional-level know how. A PM on the other hand, represents the entire country (a very big country, in India’s case). To do this, you need the tolerance and the mindset that can come about as a result of education. For example, I’m not saying ONLY educated people are tolerant, I’m saying that they have a higher propensity to be tolerant.

            b) I call Yuvraj’s (lol, nice name btw) politics clean simply based on his UP campaign trail. I find caste-based politics morally repugnant – the point of a politician is to represent everyone equally. Sure, he courted Muslim voters, but NOT at the expense of any other segment. Mayawati courted the Dalit voters at the expense of many other social fragments in UP.

            c) I concede one point that you make. Yes, Rahul Gandhi does not have the compulsions of being a regional leader so he could rise above the caste-based approach. I did not think of it that way.

            • rags permalink
              May 20, 2009 10:02 am

              “I’m not saying ONLY educated people are tolerant, I’m saying that they have a higher propensity to be tolerant.”
              Hmmm….. I don’t agree with this at all. I feel educated middle class Indians are more bigoted(you should have seen the anti reservation AIIMS agitiations). But I have no time to discuss this in detail.

              “I find caste-based politics morally repugnant ”
              Why? Why is it anymore repugnant than religion based politics? Infact I feel caste based politics has led to greater empowerment of Dalits who were previously voiceless. I don’t find it repungnant at all. I think it’s their right to assert themselves after all these years.

              “the point of a politician is to represent everyone equally. ”
              Sadly, this can never happen in India.

              “Sure, he courted Muslim voters, but NOT at the expense of any other segment.”
              I don’think so. When you focus on a particluar votebank you’re automatically excluding others from it.

              “Mayawati courted the Dalit voters at the expense of many other social fragments in UP. ”
              Well, actually she was able woo people from other castes to vote for her too. That’s how she came power.

            • Vinod permalink
              May 20, 2009 1:22 pm

              I don’think so. When you focus on a particluar votebank you’re automatically excluding others from it.

              Rags, I’m finding it hard to see how you are reconciling your different stances to religion based politics and caste based politics. For the latter, you are seeing the difference it has made to the Dalits. For the former, you are presuming that mere courting of a religious group is automatically detrimental to the other religious groups. What about the benefit that it gives the muslims? Do you not see muslims as a marginalized group, like the way you see the Dalits ?

              • rags permalink
                May 20, 2009 3:09 pm

                @ Vinod:
                Is it anymore confounding than your conflicting stands on universality of humanity and ‘superficiality’ of an ‘Indian’ idenitity.😉

                Ok, let me explain myself. I don’t think Muslims are a monolithic group…. a Tamil Muslim is more different from a U.P. Muslim than a Tamil Christian. They should be treated so. But Dalits cutting across all states have been discriminated systematically.

                Secondly, assiduously cultivating the religious identity of one particular religious group will automatically anatgonise other groups in a pluralistic country. Not so in the case of caste. I wish I can explain myself better on this….

                Thirdly Muslims have not been historically discriminated and systematically perrsecuted the way Dalits have been. Yes, discrimination does exist and they should be addressed but not in the way it is done now.

                Most important of all, when religious groups form a votebank it never helps them. It only leads to their ghettoisation. The parties which cultivate these votebanks have a vested interest in keeping these communities in a perpetual state of anxiety so that they can make them vote as a herd every time.
                While voting along caste lines has helped Dalits voting on religious lines has not helped Muslims.It has perpetuated their backwardness.
                Development of the religious group is never on their ( the party’s) agenda, infact it serves them if they can keep the group as backward as possible.
                The Cong. has done a fabulous job of carefully nurturing this votebank all these years. This is not so in the case of caste based mobilisation.
                Again I know I’m not explaining myself properly but this is as much as I can do.
                I have no problem if the backward among the Muslims are giving special consideration. But not all Muslims.

                Again, India has a vested interest in not letting any religious group assert it’s identity too hard. We can and should dilute the religious identity of people, caste poses no such problem.

                We do not want Muslims to identify themselves first and foremost only as Muslims lest they identify themsleves more with Muslims from other parts of the world than with fellow Indians. Muslims from each state speak different languages and have different cultures. That’s how they should be treated. Religion is the easiest way to break up a nation.

              • Vinod permalink
                May 20, 2009 4:48 pm

                Thank you rags, for the explation. I agree with some parts and disagree with others. But a blog’s comments area is not the place for such a discussion. So, I’ll leave the matter here.

                Is it anymore confounding than your conflicting stands on universality of humanity and ’superficiality’ of an ‘Indian’ idenitity
                🙂

                • rags permalink
                  May 20, 2009 7:27 pm

                  Oh, I am disappointed.🙂. I thought you’d explain….. Anyway as you said let’s not clutter nita’s comment section.🙂

    • nehru mantri permalink
      May 19, 2009 8:30 am

      Pranav
      “people of UP (and consequently, the people of India) are much more discerning than we think”.
      That’s my take too following some of happenings over the last few days.

      Nita
      Very good summary. Thanks.

      • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
        May 19, 2009 8:38 am

        Pranav, Nehru Mantri:

        //“people of UP (and consequently, the people of India) are much more discerning than we think”.//

        Now what exactly do you mean by that “(and consequently, the people of India)”?

        • nehru mantri permalink
          May 19, 2009 8:09 pm

          Vivek:

          I know where you are heading. I mean the simple commoner who in my view is of rural origin who form the real majority. Often it is people with less complicated clutter who see clearly. UP may look like crap but shows they are still people not different than any in thoughts, want and needs.

          • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
            May 19, 2009 8:51 pm

            nehru mantri:

            //I mean the simple commoner who … is of rural origin who form the real majority. Often it is people with less complicated clutter who see clearly.//

            I entirely agree with you on that. My query is restricted to the portion that I have put in quotation marks, which seems to suggest that the people of UP have some kind of superior wisdom in such matters, and that the rest of rural India takes a cue from them. In other words, the rest of rural India does not have a mind of its own.

            • nehru mantri permalink
              May 19, 2009 9:06 pm

              Vivek

              Of course I dont think Pranav necessarily meant that. Consequence is a wrong choice I guess. But, pardona, escuse, me no englesh know.

            • May 20, 2009 2:55 am

              Vivek,

              I think my choice of words were a tad misleading. I meant to say that the people of UP were discerning enough to see through Mayawati. And similarly, I believe that the rest of India too has become more discerning and mature.

              nehru mantri, thank you for clarifying.

  15. Rohan Shah permalink
    May 19, 2009 1:11 am

    Quick correction – 60% of the sitting MP’s from Uttar Pradesh have lost.

    Good post Nita. Seems like you were supporting the BJP, were you ?

  16. openlight permalink
    May 19, 2009 2:39 am

    Do we require this article??

    We all know that all the voters who turn up to vote consists mainly of poor and especially muslims. Both are bought / commanded by their leader / maulavi – which had been bought. So why are we blabbering, after all when the so called ‘citizens’ who just take candle march can not go to polling booth can just blabber on media and nothing in action

    Regarding cong win it was just an chance, it should be attributed to win in UP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. MNS in maharashtra and muslim votes in UP, else UPA with 4th front / 3rd front had been the equation.

    It is like cat drank the milk while others were fighting.

    Regarding BJP’s Hindutva ideology, whats the problem with it ?? Aren’t muslims voting on religion – shah bano case exemplifies their political weight especially in cong.

    Further who is tavleen singh ?? – an reporter or hindu basher who after visit to deoband got to know what muslims are actually. She is mother and wife to an muslim, and disbanded by the pakistani muslim with whom she is having a child?? wow ! great achievement or does this achievement gives her right to advice others??

    Cong will be back in shape (100-140 seats) in next election rest if they are not able to defect mps on their side by next election.

    Also, now lets see whether afzal is hanged, police reforms implemented, kasab hanged, I am sure nothing will happen because it is cong

    • openlight permalink
      May 19, 2009 2:51 am

      Cong which brought reservations instead of primary schools, huj subsidy and shariat instead of common law

    • Vinod permalink
      May 19, 2009 7:13 pm

      Openlight, have you heard of the term ‘legal pluralism?’

      • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
        May 20, 2009 5:30 am

        Vinod:

        ‘Legal pluralism’…hmm. Does refer to there beint one law for the rich and another for the poor?😀

      • Vinod permalink
        May 20, 2009 12:12 pm

        Vivek

        I’ve only heard one lecture on this topic. It’s mostly limited to academic cricles right now. It’s a theory about how justice is better served by multiple legal systems that coexist to serve the differing ‘sense of justice’ of various communities. The theory is ofcourse making good ground among muslims and Christians who want a more religiously fashioned legal system governing them and are trying to carve out such spaces in the secular world.

        • rags permalink
          May 20, 2009 2:11 pm

          The assumption here is that ‘different communities’ need ‘different’ treatment as they percieve a different sense of justice.

        • Vinod permalink
          May 20, 2009 4:43 pm

          Yes, I think you got that right. If I recall correctly, one of the foundational postulates of the theory is that different communities have different notions of justice based on the history of each…something like that. I don’t recall clearly.

          • May 21, 2009 7:31 pm

            So these different communities remain insulated, and don’t inter-marry or don’t interact with members of other communities, correct? Because, once you interact with other communities, there’s bound to be conflict and disagreements, and then comes the can-of-worms – which community’s laws are used to resolve conflicts?

            That would be a non-starter for me – not to say, highly regressive.

          • Vinod permalink
            May 22, 2009 8:52 am

            Amit, I have no idea where you got those ideas from. You’re reading too much into something that barely hints towards what the theory is.

  17. May 19, 2009 7:39 am

    Vinod, I didn’t realise that I was sounding sad! Actually I am quite optimistic about the future.

    Vishesh, I voted. That’s what every citizen needs to do. And about the reservation, yeah it’s gone too far. So far that it is totally unjust. We do need reservations but not to the extent that we have now and it needs to be based on economic criteria. Also the cut-offs for reserved people should not be as low as they are now. I am more in favour of scholarships and free education for the deserving, if they are poor.

    Shefaly,it is heartening isn’t it that there are more women in parliament this time! And more young people too. What is nice is that two women who were wives of criminal candidates have lost! They had been fielded as their husbands could not contest due to their criminal record.

    sraboneyghose, I can’t help thinking that Gujarat votes for different reasons! Don’t know, just a hunch!

    Reema, same here. I will never vote for any party which has anything religious on its agenda. And this includes allies.

    Priyank, thanks. Yeah, I too am glad that the fourth front has gone! And as for Mamta, I have my apprehensions.

    B K Chowla, yeah the analysis is endless isnt it but I think we the public often don’t know the inside dirty stories!

    borneveryday, yes I agree, they need to work, not try to grab religious votebanks. We need a strong opposition and perhaps one day an alternative to the Congress.

    rags, Rahul and Priyanka being fawned will go on, sadly! In any case the Congress is mostly made up of a groups of sycophants! It gives me the creeps to see Priyanka standing behind Rahul quietly smiling! As is she is next in line to the throne!

    Rolling, I have heard and read about a lot of people losing out on their vote because of some goof- up. And yeah education is the only answer!

    Mahendra, I too was disappointed. But I think Renuka came across as very strident and a kind of man hater. She wasn’t like this ofcourse and I don’t know if this is why she lost. She was doing great work.

  18. May 19, 2009 7:50 am

    Vinod, I agree entirely with what you say about reservations!

    Destination Infinity, we do get what we deserve! Particularly people who don’t bother to vote!

    Dinesh, chess huh. good comparison!🙂 How about devising a computer game like this?

    Pranav, I am not disagreeing with your optimistic take because I tend to lean towards optimism!🙂 And I too believe that voter ain’t dumb even if he is poor. Will certainly check out your blog.

    Rohan, thanks for the correction. Will make the correction in the post. And well yes I did support the BJP about a year ago. But for the last year, no. In fact I imagine I have got wiser!🙂

    openlight, every single person has a right to an opinion, whatever their leanings, and their personal life. Everyone has a right to give their opinions and whether it is taken on advice or not depends on those who read and hear.

    • May 19, 2009 5:46 pm

      I liked that Nita – Particularly people who don’t bother to vote!🙂 I am a proud non-voter. Still, I think that democracy is the best system. But in its present form, I would rather not contribute to the mess. Something is better than nothing but Nothing is better than nonsense. The second one is more important🙂

      Destination Infinity

  19. May 19, 2009 11:19 am

    It was interesting to see MNS emerging as a big force with every candidate getting about 1.5 lakh votes….
    That’s despite the claims by many that very tiny fraction of maharashtrians support his party and his goondagardi

  20. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    May 19, 2009 11:34 am

    Nita,

    //it is heartening isn’t it that there are more women in parliament this time!//

    Is it really all that heartening? Ideally about 50% of the MPs should be women. It is another matter that many of our MPs in the previous Lok Sabha stoutly resisted even the 33% “quota” that was proposed. I personally find the idea of a quota very demeaning, but maybe it is necessary for a start.

  21. May 19, 2009 1:01 pm

    Well its good to see a stable govt for the future. I hope they do well, get the economy back on track, tackle terror, work on poverty and the other hell lot of issues that India is facing currently.

    Only one result was surprising for me, the BJP win in Bangalore, I thought that after the Mangalore incident and all the moral policing people would have chosen the ‘lesser extremists’

    • rags permalink
      May 19, 2009 2:40 pm

      Goes on to prove that inspite of all the hullaballoo that newspapers created over it the average voter is least bothered about such issues(or even covertly supports the action). Why? The average voter doesn’t go to pubs and the ones who protested never vote… Our mainstream English media (esp. the TOI) has seriously lost the plot. They’re elitist and ridiculous and least representative of the general mood in the country.

  22. Vinod permalink
    May 19, 2009 1:03 pm

    Folks, have you seen the ‘Singh is King’ poster? Made me chuckle.

    • May 22, 2009 9:03 pm

      Yeah, the movie was a hit and raked in money for its producers, but lacked any substance and was universally panned by the critics. Let’s just hope that the Congress/UPA/MMS doesn’t use that film as a template during the next 5 years, and the comparisons stop at the film-title and MMS being the PM.😉

  23. May 19, 2009 3:15 pm

    I agree with your analysis Nita, the results are a result of a combination of reasons.

    I wish it was, but I am not sure if the results are an indication of a rejection of Hindutva Ideology…
    Congress has been working harder in the rural developement and that has helped. And I read somewhere that MNS got some Congress votes too.

  24. May 19, 2009 8:14 pm

    Nita

    This link may interest you. Apparently 153 MPs are ‘tainted’.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8057325.stm

  25. May 20, 2009 9:57 am

    Just wanted to let everyone know that if you are addressing someone in particular then don’t forget to mention that person’s name at the beginning of your comment. Once 9 replies are over then a nested reply can appear in any random place!🙂 In any case those who subscribe to comments on a post usually have no idea who the comment is addressed to as they get the comments in order in which they are written, and not just after the comment to which it is a reply to.

  26. May 20, 2009 10:24 am

    Vivek Mittal, if the MNS is becoming strong, it’ something we should all be worried about and look for solutions.
    But from your comment you are implying something else. An implication that a significant percentage of Maharashtrians support goondagardi. You couldn’t be more wrong I am afraid. Only a tiny fractions of Maharashtrians support goondagardi, which is the case for all human beings, all over the world.
    True, a quite a few Maharashtrians do support the job reservations that the MNS wants for poor people (for example my maid with three kids whose husband is dead and who cannot afford two meals a day, who voted for the MNS) but most of these people are peaceloving and do not participate in any goondagardi. They actually say they hate that part but yes they will vote for the MNS to fill their stomachs. They feel the MNS will drive out north indians (this means labourers etc,)from the state and they want that. I think such a thing is detrimental to the health of Maharashtra as we need the extra labour. That is why I do not endorse the philosophy of the MNS and even if I did, I would not vote for it anyway as I do not like violent methods. But poor peole do not have these compunctions. I have explained it all https://nitawriter.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/do-local-mumbaikars-resent-outsiders/, and I think perhaps you should read that post. People like me, who are better off, do not support the job reservation, no, not even for the unskilled labour, because I feel competition is good and healthy for Maharashtra. Some people call it an elitist attitude but well I guess in India I am the elite and in any case I do not see myself supporting the MNS, not even it’s philosophy. True, I think that the migrants from other states should try and integrate, but I think the movement now has gone beyond that. Poor and lower middle class Maharashtrians are being threatened by the influx.
    The media is also making a big deal of the MNS votes and actually going as far as to say that this is a maharashtrian vs non-maharashtrian thing. Yes, even now they are doing it. Actually it is a class divide. A huge one. A pity that newspapers don’t get it.
    It’s best that all of us Indians get together and find solutions and ensure that extremist parties like the MNS do not survive instead of making racist implications which have no leg to stand on.

  27. May 20, 2009 3:11 pm

    Nita

    it’s not that i dont understand the reasons behind the rise of MNS, and i always believed that it will rise..
    And what you said about lower class maharashtrians seems to be rational…But what i feel uncomfortable with is, seeing screensavers carrying photos of Mr Thackeray in the computers of “elite” maharashtrians

    And even if i believe that only a certain section support MNS…..at the end of the day what matters is the rise of such elements irrespective of who votes for them and who dont…Same is the case with the rise of political cancers like SP,RJD,BSP,Shivsena,RSS etc

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      May 20, 2009 5:24 pm

      //in the computers of “elite” maharashtrians//

      So now a race of wada-pav-eating clerical workers also has an “elite”, even though only in quotation marks!!!

  28. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    May 20, 2009 7:16 pm

    ‘Youthful image’, ‘admiration for Rahul Gandhi’, ‘Advani being a bad choice’, ‘making personalised campaign’, ‘development plank” etc are nebulous and ill-defined causes for the Congress win.
    One should look at what the Indian voter was looking for and what did not matter to the voter in the background of the fragmented polity of India on religion and caste basis. My conclusion is that both played divisive politics and nurtured vote-bank secularism and vote-bank communalism (includes casteism). The NDA, especially BJP, did it most brazenly and audaciously and lost. The UPA, especially the Congress, did it subtly and won!
    The voter was NOT looking for: corruption, security and foreign policy. For example: Quatrochi was let off, siphoning of US $ 120 million in the Indo-Israeli missile deal, weak response to 26/11 and Indian isolation by China (with Pak collusion) in the entire neighbourhood.
    The voter faced a crisis of identity and was eagerly looking for some party that would give him or her basic necessities of life (called ‘development’ by most analysts!). Both the UPA led by the Congress and NDA led by the BJP had precipitated a situation where the Congress mainly projected itself as looking after the interests of the minority communities against the ‘atrocities’ committed by the BJP. There was a deliberate campaign to gloss over the genocides against the Sikhs in 1984 and in Kashmir against the Hindus. The Left, which supported the UPA from ‘outside’, sponsored illegal migration from Bangladesh in West Bengal and encouraged caste politics in Kerala. The leading votaries of caste politics were RJD’s Laloo Prasad Yadav and LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan with JD’s Nitish Kumar competing fiercely and winning! BSP’s Mayawati and SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav were in both the religious and caste politics.
    Towards galvanising the crisis of identity, the UPA established Sachar Commission, gave state-level scholarships to minorities calculated at the national level (thus Hindus are excluded even when in minority), encouraged conversions from Hindu community (e.g. scholarship scheme is an instance), extended reservations to Muslims, increased the Hajj subsidy, granted subsidy to Christians visiting Bethlehem, etc. The worst political ploy was to encourage Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to divide the vote bank of Shiv Sena, because of which the Congress literally wiped out Shiv Sena and BJP from Mumbai, Nashik and Pune. The nation had to pay heavily in terms of destroying the inclusive Indian culture and unity. This strategy had the full support of the Congress ‘high command’ because central government watched merrily when MNS beat up and even killed ‘North’ Indians in Mumbai, Nashik and Pune.
    The BJP, on the other hand, continued its strategy of minority bashing through its proxies, particularly in Orissa and Karnataka. It appears that the BJP needs a ‘trigger’ e.g. Godhra train burning or the killing of the mahant in Orissa, to go on the rampage against the minorities.
    One can, therefore, logically come to the conclusion that the Congress strategy at divisive politics was very subtle and worked while the BJP’s was brazenly audacious and failed!

  29. May 21, 2009 3:28 am

    What really disturbs me is that we still have a lot of MPs with criminal charges against them. I could never understand that why the hell could we not have an application form for the contestants which asks a simple question like – Do you have any criminal records(Yes/No)?

    • common man permalink
      May 21, 2009 11:03 am

      yes… perfectly agree with you!

    • Vinod permalink
      May 21, 2009 11:27 am

      Amit, wouldn’t that be assuming guilt before proven? Consider the possibility that one of the charged MPs was actually innocent and the charge was brought about by the pressure of other corrupt politicians on the Prosecution Service maliciously.

      • May 22, 2009 9:29 am

        I think Vinod is right. It is easy to put some criminal charges on opposition parties to not let them contest at all. We always run that risk if we enact the rule especially with a police department which is just not bothered about justice.

        Destination Infinity

  30. May 21, 2009 10:51 am

    Now the most important thing is to work for the country for any of these political parties and esp issues- job, security, etc.

  31. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    May 21, 2009 11:26 am

    The affidavit that each contestant submits for all elections requires him or her to give details of all criminal records. The affidavits are available on the electoral web sites. ADR (a NGO) gave wide publicity to this aspect after obtaining the affidavits through the RTI. It did not apparently make an impact because the priorities of a majority of the Indian voter are different.
    Secondly, a candidate is debarred from contesting (e.g. Dutt) only if he is convicted. Mere FIRs or lodging of criminal cases does not debar him.
    Another disturbing element is the assets owned by the candidates. This time, there are many, including Murli Deora’s son, whose properties went up by 200-400 % since the last election. There is no law that the IT dept must investigate such cases. So now, the candidates do not bother a bit and make everything known in their affidavits without any fear of prosecution.
    The story does not end here. There is no law where suo moto cognisance is taken of patently false affidavits. Hence, the candidates get away even after submitting false affidavits.

  32. Sudhir Jatar permalink
    May 21, 2009 8:15 pm

    Sorry for posting another comment so soon but I came across some interesting information about the assets of our Netas on Sulekha.com
    “Uttar Pradesh may be at the bottom of growth with its per capita income just Rs 10,637 per annum after Bihar’s Rs 6610 pa — its MPs are growing in leaps and bounds. The comparison of assets of candidates in 2004 and in 2009 shows that the wealth of UP neta’s grew by 559%, over five times, in five years, second only to their Karnataka counterparts who registered a growth of 693% in the same period.
    In fact, UP’s Mohammed Tahir, BSP MP from Sultanpur, tops the chart of the MPs in India whose assets recorded a growth of 9137% or ninety times increase in five years. Similarly, SP MP from Pratapgarh, Akshay Pratap Singh shows an increase of 1841% or 18 times.
    These figures have been drawn by the National Election Watch (NEW), a part of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), a confederation of over 1200 NGOs from all over country .
    Those contesting from reserved constituencies have also flourished. The assets of Usha Verma, SP candidate from Hardoi, have increased by 936%. Daroga Prasad Saroj, SP candidate from Lalganj, increased his wealth by 807%. Nine of the ‘wealthy’ MPs whose wealth grew remarkably, also come under mafia category

  33. rags permalink
    May 26, 2009 1:11 pm

    Now Rahul’s become an enigma. If anyone wants to know about the level of boot licking that Indian media indulges in try this week’s issue of Outlook.

    • May 26, 2009 8:28 pm

      Perhaps the Outlook writers need to read Richard Crasta’s book.🙂

  34. rags permalink
    May 26, 2009 9:02 pm

    I ned to get that book. Funny thing, this book was on Outlookindia.com’s bestseller list.🙂

  35. sonal permalink
    May 28, 2009 12:23 am

    Vivek,

    this is a link –as u quoted kashmir census of 2001..

    well..indians are living as refugees in their own freaking country past 2 decades—

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=842219646390515565&q=kashmir+pandit
    http://thekashmir.wordpress.com/

    Jai Ho to us being so secular…so secular we kept taking care of ONLY the minorities…until the majority vanished !

  36. vasudev permalink
    May 30, 2009 4:28 pm

    vishesh asked the question: ‘what the poor in india really want’

    while i was there last week a census was in progress on the bpl. the school mistress who took the census confessed that she had forms from average farmers who wanted rice ar rs.2/kg in ration.
    if this is so then the bpl will never go below 40%. i fear it will only increase.
    till this ‘tamasha’ goes on there would be boxes for caste and income.

  37. vasudev permalink
    May 30, 2009 8:28 pm

    Here’s one to inspire us…

    THE INDIAN ELECTIONS – NEW YORK TIMES

    It is truly the greatest show on Earth, an ode to a diverse and democratic ethos, where 700 million + of humanity vote, providing
    their small part in directing their ancient civilization into the future. It is no less impressive when done in a neighborhood which includes de-stabilizing and violent Pakistan, China, and Burma.

    Its challenges are immense, more so probably than anywhere else, particularly in development and fending off terrorism — but
    considering these challenges and its neighbors, it is even more astounding that the most diverse nation on Earth, with hundreds of languages, all religions and cultures, is not only surviving, but thriving.

    The nation where Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism
    were born, which is the second largest Muslim nation on Earth; where
    Christianity has existed for 2000 years; where the oldest Jewish synagogues and Jewish communities have resided since the Romans burnt their 2nd temple; where the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile reside; where the Zoroastrians from Persia have
    thrived since being thrown out of their ancient homeland;
    where Armenians and Syrians and many others have to come live; where the Paris-based OECD said was the largest economy on Earth 1500 of the last 2000 years, including the 2nd largest only 200 years ago; where 3 Muslim Presidents have been elected, where a Sikh is Prime Minister and the head of the ruling party a Catholic Italian woman, where the President is also a women, succeeding a Muslim President who as a rocket scientist was a hero in the nation; where a booming
    economy is lifting 40 million out of poverty each year and is expected to have the majority of its population in the middle class,
    already equal to the entire US population, by 2025; where its optimism and vibrancy is manifested in its movies, arts, economic growth, and voting, despite all the incredible challenges and hardships; where all the great powers are vying for influence,
    as it itself finds its place in the world.

    Where all of this is happening, is India, and as greater than 1/10 of
    humanity gets ready to vote, it is an inspiration to all the World.

    V Mitchell, New York, NY
    –~–~—— —~–~– –~—— ——~– —–~–~ —-~

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