Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sceptical of success expected of Baba Ramdev

There is some excitement about Baba Ramdev's Bharat Swabhiman movement. It is easy to understand this and was articulated recently in this post at Centre Right India. However I am sceptical of this.

One of the reasons for this scepticism, double dip cynicism due to probable failure of Baba Ramdev's movement has been written about by Gaurav again at Centre Right India. Such a failure will be a severe setback and will further disappoint middle India driving it further away from participating in the policial process.

But there are other reasons as well. The Congress party can never be underestimated. It is the oldest political party in India and has seen many ups and down, has gone through many political turmoils and yet has managed to retain it's massive footprint on electoral politics. It may be tempting to dismiss Digvijay Singh's charges against Baba Ramdev's movement. But we must not forget the Congress party knows it's politics in and out. Better than any other party in India.

It senses the futility in taking on Baba Ramdev on his turf. So it may have deployed Digvijay Singh in laying a trap for Baba Ramdev in drawing him into something it is most adept at. Politics and dirty tricks. It may be trying to bury the Baba under an avalanche of controversial charges. If it works, Baba will be left expending most of his energy in fighting these charges just to come out clean, just to retain his credibility among people. If that does not work, Congress will draw him into the world of politics where it fancies will be easy to defeat him. And it will. Like I said, no one knows politics better than the Congress party. The Baba seems to be dangerously unarmed here.

Baba Ramdev is the ace in the Bharat Swabhiman movement. There are risks in exposing your aces in such a high stakes games against such players as the Congress party. A possible defeat will be detrimental to opposing forces, middle India's psyche.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Max Muller a Sanskrit scholar?

Friedrich Max Müller is regarded a great scholar of Sanskrit. Indeed he is revered among scholars in Indology. But if one traces his scholarship and life one cannot help but wonder what made him such an exalted scholar? A brief history of his will tell you he came from a humble background in Germany, raised by his mother who put him in school hoping for better future of her son. He trained in Europe in various oriental languages, sources of this training were often dubious, ones who never set foot in the lands of languages they claimed to be experts in. In fact none of the scholars had ever been to India or had any training in Sanskrit, a language that was no longer spoken in India and was mostly limited to Bramhan scholars. They worked off poor, half baked hand written copies brought to Europe by colonizing Englishmen, attempted to create a dictionary on their own and set to translate these hand copied Sanskrit texts.

The extent of Max Muller's Sanskrit scholarship is betrayed in his own words in this passage from his "Auld Lang Syne" -

So this "scholar of Sanskrit" could not follow Sanskrit when a native Indian came to him speaking in the language.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cultural clones - the engineering

Continuing the cultural clones series of posts, in the previous two posts here and here, we saw the stark difference between the early Greek accounts of India in the BC era and the later Jesuit accounts in the AD era. Where Greek records lacked all the general toxicity associated with Christian writers, the Jesuit records were full of it. When the Jesuits landed on Indian shores they brought with them land grabbing, Bible selling, pagan hatred in plenty. There was power struggle among the various European Jesuits, but eventually the British ones prevailed. Having subjugated enough of the pagans, they soon began to consolidate and plan for their continued hold over the land.

Many British Jesuits tried their hand at further gaining and consolidating their influence over the pagans. They tried selling Christianity in various ways but none had any noteworthy success. Then came Thomas Babington Macaulay who first landed in Calcutta to serve in the "Supreme Council of India" that the East India Company had established. He realised, to successfully indoctrinate the Indians, he needed a much granular program. He needed to come up with a plan to program a class of people who would be from among the Indians but only in physical appearance. In all other respects they would resemble every bit the Englishmen. He came up with a draft program for education in colonised India. It was adopted by the council on March 7, 1835. This plan can be found in his "Minute on Indian Education". The gist of the plan was -

"We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern; a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect."

He carried out this plan with great zeal. We can see it going very well in this letter to his father on Oct 12, 1836 -

"Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. We find it difficult, at some places impossible, to provide instruction for all who want it. At the single town of Hoogley fourteen hunderd boys are learning English. The effect of this education on the Hindoos is prodigious. No Hindoo who has received an English education ever continues to be sincerely attached to his religion. Some continue to profess it as a matter of policy. But many profess themselves pure Deists, and some embrace Christianity. The case with Mahometans is very different. The best educated Mahometan continues often to be Mahometan still. The reason is plain. The Hindoo religion is so extravagantly absurd that it is impossible to teach a boy astronomy, geography, natural history, without completely destroying the hold which that religion has on his mind. But the Mahometan religion belongs to a better family. It has very much in common with Christianity; and even where it is more absurd, it is reasonable compared with Hindooism. It is my firm belief that, if our plan of education is followed up, there will not be a single idolater among respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytise, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, merely by natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in this prospect." (Emphasis added.)

Thus Thomas Babington Macaulay, a Jesuit British coloniser, laid the foundation to engineer a class of cultural clones from among the Indians that would continue to govern India for their colonial overlords. It is this plan that has effected many a cultural clone we see insisting on dominating all opinion making, indeed anything of significance in India. It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Jawaharlal Nehru was a product of this very same cultural cloning program. Having gone through it, Nehru furthered the plan to continue generating more of them. The unwashed masses could not be allowed to have their say in their very own land.

(References also from "Lies With Long Legs" by Prodosh Aich.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Inclusive growth" is a scam

Back in 2004, the Congress led UPA came to power criticizing the NDA's ill fated "India shining" campaign. Upon gaining mandate to govern the nation, the UPA sought to differentiate itself as a government that cared for the people who did not benefit from the economic growth yet. It came up with a common minimum program that purported to carryout out development with a "human face". "Inclusive growth" has been the buzzword since then. And to add credibility to their claims, the Congress party installed Manmohan Singh over us.

To carry out their "inclusive growth", the UPA came up with many social benefits schemes. The mother of them all is the NREGA, their flagship showcase. This scheme aims at providing 100 days of guaranteed employment to the poor. It was launched in Feb-2006. The UPA has been touting the program's success ever since. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, especially the latter, have hardly missed an opportunity to sell the story to us. But audits do not agree with such claims -

NREG fails to deliver [Link] (2008)

Punching a hole in the UPA government's campaign of Bharat Nirman and other flagship schemes, its official auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in a report released on Friday that the government had been overstating the expenditure [Link] (2009)

A conservative estimate of the disappearance into thin air of money meant for the poor NREGA recipients in 2007-08 is about two-thirds of the money spent on the programme. Disappearance means money not accounted for by receipt, by the poor or the rich. It is unlikely that corruption in the NREGA has decreased in the last three years while having increased in all sectors of the economy. Which means that scam money in the NREGA, in just one year, 2010-11, is upwards of Rs 25,000 crore. [Link] (2011)

So a noble sounding social benefit scheme has quickly degenerated into a giant scam, a hallmark of the Congress party. Many things could be said of this but the fact remains that the Congress party is only continuing it's money making ways at the expense of the same poor it purports to help under a new name, "inclusive growth".

This abominable cruelty is not limited to social schemes. Anywhere there is money to be made, there is a scam to be pulled off. Take the current rage for example, the 2G spectrum scam. First seen here. The monumental scam is now know to one and all. Similar is the case with our highways. Since the regime changed hands from NDA to UPA in 2004, highway development activity has slowed down to a halt. Tall claims were made by UPA ministers. But 6 years later they have nothing to show for those claims. In fact this report will give you a glimpse of the rot that has set in the NHAI. Between 2007 and 2008, there were as many as 5 changes to to the NHAI chief post. And you would think with all the scams hitting the roof, the Congress party would have learnt it's lessons, but to the contrary dubious characters continue to be considered for the NHAI office. The agriculture ministry under Sharad Pawar is another case of gross mismanagement. Poor PDS infrastructure, rotting grains, farmer suicides are rampant under a Maratha strongman who comes from the farming belt in Maharshtra. Apparently, multitasking is not Pawar's forte, what with him heading the ICC as well.

We had to live a horrific nightmare under the incompetent beyond imagination Shivraj Patil. For a party with heavy socialist tendencies, they have failed at almost all human development indices. The story is same everywhere. Railways, 26/11, Pakistan, ISRO, Maoist manace, police reforms, defence, border disputes, Kashmir are no exceptions either. Six years have passed since development with "human face" began but all we have is a cargo load of scams. Each bigger than the other. "Inclusive growth" has a very limited scope than claimed by the Congress party. Only their inner members have grown significantly, others continue to be robbed of their destinies. "Inclusive growth" is a scam.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Open medium comes with distractions, don’t fall for it

This piece was written for Centre Right India. Also posting it below -

Veteran counter terror analyst and former head of intelligence agencies B Raman was recently at the receiving end of some unsavory treatment on the internet, especially Twitter. So much so that it led to an entry at his blog and in Outlook lamenting the attack. He labelled his tormentors “The Hindutva Storm-Troopers” because almost all of the abusers were upset with terror being linked to Hindus. Now this is no way to defend anything. Heaping personal abuse on someone can never be a credible defense of anything. Rather than doing any good, it actually harms the defender’s cause.

Questioning popular views, irreverence and occasional abuse has earned a certain band of people on Twitter the moniker “Internet Hindus”. We can thank journalist Sagarika Ghose for that. Leaving the irony of those denouncing label pasting, well, pasting labels on others aside, let us see if all this warrants the importance being given to it.

All of this “Hindutva Storm-Trooping” is taking place on the internet. This wonderful new medium has been a revolution in providing unprecedented access to information, news, entertainment, discussion that was hitherto unavailable or was inconvenient using conventional mediums. It has contributed to the richness of debates infusing some much needed diversity allowing all points of views being expressed. We have seen some excellent blogs and discussion forums emerge. Independent bloggers on the strength of their credible analysis are successfully transitioning into contributing columnists to established news media. Serious think tanks are emerging thanks to the networking capabilities of the internet. These are only some examples of the enormous promise and potential the internet holds.

On the other hand, in the absence of filters, this free-from-control medium finds all kinds of folks frequenting this space. Trolls and abusers are some who are the most disliked. They are given to attempting to derail discussions without adding any value. But they are just that, distractions, mere unwanted noise. If they had anything concrete to successfully derail debates, we would not have seen the growth of all these successful blogs and think tanks. To pay serious attention to them is to allow minor inconveniences distract us.

Some may argue that abuse is not unprovoked. But this is an endless discussion and nothing is likely to come of it. Besides provocation can hardly be an excuse to unparliamentary behaviour, especially when directed at respected personalities or when used in sensitive topics. If this “hate-abuse phenomenon” is such a monster as some think it is then veterans should surely know attention fuels, not defuses, such behaviour. Employing starve-the-beast strategy can be useful here. Works surprisingly well. Eminent journalists, columnists popular on Twitter have been at the receiving end of similar misdirected energy. But they have learned to adapt and are aware of the pitfalls of the new medium. Once this adjustment is made, debate carries on.

The internet seems to have unleashed all the disgruntled energy people had for perceived unidimensional discussions on national television. People seem not to know what do do with the availability of equal opportunity tools like Twitter. This is manifesting in all kinds of behaviour. Once this energy is released, debate here will temper to more serious, reasoned tones.

The internet, while it has been around for a while, is still evolving. For all the impact it has had on our lives, it’s potential is far from being realized and we have still not wrapped our arms around it. While some are coming to terms with it, those getting diverted by this fringe behaviour are either new entrants very much behind the curve or still have not adapted to it. The following B Raman attracts for his blogposts and the wide readership for his columns is a testimony to the respect he commands. Lamenting the minority who resort to personal attacks risks ignoring this fact. Look at the immediate reaction to his laments. Personal abuse directed at him was rightly denounced, support came pouring in which is very encouraging. Like most things in life, there are always different sides to everything. While a majority of people respect B Raman, there are a few who do not. Unless there is serious criticism, why fall for distractions?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rahul Gandhi is no leader

This piece was written for Centre Right India. Also posting it below -

It is impossible to miss the name Rahul Gandhi if you are reading, talking, discussing India . His appointment within the Congress party was not by employing any democratic means, but simply because the Congress president, his mother, chose him. This in the world’s largest democracy and in a party that never tires talking of democratic principles. And now, he is being presented as our future Prime Minister sans any debate. With the Congress chief deciding this, the nation’s talking heads have busied themselves endorsing and selling him as our ‘destiny deliverer’. We are destined to have Rahul Gandhi lord over us and we simply must accept this.

Only in our nation could someone be hoisted over us without merit. We were born that way. Our first Prime Minster was appointed ahead of Sardar Patel who enjoyed the most confidence within the Congress party. From then on the trend has continued and sustained to our current Prime Minister. And all indications are it will in the future. Because our national media will not take the time to examine Rahul Gandhi, we are left to ourselves to size him up. Let us begin with his background.


Rahul Gandhi comes from the most high profile political family yet his personal background is not very well known. He is entitled to his privacy of course, but a potential national leader will attract some scrutiny. His educational background is mired in controversy. So too are his claims on election affidavits. It seems strange that our future leader cannot seem to get his story on education right or is unwilling to set the record straight putting all doubts to rest. Very little is known of his professional life before joining politics.

Political career

Rahul Gandhi was elected to Lok Sabha from Amethi in May 2004. He has not held any political office yet and has mainly concentrated on party building activities, especially the youth wing. His pet project, bringing democracy to Congress, is not yet a success. Internal elections in youth Congress and his youth leader appointees have not exactly been controversy free. He took up party building responsibility in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. While he enjoyed moderate success in UP, he is still far from breaking Bahujan Samaj Party’s hold on the state. His Bihar attempts were a disaster as evidenced in recent elections and his visits to other states, especially Gujarat, have had little impact on his party’s fortunes there.

After having spent over 6 years in domestic politics, travelling overseas, interacting with foreign leaders and having the best political minds within the party to support and mentor him, there is very little Rahul Gandhi espouses or articulates. His sporadic attempts at making political sounds have resulted in more controversies and have done very little to add or give direction to political debates. Rather they come across as manipulative and aimed at exploiting short gains. Leaders he has hand picked have failed to deliver.

For someone who purports to be concerned of the nation’s wellbeing, he is remarkably detached from parliamentary proceedings. He only goes there about half the time and for the limited time he spends there, he almost never participates in debates.

Discovery of India

A couple of years ago, Rahul Gandhi embarked on his very own ‘discovery of India ’ to understand the country better and gain political maturity. When he was touring, not a day went by when a doting national news media did not report his encounters with the unwashed masses, especially during the last general elections. Visiting dalit houses, tea stalls, road side vendors, his jumping the security cordon and shaking hands with the crowds featured fondly in national news space. This discovery phase now seems to have ended. It is only natural for us to expect Rahul Gandhi to list his learnings, summarize them for us, articulate them for the nation. But nothing of the sort has happened yet, which leaves us to wonder if he has learned anything at all. One might cite his speech in the parliament during the Indo-US nuclear deal debate. But that too was a half baked, disappointing attempt. The debt ridden Kalavati he spoke about is still waiting for better days and had to travel to Delhi to remind Rahul Gandhi of his unkept promises.


In an interview to NDTV, Arun Jaitley was asked for his advice to Rahul Gandhi. In his answer Jaitley said, Rahul Gandhi should make constructive political interventions and participate in debates more. Politics could not be “an endless series of photo opportunities”. That was very well put and summarizes Rahul Gandhi’s political life so far. No astute observer will miss this coincidence. Glance through our national media and you will see nothing but favourable coverage of Rahul Gandhi. Critical reports of him are hard to come by. Prominent television news editors have been at the forefront of this. Rahul Gandhi is found missing every time the nation faces crisis but will emerge to exploit any and every convenient photo opportunity.

In the 40 years of his life so far, Rahul Gandhi has not exhibited any leadership traits. Over 6 years of his political stint have only yielded in often banal and sometimes controversial utterances. He has not added to or defined any political debate and still cannot speak extemporaneously. Despite the stage managed, carefully choreographed tours, when faced with unscripted events he has had to beat a hasty retreat on more than one occasion. He is reluctant to face harsh, inconvenient questions without any safety net. There is very little he espouses or articulates. His ‘youth icon’ or the ‘destiny deliverer’ facade is built on the strength of fuzzy op-eds and fuelled by exploiting photo opportunities.