Friday, May 30, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
In 2004, BJP came on top. But, they ruled the least amount of time in a shameful circus of coalition theatre. And, in a tragic travesty of justice, JD(S) which had come third, ruled the most.
Now in 2008 -- today -- too BJP has come on top, but with more numbers, which gives it enough reason to claim the government. Quite understandably, JD(S), which played the villain all the past four years, has got a drubbing.
Congress made of a mess of their strategy; or was there a strategy at all?
I thought BJP deserved a chance to rule, especially the way they had performed last time. Like I said, even though they had the numbers last time, they were never allowed to rule.
Now, they have no excuses. They will have to fully justify the "pro-development" tag they always claim. Hopefully, now there will be an end to the total absence of governance -- that lasted four full years -- in Karnataka. Hopefully, Bangalore city -- the global show piece of modernity and technology -- and Karnataka as a whole will get on the path of progress and rapid development.
Friday, May 23, 2008
First, I don't think any time in the recent past a US presidential primary has generated so much interest. Whoever becomes the President s/he will create a record as the first Black, woman or the oldest President.
The Democratic primary now very much resembles the final stages of a cricket match (the sport that arouses as much passion and interest in India as baseball and basketball does in the US).
Who is good for India?
It's generally felt that Republican policies are favourable to India. Last time it was John Kerry who spoke out against outsourcing jobs to India. Even this time, both Hillary and Obama have tried to win over middle class Americans by raking up outsourcing. I am not quite concerned, because, in such issues, my gut feeling is irrespective of Republican or Democratic views, it'll be what the American businessmen want that will prevail rather than what the ordinary American would want.
Personally, among the candidates, I'd rank my choice thus: Hillary, Obama and McCain. I have read a lot about the Clintons -- Bill and Hillary -- more than about Obama; and may be because of that I am favouring her. But Obama is as much impressive -- I've completely fallen for his oratorical style; a great communicator he is. His speeches are definitely worth listening to.
Hillary's attractiveness is the amazing experience she has behind her; and the family exudes an exceptionally remarkable charm. It's pretty certain that Obama has made it, but Hillary has surely let it be known that she is, nevertheless, a tough fighter the Americans can rely on. I haven't been able to relate to McCain at all, though I guess he too has a great record mainly for fighting in Vietnam.
Hillary: from First Lady to Vice-President?
Now all the focus will be on who will be Obama's running mate. I think it should be Hillary. The double-engined Democratic bandwagon will have more than adequate muscle to see through the race. But for that first Obama and Hillary will close ranks as fast as possible.
Unlike the Republican campaign, Democratic race has seen debates on the lines of Black and White; Man and Woman. There is a lot of scratching of the head happening to determine why Hillary, in spite of being a woman and with loads of experience, didn't come through clean. Or, did those very attributes go against her?
Similar questions are being asked about Obama as well. In spite of being Black and inexperienced how did he steal a march over Hillary? Some are talking of the how the number of delegates is hardly an indicator of one's actual popularity. Of course, it'sn't that the American electoral system is anywhere near perfect.
My take is this: Obama is ahead simply because he has been been able to connect to the masses much better. His communication skills have undoubtedly helped him; enormously. Ronald Reagan is another politician who worked his communication skills to great advantage -- arguably it played a big role in the beginning the end of the Communist empire by engaging Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. And, Obama is miles ahead of McCain as far as connecting to people is concerned, if video clippings of their campaigns are any indication.
Imagine this in January 20, 2009 -- Mr Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and Ms Hillary Clinton, the Vice-President... that will be an amazing combination.
She shouldn't worry that she wouldn't be in the limelight, that she would have just a back-up role. Coming to think of it, actually it wouldn't be a role totally unfamiliar to her, for that's what she had been doing for eight long years when hubby Bill was in the White House. So it's perfectly possible for Obama and Hillary to have a perfect understanding regarding the roles they have to play. During this term, Vice-President Dick Cheney has played a no insignificant role in the post-9/11 engagement of his country with the rest of the world, mainly in Iraq.
Of course, this wouldn't be the same as she being in the White House itself. But so what? There was a time when things had hotted up so much in Bill's Oval Office, it didn't really matter if she was in the White House or not. She carried on her own administration of the United States as its First Lady. She is quite used to this sort backseat driving, with help of the actual driver or not, I guess.
But if Hillary is indeed chosen as Obama's running mate and goes on to become the vice-president, a possible problem will be Bill. Remember how he had almost wrecked Hillary's campaign recently? So what will Bill's role be? I am sure both Obama and Hillary will factor that in their plans.
Imagine, another driver, behind the back-seat driver, driving both Hillary and Obama! Bill is quite capable of that!
Photo captions and credits:
- Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks to the media in Brandon, South Dakota Friday, May 23, 2008 as she apologizes for an earlier statement to the Argus Leader's editorial board in Sioux Falls, S.D. citing the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in defending her decision to keep running for the Democratic presidential nomination despite increasingly long odds.(AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Source
- U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at a rally in Sunrise, Florida, May 23, 2008. Reuters/Joe Skipper (United States) US presidential election campaign 2008 USA. Source
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Whenever there is an explosion, there is a nation-wide alert. Policemen and other security personnel descend on the streets, set up barricades, carry out widespread, actually very intrusive, inspection of everything that we carry, peering into cars and what not. There is intense screening of people and baggage in railway stations and bus terminals. We have always seen this after an explosion in some city. We saw it again after the Jaipur explosions on Tuesday, May 13th.
Just wait for a few more days, all these police personnel would have retreated to the comforts of their offices or barracks or wherever. Everything would seem normal. Media will scream: "Normalcy returns to Jaipur". There will also be complimentary articles extolling the virtues of a society that is resilient. "Jaipur bounces back to life..." It is a different matter, there is no option but for people to bounce back.
Until another day.... God forbid...
We have lived with terrorism... Have we ever seriously wanted our society to be safe and secure... India had a violent and bloody birth... But does that mean we have to always live with terror? Do we need to be on "nation-wide alert" only for a few days after a blast?
Monday, May 12, 2008
There were very explicit detailing of the reasons on why the educated middle class should vote. One of them was it is the only way the vote-bank politics (here it's a euphemism for buying of poor voters by politicians) can be smashed. The messages even worked out clear numbers saying how the educated middle class easily outnumber the poor in Bangalore city; and how we really have a say; how we -- by taking a conscientious decision -- can dictate the state of Bangalore. These messages, in fact, just stopped short of telling all of us whom we should vote for.
So, on polling day, Saturday, I expected a huge carnival of the youth brigade, long queues of computer software engineers and other professionals. All that crowd -- what we refer to as the jing-bang crowd -- that we are used to seeing on M G Road and Brigade Road; I thought they would have all enthusiastically jogged, trekked or picnicked their way the nearest polling booth; buzzed each other on the fun they were having. After all, it is they -- we all actually -- who are the victims of bad politics.
Ultimately, it turned out that -- forget voting for the right candidate -- few even turned up to vote.
There are umpteen theories doing the rounds on why very few turned up. I don't think we need to commission a scientific study to know the reason -- cynicism and indifference to politics and politicians must surely be among the most common reason. Politics is low on priority for many people. If someone thought that majority are Bangaloreans will put off every things else to make sure they voted, then they were -- (and are?) -- mistaken.
Why politics is so low on priority levels?
1) We have taken democracy in India for granted.
2) Politics and politicians aren't worth our time and attention.
3) Politicians hardly inspire.
4) Why we must cover up for politicians' failures?
5) Politicians aren't visible.
6) Good politics is desirable, but bad politics doesn't matter.
But then why did I vote on Saturday?
Even though I very much agree with the half a dozen reasons that have been mentioned above, on polling day, I told myself, I must vote. We are blessed to be in India, a democratic country where we all have absolute freedom to choose the ruler. It's completely beside the point that our rulers aren't up to the mark. Politics and politicians in India need a complete makeover.
I voted because in the political arrangement of democracy my job is the easiest -- to vote; I didn't want to fare poorer than the politicians.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Recently, at a friend's house, we were discussing the growing trend of women, especially working women, going in for cooks. A case of a young family who appointed a cook is what started off the debate.
''When she can cook so wonderfully well, why should she keep a cook?'' asked one. ''Her work timings are convenient and she has enough time to prepare food for the small family."
Said another, "There are so many busy women with bigger families who manage without cooks...'' The arguments went on.
I found this reasoning horribly flawed. It missed the changed circumstances in which many women, and also men, work. Priorities have changed.
Earlier, many women worked primarily to supplement the hubby's income. Her priority was the kitchen. That's also the way she had been brought up.
Today it's not so, may not be in all families but in many families. Women supplement not the hubby's income but the family's income. There is a thin line of difference here that needs to be understood.
Today, even a middleclass girl grows up with dreams of a career and being independent. Many struggle with the stereotyped traditional idea that placed women in the kitchen.
Today the gender gap has narrowed. A working woman is no different from a working man. Eight to ten hours of work in the office leaves her -- just as her hubby -- with hardly any energy to do work at home. She is just like a man who would prefer to watch TV or just sleep rather than do any work at home.
It's not that women can't cook. She is employing a cook, only like a man appointing a driver or a cleaner for the car. It's not that the man can't find some time to wash the car himself.
There is also the issue of money. The family has to have enough wealth to afford a cook, or even a cleaner for that matter. If there is no money, there is neither a cook nor a cleaner. If there is money only for one; then it depends on the priorities, often determined by gender equation.
Unfortunately, this is not a point many guys, especially elders, easily understand or are ready to accept. I am an optimist. May be there is a change happening; too slow to notice perhaps.