Cause and Effect

On 15th April, the Delhi government took the decision to introduce the odd-even scheme for another fifteen days. Once again, private vehicles with an odd-numbered licence plate can run only on odd days and, even-numbered ones only on even days.

It appears the scheme has been reintroduced at the first available opportunity because the original odd-even scheme, introduced in January for fifteen days, was a resounding failure and did nothing to solve the problem it was introduced for, that of reducing atmospheric pollution in Delhi.

But what it did do during those fifteen days in January, as our leaders have discovered, is that it seemed to have resulted in some reduction in traffic on the roads. Quite against the run of play, it seems. Now who would have guessed that if you prohibit half the cars from coming onto the roads, the number of cars on the road will reduce.

At least not the Delhi CM, alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). How, then, can one blame the Delhi government for not knowing?

Displaying maturity and foresight far beyond any political mandate, Delhi’s political leadership has decided that atmospheric pollution, a raging issue just three months back, does not need to be solved any more. Till, of course, it becomes an unsolvable issue once again next winter, requiring drastic measures that don’t work. Which gets solved once again by the onset of the following summer, creating bigger problems to solve.

As is the case this year. Freed from the yoke of solving the pollution issue, as summer is now raging in Delhi, the government has reintroduced the odd-even scheme, this time to reduce traffic on the roads. Like atmospheric pollution, traffic needs to be reduced only for fifteen days. Of course, as with all good schemes, it has been reintroduced because of pressure from the public.

Quite a handy scheme this odd-even is turning out to be. First it is introduced to reduce atmospheric pollution which it does not. Now it is introduced to reduce traffic on the roads. Wonder what else it can be introduced for? For solving the issue of the plunging water table? For providing food to the poor? Poor performance of Delhi Daredevils in IPL? European refugee crisis?

One wonders if any other scheme will ever be required…

The big question everyone is asking is; what will the scheme solve this time. Last time it was introduced to solve the pollution issue and ended up reducing traffic on the roads. As this time it has been introduced for reducing traffic on the roads, it cannot be expected to reduce traffic on the roads. One wonders what it will really solve. At every corner tea-shop, in every metro coach, people are busy guessing the problem that the odd-even scheme will solve this time. Radio jockeys are having a field day running contests for people to guess the problem the odd-even scheme of April 2016 will solve.

There is really no saying what a decision of the government might end up solving.

A senior minister in the AAP government in Delhi, who had taken it upon himself to treat all women of visibly foreign looks as being of questionable character and personally led police teams to raid their homes, is preparing to start these raids once again.

“We don’t know what we might end up solving,” he looked somberly into the horizon and stated, while putting on his helmet in preparation for the raid later in the night.

In Gurgaon, or Gurugram now, always eager to copy from Delhi, transport authorities are busy breaching medians on busy roads, contrary to the once popular belief of reducing criss-crossing traffic to smoothen the flow.

Their response to enquiries from the media is, “We know it will solve something. As of now we don’t know what. But we will tell you as soon as we find out. Meanwhile, expect more central medians to be breached.”

The political will to take decisions without thought and logic is back.

“I have no idea what, but I might have solved something today,” is the new war-cry of members of the Delhi cabinet.

For more details of the odd-even scheme, go to post titled ODDities and EVENtualities.

Lies, damn lies, and elections

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of resorting to funding through illegal means…who has accused the BJP of irresponsible behaviour by taking credit for events they had nothing to do with, like reduction in fuel prices…who has accused the AAP of behaving irresponsibly while in government…who has accused Congress of failing to protect the honour and dignity of women when in power…who has accused BJP of inadequate political strength in the state as they had to parachute a Chief Ministerial (CM) candidate from outside the party…who has accused AAP of diversionary tactics as they have no substance…who has accused BJP that black money has not come back despite it being a national election promise made by them last year…who has accused AAP and the entire sub-caste to which the CM candidate belongs as being anarchists…who has accused BJP of unfairly tarnishing the image of a peacable and industrious community…who has accused AAP of making false promises and misleading people…who has accused BJP of tampering with voting machines that will be used in the elections…who has accused Congress of mismanagement of local affairs in their long reign…who has accused the BJP leader, also the country’s Prime Minister, of wearing expensive foreign clothes made in UK despite their “Make in India” call to the nation and the world…who has accused them right back of wearing expensive foreign clothes themselves and, to add insult to injury, expensive shoes as well…who has accused BJP of treating the Northeastern people as immigrants and, further, not being able to distinguish between Nagaland and Mizoram…who has accused AAP of trying to stay in the limelight through dubious means, and misleading and being negative as per old habit…who has accused BJP’s CM candidate of sourcing funds from abroad for her NGO without revealing the source…who has accused Congress of taking the people for granted during their years in power…who has accused BJP of portraying Mahapurush (Great Man) Anna Hazare as deceased…who has accused AAP of immaturity by politicising a routine political insult and failing to understand the metaphor…who has accused BJP of being in cahoots with industrialists, particularly the ones whose surname end with “ni”…who has accused Congress of being anti-development…who has accused AAP of forming a united front with BJP to wipe out their ideology…who has accused BJP of hiding the reasons why their CM candidate was removed as DIG (Deputy Inspector General) of Mizoram, Goa and Chandigarh…who has accused AAP of wasting public money by not joining forces without pre-conditions with BJP after the last elections leading to re-elections within a year…who has accused BJP of being inconsistent and issuing an advertisement that does not mock AAP…who has accused independent survey agencies being motivated by narrow commercial interests, especially if their results predict a loss for BJP…

Phew! I don’t know if this will qualify as the longest sentence written. It is certainly the longest written by me. Politics does this to you. Enables you to overcome your self-defined limits and reach beyond. Boldly go where you have not been before.

I hope by now you are pretty clear what each party stands for and what their strengths are.

At any rate, I am sure we are all clear what the other parties stand for and what their weaknesses are.

Delhi state elections are scheduled for the 7th. Results will be declared on the 10th. Campaigning gets over on the 5th (today). I will need something strong tomorrow to replace this excitement.

Get the picture?

My teenage son, who has just been through with the Student Body elections in his school, and watching news channels on TV with me cover the elections , seems to have an unasked question on his lips, “But why does our school tell us that we cannot malign other candidates?”

Election aftermath

In the aftermath of the BJP’s absolute majority in the recently concluded Lok Sabha (Lower House) elections, the political scenario in the country is fast unravelling.

“We failed to gauge public mood”, the Congress Party President profoundly revealed at the recently concluded joint meeting of Members of Parliament (MPs) of the party from both houses of Parliament. Members, initially stunned by this revelation, later thanked her for the insightful analysis of the election debacle. Left to themselves, they would never have guessed, they sheepishly thought to themselves.

Thanking the group for their misguided faith in the party, she said, “The Congress has lost this time. You all know this is not the first time. With your support and my leadership, God willing, we will lose many more times. We have earlier come back after losses. I assure you no such debacle will happen this time. No more the pressure of performance. No more the burden of anti-incumbency going into an election”,  she said to thunderous applause. A scuffle broke out as soon as she said “we have sat together and fought together in the past, there is no reason why we cannot do it again”, amongst loyal members keen to follow orders, or even faint hints of anything that could be construed as an order, without taxing their grey cells. It was impossible to be unmoved at such a spontaneous show of loyalty. Only a dyed-in-the-wool cynic would write off this party in future elections.

Acknowledging the mistakes made by her as President, the group unanimously voted to retain her in the position. This was, however, not done on a whim. It was done based on a process enshrined in the Constitution of the party and honed over a hundred years of repeated use. They found Singhs. They found Khans. They found Scindias. They found Pawars. They found Chidambarams. They found Deoras. They found Azads. But, amongst the many well-known surnames of people attending the meeting, there could not be found a person with the surname of either Gandhi or Nehru. The group really had no choice. Upholding the highest traditions of democracy and reflecting the trust placed in the capability of a population of 1.2 billion by the grand old party of Indian politics, they selected one of the only two names available with either of those surnames.

Meanwhile, in a gesture of support, the BJP working committee has come out with a strongly worded statement appreciating the Congress party leadership for their leadership and have thanked them for their (the BJP’s) success. They have even made a plea to them to not make leadership changes in a hurry. At least not until they have had a chance to win another general elections. Such bonhomie amongst parties at different ends of the political spectrum has rarely been seen.

A young satrap who questioned the role of the advisors to the leadership after the debacle, has come under fire from party seniors. Explaining his remarks he said that his comments were “out of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance and a sincere desire to bounce back”.

Several other party members are understood to have issued thinly veiled threats, including death-threats, to the party leadership “out of deep loyalty to the party, pain of our performance and a sincere desire to bounce back”. Some participants have stated that the voice of the former Prime Minister was also heard on the occasion. Repeated attempts at replaying the recording in an effort to identify the voice have yielded no results. It appears that no-one in the party was in a position to identify his voice, having not heard it in the last ten years.

The Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M), from their ideological ivory tower protected by hardbound copies of Karl Marx’ Das Kapital, have blamed voters for not knowing what is good for them.

A founder-member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the party that rocked the political firmament with their stellar show on debut in the less-than-a-year-old Delhi state elections, has quit the party citing differences over lack of internal democracy. This was done after she lost in the recent Lok Sabha elections from a seat that was, apparently, not of her choice. Even under such trying circumstances, displaying maturity far beyond the brief existence of the party, she said that if offered a position of responsibility, she might reconsider her decision.

The PM designate had caused consternation amongst his advisors by insisting on inviting heads of government from neighbouring countries for the swearing-in ceremony. Concerned that this could be a case of withdrawal symptoms, with elections over and no-one to swear at, advisors had sought explain to him the difference between swearing-in and swearing-at. They were successful in their efforts, it seems, as the swearing-in ceremony happened yesterday without any untoward incident.

Exchanging pleasantries

“People will teach Congress, Aam Aadmi Party a lesson” said Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP candidate from New Delhi.

…which is what I base my objective assessment of victory on, apart, of course, from voodoo and black magic.

“Modi misleading people of Delhi” alleges AAP.

…that used to be our sole prerogative only a few months back.

“I’m in the fray only after proving my worth”, says Pravesh Verma, son of Sahib Singh Verma, fromer BJP CM of Delhi.

…including resisting all attempts to interact with the rank and file and encouraging cronyism.

Sonia accuses the opposition of dividing the nation.

…that her party could not despite two successive attempts.

“BJP giving up values for temporary gains”, says Jaswant Singh, co-founder of BJP. “It is putting petty whims of individuals above the greater good of people”.

…especially greater good of people like me.

“Narendra Modi a divisive leader”, said Mayawati

…since I just learnt this new word yesterday.

“Hooda, Modi, working for Ambani”, screams Kejriwal

…when will my turn come?

“We tamed inflation” Chidambaram

…so what if Rupee depreciated, Reserves fell, Stocks plummeted and we had to implement control measures on import of Gold.

Election season is here. If, like Rip Van Winkle, you had just woken from a deep sleep, you would just need to pick-up today’s newspaper to realise what the excitement is all about. All you would need to do is add the lines in italics above, to complete the sentences only half-reported by the media.

How lucky can one get? Having politicians of all hues outdoing themselves in pulling all others down with their selfless desire to win the election and serve the people. Their eagerness to serve is touching.

My blogging friend List of X said in one of his recent posts, “10 Reaction To Supreme Court Decision on Campaign Finance“, “I am absolutely, positively sure that whenever a wealthy job creator gives a few million dollars to a Republican candidate, he does so because he genuinely has my best interests in mind”.

But List of X is American. India is no America. We don’t let the rich ruin the country. In India we only permit politicians to ruin the country. Occasionally in cahoots with the rich.

To make his quote relevant to the Indian context, I will hasten to add, “I am absolutely, positively sure that whenever a candidate gives an assurance that he has no interest in power or money, and is contesting the election only for the betterment of the people of the country, he does so because he genuinely has the betterment of the people of the country in mind.”

Won’t you agree?

Today, 10th of April, is when the mind-numbing exercise that is the Indian general elections, where there are over 800 million registered voters, yes over 800 million, will begin in a phased manner.

If you are a registered voter, make your vote count. Our system may not be perfect, but is certainly better than many others. The many others where people do not have a choice.

 

Magic Wand

“But this was not part of your promise”, she screeched, the volume knocking meandering satellites off their orbital path.

It was just yesterday that she had gone to the meeting. And gone with high hopes. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the new kid on the political block, had vowed to change corrupt practices and put political power back in the hands of the common man. And they had invited the common man to a public meeting where they could register their complaints. People passed over for promotion, youngsters feeling cheated in parental bequest, people charged ten rupees for a bank transaction, were all queuing up to join the party and serve the nation and the common man. Of course, in the rush, some other undeserving causes may have also slipped through.

Nobody had ever invited her before. But that was no hindrance. Cometh the hour cometh the man. Or woman. She was ready. Ready to do her bit for the country and the common man. There were worthy causes all around. Like the smooth, blemishless road in her colony. Roads in the nearby colonies had recently been relaid without needing the relay. Why should her colony not get the benefit of being relaid without needing the relay. It was an apt example of the corruption that had seeped into the previous government.

On her way to the complaint registration desk, she had jumped the queue several times and battered and bruised several complainants standing in the queue awaiting their turn. After all, every common man has a voice. Isn’t that what had been promised by AAP? Why should she not have one? She was happy that her complaint had been heard and registered.

On the ride back home, her face was all aglow with the knowledge that the common man was finally going to reap the fruits of independence and democracy. She parked her car on the pedestrian path in front of her house under the “No Parking” sign and went inside whistling. It was a momentous occasion.

She knew action would be quick. She had awoken early that day and was ready for the Vigilance department staff when they came calling. A pot of tea was on the stove and cookies were neatly laid out on a tray.

The Vigilance Officer held out a letter for her. She smiled, took the letter in one hand and held out the tray of cookies for him with the other.

“Bring the pot of tea, you idiot,” she said as she slapped her underage domestic help, illegally brought in from a nearby country, admonishing her for her tardiness.

Taking a moment to look at herself in the mirror, she carefully opened the letter. It did not take long for her face to turn from glowing to ashen.

The letter was a show cause notice for throwing garbage from her house in front of the neighbour’s house. It appeared that the neighbour was also fighting against injustice done to the common man. She was aghast. “What right does the neighbour have of fighting for the common man?” she wondered.

Struggling to maintain her external composure, she managed to ask, “Where does your manifesto say that you will take action against the common man?” In the same breath she added, “Show me where you have said that the common man has responsibilities. We have lived with other political parties for so long without any responsibilities. Nobody has ever bothered about it. Who are you to tell me where I should throw my garbage? Next you will tell me not to park my car under the “No Parking” sign”. Who are you to tell me that I need to behave responsibly? And who are you to take cognizance of my neighbour’s complaint against me? Even if she is common, I am more common than her.”

The Vigilance Officer tried to offer an explanation. She could only see his lips move. She could not hear anything he was saying. She could hold it no longer. “But this was not part of your promise”, she screeched, the volume knocking meandering satellites off their orbital path.

Meanwhile, outside the house, happiness was coursing through the streets like a pleasant breeze. There was expectation of magic once again in the air. To be performed by someone else.