Responsibility

I used to worry about the ability of the younger generation to take responsibility. Even chiding my children occasionally, to the utter lack of amusement on my wife’s part, leading to more nights on the living-room couch.

But recent events have proved me wrong. Once again.

It seems that while I was busy worrying and chiding my children, and sleeping on the living-room couch, organisations that stand up and take responsibility have been growing and prospering, as I discovered from a friend’s recent post.

They even have a name.

They are called political parties. And governments. And they mostly do it (take responsibility) on other people’s money. And one of the key responsibilities of governments, as I have learned, is to take responsibility for what they have either done or not done, or what others have done or not done.

Were it not for the full page adverts in major national dailies, purchased with my money of course, I would not have known how responsible this government is.

For instance, I would not have known that the present government, that came to power three years back, is responsible for the unprecedented success of the space programme that has delivered unprecedented successes many times since its inception over sixty years back. Foolishly, I had assumed that it was the vision of the founding fathers that had created the space programme.

I would not have known that the present government is responsible for the surgical strikes that not only served as a strong warning to terrorists and resulted in spectacular lack of success on the Kashmir issue, but also introduced a new term to the vocabulary of most Indians. How many previous governments can rightfully claim to have expanded the common man’s vocabulary?

I would not have known that the present government is responsible for providing universal access to banking services. Not drinking water, not grid-supplied power, but banking services.

Even state governments have come to the party.

Kerala has claimed full responsibility for introducing the Fat Tax. Just imagine!

Chhattisgarh has claimed full responsibility for electrification of 98% villages. Without any responsibility for supplying power.

Bengal has claimed full responsibility for marching forward in its endeavour to make the vision of a golden Bengal come true. Not green. Not white. Not silver. Golden.

Each claiming its share of responsibility with its own paid advert in national dailies.

Even though we found out why Kattappa killed Bahubali, before the government could claim any responsibility for it, could it be possible that we have found an answer to some of the most enduring mysteries of the world?

In the seventies, a number of ships and planes are said to have vanished in the Bermuda Triangle. Could this government be responsible?

Would my childhood friend, who was disconsolate after losing his pet pooch when we were both children, get closure after all these years? Can we safely conclude that this government was responsible?

Quite a handful already, isn’t it?

But, as usual, the common man is never satisfied. He wants more. He has started expecting the government to take responsibility for even real day-to-day problems.

He now expects the government to take responsibility for the poor state of roads in Gurgaon.

He expects the government to take responsibility for the precipitous drop in water levels in rivers, ponds and lakes across the country?

He expects the government to take responsibility for the security of women.

Is that fair? After all, how much can a government do? Ourtax money can only buy so much advertising space.

But the government is game. To take on more responsibility.

Even though it expresses inability to take responsibility for real day-to-day issues, it has offered to take responsibility for having brought down the Ganga and other perennial rivers from their glacial abode in the Himalayans.

It has offered to take responsibility for designing and commissioning the annual system of monsoon rains.

It has offered to take responsibility for inventing the game of cricket and Bollywood.

It has even offered to take responsibility for the first man to be sent into space sent by Russia and for Chelsea Football Club winning the latest edition of the English Premier League football.

Can you ask for more?

With the government poised to take on so much more responsibility, the responsible common man can continue to provide proof of his nationalism on WhatsApp?

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.