The Ailment – Part 1

Intelligence (and great analysis) is not leadership, that’s what we have in many leaders currently. We have intelligent self-serving folks, focused on themselves with no ability to risk their own popularity with outcome from a tough strategic decision. These folks are less connected with the root cause rather than the rhetoric and who think the rules don’t apply to them. They maintain and operate through a coterie and bunch of sycophants. Why should a coterie or follower, follow them if these leaders can’t provide them any benefit? That last word, ‘Benefit’ is important. Corrupt leaders know that they need to benefit their coterie, that’s why they encourage corrupt folks under them. It thus forms an ecosystem of corrupt, a self-serving politico-corrupt ecosystem. Thus a contagious bad apple effect percolates within the ecosystem they create.

This four point proposal was after a long reflection of the underlying dynamics of frustrations, prevalent at that time. It was a synthesis after a long deliberation and evaluation of several socially disadvantaged people not getting the benefits. Now, after 34-35 years, we see that ‘Akrosh’, that ‘Udrek’ that resentment so intense. May be something should have been done long back, on lines similar to what I proposed in 1985-86.

Not too long back, during independence struggle, the leaders had the stature and commanded respect from their populace. Their character traits encompassed selfless, dedication and benevolent act overarching all humanitarian pursuits, not withstanding their religious, ethnic or regional affiliations. They had a collective vision and a dedication to drive towards that common shared common destiny. Masses respected, supported and followed these leaders. Remember, revolutions are borne out of hungry stomach or incessant injustice. That hunger and or injustice was pervasive. Masses were looking for someone with those aforementioned qualities. These were not born, not charismatic, but they earned that respect through these traits.

Equality Versus Equity

Tienanmen was quashed because economy and opportunities were booming. People have a certain level of tolerance (also called as resilience), to such inadequacies if they are busy with their lives. Over a period of time, social values degraded and that zest to lead fell to decadence. An element of that vacuum of dedicated leaders was filled in by leaders needing sycophants, because they were intrinsically weak, lacked that innate leadership quality and that organic connect with the masses. These leaders were intelligent though, and let me say, intelligence is not higher education. I have seen visionary leaders and able administrators who had a grasp of the state and benefited the masses.

Unfortunately, Rotten Apples are intelligent

Again, intelligence (and great analysis) is not leadership, that’s what we have in many leaders currently. We have intelligent and selfish folks who are self-serving, focused on themselves (with no ability to risk their popularity and voter outcome), less connected with the root cause rather than the rhetoric and who think the rules don’t apply to them. Why should a coterie or follower, follow them if it does not benefit? That last word is important, ‘Benefit’. Corrupt leaders know that, that’s why they ignore corrupt folks under them. It thus forms an ecosystem where there is a hierarchy of corrupt, within a self-serving ecosystem. Thus a contagious bad apple effect percolates within the ecosystem they create.

This nurtures a system that becomes hollow and eroded inside. Gradually, it becomes a norm, a culture and way of life. We never realize how we landed in this state of despair. I am not very hopeful that any change of political party, banner or face will change anything. It is a system problem and they have to get aligned or be ejected, like an allergen or a thorn, out of body. In a doctors parlance, incompatible organs get rejected. That’s what will happen if a different hue (party, banner or face) will try to do.

An often asked question – can intelligence or education make a difference? The answer is obvious.  I definitely rue the state of Indian affairs. It’s Matrubhumi, a place for identity and despite, a place we unfortunately left behind, but our heart aches and it swells with pride when a rocket is launched or an extraordinary achievement is done.

I can write about the recent demonstrations against reservation (affirmative action), against aggravated nationalism, about religious intolerance, about the current generation as a legacy of our evolved culture. I find current state in ruins but should we be hopeless? Definitely not and if you ask me, why? I don’t have a reason to justify (given the state of affairs) but i have deep trust that India will rise. Time alone is an answer and that we are seeing events in time snapshot, as a frozen frame (in time).  That trust within us and that faith in those founding principles laid by the moldings from Sanatan dharma, will see it rising like a sphinx. Time alone is an answer, probably you and I won’t survive to see that, but that will happen, not with dreamy eyes but a reality and of course, I am not making a prophecy so that also means we have to make concerted efforts in that direction.

That ‘WE’ of Nationhood

That WE is important (that I is very is very dilapidated in front of that WE). That WE include this huge diversity – or regions, religions, ideologies, aspirations, ethnicities etc.). Exclusion is formidable and incompatible to us as a nation. Inclusion is our ethos and when we walk together, we make that WE and a great nation. The path is long but achievable and we are making those strides.

Change is imminent and change is required. We have to dismantle old models, reinvent ourselves and make a gargantuan huge machinery that works in unison, completely in sync. Change to ‘reservation (affirmative actions)’, ‘radical ‘religious right wing’ movement, innovation in farming, creating locally dispersed opportunities (and consequently, labor) are few things that need prioritization.

We are simultaneously beset with several cultural blocks. We lack a concerted national vision, and unfortunately, we don’t realize that our very existence is under that nation. Religion, ethnic, family, regional and language ties come later, after that national vision. Right now, it is reverse, we care for our compatriot even if she/he is corrupt or inapt, we care for our ethnic or religious group  despite knowing those are on flawed grounds, so also, we struggle to oppose kinship. However, we hate a specific ethnic group. We have biases and prejudices and prototypes, and we call them Marwadis or Gujjus etc. That rhetoric has continued to build over the last 70 years. We have to end this schism. That’s just one prejudice.

Affirmative Action – a palpable ailment

We also have to remember, collectively as a society, we have exploited a class or strata and it is our collective responsibility to undo that injustice. If affirmative action was inscribed in the constitution, it was envisioned to bring this huge swath of populace into the emerging sense of nationality. Those who haven’t been the beneficiaries of this action, often insists that affirmative action was planned for only a decade. I often rue, is a decade enough to roll back the changes that have been inflicted for centuries now? I strongly feel, though the vision was carved into the constitution, it was only more a vision and those visionaries lacked creativity in rolling out a plan to understand the dynamics of how it would unfurl over decades amongst the diverse growing masses.

In 1985-86, during college elections, I saw casteism for the first time. Medical College Student elections were contested on caste affiliations, they would call it packing. Like packs of caste based groups aligned to vote as en lot. We were the first batch to start Non-Casteist Panel (NCP before Sharadrao coined that term 🤓). However, I was fortunate to be closer to one of the son’s of a prominent leader from socially disadvantaged class. He and I had open discussions on caste based reservations. I proposed, that’s 1985-86, I proposed below items for changing reservation. I cited his own example.

The Four Point Proposal –

  1. One reservation for graduation, one for job.
  2. If you get the job/education without reservation, that credit can be saved for that individual, which he can enjoy anytime.
  3. Once a family is elevated with reservation benefits, they exhaust the benefits for the next generation.
  4. The reservation percent would stay same, not decrease so that other layers within their society get the benefit.

These four point proposal was a long reflection of the underlying dynamics and frustrations, prevalent at that time. These came as a synthesis after a long deliberation and evaluation of several backward communities not being benefited despite a robust reservation program. Now, after 34-35 years, we see that ‘akrosh’, that ‘udrek’ that resent growing intense. May be something should have been done long back, on lines similar to what I proposed in 1985-86.

Today, we see an all pervasive, festering frustration. Millennia of new generations are born from whom opportunities are not alone deprived but we are creating an schism and a divide with our rigid reservation system Where is this heeding?

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The answers are unlikely to be simple, so also they are unlikely to be acceptable to all. That does not mean we leave those alone, untouched because reworking would land us in controversy. Irrespective of the current ruling regime – Congress, BJP, or any combination thereof, all have decided not to open this Pandora box. They are afraid, the bees would bite most to those who are closer to the reworking the problem. However, as time stands today – no political entity or character has the creativity, ability, capacity or vision to solve this festering problem.

Two mute points of learning from this national affirmative action program –

  1. Good intention are not enough, a leader need to be a visionary to unravel such a deeply impactful program will unfurl over a period of time. Articulate and dynamic leaders are required to unleash and embed a program of such national importance.
  2. Such initiatives should be time bound and change to understand, include and assimilate the diverse needs of times.

Except good intent, both these characters were lacking when these reservations were made. Time and events can’t be undone, however, it is still time to make decisive actions and roll out changes that are commensurate with the needs of current time.

Election fever – How it resonates with NRI

Recent messages by most ruling elite are not connected with either of these two features and given the propensity for resentment, it is very likely that their messages won’t resonate with the ordinary. People want action and not messages and messaging is anyways choked because of recent laws, compliance and activism. My thoughts are captured in the blog earlier.

Waiting for Godot Samuel Beckett

It’s election fever, and though few things have changed, more change is in the air. The entire India is plugged into the election grime. Interpreting between the lines and knowing what happened in the last five years, i think the ruling elite is disconnected with its messaging on the ground. I have summarized the outcome of the general elections 2019 on the following reasons –

  1. Lack of ability to absorb diversity
  2. No attempts at building collaborations and coalition
  3. Generalized and wide sectors of business impacted by BJP
  4. Farmers woes not addressed
  5. Lack of opportunities for youngsters to work and live
  6. Concerted effort to decimate opposition
  7. Dwarfing of internal RSS decision machinery
  8. Generalized lack of trust from any initiative

For centuries now, those who wish to rule India, need to understand its diversity and another element, it’s ability to absorb differing views, and perspectives. India is not the first country to be so diverse but its heterogeneity is so deeply pervasive and percolates into several different facets, that it is hard to define. However, when it comes to realpolitics, it is absolutely difficult to ignore diversity and its ability to absorb divergent view, to the extent that it becomes a antithesis not to accept diversity. Another trait, Indian strongly believe at face value and get carried away. But if they realize the lack of substance, that trust is breached pretty much, they resent equally and it takes time to undo and rebuild.

Recent messages by BJP are not disconnected with two characteristics that define Indian voters – diversity and ability to absorb. BJP lacks either of these two features and given the propensity for resentment, it is very likely that their messages won’t resonate with the ordinary. People want action and not messages and messaging is currently choked because of recent laws, compliance and activism. 

More so, no attempts were made to build coalitions and collaborations, in fact it was a strategy to demean and deface all, including their own stalwarts. The population five years back was relatively small, as compared kids have grown to youthful vibrancy. Barring the urban elite, many are unemployed within their milieu. They are striving for opportunities and those are lacking. Farmers are not happy due to unresolved problems festering their ecosystem. Workers are not happy due to not a strong economy. Businessmen are unhappy for the unruly rollout of GST and demonitization. Regional sections are unhappy with coalition and religions are unhappy due to fear of extinction. It’s not Muslims alone, even Buddhists are not aligned. Intellectual are anyways minuscule minority and who cares for them?

Let us review what was achieved in the last five years –

  1. A solid aggressive assertiveness for Hinduism
  2. Serious attempt to choke black money and parallel economy
  3. GST rollout
  4. Stiff stand off at Doklam
  5. Active defense with Pakistan
  6. Adhar rollout (i guess I am not wrong)
  7. Partial Make in India program
  8. Securing reservations for the upper middle caste economically backwards

If I have to credit Modi, the first one is sufficient reason to stand for the Hindu cause. We heard holocaust and we resent it. Often, Modi is blamed for the 2002 riots against Muslims. Let us for a moment, believe those allegations are true. No one had the guts to call out the xenophobia when Hindus were slaughtered for centuries of Muslim’s onslaught. Wars have been the feature of humanity but decapitation and desecration on the basis of religion was never before seen as in the Muslim invaders. It is observed that, with Modi, Hindus have risen and and asserted themselves? I am not in support of the genocide of of 2002. However, we have to consciously realize to be judicious in our assessment and not ignore the slaughter created by Muslim invaders from historical times. The rise of right wing radical is just a reflection of this insult. I know my years of writing and credentials of being secular will be watered down with these thinking. Trust me, I mean no bad towards any religion and especially Muslims. I see it is is time that Hinduism is asserting and its time to reconcile increasing assertiveness.

Why Modi is a need of time?

Never had I seen a leader holding his grit as in Doklam. Never did anyone venture into Pakistan before 2019. Never was the world so aligned against terrorism, as is it now. Never did the rupee appreciated after a fall. Never did we see clean temples (and possibly cities) in a majority Hindu country. So what if demonitization was attempted and failed? At least someone tried checking the spiraling parallel economy. At least, someone someone has the will to authoritarian will to act.

GST rollout was a grand failure. Business and Economy suffered inordinately due to humps and bumps in the GST rollout. After Gandhi, Modi is the one who realizes the importance of ‘Make in India’ or relying less of foreign goods but selling good abroad. It is no brainer, but no one caught this obvious one. Another plus, that can be ascribed to the BJP Govt. is providing a reservation to the economically backward upper caste.

If you review the above, I strongly feel the wave is against Modi. However, does that mean we can rule him out? No, India does not have a strong leader yet and Modi is the only choice. He has to learn to collaborate and understand the ethos of India, not just the ethos of Hindus. It seems, a coalition is most likely with Modi leading the way.

You may or you may not vote but this is your time to cast your opinion.