Cuisines and Health

Like most of you, and as a gastronome, I often like to try different cuisines. Despite being reared on an Indian palate, I often find other cuisines scintillating. I especially gravitate towards Mediterranean, Ethiopian, TexMax, Majicano (not Spanish as is commonly called), Vietnamese, Nepali and Indian cuisine. Especially, I still have to develop taste for Sushi, though I haven’t taken a taste for Italian for its overwhelming Cheese and High Carb content. Maybe I am wrong and possibly, I have to try better restaurants.

Indian Cusine

As mentioned, I often bounce back to Indian cuisine after eating the different varieties. To admit frankly, I succumb to somnambulance from the food served at the Indian restaurants, mainly because of the high-fat content and the chef’s inadequate understanding of the composition of the ingredients. Often I tell my non-Indian friends that –

Home Cooked Food is the best:

Indian cuisine that is cooked at home is way different than what is served in Indian restaurants across the globe irrespective of the chef who cooked it. Mother’s handmade food is best, irrespective of where your mother hails from. There is more love and less of commerce admixed in that food.

The cuisine has various influences:

Cuisine varies from home to home but a regional pattern is pretty much common. Cuisine recipes differ every so many kilometer (Kilometer is the standard used in India, not miles). State and National boundaries have little impact on these varieties. These patterns have loco-regional influences that are intricately related to the weather, availability, and non-availability of ingredients and the culture of the region. In my view, the last aspect reflects our variations and a longing for identity.

Cuisines vary as you travel a few miles:

Indian subcontinental cuisine has differing shades as you traverse from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Generally, the Indian Continental Food served in restaurants here in the US or Europe is dominated by polar varieties that include either North and South Indian cuisine as the main (or multi) course meal that ideally terminates with either a dessert either from Bengali or North India.

Taste is developed in childhood:

Taste buds are developed until 5-7 years of age. I call it a native taste for cuisine. Though we all long for variety, eventually we all fall back to our native cuisine. Restaurants are thus dominated by the population it serves. As an example, here in Dallas, we have a dominant Telugu population and consequently, you see Telugu, North Indian and Tamil style food (Idlis, Dosas, etc.). Not sure if you folks have had an opportunity to taste Nepal, Ladakhi, Sikkimese of Kangra (Himachal Pradesh) food, but it is deeply rooted in the subcontinental style. We all know, Awadhi, Dakkhani, Punjabi, Marwari, Kachi, Goan, Bengali, Odisha, Assamese flavors. The list is endless and it is best to taste authentic local food when we are in the region.

Cooking has more influences too:

The cooking style is heavily influenced by the affluence, culture, nature of the work, religious and regional practices. This last aspect has not changed and though affluence and availability of ingredients are rising, we haven’t truly modified to our current lifestyle. Thus ghee, sweets, and dominance of high glycemic index foods that are destroyed by microwave heating, adulterants and high heat from Gas (stove) burners as against slow cooking on conventional chullas), has destroyed the true value of food.

Commercialization has an adverse impact:

Commercialization of crops like fertilization, high productivity pressure, faster Go To Market, our own need for picturesque rather than little blemished fruits and vegetables are adding a significantly damaging angle. When a vegetable or fruit grows naturally, it soaks all necessary ingredients from the soil. It grows slowly but gets all the necessary micronutrients while it is taking the time to ripen or mature. Vegetables or fruits grown on fertilizers, boost productivity, shorten the time to ripen/mature and thus, has fewer ingredients as compared to those that are not fed fertilizers. Also, often I observe my own behavior while at the grocery shop or farmers market. I tend to choose absolutely picture-perfect fruits/vegetables. Any blemishes by insects are discarded by me. Only retrospectively, I realized that those blemishes are a mark of quality because the insects tried eating those because of its quality. Have you tried feeding a dog or cat any sweets or milk with sugar? Try feeding some treated grains to birds and you will realize they all despise those feeds. We humans are different though. Our tongue dominates our satiety and we hardly realize that what is tasty and that which tickles our tongue is not good. Thus we end up with indulgence. We call ourselves intelligent creatures but we hardly know how to differentiate good food from not so good.

That which does not decay may not be good for health:

Most Vegetables and Fruits have a short shelf life. I often say, if a food does not decay, that’s not good food. If a pizza is seating at room temperature for more than a few days, without being spoilt or without any fungal growth, that is bad. I don’t mean we should eat food with microorganisms growing on it, I instead mean that pizza is not worth those fungi/algae than is it really good for humans? Natural decay is also influenced by weather conditions and this cannot be an ultimate gauge of quality. Unfortunately, we humans who bask on our intelligence can’t discriminate between good and bad, whereas the entire flora and fauna can.

Do you want to mix Cuisine:

You lose the authenticity, that signature of the food. A great example is Chinese-Indians. We cannot adopt best practices from other cultures. YouTube recipes are a great way to start learning but we have to mold those recipes to our lifestyle. We have to adopt authentic cuisine to our needs. Kids and pregnant/lactating mothers may need different food as compared to a father with a sedentary lifestyle. I still remember, when my wife was carrying our child, I too 😋 put on weight, it was right for her but for me 🤭. Someone recovering from illness may need different food as compared to normal healthy people. Our busy lifestyle does not offer us the liberty to adopt so much and consequently, food falters.

Spices have Special Value – Use those wisely:

For antiquity, Spices were exported from India across the Silk Route to Europe, Eastern Europe, China, and South East Asia for their medicinal and gustatory value. Kerala is the hotbed for spices though many are grown across India. Spices have been a reason for much of the Gold that accumulated from across the world into India. To avoid making this as a compendium on spices, I will cite two examples to emphasize the importance of spices.

Turmeric (curcumin) as an ingredient, is part of most Indian cuisine. As a fellow in molecular oncology, we learned in early 2000 that Indians have the least incidence and prevalence of colon cancer. One reason that was strongly associated with this finding was the vigorous use of turmeric. It has a Cox 2 inhibitory action that suppresses colon cancer progression.

Another spice that is well known is Capsaicin (Chillies). Capsaicin has a documented effect in modulating (decreasing) pain through its action on Substance P, a neuromodulator involved in the pain pathway. Amelioration of the neuropathic pain using topical capsaicin is an established remedy for Osteoarthritis and other acute pain. In addition, capsaicin is known for its gastroduodenal mucosal defense.

Animal studies suggest that capsaicin may merit clinical evaluation with respect to the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetics, angina, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiac hypertrophy, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, obesity, and gastric ulceration. In addition to the many studies assessing capsaicin’s impact on metabolic rate and adiposity, the trial of topical capsaicin in patients with angina, and the studies documenting capsaicin’s gastroprotective effects represent initial efforts in this direction. Assessment of the dose-dependency of these effects could provide useful insight into capsaicin clinical dosage to provide systemic metabolic benefits (Reference below).

Nepalese Cuisine

Summarily, there is no problem with Indian cuisine, and by no means, I wish to indicate that Indian cuisine is the best. All cuisine is excellent, be it Icelandic or Afghani food, the problem is with us. Let us fix that and add an adequate dose of exercise and activity.

Ultimately, what and how we eat as well as our activities (physical, emotional and spiritual) will influence us within us and outside world. Below guidelines are best to keep a simple balanced diet that is rooted in our regiono-ethnic practices. I say this because our genome has a memory of the food we have been eating for millennia and it has built a repertoire of identifying good and not so good. The industrial revolution has brought too many changes too fast that our body hasn’t had enough time to adjust and assimilate those changes.

Grain Bowls

My 10 Commandments of Food: Keep a simple diet

  • Eat fresh and eat in moderation. Occasional bingeing is fine.
  • Possibly try to eat less of meat and non-vegetarian food if your protein demands are not high. Initially, try to cover protein demands with a mix of grains and pulses with high protein content.
  • Keep a healthy balance of gut biota (Gut bacteria). Fresh yogurt or curds are best. Those at the grocery stores usually have killed the lactobacilli and consequently, don’t provide the probiotics that we so much need for a healthy GUT.
  • It is needless to say do not eat sweets, but try eating those at the beginning of the meal to reduce your satiety.
  • Keep a balance between the three broader categories of food, namely carbs, proteins, and fats. Imbalance of any has a strong potential for adverse health effects.
  • Remember to keep changing variety as there are multiple micronutrients required by the body and those are spread across various forms of grains, vegetables, and fruits. Do not eat the same food every day, as a habit. Always try to eat seasonal grains, fruits, and vegetables from multiple sources. Understand, the body does not know it needs a particular micronutrient, an e.g. being Cobalt. All it knows is that it is craving for a specific micronutrient. If you observe craving, try swapping varieties rather than increasing the volume.
  • Once in awhile bingeing is not bad, do not be strict disciplinarian with yourself, I am afraid, you will bounce back and drop the practice of dietary restraint.
  • Avoid inordinate use of stimulants such as Tea, Coffee, and even carbonated drinks. The later one has a tendency to dissolve the bone calcium if indulged over a period of time.
  • Do not fool your system by taking aspartame or sweeteners.
  • Intermittent fasting is always good but it cannot be universally applied. A senior leader from the Industry started Intermittent fasting. Eventually, he developed acanthosis nigricans and I suspected glucose intolerance. I made him change to a normal diet and his acanthosis disappeared. Similarly, I saw some senior leaders adopting a ketone diet. Of course, ketosis resulted in the loss of weight, however, the weight bounced back after resuming a normal diet.

Trying to reduce weight – 

If you are trying to reduce weight, increase your metabolism by recruiting various activities including resistance training, aerobics, proper sleep and reducing the Sugar PLUS Salts. Remember, the receptor for Glucose and Salt are shared receptors. The same pump (Sodium Potassium ATPase pump) facilitates the movement of salt and glucose inside the intravascular compartment. It is this principle that is leveraged in Oral Rehydration Theory while giving fluids to those with severe diarrhea.

I will keep updating this blog as and when I can. Meanwhile, please provide your suggestions.

Note: The above is based on my understanding of the principles of nutrition, medicine and observation/experience across a cross-section of the society with whom I interact. At this moment, I have little knowledge about spiritual food. So I have not made any comments about those.

 

‘Indian food is terrible’ tweet sparks hot debate about racism – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50550735

https://www.consumerreports.org/frozen-meals/grain-bowls-the-new-super-bowls/

A comparative chart that offers a good insight on the Scoville Scale of the different varieties of Chillies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3462993/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/capsaicin

Different ethnic Cuisine from China – Hunan, Sichuan, Cantonese, Shandong, XinJiang Cuisine, visit below link. https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/regional-cuisines.htm

 

 

A Message For Elon Musk

I read an interesting article in the Nov 13, 2019 issue of JAMA. I found it interesting because of three reasons –

  • First, it enlightened me on the updates on the physiology of cerebral circulation.

 

  • Second, it provided me an insight into the effects of space travel on the vascular pressure and fluid circulation during upright and recumbent positions and the effect of an absence of gravity that results in the above outcome. If Elon Musk or Virgin Airlines are thinking of planning to send frequent flyers across into space, they may either have to create gravity chambers inside the craft or ask the frequent flyers to collect frequent flyer miles and stagnation report. Possibly, Elon Musk should also consider something similar to dosimeters or Gamma counters.

 

  • Last, and most commonly, I see several patients with shift edema that is idiopathic in nature. Does it have any relationship with an internal zero gravity like situation? I know this may sound dumb, but let us think on similar lines if any of the disease phenomena are creating any vascular or perivascular effects resulting in such outcome.

 

Excerpts from the article are included below for your easy perusal. A link to the article is provided at the end of this blog.

 

A gravity-induced head-to-foot (Gz) hydrostatic pressure gradient exists in the fluid-filled systems of the body in the upright position on Earth. In the supine position, the gravity vector no longer pulls in the Gz axis; therefore, blood and tissue-fluid pressures and volumes redistribute across the body. By spending approximately two-thirds of the day upright and the remaining one-third of the day supine at night, humans experience fluid shifts daily. However, crew members on the International Space Station (ISS) are weightless and thus experience a sustained redistribution of fluids toward the head that is not subject to daily diurnal posture-induced change in hydrostatic pressure. Headward fluid shifts during prolonged weightlessness result in facial puffiness, decreased leg volume, increased stroke volume, and decreased plasma volume. This fluid shift may also affect cerebral venous outflow as internal jugular vein (IJV) volume has been showed to be increased from 4.0 to 5.5 months of spaceflight exposure.

 

NASA Men Women

 

Cerebral venous outflow occurs predominantly through the IJVs in the supine position, whereas in the upright position, the IJVs partially or fully collapse due to atmospheric pressure being greater than intraluminal pressure, and cerebral venous outflow is diverted to the vertebral veins and vertebral plexus. However, in most cases, the IJVs do not completely occlude in the upright posture, and fluid communication is present between the cerebral and central venous systems.  Indeed, we observed a waterfall-like blood flow pattern through the left IJV in most participants during upright posture on Earth, despite the semi-collapsed state of the vein. Cerebral venous drainage plays an important role in regulating intracranial pressure and intracranial fluid dynamics, and changes in cerebral venous pressure result in corresponding changes in intracranial pressure. In the upright position, venous pressure along the Gz body axis changes with respect to the venous hydrostatic indifference point because of hydrostatic effects. Notably, by collapsing, the IJVs act as Starling resistors, a protective mechanism preventing severely negative intracranial pressure in the upright position. The IJV cross-sectional area and flow are modulated by both cardiac and respiratory cycles and can be influenced by posture, anatomical variations, incompetence of the jugular valve, and changes in central venous or intrathoracic pressure. Pressure in the IJV is increased during short periods of weightlessness in parabolic flight, and in this study, we found that the IJV pressure remained elevated during long-duration spaceflight on the ISS relative to the upright posture. This result concurs with previously measured increases in intracranial pressure and transmural central venous pressure during microgravity exposure relative to the upright position on Earth. It is common to see engorged IJVs during short- and long-duration spaceflight and frame the extent of the engorgement by comparing the IJV area to 3 postures on Earth; however, it is possible that cross-sectional area measures underestimated the extent of engorgement compared to volume measures of the IJV. Cephalad fluid shifts, secondary to the lack of gravitational vectors and the reduction of tissue weight and tissue compressive forces in microgravity, may account for the increase in IJV area and pressure.

Citation:

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2755307?guestAccessKey=853187ba-4d67-4bf8-8295-0eb2b48f24d8&utm_source=silverchair&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_alert-jamanetworkopen&utm_term=mostread&utm_content=olf-widget_11252019

The Human Body in Space https://www.nasa.gov/hrp/bodyinspace

Boosting the State of Indian Economy

GDP trend indicates the health of any economy. The economic slowdown is often cyclic and a fact of life. However, the economic woes are all-pervasive and understanding the root causes help in providing insight on how best to fix. Individual countries have different problems, comprising different patterns. Thus the root causes can be broadly categorized into a pattern and individual factors specific for the country and its economy. Often, there is a shared thread between the integrated global market place. Identifying the patterns and the specific individual factors will help in putting up a strategy for revival.

This article articulates the need for a solution within broader problem space for India, which has fluctuated economically from ‘at risk’ (2013), ‘expansion’ (2016) and now again ‘at risk’ (2019). This blog is not exhaustive and does not go into a detailed root cause analysis or detailed solution building exercise. In this article, the author has provided a select set of solutions that would boost the economy, provide opportunities across multiple sectors and ameliorate the problem of the continuing slowdown.

Word Count 2280; reading time 8 – 11 min.

Economic slow down is often cyclic and a fact of life. Slowing down or crash landing of the Indian Economy is an increasing chatter on the internet. However, a closer look will reveal that the recessionary phenomenon encompasses most major economies including the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, Russia, South East Asia (the so-called ‘Tiger Economies’ of the 2000s), Brazil, Turkey, and oil-rich Gulf Nations. Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina are acutely going through this recessionary distress with revolts and change of ruling Governments. Venezuela is undergoing severe inflation called stagflation that is spreading the contagion across the borders. Poland and Canada are amongst the only few countries that are showing flying colors despite the adverse global economic headwind.

Nations such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and many African countries, especially those who have subscribed to the String of Pearls (SOP), Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), Regional Comprehensive Economic Partner (RCEP) and the 54 nations of the Africa Continent Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will face a massive financial challenge while servicing the burgeoning Chinese loans. Countries such as Pakistan, are on the precipice of falling into bankruptcy. 

The economic woes are all-pervasive and the root cause commonly follows select patterns. Individual countries have different problems. However, there is a common shared thread and select individual factors. Identifying the patterns for a specific country will help in putting up a strategy for revival. I have focused on articulating the need for a solution within broad problem areas. This blog is not exhaustive and does not go into a detailed root cause analysis or detailed solution building exercise.

Ignored Global Comparison:

In India, private debt in 2017 was 54.5 percent of the GDP and the general government debt was 70.4 percent of the GDP, total debt of about 125 of the GDP, according to the latest IMF figures. In comparison, the debt of China was 247 percent of the GDP. As of October 2018, it stands at approximately CN¥ 36 trillion (US$ 5.2 trillion), equivalent to about 47.6% of GDP. A key gauge of China’s debt has topped 300% of gross domestic product, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), as Beijing steps up support for the cooling economy while trying to contain financial risks. China’s total corporate, household and government debt rose to 303% of GDP in the first quarter of 2019, from 297% in the same period a year earlier, the IIF said in a report this week which highlighted rising debt levels worldwide.

In the United States, total non-financial private debt is $27 trillion and public debt is $19 trillion. More telling, since 1950, U.S. private debt has almost tripled from 55 percent of GDP to 150 percent of GDP, and most other major economies have shown a similar trend. Cumulative debt stands at 40 trillion dollars. Comparative figures from the US reveal that India is not badly hit, considering the numbers released by the Indian Government are trustworthy and credible.

Let us review select Key Performance Indices (KPI’s) of India’s financial health. Here are a few interesting figures from the State Of Indian Economy –

  • GDP growth is at a 15-year low
  • Unemployment is at a 45-year high
  • Household consumption is at a four-decade low
  • Bad loans in banks are at an all-time high
  • Growth in electricity generation is at a 15-year low

The list of highs and lows is long and distressing. But the state of the economy is worrying not because of these disturbing statistics. These are mere manifestations of a deeper underlying malaise that plagues the nation’s economy today. These figures were published in the Hindu, a very reputed and respected daily. When I share independent data from foreign outlets, those are immediately ridiculed as being ‘biased to damage the growing stature of India’.

I was talking with a building contractor friend of mine who has a meaningful business.  When prodded on his state of business, he said, everything is so dry and no new constructions are taking place. This is not my isolated discussion. Every now and then, I do probe these questions to people across the globe and India happens to be on the top. Below is a list of industry verticals that are not just sluggish but in recession (more than 2 quarters of slow down beyond certain percent points).

 

India Economic Slow Down

Industries Impacted: 

  • Manufacturing
  • Farming
  • Auto
  • Construction
  • Airlines
  • Service industry

Impact Equivalence: 

If you factor in the total percent affected, you will notice a major chunk of the population that forms the base of the pyramid, is affected because of the slowdown.

What happens now?

Well, families and business entities are at least losing 34-57% of their revenue. That’s a significant number. Spending goes down and tax collection goes down, tax at the POS (point of sales), tax from earning and tax from the business.

    1. Quantitative Easing
    2. Bad Loans or Risk prone leveraged industry
    3. Global slowdown
    4. China – A special mention
  • Quantitative Easing:

Well, let us borrow now at a cheaper rate from the Govt, or blow up what is saved in RBI (exit RBI Governors), a loan or from outside or print currency.

  • Bad Loans or Risk prone leveraged industry:

We can’t let this to catapult to a state of anarchy. We have to loan where the potential for defaults are high. Banking, Airlines, Telecom ate common examples. These were bankrupt overnight? The most common folks (shareholders) lost the most. Millions of crores of national treasure disappeared in just a fraction of time.

I disagree with “the Hindu” here. Let us understand, corruption was not just prevalent but endemic and all-pervasive. Nothing wrong, if Modi tightened the levers. At least he had guts to do that. No one including the system had shown responsible behavior and if Modi has tightened the noose, nothing wrong about it.

I will elaborate on the reasons where we are going wrong, needless and pointless to blame Modi for all the ills. Devaluation and GST came at a wrong time that confluence along with a Global slowdown, on which Modi had little control.

  • Global slowdown:

India is not alone. China, UK, Germany, Japan, the US, France, Gulf, Russia, Brazil, and many Tiger economies (remember the term for ASEAN economies used in 2000) are significantly slowed down.

  • China deserves a special mention:

China is the worst affected with 100s of ‘Ghost Cities’, flailing international trade pacts (CPEC, ASEAN and The revival of the Silk Road) and the flight of money compounded by the increasing cost of labor. It is gaining a notorious reputation of creating and exploiting poor nation’s solvency, squashing neighbors and selling obsolescence across the globe (recollect how your electrical and other goods specifically made is China have become durable and short-lasting).

India WEF

What should be done?

First and foremost, Modi has to move beyond strongman to strategist. A nation survives on vision and not just statesmanship. I have identified a few areas that will help boost productivity at the individual level, jump start the GDP and improve the health of the economy.

    1. Foundational Infrastructure
    2. Roads and Railways
    3. Satellite Cities and Telecom
    4. Innovation in Farming
    5. Revamp Agricultural Supply Chain
    6. Environment and Pollution
    7. Sewage and Containment
    8. Social Re-Engineering

India Vision and Strategy Continue reading “Boosting the State of Indian Economy”

Are Centrist Mutating?

A unique political game was played in Maharashtra, the centrist (Congress and NCP) and the rightwing (Shiv Sena) formed an alliance to outbid another rightwing (BJP/RSS). To many, it was perplexing, to me it is an antecedent event. Political pundits and social-political science luminaries thought it as bizarre. To me this is not. It is expediency to camouflage and change identity and reemerge as a political chimera of the dominant political ideology. In India and especially Maharashtra, all political parties will hence forth, dawn a saffron hue to camouflage their identity to match the political currents flowing within the country.

This phenomenon will gradually pervade across national boundaries to counter the upsurge of right wing radical dominance. In life sciences, it is called ‘Adaptation’, in mountaineering, it is called ‘Acclimatization’ and in sociology, this is called evolution and Darwin calls it ‘Survival Of The Fittest’.

Word Count – 905; Reading time – 3 to 4 min.

A recent upsurge in right-wing dominated nationalistic sentiments disrupted existing models in several countries. However, an experiment was played in Maharashtra, India that would possibly be a harbinger to an emerging model wherein the marginalized centrist forces may possibly adopt this model and make a comeback.

Reemerging Centrists.PNG

In the state of Maharashtra, all right-wing parties (BJP and Shiv Sena) made pre-poll alliances; similarly, the centrist parties (Congress and NCP) went into a similar alliance formation with an agreed common program. However, immediately after the elections, the rightwing alliance broke down and one of the right-wing ultra-nationalistic party forged an alliance with the centrist parties to form Government.

To many, this was strange and to the BJP, it was shocking. Political pundits thought it to be opportunistic; however, I differ with the Political Pundits and find it as an emerging pattern. I made attempts at deciphering the dynamics driving the formation of new alliances. Identifying newer patterns in alliance formation does not mean I subscribe to this newer model. Identifying models only helps us understand and mature our perspective. It is upon individuals to make conscious choices and influence their polity. The events in Maharashtra may be considered as a prelude to one of these patterns that are likely to influence the formation of future alliances, not alone in India but across the globe.

Saffronization of the polity:

There is a prominent Hindus wave in India. Most so-called centrist parties never realized this emerging phenomenon. Here before, safeguarding or protecting the cause of Hindu believers was politically incorrect. However, the majority of the Hindu population felt that they were neglected. That frustration. was tapped by the BJP. The centrist parties knew this pent up frustration, despite they kept away from addressing this growing frustration.

Electoral impact:

The electoral results gave BJP a resounding victory. Realizing this, most leaders from centrist parties realized it is time to disrobe their white outfit (a congress era vestige) and wear a saffron color outfit.

To Survive, ‘Change is a Must‘:

Simile apart, most centrist parties are now, not averse in taking up the ‘Hindu cause’ for their survival. It will not be surprising to see this becoming a nationwide phenomenon. For the Sena, to avoid being squashed under the umbrella of a nationwide Hindutva outfit was sure death. To survive, it had to be stronger than the big guy, BJP.

The Vantage Point:

Sena’s survival sentiment was very well tapped by NCP supremo, and he supported their demand for Chief Ministership and thus widened the rift between the political bedfellows of over 25 years.

For the BJP, the time had to come for separation from Sena and show their might and dominance in Maharashtra. BJP would have diluted Sena inevitably. However, NCP infused and enthused Sena for CM’s position. This hastened the emergence of the two parties divorcing and arriving at this crossroads. After establishing themselves nationwide, BJP doesn’t need Sena to hang on in Maharashtra. Thus not succumbing to Sena’s demands was strategically natural, not a principled stand, neither was it a matter of Amit Shah’s temper.

Congress had learned it hard-way the saffronization is marginalizing them. It had to change the color of its outfit and an alliance is a step towards that change to win the Hindu heart.

Power Provides Petrol:

NCP stalwart spotted the right time to flex his shrewd muscles. The recent exposure of Praful Patel was a harbinger of the attacks to come. Flexing power and keeping enemies at bay was a crucial need.

For NCP and Congress, staying out of power for a long time meant an erosion of their coffers. Ruling a rich state helps to refill those coffers. Strange ways of politics but a political party cannot survive without ruling (and corruption) for long. Both Congress and NCP had to snatch this opportunity.

Thus Saffronization, Electoral Impact, Political Survival, Individual and Coalition Dynamics and the need to recharge coffers dominated the formation of this newfound alliance. To me, these are not opportunistic bedfellows. These are emerging patterns of alliances in the post-right-wing dominated world.

(Shashank Heda, Dallas, TX)

Maharashtra: The unravelling of India’s BJP and Shiv Sena alliance

https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/maharashtra-politics-and-delusions-in-indias-democracy-1.68187141

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-50402748