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Santosh Nair

Post-truth: Modi vs. Trump

Santosh Nair

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Modi

The psyche of the current electorate is gradually undergoing a change, the world over!! While the behaviour could be attributed to the lack of creativity and imagination in the existing leadership, it is also due to the need to curb extensive corruption not evenly apportioned.

Corruption is looked upon more pragmatically by the contemporary electorate tending to lean on the lesser corrupt of the lot. The idea of corruption is fast emerging more as means to liquidate the organizational claims rather than inflate personal wealth. While the former is condonable, the latter is unvindicable and could warrant admonishment. Organizational claims could be for funding the party’s promotional activities, electioneering expenses including funding vote banks and the lethal horse trading as well. These are considered mandatory and inevasible.

The psyche was indeed evolving rapidly in India too and the manifestation was being felt eventually. The idea was to elect a radical to lead the country and the narrative had to be rewritten….!!!  The age-old patriarchs like L. K. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, M. M. Joshi and Manmohan Singh failed to cut ice with the masses nor could the likes of Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari march past their potent shield!!

Modi emerged triumphant in an era when the electorate was in the quest of a less corrupt yet more imaginative and innovative leadership. Modi could pass the acid test mainly because he appeared and orated like a dynamite, waiting with bated breath to bring about a revolution!! While he acceded to the side-lining of the dormant office bearers, he preferred to lead a convoy of efficient men (??) into the mainstream to initiate the process of inclusive growth.

Sadly, enough the Godhra carnage and the subsequent Hindu-Muslim stir did not act as a deterrent to his elevation.

Modi’s rhetoric was legendary and unparalleled. He vowed to redeem the concept of “Acche Din”, he promised the moon….!!

  1. He talked of a 56” chest that will send a shiver down the Pakistani’s spine.
  2. He talked of repealing Article 370 that gives the state of Kashmir autonomous status.
  3. He talked of depleting black money in the Swiss banks and depositing Rs.15,00,000/- in the account of each citizen of India!!
  4. He talked of flinging the outdated Mnrega into the deep sea!!
  5. He talked of rooting out corruption from the system. “Na Khaunga, na khane doonga”.
  6. He talked of bringing in unprecedented economic growth!!

The gullible commoner was swept off his feet by his blazing rhetoric while the nation was handed over to the Modi administration on a platter!!

Four years down the line, ceasefire violation tripled so did the illegal immigration of militants in the valley. While Article 370 remains a pipe dream, Modi could not even bring normalcy in a strife-ridden Kashmir. The Modis and the Choksis, Mallyas and Bhandaris fled with our hard-earned money to a foreign location with ease and panache as we yearned for the 15 lacs to be deposited in our account.

Meanwhile, our beloved PM could merely but successfully polarize the majoritarian vote bank and create/widen the religious divide which led to religious unrest, incidents of mob lynching and moral policing.

The Modi dynamics surface particularly at times when his popularity plummets rapidly:

Case-1: Surgical strikes at a time when his Kashmir policies (or the lack of it) faced disapproval leading to religious unrest.

Case-2: Demonetization: When he failed disastrously in getting the Swiss money back from their banks. Not that he tried hard for it but he wished to keep his near and dear ones at bay.

Case-3: GST implementation: Took advantage of a clear mandate to push through this reform albeit being against it during the UPA regime.

Modi, however still partially retains the public trust despite the erosion of the promised land!!! Nevertheless, it could still be the TINA factor as well….

The US of A was saddled with a familiar and noted political personality, Hillary Clinton and a less known rival Donald Trump as Presidential candidates. Hillary was the favourite of the connoisseur and aspired for an easy win, while Donald was the underdog.

Many of his public statements were controversial or false, he loathed the media who reciprocated with the same venom and rancour. He indulged openly in sexual escapades and was known to be promiscuous. He had a reputation that did not align well with the American psyche.

..and lo and behold..!!

The US of A upset the political applecart of a well-known and ostensibly revered Hilary Clinton and voted to power a virtual underdog Donald Trump!! No sooner he assumed office 23 high ranking officials faced the axe, including Sally Yates, US Deputy Attorney General, James Comey, FBI Director, Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State and Andrew McCabe, FBI Deputy Director.

Donald Trump got into the business of serious administration right from the word go!!

Executive order 13767 was passed aiming to build a new wall along Mexico – US border to stop illegal immigrants. He has asked money from Mexico as well to fund this venture. Executive order 13769 / 13780 were passed banning citizens of several Muslim countries from entering the US. The immigrants were turning out to be a menace for the peace-loving American community.

The family separation policy did cause great agony and angst among parents of the 2300 children from whom they had to forcibly separate. The Trump administration described it as a “zero tolerance’ policy and was hence averse to any noncompliance.

Moderate Americans found the policies unpalatable and contrary to the tolerant nature of the United States. Many of the US citizens cared a damn, but a good measure of them found them suited to their needs. More importantly, the containment of immigrants was an important constituent during his presidential campaign.

Withdrawal from the Paris agreement was a pledge he had taken during his campaign and was hence duty bound to impose the same in letter and spirit. The Paris accord could undermine the US economy and put them at a permanent disadvantage. This is in keeping with his America First policy!!

To repeal the net neutrality and the Affordable Care Act was Trumps technique of opposing everything put forth by the Obama Administration.

Today he commands a 41.4% popularity among the electorate which is comparable to Barack Obama (45.9), Bill Clinton (48.0%), George H. W. Bush (59.8%), George W Bush (67.3%), Ronald Reagen (41.1%), Jimmy Carter (39.0%), General Ford (44.1%) and Richard Nixon (55.8%) during their first term. While each of the head of state enjoyed a second term, Donald Trump has a long way to go and can yet aspire to gain the marginally lost grounds.

Two world leaders presiding over two great countries but fully divergent in approach!!

While Modi line of thoughts may be aligned to his actions but not his words, Trump thinks, speaks and acts in the same language. The difference is for you to judge.

 

 

Santosh Nair

The Incidental Prime Minister

Santosh Nair

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Dr. Manmohan Singh was indeed a reluctant aspirant to the PMs chair!!

A hard-boiled, thoroughly competent bureaucrat may find it stifling to barge into the whirlpool of real politick where the breeding essentially lies in apportioning freebies by deftly camouflaging the reality.

As a finance minister, Dr. Singh forged ahead on a path that led to the glorious era for Indian industrial prosperity. The opening of the markets in phases was innovative and won him accolades from world leaders and economists. India went through its golden age during that period under the stewardship of P. V. Narasimha Rao!!

It was ironically a strange twist of fate, firstly for him to don the chair of the Finance minister and later the Prime Minister. Mr. PVNR called him a day before to offer him the finance ministry and similarly, Sonia Gandhi made him a PM, firstly because she could not take the chair, secondly as it would take quite some time before she could turn around Rahul from his wayward ways!!

As he said later in an interview, both his nominations were accidental!!!

Dr. Singh never won a Lok Sabha election and had to take a back-door entry to Parliament through the Rajya Sabha!! Unlike the Modi wave that catapulted our current PM to a position of sovereign power, Dr. Singh acted as a proxy to other leaders in the making. Regrettably, the Indian electoral mandates are reserved for candidates who hold sway to the voter’s mind. Dr. Singh was unfortunately slated as a doer more than a person to leverage the vote banks!!

As the PM of the country, Dr. Singh, unlike his dutiful mannerism tried hard to establish an identity for himself, during the UPA1. He even threatened to resign if the nuclear deal was not pulled through, irrespective of the political fallout with the left. Although the ploy did work, he fell prey to the boundless corruption in the party that left him accountable and clueless.

Politics does need different types of skill sets to hold on to power. Money forms an integral part of many such shady deals. Reportedly a lot of money changed hands to balance the power equation in UPA’s favour after the left deserted the coalition.

The coal scam created another furore amongst the opposition. The Coalgate as it was called concerned with the allocation of the nation’s coal deposits. In its draft report issued in March 2014, the CAG’s office accused the Government of India for allocating coal blocks in an inefficient manner.

Dr. Manmohan Singh had to face the brunt almost singlehandedly. Incidentally, this was an area where he lacked the proficiency that a Sharad Pawar or an Amit Shah would excel in!!

UPA-2 encapsulated him to a shell from where resurrection was beyond the bounds of possibility. His core competencies were disquieted which led to his dismal economic performance.

“History will be kinder to me than the media” said Shri Manmohan Singh, as the coal scam got underway implicating him as well!! The realization finally dawned on him that politics is far murkier than he could ever fathom!!

The Accidental Prime Minister is the grave saga of a genius who was entrusted with the reins of the nation, to be handed over to the rightful heir during the time of his coronation!!           

Sadly, in India, a genius is not mentally conditioned to hold a political post like that of a Prime Minister!!!!

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Santosh Nair

The bane of internal migration

Santosh Nair

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kamal nath

The political diaspora can ill afford to oppose something like internal migration!!

In a bid, to protect their nationalistic stance and outlook, leaders like Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and others need to take a more holistic view related to migration considering their impending inroads into national politics.

While Vijay Rupani, CM of Gujarat offering an 80% job reservation from the state and 25% of the same, from the same locality is comprehensible as he cannot think beyond Gujarat with Narendra Modi around and the Late Mr. Balasaheb Thackerey and his family’s objection to the extensive migration to Maharashtra of first the South Indians and then the North Indians, because the Sena considers Maharashtra their fiefdom,   Kamalnath’s scrapping of state concessions for companies employing more than 30% of workers from other states is, to say the least, a strategy extremely myopic in nature.

The CM of MP may be in line with the designation he seeks but falls short of the eminence and prestige when compared to the positions he had held in the past in the union cabinet. He has been a national leader par excellence and part of the core group.

It may be noted that the Shiv Sena is viewed with a lot of antagonism in the North, particularly in Bihar and UP, however, these states do not concern the Sena as well!! Modi needs to be alert and tread cautiously considering a widespread Gujarati bandwagon that he shoulders (Amit Shah, Mukesh Ambani, Anil Ambani, Adani…)!!

Article 15 is explicit about human rights. It says that state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. State Governments are expected to enforce rules adhering to the constitution than choose to be non-compliant.

It is immoral, uneconomic and unconstitutional!!!

Supreme Court judgement in the case of Charu Khurana vs the Union of India in 2013 upholding the rights of Indians to freely migrate and take up employment anywhere in India is a clear example of the freedom guaranteed by our constitution.

Fifteen thousand immigrants from the northeast fled from Karnataka fearing assault and forty thousand from Northern states rushed back home from Gujarat after they have been targeted for the rape of a minor by reportedly one of them!! The myriad challenges faced by these folks considering the diversity of languages, culture, identity, documentation, social entitlement, housing and financial services and political exclusion are colossal. A further addition to their angst in terms of fear and anxiety could only aggravate their stay.

Corporates also need the freedom to choose candidates with the type of skill sets that is aligned to their need. People form the cornerstone of all organizations and hence the right selection plays an optimum role in the growth of the industry. Selecting from the available set of people would be detrimental to the progress of the company and hence the nation as well.

Internal migration is hence an important component in the process of growth. An industrial revolution brings in additional revenue to the state concerned which in turn may be utilized to aid the process of education and rehabilitation.

Maharashtra is a glaring example of a well modelled economy that is a combination of the effort by both the locals and the migrant community. The satellite townships like Mumbai, Pune, Nasik, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar etc are growing in leaps and bounds. Undoubtedly it is the most prosperous state in India and the merit goes to the state administration. Since they are national parties they had to embrace migration despite the Shiv Sena’s resistance!!

The other State administration should also be tasked with the building up of job opportunities for Indian citizens. The northern Hindi heartland endorses a religious / casteist approach that draws the politicians towards polarization. Caste and religion is prime and forms the chunk of the vote bank here. Politicians finds it extremely within their reach as they are the low-lying fruits!!

However, economic progress engenders a pragmatic thought process that calls for strategic leadership.

The Hindi heartland should realize that their leaders needs to be more competent than themselves and work in a direction to meet their economic interest more than their casteist!!

Migration brings untold hardship to the elderly and physically challenged. They are left to fend for themselves in many of the cases. While the developed countries of the world offer social security to their senior citizens that keeps them healthy and fit, most Indians are malnourished at that age and hence unhealthy and diseased.

A nation is not just bound by the geographical boundaries and borders but a mindset that resonates in solidarity during exigencies despite the cultural and religious diversities, a mindset that is nationalistic in a manner suited to their likings and not dictated by external forces.

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Santosh Nair

Mandir will not find any resonance with an empty stomach

Santosh Nair

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The Hindi heartland has indeed flattered to deceive!!

The invincible trio of Shivraj Chauhan, Vasundhara Raje and Raman Singh were ousted at the behest of the most fundamental pillar of democracy – the people!!

The power over the ballot box is supreme, sovereign and all-encompassing!!

However, it would make sense only if the political parties reconcile to the electoral mathematics. A win in a constituency would entail polling majority of votes irrespective of the margin of victory. The total number of votes of all constituencies put together or the total percentage of votes polled is inconsequential. Democracy follows the majoritarian lineage.

Polarization works if the electorate is well fed and engaged. An unemployed, famished voter will be compelled to seek redressal for his distress rather than lean to religion. Polarization works only in a prosperous environment where the basic needs are met.

The bone of contention was the issue with regards to the farmers and the growing unemployment in rural and urban sectors. Religion hardly finds favour in the scheme of things here. The cravings for basic human needs takes precedence over religious bonding. Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh failed to bring the previous incumbent back and opted for the opposition or NOTA.

The call for Mandir will find any resonance with an empty stomach!!

The waiver of loans to the farmers is a myopic approach to the problem. While it may address the symptom, the actual ailment will remain unattended. The irony of the issue is that while the inputs to the farming community that includes fertilizer manufacturers and the final output that includes product distributors make their fortune in heaps, the poor farmer from whose location the output originates is in a state of penury!!

An immediate solution to this impasse is a fixation of the MSP (Maximum Selling Price), a step eluded by the government for reasons unknown.

Unemployment has been a cardinal issue despite the government making frenzied efforts to elevate Indian status in the ease of doing business worldwide. The nation has managed to hoist itself in that regard, but sadly investment was found lacking. It is obviously anybody’s guess to apprehend whether the parameters identified to determine business comforts was in tune with the augmentation of businesses in India!!

Another major factor that accounted to the fall of the BJP was its utter disdain to the OBC and the lower caste. Polarization-based on religion is admissible due to a Hindu majority. However, caste-wise dissemination is lethal and politically incorrect. To encourage religious and casteist divisiveness is undesirable in a pluralistic society. The casteist divide may not cease with the SC, ST and OBC but will encroach into various other territories that houses a motley crowd of people from various walks of life!!

Babasaheb Ambedkar (bless his kind soul) must be turning in his grave in utter disgust!!!

None of the above (NOTA), an option designed to disapprove candidates in a voting system, is not attuned to democratic norms. While democracy is based on majoritarianism, it is binding on the voters to either choose a candidate of his liking or vote for the best of the lot. Consensus forms the cornerstone of a democracy where discord and disagreements transcends personal beliefs and ideology!!

NOTA is hence undemocratic and could be done away with!!

Statistical inputs with regards to GDP, fiscal deficit etc on the social media could enthuse an economist who is competent to dwell into the finer points of the data. A common man will be ill at ease, with this data and would look for some visible gains that reflects in his day to day affairs. The GDP gains will be effective only if the same translates into benefits to boost his confidence.

The continuous use of social media should have been limited to the build-up of benefits that are perceivable and attainable!!

It requires a herculean effort to maintain the fine balance between the peoples wants and their desires. While the wants are commensurate to the process of growth, the desires are populist policies whose duration is too short for comfort!!

Despite the multiple term runs, the dismal performance of the governments has left the electorate with little options other than to bring in a change.

However, the noteworthy aspect of the elections is its adherence to democratic norms, which no government could mar or undo!!

No wonder we are still the world’s greatest democracy!!!

 

 

 

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