Those who failed but stood tall

History celebrates winners but it also celebrates who showed great defiance event in the moments of great suffering. Rana Pratap is one good example. But we look around ourselves we will see many such examples.

Arun Shourie has been my idol for a very long time. He has left a great impression on my mind and whatever I am. I was aware of his son’s sorry state but I did not know about his wife too. His every book is generally dedicated to his son Vikramaditya and his wife. In one of the recent interviews he spoke about his life in very brief. His tone is clearly that of a retired man but he is a lion. Unfortunately we have come to a pass where wolfs and wolfs in the disguise of sheep are ruling and people like Arun Shourie have no choice but to return to their exile.

I have never looked back in my life. On the personal front, I have had to face several challenges: my 35-year-old son has multiple handicaps and my wife has had Parkinson’s for the last 22 years. I have worked towards putting these things to work. I have followed at least three careers at the same time. I have written books, I have written columns and I have been a minister. I have carried each one of them lightly so that if I am thrown out I don’t get disappointed. (Former prime minister) Vajpayeeji asked me a few years back: “Where are you living these days?” I said: “In my parents’ house that they left behind for me. He asked me why I had not taken government accommodation. I said: “(If I do not take it) there is one less thing to give up.” [Source]

Raja’s First Come First Serve

Arun Shourie explains the FCFS used during his regim and the one employed by Raja. After watching this I wonder why Mr. Raja , his lame advocate Kapil Sibal and Dr. Manmohan Singh should not be dragged out of their houses on streets and lynched.

I am linking only one video here, there are 4 more parts of the interview.

Singh is an idiot

When we were kids breaking rules was a thrill. And when we got caught we would often claim ignorance and get away with it.

I am not supposed to get calculator for the exam??? Oh I dint know that, sorry. take it back and let me continue the exam.

As I grew up I realized that the true strength of character lies in accepting responsibility even if it brings a momentary setback. I am sure almost everyone learns that lesson. However our Prime Minister who has decorated so many facy posts who flaunts a Phd in economics has not learned this lesson.

In Goa we have a metaphor to describe something ineffective, immovable and incapable of acting on it’s own. Its “lump of cow dung”. Some congress leaders in Goa use to proudly say a few years back that even a lump of cow dung can get elected on a congress ticket in “so and so” constituency. In my opinion Manmohan Singh, a man who deserves no respect but a deep contempt from the countrymen has finally reached a station where he can be called “lump of cow dung”.

He apparently did not know that Votes were purchased to keep his government afloat. The whole country saw BJP MPs showing cash in parliament. If Manmohan Singh had even slightest trace of honesty within him and unless he had kept his eyes and ears shut throughout, would have questioned his own party-men. Of course assuming he has some authority in the party. IB reports directly to the Prime Minister. They would have told him what was the reality. But he dint do anything like that because the concept of honesty and integrity was foreign to him. He could not question anyone around him because he is a lump of cow dung.

The very reason why Manmohan Singh was made prime minister was because no one in the party considered him dangerous. A man without ambitions, a man without guts, a man incapable of acting against anyone no matter what happens. In this case Manmohan Singh has chosen not to act despite the immense harm that is brought to this nation. Not that he was capable of stopping it but he could have chosen not to be part of it. Instead this jerk has been denying that such things have happened.

Indian system gives immense power to the Prime Minister. If he is good at his job he can know what very few people know. Reiterating a story that Arun Shourie told in an interview.

The prime minister of India has unlimited power. Our system is so structured that the PM knows everything.
Yashwant Sinha [ Images ], when he was finance minister, told me an incident. He got a message from a leader of the state that s/he wanted to see him. He asked Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee if he could can meet that person. Vajpayee said he could meet her/him.
When Sinha went to the state he met the particular leader without anyone knowing about it. He had lunch and talked about all sorts of things. At the end of it, the leader gave him an envelope. He kept it in his pocket. He came to New Delhi and only then opened it.
It was a legal brief on why cases against that leader should not be pursued by the Enforcement Directorate. He put the envelope in his drawer and did nothing about it. He forgot the case.
Several days later he met Vajpayee and spoke about his meeting with the state leader. Vajpayee listened quietly and kept looking at him. At the end of the meeting he asked Sinha, ‘Aur woh lifafa (what about the envelope)?
Sinha was astonished since he had told no one about the meeting and he did not act on what was requested.
Unless the prime minister deliberately shuts his eyes there is no difficulty in knowing everything. It would be incredible that the prime minister would not know. The system is so structured.

How long will Dr. Manmohan Singh continue to fool people by constantly lying ? If his job is to know nothing then why not have a real piece of cow dung in prime minister’s chair? Tomorrow China might attack India and Manmohan Singh will claim that he dint know anything about it.

Manmohan Singh has already lost the “Paragon of Virtue” deception he had created for aam adami. It is time we see him as a despicably dishonest person.

Goa assembly debate and agitation in curchorem

Two news items from Goa have caught my attention. One shows how corrupt our leaders and society has become while other shows hope. Interestingly I see a pattern in this.

The first video is of Goa assembly debate where opposition M.L.A. Mr. Damu Naik claims that the P.W.D. minister Mr. Churchill Alemao has distributed free water tanks to people at government’s cost without any approval from finance department or cabinet approval, leave aside the issue of whether a scheme is formulated for the purpose. Now for a naive mind it would seem that if Mr. Alemao has certainly done such a thing it is equivalent (or rather is) a scandal for which he needs to be punished.

The question of whether Mr. Alemao actually did it does not require discussion because both Mr. Alemao and the Chief minister himself agree that it is the case. Chief minister however brushes aside the demand for a probe because he claims “Mr. Alemao’s intention was good”.

Please see this video

Ideally chief minister should have taken a serious note of Mr. Alemao’s misdeeds but here he defends Mr. Alemao. The conclusion one can make here is that Mr. Alemao is more powerful than the Chief minister and chief minister will never act against Mr. Alemao in his sane mind. That also explains why Mr. Digamber Kamat manages to stay in office. He is weak and he loves his chair. Which means people like Alemao can get away with whatever they want to do.

In a more developed society people would have got outraged and would demand Alemao’s resignation but here I am sure many will now try to get one free water tank for themselves.

The second news if of people of curchorem. It is a taluka in Goa infamous for the mining activities. Ore carrying truck have so far claimed many untimely deaths in the area, damage to health of citizens due to pollution is not accounted for. For many years now the people in this are have been demanding that a separate bypass road be built exclusively for the mining trucks. Read more about the issue on Prof. Sanjay Dessai’s blog.

The demand is legitimate and very easy one to grant. It is not affecting anyone’s interests in adverse way. But despite that people from Curchorem had to sit on indefinite hunger strike. In my opinion the stuff like hunger strike is more like a tantrum. One person sits for hunger strike and suddenly he gets space in news, politicians visit him and so on. In short hunger strike is not a solution but a stratagem for getting attention to the issues. Will it build the necessary willpower among the concerned people to pursue the bypass road? I doubt.

Having said that I dont think the efforts will go in vain. It will serve a larger purpose. In fact this is part of the pattern I was talking about. Gandhiji was first to highlight this.

I am not aware of all the aspects of the existing agitation in Curchorem but I do hope it is driven by people and not some political pressure group.  This is important because in Mr. Shourie’s words

Second, we must never take up an issue because we think doing so will please our employer or leader, or our party or group. Nor should we take up an issue out of the politician’s disease: “We must stall the House today on fertiliser shortage. It will send a good signal to farmers.” The reason is simple: the calculations of the employer, of the leader will change; the interest of the people will shift. For us the tests should be two — both are ever so visible in Gandhiji’s campaigns. First, the issue, to use his phrase, is “an intolerable wrong.” Second, we are personally committed to undoing it. “Committed” not in the sense that we are prepared to shout slogans about it. Committed in the sense that we are prepared to shoulder the consequences of taking a stand on it.

Taking a stand is not as simple as it seems. For most of the agitations we see are driven by few people who are just to easy to be lured by personal gains. A free flat, a free car or may be even a free water tank and the agitation will disappear in thin air. Believing in a cause means what? It means we are ready give up other important things for it. That is where heroism lies. I hope the people who are agitating fall in this category. It is a must for them to succeed.

Next the most important thing

Third, Gandhiji insisted that we must pitch our demand at the minimum. In Champaran, his demand was merely that the government appoint a committee to look into the distress of the indigo cultivators. That was enough to put the British rulers into a bind. If we set up the committee, they reasoned, everyone will conclude that we cannot stand up to this little troublemaker. When, on this reasoning, they don’t set up the committee for months, the people get to see the nature of the British government in India: if they won’t even set up a committee to examine our condition, how can we believe their professions about being our concerned guardians? All that was necessary this time round was to request that an honest, open appraisal be undertaken, one that fixes responsibility for the electoral outcome. The leaders were immediately in the same dilemma: If we concede the demand, went the rationalisation, we will be seen to be weak, and everyone down the line will conclude that we can be bullied. How will the party be run once that happens? But by not agreeing to that simple request, they proved the point!

I am feeling good about the agitation of people from Curchorem because it has got this important feature. They are demanding a very simple and minimum concession. If the government doesn’t concede it, it will be clear to most of the people that government is least bothered about their life, property and welfare. Such a feeling can make the political scenarios change drastically.

I hope more and more people from Goa make such reasonable demands with the government. The highway bridges on Talapona and Galjibag river, widening of NH 17, 6th pay to professional college teachers and there are so many simple things that people can demand and government can easily concede. The only reason why government does not do it is because of their sheer incompetence and it might cause of inconvenience in their existing setup. There is no way government can rationalize why these demands can not be met. I think that should ring bell in many heads.

 

 

 

What can a good man do in government?

Is is no dearth of honest and competent people in the country. We have seen how Indian companies have hopped so many milestones, we have seen he spirit of entrepreneurship.  A large number has left this country and left a mark of their own in their respective fields.

However, when it comes to government the picture is inverted. There is no trace of efficiency and competence in any government system. It might appear that government has hand-picked the worst kind of people from the society and have appointed them at important position with the sole aim of humiliating the rest of his countryman.

Given the truism, no honest man today wants to join the government. Such a person is scared that he wont be able to continue in the office with efficiency if he takes an uncompromising stand on his integrity. Such a person would fear that the rest of the system might force him to become a corrupt government servant.

How can a good person be in government and still demonstrate both competence and integrity ?

I turn to Arun Shourie for advice and he has the right one.

Given that truism, what can a good person in government do? Three things at the least. First, he should ensure that he himself does not wrong. He will be greatly helped in this if he has a “bad reputation”- that is, if he is known to be so stubborn, and so likely to burst out with the facts that no one will even suggest to him that he do the wrong thing! Second, in th work that has been assigned to him, for instance in the ministries which have been put in his charge, he can strive to establish such structures and procedures that ti would be more difficult for any wrong to be done— by anyone.

He further elaborates on the qualities that a leader in government must posses

Third, if information does come one’s way or erupts in the press about wrong that has been done, the good person will as a duty convey his views and assessment to those who can take a decision on the matter. The head of the government, of course, has a much more delicate, and therefore much more formidable task, He has to set the highest standards. He has to ensure that every colleague knows that he will act — swiftly, severely — at the slightest hint of wrong-doing. And he will have to watch himself. For at every turn, he will be faced with a choice: “Should I jeopardise the government and get to the root of the matter? Or should I doge and deflect?” The trouble is that it is so easy to find rationalisations for dodging and deflecting. “Only if the government survives will I be able to do the other vital things that are crying to be done,” he will tell himself, and others will tell him.

Arun Shourie speaks about the 30 years of his life which he spent in the government and watching government.

But having watched government for thirty years, I have been driven to two conclusions. Not enough good persons in government speak their mind to top leaders — so, the few who do, do not have the effect they would. And the top leaders too underestimate the authority they have — not just the institutional authority, the moral weight.

Shourie quotes Gandhiji in fact reproduces and entire article from Hareejan where Gandhiji explains his own thoughts about the matter.

The interesting part however is when Shourie writes about the Petrol Pump scam that happened during NDA’s regime.  When the news papers started writing about how BJP government has given petrol pumps to it’s own workers some people approached Shourie.

“You have been in media,” friends would say. “Why don’t you do something about it?”

Is the media the problem? Or the facts ?

“But then what should be done?”

Dont distribute petrol pumps, I said. Dont distribute plots….

“Easy for you to say such things. The congress has kept its workers happy with such small things for fifty years. Our workers can not understand why they should not get what Congress has been giving its workers for all these years. And how will you run a party without workers?”

That is a real problem, but then why complain when the facts are brought out by the press ?

India needs leaders with the kind of character Shourie is talking about. His insights also explain why men like Manmohan Singh are failing at his duty and what exactly is wrong with Dr. Manmohan Singh’s own character.

Knowing fully that Dr. MMS is incapable of acting swiftly and severely against their misdeeds everyone under him is taking him for granted. That his personal integrity is of no value to the nation, his ineptitude is perhaps very dangerous for all of us.

Utility of suffering

There are times when I feel extremely sad and miserable. In such cases I turn to my favorite author’s article.

Suffering is a feeling that none of us like. But it continues to exist. Several great people tried to demystify it but none on seems to have a plausible answer. Arun Shourie writes an article about utility of suffering. I have copied the text from here. The words here make me forget my own suffering somehow. I dont know if suffering is by design or not but I feel that suffering can change a man it can transform. Look at  Baba Amte who made the “sick” leprosy patients live a life of utmost dignity and they eventually build a college for the “healthy” people, they have no hatred for the rest of the world which treated them mercilessly instead they give back love. They blame no one. Contrast this against several of the organizations representing poor and downtrodden who are busy blaming someone else for the foes and demanding special treatment. Contrast this to Mother Teresa who denied painkillers to her patients because she thought “pain takes people closer to god”.

Let me quote the part of article here. It’s very touching.

So, suffering can be put to work. Suffering teaches, it transforms. From this many assert that there is a purpose to it, that it has been put in place, it has been inflicted by design. That is what I am not able to reconcile myself to. The point was once put by a child at the Spastics Society school with a finality that sealed it.Baba Amte was in Delhi. He was so kind as to take time off to visit the school. As everyone who has met him knows, he has presence. His work has been of the highest order. To see Anandvan, the settlement of leprosy patients that has grown up as a result of his life-long service of them is to see a miracle. Persons afflicted by this terrible ailment lead lives of utmost dignity. They grow crops — “Everything other than tea,” they say joyfully — they produce goods — “Everything other than salt,” they say in triumph– they man a complex and extensive irrigation system. They cook, they teach. By their earnings they have endowed an enormous college for the uncaring, ungrateful community of those like us who are “healthy”. Their houses are spotlessly clean. When one is in the presence of Baba Amte, therefore, one is in the presence of a person who has worked a miracle. And he has done so by sheer grit, by a super-human obstinacy. And then there is his own physical condition — he cannot sit, he has either to stand or lie down.

He had been round the school. He had planted a pipal sapling. He was now lying on a cot, talking to the children. Every word he said rang true, for he was not reciting words, he had lived them.

Alok raised his hand. Now, Alok Sikka is as much of a fighter as Baba Amte. He is, if I may say so, in Baba Amte’s mould. At that time he could not walk, he had to crawl on all fours. His speech was difficult to comprehend. He had a hundred problems. But his spirit was — and remains — as strong as Baba Amte’s is. After Baba Amte had finished his talk, and perhaps Baba Amte had said something about God, Alok asked, “But why did your God do this to me ?”

For a moment there was silence. Baba Amte then said, “I will tell you what happened once.” He told us that one of Gandhiji’s associates had a retarded daughter. The associate and his family, including the daughter were staying at Gandhiji’s ashram. Upon reaching his quarters one day the father found the child in a most distressing condition. He was moved to rage. He lifted up the daughter, and stomped back to Gandhiji’s room. Gandhiji was sitting with his head bowed, silent, in contemplation. The father as good as hurled the child into Gandhiji’s lap. “Why has your God done this ?”, he screamed. Gandhiji was startled. He did not speak for a moment. And then he said softly, “He has done this to melt your heart into kindness.”

We were all moved. Not Alok. He said, “But if your God wanted to make my parents kind, why did He do this to me ?” Everyone was dumbstruck. Including Baba Amte.

And for good reason. After all, look at Baba Amte’s own life. He was a very successful man of the world. One day he was out for his early morning walk. Perhaps the sun had not risen or there was fog, I forget the exact circumstance. But one could see for only a short distance. He heard a groan of agony. He walked over. There in the dirt on the side of the road, with nothing but a few newspaper sheets to shield him against the searing cold, lay a man unconscious, disfigured by leprosy. Baba Amte gave up all his affairs, and with just his wife and, as he says, one lame cow set off to serve lepers the rest of his life.

Over the years, as he served them — so many of them broken in spirit, disfigured in body — dread, revulsion, anger, frustration, all must have welled up in him. Seeing these emotions and reactions, watching them mindfully as the Buddhist masters would say, he must have overcome them. But could one therefore say that the others had been afflicted with that terrible ailment so that he might conquer fear, rage and the rest ? Obviously not. And that is why, whenever we have met since that encounter with Alok, Baba Amte has told me, “I am still searching for the answer to Alok’s question.”

I am posting these exact same words the second time.

Independence Day Reading

Today is India’s 63rd Independence day. Enough time has passed that we should be happy to independent but now on we should be cautious that the hard earned independence will lead to happiness of all Indians.

Here is my reading list for the day.

1.  Should Food be the right of poor?

I don’t know how passing a food bill will feel stomachs but it is indeed  shame that even after 63 years of independence or self-rule we have more than 421 million desperately poor people. That is more than 26 of Africa’s most poor nations put together. While our neighbor China is being compared with United States on all parameters our slogan driven superpower dreams are biting dust. We are being compared with African countries on all HDI parameters. 42% of all Indian children below age of 5 are underweight where as for china the figure is around 7%.

What upsets me more is that we don’t hold our leaders accountable for this situation. Instead we have learned to accept it as our fate and continue with our miserable lives. This apathy is dangerous. I hope the situation will change.

2. A Tale of Two Murders : Yitzhak Rabin and Mahatma Gandhi By Koenraad Elst

A very old article but Elst makes a few points that are worth reading about even today. Elst analyzes Nathuram’s justification for Mahatma’s murder and how it changed the political situation in India. How Mahatma’s murder had distant ramifications on India’s future.

Moreover Elst briefs over Mahatma’s vision of an Independent India and what his disciples made of it.

The most important political effect of the Mahatma’s murder for people who genuinely stand by the Gandhian ideals, was that it immensely strengthened the power position of Jawaharlal Nehru. Prime Minister Nehru and his westernized and Soviet-oriented clique killed Gandhiji a second time, viz. by thoroughly negating every single element in his vision of what free India should be like. They were implacable enemies of everything which Mahatma Gandhi had held dear: Hinduism of course, and religion in general, but also village autonomy, economic decentralization, simplicity of lifestyle, emphasis on personal morals rather than on socio-political structures, character-building rather than materialist consumerism, and grass-roots solutions for India’s specific problems.

3.  Arun Shourie’s speech in Carnegie

My love for this man is evident for the regular readers of my blog.  I am yet to read this speech completely. Ashlley Tellis introduces Arun Shourie with several kind words which Shourie says he is not used to listening. Moreover he quotes these fabulous Urdu lines.

Yeh teri sasoon ki thakun – this heaping of your praise – (speaks in
Urdu) Yeh teri aankhhon ka sakoon– this solace of your eyes – this, you know, of your
looking at me this way – (speaks in Urdu) Yeh sab kaheen rangeen sharart hi naa ho –
I’d hope that this is not just some one of your many  tricks.  (Laughter.)  (Speaks in Urdu)
Jisay hum samaj baithay hain pyar ka andaz– that which we have mistakenly taken to be
a sign of love – (speaks in Urdu) – that way of talking – (speaks in Urdu – chuckles) Who
tabassum who takallum kahein teri aadat hi naa ho– that it is – I hope it’s not just your
habit that you greet every guest with such profuse words.  (Laughter.)

And

So the adoption of new technologies, of new ways is a great advantage for a
society, and at the same time, at least thus far, the traditional strengths of such a society;
for instance, the strong bonds of the family, and therefore the sacrifice that parents would
make to deny themselves one  thing after the other so that the children could have better
education, and I could give you many impressions, which other who reported to me –
people from Microsoft and others – who have come to India, and this has been their great
mutual impression that they have said.

And

So once in an aircraft, I went, and one of these newspaper owners, we were
talking.  I asked him, aren’t y ou reading the damn nonsense your such -and-such
correspondent is writing about Kashmir?  He said to me in Hindi, he said – (in Hindi)
Arun Bhai yahee to aap mein or hum mein untar hay.  This is the difference between you
and me.  You are still reading our paper.  (Laughter.)  Kashmir?

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

Thought for the day

There lived some great men and we as school kids and college students were made to read their thoughts and internalize them. Generally these thoughts were about how we should live our life, what are the thumb rules and what should be our principles. We were supposed to derive inspiration from those great souls.

However time has come to a pass. Only few great man are left in the country whom we can follow blindly. In an environment where no one can be trusted I feel we should teach different kind of thoughts to our younger generation. Thoughts that highlight certain contrasts and question why such a contrast exists. For example this one is picked from Arun Shourie’s book The Parliamentary System.

Why is it that, to take the obvious contrast, in industry new leaders are emerging by the year, leaders who are doing better and more innovative things; but in public life second-raters are giving way to third-raters, politicians are giving way to politicians dependent on criminals, and the latter to criminals-who-have-become-politicians?

Why is it that while our entrepreneurs are venturing into newer and newer fields, that while they are registering conquests in more and more distant countries, that while they are thinking and planning farther into the future and transforming their operations today so that they may outdo the world in the distant future, why is it that while in one sphere we see these features, in the other sphere, our politicians are stoking ever narrower sections, why is their horizon becoming shorter and shorter?

Verbal Terrorists

This is the appeal Arun Shourie has made after 26/11 attacks in Rajyasabha. It hold valid even today.

“The liberal apologists are much more destructive: they are more numerous; as they are ‘people like us’, their formulations and rationalisations are more readily believed…Shun political correctness. Few things have prevented the West from waking up in time to the dangers that Islamic terrorism today constitutes for it as notions of what is politically correct. These notions have stifled scholarship, they have stifled discourse. They have led the West to shut its eyes to the ideology by which the terrorists were being fired up. The verbal terrorism by which notions of what is correct and what is not the dominant intellectual group in India — the leftists — has enforced the norms has disabled the ruling groups, and, through them, the country, to the point of paralysis. Standing up to that verbal terrorism, liberating discourse from those notions is the first requisite of fighting the war against terrorism in India.”

For the sake of political correctness or for sheer greed for power, Indian state has been harming itself and as a consequence millions of it’s citizens.

He pointed out that standing up to that verbal terrorism spread by a small but influential group of intellectual is the first step in fighting against terrorism. In my opinion there is very little scope for disagreement between the ruling and opposition party over this fact, unless the leaders of ruling party have some other motives in their mind.

Looking at the blogs and twitter even the so called liberal journalists who try to find other side of everything even when it does not exist (Ghosh and Sirdessai), are finally helping build a public opinion against the idiotic intellectuals like Arundhati Roy.

I am hopeful that this great nation will not give up easily. I am sure in its deeply rooted civilizational values lies an ability to roar and come back. I am sure we will curb the Naxalite menace soon.