Friday, July 28, 2017

Politics and Crime

The present Lok Sabha has the highest number of MPs with criminal cases against them.  One-third of the MPs face serious criminal charges.  All the MPs of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD – Bihar), 15 out of the 18 MPs of Shiv Sena (Maharashtra), and 4 out of the 5 MPs of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP – Maharashtra) are people with criminal records.  More than one-third of the BJP’s new MPs face criminal charges most of which are very serious.  The Congress Party fares better with 7% of its MPs facing serious charges while there are minor charges against 18%.  Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have contributed most of these criminals to the 16th Lok Sabha.
Courtesy: Here
These MPs are very wealthy too.  82% of all the present MPs had assets worth over ₹1 crore each in 2014 (when they were elected).  Wealth does play a significant role in making politics criminal.  Criminals enter politics precisely because they bring wealth with them to the political parties.  Parties sell ‘tickets’ to candidates who are willing to pay the highest price.  The wealthy criminals have a lot of black money and hence they are ready to pay enormous amounts to the political party provided they can win a seat in the Parliament or the Legislative Assembly.  The party is happy to get the funds. 

Political power is the best means for whitening black money as well as erasing criminal records.  Add religion to it, and the mix is headier than what one can imagine.  While political power enables one to float above all legal structures in the county, religion sanctifies one’s actions.  Mass murders, for example, become holy acts when they are given religious colours.  Forget minor crimes such as mafia attacks.

Are Indians fools to elect such people to power?  The question is raised by the latest edition of Indispire (a forum of Indiblogger, a community of Indian bloggers).  The answer is both yes and no.  Yes, because the people can choose to say no to these candidates if they want.  No, because the people have very little choice: most candidates are criminals irrespective of the party – the range and degree of the crimes may vary, that’s all.

Politics in India today is a criminal activity, in short.  India stands terribly in need of a leader with a vision who can clean up the entire system.  Unfortunately the country shows no sign of any such visionary leader.  We are condemned to be ruled by criminals as long as we don’t learn the other available alternative: question the leaders when they fail to deliver.  Our television news channels are doing a great job at this.  But the fate of NDTV shows that the channels won’t be able to go very far.  If a leading national channel is unable to lead a fight against political crimes, who can? 

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 180: #ToErrIsIndian

Thursday, July 27, 2017

BJP’s Animal Farm in Kerala

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to gain any significant political clout in Kerala.  Yet the party is already mired in charges of corruption.  In order to save its image the party has been forced to expel R S Vinod, the party’s cooperative cell convener in the state.  Vinod was accused of having accepted a bribe of no less than ₹5.60 crore from R Shaji, chairman of an educational trust who paid the amount for securing Medical Council of India’s (MCI) clearance for his medical college.  According to reports, the amount was routed through Delhi as a hawala transaction. 

The report also mentions M T Ramesh, general secretary of Kerala BJP, as a recipient of bribe from another medical college.  Ramesh has denied his involvement in the scam and the party has chosen to stand behind him since it cannot afford to oust too many leaders.  It is a question of waiting and watching before more names of BJP leaders come up in connection with the scam and possibly other scams.

Many BJP leaders or affiliates have been involved in various corruption cases in the recent past in Kerala.  E Rakesh, a Yuva Morcha leader, was recently arrested with printing machines and counterfeit currency in his own house.  Earlier, a BJP officer of Thiruvananthapuram Corporation was accused of doling out tax exemption to a prominent businessman.

Corruption is nothing new in politics.  The clich├ęd saying that power corrupts has remained true all the time irrespective of which party was in power.  What makes the case in Kerala more interesting is that the party which does not have any power given to it by the people of the state in any election is turning out to be more corrupt than the democratically elected parties.  What will the BJP do if and when it really gets the people’s mandate in the state?

From BJP's Election Manifesto (2014)
One of the cardinal promises of BJP’s election manifesto in 2014 was eradication of corruption.  But the party has turned out to be more corrupt than any other with many party leaders and workers caught with black money and counterfeit currency after the overhyped demonetisation exercise.  Another and more heinous form of corruption has been eating into the party like a terminal cancer: distortion of history and facts with the intention of assailing certain religious communities.  The consequence of this second form of corruption is much more disastrous for the nation since it is destroying the very idea of India as a pluralist nation.  India is being converted into a nation meant for only people believing in one particular religion. 

If BJP refuses to treats its cancer, the party will end up destroying India.  It may create Bharat or Hindustan or whatever else.  Some of us may think that will be a Ram Rajya.  But it is necessary to notice what the party is doing to the Dalits who are Hindus.  Today the Dalits, tomorrow the remaining weaker sections.  The ultimate motive seems to be not the creation of a Hindu Rashtra but a plutocracy.  The way wealthy traders and so-called entrepreneurs are given concessions of all sorts is just one proof.

When the Yuva Morcha leader in Kerala was arrested with printing machines and fake currency notes, a reader of a prominent newspaper commented facetiously that it was an example of “Modi ji’s Make in India in actual practice.”  It will be good if BJP can remember that not all people are fools.  And that we still have a democratic system in the country.  Unless Mr Modi and his team succeed in jettisoning the system altogether (which is highly possible), the people will use their power in the election, soon enough if not in 2019.  But a question that arises in my present Cassandra-like mind is whether there will be enough people left in the country by then.

In George Orwell’s acclaimed Animal Farm, the revolution brought about a utopia, the kind that BJP promised in its election manifesto.  But soon enough, the utopia metamorphosed into a dystopia.  Like what India is today.

History shows us that most revolutions ended up with creating dystopias: Russia after Russian Revolution, as Orwell’s Animal Farm showed and France after French Revolution are two well-known examples.  A surreptitious revolution is going on in India.  It has already created a dystopia which, like in the Orwellian Farm, has modified a national ideal: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Makes Modi Admirable?

Success in politics is directly proportional to your ability to manipulate people and systems.  No one on earth can match Mr Narendra Modi in that skill.  From the time he assumed the highest position in the country, there have been multifarious attacks on people belonging to minority communities as well as the Dalits.  The attacks have been both overt and covert.  They keep happening.  Some noise is made by certain people and the event is forgotten.  This is the height of Modi’s success.

Most important positions have been handed over on a platter to the Sangh loyalists.  The latest is the President’s post.  The new man in that post is a typical illustration of what historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto said eloquently, “Heroes do not make history; history makes heroes.”  Ram Nath Kovind would not have been known beyond the circle of his friends and colleagues had it not been for the twists and turns brought about by Mr Modi in contemporary Indian politics. 

There are clearly ulterior motives in appointing such people to significant positions.  For example, when Mr Kovind mentions Deendayal Upadhyaya in his first speech as President and omits Jawaharlal Nehru the motive is not so covert.  Mr Modi has succeeded in placing people like Mr Kovind in very many positions.  And he has also given them a huge fan following in social media through paid agents.  Ram Nath Kovind got three million followers on Twitter as soon as he took over as President!

Institutions are infiltrated already.  Textbooks are being rewritten.  Even hospitals are not spared: astrologers will now diagnose the ills and woes of Indians!

Indians whose brains have not been pawned in the ever-rising Sangh usury-outlets may wonder what the destiny of this country is going to be.  But our leader – alas, the only one left in the country – knows very well that brains are at a premium in the country.  Mediocrity lives from day to day, forgetting yesterday’s tragedies.  Modi’s real greatness lies in converting India into a nation of mediocre people without a past.  He has erased their history.  He is writing a new history for them successfully.  Only exceptionally gifted leaders can do this.  Modi is one such exception.

Pessimism of the gods

There is a romantic at sleep in my heart who likes to believe that people were better in the good old days. The people I saw as a child we...