Amidst the euphoria created by Mr. Kejriwal with huge help of media, there is a section of society which is resentful of all this. An.d this section of society does not include just right wing sympathizers. Sangh Parivar volunteers formed 70% of Anna’s movement and it pains us to see AAP align with the same Congress, which is responsible for all this misery! To top it, AAP supporting caste based reservations (a relic of V P Singh Mandal movement); minority appeasement in the form of calling for referendum of Kashmir, praising Batla House terrorists, meeting the Maulana who incited Muzaffarnagar riots; anti Nuclear plant protests etc is a photocopy of the Congress’s sinister ways
Of late, the “Aam Aadmi” phenomenon has caught the fancy of a lot of people.
Consider this – For all of last 10 years, the Indian public saw unlimited scams, with corruption by the Congress exceeding Rupees 5 crore crore, according to media. It is humanly impossible to even put together the names of all these scams and scamsters here. Topping that has been mind numbing inflation. If factors like retail food prices, real estate (RE) values, cost of living are added up, nobody would be even surprised that the average inflation every year (annually since last 10 years), exceeded 20%! Digest this with halting of the GDP growth, investments, rabid unemployment and all of us can understand why we are in abject misery.
At regular intervals since last 10 years, the country has witnessed Congress’s arrogance, complete disregard to public sentiment, a governance which if called “auto-pilot” would be more of a compliment (since the country actually receded), throwing mud in the eyes of the public in the name of national and internal security and brazen vote Bank politics.
Let us now ponder over the traits of a common man.
“Anyone who wants an honest structure in this country, is an aam aadmi" Arvind Kejriwal says. "The common man wants a roof over their head, they want water, electricity and healthcare" he said.
In my view, a common man is the other side of coin of how Mr Kejriwal describes him.
A common man is one, who suffers from:
Corruption – From Congress scam’s – Stamp paper scam, Scorpene submarine scam, Hassan Ali Khan tax default, 2G scam, Madhu Koda scam, Adarsh scam, Coal Block scam, Common wealth Games scam, Swiss Bank money, Robert Vadra scam, to name a few. Not a SINGLE FIR has been filed against any Congress leader muddied in these scams so far.
Inflation – More than 20% inflation annually since 10 years
Misgovernance – sleeper cells like Manish Tiwari, Ajay Maken, Kapil Sibal, destructive one’s like Chidambram, not to forget the auto-pilot PM (Zero reform by the esteemed politicians of the likes mentioned above, not to mention the destructive nature of their tenures)
National Security – China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka to name a few. On 26/11 Mumbai attacks - no action on Pak!
Internal Security – India got a bad name because of the huge number of rape cases under this government
Food, clothing, shelter – Food prices, stuttering economy, sky high Real Estate prices.
All sectors completely debased.
Congress vote Bank bills – NREGA, RTE, FSB, Farmer loan waive off to name a few
Can anyone shouting on the roof top that he or she is the biggest well wisher of the common man, give us a leadership which punishes those guilty of the above, and acts so that the common man no longer faces this pain? Till now we have only seen very tall promises and little actions that seem only populist, without a solid roadmap.
Common man is so distraught and living under such misery, that even power/ water rate cut comes across as reform!
Since we all were subjected to this all in 10 years, isn’t it the reason why anyone calling us common man and promising relief, makes us loose little bit of rationality and emotionally attracts us?
Quoting Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State, on the politics practiced by Democratic Party of America – “If you are taught bitterness and anger, then you will believe you are a victim. You will feel aggrieved and the twin brother of aggrievement is entitlement. So now you think you are owed something and you don’t have to work for it – Now, you will be on a really bad road to nowhere because there are people who will play to that sense of victimhood, aggrievement and entitlement, and you still won’t have a job.”
I appeal to everybody to think hard – Havn’t we, in Delhi, been subjected to this kind of emotional blackmail by the Aam Aadmi party (AAP)? Knowing they didn’t have any past record, they promised the moon, but owing to Congress’s misgovernance, corruption, mind numbing inflation, unemployment and all round paralysis in government apparatus – some of us Delhites were so deep in despair that they caved in! We bought their sense of victimhood pasted on us, making us forget that there is a marked difference between protesting on the streets against Congress corruption and being in power with the same Congress.
Amidst the euphoria created by Mr. Kejriwal with huge help of media, there is a section of society which is resentful of all this. And this section of society does not include just right wing sympathizers. Sangh Parivar volunteers formed 70% of Anna’s movement and it pains us to see AAP align with the same Congress, which is responsible for all this misery! To top it, AAP supporting caste based reservations (a relic of V P Singh Mandal movement); minority appeasement in the form of calling for referendum of Kashmir, praising Batla House terrorists, meeting the Maulana who incited Muzaffarnagar riots; anti Nuclear plant protests etc is a photocopy of the Congress’s sinister ways.
Let us see how people in India view their leaders.
Vedas say “Thoughts makes Words, Words makes Actions, Actions make Habit, Habit makes Character and Character makes Destiny.”
India is an age-old culture/ civilization and hence public limelight is most on the leader’s character. But what good is a man in white robe, if he cares little to make effort to direct the society towards progress? For Society to progress, actions and character of its leaders are twin pillars – this is so because leader’s actions manifest into physical development of the country and fulfillment of the basic needs of its people, and the leader’s character acts as an example to the Ministers, party men, bureaucracy and finally, to the man on the street. Now, can we place our hand on our heart and say that only someone from a particular family will keep on producing such men, women who will have the right character and will act righteously? So, fair representation in the top echelons of the political party is one key factor which ensures that the leader identifies pain of the common man and works to alleviate it.
Secondly, corruption is as much a social construct as an embedded way of life – “The system”. Congress ideology is “Power at all costs”. Ideology, then, is another key determinant of leadership provided by the “ruling class” or “government”.
For dynastic parties like Congress, SP, BJD, RLD, RJD, JDU, SAD, NCP, PDP, NCP and DMK – the “Ruler” is the ideology. AAP’s ideology is leftism. BJP’s is Hindu nationalism.
BJP has shown it has the ideology and leaders to meet the aspirations of the India of a well off common man. Also see graph, BJP has the lowest percentage of MPs from political families.
The recent media trials on Yeddyurappa and Gadkari have been subsequently proved untrue as well.
Hasn’t BJP been the best performer and given solid governance everytime and everywhere it has been in power?
See the performance of BJP vis-à-vis Congress (Download BJP vs Congress - performance). Narendra Modi has further proved his credentials in 12 years.
What to say of Rahul Gandhi? - Atal ji had let him off with help from Indian government’s high office when Rahul was caught in the US with drugs and cash. And has he even bothered to take responsibility and prove his governance?
Look at some of the BJP’s excellent work which was discarded by the communal Congress regime: POTA, majority disinvestments, Current account surpluses, robust GDP growth (and resultant supply side/ investments), bullishness and positivity. During Atal ji’s time, prominent personalities certified the emergent self esteem of Indians worldwide and high optimism prevailing in the country. Polls showed Indians were the most optimistic citizens on Earth. Even our Supreme Court has recently upheld the river linking project conceived by the BJP, by directing the Government to start this project.
It is difficult to believe that inspite of the despicable governance of Congress, 24% Delhites voted for it! This shows the power of “Brand Gandhi”, which starts taking a child’s mindshare right from the first page of our history books, with Gandhi’s talisman written on it.
I appeal to the reader – India needs a Strong government at Centre, but one which is not bounded by lust for power/ unbridled corruption, but by nationalism.
Let’s give 272+ seats to the Leader whom we feel has the vision guided by ideology, has delivered on aspirations of millions through his actions, has impeccable character and can fulfill the destiny of India.
I belong to Delhi and hence writing of the local factors which led to the “Common Man” phenomenon in the city.
Sheila Dikshit’s 15 years government saw a boom in Real Estate (RE) prices – resulting in hardly any new Schools, no new Hospitals getting constructed (Return on investment being lower). Only 19 lac families have water meters in the city till date. In Electricity sector, the government has given a Rs. 2000 cr advance to the private distcoms, power tariffs were hiked repeatedly in past 15 years.
We all know Congress makes money from corruption and then puts this money in Real Estate, thereby RE prices shoot up whenever Congress is in power.
Other misdeeds of the Congress in Delhi:
- Common Wealth Games corruption running into Rs. 50,000 cr and a verifiable list of other scams
-Absurd laws to abet corruption – Sale of floors through Power of attorney repeatedly introduced and removed. Congress netas bought and sold RE having benefit of this prior information.
-1 acre farmhouse’s permitted. Congress netas bought and sold RE having benefit of this prior information.
-Minimum price for land acquisition suddenly raised exponentially, Congress netas bought and sold agricultural land having benefit of this prior information.
-Building Map approval on part-plots not allowed, but possible after paying bribes
-DLF Moti Nagar project – No high rises permitted in Delhi, but this project was cleared. Robert Vadra connection?
-Dwarka Expressway project yet to be completed
-Big announcements of infrastructure projects in Delhi (like Flyovers) even with shortage of funds. Result - delays, ratcheting up of project costs and subsequent corruption
-Bijwasan nodal railway station, logistics hub still not complete
-BRT corridor yet to be dismantled
-Red/ Blue lines introduced by selling licences for each Bus, by Jagdish Tytler. Result – thousands of deaths on roads by competing Buses running amok like shops
-The sealing drive went on for 3 years, the government made noises but gave lot of time to politicians owning Malls to sell their Mall space, before sealing stopped and roads were commercialized
-Yamuna waterfront still filthy and ill suited for a modern city. Since BJP, in its manifesto has announced a tourist hotspot for Yamuna, AAP is never likely to implement it
-The MonoRail was promised by BJP in its manifesto but vendetta politics by AAP means it won’t be adopted, as with all other BJP’s ideas for betterment of the city
-Multiplicity of taxes
-North and Central Delhi are connected by new Rohtak road, which is always jammed. The government never completed a project to build an elevated corridor over the 6 km, permanently congested stretch of the road
-Parking rates have reached the skies in Delhi
-Humongous state taxes on petrol/ diesel
-CNG rates increased again and again
-LPG/ Cylinders being used in the city – why no piped gas?
-Every world city has swanky taxis – why do we have to rely on autos/ Rickshaws?
-Lack of cleanliness
The biggest hoax played by Communal Congress has been “Secularism”. It has been rightly called Pseudo-secularism because:
-Being a civilization founded on core Hindu values of deep humanity, ours is a naturally “Secular” country, but only till Hindus are in vast majority. Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, prove that “Secularism” in its right sense can never exist when a radical religion like Islam is in majority.
Sir Mark Tully, a former BBC journalist who’s made India his home, has to say in his book, No full stops in India - “India is a Hindu nation forced to wear the ugly, formless garb of Western secularism. Hindu nationalism is a backlash against this pedantic Nehruvian aspiration, the 50-year-old soulless construct that sunders religion from its natural place in Indian public life.”
-This also gets corroborated by Jinnah - “Without an identity which is anti-India and anti-Hindu, Pakistan would be India and Pakistani Muslims would be Hindus. Merging with India would then come with brute force.”
-While some other Pakistani’s have emphasized that promoting the primacy of a pan-Islamic identity (over all other identities) is essential to maintaining distinctiveness from India and preventing national "collapse".
-See video below in which Dr Subramanium Swamy gives research which proves that the DNA of all South Asians is 100% similar, and hence all Asian Muslims are ex-Hindus. Subramanium Swamy YouTube video
My appeal to my fellow Delhites – Let’s discard all the ills facing us today and vote in a Congress-free India, with 272+ seats to the BJP and Narendra Modi as PM.
I am writing this article to make sense of the animal called AAP. Behind the marches on the street, idealism, loud talk, populist jargon, “Sab chor hain”/ “Sab mile hue
hain” blabber; lies the nerve centre/ the “DNA” of the party. To me, the only way to ascertain what AAP is about, and the co-joined fate of the city I live in, was by analyzing the party’s manifesto.
Let’s make sense out of the economic plan behind the manifesto:
# Electricity – Manifesto says audit of all distcoms would be carried out to find inflated bills – Target is 50% reduction in electricity bills.
First, does every private company inflate bills? If Yes, why not audit mobile firms, Gas companies, petrol pumps etc, practically the whole private sector. Does everybody in the world come in “Sab Chor hain” construct?
Truth is: privatization and sanity in electricity prices has restored investor confidence in the sector and brought efficiency. Wonder why a well read guy like Kejriwal can’t see that.
Secondly, the only way for meeting its promise of 50% reduction in electricity bills, is by cutting electricity prices by atleast 40-50%. Reduce prices by this much and BOOM would go the sector! Future investors would shun the sector, no fresh investments would come by, we would have a bad name with foreign investors and “regulatory uncertainty risk” would be associated with investing in India, for eons to come.
# Solar energy – Manifesto says 20% of Delhi's power needs would be met by Solar power!
But ask any solar expert, he'll tell you the innovation and consequent price reduction in solar equipment has not happened to the extent that you get cheaper electricity from solar means, vis-a-vis the costs.
From where will the huge money required for this capital intensive plan/ subsidies will come, if at all one ignores feasibility?
# Devolving power to the people - Last heard this catch phrase from Soviet's. On paper, it means a lot of “Mohalla committee’s”, “group decision taking” and so on. Practically speaking, on the ground it means nothing unless one wants crass populism like free electricity, water, food et al. Manifesto already says upto 700 litres of water to be given free! It seems like a plan straight out of demagoguery – promise immediate, selective benefit, ignoring long term results on the fiscal situation. If Kejriwal is so serious about benefiting Delhites, why not stop theft of water like electricity companies have done? Why should honest payers bear the costs?
With reduction in electricity prices and free water, the city’s finances would be in doldrums and government would need to find a way to compensate the losses – one doesn’t need to go far to decipher the next event. Taxes would be hiked, and since Kejriwal and party, have won on “people’s power”, it is the “middle class and above” who will bear the brunt. Is the slogan-shouting, invective-mouthing, young, middle class supporter of AAP ready for such an eventuality?
# Education - Government schools to be made as good as private Schools. Read this with another line which says "Employment of contractual/ temporary teachers in all Government and private schools to be stopped, and all irregular posts to be regularised" - So, regularized teachers, which caused poor quality education in the first place (as per studies) have been made as a solution!
On how will the magic of making Government schools as good as Private, be achieved – there’s not much. No path-breaking solution, like taking away the permanent nature of a Government service!
Another: "Regulation of private schools fee" – So, we are going to get the Licence Raj back. That also in the name of the common man! Ditto Leftists/ Communists – Win in the name of “people’s power”, then take away the lifeblood of the markets by slapping controls. A retrograde step, which will take Delhi 25 years back. Mr. Kejriwal - Just why is quality of education in private schools better than government one's? - The answer is not teacher's salary since post pay commission, government teachers get paid handsomely. It is to do with charging for ensuring quality! What is AAP's plan of price discovery for quality, apart from the fact that price controls, per se, is an old relic of Licence Raj? The more relevant question to ask is how is AAP's education model going to be different from Congress's? Students are taught low self-esteemed history of India - invaders, despots and mass murderers are equated with glorious rulers, there is complete distortion in the way the dark ages of conversion by sword is side stepped and there is no linear consciousness being imparted of a civilization which goes back to 10,000 BC. Spirituality is not taught in Schools to appease minorities, instead parents have to rely on institutions like Swami Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Brahmakumari's to make students aware of the tremendous wealth of Hindu spiritual ethos.
# Expansion of government healthcare, to be "made as good" as private - How? No explanation seems forthcoming.
# Unauthorised colonies to be regularised - That's it? That Sheila also did!
What about the real problem of authorizing sans proper roads, water, electricity in these colonies? No detail on that one also.
The real question is - Where will the money come from for doing anything for unauthorized colonies? As we can see, money is already going in Government colleges, solar power, free water, electricity subsidization and Government hospitals!
# No new infrastructure projects at all! – The BJP, which brought Delhi Metro, has a new Monorail in its manifesto for the city. It has also promised a tourism hotspot for the Yamuna riverfront, apart from committing itself to improving supply side constraints in a host of sectors.
# Last - Social Justice – Lollipops for Muslims/ SC’s/ Valmikis etc – straight forward targeting of class groups and pandering to minorities - so typical Congress!
Kejriwal’s AAP seems to tell Delhites point blank – My economics is akin to Sonianomics. Like Congress waived farmer loans, provided huge fertilizer/ other subsidies, initiated money-guzzling NREGA, brought populist but fiscally damaging bills like Food security and Right to Education (RTE); "I will give doles/ freebies to selective groups which will be my future vote-banks."
For the rest, there is the utopian satisfaction of seeing a common man’s Kejriwal in power, on the single plank of “anti-corruption”! Does giving freebies, making people used to blackmailing government apparatus, not tantamount to social corruption? And what about the fact that most of Delhites bribe the Babus because they themselves want to flout laws, by building extra space, taking ground water etc?
Does AAP have any solutions to issues that plague India - security apparatus, foreign policy, economy, Banking sector, Judiciary, regionalism, caste polarization, communalism and the like? Or will banning RSS put India in auto correct mode?
AAP is PAAP, don’t make our beautiful Delhi, a decayed, rotten Calcutta of the leftists.
Please forward my blog URL tusharkansal.blogspot.com to others for them to read and gain some sense of the party which has won, but never governed.
I am writing to you to make you aware of the hoax being played in the name of people’s power/ anti corruption called Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
May you please see the opinion polls outcome given below:
This clearly says that AAP is most likely to get 10-15 seats, at max. Considering that Congress gets approx 20 seats, we need to think about possible post poll scenarios.
# Scenario 1 – AAP forces Delhi into re-elections. The chances of this are highly unlikely as people will then question AAP’s credibility and ability to provide a viable alternative. Especially with Arvind Kejriwal’s tall claims in this elections (47 seat AAP own prediction), people will not trust him another time and will lead to a disaster for AAP. Outcome – Unlikely.
# Scenario 2 – AAP supporting either BJP or Congress. Again highly unlikely as this will be a political suicide for AAP as they are getting a mandate which is anti Congress and anti BJP. Outcome – Highly unlikely
# Scenario 3 – AAP gains support from BJP or Congress and forms government on the basis of AAP’s agenda. This is the most likely scenario wherein Delhi can see AAP as the ruling party and Kejriwal as the CM (provided he wins his seat). Outcome – Very Likely
Now that you have read so far, it begets the next question, with whom will AAP liaison to form the next government? It’s very clear that, it will be AAP’s choice and not the choice of either Congress or BJP. So on what basis will that choice be executed is the million dollar question. The past trends show that it will be Congress with whom AAP will be most comfortable making an alliance with. Let’s ponder at below reasons which lead to the above conclusion.
# In 2004, Sonia Gandhi sent letter to PM and FM recommending that Arvind Kejriwal should not be transferred (http://inagist.com/all/407173524843798528/). In 14 years of service, he wasn’t transferred even once. And he didn’t even expose a single event of corruption in the department all these 14 years.
# Anna has refused to give blessings to AAP. After using his name, Yogendra Yadav says Anna movement was Hindu majority because of Anna!
# Sheila has said she will ally with AAP after elections. While BJP has made statements about AAP, there is a complete, stony silence from Congress - and hardly any rallies in Delhi. Plan seems to be leaving the field strategically wide open for AAP.
# We have seen the kind of Secularism practiced by AAP – support to Batla house terrorists, meeting Maulana who incited Muzzafarnagar riots and calling for separation of Kashmir from India.
# We all know what AAP stands AGAINST (Against Congress? NO. It hasnt made ONE anti-Congress statement inspite of being a product of Anna's anti Congress corruption movement!). But, what does it stand FOR? Do we want leftists like Bengal Communists in Delhi? Look at how Calcutta decayed with protests, street marches, vote bank politics, all in the name of people’s power!
# Shazia Ilmi being given “Clean chit” by so-called “Internal Lokpal” of AAP! Imagine selling tickets for crores, accepting cash; all while professing that one is against corruption. All this happened and Congress did not raise a single voice of protest.
# Survey conducted by Yogendra Yadav saying that Modi will get 5% vote in national elections and Rahul Gandhi will get 42%! (http://www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6816:just-5-want-modi-as-pm-42-want-rahul-gandhi&catid=122:politics&Itemid=488)
Looking at above facts, it becomes clear who is siding with whom. Does this all not remove all doubt that AAP is B team of Congress and they plan to ally and form government in Delhi together?
Let us see how such an AAP+Congress government would be like, if formed. It will be a weak coalition, with Congress taking its support off after some time, as they have always done in the past, so that in the event of a re-election, they can claim that only Congress provides stability. In the event of re-elections, Congress will hope to win.
The point here is every vote in favour of AAP will bring Congress closer to power in Delhi again (with an eyewash of AAP’s agenda).
My appeal to YOU - Do we want to see Congress in power?
My views on current state of political headwinds in our country.
On national level, the NaMo phenomenon has brought tremendous traction in people. Last seen in Atal ji`s time, people are believing in politics as a positive agent of change. Citizens are in misery, owing to rampant corruption, sky high inflation (Every 3 months, Manmohan or Montek give a statement that it will come down soon), national security challenges coming from Pak and China (On 26/11, Congress is doing charade of exchanging letters, evidence with Pak, since it is Pak Army which did 26/11, what benefit will that have, apart from appeasing minorities?), sorry state of internal security for women, tanking GDP growth, faltering rupee, the pathetic state of all sectors (as my friends in private sector would confirm) and continuous vote bank politics practised by Congress like land acquisition bill, communal violence bill, removal of POTA, forgoing farmer loans, NREGA etc - all at expense of tax payer and industry.
The silver lining is that people see the work of BJP in all states, contrasting with Cong ruled one`s. This phenomenon has been substantiated by the record voter turnout in recently held elections - 72% MP, 75% Chhatisgarh, 81% Mizoram, 74% Rajasthan! Going by opinion polls, there is good reason to see Dr Harshvardhan as CM of Delhi with a BJP in absolute majority.
A few comments on the Delhi election: Congress and Sheila are on their way out, as all opinion polls have predicted. BJP`s Dr Harsh Vardhan has highest approval rating, again per opinion polls. Coming to AAP - The anti Corruption, anti Congress movement was a social one, led by Anna ji. I was there in the marches, as were my fellow RSS volunteers (RSS being staunchly nationalist, supports all such movements and as such, 70% of Anna`s supporters in that movement were Sangh Parivar men and women.). It is confirmed that BJP had offered its support to Lokpal in Lok Sabha to Anna (Please see media reports) but Kejriwal didn't allow BJP leaders on stage. Hardcore nationalists and BJP supporters like Gen V K Singh, Swami Ramdev were on stage with Anna.
Yesterday, Kejriwal`s protege, Yogendra Yadav said Anna`s movement was Hindu majority because of Anna! Read this with AAP`s support to Batla house terrorists, calling for seperation of Kashmir, meeting rabid Mullah Maulana who incited Muzzafarnagar riots and issued Fatwa for Taslima Nasreen, George Bush. And what you get is typical Congress communal politics - Appeasement, vote bank games, secularism of the Congress kind! Yesterday, Sheila said she will ally with AAP after elections - imagine, poor people who participated in Anna`s anti Congress, anti corruption movement voting for someone who will ally with Congress only! Same thing happened when Chiranjeevi fought on anti Congress platform and later formed alliance with Congress!
What we know is what Kejriwal is AGAINST (Against Congress? NO! There is not even a SINGLE anti-Congress statement made by AAP, inspite of being a progeny of Anna`s anti Congress corruption movement!) ! But what is he FOR? Lokpal in Delhi won't be a magic wand, since it'll ultimately report to the legislature itself, akin to current Lokayukta! Kejriwal says he doesn't want money to go in flyovers, beautification, gardens but for building sewers! Basics need to be met and beautification can follow! For all businessmen I've spoken with, are scared of Kejriwal. Why? Problem of businesses in Delhi (and in India generally) is not so much corruption, as over legalese - approvals, too many laws, too many govt deptts, lack of clarity, socialistic and populist approach of politicians like land acquisition bill making it compulsory to get 80% landowner approval - current AAP policy intent means more JNU Jholla wallah type leftism, slogan shouting, decay of Delhi in the name of common man.. Proof of impractical agenda of AAP is that their supporters are usually idealistic, impractical, sloganeering, leftist who are swayed by dreams of utopia! WORST - Shazia Ilmi`s video has proved they hv been selling tickets for crores, accepting cash without receipt and to top it - getting "Clean chit" from "Internal Lokpal"!
In fact fellow Tweeples would confirm the alacrity with which they lie - I can give tweets by AAP leaders giving opposite stand on national issues to different people! Last, coming to Farzi surveys of AAP - One such survey which Kejriwal harps on radio everyday, gives 47 seats to AAP in Delhi. Another such Farzi survey of Yogendra Yadav says 5% ppl will vote for NaMo and 42% for Rahul Gandhi! Does all this leave any doubt that AAP is B team of Congress? Ask Kejriwal or any AAPtard if they will fight Lok Sabha elections and disrupt CongressMuktBharat movement of NaMo and there is silence! I appeal to everybody - think for yourself if u want a BJP with majority hold on all states, with NaMo as PM, or a weak government run with blackmail of regional dynasty run demagogue parties?
We have seen what bureaucrat Manmohan has done to India, ushering in a decade of decay. We have seen what leftists did to Calcutta, a city in morass, bereft of its once vibrancy, thriving capitalism, world class infra, now living with daily lockdowns/ protests/ marches/ loss of culture. We have seen what Congress corruption has done with Rs 50,000 cr eaten in Commonwealth games alone. We have seen the Anna and Nirbhaya movement, against corruption and female security respectively. We have seen that in whole of 15 years, Congress didn't remove maze of approvals, taxes, deptts - a minefield for businesses. Now imagine another bureaucrat Kejriwal in power with Congress support. Imagine his vote bank appeasement (Not talking about genuine care for the low income classes but vote bank politics) to Rickshaw pullers, autorickshaw wallahs, money going to make a sewer ghost town instead of grand, showcase infra projects. Imagine what tax payers will shell out and concomitant tax hikes with forced reduction in electricity, water prices - measures which will reduce demand (just like Congress has been doing for last 9 years), instead of increasing supply.
Kejriwal says it's people`s power, remember Stalin, Mao, Bengal communists ruled in the name of people's power!
BJP, which brought Delhi Metro, RTI to India, has promised statehood to Delhi with police under Delhi govt, thereby securing women safety; a new Mono Rail for Delhi, all unauthorized colonies getting regularised BUT WITH proper roads, infra, water, electricity. It has promised a Sabarmati like riverfront for Yamuna. Also on BJP's agenda is solar powered street lights, sane real estate prices, extra floor with enhanced FAR, high rise office buildings etc.
It was Congress which brought Red line/ Blue line buses which ran amok like shops on streets, killing thousands. The much maligned BRT is yet to be dismantled by Sheila.
Each vote counts, each politician well chosen makes a beautiful bouquet and as patriotic citizens, let us choose wisely and MUST GO to VOTE! India, youngest nation on Earth, deserves at least this much from us youth.
I have made a list of topics I want to write in Newspapers/ Magazines. I want to start writing primarily because being a regular newspaper reader since more than 25 years, I have seen editors conveniently replacing US with India while publishing articles. But India is not US, no matter what our English language consciousness might try and convince us. We have our own cultural, spiritual and civilizational moorings and those are what I aim to capture in my work. Below are some topics (and a brief about them) which are my starting points as a writer.
Read the term “Idli living” in an article in Mint recently. It struck me for the accuracy with which this term describes how we in the middle class are living our lives in today’s times. With pervasive inflation since last 9 years, slowing of economy, the surplus income at our disposal has gone down. Result – family budgets have shrunk and luxury seems to be flying out of the window. Are we destined to live by meeting bare minimum needs, a nation of Idli-living beings?
Maid for each other
The Maid Agency business is booming. With NREGA and resultant movement of labour back to villages and with removal of Jhuggi-Jhopri clusters across metro’s like Delhi, the supply of workers for homes has considerably shrunk. Maid Agencies, charging hefty sums and bringing workers from small cities/ villages to the Metro’s are booming. What is the size of the Maid Agency business? Will it change the social construct – the unsaid quasi-commercial nature of work our maids do and the work-without-written-contract way in which this market operates? Will it result in minimum wages for scores of these unheard workers; will it create a new social equation between families and Maids?
Black money and INR exchange rate
It is by now common knowledge that India has huge black money stashed abroad. It is also a common perception that most of this money is of Indian politicians, who are considered as the richest in the world. Is there a connection between this money and INR-USD exchange rate? Is INR artificially kept depreciated so much, so that USD’s fetch a higher value when round-tripped into the country in the form of FDI/ FII investments?
RSS needs to be contemporary
The RSS, which spawned the BJP and created a bipolar polity in India – home to 20% of world’s population, still carries many redundant approaches to its objective. Contrast this with the BJP, which has leaders like Modi who have embraced technology and who propagate their message in ways palatable to the westernised youth of today. Should RSS change? Sun Tv and Jaya channel are owned by political parties. We also have the God channel by Church organisations. Should RSS open its own media Channel to disseminate its politico-cultural and spiritual philosophy? Would the youth be better off hearing their view of India’s past and vision for the future? As a start, should RSS have a new Dress code?
RSS needs to grow beyond its cultural moorings
RSS’s vision is a cultural one. It sees India with the lenses of a single cultural entity. Does it need to be a geographically conscious entity rather than only a cultural one? Should its agenda be to consolidate the vast reach of Hinduism?
A modern setu to Sri Lanka
Needed - a US Canada model for Asia. We need to connect seamlessly to our neighbours – Myanmar, Tibet, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, SL, Pakistan – the way US is connected to Canada. Schengen type Visa policy is required for the area. It also means cornering the Divide-and-Rule policy of US and taking US/ EU/ China out of the Asian equation. The US needs to exit Japan, S. Korea and follow the example of a unified Germany. When Germany could be allowed to unify, why not Korea’s, India-Pak-SL-Nepal-Bhutan-Tibet? Alaska and Russia are getting linked through a bridge, which would be built in extreme weather conditions. In Asia, China has been a spoilsport – it sees itself as the Middle Kingdom and throws its weight around. China’s deeds should be used as an opportunity by India by taking a lead in unifying Asia. Internal politics in India means the Ram Setu is being dredged, how about building a bridge from India to Sri Lanka over the Setu instead, for a start?
Pesky NGO calls
Mobile phone owners have recently been inundated with calls from some quarters, claiming to be NGO’s supporting poor children. The callers evince funds and are willing to show proofs like pictures of the poor children they are supporting. What’s the truth behind these NGO’s? Who audits them? How do they have the wherewithal to set up and pay for the Call-Centre’s and market them like a business? How much funds do they raise and do the funds actually go to the intended beneficiaries or are siphoned off? Is it another scam?
A short-sighted polity
Investments are going down, Savings rate is dipping, the country is running on monster budget and trade deficits. Rupee is faltering; India’s ratings are under threat. But instead of boosting capital creation and investments in the economy, the Congress is resorting to wasteful schemes like NREGA. The party has waived farm loans, hiked public wages, and supported across-the-board subsidies – all without any concurrent asset creation. On the other hand, it says USD 1 trillion is needed to create infrastructure. Is the polity prone to short-sighted appeasement and vote-grabbing in the name of leftist styled welfare/ upliftment of farmers?
Return of the Licence Raj
Instances of rent-seeking behaviour of the bureaucracy and those in power are rising. Businesses complain of arbitrary laws and constant change in the fine print of the policies of the Government. Compounding the problem is the changing ministers and each new one bringing his own policies. Seen - a large number of disputes and intervention of Courts, which take their own time to deliver verdicts. Result – projects mired in controversies/ logjams and slowing down of the economy. E.g Roads/ Power/ Telecom (be it any sector). Are we seeing a return of the Licence-Raj?
Big is beautiful
India has them all – the country has Malls, highways, infrastructure projects, industries, technology. But each product/ facility has one key differentiator – size. We have successful small cars like Maruti, cramped Bus/ Railway stations/ Malls brimming to the hilt/ Narrow roads/ Auto’s instead of Taxi’s/ small shops/ mini college campuses etc. Why do we think small? If a UMPP can be designed, why not huge expressways, mega infrastructure projects, vast cities and open spaces? Are we incapable of thinking Big and removing supply-side bottlenecks? Do we lack integrated vision?
Teach self-esteemed history
The Japanese raise the self-esteem of their citizens by initiating them to their glorious past through history text books. Thus, they mirror the teachings of Vivekananda, who said our people should be upright and mentally strong. In contrast, our history books teach a narrative view of history by talking about happenings on a land, as it was. We don’t make our kids aware of the longest continuing culture (since 5000 BC) in the world. Result is a western-leaning, inferiority complex driven, confused youth. Is it high time to draw an Asian lesson from the Japs?
Spiritual education in Indian Schools
Should Spirituality be a subject in Indian Schools? Are we failing to impart our best ethical and moral code to our youngsters? Can Indian society live in a spiritual vacuum and rely only on borrowed teachings from the west? Are we living in denial of our spiritual moorings?Till how long will we outsource spiritual teaching to multifarious organisations like Brahmakumari’s, Sri Sri Foundation, Swami Ramdev Trust etc? Would our Minority Schools possessing huge sovereign rights under law, accept Indian spiritual text books? Is that a “secular” (sic) reason for denying this universal knowledge to our children?
A Confucius for Indian spirituality
Confucius taught Chinese the value of a strong centre, a strong Government and hence Chinese appear united. The Chinese government knows its people will support it given that families teach the angle of governance also. In contrast, spiritual India was always about you yourself, other Human beings and the environment – Governance was left to the King. Is it time we start infusing awareness about Governance so that we can come out of the chaotic institutions of today? Can Chanakya be reborn for the youth of today, by placing it in the middle of Indian spirituality?
A temporary fix which went too long
English language is no more an enabler it has been till now. The best of the West is already behind us. What we are witnessing in the West is crass consumerism, breakdown of families, abstract relationships and a spoilt environment. The effects of crass capitalism are for all to see in the West. Continuing with English means letting the lacunae of West seep into the Indian society. English has also created a glass ceiling, hindering upward movement for bulk of the population. The majority of States teach in Hindi and other vernacular languages and our youth in non-Metro’s don’t have access to English. Thus, even the best brains cannot rise above being a Clerk, or having a Government job or being a Teacher. Salaries in local languages are also demeaning as compared to English jobs. English is hindering creation of national Markets in vernacular languages e.g IT. There is hardly any Hindi IT software market. Language has truly become a class barrier. Consider this – there is no Baidu.com in India, rather we rely on Google. Till how long will be live on somebody else’s tongue and deny Nirvana for our talented youth?
An enabler Government
The Keynesian UPA Government has dipped its hands deep by being the largest borrower and spender of today. The Government borrows so much from the market that there is very less left in the hands of the Financial Institutions to allocate resources to the efficient spenders. Companies in India are also paying humongous interest on debt, as a result. Contrast this with 0.25% to 5% that companies in Japan and US pay on their loans.The Government wants to control everything. Can we, in future, expect a Government which just focuses on law and order, health and education? Can the Government give us administrative reforms instead of appropriating resources from the Market? Can we expect some reform in the Courts, for example, instead of seeing Government dirty its hands in business?
Separate courts for Government litigation
Most of the Court cases in India are inter-Government cases, or involving the GoI as one party. A case once lost by a Government agency has to be filed in Higher Courts, as per Indian law. Could the Government set up separate Courts for these cases and unclog the legal system?
Education and Health sectors in India can only be run by not-for-profit Societies/ Trusts. But these bodies have become opaque, undemocratic and unanswerable. Can we do better by removing NGO’s/ Societies in education/ health thereby removing hindrance to scalability and technological up gradation? US universities receive large corpus of donations from ex-students, set up endowment funds and sponsor patented technological innovations, thereby earning massively. These funds are then invested in expansion and modernisation. Lack of private companies ails these sectors in India and inhibits development of propriety technologies. The Defence sector in India also keeps its technological innovations away from these opaque institutions, thereby resulting in lack of mass production of innovative products by Indian companies a la the internet. Converting these not-for-profit institutions into private companies requires painstaking effort and clear guidelines from the GoI. These reforms would also mean tremendous FDI in the education sector, given the middle class’s aspirations and propensity to spend on education. Would we see it in our lifetime?
A demographic dividend which Congress forgot
India’s burgeoning youth population has been described in terms of a “Demographic dividend” i.e with young population dwindling in other industrial economies, it is professed that availability of cheap, and skilled labour from India will hasten its growth and also enlarge its market. The catch being that Government has to provide education and healthcare to make its youth skilled and support employment. It also means having to spend on infrastructure creation as well as removing administrative bottlenecks in the industrial sector for long-term growth. However, it is seen that GDP is slowing down, inflation since last 9 years has eaten into incomes of people and country is witnessing unreal growth i.e. growth without employment. This is a result of over spending by the Government on expenditure side rather than capital side. Can the country be brought back to real growth so that it can reap its demographic dividend?
Coined by Amish Tripathi of ‘Meluha’ fame, the term “Secular Extremists” can be used to describe Congress and other “secular” (sic) parties. While they woo naturally secular Hindu’s (owing to their spiritual upbringing), at the same time these parties are guilty of creating a “Minority” mindset to garner votes. Their being in power since 9 years on the “secular” plank has seen governance dipping to the age of pre-90’s. Till how long these extremists would be tolerated in power? Does the BJP have it to again appear as a robust, viable alternative to come in power?
BJP needs miracle moments
BJP has been traditionally weak in Karnataka, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra, Bihar and Kerala. While it has had governments in Karnataka, Rajasthan, UP and in coalition in Maharashtra, but its commitment in mentoring heavyweight politicians of the likes of Reddy of Andhra seems suspect. To come to power with a clear majority and hence fulfilling its professed agenda would be next to impossible if it doesn’t stop relying on other parties and develop its own cadre and set of leaders in these states.
A nation of Brown sahib’s - English as bane of India’s problems
English was chosen as a national language instead of Hindi primarily because of opposition from some sections in Tamil Nadu. Staying with that language has meant that in today’s time, being westernised is a fashionable sign of upward mobility. Our dress, behaviour is no longer attuned to our continent’s conditions but to the West. It is also getting farther from the Indic sub-cultures in the vicinity of the country. Speaking and thinking in English has also meant that we have ego-trips, sometimes we see ourselves as equal to whites, at best, while other times we consider ourselves superior to other Asians. We run after Oscars/ Cannes, instead of treating the National Awards/ Filmfares as the epitome of achievement. Our film industry, the largest in the world, is referred as Bollywood, as if it’s some poor man’s imitation of Hollywood. When can we stop being Brown Sahib’s and revert to our traditional ways?
Hollow as Halo
Statecraft seems to be overtaking ideology. Parties of today speak with a forked tongue. Their stand seems to depend on the forum they are addressing. However, this No-philosophy/ ideology policy, the likes of which Congress is a master, is only good when the party’s actions manifest in a centralist balance. But when it appears as silence, indifference and selective-appeasement, it equals mass neglect. Congress’s ideology looks to be the person heading the party. Can the voters see beyond the Halo created by Hollow?
BJP needs to realise that power binds
Being in opposition is not good for any political party. Power Binds – so the BJP should now focus on winning. With power will come the glue which will attract the best minds to the party and further its agenda. But is the party ready for ruling again?
Opposition without ideology, for sake of it
The NDA has many new ideas for the country - River-linking, drafting a new Constitution, disinvesting majority controls in state-owned enterprises, POTA to name a few. The Congress has given up on all these by stating that these were fundamentally wrong. It opposes, for the sake of it. Till how far will this mindless behaviour last?
Unorganised is the way for India
There has been a failure whenever Government has tried to regulate any sector. On the contrary, sectors beyond the grip of Government have done well e.g IT. Governments follow the maxim –Subsidise nascent sectors-Regulate mature sectors-Tax cash rich sectors. In India, Government’s stifling policies seem to be affecting all the sectors, even if they need freedom. Another example is of the Labour sector, where attempts to regulate have failed. Companies are resorting to off-roll staff to bypass labour laws. Organised forms, therefore, doesn’t seem to be the way ahead for India. Is India better off in its chaotic, formless avatar? Is Western styled well-strutted markets ill-suited for India?
Marketing and PR lessons from Modi
Marketing/ PR can only follow performance. Beating your own drum without results in your backyard will never give returns. Modi seems to have this philosophy firmly in his lap. There are exceptions like the Gandhi’s, who owing to ongoing publicity and imprint on young minds, coming from History books, are beneficiaries of votes from the less informed.
Nehruvian gifting needs return
Nehru gifted islands to Myanmar and Sri Lanka besides ceding Aksai Chin to China. He also gifted the UN Permanent Security Council seat, offered to India bu the US initially, to China. With passage of time and melting of ideology based international relations, is it time to reverse the largesse?
The civilizational buffer
Tibet is a cultural extension of India. It’s always been a buffer between the great civilizations of India and China. While this buffer was annexed by China only 50 years back, Nehru, blinded by Communism and inspite of Sardar Patel’s warning, didn’t act in time to stop that from happening. A large part of the mistrust between the two countries comes from having no memory of dealing with each other as neighbours. For Indians, a China at its doorsteps is a figure of hate and mistrust. What is the way forward on the Tibet issue?
Demarcate geography of influence
India’s cultural influence has been from the Central Asian republics, to Iran, to Japan, all down the way to Asean countries. Why don’t we teach about this through our history textbooks and make Indians aware of their potential geographical reach?
Nothing Gandhian about Brand Gandhi
Gandhi ji once remarked that Congress enjoyed a first-mover advantage and hence for a clean democracy, it should be dissolved post independence. What has happened is the reverse. With Gandhi being portrayed as a Mahatma and Father of the Nation in the first page of our history textbooks, there is a 20% vote which automatically goes to the Congress, when a Gandhi is at its helm. There is no level playing field. Is there any similarity between today’s Gandhi’s and the Mahatma? Should his name be played down from history text books to avoid venal politicians taking undue advantage from Brand Gandhi?
Time to revisit FDI limits
MNC’s operating in sectors with less than 100% FDI have largely circumvented the rules by having cross holdings with Indian promoters offshore. Sectors with less than 100% FDI have witnessed less FDI flows. It is seen that Indian minority promoters have virtually no role to play in development of their companies. Given that India badly needs FDI owing to large deficits, is it time to do away with all FDI caps?
India a consumption driven economy
India is a consumption driven economy, rather than one reliant on exports, unlike China or Asean nations. Imports being high, the Rupee needs to be strong. Strong FDI is needed and the GoI also needs to invest more in infrastructure rather than on wasteful subsidies. At PPP, Indian Rupee to USD is a factor of 9. NDA’s policies had brought the Rupee at 35, while current dispensation has taken it to historic lows, at almost 60. What is required to strengthen the Rupee?
Right disinvestment policy to boost economy
OFS is a bad way of selling family silver. During NDA times, sale of majority stakes of PSU’s was done at a majority premium. Balco, Sterlite and VSNL all have seen their market cap go up as a result. The value of Government’s residual stake in these companies has gone up exponentially. Companies like Air India, BSNL, MTNL, SAIL, BHEL, ONGC, which have been strategically kept for market competitiveness in each sector are losing value. This strategy of keeping one PSU for competitive pricing is proving detrimental with time – It’s time these sacrificial lambs need to roar. Contrast this with the sale of Corus to Tata’s, which was done by British Government ensuring that it fetches maximum price (in a smartly conducted e-auction). Does the Government need a right disinvestment policy?
Asia common currency
Asia, the largest and fastest growth engine of world economy, needs better integration. Is it time for a custom’s union, followed by common passport/ currency for the region?
Administrative reform need of the hour
There is a need for realising that exports will not resolve India’s payment problems. India’s bane is lack of administrative reform and corruption. Lack of administrative reform is hindering growth prospects. Also, India will always be a services driven economy. Being a consumption driven engine means that the Rupee needs to be strong. Yuan @ 6 to the USD has not hampered growth but has only boosted Chinese purchases across the globe. Concurrent administrative reform will only aid India’s GDP.
Pre-emptive teaching way out for Islamic terror
Turkey teaches its citizens the wrongs in its religion also. Why can’t we teach our youth the detrimental teachings being imparted in madarsa’s on Wahabi/ Salafi terrorism? France banned scarfs/ burqa for being religious symbols and hence interfering in secular atmosphere. By contrast, we have loudspeakers blaring from Mosque’s in India with no respite. What exactly is the right secular learning?
Wartime aggression to build hard power
In today’s times, hard power counts. All permanent members of UN Security Council have been wartime nations. Other’s in waiting – notably, Japan and Germany have also earned respect owing to their military conquests in the past. The West, Russia and China only recognise hard power. There is no respect for the meek in world’s view. Can India’s military be utilised for raising India’s stature? Can we demonstrate to China, others in South Asia and Asean that we matter?
Hindu’s need few organised, powerful institutions
Church institutions have become powerful, work as huge wealthy companies by drawing on the money power of the West. They set up Healthcare and Educational institutions world over and draw souls by their good deeds. Hindu institutions, by contrast, are generally averse to working in a capitalist environment. Example – the RSS. Is it time for our Hindu institutions to embrace the capitalist model whole heartedly?
A wasteful British legacy
Indian Parliament and Courts function with long recesses, a leftover from the British Raj, when ruling Britishers used to Travel to Britain in Indian summers. Why are we still carrying this wasteful British era legacy?
Indian Police needs military discipline
Militants like home-grown Maoists have become powerful, sophisticated institutions. The Police caught them, only to let them off under Political pressure, with rulers taking a humane view of what was a largely internal security issue. Is it time for some serious Police reforms?Would removing the throttling political control over our Police re-moralise it?
Raise Infra standards
We need to raise our infrastructure standards. Our Bus stations need same quality as Railway stations, Railway stations as Airports and so on. China has built more tracks and expressways as compared to India. It also deploys modern railway technologies whereas we are still living in the past.
Six sigma cooperatives like Dabbawalla’s/ Amul needed for construction/ maid labour
In a largely unorganised workforce, some examples shine – like the Dabbawalla’s of Mumbai or the Amul cooperative movement in Gujarat. Can we borrow work practices and learning’s from our own home-grown institutions to make our construction/ maid labour efficient?
India’s own Munroe moment
US propagated the Munroe doctrine and took control of South America. India has no such policy with small neighbours cooking a snook at India by bringing China into regional equation. Is it time to declare our own Munroe Doctrine across this area?
Peace is contingent on strength
And not vice versa. With China arming our neighbours, should we also export arms to Mongolia, S Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam to put China in place?
The new office code
Hofstede’s Power distance theory has amazing insights for the way power plays out in India’s corporate places. A good Manager in India is seen as one who employs a soft, family approach all the while maintaining hard stance and extracting work. What is the latest Indian office code?
Indian laws stifling creativity
An economy without fetters allows creative destruction. It allows easy creation of entrepreneurial ventures and in times of inability to cope up with competition or non-workability of the business case, easy folding of companies. Inflexible Labour laws in India coupled with disallowing of wrapping up businesses, makes the Indian economy less creative. An entrepreneur faces myriad laws and interpretations, red tape, corruption, restrictions on closure of Balance sheets etc and that stifles his/ her creativity.
RE boom not a price play alone
Real Estate (RE) boom in India till now has been driven by investors queuing up to buy hard assets in anticipation of a fast exit and incremental return. While this has worked till now, but RE prices seem to have risen beyond affordability of the newly arrived middle-class. High RE prices also stifle entrepreneurship by making fixed initial costs above base case. They also deter manufacturing. Is a new RE mantra needed from Builders? Can RE be like during NDA’s times when expansion and volume was the driving factor and not Return on investment (RoI)?
India in forefront of environmental preservation
Indian spirituality has nature as its cornerstone. Preservation of environment, therefore, comes naturally to our culture. While British era policies meant that land was vested with the Government, instead of local populations, as it traditionally had been, it also resulted in our villages stopping caring and tending to their surroundings. According to India’s philosophy, a human has 3 aspects: Nature, Self (i.e way of reaching God) and Other Humans. While we are focussing on 2 aspects, and following the western spirit behind it, the 3rd factor i.e Nature is getting left out. Is it time to return to our grass root culture by returning the local land to their rightful owners?
Culture can thrive only in peace
India is a culture and a civilization. For Indians, their culture is a binding factor. For China, its Han racial character is its binding factor. It also lays claim to the Tibetan race and is changing the demographics of Tibet by influx of Han’s into Tibetan plateau. China wants Arunachal, Ladakh and lays claim to Tibet basis the similarity in features of these people. Do we need to keep China firmly in place to allow us to rejoin with our cultural progeny? How can peace be attained with China so that our culture can thrive?
The rudimentary bribe code
India, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, is often described as a country of bribe givers as well as bribe takers. What is the bribe code which makes it so difficult to uproot?
All contests are Presidential
India is best placed for a Presidential system since we believe in God-like miracles. We believe humans can reach God-like status and be worthy of worship. For us, God doesn’t rest in past or in some heaven. Indian Elections, therefore, are fought on personality cults. The population sees other issues surrounding the mythical Aam-Aadmi, like corruption, inflation, infrastructure, growth etc as reflecting a ruler’s treatment of its subjects. Much of it is since we are used to being ruled by Kings. Is it any surprise then that the electorate sees forthcoming Lok Sabha elections as Modi vs Rahul?
New Games for a nation in making
The US invented new games like Baseball for a young nation in making. It could have borrowed games like Cricket but that would have meant living like a colony. We have been a part of the Commonwealth. Is it time to raise standards and visibility of our indigenous games like wrestling and hockey? Should our Cricketers visit IHL to popularize these budding leagues and bring money into them? Do Indian classical music and traditional Indian dance forms also need professional leagues?
Banks issue loans and earn interest. If the business does well, they make a regular yield. However, they carry an underside risk if the business fails. Equity, on the other hand, is always Risk equity. Should our Banks subscribe to equity convertible’s, which have returns contingent on performance of the company, more than they issue debt?
Monetising India’s Gold
India is a reservoir of Gold. How can we monetise it? Can Banks accept Gold as security for low-interest loans?
A Capitalist model for nature reserves
Countries rich in flora and fauna charge high for visitors to these nature parks. This allows them to maintain and preserve their environment. India, on the other hand, charges a pittance and thereby is always facing a resource crunch. Can we make our Tiger/ Nature tourism as profitable as South Africa? Can we provide the best facilities? Would this action lead to introduction of the cheetah from Africa and presence of Lions throughout national reserves in India?
Ownership of surroundings
If panchayat’s can have control over village land, then why not RWA’s over colony land?
Religion as geography
China has its own Church. It makes religion contingent on geography and thereby desists its citizens from owing allegiance to institutions outside Chinese boundaries. Can we also make geography a basis for state’s support to religion? Can we say that all religions in India would only have national religious bodies controlling them?
Indian architecture clause
Traditional Indian architecture seems to be looking for definitions. We either have old buildings having a pan-Indian facade or ultra modern buildings, imitating western Anglo-Saxon styles. Can the Government introduce a clause which gives some Tax benefits in case the building conforms to our own architecture? Can we, one day, imagine our airport having its own cultural imprint like the Tribhuwan airport of Kathmandu? Indian buildings traditionally have been built according to local weather, allowing for sunlight and air by keeping wide open spaces in between the house. Glass exterior buildings, on the other hand, trap sunlight and resultant requirement of air-conditioning leave a large energy footprint on the environment. Are we leaving our traditional solutions behind?
Can SEBI make delisting companies easy, by relaxing buyback norms? What benefits would such a move have?
Sports psychology in Management
How can Sports contribute to Management? Can we have new MBA theories based on Sports psychology? Do Corporate teams work on the same human management principles as Sports teams?
The seeds of hatred
Pakistan history text books are teaching perverted view of history. Hindu’s are portrayed as treacherous and wily. Muslims, on the other hand, are taught as rightful rulers of the sub-continent. Result – Pakistani Youth are dissatisfied with the status quo. Religiosity is growing in Pak, according to a recent poll. What can the world community do to remove these seeds of hatred planted on impressionable, young minds of a country once referred by Hillary Clinton as the “International Migraine”?
Non-violence did not get us independence
One of the biggest fallacies the youth of today suffers from is the notion that somehow non-violence brought us freedom. It is a result of deft publicity of the non-violence theory and of Gandhiji by our text books. Minutes from British parliament and Churchill’s speeches prove that it was the weakening of the British; post World War II, which made Britisher’s quit India. What this has meant is that we continue to abhor retaliating against might with might. India appears as a status quo nation. It doesn’t matter that the Indian military had been used throughout wars across the world by the British – public opinion in India is often portrayed as against building national strength through hard means. Till how long will we be a soft nation, coming across as meek to the world?
Compulsory military service
Vivekananda envisioned a mentally and physically strong youth of India, firm to its spiritual moorings. Israel has a policy of compulsory military service to infuse the right discipline and conduct in all its citizens. Given the wayward behaviour of some of our youth, should we take them to the border and let them how it is to face the enemy and guard borders, so that they get to know the value of freedom? Is it time for India to also follow the same Compulsory military service policy?
Back to environmental roots
The success of “Save our Tigers” campaign is an evidence of strong environmental consciousness in the country. Should we start by leaving corpses in the open for natural devouring, as Parsi’s do? Would that be going to an extreme? Can we save trees and rivers by changing the ritual of burning corpses and spreading ash into the rivers?
Most religious organisations of today – be it Brahamakumari’s, Sri Sri Ravishankar’s “Art of Living” or Baba Ramdev, have their roots in vedic teachings. Can we create a University on the lines of Takshila/ Nalanda to institutionalise this knowledge base?
Replace Auto’s by swanky Taxi’s
Should auto’s be replaced by swanky Taxi’s in New Delhi core city area, like South Mumbai? Should old ageing Taxi’s be moved out of city, to small towns?
You rate, we rate
China has its own international rating agency “Dagong”. This is since the western rating agencies have traditionally kept American, European countries at the peak rating, inspite of West’s falling GDP’s, extremely negative economic indicators, high levels of Debt to GDP ratios and weakening economies. What more – these rating agencies have kept fast growing BRIC nations on a leash. This matters because the capacity of a country to solicit investments in foreign currency and the interest paid on foreign borrowings depend on ratings placed by S and P, Moody’s and Fitch. Should India set up its own rating agency on the lines of Dagong? Also, should the rating of SME’s be on future basis, and not only on basis of current performance? If valuation can be on DCF basis, why not ratings?
Pride of work
A visit to any Western country shows the well-built infrastructure. Are our municipal bodies suffering from lack of corporatisation and hence no pride of work? Should we remove the elections model of MCD and make it accountable directly to the Legislature? Would it take away the short-term incentive of elected Municipal bodies and make them accountable in the long run?
Simplify Tax laws
Indian tax laws suffer from complications and a myriad jungle of exemptions. Businessmen dislike the headache created by discretion of Babu’s, by the ever-changing interpretations of laws depending on the decision-taker. Businessmen will, in all likelihood, pay for simplicity and be honest in paying Taxes, only if it is more hassle-free. When will India simplify its Tax code?
A nation of male cooks
Why is cooking relegated to Females in India? Is it not an essential aspect of life for each one of us? Is it time that every Indian Male should learn cooking, right from Schooling?
Advani harming BJP
With old age comes senility and an insecurity starts building about your position. Identity crisis seeps in. People either grow spiritually and learn to live happily with it or start harming near one’s by making undue demands. Organisations, on the other hand, have their own growth curve. Survival of the fittest is the best natural policy which should determine who leads institutions. Should there be a retirement age in politics, as advocated by Manohar Parrikar of the BJP? Should PM post be reserved for 4 years and 2 terms only, as in the US? Is Advani harming BJP now by bad mouthing the party he has been in, since ages?
The wrong auction
Auctioning of party tickets is resulting in political mercenaries, chasing ROI. Ideology seems to have gone out of the window. Current crop of Congress ministers seem hell bent on earning before they exit office. Given the Westminster first-past-the-post system, everybody fighting elections needs to be on the right side on the party winning the majority of seats. Is there a viable alternative? Can having a Presidential system stem the tide of money, as a factor in elections?
Merit based promotions
Caste based reservations and promotions are resulting in a poor pool of decision makers in Government. In a time when the Government is hell bent in being the largest spender, such a poor quality of governance has tragic repercussions. Compare this with a merit-driven Chinese Civil service, which has delivered in mammoth proportions. Is it time we take a relook and create merit-based Government inductions and promotions? Gives my take on the research paper “The Chinese Civil Service reforms”.
My take on the book “Hitler’s economy”. And on the man who brought tremendous economic growth in Germany without inviting investments from outside the economy. Hitler did so by reinvigorating the internal sectors of the German economy. What are the concomitant lessons for India’s economy?
Chanakya vs Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu propagated that one needs to secure one’s neighbouring country to have long-term peace. China seems to have emulated his advice and has achieved perfect peace. Any visitor to China would vouch for the relative peace with which people go about their daily lives, without bothering about Terrorism, the opposite way in which one has got accustomed to in India. What is India’s long-term strategy to achieve such an outcome?
Team of Rivals
Vajpayee believed in forming a Team of rivals, like Lincoln advocated and in the manner Obama does today. Obama made Hillary and Kerry the foreign ministers, inspite of them being his opponents and competition at one point in time. What are the lessons for our Government?
Humour and Indian Parliament
Why are Indian politicians so dry? Is it because a leader’s image gets tarnished if he is seen as less serious? Why are our leaders averse to humour?
Referendum on Caste
The caste issue seems to have died down with the Supreme Court mandating a 50% limit on maximum reservations. It has also effectively permitted reservations in promotions in Government on the basis of caste. Yet, case after case shows the Court’s observation that Caste-based reservation should only be a temporary measure. It observes that long-term upliftment calls for providing education to the supposedly lower castes. Occasionally, we hear of Congress trying to ram in reservation on the basis of religion, to Muslims. Is it time we hold a nationwide referendum – through a Questionnaire on the role caste plays in daily life. Are Hindu’s in any way casteist?
The wrong Gandhian aspiration
We seem to be living in a Personality vs Party cult in Indian politics. Gandhism, per se, is a personality cult. It will always manifest given our cultural moorings and since Brand Gandhi is pasted on the first page of our history books, thereby forming an imprint in the young, impressionable minds of our kids. It seems today that everybody wants to acquire the privilege Gandhi usurped i.e be a God, a Mahatma, without accountability. Gandhi ji over ruled his party’s vote on making Sardar Patel/ Subhash Chandra Bose the PM/ party supremo and instead chose Nehru. Today’s leaders like a similar position to Gandhi – full power, no accountability. Example – Messer’s Sonia, Mulayam, Lalu, Pawar and their ilk.
Shunya aur Ek
Do events also have their rhythm? Just like DOS-based architecture, the very basis of the internet, can we denote events as Zero or One and hence form a chain of Zero’s and One’s to arrive at the program of life, its pattern?
Minority institutions, Majority practices
Minority institutions in India enjoy extra privileges. Sample – my own School - It’s a Catholic institution, controlled by a Vatican body. Year after year, I see them admitting most students on the basis of religion. Also seen in their list are Hindu-converted Christians, who happen to be admitted owing to their religion. Given that these institutions received largesse from the Indian Government in the form of land etc at measly rates, shouldn’t they be accountable to the majority population as well? Does it not count as reverse discrimination?
Dumbing down of Media
Media seems to have taken its dumbing down effect seriously. Agree people today don’t have that much time to read about events (along with the event’s history and philosophy), but who would take the mantle of being a caretaker for forming public opinion and it’s consequent effect on governance?
Monitor Cable Tv audience
Analysis shows that popularity of Tv shows is monitored by TAM with a sample of 5000 homes. This data is then extrapolated to determine the relative views of each media program. Huge advertisement budgets are decided based on a sample of 5000! With the advent of digital cable transmission and satellite dishes, is it not time to devise a system which gleans information from the set-top boxes and dishes to fully track the programs viewers are watching? Is this technology rocket-science?
Corporatised Municipal bodies
China allows its Municipal bodies to raise mammoth funds through Bonds, given their merit-driven bureaucracy; the end creation of infrastructure is reported back to the Central Government by these bodies. Statistics show, that this model has been quite successful. Given the slothy performance of our own Municipal agencies, with lack of accountable, merit-driven management, how long will it take for us to corporatize these bodies and allow them to develop required infrastructure by raising bonds?
Railways as a corporate
During NDA’s time, PSU reforms took a front seat. Since there was so much to do, some tasks got postponed. Given the underperformance of our Railway system, is it time we convert it into a Corporate, like BSNL, and abolish a separate Railway budget? Point to note – the British had a separate Railway budget only since Railway infrastructure was crucial to export India’s wealth back to their country.
Things only work when in centre
Congress is guilty of moving to the left of Centre by placing NAC above its decision-taking committees. The right i.e the BJP, has its hand tied owing to voter-attraction towards such fads as Right to Food, Education etc, inspite of knowing fully that resources of the Government are limited and also that systemic faults would never allow proper implementation. The regional parties have their hands dirty in similar left-of-centre, minority appeasement. Who is looking after the Centre-of-the-Centre, the long-term good? Of investing in long-term projects, developing education and health institutions, of administrative reforms so that the populace benefits in the long-term and in the right manner?
Sri Sri on energy
My take on a brilliant discourse by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar – on the relation between our behaviour and the energy flows in the human body. I would give examples of such a natural phenomenon by relating it to events of today.
The SL Tamil lessons
LTTE has been decimated; its supporters among SL Tamils have been completely wiped out. It was not long ago that Velupillai Prabhakaran’s power seemed to be complete. His opponents amongst his area of control were exterminated by him. He was the supreme leader, was offered autonomy, just short of independence. Should he have settled the Tamil nation status in SL when he was most powerful? Hitler shares similarity, since after annexing Europe and at the peak of his power, instead of settling the boundaries, he went Eastward towards Russia and that sealed his downfall. What are the lessons from such men who do not realise the true value of a negotiated settlement, at an appropriate time?
Emotional appeal strongest
Amongst all the appeals to a human mind - Ethical/ Logical and Emotional, the last one ranks the highest. Essentially then, we are all emotional beings. What message this has for our Marketing minds, especially in the Indian context?
UP needs a BJP heavyweight politician
Until the BJP develops itself in its weak states, it can never aspire to come to the Centre with a clear majority and hence apply its agenda without coalition restraints and meet the emotional expectations of its loyal vote base. Rajnath Singh, the only BJP heavyweight UP politician, moved to the Centre. Vasundhra Raje proved a bad administrator in Rajasthan. Karnataka got spoilt by the Yeddyurappa revolt. Andhra does not have even a single prominent BJP politician at the reins. TN’s politics seems still Dravidian/ influenced by MGR and needed is a BJP leader who can bring forth the weaknesses of both the DMK and AIADMK. Winning without UP would be an insurmountable challenge for the BJP and hence it needs a heavyweight politician in the state, who can break the bipolar polity, in vogue, between Mulayam and Mayawati
50% Retail participation to 25% in IPO’s
Given the inability of Indian equity markets to absorb new IPO’s, is it time for SEBI to lower the minimum retail subscription quota from 50% to 25%? What benefits would such a move bring for the markets and companies wishing to raise equity?
Paltry fines in India as compared to US
Ranbaxy has been fined USD 500 mn in the US but continues to sell similar medicines in India. Fines in US are punitive and meant to deter probable law-breakers. Fines in India, on the other hand, are a joke. Is it time to raise the fines we levy on law breakers?
Peace in my time
Bureaucrats come in different hues and colours. One such breed is the “Peace-in-my-time” variety. These one’s who don’t take any decision since if they do, some of them might have negative reaction from some quarters. Does PM Manmohan belong to such a variety?
India has been primarily exporting Raw materials instead of finished goods. This is owing to manufacturing hurdles in India. How can we revive our industrial sector?
Ad Hoc policy changes
A friend, who supplies copper cables to Wind power companies, was dismayed recently by the Government’s budget which reduced depreciation tax benefit on Wind power equipment from 80% to 15%. How can the Government make such a huge decrease, my Friend lamented? Is our spiritual upbringing, which advises us to choose our own path, a hurdle in continuity of policy making? Is choosing our own path the right solution always? Should Government be not mindful of benefits of continuity in policies?
Parliament resolution condemning atrocities on Hindu’s and Sikh’s in Pak and Bangladesh, as also Tamil Hindus in Malaysia and SL
Would BJP bring such a resolution after coming to power in the Centre?
Every good news a new law seems to bring, creates a disappointment when its fine print is read. Our drafting bureaucrats, it seems have a habit of micro-clausing laws, thereby generating confusion and a variety of interpretations, subject to the enforcing authority. This breeds corruption and discretion with harmful repercussions. Till when will this arbitrariness go on?
Don’t curb imports
Government seems to be focussing on curbing demand by taxing imports. The import duty on Gold has been raised. Instead of removing bottlenecks in supply side within the country (owing to a policy paralysis), it wants to artificially throttle availability by other means. Is it the right prescription?
My take on the book “Eminent Historians” - on historians attributing motives to poverty, rather than religion. Hindu’s are liberal and secular and hence economy matters more to them than race, however this was not true of the brutal invaders who wished to expand Islam - Till when be our history be hostage to leftists, who ascribe economic motives to clearly religious impulses? Why does our history portray a non-linear culture, when we have the same God’s since almost 5000 BC?
Power/ Roads/ Telecom – UPA vs NDA
Status report on Infra sector under UPA vs NDA
PM only from Lok Sabha
Should the PM be a directly elected leader, than a nominated one?
Simultaneous state and central elections
Governments have become short-sighted, prone to appeasement and vote-catching expenditure. Should we have simultaneous state and central elections after every 5 years, so that electoral politics becomes intermittent?
India’s brilliant committee’s
There is no dearth of Committee’s and their brilliant recommendations with the Government. Almost every problem of the country has its answer with the recommendations of these committees. However, the problem is implementation. Who takes the lead?
Pseudo-leftists in driver’s seat
There seems to be a wide disconnect between NAC/ Social agenda of the Congress and the actual economy – the social expenditures being loaded on the Treasury are beyond maintenance.
Lower impact of budget further
The impact of Budget has reduced since the 1990’s. Should we tax agricultural income above Rs. 10 lacs and make it even lesser?
Gol Gappa Price Index
Gol Gappa’s, the favourite munch for the masses; have seen their price rise from 1 paisa per item to even more than 10 rupees nowdays. Is it a good indicator of inflation? Can a Gol Gappa price index be made on the lines of Big Mac index? What result would such an index give?
UN Security council
I propose – Make the UN Security Council of 10 permanent members – US, EU (one vote), India, China, Russia, Japan, African Union (One vote), Asean (One vote), Brazil and Arab nations (one vote) and make a majority vote (i.e 6/10) compulsorily required for veto.
The uncalled for Asia pivot
US is in the midst of an Asia pivot, trying to balance China. An old adage is that never involve an outsider into your internal affairs. Is the pivot uncalled for and should Asia, the oldest home for humans, be better left on its own?
Elephantine memory needed in foreign policy
India’s foreign policy seems to have lack of continuity. Do we need to have longer tenures for our ambassadors?
GST, which would remove inter-state border checks and wastage of transporters time, is much needed. Is it lost on the Congress and the BJP?
An Asian ethic
Lesson from Japanese –have long term jobs for professionals. There is no retirement in reality. People work even till 70’s in Japan. What are the lessons for India? Should we employ our seniors in Non-executive roles (as Mentors) even after their legal retirement age?
Bhutan has a Gross Domestic Happiness index. Any lessons from the Buddhist nation for India?
Change the SMS model
With the advent of WhatsApp, the popularity of SMS is going down. Is it time our Telco’s remove per SMS fee and convert them into chat engines with a monthly fee?
The Mayawati memorials
Congress has its own memorials a la Mayawati. What about Nehru museum, with result being our PM living in the simple 7, RCR. Another lavish building houses Indira museum. Till how long will we allow deityfication and Branding of political personalities?
India could never appropriate Islam
India appropriated many religions and cultures by making them our own. We created Sufi’s and Sikh’s by mixing the teachings of Islam and Hinduism. India is then, a melting pot. The same Sufi’s bought Islam to Asean and not the marauding conquerors, unlike India. We have the Syrian Catholics. But why was India never able to appropriate Islam as it was propagated in its original form?
70’s mistrust of business back
During Indira’s tenure, businessmen were looked at with suspicion. Is the same culture back with present Congress?
Abolish Income Tax to convert black money into white
India’s GDP is stated as almost USD 2 trillion. If one counts the black money, people say it’s likely to be at least USD 4 trillion. Should we abolish income Tax to remove the Black money component? What benefits would India have with such a move?
India is projected to have 35 crore people using the internet by 2017. It also has the 3rd largest internet user base amongst all countries, behind China and US. Since we are the youngest nation worldwide, it means the majority of world’s youth on the internet would be from India. Are we turning into an internet nation?
Of Half-ego’s and a borrowed identity
Western children go out and earn once they turn 16. Indian kids, on the other hand, are strongly mothered, and hence half-ego’ed. The presence of English in India makes us believe that both are comparable and share a common identity. How wrong is this notion?
A goldmine called Sanskrit
A person once told me “The best business is opening a temple. Funds are based on faith plus there is no Tax” (Disclaimer: I am a proud Hindu). Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian languages, apart from Urdu, Burmese, Thai, Sinhala, Malay, Indonesian, Russian, Nepalese, Tibetan, Bhutanese, Cambodian, and Vietnamese. It has imparted itself to European languages like German as well. Can we make a business case out of Sanskrit studies and reclaim this golden legacy?
BJP needs Navin Chawla effect
Navin Chawla, ex-Election Commissioner, a pro-Congresswalla (according to media reports, his Trust got extensive funding through Congress channels), kept Lok Sabha elections of 2004 in summer breaks, when a large portion of BJP’s middle-class supporters, were away from their homes, on a break. BJP lost the election by a margin of 4.3% votes, as compared to the Congress. Does BJP need its own Navin Chawla this time?
Is Hrithik an under-utilised actor
The actor averages 1 film in 3 years. Compare with Ranbir and Aamir, who deliver one blockbuster film every year. “Jo dikhta hai, woh bikta hai”. Does the actor need more visibility?
What ails Telecom M and A?
Every Telecom pundit says that it’s time for consolidation in the Telecom sector, with fallen margins and stretched Balance sheets. Yet, we don’t see it happening. What ails Telecom M and A’s?
Is BJP the only example of a democratically functioning party, an aberration in a sea of dynastic parties?
The elevation of Modi as the Chief of the Election committee for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, has shown that in the BJP, cadres have their say. There are no sons and daughters claiming their parent’s seats, by large, in the BJP as well. Contrast this with other parties in India, which are run dynastically – Congress by Gandhi’s, Samajwadi by Yadav’s, BJD by Patnaik’s, DMK by Karunanidhi clan, Shiv Sena by Thackeray’s, Akali’s by Badal’s, NC by Abdullah’s, PDP by Sayeed’s and the NCP by Pawar’s. Is BJP then, the only party which runs on true democracy at its helm? Would BJP’s internal party Democracy, being open and messy by its very nature, appear as lack of unity by the masses?
Return management of Temples to Trusts
Nehru gave management control of Temple Trusts to Government. With this, the spread of Hinduism lost its money power. Temples have been propagators of our spiritual values. Why should the Government control them? Indians have traditionally donated to temples for charity work instead of to other institutions. Why does this money go into the hand of the Government, which doesn’t use this funds for spreading Hinduism?
Bio gas model for Indian villages
India has the largest cow population in the world. What stops it from developing Bio-gas plants in each village to make them energy self-sufficient? Solution to J&K Abrogate Article 370, separate Jammu and Ladakh into separate states, settle retired army personnel in Kashmir by giving them large tracts of land – the way China has settled Hans in Xinxiang and Tibet and has changed the demographic profile of the area. Uniform Civil code Why must the people of this country have separate laws governing their personal aspects. Time for a common Civil Code. Dubbing artists behind popular shows Animation shows like Doreamon command a huge kid audience. Who are the Hindi dubbing artists behind these shows? Brown Man’s burden With Western economies today reliant on export engines of the East and money invested in their Treasury bonds by China and the BRICS, has supporting the West become a Brown Man’s burden? Truckers comfort It is indeed ironic that in today’s times, when India has leapfrogged in technology, our Trucks are still of vintage make. The Ashok Leyland’s and Tata’s provide zero Driver comfort. Contrast this with the tremendous driver comfort provided in Western countries and even in Japanese, Chinese and Korean vehicles. Why are we unable to unseat the 2 vehicle manufacturers and provide cutting edge trucks India’s own defence sector India is the largest importer of defence equipment. At one time, India set up a technologically advanced dockyard for manufacturing ships, but that project was abandoned by subsequent Government. Why is India’s indigenous Defence sector so weak? Shouldn’t BJP be contesting elections alone BJP firmly needs states like UP, Maharashtra, Himachal, Uttaranchal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in its grasp. Given the sordid state of Shiv Sena, JD(U) and non-Congress parties in Andhra, shouldn’t BJP be contesting elections in these states without entering into a coalition? Indian sloth bear As kids, we all would have seen the madari with a sloth bear. Saw a documentary on state of Indian sloth bears which have been freed from captivity – of the absolutely sorry state in which these creatures were. What can be done so that these beautiful animals roam about in the wild in troves again? Role of alternating emotions in Hindi movies Hindi producers have developed a matrix of how to alternate emotions in Hindi movies. Examples – 3 idiots, Lagaan etc. Personality based politics Modi should name Varun Gandhi or Anurag Thakur as CM of UP, Vasundhra Raje as CM of Rajsasthan, bring Yedyurappa back as CM of Karnataka, bring a Jat leader for Haryana, project Sushil Kr Modi as CM of Bihar, bring a strong Marathi leader for Maharashtra and a strong leader of the likes of Rajashekhra Reddy in Andhra Pradesh An incomparable situation Vast infrastructure in the West was built on the back of free slave labour and by stealing the riches of the colonies. In today’s times, building the same would be next to impossible without spending a bomb. Why do we then keep on comparing our infra with that of the West?