New Cabinet of India


The New government has sworn in after a historic election. People gave a historic mandate for stable government after 30 years of coalition governments at centre.

Obviously there were many expectations after such a mandate that new ‘Team India’ which will run the country for next 5 year would comprise of best of people from different walks of life. Off course, the question of who would be captain was already settled. Revolution of rising expectation was at its peak. But when cabinet was declared, there were not many surprise elements. Innovation quotient was also rather average.

Tough it would be premature to pass the judgement but preliminary comments on cabinet formation:

1. Cabinet Free From Coalition Compulsion. Not Really!

People were expecting absence of Coalition compulsion. But they were too eager to do so & disappointment was on expected line. Most of coalition, evens the smaller one with 2-3 seats, was accommodated in cabinet -which interestingly was one of smallest in recent years. This resulted in denial of due share to various states which gave historic mandate in favour of ruling party. Also the ministers chosen were not entirely choice of Prime Minister, as it should be, but were recommended people from Party bosses (in case of Shiv Sena & SAD) or Party Bosses themselves (Mr. Upenra Kushwaha, Mr.Ramvilas Paswan).

The coalition compulsion didn’t stop here. The Shiv Sena Minister didn’t join the ministry on day one citing that they sought different ministry (so it’s no longer prerogative of PM on either who should be minister & what ministry should be allocated…& after-all Heavy Industries doesn’t seems to give Heavy Return !). The same happened during the previous coalition government. More interesting is audacity of people from coalition partners like SS to put forward such demand in public despite the fact that BJP alone has majority at centre. This shows coalition compulsion didn’t end at majority at centre. It continues to operate due to compulsion of coalition at state level or state politics.

2. Representation to various geographies! But many left out

Cabinet have representation from various parts of India. It has people from Kashmir in North to Kanyakumari in South, from Gujarat in West to Arunachal Pradesh in East.  But in process many regions were entirely neglected one such example is Rajasthan which got only one MoS despite sending 25 MPs to winning party. On other hand, states like Maharashtra, Haryana & Delhi NCR Region got disproportionate share. This doesn’t augur well.

Yes, you can talk about India being one nation so it doesn’t matter from where the cabinet members come but it does. Representation based on geographies and various social groups not only have symbolic value but also substantial value.

3. Mandate was for LokSabha but Rajya Sabha would Rule!

Many sane people like Shivraj Singh Chouhan in past had demanded that RajyaSabha, a historic  relic, in which money power dictate the seats (otherwise what explain the number of industrialists like Vijay Mallaya, Anil Ambani , Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rahul Bajaj & list goes on.. occupying RS seats) , should be disbanded. But alas! The power that is – RS rules. It is way to accommodate Delhi coterie, the leaders who don’t have any mass base, who are not responsible or accountable to anyone except their financiers. 

Things don’t stop at being MP. They are there to rule the India. It doesn’t matter if they lose the battle in Loksabha, even by a bad margin. RajyaSabha would provide avenue to rule India. Even our Prime Minister has done that in past. 

One clearly noticeable trend in present cabinet is ‘Disproportionate Share of Rajysabha MPs in Cabinet’. While the overwhelming mandate was for Loksabha but it was Rajysabha MPs who cornered important and lucrative portfolio. These include Finance, Defence, HRD, Power, Coal, Legal, Urban Development etc.

Mind that this was despite the fact that BJP has announced earlier that those who want ministry should contest the election & that was one of reason why former party president Nitin Gadkari decided to fight the LS election.

Hidden within the RajyaSabha membership is fact that People who were more in media than at ground got disproportionate share of ministries including three spokespersons (Mr. Prakash Javdekar, Ms. Niramala Sitharaman & Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad) & one treasurer (Mr.Piyush Goyal) & off course media darling Mr. AJ.

Never Mind, even if you can’t fight election you have chance to rule the nation. The only requirement is you should be loyal to power that be, visible in media & good rapport in Delhi Durbar.

If you want to fight election, you are welcome. You didn’t need to worry about winning at all. Because if party comes to power you still have chances to rule the country provided you fulfil the above criterion. That was reason people like Mr. Arun Jaitely, Ms Smriti Irani, who lost elections are given plumb posting!

Off course in politics you have freedom to taunt your opponent (like Mr. AJ used to do to Mr. MMS) but same principle don’t apply to you. ‘One core principle of politics is Principle of Double Standard.’ 

3. Delhi coterie and ultra-loyalist (not necessarily organisational man) co-opted.

People were desperate for change and they gave chances to outsider in anticipation that there would be some drastic changes (for better). But alas! We forget one of Maxim “More the things change, more they remain same.”

How can anyone run the Delhi Durbar without presence of people from Delhi coterie, who speaks for whole India but aren’t able to win even one LokSabha seat. Beside they have added advantage of being proficient in English & language of diplomacy which many MPs who won from hinterland didn’t have. Off course they do have organisational network, how does it matter, if they are expert in manipulating and manoeuvring with press, PR & lobbyist rather than the real masses of dusty hinterland. 

4. Loyalty is more rewarding than competence & capabilities

It pays to be loyal in politics. This was very clear from shape of council of ministers filled with loyalist to Prime Minister. Very few baiters may have been accommodated but that was just to show that you care for party & to not get distracted by rebellion. Competence and capabilities can’t deliver without core element of loyalty to power that is. Nor can Domain Expertise or Special knowledge or experience or exposure of different facets of governance.

There is nothing wrong in appointing loyalist as minister, Prime Minister has full freedom to do so especially after he has won mandate on his leadership. He should be provided full freedom to choose his team to translate his vision into reality. The only hiccup is that there is only thin line between being loyalist & toeing the line on every issue. The later can turn hazardous as once flattery start it doesn’t take long to become appendage. Then the only causality would be the public opinion. Lack of serious dialogue, debate & deliberation within cabinet – filled with all yes men -can play havoc.  

Some Silver Linings within the above scenario are:

1. Not many dynastic faces find the space in new ministry. May be a good start and it would broaden the political talent available. It certainly sent the message that people with certain capabilities can expect important position even they are without connections but it certainly expect the loyalty to the power that to be

2. Lack of politically heavy-weight in minister may reduce the friction in government. The only thing they need to do is remain attuned to ground for continuous feedback through various channels. They shouldn’t become complacent.

3. There is for first time talk of accountability of individual ministers for their performance. This can put pressure on them to perform or perish. If it is actually implemented then it is good change. You can expect change of guards in coming years if they don’t perform.

4. People not having baggage of previous experience & not having domain expertise may eventually prove very good minister. As they have enough experts for advice at their disposal. Only thing they need is sincerity in their work & a bit of common sense. Off course, they need to be open minded for ideas, suggestion and feedback to deliver the agenda of people.

5. PMO is going to be much stronger and playing a coordinating role between the ministries. Having loyalist in various ministries allows the PM to implement his agenda without any hindrance and it also provides much needed coherence in governance.

6. Anyway, the real obstacle is implementation and that is job of bureaucrats. Clear, decisive leadership at top can mobilise the government machinery & that can work wonder. Some encouraging sign are appoint of people like Mr. Nripendra Mishra – Principal Secretary in PMO, who has earlier worker under Mr. Arun Shourie to bring telecom mess to end.  

7. Off course, this is just a start & more is going to come. Domain experts & specialist (or technocrats) can always be engaged in various capacities in implementation and deciding the vision for future.

People who were looking for Power-shift with drastic overhaul are certainly disappointed.

Now time for true Citizens is to put the new govt under scrutiny for every action and putting them on toe to deliver them for what they have promised. Only sustained efforts on this front despite our much reservation along with constructive cooperation can help to translate vision intro reality.  

“Together we will script a glorious future for India. Let us together dream of a strong, developed and inclusive India that actively engages with the global community to strengthen the cause of world peace and development”. (From Press Briefing of Prime Minister)

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Independence Day : Reflections on Economy , Politics and Society


I am writing this post after about 2 years of hibernation from writing . As we are approaching another Independence Day I would like to reflect on the current status of Economy, politics and Society.

We Indian used to brag a lot about our economic performance but sky-scrapper with shaky foundations are rarely able to withstand the storms and cyclones. While Amartya Sen may have rightly project Indians as “Argumentative Indians” but he just stopped there. Just the Arguments are not enough to win the game. To use diplomatic parlance, you may win many arguments in room but that doesn’t ensure victory in game. To win the game, you need to have a clear vision , know your strength and shortcoming and use the strategy to achieve your full potentials while exploiting the vulnerability of opponents. To cut short, implementation is key in winning the game. This is where we fail miserably.

Tough some people have rightly identified the implementation gap and are working to bridge the same. “Ib-In” or India Backbone Implementation Network is case in point

On economic management India is classic example of “To kill the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs“. While India was struggling to climb the stairs of growth the ‘coteries of crony capitalism’ disguised as voteries of inclusive growth killed the Goose in search of a Golden Egg. They advocated re-distribution giving a scant regard to sustainable revenue generation or growth.  While they may advocate that  programmes like MNREGA has doubled/tripled/quadrupled the wages for Rural and Urban Manual laborer for whom only source of subsistence is their wage and this has actually led to inclusive growth. what they ignore is productivity increase of Economy which has actually declined in recent years  indicating loss of competitiveness in Economy. This is hindering the growth of India as a manufacturing hub , which can create large employment opportunities to effectively leverage the Demographic dividend, at a time when MNCs are looking to diversify their manufacturing base as china is becoming costly. To grow at a rate that pulls more people out of poverty, India needs to invest more, create more non-farm jobs or manufacturing jobs . but who cares about growth as long as they are able to grow their personal empire  classic example being crony capitalism witnessed in series of scams from 2G , Mining, Commonwaelth , Sarkari Damaad & list goes on….  A very good technical analysis or procedural details on working of crony capitalism can be found in Sarkari Damaad case aka Rober Vadra land deal case.

This loot of national resources will go unhindered as long as public doesn’t understand or care about their rights and duties and continue to think on basis of their own short term interest /benefits /advantages (by demanding reservation/ subsidy /allowances) rather than keeping public interest(which would includes demanding governance, basic infrastructure, accountability from public officials including politicians and bureaucrats) in mind. As in case of change of presidentship from George W Bush to Barack Obama has demonstrated, behind much of the chest-thumping of politicians, there usually lies a continuity of policy between different administrations.” This is where the vigilant , conscious public & citizenry come into picture. We have every right to know the vision and strategy of our political leaders which includes government as well as opposition. In this hyper-informative digital world we can hardly remain aloof from Public affairs , but consciousnesses of public affairs also bring with its own set of views, prejudices and biases. But we can greatly overcome the shortcoming of these biases and prejudices if we make a conscious efforts to make us aware about them. As rightly & timely inquired by one sympathizer of Mr. Narendra Modi in a column in newspaper, we need to ask tough question from our politicians rather than believing in spin given by their sympathizers . This is kind of vigilance we required to make politician accountable to general public. While many present their views through columns as done by one of MP in today’s paper on foreign policy but nuanced , critical public discourses on issues of relevance are largely missing from Indian Public life.

On the social front we have witnessed huge churning happening in last year which included mobilization on the issues of corruption, anti-rap protest. but we are yet to see any impact of these mobilization on actual social life. while reporting of corruption & rape cases may have gone up temporarily but we are hardly seeing any change of heart in general public or increased morality in public life. We have scant regard of sensibility of others. we are not used to think critically during our socialization process whether it is at home or in school and society.Only a enduring, sustained long term efforts on the parts of public to create awareness accompanied by institutional change can bring a societal transformation.

India is society of confrontation and conflict. There are ideological, political, religious, regional and caste based division present at every moment in every hook and corner of country ample evidence of which we see in form of communal violence(whether it is in J&K, UP or Assam), political blame-game( on transferring of bureaucrats to who is writing the speech ) , Caste rivalries or honour killing which are just another manifestation of existing wide gulf in different castes  in society, Regional movements for creation of new state of Telenagana, Gorkhaland , Bodoland & half a dozen others. This list is unending and ever expanding.

In spite of these division , conflict and confrontation, what had united the people living from Kashmir to Kanyakumari , Silchar to Porbander – this is Idea India and belief of people in this Idea of India. Some discomfort and struggle makes us comfortable & tough, removing every discomfort make the species fragile. e.g. extreme hygiene , by destroying the body’s natural ability to fight with germs and adapt to environment , we become vulnerable. we counter it by ingesting probiotics , the good ‘dirt’ that we denied the body in first place. Similarly we can’t just wished away from reality and live in a Utopian world but we can achieve a true Independence for India only if  the “common problems of India” could become “common concern for all”. This will create shared sense of understanding and give all of us a stake in progress of nation . only then we can prosper, develop and realize the true independence, independence from our ignorance, our hatredness towards other, independence from our parochial thinking , independence from dogmas, independence from bad habits and above all independence of mind.

Jai Hind Jai Bharat.

Independence Day – Time for Introspect


Today we will be celebrating 65th Independence Day. Most of us will be greeting each other with message of “Happy Independence day “ but actually many are not happy with present situation of country. Governance is in state of disarray, no measure development work is being undertaken and above all Inflation has made life measurable for million of common man (Aam Aadmi).

The increased awakening about prevalent corruption in political and administrative system has created a feeling of self- guilty among many elites and middle class. Magnitude of loot by politicians and their cronies has increased many folded in recent past or may be earlier general public was not being able to track such huge loots.

Inflation, corruption, black money, poor Governance has made life a miserable affair for both Aam Aadmi and Khas Aadmi. Aam Admi has been at receiving end in form of inflation & poor governance. The growing frustration with government and administration was channelized in form of protest, Candle Marches & heated TV Debates. The public support for Anna Hazare & Baba Ramdev is case in point. The successful mobilization of public anger & judicial activism has been able to make troubles for Khas Aadmi. This has created a state of panic among cronies (or Khas Aadmi). First times in independent India, the khas aadmi, were competing with each other for a birth in EXECUTIVE SUITE of TIHAR ASHARAM. Others also started to realize that their turn may be next. Suddenly the TIHAR ASHARAM becomes the hot destination for the Business honchos & political mavericks. The public anger and judicial activism was being able to put VIP (Khas Aadmi) behind the bars for time being. But it seems all is not well with this approach. It has been creating anarchy like situation than a ideal democratic state. People are being made scapegoats & real beneficiaries are still outside the Net. This all is just a stop gap arrangement rather than systematic reforms to address the root reasons for corruption.

All said , what can we do to improve this situation ? what can be our role in Nation Building ?

We, Citizens of country, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and region needs to adopt following things in habit in order to make India a better place to live:

1. Recognize responsibility as citizens before demanding any rights

2. Criticize but don’t blame – Be a constructive critic – propose the solution

3. Be vocal – express opinions freely without considering the political correctness

4. We have to be proactive not reactive if we want a prosperous nation in next 10 years

5. Be empathetic not sympathetic with underprivileged

6. Society is made up of individuals so don’t just blame others for wrong things happening in society. Accept the fact that we are part and parcel of problem.

7. Need to re-look and introspect “Chalta hai attitude”

8. Give preference to merit over connection/acquaints

9. Rational before emotion in decision making (day to day or political decision or Business decisions)

10. Be part of process of change

We as a nation need to introduce the following systematic reforms with urgency to ensure a prosperous future for our next generation:

1. Transparency in government decision making

– What is need of RTI if process itself is transparent?

– What is need of Ombudsman (or Lokpal) if big contracts are made in transparent manner and arbitrary discretion power to Ministers or Senior Officials are removed

Technology can be a leading factor in bringing transparency in government system.

2. Education reform – not just passing Right to Education bill – Need for Quality

Education is backbone of any society. We need quality education with universal access. Education creates the opportunity. it is the greatest equaliser for income disparity.

3. Focus on Basics

– More people have died in Rail Accidents than the terror strikes in current year. Yes we may not be able to stop all terror attack but can we stop every single rail accident?

4. Revival of Agriculture:

The One very important and crucial segment of our populations is Kisans. They provide the food to eat. Both these segments have been ignored by the leaders of country and the representative class. Farmer’s constituent more than 50 % of our population. We set the target of Agriculture growth to be 4 % while the overall growth target is in double digit. This way we are systematically creating a gap between Rich & Poor. This could be in future utilised by same political class for electoral gains as seen in case of Garibi Hatao & Inclusive growth slogans. Only few states like Gujrat have been able to put agricultural growth on par with overall growth rate. No fresh investment has been made in the agriculture sector. Even the irrigation projects are also put aside. There is an urgent need for second Green Revolution or “EVERGREEN” Revolution with increased focus on productivity with no harm to ecology.

5. Address the leadership vacuum

Leaders are called leaders because they are supposed to provide much needed direction and leadership to masses. “If leaders fail to lead, their followers will take over the leadership and lead instead.” It seems to perfectly suits in current situation of India. Political class has failed to provide the needed leadership to carry the country forward. There is need for youth who can provide the much needed leadership in this process of development. The emergence of a vocal and assertive voice against the political elite (dynasty) is essential for healthy democracy.

We need to avoid falling in trap of fake leaders. There is need for independent thinking for every individual before accepting anyone as our leader. We, the youth of Country, have stake in future and needs to take active involvement in day to day happening and take leadership roles otherwise usual cronies will continue to rule the country.

We always focus on problems without proposing any solution. I have tried to propose one solution for ending or reducing the corruption in public life.

Problem

– The main source of Corruption is political

– Politics have become a family business (irrespective of party line except a few)

– Big Mullah are spend on election – No retail contribution here only wholesale ( So you don’t have any right to ask for detailed funding and cost of political party as you rarely contribute )

Solution – Individual contribution from able citizens and Supporters

Why this will bring down corruption

1. Stakeholders will demand more transparency as their money is involved

2. Politicians will no longer be able to give silly arguments like money is needed to fight the next election

3. Capable, Honest candidates (without financial capability) will also be able to come to parliament

4. As a stakeholder we can ensure that our interest are protected – Concerned issues are raised by our party (No rant of serving only corporate India)

5. Last but not the least sense of participation will awaken the ordinary men making him more honest in day to day conduct.

All is not well with our country but this everything is also not bad. Growing anger and different voices are sign of change and its upon our hand to decide the future. Whether we are happy with status-quo or we want a better India- Its upon us to decide and make that happen.

We need to realize our potential and there is a big opportunity to make this nation a ideal place to live.

Jai Hind Jai Bharat!!!

Making the meaning of Independence


What does Independence mean for us ? What is importance of Independence day for a common man ?

Are we really Independent ?

Jawaharlal-Nehru

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru looks down on the crowd during India’s Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort, New Delhi, India, Aug. 15, 1947

Today is 64th Independence Day of India. British left India on 15th August, 1947 after the centuries of colonial raj and looting of natural resource and India became a sovereign nation.

So what had changed after the independence? What does Independence mean for us? Does this mean 1.Economic Independence 2.Social Independence or 3.Cultural Independence? What is importance of Independence Day for a common man? Are we really independent (as a nation and as an individual)?

Yes, we can beckon of emerging global power of world but what about the plight of 40 % population which is living below the poverty line and lacking the access to basic amenities? Well, such an occasion helps in sustaining the general euphoria of “Mera Bharat Mahan” among the public. It’s good to have  a sense of proud in one’s own country but this shouldn’t be a momentous phenomenon. Are we really proud of present status of country? (Crippling with tonnes of problems like widespread poverty, terrorism, internal security, corruption, inefficient governance, price rise and lack of efficient and affordable education and health care etc). Some may argue that “Cribbing about the inadequacies and shortcomings is never the solution. It’s up to you to make the best out of this situation.” This confirm to saying of Gandhiji “Be the change you want to see in world” .Don’t like it change it!

I agree to them to a certain extent. We (the common citizens) are responsible for present status of country (Good or Bad or whatever). We need to take responsibility for everything that happened around us and can’t remain a silent spectator for changes taking place in and around the society. There is no shame in accepting that our country in not the best in many areas (like Governance, security, infrastructure, and education, healthcare) but as the same time we should also rejoice our achievements. Acknowledgment of failure and strategies to improve on failed (or weak) frontiers are need of hour. There is always a scope for innovation and improvement.

It would be wrong to undermine the progress made by India in last 63 years after the independence but there is need to raise the concern about the way of development and unfold the truth about the real beneficiary of development. We need to ensure the accountability at each and every level and it shouldn’t stop at the “lofty promises of inclusive development”

I have tried to present my own perspective on few areas which would be crucial in shaping the future trajectory of India.

1. Education

Education is foundation stone of any nation. There has been an increase in the spread and reach of education in various hinterlands of India but we had failed to provide quality education to a larger section of people. This had undermined the growth potential and marginalised some section of society from mainstream growth story. Continue reading