Category: Politics and Issues



The game of politics is a dirty one; here the tenants of democracy are casually ignored, and we the people are simply treated as dispensable pawns that bring glory to the kings and queens. So, as time passes by and India proudly surpasses one year after another of being a constitutionalised democracy, the muck and murk of its working keeps being veiled behind the curtains of development even though its consequences remain evidently visible. The desire for political prominence is so much that in the rat race for power and profit the reason for democracy i.e. the well-being of the common man gets trampled. Today the plight is such that while we suffer endlessly, political forces enjoy the view to the fullest and turn a deaf ear to our cries, heeding to us only when elections come knocking.

The ongoing Telangana uprising is a blatant example of this Indian political saga.

Telangana has been a conflicted province ever since the Congress government forcibly merged it with Andhra to form Andhra Pradesh in 1956. However, the fate of the state was not even remotely close to the happily ever after fable the Government had hoped it would be, for in 1969 demands for a separate state of Telangana began surfacing. The reasons were many – the Telanganas were discriminated against, and the terms of the Gentlemen’s agreement between the leaders of Andhra and Telangana, which was formulated to safeguard the interests of Telangana, were overlooked. The 1969 circus could not go on for long; it was easily pushed aside by both Congress leaders and the greed of Telangana and Andhra leaders who were drooling over the prospect of governing a large state.

However this time around, 53 years after the formation of the state, the political will of the leaders has finally been regarded – thanks to K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the president and founder of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) party. By the way, KCR is not a novice; rather, he is the hurricane that has rocked the entire country, especially the Congress center, with his Gandhian attitude. His fast-unto-death skit accompanied by violence in Andhra left the center jittery, so much so, that it finally gave in to the divisional demands. As a result, soon India will consist of 29 states instead of 28, and when Telangana will eventually emerge, KCR along with his accomplices will become the heroic freedom fighter, thus ruling the state for years to come.

A deeper look into all this and you are bound to realise that these Telangana leaders, KCR in particular, aren’t protesting out of love for their state, or even because of the injustice inflicted upon their people. Rather this pretended Gandhian stint is Rao’s ticket to a greater political might. Let us review- KCR, who was once member of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), established TRS in 2001 after his attempts to secure a place in the cabinet failed. Even after his party formed, Rao was unable to achieve any political gains with either the NDA or the UPA in the 2009 general elections. With only two MP’s in his party, the fight for Telangana not only makes him a great leader for Telanganas but also gives him and his party a chance to be the supreme rule once the state of Andhra Pradesh splits.

In retrospect, it would be unethical if others behind the Andhra anarchy do not get a mention. Why let the buck stop here, when there are many others who deserve the limelight.

In 1953, when the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) report was presented, it clearly said that while leaders in Andhra are in favour of a combined state, people in Telangana are yet to form a strong opinion. The SRC also suggested that the merger of these two districts to form a unified Andhra Pradesh should be stalled until the general election of 1961 where the 2/3rd majority of the state of Hyderabad legislature would decide upon the matter. Unfortunately, for Telangana the then Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru ignored the report, and gave a nod to the creation of the state. However, the Congress chronicles do not end here; during the 2004 elections, it made an alliance with the TRS on the promise that the Congress would help in a creation of a separate Telangana state. India’s premier political party of course did not keep its promise and as a result, its alliance party withdrew support two years later.

Back in present times, conditions in Andhra are far from stable. The central Government (read Congress) is dilly-dallying from its stand of creating a separate state, leaving Andhra Pradesh in turmoil. Amidst the violence and the bandhs, which have now become traits of the state, more important questions, especially those pertaining to the future of Telangana and Andhra have been subdued. One of them is the issue of Hyderabad, which not only serves as the capital of Andhra Pradesh, but also is the heart of Telangana, thus rendering it in extreme complexities. The city of Nawabs is the lifeline of Telangana as the arid province is neither suited for agriculture, nor is it prosperous in any other sense. On the other hand, if Hyderabad is proclaimed the capital of an independent Telangana, which is more or less given, the prosperity of Andhra and Andhraites will be lost. Hyderabad’s status quo is the courtesy of migrant Andhraites, who led the city to its present glory, and thus a separate Telangana brings the fear of forcibly fleeing Andhraites.

The only viable chance for a peaceful and flourishing survival for Hyderabad is to be declared a Union Territory or a Special Administrative region, which of course is a possibility KCR  refuses to acknowledge.

The outcome of the Andhra-Telangana conflict seems grim. The clash between the pro and anti Telangana forces, along with the ever-changing stand of the Government has left the southern state at a standstill. Even our beloved leaders are in a terrible fix, as they cannot make a choice between the wellbeing of the people and political security. The Congress is not ready to risk alliance and support, Andhra leaders want to ignore it all and still desire for a bigger share to govern, and the poor TRS and KCR do not want to let go of their chance to political stardom, namely Telangana. The consequences of this catfight are yet to surface; we can just hope that whatever happens in end- separate statehood for Telangana or a unified Andhra- it is the people in the end who benefit, and not the selfish politicians for whom protests and rebellion is a means to pride and glory.

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Why I am not Anna!!!


I am not and can never be Anna!!!

The thought of writing this blog struck me after I read Vinita Nangia’s blog in Times Lifestyle.

To be a Gandhi or an Anna, you have to inculcate the ideology they preach, not just wear a Gandhi topi and carry the national flag!!! Well this is my opinion!!!

All during Anna Hazare’s fast at the Ram Lila Grounds, I did not wear a Gandhi Topi or wear a T-shirt which said “I am Anna” nor did I  carry the National Flag while driving my car or my bike!! Of course since I live and work at Hyderabad I could not visit Ram Lila Grounds to have a first hand experience of what was going on there or what went on there!!

I had sumptuous meals all along, unlike a few people whom I learnt and personally checked on Facebook were updating their status messages that they could have anything to eat because Anna Hazare was fasting!!! (I seriously felt – What!!!!). Well, I always believed and would agree that we need to eliminate corruption. I never felt that I have to belong to the breed of people who declare on social networks and micro-blogging sites that we HAVE to end corruption!!! Haven’t we had dozens of movies on this subject and haven’t we always wanted this?? Of course we do!!!

I want to tell another fact here – I was getting frustrated and irritated to watch the continuous intrusion of Team Anna and his fasting into my personal space – it was everywhere – Television, FM, Radio, Newspapers, Internet, Social Networking, Micro-blogging and even regular tea and lunch conversations. Amidst all of these, I really was amazed to realize that here is a Super human, who beyond a reasonable logic was going very strong  even after 12 days of serious fasting. I feel drained when I fast on tuesdays and festivals like Janmashtami and Shivrathri!!. More than himself, was I curious about his supporters – the people who have sacrificed their professional and personal commitments to camp and fast in support of Anna?? Were they all free of issues at work and home? Or, was this just taken as a welcome diversion?

Why were mothers pushing and jostling to showcase their kids in khadi and Gandhi topis in front of cameras? How each and every single person at Ram Lila was available for a slogan and quote on the camera? Why were students bunking classes to dance and sing? For heaven’s sake, why was the formidable former cop Kiran Bedi swaying on stage holding the Indian flag? Why was Dr Naresh Trehan addressing the nation from Anna’s stage (it’s scary when a competent surgeon is away from his scalpel!)?

Does this all mean that these people love their country more than me? Does waving flags and wearing Gandhi topis make them more nationalistic and patriotic than me? Are these people willing to sacrifice for the greater good? Does participation in the rally and fast make them have a greater sense of integrity? I have so many questions because, all I did during the Anna’s show was to live my normal life – going to work daily, doing my job and minding my business!!! I think, rather believe that I am not qualified to make a comment on the bravehearts who are “fighting for the new independence”. I am neither an admirer nor a critic of what they are doing. All I am is curious about from where they are drawing their inspiration and motivation.All I understood is that Anna has tapped an undercurrent of rising expectations and aspirations for a level playing field and a cleaner system.

Anna’s fight and fast gave a lot of food for thought for people who were waiting for such an opportunity.  The Aam Aadmi, in search of an identity, a better quality of life, took the reins of the movement, after feeling empowered and energized by Anna’s call for duty – fight for the new independence – ” I am a part of the change  and I am the change”. In a generation where making your mark and identity is just not a wish, but a necessity, Anna’s movement came in handy. Cameras are rolling continuously non-stop to feed the 24 hour news hungry channels with lots of feed.

Obviously, all of us are against corruption, especially when it hurts our pocket and delays our work. But why did it need an Anna for us to act? If we have not been fighting corruption every day, at every step, do we really believe that just the passing of the Jan Lokpal Bill will put an end to corruption forever? It will not, not till all people supporting Anna go back with the larger lesson that Anna’s crusade teaches. The lesson of stepping up and speaking out. Of standing together against what you do not believe in. Everyone must resolve to end corruption in their daily lives and to realise that we are guilty not just if we are corrupt, but also if we participate in or turn a blind eye to others’ corrupt practices. Why must you find your spot in the sun by declaring “I am Anna”? You are Anna or Gandhi, whoever you wish to be, if you are brave enough to follow the principles espoused by them in your daily life. So long as you do not leave behind your flag, your topi and your cry of “Vande Mataram” when you leave Ramlila Grounds finally, but carry them around with you in your heart, every day of your life as you go about your daily chores!


IN LOVE FOR MY NATION INDIA.  WHILE I CONGRATULATE INDIA ON SUCCESS OF ANNA’s MOVEMENT, A WORD OF ADVICE  AND NOT OF CAUTION, TO MY FELLOW INDIANS

It is now clear that the political parties and the leaders in the political arena have not been able to project a leader who can be considered as mass leader, who relates with the issues and the common man of India and his problems. Here is an elderly person, who was living a not too very active life in a small village in Maharastra who’s known for his village reforms  in education and basic amenities, environmental protection and local issues.

No one could have imagined that this man from a small village in Maharashtra who is an illiterate and an ex-service man could be raised to a level where he is identified as the face of fight against biggest menace in society – corruption.

The credit mainly in my opinion goes to the social activists Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal and Swamy Agnivesh who master minded the idea of making a nation-wide agitation and protest in a peaceful Gandhian manner. And the results are infront of us to see. So far this movement does not carry a direct color of any political party or any person who is attached with politics or divisive taint . The clear example of this was the open shunning of Anna’s supporters when Baba Ramdev rushed to Tihar to derive a mileage.

There are many concerns and apprehensions amongst many people, especially the intelligentsia on how this movement is funded and supported. There is a conspiracy theory airing that there could be a possible support from the  forces on our West or even the USA, to derail a stable and democratic government which is one of the fastest growing economies in the world now. To raise such doubts is undermining the effort of a person who is showing a direction and a people’s movement unless clear proof is available and established.

We have to understand a fact that corruption can not be eradicated over night  as the menace is deep rooted into the blood of each and every Indian. The poor and the middle class is suffering due to rising prices, and lack of service and amenities as tons and tons of money is siphoned off by evading taxes, which, other wise could have been used to bring down inflation and increasing the per capita income by generating more  jobs and opportunities.

After so this movement is giving out a bigger and more serious message by threatening the authority of our Parliamentary democracy, the authority of the executive and the value of vote. This is a soft form of black mail, whose damage will not come quick. When people compare this to the Jasmine Revolution of Egypt, they have to understand that what we have is an ELECTED GOVERNMENT, not a regime.

I fear when people will laugh at elected parliamentarians, and this will also will give room for vested and more dangerous elements and foreign forces to intrude our system in a soft manner by money power  or in the garb of nationalistic slogans.  In fact they could turn out to be the enemies of the nation and weaken the country and its system like a silent termite attack on the body of our parliamentary system, It is my fear and I like to be proved wrong.

We are not fighting a non democratic and non functional government who is violating the basic right of vote. In such a healthy environment to take the path of soft black mail is a thing of fear. This is something of a food for thought, which I wish every educated citizen of this mighty nation acknowledge. People are open to air their opinions.

As an Indian it is my right to express my apprehensions. One need to exercise great caution from now on  as the entire world is watching us as a sensitive nation, where democratically elected legitimate governments are loosing control, and strong social groups can easily dictate and destabilize India.. a good news for those who do not like to see India as a united and strong nation.

WE NEED REFORMS NOT REVOLUTIONS… HOPE WISDOM PREVIALS ON US. JAI HIND


North Africa and the Middle East maybe burning with issues on toppling long serving autocratic leaders but here are some logical explanations why it might be different in Bahrain!!! This is my own view of the entire issue and not to undermine the power of the public in fighting for their cause – be it at Egypt or Bahrain or any other country!!!!

When the riot police in Bahrain opened fire on five hundred sleeping protestros about a week back, it was absolute rafferty’s rules over there. But one thing was clear from this demonstration of who’s the boss – the administration in Bahrain meant hard business!!!

As reported in Facebook, Twitter and several other social networking sites the news is that  the change’ is now coming to Bahrain. Following Mubarak’s ouster, waves of revolution struck Yemen, Libya and finally reached the shores of Bahrain. But what must be remembered is that each wave is testing different shores. When thousands gathered at the Pearl roundabout mid-February, emulating the Tahrir model, there were few around the world who weren’t surprised. The few who knew this wasn’t the first time Manama would witness protests.

New Yorker’s Steve Coll writes, “Perhaps it would better to note that Bahrain’s is a long-running revolt that lacks an ‘unsubscribe’ option”. In his piece Bahrain’s Long Revolution (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/02/steve-coll-bahrain.html), he refers to the 2005 ‘pre-Facebook’ protests. Yes, Bahrainis did not wake up one sunny February morning and hit the streets.

First, a brief note on what the Bahraini administration currently looks like. There is a Bahraini parliament in existence where the King is all-powerful. He nominates the members to the Upper House- including the prime minister who has remained in power since 1971. It is only the lower house that the people of Bahrain elect. That would be 600,000 natives of a population that is 1.3 million; all the rest expatriates (a number far greater than Egypt’s). So let’s get one thing straight- this is a ‘pseudo-democracy’.

Second a comparison of economies – GDP per capita: Egypt-$2,000, Bahrain-$20,000 (IMF rankings 2010). The Egypt uprising was triggered by the unhappy ‘common man’. Mass unemployment, job insecurity and plain dissatisfaction of the population as a whole reigned for decades. Egypt is a nation where 40% of its people lived around the poverty line earning just $2 a day. Bahrain’s GDP per capita is about ten times more than Egypt. This isn’t a population disgruntled by lack of economic opportunities but other factors. And that took the world by surprise. This island nation had never shown signs of discontentment, what with a prosperous economy, modern lifestyle and most recently, its own Grand Prix circuit- a status symbol that put it right on the map. The statistics say it all. The Bahrainis war is on a different footing altogether.

Talking about religious dynamics  – this is basically the same Shia vs Sunni story. So here’s the real problem. The tussle between two sects of the Muslim community that has lasted over 300 years, since the present ruling family (Al Khalifa) came to power. Bahrain is the one of the few nations which has a majority Shia population administered by a minority Sunni regime- a fact that speaks loudly in the form of Saudi Arabia’s strong alliance with the nation. On the ground, the Shi’ites have since long harboured political and economic grievances.

The rulers  – The Bahrain royal family vs Hosni Mubarak: It takes a whole lot fiercer mutiny and strategy to dethrone a 300-year-old ruling monarchy than a sole dictator like Hosni Mubarak. And the Bahrain Emir (king) sent out his strongest message to ‘troublemakers’ on February 17 – Go home or die. There seems to be no different voices in the administrative sphere in Bahrain.

Of course the official version differs. The authorities defended their actions at the Manama roundabout claiming that security forces used a minimum of force and found firearms, knives and flags of Hezbollah (Lebanon-based group that the United States lists as a terrorist organization). So, the hundreds of demonstrators asleep in their tents at Pearl were terrorists, they say. Someone better tell the protestors that. Unlike Egypt, the military is falling right in line with what the government desires- a quick end to the mess. The ruthless crackdown that continues is proof of just that.

Now comes the Iranian impact on the uprising – The Bahrain regime’s one eye may be intent on ending the mess quick but the other is trained across the Gulf- towards Tehran. Many in the administration believe the Iranian Shia regime may be fuelling the fervour on the streets of Manama. And hence Bahrain finds its friends in the US & Saudi Arabia- nations who aren’t too fond of Iran either.

A silent Uncle Sam – The silence is evident. A brief ‘deeply concerned’ comment calling for ‘urgent restraint’ is all Obama could offer via telephone. The pressure that pushed Mubarak to the exit door isn’t evident yet though Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth fleet. How much leverage does the US have? How much of it will help sway things here?

lastly, a damage to the national pride and image of Bahrain – Bahrain’s global image has certainly taken a huge beating. The crackdown on February 17 at the Pearl roundabout ripped open the ugly wounds of an insecure regime. It showed it would not hesitate to kill even the defenceless – a stark contrast from what played out at Tahrir Square.

So do the angry voices at Manama stand a chance? The authorities may have withdrawn the army from the streets and initiated dialogue. But from past experience, let’s not expect an Egypt-styled total turnaround.


The world is badly placed to cope with another oil crisis……

NOT LESS than a month since Brent crude oil was around $96 a barrel and Hosni Mubarak was comfortable as Egypt’s ruler. Now he is ousted, overthrown by a display of public outcry that is challenging several autocratic leaders across north Africa and the Middle East. Since then oil prices has shot above $115. No wonder. The region holds a whopping 35% of the world’s oil resources. Libya, the scene of growing violence this week, produces 1.7m of the world’s 88m barrels a day (b/d).

So far the prices have not been pushed up by actual disruptions to supply. Oil prices in the international market touched a peak even before news emerged that some multi-national oil firms operating in Libya would reduce their production and that the country’s ports had temporarily closed. As Adam Sieminski at Deutsche Bank points out, oil prices are driven both by current conditions and by future expectations.

Oil markets are very sensitive to surprises. The sudden ousting of Mr Mubarak and the  following unrest in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Algeria (which contribute to a tenth of the world’s oil supplies) had added a correction of approximately 20% to oil prices by the middle of this week. The big worry is that spreading unrest will result in another shock similar to the oil embargo of 1973, the Iranian revolution or Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

Oil is more global than it was during those previous crises. In the 1970s production was concentrated around the Persian Gulf. Since then a gusher of non-OPEC oil has hit markets from fields in Latin America, west Africa and beyond. Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest crude supplier in 2009; OPEC’s share of production has gone from around 51% in the mid-1970s to just over 40% now.

Yet the globalization of oil supply has not diminished OPEC’s clout as the marginal supplier of crude. Markets are tight at the moment. Bumper inventories, built up during the downturn, are running down as the rich world recovers and Asia puts on a remarkable growth spurt. Demand rose by a blistering 2.7m b/d last year, according to the International Energy Agency, and is set to grow by another 1.7m b/d this year by Deutsche Bank’s reckoning. Many other producers are already running at full capacity; OPEC has its hands on the only spare oil.

If Libya’s oil stopped flowing importers would look to Saudi Arabia to make up the shortfall. The oil could probably flow to fill the gap in Europe, Libya’s main market, in a matter of weeks. OPEC claims that it has 6m b/d on tap but that looks wishful. Analysts think the true number is nearer 4m-5m b/d, with 3m-3.5m b/d in Saudi hands. That is ample to plug a Libyan gap but would hasten the day when growing world demand sucks up all spare production capacity. Analysts at Nomura reckon that it would only take a halt of exports from Algeria as well to absorb all the slack and propel oil to a terrifying $220 a barrel.

Despite saying it stands ready to produce more oil, Saudi Arabia has so far been reluctant to turn its stopcocks. OPEC claims that the world is amply supplied with oil and seems content with a price around $100 a barrel. Traders hope that Saudi Arabia will boost production stealthily or that OPEC will call a special meeting to raise quotas and calm markets.

The worst-case scenario for oil prices would be some kind of disruption to Saudi supply itself. That concern has become livelier given the unrest in neighbouring Bahrain. The tiny island kingdom produces little oil but is of vital strategic importance in the Persian Gulf, a seaway that carries 18% of the world’s oil. America’s 5th Fleet uses the country as a base.

The Saudis may also fear that protests by Bahrain’s Shia population could spill over their own borders. Saudi Arabia’s eastern provinces are home to both its oil industry and most of its Shias, who may also have cause for grievance with their Sunni rulers. The king this week announced $36 billion in benefits for his people. One crumb of comfort is that oil facilities across the region are generally located far from the population centres, where protests tend to be concentrated, and are well defended against anything but a concerted military assault.

What might be the effects of a more general supply crisis in the Middle East and north Africa? The oil shocks of the 1970s spurred the world to build stockpiles, such as the 727m barrels of crude oil in America’s strategic petroleum reserve, to be drawn on in the event of upheaval in the Middle East and elsewhere. China is building up a strategic reserve of its own. America’s Energy Information Administration puts total rich-world stocks in the hands of governments and industry at 4.3 billion barrels, equivalent to nearly 50 days of global consumption at current rates.

The impact of a crisis would therefore depend on how much oil production was lost and for how long. Even seismic shocks in oil-producing countries might not cut off supplies for very long. Yet the example of Iran shows what can go wrong. Leo Drollas of the Centre for Global Energy Studies, a think-tank, points out that pre-revolutionary Iran pumped 6m b/d. The new regime ditched Western oil experts and capital, and it has never come close to matching that level of output since; it now produces just 3.7m b/d. Middle Eastern oil is largely state-controlled but, as Amrita Sen of Barclays Capital observes, foreign investment remains vital to north Africa’s oil industry. If new regimes emerged that were more hostile to outsiders, that might have a lasting effect on production.

The world could probably weather a short-lived crisis. But the damage if oil prices spiked and stayed high for a long time could be severe for the recovering economies of the rich world. As for the prospects of reducing the importance of the Middle East to global oil supplies, forget it. Strong Asian demand is likely to mean that OPEC’s share of oil production rises again as it pumps extra output eastward. A troubled region’s capacity to cause trouble will not diminish.