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Indian Railways back on track, on paper

Will the Modi government be able to turn around India’s ramshackle, crash prone, loss making Railways? It is a tough ask. There are too many matters to sort out, not least dysfunctional toilets inside trains.

Major rail stations in the country look, smell and are maintained like unkempt urinals. Buying a ticket online is as difficult as admissions in Delhi University. There is 100% chance of failure.

Frequent rail crashes are caused due to basic negligence, lack of track maintenance, unmanned crossings and reliance on outdated manual signaling systems. If a train driver happens to catnap, like Rahul Gandhi the other day in Parliament probably due to watching soccer world cup at night, and misses a red light, it could jeopardize the lives of hundreds. Gandhi woke up, walked away and trended on Twitter. Many in the train could die.

This happens often. Indeed, the dirty toilets in Indian trains are symptomatic of the overall decay of the transport system patronized by millions every day. I remember visiting my village in the 70s. There was no method of flushing or sewage disposal.

A pit was cleaned manually every day by the zamadarni or sweeper. If one happened to be using the loo while it was being emptied, she screamed at you to stop. The process was degrading both for the zamadarni and the user of the toilet. My village has moved on, but Indian trains continue to use out dated squat pots. The cleansing process is worse. The excreta are ejected onto the tracks, even at the stations. Unlike my village in the 70s, there is nobody to clean the human waste on rail tracks except armies of flies.

India’s rail system is a glaring example of the destructive power of narrow and populist politics made worse by rampant corruption. Passengers are treated no less than the rats and cockroaches that infest the stations and trains. The last well meaning Railway Minister was perhaps Madhav Rao Scindia in the 80s when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister of India.

Modi’s maiden Rail budget sets out the agenda for change — Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects, focus on safety, latest track and signaling systems, cleanliness and sanitation, passenger comfort, revamped stations, bullet trains and tickets that can be booked online rather than bought from touts who game the system.

The challenge is to transform India’s heavily loss making and unsafe rail network into a financially sustainable system equally accessible by the poor, middle classes, elderly and rich. It is possible.

The Delhi metro, run by the state government, is an example, wherein a high earning executive, a peripatetic software engineer and a daily wager can rub shoulders while headed to their respective destinations, immersed in their cell phones, in air conditioned comfort. Commuters do not read nowadays, not even newspapers. FM radio headlines suffice.

Many of our airports have been revamped to international levels. Indian kids no longer squeal in delight on seeing walk-alators for the first time in their life at airports in Singapore or Hong Kong. One can enjoy a cup of coffee, quietly read a book or surf the Internet at an airport.

This needs to be mentioned. Try these simple acts at the Rail station. Forget about the cacophony, just the stink and lack of hygiene will kill you, if you can manage get yourself a cup of coffee, that is.

Modi’s Rail budget has taken the smart route of private and overseas capital playing a big role in the proposed revamp.

This is important due to political limitation of raising passenger fares and freight rates already quoting very high to subsidize loss making passenger trains.
Criticisms about bullet trains are misplaced. The argument that only the affluent are going to patronize these due to high ticket prices is fallacious. Extending such logic one should ban planes and airports in the country that cannot be afforded by the poor.

Connectivity spreads growth that benefits everybody, including local businesses such as transport, eateries, artisans, hotels, kirana stores and more. Importantly, the bullet trains are not going to be financed via tax payer’s money. Capital will be deployed from China, Japan and other regions.

PPP and FDI models have been talked about in the past. But, there is a difference this time. Unlike the ideological muddle of the previous government and Rail ministers who played to regional galleries, Modi is clear about the private source of funding to re-build Indian Railways.

Political will is the key to push large projects to fruition. It adds star value, like Salman Khan or Shahrukh Khan to the commercial success of a Bollywood film.
No doubt those who rule the country can make a difference. Even Manmohan Singh ended India’s global atomic isolation once he set his mind to it.

Unfortunately, he could do no more. Modi’s rail budget has tried to set Indian Railways back on track on paper. It is a good start. The real challenge lies ahead.

(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)

Doing roller coaster Hair Raiser

Some experiences can occur later in life. The Hair Raiser roller coaster ride, Ocean Park, Hong Kong, happened to me, courtesy some family pressure, specifically my 12-year older daughter.

It was followed by similar upturned, twisted and turned at high speed encounters at Disneyland, which can be a little rattling for the brain, tummy, ego and self-confidence. My life is not entirely boring. I do have my share of thrilling moments, such as watching T20 cricket matches, safely perched on my immovable couch, eating and drinking. On, under, sideways at the Hair Raiser, my expression was mostly open mouthed in a distorted kind of way. I tried to yell.

I did not hear myself until the abrupt end of the woozy ride. For my 12-year old, it was simply “awesome,” even as she furiously waved her arms, ooooing, aaahing, laughing, like the rest. That’s the way it is in the many Youtube videos she has been watching as a build up to the real event in Hong Kong. An overdose of action flicks such as Hunger Games, Fast and Furious and feverishly paced multimedia games have their impact on kids.

And my kid only wanted more of the rides, despite humid weather and queues of expressionless Chinese Mainlanders patiently waiting their turn. She obviously did not want to do it alone. She wanted me to be by her side, not for support, but for doing things together as family, a theory aggressively propounded by her parents.

I tried to explain togetherness on a roller coaster is not akin to dinner-time family talk, but she would have none of my arguments. Plus, as a father I was also concerned about her doing stuff on her own that I was not fully comfortable about, like hanging upside down from the side of a steep mountain with the sea hundreds of feet below.

My wife cleverly took charge of our three and half year old younger daughter, who can be as difficult about her needs such as Temple Run time on the I-Phone.

Gender stereotypes and biases in real life are lot different than the constant talk in the media. The man has to earn, change nappies and do the roller coaster. There is no choice in the matter. The woman changes nappies, while the rest depends on her mood, whims and interest.

The current status of my younger kid, conveniently for my wife, is the unhurried horse and other animal carousels that I too do not mind. Some of the movements translate to a nice butt massage. My surmise, though, is I will need to do another set of roller coaster rounds some years down the line when the younger one seeks out the high speed thrills.

I am sure the rides will only be worse, longer, higher and with more upside down time. Or, maybe I will let the two sisters handle it between them. I do believe India could do with more roller coasters. It cannot be a priority area like roads, power or hospitals that our Prime Minister Narendra Modi should incorporate into his agenda for change or acche din.

Amusement parks can be a safe entertainment option beyond eating out, pubs and Bollywood movies for regular middle class folks who want more. I also believe there are enough thrill seekers in our midst, who could do with a bit of artificially enhanced adrenalin inside their bodies without endangering lives of others. These would include rash car drivers that can range from young Alto to BMW occupants and call center cabs. They abound. All roller coasters should be made complimentary for inherently dangerous auto rickshaw drivers.

Soothed and satiated of their homicidal and suicidal tendencies they will perhaps drive with some sanity on Indian roads that are far more dangerous than any roller coaster ride around the world, even though my guts crowd about my neck area, threatening to spill out, in the process.

Her look says it all. At the Hair Raiser:

Image

Check out my best selling novel An Offbeat Story

 

How I lost 25 pounds and counting?

I have lost 12 kilos over the last few months, down from about 82 kilos to below 70 kilos, without being unhappy about a lifestyle that once was. I continue to occasionally binge and drink, not exactly fat burning or low calorie activities, unless one counts laughing loudly as exercise. Last, I weighed about 65 kilos in the 80s, around the time a single party under Rajiv Gandhi enjoyed majority in Parliament. So, I see my achievement no less than Narendra Modi.

I gym regularly, but never managed to weigh less, despite focusing on my treadmill levels and not the fabulous bodied girls in tight attires seriously going about their routines in the vicinity. That made me unhappy, especially since the scale kept creeping up, despite enforced abstinence.

Then, one of those choosing between life and death moments happened that wives and parents aggressively pester about once you cross 40, the age when you have likely lived half your life.

I had to get those blood tests done, which revealed my cholesterol, sugar and BP were borderline alarming. Our wise family doctor warned that my organs (heart, kidneys, brain and many more) were a time bomb waiting to explode unless I acted and neutralized the terror within me. Or like the Indian state so many times, fail to act on the inputs.

Usually action for me translates into plenty of good old Google time collecting a whole lot of intelligence, including reader feedback, Youtube videos, cricket, politics, Sunny Leone, sitcoms and more. I read interviews of superbly fit people such as Hrithik Roshan. I know I have no hope of achieving those sculpted biceps and abs in this lifetime. But, wanted to at least get into those college jeans again and live the bulging 40s just a bit like the roaring 20s.

Following plenty of inputs, I did realize fitness is more about lifestyle and diet rather than just exercise. Warning: all of what I am about to write hereon is personal deduction. I strongly advise readers to use discretion, cross-check with nutritionist or doc before applying my prescriptions. I am no specialist. One advice, however, can be followed.

A good breakfast works. It sets up the rest of the day well. Not high glycemic corn flakes, mind you, but oats, milk, fruits and egg whites. One more action I initiated is to eat out less. This can save a lot of trouble. As I found out, the oil used even at fine dining outlets, forget food courts, is the pathetic hydrogenated variety that clogs the system.

The accumulated fat builds little dams inside the body that inhibits blood flow. Starved of Oxygen the body dies a slow death, leading to a final collapse. I have also reduced to near zero wheat flour or maida from my diet that cut out a whole lot of instant calories playing havoc with the body. Look at restaurants and fast food outlets around, praised to the heaven by mostly very rotund food critics fattened on freebies. Maida abounds in Menus – pizza, burger, chole bhature, noodles, sandwiches, muffin, pastry, pasta, momos and more. This is trouble.

I have not eliminated such delicacies from my diet, but stick to whole wheat breads, pasta and brown rice. Have them made at home, with some good oil, Saffola or Olive using non stick cookware. Make yourself during weekends, rather than order home delivery.

It does not take much time, can be creatively rejuvenating and even sexually stimulating if you can manage to rustle a tasty and healthy whole wheat penne in white sauce using double toned milk, green veggies, some cheese and mushrooms for the spouse.

She will make it a point to thank you in kind. Also, rather than just hitting the treadmill with a vengeance, try some Yoga in the morning. It is like shaking the body for further use during the day. It activates the blood stream.

I was quite stiff when I started. Now I can bend low and view the wall behind my back from between my legs, like Parveen Babi in Namak Halal, which feels quite good. I watch my weight. My benchmark is 155 pounds. Below that, I allow myself a binge, a few drinks.

Frankly, I do not look forward to those anymore as I used to. It does slow down in the 40s. But, it feels really good to fit into those college jeans. I just need to tear them a bit. Maybe, I won’t. And, those blood tests. They are back to normal. 

(Check out my bestselling novel An Offbeat Story)

Thank You, Manmohan Singh

Over the past couple of days, I have watched Narendra Modi’s victory speeches in Vadodara, Delhi and Varanasi. I did not watch Manmohan Singh’s farewell address to the nation, a day after his government was voted out of power, as I expected it to be boring and clichéd. Singh is history, Modi is the future.

Reams will be written about Singh’s 10-year tenure as Prime Minister of India. Most current analysis and literature, including Sanjaya Baru’s book, have not been very kind. Given Modi’s stupendous victory, the country was clearly dissatisfied with Congress-led government effectively run by the Gandhi family. Manmohan will recede from memory, even as Indians will hope Modi government takes the country forward to new highs and achievements, as promised.

However, for a moment I would like to pause and thank Manmohan even as the Modi juggernaut swamps all consciousness and TV moves to the next big story.

As original architect of India’s economic reforms, Manmohan failed in the last 3-4 years when the country needed a fresh dose of change.

However, he has had some part to play, including as finance minister, in getting India to the position it is right now, the third largest economy in the world with several sectors such as IT, auto, hospitality, telecom, knowledge outsourcing at cutting edge and world class.

Millions, including myself, have benefited. Over the last decade incomes and investments for many have grown to levels that our parents could have never imagined even a decade back.

This, in turn, has engendered high aspirations among millions more. The results of national elections have made clear the people of India do not want a paternalistic government that hands out free doles. They find it demeaning. They want much more, like the others.

They can sense and witness prosperity around them, for real, on TV, Internet, word of mouth, especially of migrant workers from Bihar, UP, West Bengal employed in progressive states such as Gujarat or Maharashtra.

They want to afford the cars and air conditioners, travel in planes, send their kids to private schools that function and teach English, access good medical facilities, clean and safe environment. Nobody is going to be satisfied with some free rice, kerosene and few weeks wages for labor. They are not beggars seeking alms.

Manmohan delivered in the past, he needed to deliver more. Unfortunately, he lacked the political support and space. Given his inherent decency, Manmohan chose to remain silent rather than take on Gandhi family and their corrupt cohorts. The Congress party thinking was muddled, uninspiring and random as portrayed by Rahul Gandhi’s vacuous smile when he accepted defeat.

Modi has a big task in hand. Like Manmohan did in the past, he will need to ensure that millions more Indians see their incomes and investments grow exponentially. In these elections Modi has broken many records – the margin of victory at Vadodara, a clear majority for a non-Congress government for the first time in Independent India’s history. This is just the beginning.

Modi will need to break many many more records, plug the gaps and inequalities, efficiently manage India’s natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, revamp infrastructure, roads, power generation, Railways, streamline defense procurement and production, clean the rivers, turn private enterprise even more robust. The nation will watch his every step.

Expectations are very high. I want to thank Manmohan for whatever he did for the country. It was no small achievement.

Retire in Peace, Dr Singh. You can be blamed, but others should be blamed much more for the defeat of the government you headed.

(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)

Standing up to Narendra Modi

Latest exits polls predict a BJP victory. Many harbor misgivings about emergence of a “fascist” Narendra Modi. I have reason to believe it will not be easy for BJP’s PM candidate to turn into a “dictator” as some fear. Though Modi managed to subdue the usually belligerent Arnab Goswami on TV recently, it will not be such a cakewalk always.

The Arnab interview was a disappointment, no doubt. The earlier interaction of Rahul Gandhi too was unexciting, for which the blame lies with the interviewee. There is so much even Arnab can do to enliven a dull conversation. Even a Salman Khan-film and body show can flop if the script and direction are tardy. With Modi, the eye contact was feeble.

At least a couple of times, Arnab referred to his notes on being counter-queried by Modi. That is not the usual Arnab, who otherwise revels in aggressive gesticulations, papers and notes in hand, accompanied by shrill barbs and garbled decibels all round, also good for TRP ratings . With Modi, not once did Arnab utter his signature, “The nation wants to know.”

I was disappointed, like it has been with Chris Gayle in ongoing IPL cricket. But, then there has been a silver lining too. While Gayle has failed, others have delivered the fireworks, like David Miller or Glen Maxwell. Similarly, I do feel there are those who will be more than willing to take on Modi, unlike Arnab, and are not going to let him get away so easy.

This is important for Indian democracy. I believe Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, for one, is going to become a factor against Modi.

Though her campaign and impact has been late and limited this summer, it is unlikely to be so in future. The clamor for larger role for Priyanka will rise, given declining political fortunes of her family that naturally extends to Congress party. Her speeches are good, sharp, interactive, funny, cheesy, unpredictable and spontaneous, unlike her brother who can be consistently distant, abstract, self-conscious, obsolete and boring.

Not a very happy situation when politicians in India need to be consummate entertainers to appeal to huge crowds braving raging summer temperatures. There are signs of a street-fighter in Priyanka. She is a good communicator. These are crucial attributes when Parliamentary elections are being fought Presidential style. There is an innate probably inherited from her grandmother or god-given charisma, difficult to exactly define, but again very important.

Priyanka, of course, will have to set her own house in order before taking the full political plunge. For one, she will need to rein her husband Robert Vadra from making asinine comments, prove some of his real estate dealings are above board and ensure he strictly sticks to playing golf and riding bikes. She also has to convince her brother to be a little less abstract and more specific in his speeches. Priyanka will be playing a bigger political role, no doubt.

Modi should watch out. Another person who can take on Modi, unlike Arnab, is Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal who will probably pay the price of being politically impatient in this year’s general elections. There is one trait about the physically slight Kejriwal that, however, cannot be doubted – he knows no fear. This attribute again is very important to stand up to Modi.

The existence of BJP, Congress and AAP as counterchecks to each other is healthy given their pan-Indian influence.

Due to rising clout of urban middle class votes and city-based populations, these political outfits will need to evolve a broad agenda centered round good governance, economic growth, equity, efficient infrastructure, employment generation, health, education, judicial and police reforms and sound welfare schemes for poor.

This could also mean sidelining of regional outfits that play up caste and religion to win votes, at the national level, at least. No talk of Indian politics will be complete without mentioning the three divas, Mayawati, Mamata and Jayalalithaa, ruthless, acerbic, ambitious, and publicity hungry. Each is quite capable of messing around with Modi.

These ladies will be very different from the women the BJP leader has dealt with so far – a wife who has chosen to remain quiet and faceless and a mother who travels in an auto rickshaw. The three divas will demand much more, arrive in helicopters and are capable of making Modi’s life quite miserable, if they so wish.

Indian democracy is only headed for better times ahead, if you ask me.

(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)

The Rani Mukherjee, Aditya Chopra whodunit

Often, Indian media predictions go horribly wrong, like election results. In the case of Rani Mukherjee and Aditya Chopra impending marriage, the speculation has turned out right. Congratulations to gossip columns, paparazzi and others in the business of news that sells briskly in India and elsewhere in the world.

That Aditya and Rani, cleverly referred as Adani on social media in times of aggressive election mudslinging, were an item has been floating around for some time.

Pictures of Rani celebrating Diwali, hanging out with Aditya’s family members, holding her future mother-in-law’s hands (not Chopra, mind you) are in the public domain. Unlike Rani, there are hardly any photos or videos of Chopra. There is one passport size picture, probably leaked by the immigration people. I have Googled couple of photos of Aditya, Rani together. They seem morphed and grainy as if belonging to another era.

This is an amazing achievement given point and shoot mobile phones, CCTV’s and citizen paparazzi everywhere. Chopra, after all, is an immensely successful Bollywood director and producer. I have read interviews of Shahrukh Khan speaking about meeting Chopra to discuss Chak De India and earlier Dilwale Dhulhania Le Jayenge, proving that the ace movie maker exists somewhere in Mumbai. Tracking Chopra is a whodunit.

Like, a super hero movie in which Chopra has directed his own self to disappear like Mr India. Narendra Modi has mastered the art of dominating public consciousness and every media, TV, 3D, Twitter, mobile phones, FM radio, Facebook, Print and Online news.

Bollywood should make a movie starring Modi playing himself, to complete the picture. I owe Modi a personal thank you for replacing the recorded voice of the lady who unfailingly called on my mobile phone and laughed like a Vampire. “Main Narendra Modi bol raha hoon,” sounds so much more soothing in comparison.

Modi’s number one TRP positioning was briefly challenged by Arvind Kejriwal, especially when the AAP leader took to street protests as chief minister. This created the spectacle of the state taking on the state. Unlike Modi, Chopra is the undisputed national champion in being invisible while visibly making movies starring A-listers, dating a top Bollywood actress for many years it seems and heading the immensely successful Yash Raj banner.

It is also apparent that Chopra’s talent of remaining unseen does not run in rest of the family. For example, pictures of younger brother Uday Chopra at a beach with the very beautiful Nargis Fakhri (apologies, but the surname does pronounce a little awkward) emerged shortly after rumors of the two seeing each other surfaced. One can easily guess what Chopra Junior sees in Fakhri, but not the other way round. Just as it is difficult to exactly define or pin point Junior Chopra’s roles in Dhoom 1, 2 and 3 – more Whodunits?  

In the global situation, probably Dawood Ibrahim is close competition of being there, yet not being there, like Chopra. Earlier it was Osama Bin Laden. America looked for him everywhere. Ultimately he was found living comfortably near Islamabad with his many families. Washington did appear inept. Almost like looking for your keys when they are inside your own pocket.

Presently, like Chopra, there are various versions of the same picture of Dawood floating about for decades now — at the Sharjah cricket ground, known equally well for Javed Miandad’s last ball six, birth of match fixing and now IPL. But then Ibrahim is a terrorist and needs to hide or be hidden by Pakistan’s ISI. No reason for RAW to hide Chopra, it is self imposed. Given the inefficient workings of our intelligence agencies, they would have failed in any case.

Nobody knew about the Rani-Chopra wedding until it happened in Italy. Even the omnipresent TV cameras that specialize in shooting celebrities at Mumbai airport seem to have missed the departures of Rani, Chopra, their friends and relatives. The wedding itself was a small private ceremony. Why go all the way to Italy for a small private party, I have not figured till now? Another Whodunit that only Chopra can answer so will remain unanswered, unless Arnab Goswami declares it to be an issue that the nation wants to know. Here’s wishing the couple a very happy married life. Hope to see pictures of the babies when then have some.

(Check out my best selling novel An Offbeat Story)

Why I voted for Narendra Modi

Living in Gurgaon, Haryana, I voted for Narendra Modi last week. I am no diehard BJP supporter or Modi fan, ideologue, Hindutva advocate or Pracharak.

But, I do weigh my vote carefully every five years. I usually look at two aspects, one nationalistic, other selfish — whether the party (or person who sets the agenda for the political outfit) I am voting is good for the country overall. And further for me and my family that translates as better livelihood, opportunity, lifestyle, living and security. I studied options available – Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal and Modi.

I settled for Modi, so voted BJP. When I look back at my past choices, I have backed the winner. I hope my record stays intact. Ironically, in 2004, I voted Congress as I was unhappy with then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s handling of Modi. The India Shining campaign had its merits, but sounded hollow as BJP had lost its moral fiber. Vajpayee should have fired Modi for failure to control, looking the other way, maybe fanning the Gujarat riots.

Vajpayee, however, chose to acquiesce to Hindutva hardliners in the BJP party lead by LK Advani who did not want Modi punished. India’s contemporary history would have been different had Vajpayee listened to his conscience and asked Modi to resign. Probably, Advani would still be calling the shots in BJP and could have been PM candidate again this time.

Not a very exciting proposition given his age, fragile health and record of leading BJP’s aggressive Hindutva campaign in 90s. In 2009, I again voted for Congress, believing Manmohan Singh had it in him to take the country forward, especially after his strong stand on the Indo-US nuclear deal, despite opposition from the Left parties. The issue was not nuclear power, but the fact Manmohan stood by his principles and was willing to resign if the atomic agreement did not happen. Manmohan seemed a much better choice than his nearest competitor, Advani the Modi protector.

Manmohan, however, has belied high expectations in his second tenure by failing to check corruption or push India’s economic growth and reforms forward. If he succeeded in either, I would have voted Congress again. Sanjaya Baru’s account might have been dismissed as “fiction” by some. However, as Manmohan’s former media advisor in the PMO, Baru could not have got it all wrong. Sonia Gandhi had a big hand in tying down Manmohan due to which the government faltered, ministers turned satraps, sycophants and crony capitalists prevailed, corruption became the norm, policy making, fiscal prudence and governance went for a toss.

Tax payer’s money has been poured into wasteful and gargantuan welfare schemes that never reach the poor. Instead, it creates a small sub-section of embezzlers that exploit the system. Manmohan should have resigned rather than let matters drift. This might actually have been a boon for the Congress in the longer term. Sonia might have let Manmohan have some say in his government to buy peace. Given Manmohan’s record and proven expertise policy making might have straightened for the good. Scams in coal, telecom, CWG might never have happened.

The Congress party may have not stared at defeat 2014, propelling Priyanka Gandhi to campaign aggressively as a last ditch attempt to salvage a lost situation.

For my 2014 Vote, I did briefly consider the Aam Admi Party (AAP) led by Kejriwal. I have not ruled out voting for AAP in future. But, Kejriwal needs to hang in a bit more rather than trying to bite more than he can chew. He rightly wants to rid the country of corruption. But, when he did get an opportunity in Delhi, he abandoned ship, betraying the electorate.

Shoot and scoot approach works well as an activist but not when you are chief minister of a state that has believed in your mission to cleanse the system. Perhaps, AAP won Delhi elections at the wrong time, too close to general elections, that has prompted Kejriwal to take a shot at greater glories.

Modi has had his problems. Vajpayee should have fired him. He should be sent to jail if courts find him culpable in the Gujarat riots. On the other hand, every political outfit in this country has skeletons in its cupboard – charges of corruption, heinous crimes, identity and caste politics, minority appeasement, communal polarization, pseudo secularism, authoritarianism, nepotism. Prior to Gujarat riots, Sikhs were massacred in Delhi in the aftermath of the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

The Muzaffarnagar riots happened only recently in Uttar Pradesh. Modi is a product of Indian gutter politics as it exists today. In order to survive in the gutter, some of the shit and sewerage will smear on you. However, I do believe that Modi wants to move on.

He has proved himself in Gujarat, winning three elections. The state has remained peaceful since the 2002 blot, the economic indices are good. Modi’s catchphrases are development, growth, governance, rooting out corruption. There is always the risk that Modi may resort to some of the dirty tricks endemic in Indian politics. But, I believe India’s democracy, its people are resilient.

Freedom is valued, so is social and economic mobility. Institutions such as judiciary, defense forces, election commission, CAG, Parliament, the President of India and robust media are strong checks and counter balances. If Modi gets a chance and does not deliver on promises to the country, he will be shown the door, like Vajpayee in the past and now most likely Sonia, Rahul and Manmohan. Thus, I Voted Modi.

(Check out my bestselling novel An Offbeat Story)

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