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100 days of Modi sarkar

There have generally been two views about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 days in office. There is a third category that weighs any government’s performance only by the way the stock market is headed. Helped by encouraging GDP figures, they are obviously very happy due to the massive capital gains since Modi took over. Going by their assessment Modi is the biggest bull since Harshad Mehta caused the sensex to sky rocket albeit by subterfuge.

The Mod-baiters see undeniable evidence their forebodings and fears are turning out to be true – that he is a despot, a majoritarian, worse a fascist who will destroy institutions and usurp all power to himself and his band of loyal followers. For them “burre din” under Modi is imminent.

Like suspicious lovers, they see signals of Modi government’s deceit and divisive politics everywhere – tinkering with independence of judiciary, isolating media, disbanding Planning Commission, dubious role of BJP in reviving communal tensions in Uttar Pradesh, playing up Love Jihad to malign Muslims, replacing governors, among other moves.

The Modi-doubters say the truly evil and communally polarized politics of Modi will be starkly visible when (not if) his government fails to deliver on the twin empty promises that secured him the massive electoral mandate this summer — governance and economic growth.

And, the latest move that cements distrust is the diktat to schools that made it mandatory for students to listen to “Masterji Modi’s” address on Teacher’s Day, though most agree it was an apolitical and healthy interaction. The skeptics, however, see gloom – possibility of military conscription, disbanding of English medium schools and sprouting of more RSS shakhas to misguide the youth. To be honest, why Modi chose to address children on Teacher’s Day, especially after the riveting Independence Day speech, still remains a mystery to me? What’s going to happen on Children’s Day in November, I don’t know? Will he address the teachers?

Moving on from the doubters, are those that believe the Modi government is laying a stable foundation for the good days or “acche din,” as promised. The Prime Minister himself leads by example as the hardest working member in the establishment, unlike part time politician Rahul Gandhi and not permitted to work previous incumbent Manmohan Singh.

Most agree election campaigns, including Modi’s, like Bollywood movies, did sell a dream, that is impossible to achieve overnight. Only Salman Khan in the North and Rajnikant in the South can be super heroes both in real and reel life. Only Hrithik Roshan can make men stare at his body instead of Katrina Kaif’s, in their latest movie together.

Change in a diverse and huge country such as India cannot happen overnight and 100-days are too short for an overhaul, unless we incorporate the Chinese growth model of acquire, uproot and build. This is not possible in a democracy such as India where no government can afford to ignore social and financial inclusion efforts such as the Jan Dhan Yojna.

In cricket parlance, Modi’s first hundred days as PM has been compared to sedate, yet solid start to a Test innings fabricated ball by ball which would ultimately lead to a climax more exciting than any T-20 game. Modi and India will ultimately emerge victorious, despite Virat Kohli walking back to the pavilion before reaching the pitch.

There have been firm attempts to put the economy back on track. Rather than big ticket policy changes, the focus is on implementing and clearing projects valued billions of dollars that have been on hold due to lack of government clearances. Foreign policy has been a big plus.

It was correct decision to cancel the foreign secretary level talks with Pakistan. Islamabad has no business talking to Kashmiri separatist leaders who are not part of the political mainstream in the state and stoke up anti-India passions. There have been efforts to streamline official processes. For a change the unwieldy and unyielding bureaucracy is under pressure to deliver.

Officials are expected to be on time for work and keep their office clean. This is an achievement, which also underscores the rot that the Modi government needs to set right. No wonder, the “acche din” is going to take some time coming, but it will. In balance, I would say that the country has been well served by Modi so far.

For a change, the government does give the impression of working hard for the betterment of the people cutting across the social and economic spectrums. For the country overall, Modi has been a risk worth taking, given the incompetence, corruption, crony capitalism, indecision, listlessness of the previous Manmohan government.

There are going to be right, wrong, debatable decisions. But, at least well intentioned decisions are being taken, for a change. Perhaps, India does need a dose of an efficient autocrat, a no nonsense CEO working within a democratic framework to get things moving. Modi has played the role well so far.

(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)

Siding with Sachin Tendulkar

There has been some talk about Sachin Tendulkar not attending Parliament as nominated member of the Rajya Sabha. In my view, the right place for Sachin is back in the India T20 side masquerading as a Test team in the recently concluded series in England. Despite his age Sachin would have scored more than Kohli, Pujara, Gambhir, Vijay, Rahane, Dhawan put together.

Just as Rahul Dravid would have played more deliveries in one innings than the entire team minus MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the full five match series.

Tendulkar has been pulled up by MPs and the media like a school kid is reprimanded for bunking classes or a coach pulls up his wards for slackening during training. And, we all know that a lot of our media and MP’s are not exactly paragons of virtue or exemplary behavior in their personal or professional lives.

Indian media is robust and aggressive and integral to defining us as a democracy, albeit a shrieking one, but has its limitations, corporate and political biases that need not be spelled out here.

Our MP’s are not very inspiring either. Parliament has been hardly allowed to function for months, years, while our exalted representatives enjoy perks and privileges that are billed to the tax payer who now hope that Modi will deliver on his “Acche Din” promise soon – Roti, Kapda, Makaan and Toilets. No doubt, our basic basket of necessities has evolved, courtesy Modi.

The MPs, meanwhile are asking for another round of salary hikes. Is there any organization anywhere in the world that would pay employees salaries for not attending office? Rather, the employees do manage to reach office, scream at the top of their voices, go home and relax. And, get paid handsomely for the efforts. I am a big fan of Sachin, like millions others.

I do not have a problem if he is awarded the Bharat Ratna as he deserves it. Others, long dead or still alive, Lord Ram and Jesus Christ may merit it as well, but that does not in any way make Sachin ineligible for the award. I do not have a problem if Maria Sharapova has not heard of Sachin as I am very interested in watching the astonishingly pretty tennis player, not her views.

I do not have a problem if our cricketers travel with their wives or girlfriend even if she happens to be the very pretty Anushka Sharma. Given their massive celebrity status, Indian cricketers can be enticed by a million other distractions. Blame lack of technique on seaming English conditions and James Anderson for Kohli’s lack of runs. Girlfriends do not win matches or lose them.

Did anybody blame Irina Shayk when Portugal was knocked out of the soccer World Cup? Portugal was just a bad team and there is only so much that Ronaldo could do. I do have a problem with the kind of money our cricketers make especially after they are thrashed the way they were in England.

I do not have a problem if Sachin does not attend Parliament, despite being a MP. I believe India’s biggest cricketing icon is above reproach and cannot be measured by yardsticks reserved for lesser mortals like us. I believe Sachin has earned the stature over the years as an unmatched world record breaking gentleman cricketer without a whiff of scandal.

It is true that democracy entitles us to freedom of expression. But, it also bestows upon us to act as responsible citizens, except on Facebook. Yet, I want to re-iterate — please do not send me any more Candy Crush requests or Tag me in a photo in which I am not there.

For those who have followed Sachin’s personal and career graph over decades, it can be safely presumed the Master Blaster is not one to allow even a hint of dissonance and criticism to rest for too long. Sachin makes mistakes, even God’s do.

Most of India expected him never to get out when he batted. But, he did. However, his genius was unquestioned. I think he was castled first ball by a rampaging Shoaib Akhtar once. Everybody knew he would go back to the dressing room, mull over a dismissal and come back stronger, like he did in the World Cup in South Africa when he blasted Akhtar out of the attack.

Maybe, taking up the offer to become MP was not the right decision, given Sachin’s other commitments. Becoming a MP is not an adornment, it is a responsibility.

Yet, I believe we Indians need to introspect whether we point fingers too often and too soon. It is best to leave it to Sachin to sort out his role or lack of it in Parliament. He does not deserve to be pilloried by individuals who are not a patch on the man’s greatness.

That would be the dignified thing to do.

(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)

Narendra Modi looks to deliver, quietly

There has been some buzz about Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeping the media at a distance. Modi, TV channels main pre-election TRP-busting protagonist has gone missing save formal speeches and tweets that do not say much. The new PM has opted not to travel abroad with the usual large press entourage, used to being wined, dined and handed scoops in the form of well-drafted briefs by officials in the loop of the higher ups.

There has been no mandatory on-the-way back interaction with the press inside Air India One. As a matter of fact, there is no appointed media hand in the PMO to deal with journalists. Surely any future insider tome about the workings of the Prime Minister’s Office under Modi is not going to be penned by a journalist, unlike Sanjaya Baru’s ringside account about how the Manmohan government functioned or rather did not function. Meanwhile, an angry Arnab Goswami continues to rave, rant, scold and quarrel on TV on issues considered very important for the nation to survive, in his assessment.

This obviously does not translate into the grand TRP ratings clocked when the TV cameras followed Modi on his high voltage acerbic election campaign trail this summer ruffling the feathers of the likes of Mamata Banerjee and Jayalithaa. The nation cannot be blamed for expecting even more of Modi post the grand victory march in Varanasi just as one assumes more of Salman Khan in the second half of a Salman Khan movie.

Otherwise, the audience would demand a refund from theatre owners due to the missing “Kick.” The latest Salman movie is about action, drama, melodrama, comedy, item numbers, technology and holograms mixed with deft Being Human marketing touches. It’s confusing, just like Modi’s disappearance from media space over the last two month following his shift from Gandhinagar to New Delhi. Is Modi treating The Fourth Estate right?

It is too early to make a definitive judgment. It is not as if the government has not been communicating. The suave Arun Jaitley, god-gifted with the amazing ability to speak many words and ideas at the same time, is often on TV. There have been detailed statements by finance, power or foreign ministers in Parliament that seems to be functioning for a change.

Of course, a couple of comical asides have been Rahul Gandhi caught napping in the Lok Sabha or storming the well of the House. Gandhi needs some serious guidance beyond handholding by his sister and mother, his regular advisors. Either he scores no runs or wants to hit a political six. He needs to appoint somebody like Rahul Dravid to teach him the art of building an innings. No doubt, there is some amount of hearsay about Modi’s style of working.

But, I do believe there has to be some method in the silence. This much is known that Modi plans and plots his moves in advance with clinical precision. Remember Modi is no IITian expected to make it to the top, like the young promoters of Flipkart. He started off as a mere Chaiwala whom Advani backed. The rest, as they say is history, which Advani would like to re-write if he could. No doubt, there is a game plan at play, a deliberate strategy that shields Modi away from the line of direct media fire and the obstreperous Goswami setting the PMO’s agenda for the day, responding to barbs and accusations.

In my opinion, Modi’s loud silence should not be misread as inaction or confusion, as under Manmohan. There are enough indications to show the government is at work adopting a gradualist rather than frenetic approach to change. This is any day better than the guerilla like hit-and-run governance tactics of Arvind Kejriwal. In case readers might have forgotten Kejriwal happens to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader who wanted to become PM of India.

Important decisions, though not game changers, are being taken by the Modi government — movements on labor reforms, changes in attestation norm which is enormous relief to the common man, FDI in insurance, defense production and Railways, amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act. There is continuity in foreign policy, social welfare schemes, while a sensible decision has been taken to persist with Aadhar. Ultimately, what will matter is making a real difference to the lives of people cutting across social and economic strata.

Perhaps the media too needs to evolve and move beyond news sourced from a few high-powered networks in Lutyen’s Delhi, especially North and South Block. While the scoops, scams, snoops, secret dealings and innuendos have their place in a thriving and thrashing democracy such as India, it is equally important to highlight success and failures at grass root levels where delivery really matters. And, often fails. I, however, do think that Modi should reach out to The Fourth Estate. Not too often, but often enough. It is important.

(Check out my novel An Offbeat Story)

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)

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