Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friday, the 13th!

Hi folks,

Friday, the 13th day of September in the year 2013. Rarely has been a day as eventful as this one. Dear Sreesanth, thanks for your histrionics. But we have had enough of you. Thanks BCCI. One of those few decisions you have got bang on target!

And then there was the conviction of the four insensate youngsters. If I were to use any English word from my vocabulary to describe the nature of the crime committed, then that word would be ‘Heinous’. And if there is any other word or phrase that you can think of other than the one I just mentioned, then consider my vocabulary weak!

Anyways, the point is this - how many times have you seen a court in India deliver a verdict within 8 months of a heinous crime being committed? I bet even the convicts would have never imagined that such deathly fate would befall them so quickly. Had it not been for the public uproar and open protests that were amplified by the social media to a degree, never seen before in the history of Independent India, this conviction wouldn’t have been so swift and effective. Now, it’s time to address our dear friend Nirbhaya.

Hi Nirbhaya,

I am pretty sure you were watching the drama unfold in the court proceedings, sitting somewhere up in heaven. And I guess the fact that the swiftness with which Delhi Police completed the investigation to nail the offenders must have come as a surprise to you. I don’t know what you must have felt when the verdict was announced. I guess, I can never know. After all, I am a guy who thought he could afford to roam the streets at night without a care in the world. How wrong, I was!

What I do know is that you must have felt – why me? As someone who could have gone on to become a brilliant doctor, whatever happened to you is indescribable. So heinous, that thousands of people like me were outraged. Every day, you fought bravely against odds heavily stacked against you - we hoped against hope. And that eventful day, our hearts sank. When that small glitter of hope was extinguished, we seethed with anger and gritted our teeth. A chill ran down my spine though, for I have always had a soft corner for Delhi – a city where I grew up as a kid and have many sweet memories to cherish.

I wished that nothing less but the ‘noose’ be tied around the offenders. And there were many like me, vocal enough that the lawmakers had to sit up and take notice. ‘Swift action or otherwise its doom’, they must have thought. And when the desired verdict was announced, people who crowded in huge numbers at the Saket Complex applauded. I will admit this to you, Nirbhaya. After the verdict, I heard myself cursing the ‘four *****rds’ with the choicest of swear words that I know of. But then the next instant, I was completely engulfed with ghoulish thoughts. Yes Nirbhaya. Ghoulish thoughts indeed!

If not for their deeds, those four convicts possibly could have gone on to become future leaders of this country. If only the government had provided the right kind of resources to disillusioned youngsters like them. Friday, the 13th of September 2013, was a sad day, because we publicly killed the ambitions of four youngsters who could have been virtuous instead of the ghastly abhorrent monsters they turned out to be. Of course, let the four of them be damned for what they did. They deserved every bit of what they have got. No one will shed tears the day they are hanged until the tightening noose sucks every bit of life out of them. 

But do we really need to applaud and celebrate their death? Are we so morbid, Nirbhaya? Doesn’t that tell you something about ‘we the people’? The verdict ‘Death to all’ that was labelled as ‘historic’ by some newspapers doesn’t matter now, but for the small glitter of hope that it serves as an effective deterrent to ‘Rape’ – a term that has been so trivialized now that every time I hear someone utter it, I am disappointed by the lows to which ‘we the people’ can stoop to.

Before I end this letter Nirbhaya, I would like you to ask something. Nothing much, though. Please pray that we get better in treating women, irrespective of age, caste and religion and of course, the power to introspect and learn basic civility. If you are reborn as the ‘second woman Prime Minister’ of India, then nothing like it!

Yours friendly,

And that brings me back to the point I had earlier raised. I mean how morbid can we be. No point taking to twitter or Facebook and blaming the Congress for the current state of affairs. No point blaming a Prime Minister who remains mum, even when our soldiers are beheaded in a brazen act by the Pakistani Army that can only be termed as cowardly. Yes, I mince no words when I say so. I have never been a great fan of ‘Aman ki Asha’. Does that make me jingoistic? Or is it because I am the son of a soldier, taught to place the country’s interest above anything and everything else?

One of my dear friend and a fellow batch-mate from IIMA had once remarked – Jab tak hum nahi sudhrenge, yeh desh bhi nahi sudhrega’. So true, I say.

Friday, the 13th day of September 2013 is also eventful because ‘NaMo’ as he is lovingly referred to, was announced as the official PM candidate. This is so reminiscent of the presidential ballot that happens in USA. Rahul Vs NaMo should be an exciting contest. More so, because this is probably the first election in which an entire generation of tech savvy youngsters aware of the in and out of what’s happening politically (thanks to Social Media and a certain foolish politician ‘DS’ who keeps on uttering ridiculous bullshit), will turn up to vote in large numbers. With young India overwhelmingly in support of NaMo, things look bright for this charismatic leader.

Winds of change are blowing. Given the pathetic state of affairs in our country, it comes as no surprise that people desperately seek change. I have never been a great admirer of NaMo. He’s a polarizing figure - a leader who has the ability to intimidate, whenever required and inspire whenever necessary. Godhra has been a blot on his otherwise stain-free tenure as the CM of Gujarat.

Of course, while doing projects in IIMA, I did observe that in some parts of the hinterlands of Gujarat, funds still don’t trickle down to the grass-root level. Caste based discrimination is rampant. In Ahmedabad, the manhole workers, most of who belong to a community called ‘Valmiki’, are treated with disdain. There’s an entire slum in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, where people survive inhumane conditions without electricity and basic sanitation. I happened to visit this slum and somehow managed to not puke after spending over two hours with the residents who described their living conditions in excruciating detail. Of course it was all there, explicit visuals some of which I managed to capture in my camera as well. The irony - it was August 15th in the year 2010. More details on

I mince no words when I say I am not a great fan of NaMo. A leader like him ought to be intolerant of such discrimination happening right in the midst of a major city in a state he’s governing. But then, thousands of such slums lie unattended to in various cities of our country. And there are other issues like Primary education, basic sanitation, food security etc. that haven’t been addressed properly despite 66 years of being a sovereign country. So, it is unfair to expect so much from a leader like NaMo who is relatively a better performer than many other useless administrators the country has seen. Despite all his failings, he is assertive and decisive – in many ways like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, although NaMo needs to bolster his secular credentials. I would rather prefer a decisive leader than a mum one!

NaMo is the beacon of hope of a better tomorrow. And if BJP indeed wants to return to power, then it has to do certain things right.
  • Acknowledge the fact that being a ‘Gandhi’ does matter and carries immense brand value. Go to a village and ask an old lady and you would realise that she’s more likely to recall who a certain Gandhi is as compared to NaMo. Dear BJP. Please realise that the literate working class is tired of being taken for a ride by the incumbent government. So, most votes in urban constituencies are likely to be polled in your party’s favour. Instead, you would do better to take the fight to the rural bastions where the real political drama is set to unfold in 2014. Clearly, Congress is better equipped than you are. Why? Simple. They are still in power
  • Magic figure of 190 – It would be foolhardy to assume that you can form a coalition government even if you manage even a tad less than this figure. BJP, are you listening? AP and UP together combine to form 122 seats. But alas, BJP’s presence in these two critical states is not much to cheer for. It becomes that much trickier with potential kingmakers like Jagan and Mayawati/Mulayam who are shrewd players
  • Avoid indulging in a slandering duel with Rahul. It would be like playing into the hands of Congress which just wants that. Instead, the better strategy would be to convince people how BJP can make a difference to people’s lives. Focus on your election manifesto and make it so intent heavy that it by itself wins you the election. Of course, easier said than done!

It is after 22 years that Indian economy has hit such a rough patch again. And if the appointment of Mr Raghuram Rajan (proud to be a fellow alumnus) and its immediate impact on Rupee and Sensex is anything to go by, I can’t help but be optimistic. Of course there were external factors like Fed’s announcement of tapering of the amount spent on QE, better than expected GDP figures for US and Eurozone that helped, but his firm intent evident in his speech, did give a boost to the sentiments that turned bullish again. And that’s what might just happen next year if things go NaMo’s way. It’s time for the phoenix to rise from the ashes. And it’s also the time for youngsters like me to participate and at least vote to make a difference. Isn’t it time already, for young India to isolate those who don’t treat their daughters and mothers with respect and dignity? Why do we marginalise the downtrodden and desolate when the right thing to do is marginalise the monsters created within the system or create the right infrastructure to reform them? 

Nirbhaya, if you are listening. You can still be reborn as the PM of India – possibly the youngest ever, and create wonders for this country. That would be just perfect! Ain’t it? 

signing off,