April 29, 2009

Kids ask - have you voted?

On the V-day in Bangalore, Smita gave this home-made placard to our daughter (Yasha) and her friend along with some chocolates.

They had to go around in the building, knock at each door and ask them if they have voted. If they have, then they gave them some chocolates. If not, then they told them no chocolates for them because they did not vote for the kids.

It was great fun for the kids - although they did not quite understand what it really meant. For couple of families who did not vote, the embarrassment was quite visible on their faces to be rejected by small kids.

Hopefully, these kids will keep up the enthusiasm as they grow up and bring about a good change in the world we live in... All they need is our support and encouragement.

April 28, 2009

Lords Spiritual in the UK House of Lords

It is a well known fact that we borrowed a lot from the British constitution and parliamentary system. However, there are some features of the British system that we chose not to implement.

One of such features that I want to point out is the reservation in the House of Lords for Religious/ Spiritual leaders. Although, UK is considered to be a secular state, it maintains positions in its upper house for 26 senior clergymen of the established Church of England known as the Spiritual Peers (or Lords Spiritual)!

These are not elected by the people, but sort of nominated. There was a time in the history, when the Lords Spiritual outnumbered the Lords Temporal (the non-religious leaders). Over a period of time, with reforms to separate the church and state (the basis of secularism), the secular credentials were established. However, even to-date the 26 seats are retained.

The Lords Spiritual make up less than 4% of the seats and they do not normally vote in the matters of law/ state. But, I think this is just an acknowledgment of the power/ influence they wield in the society and a respect to that.

Something to attempt in India? Maybe a good idea...

PS: The Parliamentary reforms are still on in UK - since 1832 till date. Signs of an evolving system...

Also read the post on Raj Gurus - Need of the hour

April 22, 2009

Building the Nehru-Gandhi brand name - some facts...

Take a look at this blog - how public money is used to promote a family


Enjoy reading...

April 20, 2009

What has kept our Government busy in the past few years?

Got this email forward... We are responsible for allowing this mess to continue - lets do our bit...

Vote for a change


Dear Ones,

Go through each and every link below, our country's Future is in our hand! Become Aware of the current situation of our Government and you have the power to bring about change!!

As a true citizen of this country, you should share this information with ALL NOW, only few days remaining for voting!

Vote 4 Change!

[Corroborated by credible sources – Indian Express, Economic Times, IBN 7, Wikipedia, Official Government websites, etc. For email clients that do not support embedded links, please check the bottom of the email – we have all the links for you.]

1) Is common Indian on the street really safe?

a) Check this shocking video clip from IBN 7: Become a terrorist and get paid by the Indian Government.

b) Taliban is not just at our doorsteps, it has infiltrated into Kashmir [news article]. Is the present Govt really concerned about the security of the nation?

c) Every major city in India has been attacked consistently over the last two years. In the last five years, 3850 Indians have died in Terror attacks [news article] in over 3000 incidents [stats from Wikipedia]. In 2008 alone, 12 major terror attacks have rocked the country.

2) What is the present government doing with all our money?

a) As revealed in 2008, Rs 70 lakh crores of money from India is lying in swiss bank accounts [news article]. Even though the German government is ready to reveal the details of account holders, the government is least bothered to ask for it.

b) On the day of Mumbai train blasts, the present government gave Rs 150 crore for earthquake-relief in Pakistan. In 2008, the government has given Rs 3000 crores to Afghanistan for Infrastructure development. Developing our own country’s infrastructure did not cross our governments mind!

c) Rs 87153.12 crores missing [Official website of Comptroller and Auditor General of India] from Universal service funds, infrastructure development fund and money allocated for centrally sponsored scheme.

d) In the Rs 10000 crores, medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR SAM) deal with Israel, the government has suspiciously agreed to pay 6% [news article] as “business charges” which comes to whooping Rs 600 crores. According to defence experts, this is simply inflated and illegitimate.

3) Is this Government really secular?

a) When Madrasas are being shut down in Pakistan, the Indian Government is giving them CBSE status [news article]!! Is it not discouraging Muslim children in getting secular education?

b) Andhra Pradesh government under the direction from central government has closed down 28000 temples out of 36000 temples in last 5 years.

c) Our Government has given 25 lakh scholarships ONLY to minority students [news article]. What sin have the majority done not to deserve these? Why cannot poor students of all communities be given scholarships instead of only Muslim children?

4) Is this Government really pro-poor?

a) The number of people living below the poverty line has increased by a horrifying 20 per cent. India had some 270 million people below the poverty line in 2004-2005, when the present Government took office. That number has gone up to 325 million, which is 20 per cent increase.

Do you want the same government to continue?

The time for politically correct statements is past.

We have just a handful of days before we cast our precious vote. Let’s vote for change!!

[Your immediate participation needed! Just hit the forward button my friend. And no kidding, this time you would’ve done service to your nation]


April 18, 2009

Some election debates finally...

All that you hear in the media these days are the mud-slinging comments of different political leaders against each other. It gives an impression that there is nothing else these leaders talk about. One would have definitely wished for a debate on issues of national importance and would have wanted to listen to what the candidates have to say.

Mr. Advani has been calling for such an interaction for a long time, but the Congress has skillfully deflected it.

One debate finally happened - not between the PM hopefuls, but among the Bangalore South candidates. There was a face to face debate organized by Infosys where
Ananth Kumar (BJP), Capt Gopinath (Independent), Krishna Byre Gowda (Congress), and Prof K E Radhakrishna (JDS) participated.

This is definitely a good sign - reflecting the changing times on India's democratic scene. One of the good things about this debate was that the candidates had to introduce their counterparts and even praise them - very interesting indeed!

Click here to read the article in Bangalore Mirror

There was also one more debate that happened some time back
on IBN Live TV Channel (it was not publicised so much) between Arun Jaitley (BJP) and Kapil Sibal (Congress). The two participants were grilled on four major issues: governance, security, economy and stability.

Click here to read the transcript on IBN Live - Arun Jaitley and Kapil Sibal

We sincerely hope that in the coming times, we would see more such interactions among candidates - a welcome break from the comments that normally flash on your TV Screens/ Websites.

April 15, 2009

Raj Gurus – need of the hour

Governing leaders of the society have to shoulder huge responsibilities for the well being of the people. One has to deal with issues in a fair manner, make just laws, develop the society equitably without hurting people’s sentiments, etc… In all this one has to face with many dilemmas day in day out – some ethical and some small.

We have grown up with stories of Vikram and Vetal, wherein a new dilemma or question is posed to King Vikram and he ends up giving a just and fair answer. However, not all rulers possess the wisdom as that of King Vikramaditya. In such difficult times, one needs some one to go to for advice or solace. Who else could be better qualified for this other than your own teacher/ mentor/ Guru?

This fact was well understood by our forefathers and there existed a post of Raj Guru – a sage who is a teacher/ mentor to the king. The Raj Guru was also supposed to be the ethical gatekeeper to prevent corruption in/ criminalization of the government. This concept is very deep rooted in our Indian psyche and, even today, is widely used in organizations.

In many countries including the US, the involvement starts from the swearing-in ceremony itself (conducted by a religious head – like in ancient and medieval India). Just a day before the Mr. Obama’s oath taking ceremony, there was also a discussion on the church he would be choosing for his Sunday prayers? There are many other countries that have religious heads working closely with the top leader. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI has made it the goal of his papacy to counteract secularism (defined as separation of church and state).

However, today, we look down upon a leader, if he seeks blessings from religious/ spiritual leaders. This is partly attributable to cases like ‘Rasputin’ that misused such a trustworthy post and rest to the post-independence policies that copied the British instead of going back to our roots.

Hopefully, this will change now – as is evident by this letter from Shri LK Advani to all religious and spiritual leaders and Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji’s response to this letter extending full support.

Let’s do our bit for the change… Change for the better. Vote!

April 14, 2009

Why bother talking about the political landscape?

We have a very large and varied electorate. People are busy with their studies, making their careers fly, love life click or ends meet. In all this, the last thing on our mind is the development of our society/ country. We tend to forget that our home is not secure just by locking the door.

I remember asking Guruji that I wanted to overcome my possessiveness (and selfishness). He said – become more possessive – possess the whole country, the whole world, the whole universe! It may sound very interesting – but has a much deeper meaning.

We can talk about why we should take responsibility and make a difference in the world and also how it helps in our spiritual growth. However, if you look at life with another perspective, we can also achieve this by being very selfish. If we want to enjoy our life fully, we need to create an environment conducive for this – at home, at work and on the streets. We need to create a fearless society around us so that we can enjoy our life.

So, for our own self, we need to do much more. One of the key things is making sure we elect a good government. Small steps/ decisions taken by the political leadership can have huge implications over a period of time – they have the potential to make or break nations.

Most of us do not pay attention in the history classes and forget how things have evolved in our society – where do we come from and what is the genesis of our current problems. We form opinions based on headlines and the flashing scrolls on TV news channels and believe them to be totally true.

Today, many political pundits do not hesitate to say that the 1947 partition was one of the biggest blunders in India’s modern history. To satisfy some personal ambitions, the nation was divided. In fact, the Congress leadership carved out the current borders of India on a communal basis!

The whole reservation concept/ special benefits/ allowing differential laws based on religion and caste was the idea of the same leadership. The country created was actually called ‘Hindustan’ – the land of Hindus – but over a period of time, it has become ‘anti-Hindu-stan’.

Ironically, the main leader of Congress – Mahatma Gandhiji – got the country together by doing satsangs (his last words were ‘Hey Ram’). If he were to go around doing satsangs today, his own party would probably brand him communal and create problems for him.

Having given them a chance of 52 years as the main governing party, a lot more was expected from them. It is time to give them some rest to revamp and revitalize. It is time to bring in some fresh blood, some fresh enthusiasm and dynamism to propel India to the next level.

I am not a big supporter/ fan of any specific political party, but given where we stand today, I think we need fresh thinking, fresh ideas and something very different.

We want change, we want good governance – we want our glorious Bharat back!

Let us vote, with awareness!!!

April 11, 2009

Comparison of manifestos – BJP and Congress

Continuing on the lines of due diligence, I picked up the manifestos of the two biggies of Indian politics – BJP and Congress. I am making the link available for all of you to download the pdf files:

BJP Manifesto – Click here

Congress Manifesto – Click here

This is required as the media reports only a handful of points that are likely to catch viewers’ attention. I would not debate the compulsions of the media to do so. I thought it is appropriate for me as a voter to go through the detailed manifesto and see what exactly are these 2 parties saying?

In its 21 page manifesto, the Congress team has spent up to 5 pages criticizing BJP and the third front – even blaming the third front as responsible for the electoral growth of BJP! A detailed look at the rest of the pages seems like the party wants to just continue what they have been doing in their last 52 years of rule (out of the 60 years of independence).

This is hardly inspiring and I do not think a drastic change can happen in our country with this kind of an approach.

We normally hear about the Hindutva ideology of BJP in the media in such a light that even as a devout Hindu, one would get put off by it. I wanted to find out what exactly this ideology is and what does it really mean?

The first 5 pages of the BJP manifesto precisely address that. I have to admit that it is quite inspiring – it is all about regaining the glorious India that we have only read about. I would strongly suggest that you read it yourself. The remaining 43 pages talk about every aspect of governance with a concrete approach plan – from environment to health, sports to science, farmers to urban populace, internal security to foreign relations, developing weaker sections and preserving cultural heritage.

I am not standing guarantee to whether they will be able to accomplish all this, but to me, the manifesto looks like a wish-list of every Indian. It seems like that this party has finally got a hang of the pulse of the nation.

Vote for good governance, Vote for change.

Please read the previous post on why, who and how to vote

April 10, 2009

My Precious Vote goes to...

The Indian General Elections (2009) are round the corner and it is a time when each one of us has an equal right – irrespective of what you do, what your status is, where you live… It is exactly ONE VOTE!

It is your voice to decide who makes the decisions for us. We need to ask ourselves some questions about this opportunity:

1. First and foremost: Am I using this right and considering it as a duty to vote? If I do not vote, I am not participating in our country’s and hence our own development. In 60 years of independence and democracy, our country has not moved as much as one would have expected.

There have been only 2 governments – PVN Rao’s liberalization and Atalji’s IndiaIndia count and lead the way in setting a new order for the world shining – that have actually done something significantly good for us. Imagine what sustained good governance can actually do for all of us. We cannot sit back and let things just go on. Today, the world is looking for a new order and we have to make

This has to be based on Indian values because we have seen that communism, socialism, capitalism have failed us. This is a beginning of a new era – each one of us and our country has to lead the way. And this starts with a strong government.

2. Second: Whom are we voting for? Given our model of democracy that allows a huge number of parties to play in the national government formation, we have to give one party a chance to run the nation without worrying about some small party arm-twisting it. A general rule to follow can be – vote for a party in national elections and vote for a person in local elections.

Each party has its good spots, bad spots, achievements, problems, etc… We need to decide the issues that are of importance to us and do a fair evaluation of the past as well as expected future performance.

It is important to dig out facts for ourselves and not go by hearsay. Today yellow journalism blows small incidents out of proportion and subsequent actions/ good work does not get reported. Internet has made all information available at your fingertips – spend time and do your research.

We should not be afraid to change – in fact, giving different people a chance ensures that all parties are on their toes and the people and country win. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is very apt and we should keep that in mind.

3. Third: Pick pertinent issues and go deeper into it. (I have taken one issue for illustration)

It is amazing to see how the only rhetoric other parties use against BJP is it being communal. And it is even more surprising to see how we get taken in by such things. If we have done our homework, we would realize the fallacy there.

Secularism is defined as separation of religion and government (church and state). This also includes replacing laws based on religious scriptures with civil laws and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion. This would then imply talking of implementing Uniform Civil code is secular! This would mean removing religion/ caste based quotas would be secular!!

Modern commentators have actually criticized secularism as being anti-religious and atheistic. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI has declared ongoing secularization to be a fundamental problem of modern society, and has made it the goal of his papacy to counteract secularism and moral relativism.

So, now who is secular and who is communal? Look at the changing demographics of India; look at how minority-appeasement is being referred to as secular and not communal (e.g. The only country giving subsidy for Haj pilgrims, the only country talking of giving CBSE status to madarasas!, allowing forced conversions – and the list goes on…)

It is time we all wake up, do our homework and vote! People get only what they deserve. So, we have to change first and we have to really want a change in the governance – only then we will get it!

Read Sri Sri's views on elections - click here

More posts from Bawa - Reservations, Inconvenient Questions - I, Inconvenient Questions - II and Another Outrage