It’s a platform, not a pipe! Making sense of udta AAP

AAP leader Kejriwal is abused all day long on social media by supposedly educated folks. An army of journalists are out there gunning for him and his party 24×7. The central Home Ministry is sitting on over 15 laws passed by the Delhi government. While no one finds fault with the PM or his government for it, when Kejriwal dares to speak up about it, he is berated by all and sundry for pointing fingers at the PM.

It’s clearly an uphill battle for AAP. Yet what started in Delhi is now spreading to Punjab, as even the most biased surveys are forced to admit. AAP’s recent foray into Goa has everyone in the BJP nervous beyond belief. Reportedly, Gujarat is on the radar next!

With no money, no corporate backers, and little media support, how do you explain AAP’s growing pan-India influence and appeal? The answer lies in the platform vs. pipe business model, popularized by Sangeet Paul Choudary, startup advisor and expert on Internet business models. In the traditional pipe model, firms create stuff, push them out and sell them to customers. Value is produced upstream and consumed downstream. There is a linear flow, much like water flowing through a pipe. Platforms, on the other hand, allow users to create and consume value. (While a lot of Sangeet’s theories apply to software applications, I am going to disregard tech as I adapt the concept to AAP’s politics).

To read the rest of this post please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

BJP must consider inducting an Interim-PM

If media reports over the last two years and the words of BJP veterans like Arun Shourie are to be culled together, it has become apparent that Prime Minister Modi prefers a corporate style of functioning with the PM exercising complete control like the CEO of a corporation. After decades of slow growth, policy paralysis, institutionalised corruption and administrative inefficiencies, many, especially from the corporate world, believed that this was precisely what India needed.

While someday we might thank Modi for infusing this thinking into Indian politics, two years into this exercise it has become apparent this is simply not working. This could mean one of two things. Modi is not the right man to pilot this exercise because he is simply incapable. Alternately, it might be a case of him presently being ill-equipped for the job but that his time will come. It also means that if you want to live by the sword, you should be willing to Die By The Sword as well.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala’s man of the hour, has his task cut out

The government of Kerala is now in the hands of the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF). After years of scandal and corruption, the people of Kerala have decided to summarily show the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) the door – much like the Congress’ experience at the centre and various states. The Kerala electorate has an unbroken habit of voting out the ruling party. As a result, no coalition had been able to win two successive elections. Seen from this perspective, 2016 was another routine election.

But what makes this election different is that the CPI(M) is now lead by Pinarayi Vijayan, a simple, down-to-earth party worker turned mass leader who has diligently worked his way up the ranks starting out as a student leader, before being handpicked by former party veterans EMS and EK Nayanar to take on more responsibility and leadership within the party. Today, as he takes his role as Chief Minister of Kerala, he brings with him a team of relatively young, firebrand leaders groomed and nurtured under his watchful eyes while simultaneously drawing on senior talent within the Marxist party. Most importantly, he appears to be free of the constant bickering of his archrival Comrade Achuthanandan. Pinarayi Vijayan has a number of challenges ahead of him and a few of his own. For instance, he has, over the years, been a victim of some needless and somewhat negative propaganda. While he faces multiple challenges in his role as CM, he will need to set right the negative perceptions about him that have been perpetrated by the media.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

Lessons learned from one year of AAP in Delhi

It has been one year since AAP came to power in Delhi. The government has had plenty of successes to speak of but several needless controversies have crept up during the course of the year, driven largely by the limitations posed by the strange administrative structure that Delhi has to live with.  For instance, the government has no control over the police or the anti-corruption bureau and has to have every order it passes blessed by the LG.  Kejriwal has reached out to the PM personally and also via the media, sincerely requesting him to give the AAP government some much-needed space to operate.

Despite these challenges the AAP has made great strides within a year……and yet the sword of Damocles hangs over its head.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

An Aam Aadmi’s thoughts on improving Indo-Pak Relations

Indian Prime Minister Modi on a recent global jaunt threw caution to the diplomatic winds and made an unplanned stop at Lahore to have direct one-on-one talks with Pakistani PM, Nawaz Sharif. Opposition leader and cricket superstar Imran Khan was quick and right to point out that the meetings between the PMs must be through institutional frameworks with MFA in the loop for sustainability.  If you set aside protocol for the moment, any effort to improve relations between the two countries is more than welcome. From that perspective, if trying something out of the box is what it takes so be it. Our PM cannot be faulted for trying something different.

Interestingly, most political parties in Pakistan welcomed the move. Unfortunately for Modi, the visit was followed by the terrorist attack in Pathankot. Not surprisingly, he flagged Mr. Sharif to take swift action. But no matter how peace-loving Nawaz Sharif might be, any attempt by India’s leadership to establish any kind of personal bond with him has its limitations when it comes to contributing towards long-term peace. The reality is that his hands are tied and any attempt by him to extend his authority beyond a certain point is sure to earn the wrath of the Pak army and the ISI. Sharif has already been down that treacherous road in the past when Musharraf booted him out of office.  He runs the same risk every single day of his existence. The militants will continue to thrive as long as the army holds the upper hand.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

An open letter to Arvind Kejriwal

Dear Kejriwal,

When the AAP was started, Arun Jaitley famously said, “Once the OB vans are gone, this party will be finished.”  Back then, Salman Khurshid referred to you as gutter-snipe for accusing him of corruption. Mani Shankar Iyer said “Kejriwal might win a few votes, but everyone else will lose their deposit. They should consider themselves lucky if they got one or two seats.”

Fast forward 3-4 years, and despite two historic assembly election victories, it is apparent from your actions that you have not learned even the basics of Indian politics. Frankly, for a guy who has cracked the IIT Entrance Exam, the civil services exam, and more than paid his dues as an activist, this is disappointing. Here are a few points for you to bear in mind as you continue to learn and grow in Indian politics.

To read the rest of this post please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

Leave Modi Alone

We are always telling our teenagers what to do, what not to do and how to do what, until they shriek in frustration after the customary eye roll, “Leave me alone!” They want only brand name clothes.  Not having the latest iphone is the end of the world. They listen to music we can’t stand. They argue with us, we yell at them, they kick and scream. Ultimately, things settle down. It dawns on us that we created them in the first place and that we owe it to them to give them the space to grow, find themselves and their place in the world.

When I observe PM Modi I get the feeling his PM tenure is in a similar situation as our teenagers. The opposition wants him to back off on the land bill. The liberals don’t like his clothes, want him to speak out more often and condemn everything from Dadri to dal prices. Foreign policy experts want him to help Nepal and make peace with Pakistan. As for the aam junta, they are quite tired of seeing him wear fancy clothes and posing with foreign leaders, while they were promised 15 lakhs each by someone who claimed to be a chaiwallah. Farmers want compensation. Laloo wants him to return to Gujarat and what is left of the Congress it appears might be conspiring with Pakistan to get rid of him.

To read the rest of this post please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

The second coming of Arvind Kejriwal

It was Dec of 2013 when a relatively unknown politician by name Arvind Kejriwal, emerged with a bang on India’s political firmament when he defeated long-time Congress veteran Sheila Dixit at the polls and went on to become the Chief Minister of Delhi.

His 49 days in power as CM saw the corrupt scurrying for cover. Rishwat Khori was a thing of the past as all bribe takers were terrified of being recorded in the act. Donations for schools came to a screeching halt. Government hospitals were transformed as medicines and staff re-appeared miraculously. The price of water and electricity were substantially reduced. The water mafia was gone. The JaL board was cleansed of its corrupt staff. The anti-corruption bureau was rejigged to weed out the compromised elements. Under Kejriwal, the everyday life of the poor was dramatically improved as they no longer had to worry about policemen and other everyday extortionists. But alas it was all too good to last.

To read the rest of this post please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.

Will Delhi be the BJP’s Waterloo?

“Modi has become the PM because of the unity of Hindus. To maintain their majority, every Hindu family should produce 10 kids.” “No skirts as uniform for school girls any more; no jeans and mobile phones for girls; and item girls in films should be branded as prostitutes.” “Disabled people are God’s mistake.” And a message to the Khans of Bollywood: “Convert if you love your wives” – This is just a sampling of  pronouncements from the BJP and its supporters at various levels since coming to power.

If everything described above isn’t enough, these days, sycophants are arbitrarily appointed to positions of power. “Modi, my action hero,” says new Censor Board chief. How can we be serious about such individuals being sincere custodians of art, culture, and cinema?

To read the rest of the post please visit the Economic Times website where it was first published.