India’s “Sad Bhavana”

The ruling UPA has more than received its share of brickbats for the complete lack of leadership over the last several months. The dismal handling of the various scams culminating in the inept response to the anti-corruption struggle, championed by Team Anna, has been etched permanently in the UPA-II’s history. Unable to effectively handle its own dreadful corruption woes, the UPA has unleashed the CBI on its enemies, the Reddy brothers of Karnataka and Jagan Reddy of Andhra being the latest targets. This is certainly not to imply that the Reddys are innocent but the timing of these investigations, particularly against Jagan Reddy, is highly questionable. Jagan Reddy appears to have been deliberately targeted after he fell out with the Congress party.

Meanwhile, recent weeks have proven that India’s alternative to the Congress, the BJP, is no pure “Lotus” either. Team Anna approached the BJP, as early as December of last year, with the Jan Lokpal bill at the same time that it approached the ruling UPA. The BJP did absolutely nothing at that time. In fact, it was only on the penultimate day before Anna called off his fast did the BJP formally endorse the three demands in the parliamentary resolution. Many speculate that this move by the BJP was at the behest of the RSS. If the Congress party’s remote control is firmly in Sonia Gandhi’s hands, it appears that the BJP’s remote control is clearly stationed in Nagpur with the RSS.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

Can our slain RTI activists ever get justice?

Shehla Masood, the RTI activist from Madhya Pradesh who was shot and killed recently, joined the unfortunate list of seventeen other known cases of RTI activists who have suffered the same fate over the last couple of years. According to a close associate of Shehla, she filed more than one thousand RTI applications in diverse areas ranging from the judiciary, the tendering process, the enforcement of Wildlife and Forest laws, heritage conservation, the lavish spending of public money, and human rights abuses. Quite understandably, she had accumulated a host of enemies across a broad range of departments until some vested interests decided it was time to snuff out this passionate and committed voice forever. Shehla Masood is not an isolated case. Such executions have been taking place every few months with almost predictable precision: Firebrand activist files several RTI applications, becomes a threat to those in power, gets killed by unknown assailants who are never traced.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

Steve Jobs, Tussi Great Ho!

The dramatic rise of Apple during the reign of Steve Jobs, which unfortunately ended recently, is truly commendable. I remember seeing a Mac for the first time when I was in graduate school. At that stage, the Mac was used mostly by the Administrative staff at the University. Later, when I joined the workforce, I realized that Macs were used by the Administrative staff, the Technical Publications groups, and the Marketing and Sales teams within most organizations, while everyone else used PCs or Unix machines.

At this point, Steve Jobs was CEO of two private companies, NeXT Computer and Pixar, while Apple was struggling under various CEOs. While Apple experimented with management changes at the top, it lost its edge in the marketplace as PCs dropped in price and gained traction. Slowly, many corporations stopped buying Macs altogether. IT departments preferred to stick with one platform as far as possible, and that was Microsoft Windows on PCs.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

UPA goes on the offensive

The UPA, after having yielded the lead to Team Anna in the first innings, is now back, seething with vengeance, in the second innings. Instead of gathering the scraps and learning from the first innings debacle, the UPA seems to be attempting the same tried- and-failed strategies. A deliberate attempt to malign Team Anna is clearly underway. Privilege notices have been issued to Team Anna for derogatory remarks about parliamentarians.

Meanwhile, the Income Tax (IT) department has dusted its rule book and started gunning for Arvind Kejriwal under the guise of some archaic bureaucratic technicalities. There is a misconception that it is a conventional Income Tax notice typically associated with tax evaders. But in reality, it is an employer notice, since Kejriwal previously served in the IT department. Government officials are also supposedly harassing his kith and kin in the hope of uncovering any kind of dirt that might present itself.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

Sports in dire need of a real “Game Changer”

In the aftermath of the recent anti-corruption surge, an important bill that is in the works, the Sports Development Bill, is simply not getting the attention it deserves. This bill has everything to do with corruption and the unholy nexus between politics and big business. Interestingly this time around, the crusader who is on a war-footing to fix sports administration in the country is Union Minister of Sports, Ajay Maken. His opposition is the who-is-who of the country’s business and political elite. Sharad Pawar sits atop the biggest money-spinning sport in Indian history — cricket. His party colleague, Praful Patel, heads the football federation. The MCA is headed by Vilasrao Deshmukh, while the RCA is headed by Transport Minister, C.P. Joshi. The opposition parties are equally represented in this racket. Arun Jaitley of the BJP heads the DCA, Narendra Modi heads GCA, Farooq Abdullah heads the JKCA, Lalu Yadav heads the BCA, then there is Manohar Joshi and Rajiv Shukla, among others, who play dual roles as politicians and cricket administrators.

Next, all the business houses in the country have a piece of the cricketing action –Mukesh Ambani (Mumbai Indians), Vijay Mallya (Royal Challengers), Subrata Roy (Pune Warriors), N. Srinivasan (Chennai Super Kings and BCCI President), to name a few. Then, of course, you have the Bollywood stars who double as team owners like Preity Zinta (KXIP) and Shahrukh Khan (KKR), to name a few. This is just a shortlist of the rich and powerful with strong ties to cricket.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

The Buck Never Stops

The anti-corruption drama has now moved to the next stage. At the moment, all sides seem to be claiming victory. As one observes the developments over the last few days a few fundamental questions repeatedly come to mind. Who exactly is running this country today? How are decisions taken? What exactly is the Congress’ real stand on Lokpal?

Let us take a quick look at the sequence of events.  First, the UPA sent its messengers to meet with Team Anna. One would assume that these messengers had clear instructions from the powers that be. They appeared all conciliatory to Team Anna and then invited them for talks. The next day at the meeting, the Government took a hardline stance and did not agree to any of their demands. While Salmam Khurshid played the role of first messenger, the next day the hardliners, Chidambaram and Sibal called the shots. It was back to “my way or the highway” all over again. It begs the question as to who chalked out the strategy for these two meetings?

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times