Parliament vs. Team Anna

In a rare moment of bi-partisanship, the entire Indian Parliament joined hands to condemn Team Anna for its attack on the political class. Interestingly, Sushma Swaraj of the BJP, unwittingly highlighted the irony of the predicament when she said, “If MPs were looters, corrupt and rapists, then why did Team Anna send three of its demands to be incorporated in a resolution passed by Parliament.” The answer to this question says it all. The civil society has no other option but to “beg and plead” before an institution which is home to many who have serious cases against them and would be directly affected should Lokpal become a reality.

Arguing about the “who said what” and whether it was appropriate would be case of not seeing the forest for the tress. Clearly, this Parliament vs. Team Anna struggle has wider implications for India’s future. If you disregard for a moment the individual players in this struggle, their motivations and their allegiances, it does raise some very important issues that warrant significant public debate. Over the last sixteen months, the anti-corruption movement has been a major part of the public’s pre-occupation and a primary cause for an overall sense of dissatisfaction. Despite this, thanks to coalition politics, lack of leadership, and political will, virtually nothing has been accomplished to address these legitimate concerns of the people. Sadly, cases of corruption continue to be unearthed, the most recent being the one involving our Army. On the law and order front, RTI activists have been routinely killed over the years and most recently, Narendra Singh, an IPS officer, was crushed to death supposedly by the mining mafia in MP. Our Parliament has little to show in terms of concrete action on any of these fronts.

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

Election 2014: Hope and pray for fundamental change

he recent assembly elections have, as always, thrown up some surprises. The biggest among them is the sweep by the Samajwadi party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP and the complete rout of the Rahul Gandhi led Congress. Mayawati, another victim of the SP wave, who spent the better part of her tenure as CM erecting statues of herself and her elephants, is now plotting her next move towards the Rajya Sabha. Meanwhile, the Congress government in Uttarakhand is going to be led by Vijay Bahuguna, whose sister Rita Bahuguna heads up the Congress in neighboring UP. We have barely skimmed the surface of politics in two states and you have deeply entrenched political families—the Gandhis, the Yadavs, the Bahugunas, and Mayawati (who is more than a handful all by herself!)—battling it out for supremacy.

There has been plenty of optimism-laden talk about the passing of the baton to a new generation in UP, as Netaji Mulayam Singh Yadav makes way for son Akhilesh Yadav. No matter who is in charge, the pedigree is impossible to change and so is the baggage of history. The Samajwadi party is known for its “goondagiri.” This was apparent almost immediately after the victory, when SP supporters went berserk and assaulted their opponents. Mulayam Singh Yadav is possibly headed for a plum role in the UPA government, emboldened by his mandate at the state-level.

Are all these signs of progress? Is this state of our democracy supposed to make us proud? If you disregard the fact that we have elections today, how different is this from the days when Kings and Queens ruled different parts of our country? The headlines could very well have been, “Queen Mayawati voted out of power, King Mulayam crowns young Prince to be King and heads to Delhi.”

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