All this fuss over PK

The film PK has been in the news lately for many different reasons. So I saw the film. I found it to be a relatively poor variation of the Paresh Rawal film, Oh My God (OMG). If you’re up for a movie that questions religion, its beliefs and practices (particularly Hinduism), then go see OMG. It is a better film.

The lead character in OMG, played by Paresh Rawal, is a regular guy that most people can relate to and identify with. The makers of PK have taken the same idea and replaced the hero with a guy from outer space, another planet. Unlike in OMG where the scenes are believable and capture the everyday life of a simple man who dares to question religion, in PK you have an alien learning our religious practices and radiating gyan, in supposed humor.

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

How AAP is taking on BJP with innovative ideas

The Aam Aadmi party has an uphill battle on its hands. It is fighting the BJP and the fast disappearing Congress in the upcoming assembly elections in Delhi. The BJP has everything going for it in terms of resources. Bottomless deep pockets, a PM who is still basking in the aftermath of the marketing blitzkrieg of “ache din” from the 2014 elections, a media that is too terrified to ask tough questions and prefers to play along and support the BJP to the hilt.

If there is one thing that even the worst critics of the Aam Aadmi party would admit, it is that the party has brought a rare sense of creativity to politics. Its fund-raising process, its candidate selection process, and its transparent style of operation have all been widely appreciated. As the party that has previously been in power, the AAP could easily raise funds through the tried and tested approach of Indian politics, where donations are collected upfront in lieu of favors when in power. But the party has chosen not to do so. The former Chief Election Commissioner recently pointed out, “Only 20 per cent of the source of funding to any political party is known.” In this environment, there is something to be said for a party that lists every donation/donor on its website.

To read the rest of the article please visit the Economic Times website where t was first published.

Why Thalaivar Rajinikanth must join the Aam Aadmi Party

Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has kept everyone guessing about his entry into politics for decades. He has been adding to the intrigue through frequent pithy dialogues on the issue in his films. Naan eppo varuven, yepdi varuvennu yarukkum theriyathu. Aana vara vendiya nerathula (No one can tell when or how I’ll arrive — but I always do, when the time is right.)

His god-like status in the south has made him a constant target of vested interests who court the superstar from time to time to join them. But times have changed and years have gone by. In the meantime, his popularity has grown and continues to grow. Today, politics in Tamil Nadu (TN) is at the crossroads, and the time for him to take the plunge might just be right.

The DMK, in its spent state, is like the last years of the Mughal empire. As the wily Karunanidhi ages, his sons, daughters, nephews and nieces battle for dominance.   As things stand today, it is more than likely that the DMK would self-destruct after his time.  The AIADMK has problems of its own with Jayalalitha facing serious legal setbacks. Thanks to her dictatorial ways, there is no real long-term second in command, and it is only a matter of time before internal strife sets in. Circumstances are forcing her to toe the BJP line as she settles for an IT department fine.

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

Why the BJP is the new Congress

Ever since the BJP was swept to power at the center, there have been two distinct efforts from the party. The first is to put its marketing department on permanent over-drive in a massive image-building exercise while simultaneously distorting the truth and counter any criticism. To a large extent, this effort has been very successful.

Examples of this are visible every day. Just the other day, Mr.Jaitey had the temerity to announce that India is leading the battle against black money. A perfectly tuned headline to reinforce the illusion of change to the ever gullible middle class. The truth is that the BJP has done little about black money, despite making a host of shameful promises including the PM himself promising 15-20 lakhs per citizen after bringing back the black money within 100 days! The reality, though, is a far cry from this smoke screen.

Then there are a whole host of Bollywood-like feel-good buzz lines — Make in India; no more red tape, only red carpet; SMART police; Swach bharath; better utilization of railway stations; sabka vikas sabke saath; and maximum governance minimum government. (This so-called minimum government with 66 ministers is not very different from the 77 in the UPA!). In short, the internal mantra seems to be to crank out one buzz line a day to keep “ache din” seekers at bay and the middle class in good spirits like front benchers at a Bollywood film.

Then there is the entire spin around government officers and bureaucrats coming into work on time. This is the minimum one should expect of them. The spin doctors of BJP are busy attributing credit for this to the PM. Seriously? We need a designer-clothes wearing PM to bring these bureaucrats in line?

As far as investors and other financial experts are concerned, the general consensus seems to be that not much has changed since the BJP government came to power. In fact, there seem to be a consensus that it has been a mere continuation of UPA-II policies. Comparisons to Thatcher and Reagan have stopped, thankfully.

The second effort by the BJP is the concerted effort to consolidate power at the state level. i.e., try to win each state or, if not possible, establish a coalition partner of convenience in the state – a strategy straight out of the Congress playbook.

 

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

Open Source Politics – Making sense of the AAP phenomenon

The open source movement in the technology world has had significant impact on almost every aspect in the field – the Linux operating system and, more recently, the Android operating system being two leading examples. The open source approach involves sharing of the basic design or code in a collaborative environment where anyone can participate and contribute. Subsequent improvements and features help the development community push the technology further and ultimately benefit end-users. This approach attracts anyone and everyone who loves to get to involved, learn and try new things, and get recognized by their peers in the community.

While working within the community, the individuals involved might benefit by dreaming up new ideas built on these open source solutions or pick up consulting opportunities, teaching gigs, etc. But ultimately, it’s a community of developers that work together to progress technology in an open and transparent way. In short, it creates a fertile ground for new ideas, innovation, and out of the box thinking, unencumbered by commercial interests for the most part. In the process, it inspires an environment of healthy competition and somewhat selfless commitment to a cause.

Click here to read the rest of the article at the Economic Times website.

Is Arvind Kejriwal dangerous for India?

Who is more dangerous for India – Arvind Kejriwal or Narendra Modi? This is a question that India needs to answer. But a recent article titled ‘Arvind Kejriwal: The most dangerous man in India’ has ventured to supply a one-sided answer to this question. The title is as catchy as it is misleading if not subversive. The ensuing ‘analysis’ is sadly not borne out by facts but relies on obfuscation and rhetoric. The tragic outcome is that many pertinent facts have been buried beneath the rubble of unsubstantiated allegations and sinister accusations. On the whole the article is an anti-Kejriwal diatribe disguised as an intellectual treatise.

While conferring on Modi the respectable halo of a “firebrand Hindu nationalist”, the writer goes on to indulge in pure speculation and sweeping generalizations about Kejriwal and other AAP leaders.

Click here to read the rest of the article on the kafila website (where it was originally published).

Cleansing politics in the holy town of Haridwar

Haridwar on the Ganges is a town sacred to the Hindus. It comes as no surprise that both the Congress and the BJP are fighting tooth and nail to establish their supremacy in this Lok Sabha constituency.  Several others are also in the fray.

The BJP candidate for Haridwar is former Chief Minister, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who was forced to resign at the height of the anti-corruption movement when the BJP was desperate to take the high moral ground on corruption. But times have changed for the BJP: Yedurappa is back, Ram Vilas Paswan is an ally, and, not surprisingly, Nishank is the BJP candidate from Haridwar.

The Congress, on the other hand, prefers to stick to its tried and tested policy of family members getting party tickets. Not surprisingly, the party is fielding the wife of the incumbent Chief Minister, Harish Rawat, who in 2009 had won the Haridwar Lok Sabha seat by a margin of over one lakh votes.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the Economic Times website.