The BJP’s better mousetrap syndrome

When you present your business idea or plan to a venture capitalist, one of the first things they start to look for is an answer to a very basic question – “What is the new big idea here?” They will in all likelihood tell you that your idea is not scalable, it’s easy to do or that it takes too long to build, or that the market is not big enough to be exciting. Investors who have made up their mind not to invest in your venture have so many ways to turn you down. But at the end of the day, it’s important to recognize that you need an interesting idea to begin with to get investors excited.

To read the rest of the article please visit the Economic Times website.

Calling into question Modi’s leadership style

There is an online blitzkrieg of information glorifying and even deifying Modi. One of those stories that are in circulation is about the boy Narendra swimming across a crocodile infested river only to hoist a flag atop a temple on the other side! Today, the deification of Modi is happening instantaneously right in front of our eyes, thanks to a focused PR campaign fueled by raw money power. It leads us to believe that Modi is the panacea to all the ills of Indian society, that he will transform India into a super power, replicate the Gujarat model of development in all the other states, kickstart industrial growth, and turn India into the land of milk and honey. That the Gujarat model could be intrinsically flawed is being pointed out by feeble voices that are drowned amidst the din of the Hindu brigade calling for change. That Modi and Gujarat have a poor human rights record in comparison with the rest of India is conveniently glossed over. For the moment, however, let us assume that it’s all hunky-dory in Gujarat, and let us look at Modi’s leadership style that has been on display since the start of his quest for prime ministership.

 

To read the rest of the article pleas visit the Economic Times website

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.

Does India have to choose between the lesser of two evils?

If you read media reports, it seems like a foregone conclusion – Narendra Modi will be the next PM of India, led by a “mythical” Modi wave that is about to “sweep” India. Western media has sounded the cautionary note of this eventuality, only to be attacked, not surprisingly, by BJP fans. Local godmen, who peddle everything from yoga to secrets of good living, have jumped on the BJP bandwagon through a series of Op-ed pieces, sound bites on TV, tweets and social media posts, attacking everyone who seems to stand in the way. Some industrialists have stepped up to endorse the BJP manifesto. The media has started rolling out the BJP’s “list of most powerful” in the impending Modi government.

Is this “India Shining” as in 2004 all over again? Is this another media-fabricated myth that unabashed PR funding won’t eventually sustain – A case of shining in the media but not in the hearts and minds of the people?

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

Can India’s youth change the course of its political history?

It was painful yet poignant to see Mr. Jaswant Singh of the BJP burst into tears and fight back against the party that he has served for the better part of his political innings. On the one hand, it was clear that the new leadership of the BJP under Mr. Modi was “cleaning house,” slowly phasing out people they didn’t care for. It’s a sign that the new team lead by Modi is not averse to playing tough and decisive when required.

With age not on his side, 77 year old Mr. Jaswant Singh could perhaps have chosen to take a back seat and have a younger candidate take his position. But alas, Indian politics does not work that way! The old never retire until they are pushed out or die. The young never get a chance until they are too old and filled with scars from accumulated baggage that renders them ineffective for the most part. Perhaps the most telling aspect of the Jaswant Singh saga was the manner in which the BJP gave the Barmar ticket to recent BJP convert from the Congress. It simply reeks of sheer desperation of a party going all out to cobble together the magic number of 272 seats.

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

Helicopter netas in the age of retail politics

In the early 1990s when Bill Clinton was campaigning for the US Presidency he permanently transformed the way Americans (and to a large extent the world) looked at Presidential campaigns. Hailing from a relatively small southern state, Bill Clinton turned on his rustic charm and reached out to people at coffee shops, fast food joints, restaurants, parks, malls you name it. He was indulging in “retail politics” like no politician had managed to do before. A product of a small town upbringing, he was a natural at this. His ability to connect one on one with people in person was phenomenal. He extended that rapport on to the TV screen during his debates. His brilliant mind and his thorough grasp of the issues further helped him stand out. Not surprisingly he went on to win two elections and led America through two terms of economic boom.

Fast forward of couple of decades and here we are in India at a time when the economy is in the tank, the ruling party is plagued by corruption and mis-governance and the opposition BJP on a rampant bid for coalition partners in a desperate attempt to achieve the the magic number of 272 seats at any cost.

 

Only in AAP’s India: The story of Maya Vishwakarma

It was January 2014 and Maya Vishwakarma had just quit the cosy comfort of her job in California to pursue her idealitic dream of cleansing her motherland of corruption and nepotism. Riding on a high wave of optimism following the unprecedented success of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi elections, and inspired by the noble vision of its leader Arvind Kejriwal, this young woman landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport airborne on the wings of hope.

As Maya passed through security check to board a connecting flight from New Delhi to Bhopal, she didn’t realize she had presented herself at the VIP counter. Seeing her in the distinctive AAP t-shirt, a security guard remarked jocularly, “Madam, ye khaas aadmi ke liye hain aapka ticket to aam aadmi ka hai!” (Madam. this line is for special persons, your ticket is for common people!) Another police officer said, “Please come this way. We will treat you as a special person today because your party is doing such excellent work.”

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

Politically Inspired Technology – The AAP’s my.aamaadmiparty.org platform

Very often, you find new technologies in search of a market. But in other instances, it is the reverse; new technology solutions are developed to address a specific need and then it turns out to be a winner. The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has created some interesting opportunities for its young and technology savvy members to channelize their skills to solve pressing campaign problems. One of the primary goals of any political party involved in a campaign is to get access to data or information about its voters, its supporters, its members, its donors, etc. These “users” are scattered out across the globe and their identities are buried in various email systems, social networks and other Internet platforms. People from all over the world using a plethora of devices such as computers, phones, tablets, etc., to access and consume information, unwittingly leaving traces of their identity at most places. Then, in the physical world we have the age old technique of pen and paper based registration, hand written cheques, etc.

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