Dhoni’s sudden retirement: The rise and fall of ‘chelagiri’

MS Dhoni shocked the cricketing world by retiring from Test cricket mid-way through the India-Australia series, with India two down in the series. As you can imagine, the media and everyone who knows anything about Indian cricket (which is close to 1 billion people) are left speculating on possible causes.

The theory that has gained traction in the minds of many is that Dhoni quit because of the growing Shastri-Kohli nexus which was starting to run the show very differently from the way Dhoni used to. It’s hard to figure these from the outside and any theory can be pooh-poohed as mere speculation.

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

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.

Can God’s own country fix its infrastructure crisis?

I had the first-hand experience of traveling by road through the beautiful land of Kerala from its capital city of Thiruvananthapuram to its financial hub, Kochi, a distance of little over 200km. It was a Saturday, so the schools were closed and so were many offices. We left Thiruvananthapuram at around 7 am to beat what little traffic there might be on a weekend. Yet, the journey took us a whopping six hours! The same distance took me less than four hours a couple of years back – a sure sign that the infrastructure has not kept up with the increasing demand. The primary reason for the long delay is the pathetic condition of the roads. Kerala has been blessed with plenty of rain leaving the state lush and green like no other state in India, but it also requires that roads be constructed to survive the frequent rains. However, this has clearly not been the case, as I soon realized.

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

Modi rides the buzz for 100 days

If you do your research carefully, it should be easy to find one Modi-ism for each of the one hundred days gone by since he became the Prime Minister. While the election campaign saw marketing buzz with corporate gobbledygook like P4P, 4Ps etc., post-election they have made way for more expanded versions — “I am not Pradhan Mantri, I am Pradhan Sevak,” “Housing for all by 2022, “Sanitation for all by 2019,” “10-year moratorium on communal violence,” “Come, make in India,” “There is no red tape but red carpet in India,” etc.

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