Archive - 2016

1
Carvan-e-Aman or Carvan-e-Terror ……why are we still running the India-Pakistan “peace” bus service?
2
Kashmir through the lens of time……..
3
Existential Crisis or the Fall before Rise?
4
Rahul, Just Be Your Grandmother’s Grandson
5
Why Pinning Electoral Hopes On A Consultant Can Be A Huge Mistake
6
Why Pinning Electoral Hopes On A Consultant Can Be A Huge Mistake
7
The Invincible Reign – Rahul Gandhi Needs No One But Himself
8
My First Meeting with ‘the Rahul Gandhi no one talks about’
9
Media – The Fourth & The Much Manipulated Pillar Of Indian Democracy
10
Social Media – The Quintessential Crowd Puller
11
The Fight For Being Backward – India is ‘Reserved’, and so are its people!
12
How the JNU Row has made the Great Indian Political Divide much more obvious and abhorring
13
What should Rahul Gandhi do to rebrand himself?
14
Ek Saal Kejriwal
15
Haryana Not Only Shares A Border With Punjab, But Also Its Drug Abuse Problem
16
Another Punjab In Making – The Rising Drug Menace Is Haunting Delhi, But Nobody Seems To Care
17
Terrorism and Drug Menace in Punjab have a relation, but the Government chose to pay no heed to the raised voices
18
Why Congress is Important for India?
19
Punjab – Why is it too Important to be Ignored?
20
Is Arvind Kejriwal still an Aam Aadmi?

Carvan-e-Aman or Carvan-e-Terror ……why are we still running the India-Pakistan “peace” bus service?

On 18th September, Pakistan trained militants entered an Indian military camp in Uri and left 18 soldiers dead and 23 wounded. 24 hours later the “peace-bus”, Carvan-e-Aman resumed its service as if it was just another ordinary day. The situation is anything but ordinary and peaceful. Labelled as one of the worst attacks on Indian army in more than a decade, the Uri assault has awakened New Delhi from its slumber. The situation in Kashmir, for months had been indicative of troubled times ahead. Ever since Burhan Wani, commander of the Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in a confrontation with Indian security forces in July this year, the Valley has been paralysed by curfews, clashes and angry demonstrations by stone-pelting youth shouting anti-India slogans. Pellet gun casualties have further worsened the situation.
What will it take for the Government of India to realize that no amount of goodwill is going to put a hiatus to Pakistan’s agenda of spreading terror in the Valley? Why, after facing defeat in three wars (1965, 1971 and Kargil 1999) Pakistan is still a thorn badly stuck in the heel? Why is Pakistan so obsessed with Kashmir and why has India still not crushed the very source of terror?
Pakistan’s obsession with Kashmir
Pakistan’s rivers flow through India first and then enter Pakistan, leaving the latter in constant fear of having its water supply interrupted, especially in times of war. Hence, in 1960 the World Bank brokered the Indus Waters Treaty to grant access of water to Pakistan, limiting India’s usage of Indus water to 20% for irrigation, transport and power generation.
Through Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK, lies Pakistan’s connect with China – the Karakoram highway. Pakistan views the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic corridor) as a game-changer, as it will give Pakistan access to immense economic opportunities. FDI in Pakistan will increase and more than 7 lakh jobs will be created, uplifting its flailing economy. But these are not the only reasons for Pakistan’s evil eye for Kashmir. Since the time of its accession to India, Kashmir has been a sore point between India and Pakistan with the latter claiming that Maharaja Hari Singh used force the suppress the will of Kashmiris, who wanted to merge with Pakistan and not India. And it has been stoking the fire ever since.
Terror from across the LoC
The terror in Kashmir has Pakistan’s stamp all over it. There is no doubting Pakistan’s role from the beginning. The militants are armed with the latest weapons and have months and years of training. Their network is spread all across the globe. The Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani is one among many who are being questioned for amassing crores of rupees in the name of azadi fund to fuel the unrest in the Valley. According to recent findings by intelligence agencies, funds from Pakistan are reaching the agitators in Kashmir through hawala accounts run by bogus trading companies in Delhi. Investigation in the Uri attack is indicating the role of Pakistan based terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed. The depth of infiltration can be judged from the on-going investigation of the Uri attack which points to an inside hand. Pakistan has been continuously violating the 740 km long LoC, 550 km of which is fenced. Despite motion sensors, thermal imaging devices, lighting systems and alarms along the fencing, Pakistan violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India on 44 occasions in 2010. The number rose to 51 in 2011 and 93 in 2012. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar puts the figure at 583 in 2014 and 199 till June this year. Despite Indian army’s tireless efforts, arms are being smuggled and infiltrators are crossing over from Pakistan by huge numbers. It’s anyone’s guess how many are entering India riding the “peace bus”.
China’s shrewd game plan
Other than Pakistan, the country which stands to gain most out of the Indo-Pak struggle over Kashmir is China.
The CPEC frees China from its geographical handicap – no access to Asia, Europe, Africa and beyond. 80% of China’s oil travels a distance of almost 16,000 km and takes 2-3 months to reach its mainland. With the CPEC connecting it directly to Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Bay of Bengal, this distance would reduce to less than 5,000 km. The corridor will physically connect China to markets in Asia and give it locational advantage to compete with major Middle-Eastern ports. Chinese products which are now reaching Europe in 45 days, will take only 10 days to reach their destination markets, giving China a cost advantage over other countries.
China has invested $46 billion in the CPEC project, topping the list of countries which have invested in Pakistan in the past two years. The mineral-rich provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are attractive destinations for Chinese investors. The Karakoram highway which is part of the CPEC, is the only link between China and Pakistan. And it passes through Kashmir’s Gilgit Balistan region, which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan. As long as the region is under Pakistan’s control, China has nothing to worry about. But if the region merges back with India, then China has a lot to be concerned about as India would never allow the construction of CPEC. China’s presence at Gwadar port will be threat for India.

So, if India goes to war with Pakistan, China will undoubtedly be protective in Pakistan’s defence and support the latter. Last year, when India appealed to censure Pakistan at the UN, China voted against the appeal. Is this the past is coming to bite us back? According to former United Nations Under-Secretary General, Sashi Tharoor, Jawaharlal Nehru had “declined a United States offer” to India to “take the permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council” around 1953 and suggested that it be given to China. Although the possibilities of any such event are meagre as in 1953 India was neither an economic force nor a military super power to meet the eligibility criteria for getting a permanent seat at the UNSC.

Pakistan is about one-fourth the size of India and a much smaller economy. Sponsoring terror is a costly game and Pakistan has been on it for years, especially since the 1990s. How has Pakistan been able to generate funds to feed the militants and Kashmiri separatists? Is part of China’s investment in Pakistan being siphoned off to sustain terror on Indian soil?
Every Indian is itching for revenge. Should we declare a war on Pakistan?
As much as the desired answer is Yes, it’s not the solution. If India declares a war on Pakistan, China will renew its assault from the other side of the border, already having captured the Aksai Chin region. Pakistan has robust air defence systems. While India has one of the largest standing armies in the world, Pakistan has the nuclear advantage. According to the Arms Control Association, Pakistan has an estimated 120 nuclear warheads against India’s 110. Even if India decides to push Pakistan out of Kashmir and reclaim the land, will the people of Kashmir celebrate the victory? India needs to work on a two-pronged strategy – first, more than winning Kashmir, GoI should focus on winning the hearts of Kashmiri people. They do not need promises but real development. Secondly, financial and diplomatic relations with Pakistan have to be severed.

Now, if Pakistan does not hold the sanctity of any agreement, why are we holding on to our side of the bargain? India should forgo all treaties, especially the Indus Waters Treaty, choking the very life line of the terror nation. Pakistan exports terror to India and India grants it Most Favoured Nation (MFN ) status for bilateral trade. A befitting reply would be to impose economic sanctions on Pakistan. Although the impact is likely to be weak as in 2014, India’s trade with Pakistan made up for less than 5% of Pakistan’s total trade, amounting to $2.5 billion. On the other hand, China’s trade with Pakistan amounted to almost $13 billion during the same year.
India should freeze all diplomatic ties with Pakistan and mount pressure on US, Saudi Arabia, China and other nations to impose financial sanctions on Pakistan. Although China, Pakistan’s ‘all-weather friend’, expressed shock over the attack and said that it “opposes and condemns all kinds of terrorism”, too much should not be read in the statement.

Global isolation
Pakistan was hoping to garner sympathy for itself at the 71st United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York where it was aiming to highlight atrocities it alleges have been committed by the Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. But the Uri attack happened at a wrong time for Pakistan and has turned tables against it.
India must put pressure on UN to declare Pakistan as a terror-sponsoring state. International condemnation of the Uri attack will support India’s stance against Pakistan. Two of the five permanent members of the UNSC, Russia and France, have strongly criticised Pakistan for the attack. Other countries which have shown solidarity with India against Pakistan sponsored terrorism are Germany, Japan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Canada, Mongolia and South Korea.
As South Asia expert Stephen Cohen puts it, “This is a conflict that Pakistan cannot win, and India cannot lose”, it’s a long battle ahead.
As I write this blog, the news coming from Pakistan is that the 19th SAARC Summit to be hosted by Pakistan in November is likely to be postponed with India, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh- four of the eight SAARC members have decided to pull out, citing incitement of terror in the region.

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Kashmir through the lens of time……..

kashmir-curfew-cropped-pti

70 years after the British withdrew from India, the state of seraphic beauty and Dal lake is a far cry from serenity. Since its accession to India in 1947, Kashmir (Jammu & Kashmir) has been the victim of territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, engulfing the state in an inferno, an abyss which keeps getting deeper and deeper. The cultural and religious diversity which enriched the state, has become the reason for its downfall. The aspirations of independence, of Azad Kashmir, have not disappeared from the Kashmiri consciousness and insurgency is ripping apart Kashmir. The history of post-accession J&K is witness to cross-border terrorism, an inadequate political system which can be described as an oligarchy at its best and social changes giving rise to Islamic fundamentalism.
The day when it all started
No sooner had the rule of Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh, decided to remain neutral of the two nations, that Pakistan, through tribal infiltrators, started annexation of Kashmir. This forced the then Kashmir ruler to seek military help from India and on 26th Oct, 1947 the Instrument of Accession was signed. Kashmir became a part of the Indian Republic. By the time the Indian army stopped the infiltration, a large fragment of the Kashmiri territory had been captured by Pakistan. Under UN supervision, the two warring nations agreed to a ceasefire. A line sliced the state into two parts – one-third the state under Pakistan (now Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Balistan) and two-thirds administered by India (Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladkah). The UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) which was formed to resolve bilateral conflicts, passed a resolution that the forces on either side be withdrawn and a free and impartial plebiscite be held. Pakistan did not comply with the UN resolution and refused to withdraw from the state.

In September 1951, elections were held in the Indian Jammu & Kashmir for the first time and National Conference under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah came to power, with the inauguration of the Constituent Assembly of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. In 1957, Kashmir was formally incorporated into the Indian Union. J&K was granted a special status & internal autonomy under Article 370 of India’s constitution, which ensures, among other things, that non-Kashmiri Indians cannot buy property there. Indian jurisdiction in Kashmir was limited to matters of defence, communications and foreign affairs.

Meanwhile, China was on a parallel strike course, attacking the princely state from its eastern border. During the mid-1950s, Chinese troops had entered the north-east portion of Ladakh. Border tensions led to Indo-China war in October 1962, with China occupying Aksai Chin till date.

Terror from across the border

In 1965, taking advantage of the discontent in the valley, Pakistan sent thousands of armed infiltrators across the cease-fire line, which resulted in the second Indo-Pak war. A ceasefire was established by September 1965 and the Tashkent agreement was signed on January 1, 1966, with the two nations pledging to end the dispute by peaceful means. However, Pakistan supported militant groups increased their activities in Kashmir. The year also witnessed the creation of National Liberation Front (later known as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front – JKLF) in Azad Kashmir, with the objective of freeing Kashmir from Indian occupation. Five years later, in 1971, another war between India and Pakistan resulted in the formation of Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan), followed by the signing of the landmark Simla Agreement between the two Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Under the terms of the Simla agreement, the ceasefire line was renamed as the Line of Control. The two warring sides once again agreed to resolve the issue peacefully. In 1977, Congress withdrew support to the Sheikh Abdullah led National Conference. With the ruling party now being in minority, Indira Gandhi declared a state of national Emergency in J&K. Meanwhile, in the neighbouring country, Bhutto was overthrown and executed. Pakistan came under military rule of Gen Zia-ul-Haq. Massive infiltrations started occurring from across the border and terrorism got a new lease of life.
During the 1980s, the people of Kashmir started losing faith in Indian democracy. The Kashmiris were deeply angered by the rigging of elections, failure of democracy and scarcity of employment. The people no longer sympathised with the Indian government as they did in 1950s. From this point on, insurgency in the valley underwent polymorphic growth. Islamization of Kashmir began with full force. The Abdullah Government changed the names of about a thousand villages from their original names to new Islamic names. The major city of Anantnag was to be known as Islamabad (same name as the Pakistani Capital). Not only this, in his autobiography, Sheikh Abdullah referred to Kashmiri Pundits as “mukhbir” or informers (of the Indian government).

The plight of Kashmiri Pandits

In early 1986, incidents of violence against minority Kashmiri Pandits started gaining grounds. Non-Muslim families were being targeted. A reign of terror began and Muslim fundamentalists attacked Kashmiri Pandits in dozens, sparing none. An estimated 1,60,000 Hindus fled the Valley. Pakistan trained and funded Islamic guerrillas labelled the killing of Pandits as “ethnic cleansing”, a part of their freedom struggle. Since then, Kashmiri Pandits have been living as refugees in their own country. The official 2011 census puts the number of displaced Kashmiri Pandit families at 59,442.

In the mid 1990S, cross border tension started growing in Kargil. J&K was entangled in insurgency and break down of law and order. The state was put under longest duration of President’s rule, lasting 6 years and 264 days. In the summer of 1999, infiltrators occupied many key posts, as far as 10 km deep into the Indian territory and spanned almost 100 km of the LOC. With almost 500 Indian troops lost to the war, the two-month long battle ended with India managing to reclaim most of the area on its side that had been seized by the infiltrators.
No respite in the 21st century
In 2001, Pakistan-backed terrorists attacked the Indian Parliament and the Kashmir Assembly. Anticipating another war, India increased the presence of security in the valley. Diplomatic ties were cut and transport link broke. In 2003, diplomatic ties were restored and Delhi-Lahore bus service resumed. At the 2004 UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf meet and lay foundation for the 2006 Indo-Pakistani peace talks.
Start of 2010 was blemished by the killing of a young Kashmiri militant Tufail Ahmad Mattoo. Violent protests and demonstrations continued in Kashmir for months. In 2014, despite boycott calls by separatist Hurriyat leaders, the J&K Legislative assembly elections saw the highest voter turnout of 65.23%, the highest since the valley was engulfed in insurgency. PDP became the single largest party with 28 seats followed by with 25 seats. With no clear majority, PDP and BJP formed an alliance to form government in J&K. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed became the 6th Chief Minister (his second chief ministership, first being from 2002-05) of Jammu & Kashmir. This was the first time that a national party entered into alliance with a local party to form the government. As fate would have it, less than a year in the office, he died in January 2016. With the coalition’s support, his daughter, Mehbooba Mufti, succeeded her father as the next chief minister.

Mehooba inherits a war like situation

Within months of Mehbooba’s governance, came the killing of Burhan Wani. Since July 2016, The aftermath of Wani’s death has seen widespread violent protests in which more than 87 people have died and around 7000 civilians and over 5,000 security personnel have been wounded. Separatists leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are instigating the young population of Jammu & Kashmir. The misguided youth are worshipping Wani and chanting his name like a messiah, and put him on a pedestal as a martyr, wrapped in Pakistan’s national flag.
The Central and the State governments, along with the support of other political parties have come together to find a solution for the problem, to deter the gullible youth of Kashmir from being hoodwinked by the rant of Hurriyat leaders. The all-party delegation (APD) unanimously resolved that dialogue with “all stake holders” has to be established. But the Hurriyat’s refusal to hold talks with the Srinagar bound APD in early September has put the Centre in a petulant mood, which is indicated in the toughening of its stand against the separatists. The message is clear……those who do not believe in the Indian constitution will be dealt with firmly. National sovereignty and security cannot be compromised with.
Mehbooba Mufti’s government has its task cut out. She not only has to take tough decisions on matters of J&K’s internal security but also has to deal with dissent issues within her party. PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig’s wavering faith in the CM is becoming incipient at an unwanted hour. Earlier, Tariq Karra, MP and one of the founding members of PDP, resigned over civilian killing in Kashmir. Sr. Vice President (distt. Srinagar) Nisar Ahmad Mandoo also renounced his party membership over “anti-people policies adopted by RSS backed BJP-PDP coalition. Scrapping of Article 370 has jostled the nerves of many. The Article which was implemented to empower the deeply vulnerable population of J&K, is being seen as having strengthened the separatist tendencies in J&K.
BJP-PDP alliance fuelled the anger of the masses
Not only with the Muslim majority, the BJP-PDP alliance has not gone down well with many inside PDP as well. Party senior Tariq Karra has termed the alliance as “unholy, unethical and unacceptable”. According to him, the fall of the alliance will bring calm on the streets of Kashmir as the electorate feels betrayed because the votes were sought to keep BJP out of power.
BJP’s hyper-nationalism and saffron tilt is seen as a major threat by the Kashmiri Muslims, who constitute 99% of the population in Kashmir and 35% in Jammu. The ground perception is that the government is anti-people. The Centre’s stand on article 370 and intention to resettle Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley have instilled fear amongst Kashmiri Muslims. This feeling was stoked in June when a teacher of the Delhi Public School, Srinagar, was dismissed for wearing a full abaya, that included a face veil. Face veil, which was never seen in Kashmir, has become a symbol of opposition to India. In the rising wave of insurgency, Kashmiri Muslims are gravitating towards a more conservative Islam.
Pellet guns
Pellet guns were used in Kashmir for the first time in 2010 during the Omar Abdullah government. Following the killing of militant Mattoo, the Valley was engulfed in violent protests. The mobs indulged in heavy stone pelting causing a lot of casualties in the security forces. Many civilians were also injured which further angered the masses. In order to maintain law and order and to save the lives of civilians, the Abdullah government decided to use “non-lethal” pellet guns. But that’s not so.
Pellet guns don’t take lives but cause immense damage to the body, especially the eyes. Pellets are loaded with lead and upon firing, disperse in huge numbers. Pellets penetrate the skin and cause wounds inside. Eyes are delicate and once the pellet goes inside the eye, it shatters tissues, causing impairment and loss of sight. Doctors treating the pellet gun victims opine that it maims a person forever. The number of fatal eye injuries has resulted in public outcry and severe criticism for the government.
Fresh protests erupted in the Valley when the body of an eleven-year-old boy was found pierced with 400 pellets.
Where lies the answer to the Kashmiri conundrum?
Over decades, innumerable civilians have been injured, many lives have been lost and many more are looking at a life filled with darkness. The shadows of abhorrence and antipathy are getting longer and longer. The once busy streets are gawking at loneliness. A vicious cycle of terrorism seems to have set its deep roots in the Valley. The disgruntled and aggrieved youngsters chase after false dreams of azadi. And when they are jolted out of their dream world, they attack authority and defy the very symbols of peace and harmony which have given them the liberty to speak and live freely.
Home to a number of religious and ethnic groups, any sustainable solution for Kashmir will have to incorporate the aspirations and ambitions of all Kashmiris, including the ones who have been living the life of refugees outside their soil. For generations, Kashmiris have been part and parcel of India. They enjoyed Indian cinema, sporting achievements and celebrating national events. The wave of insurgency which engulfed the Valley in the 1980s makes it difficult to differentiate between the youth genuinely dissatisfied with the state of democratic process in J&K and those whose are born out of terror campaigns arising out of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In either case, religion alone cannot be the deciding factor for inclusion of Kashmir into Pakistan. The proof is in the 47 million Muslims who chose to remain in India in 1947, far outnumbering the 27 million who decided to cross over.

Looking at the present day situation, the Valley’s population is equally dissatisfied with the Indian government over the lack of care the Centre has shown in handling the post-Wani agitation as with how Kashmiris, in the past, have been fooled with rigged elections, false promises, repudiation of elected governments, incidences of violence. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are faced with a grim economic situation. According to the latest Niti Aayog data, the GDP of the state has dipped below zero to -1.57% in 2014-5 from 5.63% in 2013-14. Local businesses have closed down, job opportunities are limited, tourism and handicraft sectors have taken a strong hit. The Valley’s 2.5 lakh artisans have been severely affected by the prolonged shutdown. Schools and colleges are faced with constant shutdowns. Cellphone and internet services have been blocked, and newspapers have also been restricted in many parts of the state. Cinema and entertainment is missing.

The youth are restless and full of resentment. The older generation is living with the memories of past 70 years of turmoil and pain.

Will increasing the security in the Valley guarantee peace? Is the Uri terror attack which saw death of 17 soldiers the beginning of another war? Security will be beefed up and lives of Kashmiris will be further doomed under the shadow of the guns. What does future hold for Kashmir? Will the shikaras adorn the beautiful Dal lake again?

Existential Crisis or the Fall before Rise?

Existential Crisis or the fall before Rise-

The Assembly elections 2016 gave another shock to the Congress party which was already in the doldrums after the Indian general election of 2014. It doesn’t really need a good eye to see that the party has its back to the wall.
Time after time, attempts were made to wake the Congress party up, but it seems like it will do it – but in its own sweet time – no matter whether its foothold gets reduced to a few pin-tip states or none.
This midsummer judgment is nothing but an ultimatum for the party.

An ultimatum to either ‘work’ or ‘lose’!

Congress – What does it ‘really’ stand for?

Bharatiya Janata Party has taken a firm stand for promoting Hindutva. Besides, today its initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’ need no citation. The BJP has is goals set, and they are working towards it.

On the other hand, we have Congress which is known today for taking stands on rows like JNU and intolerance. I do not understand what benefit these causes have for the country, or for that matter even for congress.

One of the most important steps that Rahul needs to take at the moment is to turn away from attacking Narendra Modi and BJP government incessantly. Rather than focusing on Modi’s faults, Rahul needs to focus on rebuilding his party. He should completely ignore Modi and work on building his own self.

He needs to stop opposing the current government on matters where public sentiments are with them. In fact, he should appreciate the genuine efforts of BJP, on occasion.

Rahul needs to be a positive personality. When people will get fed up of Modi’s negativity and/or his ferocious attacks, they will certainly look for a positive force. Rahul has to be that positive force. After all, negativity has a very short life. Isn’t it?

Corrupt Alliances

The opposition putdowns Congress with Augusta Westland bribery allegations and cases like National Herald. But, Congress hasn’t done anything to stop them. Tattered by corruption scandals, Congress has hit the rock bottom.

It’s been two years since Narendra Modi joined the Prime Minister’s office, and his government has not come into the limelight for any big corruption scandal as yet. People needed a party sans corruption and BJP is proving to be one such party, till date at least.

Congress, however, has been perceived to be a party associated with scams and corruption for years now. Not that the party’s own cases were lacking disrepute, its alliances are acting as a cherry on the cake for BJP.

Let’s take the example of Lalu Yadav. Tangled in the fodder scam he brought no good status to Congress with their alliance. In fact, Congress even went ahead and joined hands with Karunanidhi. Then a decade long rule of UPA gave Congress scams like 2G, coal and commonwealth.

It is about time Congress stopped making short cuts and opted for the route of slander for electoral gains. Enough of corrupt partners and alliances. Congress needs to work on being a truly non-corrupt party.

Instead of looking for another party to gain support in 2019 Lok-Sabha elections, Congress needs to have full focus on building a strong party which needs nobody else. No matter even if it takes more than 5-6 years to build such a party. The goal has to be a longer one. Rahul’s focus now needs to be on making a powerful comeback in 2024, if not 2019 – a comeback that he owes to his party.

To get rid of the infamous status of a corrupted political party, Congress needs to bring non-corrupt, fresh faces to the cadre. Such people, who wish to work for the nation’s development and not for their own personal gains, should be given a chance to make an entry in the Congress party now. India has plenty of such people. The party leaders just need to find them.

Brewing troubles in paradise

When Congress was drubbed badly in the 2014 elections, Rahul had the golden opportunity to learn from the past mistakes of the party. I would like to believe, that he must have identified the mistakes but hasn’t really done anything to rectify those mistakes. The worrying part is that the Congress has not been able to convince the voters to think of an alternative, substitute to the BJP and Mr. Modi despite of NDA’s inability to meet the poll promises.

Now, time’s ticking away.

In my opinion, Congress has wasted two years strategizing and not learnt the lessons and implemented any new plans. Congress can’t even waste two weeks now. Things have been cut a bit fine.

Rahul’s father, grandmother and great-grandfather were leaders that India resonated with for decades, and is still doing. But Rahul’s aura has been nothing but lackluster. He doesn’t portray himself as a leader of the masses, something that his predecessors did very well. Rahul needs to build an impression of a serious leader, who thinks and works for the nation. There are times where he makes public appearances as a clean shaven man, and at times he adorns stubble. Why can’t he have a personality that depicts that he is not confused?

On top of that, his little to no connection with the general public has made things worse for him. To add to his woes, there is no support from other strata of the society too – be it the film fraternity, industrialists or even the media. Reason is very well known – Rahul’s disconnect with them all. He needs to come out in the open and speak.

Just like Akbar the Great used to wander about the streets in disguise to know about his people, Rahul needs to shed his inhibitions and take steps to know the common people of India. He needs to feel the pulse of ordinary voters, and work for their betterment.

He also needs to have genuine advisors around him. His father, Rajiv Gandhi, held his critics close to him. Rahul should adopt the same ideology. He needs a coterie that consists of people who are critical and who guide him in a genuine manner, not those who believe in sycophancy.

As Sant Kabir said:

“Keep your critic close to you; shelter him in your courtyard
As without water and soap he cleanses and purifies your character”.

A lesson Rahul must learn by heart.

Time for the ‘Much Needed’ Makeover

Caught in a time warp, Congress needs a pressing shift in its ideologies. As we see the party today, it seems like the Congress leaders are rivalling baselessly. They wait for BJP and its leaders, particularly Narendra Modi, to commit mistakes. As irrational as it may be – they have this thinking that Congress will make a comeback as soon as Narendra Modi will commit a blunder.

However, what they have missed the most in this chase of power is to make the Congress party a viable substitute first. In the unlike event of Narendra Modi’s government committing a mistake, what reason has Congress given to the public to choose it? Being the grand old political party of India is not sufficient anymore. Congress needs restructuring at almost every level.

First, it has to build strong state leaderships. People who have thorough understanding about their respective regions should be a part of Congress’ leadership pool.

Appointment of strategists like Prashant Kishor can’t help Congress taste victory. The leaders need to build their party’s morale which is drowning badly. A generational change is inevitable. Young, spirited and positively driven leaders should be brought. Congress needs to strengthen its student wing, the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) – for the party’s future leaders depend on the caliber that is nourished within this wing alone.

Also, there is hardly any mention about the party’s women wing – the All India Mahila Congress. Its members need to actively work towards addressing the issues of Indian women.

When it comes to speaking, the party has a despondent front here as well. There are 54 spokespersons that the party has. However, only three or four out of them are ever seen participating in national debates. Congress should have a strong base of speakers. It is imperative to bring on board some charismatic and good orators that are humble, empathetic and are intelligent enough to use media to shape public opinion in their favor. Most of all, they should have fire in the belly to counter someone like Arnab without losing their nerves.

Moreover, apart from being a party that only thinks about appeasing minorities, it needs to start working for them instead. Together, it needs to expand and embrace all the sections of Indian society. Minorities’ upliftment should not overlook the good of the majority of population.

Congress needs to work for the common man. Rahul should become voice of the common man while Modi is becoming voice of the Industrialists and elites.

Let the work speak.

And then, it will be a voice, strong enough to be heard across the nation.

It will be a powerful echo of many years of wait, hope, and development.

Rahul, Just Be Your Grandmother’s Grandson

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How do you deal with criticism? Do you succumb to words that cut you sharper than knife? Or, do you learn from the criticism and come back with your head held high? While there are many amongst us who would have gone through the first recourse many a times in our lives, some would have taken the latter resort.

If I have to name one such person who truly did justice to others’ criticism by using disapproval and mockery to their own advantage, then it has to be none other than Late Indira Gandhi.

So strong was the mind-set of this woman, that she would not let go of her obstinacy to overcome the hardships at any cost. Time and again, she was criticized by others, and even by her own party members. She hit rock bottom, survived, fought and then reached to the top.

Sometimes I wonder why is it that Rahul Gandhi could not learn from her grandmother, a lady who changed the shape of Indian politics’ dynamics with her grit, vision and never-say-die attitude. She clearly set an example on how to stick to one’s guns, without ever once surrendering to the opposed forces. She knew what the country needed, and she delivered it to the people.

They say a person’s heredity has a major impact on the way they conduct their lifestyle and react to the environment around them. If that is the case, then what is that stops Rahul to be as remarkable a politician as his grandmother was? What is the reluctance and why doesn’t he shun it?

Does Rahul really need anyone?

No. Rahul has been blessed with genetics that have given India its key political leaders. The man needs no one but faith in himself and in the almighty. He doesn’t need any strategist to draft his success in the political realm of India. It is time for him to incorporate the lessons taught by his grandmother and incorporate them in his journey to self improvement.

Human beings are gifted with a limitless potential. We look up to others, learn from them and improve ourselves. So, why does Rahul need anyone, when he has the life lessons of nobody else but his own grandmother to be inspired from?

For him, it is impossible to reach a point of no growth. It is he who has to decide how soon can he think from his grandmother’s viewpoint, handle the current crisis and write his own future.

Survive relationships

They say “…in politics, your enemies can’t hurt you, but your friends will kill you”. With this belief, my word for Rahul is – do not endorse Nitish Kumar. He should be aware of Nitish’s ambitious plans.

In his attempt to counter Narendra Modi, he should refrain from building another Modi. Congress is already paying a heavy price for making Arvind Kejriwal Delhi’s Chief Minister for 49 days. At that time, I had screamed at the top of my lungs that Congress has made a blunder. I hope it stops now. It needs to stop investing in another strong competitor.

Realise the ‘actual’ need of hiring strategists

Understanding the core reason why does one hire a political strategist is important for Rahul. He doesn’t need a political consultant to make him a hero. He can become a hero only by his own deeds.

Citizens look for results, not for promotional strategists. There is no denying that they are important to market a product, but then first, the product has to be good enough to be marketed.

Remember that outsourced strategists will always remain outsiders. They can’t substitute your own team. Such professionals have zero loyalty towards the political parties that they strategize campaigns for. They are there only for the sake of fame, power and money. Once they get it, they turn to their next assignment.

No matter how crucial support they extend to a party, they should never get much more limelight than the party itself. Nobody knew Prashant Kishore’s working style with Mr. Modi or, for that matter, with Mr. Nitish Kumar. But, since the time he has joined Congress, he has attracted more eye balls than the Congress Party could even gather in the past few years.

Relying too much on a strategist is doing more harm than good for Rahul and Congress. People are building the perception that Rahul Gandhi is inefficient and needs a strategist to build his image. Some even criticize Congress for the party’s lack of vision and talent in its own policymakers. Rahul needs to have his focus on his own party and work towards the growth of its own people first. Empower them, enhance their skills and knowledge.

Improve the party and then let a political strategist work. Narendra Modi did not win with the help of a single strategist. He had his own confident cadre, a long list of loyalists, support of thousands of diligent volunteers who worked untiringly for the party.

When will Rahul have such a cadre?

Recognise the Power of Empowerment

Congress today has some of the best people working in the team. Rahul needs to empower them. Develop that team. These people are his cash cows. He should not ignore them.

Any political party needs to treat its people as they will make a huge difference and they will. Congress needs to do so even more rigorously. Rahul should build his cadre and stay connected to it. Prepare it and develop it for a better future.

Another change that Rahul needs to bring within his party is to change the perception of being the party of elites with only English speaking leaders. He needs to bring in spokespersons that are fluent in Hindi, Sanskrit and perchance, Urdu too. This will help the party members to provide their own ripostes to the likes of Smriti Irani, Meenakshi Lekhi, and others.

Apart from this, Rahul seriously needs to have more credible media faces in the party. Bring on board some charismatic and good orators that are humble, empathetic and are intelligent enough to use media to shape public opinion in their favour. Most of all, they should have fire in the belly to counter someone like Arnab without losing their nerves.

Let Modi Go

One of the most important steps that Rahul needs to take at the moment is to turn away from attacking Narendra Modi and BJP government incessantly. A major chunk of India’s population is with Modi, and when Rahul attacks him, it is Modi who gets greater sympathy from the public.

Rather than focusing on Modi’s faults, Rahul needs to focus on his own faults. He should completely ignore him for two years and let other party members criticize the opposition. Meanwhile, he should work on building his own self. Nobody is perfect. Rahul will commit mistakes like every other human being. But, he needs to revisit his actions.
He needs to stop opposing the current government on matters where public sentiments are with them. In fact, he should appreciate the genuine efforts of BJP, on occasion.

Rahul needs to be a positive personality. When people will get fed up of Modi’s negativity and/or his ferocious attacks, they will certainly look for a positive force. Rahul has to be that positive force. After all, negativity has a very short life. Doesn’t it?

Alter Thy Will & Image

The current generation, especially those who will vote for the first time in 2019, is unware of the achievements that made Congress Party the grand old party of India. This generation is oblivious of the sacrifices made by the fabled Congress leaders, especially the Gandhis.

Rahul needs to think of some innovative ideas that can help him connect with the youth and make them aware of the party’s golden legacy.

Indira Gandhi was one such political leader who used to reply to every single post card/ letter that was mailed to her. But is it the case with Rahul Gandhi? No. 90% of the times, his office doesn’t respond to emails. He needs to make sure that every single email that is addressed to the party is well responded. This way, he will be able to better connect with the masses.

Congress can even reach out to volunteers personally, even if it is through automatic email system on special occasions. Volunteers could be invited over tea-coffee randomly to have a quick tête-à-tête with Rahul from random constituencies. Barriers need to be broken.

The Congress party’s anti-Hindu Image needs some urgent rectifications too. Rahul needs to work on transmuting this image. He needs to work as a leader, a go- getter and not just someone who talks the talk. There are many fabricated stories that have been built on Rahul till date. He needs to come out in the open and share as much information about himself as he can. Let the public know, understand and connect with the ‘real’ Rahul Gandhi.

Why Pinning Electoral Hopes On A Consultant Can Be A Huge Mistake

fblog

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a political strategist as a senior political consultant who designs and directs election campaigns for politicians.

Interestingly, the present political scenario in India reveals a different picture. Here, a political strategist could be very well defined as an expert who ‘assures’ victory in election campaigns for politicians.
It is like tasting victory today depends on who gets to hire a better political consultant that can lead the party towards the way of success.

However, this was not the case a few years ago. In fact, about five years ago there was no such concept in India. Politicians used to win their battles on their own. They needed no aide.

The Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012 brought the necessity of political strategists into the limelight. By hiring David M. Axelrod as a Senior Strategist in the campaign, Obama let the entire world recognize the talent that such experts possess. And, the results are here for us all to see.

India’s political wizards took no time and sensed the importance of these individuals who work like nothing but magic wands.

The trend of hiring consultants or strategists who are experts in politics was first started by BJP in India, and now slowly every party has jumped to the bandwagon in the anticipation of triumph.

Parties today have become solely dependent on political strategists. While I have no reluctance in stating that strategists do help a great deal, but I can’t really see eye to eye with the thought that merely by hiring a political strategist one can win elections.

After all, it is not only about making catchy slogans and channelizing the youth.

A party needs a lot more than that.

The Great Indian General Election, 2014

The cornerstone for many individuals, who wish to make it big in the political consultancy field today, was the Indian general election, 2014. This election brought Prashant Kishor to the front of the political scene of the country. After the victory of Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with an absolute majority, this man became a star overnight.

Now here I would like to mention that I haven’t met Prashant Kishor ever. And, I am not against him as a person. It’s just the idea of hiring a political strategist to win an election which makes me doubt the very core of democracy.

Many Indians believe that Mr Modi won the 2014 election all because of Prashant Kishor. But, according to me, he was one of the very many elements who assured Narendra Modi’s victory that year.

Undoubtedly, Prashant Kishor did a fabulous job there, but elections can not be won by one person alone. There were thousands of supporters who were working tirelessly for Narendra Modi’s win. I know this because I was a part of the Mission 272 volunteer group.

So, even though the slogans and the campaigns were designed by Prashant Kishor, but it was not only him who should be given the credit of Mr Modi’s win. Media should have stressed on the efforts of the entire team of volunteers there.

In fact, Amit Shah also played a very big role in the same election. And, time and again he has proved to be a very crucial confidante for Mr Modi.

I fail to understand why and how media emphasizes Mr Modi’s Gujarat win in 2012 merely on account of the campaigning done by the political strategist that he hired. I mean it was not the first time that Narendra Modi won elections in Gujarat. It was his third win in a row.

Narendra Modi was already a brand in Gujarat at that time. And as many of you would already know, the country was witnessing almost a decade long anti-incumbency against the UPA. So, whether or not a political strategist was hired, Narendra Modi was pretty much the winner there.

The 2015 Battle of Bihar

This battle was a great one for sure.

Nitish Kumar who also had a Bihar model, just like Mr Modi had a Gujarat model ready, was certainly in the good books of many voters. He did not lose his charm and one of the biggest winning factors for him was the grand alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav & Congress.

Now, here the credit for this tactic of entering into a Mahagathbandhan can definitely go to Prashant Kishor. But then again, an important point to note here is that in spite of the support of Prashant Kishor, it was not Nitish Kumar’s party that emerged as the single largest party. It was Lalu Prasad’s party that came to be number one, without taking the help of any political strategist. So, despite the fact strategists can give great ideas, they can’t really assure any party’s win in elections.

The Bihar Assembly polls of 2015 reinforced the opinion that if there are personalities like Nitish Kumar claiming victory does not solely rest on the hiring of political strategists.

AAP also won, but the credit doesn’t go to a political strategist

While there are parties like BJP and JDU that relied on an outsider for spearheading their election campaigns, the Aam Aadmi Party is a little different. Led by Arvind Kejriwal, AAP is one of the prime examples of social media success in the political arena. The party did make its way to a landslide victory in Delhi in 2015, but it did that on its own.

Well, I must say it takes a lot of dare to not follow the trend and AAP did set an example for those who don’t believe in winning elections by going for someone who doesn’t belong to the party at the first place.

This party has an in-house and self grown department that works on making it big in the Indian political scene. It did not hire any outsider to check the expectations of the Delhi voters and it did not fail – contradicting the perception that has been built these days.

You can be a political strategist too!

Witnessing the surging demand of political strategists in and around India, a long list of companies that claim to be expert at political consultancy has gone on-board in the past few years.

This has given a new career option to the politically savvy people of the country. As a matter of fact, those who were not having any interest in this area as yet are now getting involved in politics. Thus, presently almost half of the India can be seen following the latest news and discussing hot topics concerning political affairs.

Then there are those who are great at communication, and they are also trying their luck at being political experts.

The result?

A booming world of political strategy companies, political PR agencies, consultants and branding professionals who are happy fetching political clients from every nook and corner of the country be it a rural politician or some big shot political personality. Names like Oakland Brigs, Shree Political Research Bureau (SPRB), political edge, Creativizt, and others represent themselves as experienced providers of election management and political consulting services.

Needless to mention, this profession is going to have a momentous growth by 2019 when the Lok Sabha elections will make rounds again.

As long as the politicians are filling the pockets of these aspirational political strategists with pretty good amounts of money, electoral campaigns will become more of a branding game than a vision based activity that gives voters the power to select the right candidate.

Yes, hiring a political strategist is important!

One can not rely deny the importance of hiring a political strategist. After all, these professionals bring with them certain things which a political party could be lacking in.

They are usually high profile people who possess excellent networking skills, and a long list of established contacts in the field. They are skilled at marketing and can help any political party in creating and implementing a great campaign.

Often considered as a party’s right-hand man/woman, these professionals are adroit in public interaction and mass engagement. With a holistic overview of the party, these professionals run such a campaign that rests on the cornerstone of talent and skills. From media & communications, to grassroots operations and much more, these political strategists are geared towards every single aspect that proves to be an important element in a party’s win.

The storehouses of organizational, communication and PR skills that they are, political strategists can really help in making an election campaign successful.

But, hiring a political strategist can not be the shortcut to win an election!

Recognized for his contribution in bringing victories to PM Narendra Modi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, political strategist Prashant Kishor has now been engaged by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for the highly fragile states of the country – Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

The party needs to understand that merely hiring a political strategist would not confirm its victory in Punjab. The place is in a state of utter destruction and in order to win elections that are lined up in 2017, the party needs to have a vision for the people of Punjab. It has to set such policies that can do a larger good and can take the state out of the clasps of drugs, poverty, unemployment, cancer and its never-ending misery.

While Prashant Kishor is liasioning within the party, the workers seem to be a little dispirited and demotivated with the trust the party’s VP has placed on an outsider. Congress is forgetting that its own party members should not have the fear that their work will be hijacked by someone who was unknown to them a few weeks ago. Though it’s great to have a strategist helping you, but ultimately your workers have to be involved in your party’s electoral campaigning.

The complexity of the task needs to be grasped well by the party members. They need to work in unison to improve their, as well as the party’s image.

Congress is facing a downfall, and in order to rise again, it needs proper restructuring.

At long last, political parties will just be clients for these political consultancy firms, or rather a project which they can conveniently include in their portfolios later on.

If parties are going to win elections merely by hiring strategists, then doesn’t this pose a danger to the democracy? What’s with the ethics and morality?

To think of it, these external strategists are with you today, but who knows what tomorrow is going to bring. And, if that happens, all your party’s shortcomings and loopholes will be used later by your same strategists in the next elections for the benefit of your opposition.

Well, as promising as it may sound, hiring a political strategist is a risky affair for sure! Today a political strategist might be working with you; tomorrow he can be standing tall with your opponent as his adjutant.

Thus, a tactician is certainly not the answer to the problems that are being faced by the political parties today. The answer lies within the party, amongst the workers, not outside of it.

In order to win an election, you need to first build your own cadre, instead of going for short-cuts.

Now, when Prashant Kishor has teamed up with Congress for the imminent 2017 elections, BJP has filled the void left by this ace strategist by hiring another political strategist named Rajat Sethi for Assam Legislative Assembly election, 2016. A public policy graduate from Harvard University, Rajat Sethi is a product of IIT Kharagpur and is also a co-founder of Arthasastra Foundation.

While Congress and BJP are relying on political strategists to win the game of elections, there are political leaders like Akhilesh Yadav who do not believe in doing so. The UP chief minister, who previously lashed out at Congress for hiring Prashant Kishor, is now all set to rebrand himself. But, he is doing this on his own.

From announcing his government’s achievements on every single advertising medium be it radio, TV, or print, to being active on social media and the web world, Akhilesh is taking his branding seriously. And, he is putting these efforts with the help of his own cadre.

Mayawati is another such political leader who is still making it big in the political field, without the support of any political strategist. This lady has a strong vote bank and a solid cadre with her. She believes in making her work speak for her party, and this is what her party members also believe in. BSP workers have increased the party’s influence in Uttar Pradesh with their work at the grass-roots level. This is why, even at this day and age, where political parties are busy in hiring strategists, BSP is still going strong with its brilliant cadre. This shows the faith that Mayawati has in her team, and this is what is paramount for any political party’s long-term success.

Now, Congress which has not been able to make a comeback in Uttar Pradesh for the last 27 years after ruling the state for more than four decades, is having a tough time.

The party was wiped out of UP at the back of the well-known Mandal and Mandir issues, but what has stopped the party that it has not been able to pull through in the state?

While Prashant Kishor needs to be applauded for taking in his hands the toughest job of reviving the dead Congress party in UP, there is not much that he can do with this conviction and confidence of his, if the party continues to drag its unenthusiastic and low spirited cadre in the tow.

For so many years now, the party has not brought any new faces in the state; neither did it groom the existing one. The state party president, Nirmal Khatri has no desire or zest to transform the party and revive it. The cadre is almost dead. It lacks motivation and has lost its killer instinct for sure. Instead of playing a second fiddle to the regional parties, Congress needs to revive its fighting spirit which died with Indira Gandhi.

In fact, not only UP, but in whichever state the party lost its hold, it also lost the drive to recuperate and West Bengal is a prime example here.

While Prashant Kishor is full of ideas and strategies to make the party win in UP and Punjab, it is Congress’ own party workers who should first be revived. And, this can not be done by anybody else but Rahul Gandhi.

The crux of the matter lies in the simple fact that depending too much on external people to build your party is a risky affair. Just like a product needs to be perfected first before it is marketed, a political party also needs to be improved first. A strategist can market a political union, but they can’t reconstruct them. This is something which has to be done by the party’s workers alone.

A party should first build its own cadre and then only it should get external people for marketing and promotion.

Taking advantage of the talents that lies within the political wizards cum strategists is necessary, but relying on them entirely is a mistake, and a big one at that.

Why Pinning Electoral Hopes On A Consultant Can Be A Huge Mistake

1

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a political strategist as a senior political consultant who designs and directs election campaigns for politicians.

Interestingly, the present political scenario in India reveals a different picture. Here, a political strategist could be very well defined as an expert who ‘assures’ victory in election campaigns for politicians.
It is like tasting victory today depends on who gets to hire a better political consultant that can lead the party towards the way of success.

However, this was not the case a few years ago. In fact, about five years ago there was no such concept in India. Politicians used to win their battles on their own. They needed no aide.

The Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012 brought the necessity of political strategists into the limelight. By hiring David M. Axelrod as a Senior Strategist in the campaign, Obama let the entire world recognize the talent that such experts possess. And, the results are here for us all to see.

India’s political wizards took no time and sensed the importance of these individuals who work like nothing but magic wands.

The trend of hiring consultants or strategists who are experts in politics was first started by BJP in India, and now slowly every party has jumped to the bandwagon in the anticipation of triumph.

Parties today have become solely dependent on political strategists. While I have no reluctance in stating that strategists do help a great deal, but I can’t really see eye to eye with the thought that merely by hiring a political strategist one can win elections.

After all, it is not only about making catchy slogans and channelizing the youth.

A party needs a lot more than that.

The Great Indian General Election, 2014

The cornerstone for many individuals, who wish to make it big in the political consultancy field today, was the Indian general election, 2014. This election brought Prashant Kishor to the front of the political scene of the country. After the victory of Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with an absolute majority, this man became a star overnight.

Now here I would like to mention that I haven’t met Prashant Kishor ever. And, I am not against him as a person. It’s just the idea of hiring a political strategist to win an election which makes me doubt the very core of democracy.

Many Indians believe that Mr Modi won the 2014 election all because of Prashant Kishor. But, according to me, he was one of the very many elements who assured Narendra Modi’s victory that year.

Undoubtedly, Prashant Kishor did a fabulous job there, but elections can not be won by one person alone. There were thousands of supporters who were working tirelessly for Narendra Modi’s win. I know this because I was a part of the Mission 272 volunteer group.

So, even though the slogans and the campaigns were designed by Prashant Kishor, but it was not only him who should be given the credit of Mr Modi’s win. Media should have stressed on the efforts of the entire team of volunteers there.

In fact, Amit Shah also played a very big role in the same election. And, time and again he has proved to be a very crucial confidante for Mr Modi.

I fail to understand why and how media emphasizes Mr Modi’s Gujarat win in 2012 merely on account of the campaigning done by the political strategist that he hired. I mean it was not the first time that Narendra Modi won elections in Gujarat. It was his third win in a row.

Narendra Modi was already a brand in Gujarat at that time. And as many of you would already know, the country was witnessing almost a decade long anti-incumbency against the UPA. So, whether or not a political strategist was hired, Narendra Modi was pretty much the winner there.

The 2015 Battle of Bihar

This battle was a great one for sure.

Nitish Kumar who also had a Bihar model, just like Mr Modi had a Gujarat model ready, was certainly in the good books of many voters. He did not lose his charm and one of the biggest winning factors for him was the grand alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav & Congress.

Now, here the credit for this tactic of entering into a Mahagathbandhan can definitely go to Prashant Kishor. But then again, an important point to note here is that in spite of the support of Prashant Kishor, it was not Nitish Kumar’s party that emerged as the single largest party. It was Lalu Prasad’s party that came to be number one, without taking the help of any political strategist. So, despite the fact strategists can give great ideas, they can’t really assure any party’s win in elections.

The Bihar Assembly polls of 2015 reinforced the opinion that if there are personalities like Nitish Kumar claiming victory does not solely rest on the hiring of political strategists.

AAP also won, but the credit doesn’t go to a political strategist

While there are parties like BJP and JDU that relied on an outsider for spearheading their election campaigns, the Aam Aadmi Party is a little different. Led by Arvind Kejriwal, AAP is one of the prime examples of social media success in the political arena. The party did make its way to a landslide victory in Delhi in 2015, but it did that on its own.

Well, I must say it takes a lot of dare to not follow the trend and AAP did set an example for those who don’t believe in winning elections by going for someone who doesn’t belong to the party at the first place.

This party has an in-house and self grown department that works on making it big in the Indian political scene. It did not hire any outsider to check the expectations of the Delhi voters and it did not fail – contradicting the perception that has been built these days.

You can be a political strategist too!

Witnessing the surging demand of political strategists in and around India, a long list of companies that claim to be expert at political consultancy has gone on-board in the past few years.

This has given a new career option to the politically savvy people of the country. As a matter of fact, those who were not having any interest in this area as yet are now getting involved in politics. Thus, presently almost half of the India can be seen following the latest news and discussing hot topics concerning political affairs.

Then there are those who are great at communication, and they are also trying their luck at being political experts.

The result?

A booming world of political strategy companies, political PR agencies, consultants and branding professionals who are happy fetching political clients from every nook and corner of the country be it a rural politician or some big shot political personality. Names like Oakland Brigs, Shree Political Research Bureau (SPRB), political edge, Creativizt, and others represent themselves as experienced providers of election management and political consulting services.

Needless to mention, this profession is going to have a momentous growth by 2019 when the Lok Sabha elections will make rounds again.

As long as the politicians are filling the pockets of these aspirational political strategists with pretty good amounts of money, electoral campaigns will become more of a branding game than a vision based activity that gives voters the power to select the right candidate.

Yes, hiring a political strategist is important!

One can not rely deny the importance of hiring a political strategist. After all, these professionals bring with them certain things which a political party could be lacking in.

They are usually high profile people who possess excellent networking skills, and a long list of established contacts in the field. They are skilled at marketing and can help any political party in creating and implementing a great campaign.

Often considered as a party’s right-hand man/woman, these professionals are adroit in public interaction and mass engagement. With a holistic overview of the party, these professionals run such a campaign that rests on the cornerstone of talent and skills. From media & communications, to grassroots operations and much more, these political strategists are geared towards every single aspect that proves to be an important element in a party’s win.

The storehouses of organizational, communication and PR skills that they are, political strategists can really help in making an election campaign successful.

But, hiring a political strategist can not be the shortcut to win an election!

Recognized for his contribution in bringing victories to PM Narendra Modi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, political strategist Prashant Kishor has now been engaged by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for the highly fragile states of the country – Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

The party needs to understand that merely hiring a political strategist would not confirm its victory in Punjab. The place is in a state of utter destruction and in order to win elections that are lined up in 2017, the party needs to have a vision for the people of Punjab. It has to set such policies that can do a larger good and can take the state out of the clasps of drugs, poverty, unemployment, cancer and its never-ending misery.

While Prashant Kishor is liasioning within the party, the workers seem to be a little dispirited and demotivated with the trust the party’s VP has placed on an outsider. Congress is forgetting that its own party members should not have the fear that their work will be hijacked by someone who was unknown to them a few weeks ago. Though it’s great to have a strategist helping you, but ultimately your workers have to be involved in your party’s electoral campaigning.

The complexity of the task needs to be grasped well by the party members. They need to work in unison to improve their, as well as the party’s image.

Congress is facing a downfall, and in order to rise again, it needs proper restructuring.

At long last, political parties will just be clients for these political consultancy firms, or rather a project which they can conveniently include in their portfolios later on.

If parties are going to win elections merely by hiring strategists, then doesn’t this pose a danger to the democracy? What’s with the ethics and morality?

To think of it, these external strategists are with you today, but who knows what tomorrow is going to bring. And, if that happens, all your party’s shortcomings and loopholes will be used later by your same strategists in the next elections for the benefit of your opposition.

Well, as promising as it may sound, hiring a political strategist is a risky affair for sure! Today a political strategist might be working with you; tomorrow he can be standing tall with your opponent as his adjutant.

Thus, a tactician is certainly not the answer to the problems that are being faced by the political parties today. The answer lies within the party, amongst the workers, not outside of it.

In order to win an election, you need to first build your own cadre, instead of going for short-cuts.

Now, when Prashant Kishor has teamed up with Congress for the imminent 2017 elections, BJP has filled the void left by this ace strategist by hiring another political strategist named Rajat Sethi for Assam Legislative Assembly election, 2016. A public policy graduate from Harvard University, Rajat Sethi is a product of IIT Kharagpur and is also a co-founder of Arthasastra Foundation.

While Congress and BJP are relying on political strategists to win the game of elections, there are political leaders like Akhilesh Yadav who do not believe in doing so. The UP chief minister, who previously lashed out at Congress for hiring Prashant Kishor, is now all set to rebrand himself. But, he is doing this on his own.

From announcing his government’s achievements on every single advertising medium be it radio, TV, or print, to being active on social media and the web world, Akhilesh is taking his branding seriously. And, he is putting these efforts with the help of his own cadre.

Mayawati is another such political leader who is still making it big in the political field, without the support of any political strategist. This lady has a strong vote bank and a solid cadre with her. She believes in making her work speak for her party, and this is what her party members also believe in. BSP workers have increased the party’s influence in Uttar Pradesh with their work at the grass-roots level. This is why, even at this day and age, where political parties are busy in hiring strategists, BSP is still going strong with its brilliant cadre. This shows the faith that Mayawati has in her team, and this is what is paramount for any political party’s long-term success.

Now, Congress which has not been able to make a comeback in Uttar Pradesh for the last 27 years after ruling the state for more than four decades, is having a tough time.

The party was wiped out of UP at the back of the well-known Mandal and Mandir issues, but what has stopped the party that it has not been able to pull through in the state?

While Prashant Kishor needs to be applauded for taking in his hands the toughest job of reviving the dead Congress party in UP, there is not much that he can do with this conviction and confidence of his, if the party continues to drag its unenthusiastic and low spirited cadre in the tow.

For so many years now, the party has not brought any new faces in the state; neither did it groom the existing one. The state party president, Nirmal Khatri has no desire or zest to transform the party and revive it. The cadre is almost dead. It lacks motivation and has lost its killer instinct for sure. Instead of playing a second fiddle to the regional parties, Congress needs to revive its fighting spirit which died with Indira Gandhi.

In fact, not only UP, but in whichever state the party lost its hold, it also lost the drive to recuperate and West Bengal is a prime example here.

While Prashant Kishor is full of ideas and strategies to make the party win in UP and Punjab, it is Congress’ own party workers who should first be revived. And, this can not be done by anybody else but Rahul Gandhi.

The crux of the matter lies in the simple fact that depending too much on external people to build your party is a risky affair. Just like a product needs to be perfected first before it is marketed, a political party also needs to be improved first. A strategist can market a political union, but they can’t reconstruct them. This is something which has to be done by the party’s workers alone.

A party should first build its own cadre and then only it should get external people for marketing and promotion.

Taking advantage of the talents that lies within the political wizards cum strategists is necessary, but relying on them entirely is a mistake, and a big one at that.

The Invincible Reign – Rahul Gandhi Needs No One But Himself

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How much hard work can you do to transform yourself? How much effort can you put in to change the opinion of your critics?

Once there was this woman who was called the ‘Goongi Gudiya’… Later she shook the world with her conviction and emerged as the Iron Lady of India. Yes, this woman is no one else but Indira Gandhi.

Hope never died for this woman. She didn’t let criticism of others get to her heart. She toiled and let her work spoke for her.

There is something in the Gandhi family that people don’t take them seriously in the beginning. Be it the example of Indira Gandhi or her son Rajiv Gandhi, or now her grandson Rahul Gandhi.

Just like his grandmother and his father, Rahul needs to understand that mere words can’t help him revive Congress. It is ‘work’ that the people of India seek.

The hope for Congress to make a comeback is bleak.

Top political strategists have been hired to let the party taste the long missed victory.

But will this tactic pay well for Congress in general and Rahul Gandhi in particular?

Well, not really!

The current political scenario of the country reveals the fact that there is a gaping hole within the political parties’ promises and the ground realities.

If Congress really wishes to do something good for the country, if it really needs to make a comeback at the political front of the country, then it urgently needs to lessen this gaping hole.

It is not an easy task. Nor is it a one time task. This will need constant efforts.

We, the common citizens, wish to see work. We don’t seek fake promises. We have had many of them. It is time for the Congress party to come out in the open and let the people support it by the results that they see. Not by political gimmicks.

Stop missing the ‘connection’

There is no denying the fact that everything first begins on a mental level, before it actually takes a physical form. For Rahul, the formation of ideas at the mental level does happen, but then, it doesn’t go any further. Time and again I have iterated that this man has some great ideas, but he fails to implement them. The ideas just remain that – ideas!

Thus, in the pursuit of genuinely fetching the attention of the public, Congress needs to have a connection with the masses. It needs to understand the psyche of the Indian citizens and work towards their betterment. Till now, the party has been getting just a bird’s eye view of the very many problems that India has been facing. It needs to have a holistic view.

No more viewing from the outside. Get into the crux of the matter. Understand the core reason why the country is not booming and what can actually be done to make it progressive in the real sense of the word.

For a long time now, there are several changes that Congress party needs within itself. But, it has been ignoring it.

Preparing for the 2019 Faceoff

Rahul needs to understand that in 2019, he will be pitched against Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar and possibly against Arvind Kejriwal too.

But is he prepared?

One can not contest the fact that at present, Rahul’s acceptability is almost close to nil. This, I have felt, through the constant mocking that people have been doing on my previous blogs on Rahul Gandhi and Congress party. People have stopped taking him seriously. While many of them ridicule him just because they support BJP or AAP, there are others who don’t find anything significant that he has done for the country.

This is where the picture becomes even hazier than what we may think it to be.

The Congressmen know that Rahul has been doing good things. There are some people who might agree to it, even if they don’t support the party. But, then why does a huge section of the public don’t agree to it? Well, because according to a larger public opinion, Rahul seems to be a non serious guy.

Narendra Modi may be making several mistakes, but the perception that people have of him is rock solid. He is seen as a hard working politician who is cent per cent country centric and who has a vision. He promised India a better future. He promised the people of our country a government sans corruption, a progressive government that aims to take India ahead of others, which doesn’t restrict its progress with scams and scandals. He made his way to people’s heart and they, in turn, voted him. He resonated with their thoughts, and they chose him to lead from the front.

Similarly, if we take a look at Arvind Kejriwal (even though I don’t agree with Kejriwal’s political rhetoric), one can’t deny that he inspires a certain section of people, particularly the Aam Janta as we know that section, which by the way has various other strata within it.

I have no resistance in openly saying that I dislike him. But does that take away the fact that he is slowly becoming a leader of the masses?

No.

The truth is Arvind Kejriwal worked for achieving this position of relating to the public at large.

Now, moving towards Nitish Kumar. This man is someone who doesn’t like the limelight. Something that is highly dissimilar to what Mr. Modi and Kejriwal like. Nitish has worked in Bihar subtly and people voted for him.

When people vote, especially when it is for the country, they try to identify with the leader. They treat them like a captain of the ship who navigates the ship successfully – battling through all the waves of despondency. These political leaders get the adulation, people look up to them. And, for Nitish it worked perfectly. He worked. People appreciated his efforts. They brought him back.

But what is the image that Rahul has built up for the people to see, or get inspired by?

There are many people who see him as a brat. They feel like he doesn’t have a vision. Many of them also hold the opinion that he is doing politics just for time pass. For they believe that he was neither willing, nor capable of leading Congress or India for that matter.

Rahul needs to change this opinion. Just like Narendra Modi made Gujarat model a success, Rahul also needs to make some model which he is able to sell.

He needs to reform the opinions of millions. For doing so, he doesn’t only need to change himself, but he also needs to make some big changes within the party too.

Say ‘No’ to Negative Campaigning

First, or, perhaps, the most important change that Rahul Gandhi needs to make at the earliest is to stop the tactic of Negative Campaigning. This tactic might have yielded good results in the USA, but India is no America.

Indians have heard enough about the wrongdoings of Narendra Modi or Arvind Kejriwal. It is not helping Rahul to win the masses. In fact, it is making the opposition all the more powerful, and the results are here for us to see.

Criticizing or countering Narendra Modi will not help Rahul at all. People need to know what he has done so far that it has been pointing fingers on others. More he speaks about Narendra Modi, more he invites condemnation.

Let’s take the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as an example. The moment Rahul attacks this program, he faces disapproval of many. People don’t want him or any other political leader to demotivate others just for the sake of making votes. They say that if you haven’t done anything; let others who are doing something work with peace.

Thus, it is important for Rahul to stop making Narendra Modi his centre of attention. Rahul needs to forget Modi for 3 years and focus on self. And, gradually, his work will speak for himself.

Rather than countering Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Rahul can launch his own programs to work for the betterment of the country. A separate Congress Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will not harm anyone. In fact, people will love Rahul’s guts and his wisdom to do something for the country.

Likewise, in the Dalit areas as well, Rahul should take some immediate initiatives. He needs to work for the community who has supported his party for years now. All such areas that have no proper water supply or which have water shortage should have more hand pumps, and Congress can make this happen.

Instead of visiting the common people once in a blue moon, which media states as Congress rhetoric, Rahul can visit the downtrodden areas regularly and share the woes of the people. The Zila Panchayat heads or Congress district heads or even State Presidents should visit the public regularly and share meals with them.

The party workers need to make the general public aware of the fact that they are there for them. Winning the confidence of others is difficult. But, if you have the will and the intent, nothing can stop you from doing that.
Then, Rahul has to come out of the shell that he seems to have nestled into a long time back. He has to stop being withdrawn.

And, that is certainly not impossible.

I mean if Salman Khan, somebody who was considered a total brat in the Bollywood industry about a decade ago, could have millions of fans today, then why can’t Rahul get a positive outlook? He can too. All that Rahul seriously needs at present is to work towards building that image.

And this is something that only he can do. No one else can do this for him. No matter how many experts he may bring in, he will have to make changes within him in order to win the hearts of the Indians. No one can write his future, he needs to grab the pen and write it on his own.

Rahul must participate more in parliament debates. He should start giving more bites to media. He should break the perception that he can’t speak. People of India will surely appreciate his efforts, even if he makes mistakes. He should learn from his father, who also made mistakes, but finally carved his indelible image in the minds of millions of Indians through his work and vision.

Not only the Gandhis, but other leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee also made mistakes. Even Narendra Modi did, and he is still doing. But country has given them benefit of doubt that at least they are trying.

At present, there are many people who may not be happy with BJP, but still the party is getting benefit for trying to work things out for the country. While, the constant censure that Congress is bestowing on BJP, is giving the perception that it is not letting the ruling government work.

The general opinion which has been built today is that Congress ruled for over 60 years, but it is not giving Narendra Modi a chance to work peacefully. This needs to stop. And it has to be done before it gets too late for Congress to recover.

Anti-Hindu, pro-Hindu or just a Hindustani?

Over the years, the Congress party has been mocked by the opposition as an anti Hindu party, simply because it tries to please the minorities. This is where Rahul needs to strike a balance. He needs to work for not only the minorities, but also for the Hindus.

Whenever there are killings, whether a terrorist attack or a communal disharmony, Congress reaches there. But whenever a Hindu person is killed by a Muslim, no Congressman comes forward.

The JNU incident is a great example. Rahul, being a national leader, should not have gone there. Instead, if it was way too important for the Congress party to make an appearance, then some Youth Congress Leader could have gone. The incident brought a huge damage to the Congress party as people set a wrong perception that Rahul supported the ones who were making slogans against India.

There has hardly been an instance where Congress has moved ahead to support a Hindu, and this has been an advantage for the opposition, for long now.

Sensing the ignorance that the Congress party gives to the Hindus, Narendra Modi took advantage. He pleased Hindus like no other and created a massive vote bank for himself.

During the Navratri festival, Narendra Modi keeps fast. In fact, it is said that even while meeting Barrack Obama in 2014, Modi had nothing but “nimbu pani” or lemon water.

The kind of message this gives to our Hindu centric country is unimaginable. People hold Narendra Modi in great reverence, and talk highly of the country’s Prime Minister who gave so much importance to religion that he never stops conducting rallies during his religious fasts. He survives solely on lemon water, and this is what makes him a favorite of many Hindus worldwide.

Since time immemorial, Indians had the opinion that Congress is secular and it can not please Hindus only. But over the years, it has been understood that the party pleases one specific community at the cost of Hindus. And this is the Muslim community. The party’s leaders throw Iftar parties or dinners, but no Hindu festival is celebrated by the party with pomp.

The BJP party took advantage of this secularism that binds Congress. And, BJP never failed to utter that the Congress party in general and Gandhis in particular are anti Hindu.

Rahul must change this.

We saw that Rahul celebrated Holi this year, which is certainly a good step, but he needs to do it for all the religions. He needs to show respect to all the religions and celebrate the major festivals of all the communities. He has been with the Dalits. He needs to be with the Brahmins also.

Let’s take the instance of the Ram Temple. Yes, the same temple on which the BJP party has been built. The party claims that lord Ram only belongs to BJP. Time and again the BJP party members have brought this holy place into the limelight, just to garner media attention.

But the irony is that it was only during Rajiv Gandhi’s period that the Ram Temple was unlocked. However, BJP being an opportunist, gained supremacy over the temple and is living on the political dividends of the Ram Temple.

The BJP party is enjoying the results of the work that Congress did in the past. And, Congress is as ignorant as it can be.

Not only did the party stop making any great initiatives, but it also failed to claim the ones that it made long ago.

Work vs. Words

Today, Rahul talks about women empowerment and youth empowerment, but the work done to empower the women and the youth are not really conspicuous.

There are many who still couldn’t get why I left Narendra Modi after campaigning for him with all my heart and soul. Well, the answer is simple – he just talked the talk.

Mr Modi always said that he wants to build a corruption free India. But, he couldn’t leave the Badals who are the powerhouse of corruption and dynastic politics in Punjab. Mr. Modi’s failure in breaking the mighty SAD – BJP alliance in Punjab made me leave him. Because for me, he was just making fancy talks and was unable to actually act on issues that governed the nation’s well being or which are hindering the progress of the nation.

Similarly, when Rahul talks about corruption, he forgets that there are various corrupt leaders in his own party. So, he needs to start building the image of a clean party first. He needs to bring in some new faces in the party, those which are free from materialistic motives.

Reconsidering the ideological paradigm

Another important step that Congress needs to take is to come to the centre by leaving its left inclination. It has been quite a long time that Congress revisits its ideological concept. It has to forego the fact that once it was built on the left-wing ideology. The changing times demand a shift in this ideology of the party and a much needed one at that!

Anti-Industry too?

There is another area that demands Rahul’s urgent attention. It is the anti-industry stance that he has created around him over the years. There are many corporate leaders who still are at loggerheads with the Gandhi scion for the constant stands that he has taken on land acquisition and environmental issues.

Here, Rahul needs to break the ice with the industry people. 8 out of 10 industry heads speak in favor of Narendra Modi. So, Rahul needs to increase the gap here and work positively, rather than negatively on the industrial aspects of the nation. It would be great if he could have a rational vision for India, where he can give the much needed honor and thoughtfulness to the industry people.

Winning hearts beyond India

Then there is the NRI community, which has always been neglected by the Congress party. On the other hand, BJP has a very strong NRI base. Many party leaders in BJP have overseas friends in America, Malaysia, and Singapore. But, Congress has miserably failed to reach out to the NRIs. This needs to be looked into too. For a great part of Indians reside overseas and this is what the party needs to have its focus on.

Congress & Media Management

Media Management is one more area that demands great devotion of the Congress party. Learning the art of media management, in this day and age, is inevitable. There are hardly any op-eds or articles being written on Rahul. This needs to be changed. People should be able to know him in and out. He needs to share his thoughts with the general public and this can only be done if people write more and more about him.

Then, the party needs to have credible faces in its spokesmanship cadre.

Most of the times, the existing spokespersons are not well prepared for the debates. The party needs to bring in some fiery spokespersons which should have a good mix of senior workers as well as youth and women party workers. As a matter of fact, there are not many strong women leaders in Congress. Rahul, who supports women empowerment, needs to work on this aspect as well.

Then again, the faces that are brought in as Congress’ spokespersons should have a good aura. These people should be well read and well polished to represent the party in front of the entire country.

Social Media

Erik Qualman, a famous American author once said – “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it?”

And this is what Congress needs to absorb by heart.

The present time is of this tech savvy generation who learns everything through social media. People read news on their social media accounts; they participate in debates, forums, talk about the country and do a lot more with these websites that have changed the face of the world.

Congress needs to capture the mindset of this generation. The party needs to come out of its legacy or the history that it built for the country. Millennials need to know about the party’s vision and what the party has decided to provide them in the future. It is an undeniable fact that the legacy that Congress has had is great, but the party can’t continue to milk that always. It can’t get votes on that legacy forever. Thus, Rahul needs to communicate with the youth and tell them what his vision for the country is. He needs to be a better communicator, much more expressive that what he is at present.

Social media applications like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter have reached every home. And, Congress needs to make the best use of them in a very positive way, not by negative campaigning.

One of the successful demonstrations of great media and social media management could be Arvind Kejriwal. He made his presence felt by seizing these apps in the best way possible. In turn, he got a landslide victory.

Can’t Congress learn from that victory and work on this important front that it is lacking in?

Expertise, at every level

There is no sphere of the Indian politics which doesn’t need the attention of Rahul Gandhi. He needs to build think tanks to have his focus on these areas. These think tanks, after formation, should have regular conclaves – from village level to district level. These can then be further bifurcated into women think tanks, youth think tanks and overseas think tanks. For the need of having a holistic approach on all these fronts is inescapable.

Pace is what Congress needs

Many appreciable efforts have been put in by Rahul Gandhi in making his party’s dynamics right. But then are these enough?

Certainly not!

He needs to act, and act fast as not too much time is left to rebuild the future of Congress. 2019 is not far. A lot needs to be done by Rahul and by Congress. It is not difficult, nor is this overpowering.

Rahul will win for sure, how long will it take depends on the collective efforts of the party. The opposition will ridicule the efforts. The world will laugh at mistakes. But Congress and Rahul will have to keep going.

As Mahatma Gandhi said – “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

They have ignored Rahul.

They have laughed at Rahul.

Let them now fight with Rahul.

My First Meeting with ‘the Rahul Gandhi no one talks about’

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Why do people criticize politicians? Perhaps, because they fail to meet their expectations!

Well, like many of us, I also had some expectations from Rahul Gandhi when he first entered politics. But, over the years, I became his critic.

But just a 10-minute long speech by Rahul, turned the tables, and this is how I transitioned from being his critic, to someone who will support him unconditionally now.

What led to the transformation?

His genuineness. Such an intrinsic realness which is hard to be found in the politicians that we have today.

May be this is the reason why he has not become a successful politician till date – because he is a wonderful human being, and these two traits can’t really gel well in today’s time.

Isn’t it?

Now, let me share you my experience of knowing the Rahul Gandhi that no one really talks about.

Here are a few details about the event that made me see the other side of Rahul Gandhi:

I recently made a documentary on Punjab’s drug problem. Named as “Fading Glory – Punjab, Hope Not Lost”, this documentary highlighted the issue of rampant drug dependence that has been hollowing the state for years now and has led it to the verge of collapse.

Rahul Gandhi, along with Captain Amarinder Singh, and many other eminent personalities of Punjab, brought the screening of my documentary into media attention with their gracious presence. Now, please note here that the documentary was released in Amritsar and all these VVIPs, including Rahul Gandhi, went out of their way to come to the screening of this documentary.

Why?

Because, they care.

They care for the state which was once the food bowl of India and is today the drug bowl of India. They care for the state which once gave Indian Military thousands of jawans, and, today, it is fighting hard to save the youth that were born on the same land.

I know there are many readers out there who would say that Rahul came to the launch of this documentary just for the sake of coming into news, so what is there which shows that he is a good-hearted person?

Well, I agree that politicians need limelight, but then can’t they get the limelight with a short timed presence? Don’t they come to such events as VVIPs and act like those only? Don’t they carry an impression with them that is hard to cut across?

Yes they do. Many of such leaders just visit these events for 5 minutes or so – enough time to make news for the day.

But Rahul Gandhi didn’t act the same way.

He could have made us wait for him for hours. After all he was the guest of honor – the most important dignitary to be present that day! But he didn’t behave like one of those snobbish political leaders, whose schedules change at the very last moment.

He kept his words. And, the documentary started dot on time.

Rahul Gandhi, who could have very well avoided the crowd, did not do so. He came to the hall, and sat with drug addicts’ families on his own – a gesture good enough to show how down to earth he is as a person, and, as a politician.

I wonder if Mr Narendra Modi could do the same!

While the documentary was airing, Rahul, who has often been mocked for his short attention span and for his habit of sleeping in between important meetings and discussions, was seen watching the entire 50-minute long documentary with full focus. Someone who might have looked at him during that time would have said that Rahul didn’t even blink his eyes while watching the truth of Punjab.

He gave his undivided attention throughout the event. It wasn’t the situation where somebody is present, but is still missing. Neither was it an instance where a media craving celebrity was seen indulging for some camera shots.

Observing Rahul Gandhi made me see how badly he has been misunderstood by the people of India. And, who gets the credit to this misunderstanding? Well, none other than the media of the country. Ironically, the entity which is meant to show us the reality of people!

Many of us would be aware of the fact that Rahul Gandhi is a media shy person. He is somebody who is not too comfortable with media, and this is because whatever he says media leaves no chance to mould it.

After the launch of the documentary, Rahul made a wonderful speech. He spoke from heart. He showed that he cares for the country and for its states. But, then why did media (in spite of being present there in a large number) fail to air his speech on their channels?

Why?

Is it because people are smart enough to understand how a person really is? Or, is it because some of the wise men and women in the country would not have been able to make a mockery of Rahul on the speech that he delivered that day?

There is no denying the fact that Rahul can’t shout like Modi. He can’t do drama, following the footsteps of the likes of Smriti Irani and Arvind Kejriwal.

During his speech, he did not resort to aggressiveness like Mr Modi often does, indulging in plain rhetoric. Rahul is a soft spoken man, who does not forget to respect others while he speaks.

It takes guts to publicly say that it is a mistake on part of such a big leader to not meet an ordinary citizen of the country. But, Rahul Gandhi said that.

He said that the failure to understand each other is often the cause of unwarranted criticism. And, after realising what kind of person he is, and how he is depicted by the media, I couldn’t agree more.

It is right that Rahul doesn’t know how to market himself. He doesn’t know how to create hype for himself which opposition does brilliantly. But, then he does know how to forgive and forget.

I would like to ask you, will you forgive somebody if they publicly tell you that they criticized you for a long time? Imagine! That too in front of thousands of people! Well, not really!

And, do you think Narendra Modi and other politicians will forgive someone who declares it in the open that they have criticized such eminent personalities in the past? No.

Narendra Modi is someone who doesn’t forgive and forget easily. And, there are many such politicians like him.
But Rahul Gandhi is different.

He does not undermine the importance of others. He values others’ opinions and empathizes with them, and this all was visible during his speech. The very same speech which media didn’t air. This itself shows that Rahul’s good image is purposely kept hidden by the ruling BJP government who has great control on media today, specially on the Punjab media.

In just a 10-minute long speech, he praised my work and the efforts that my team had put in to bring Punjab’s plight out in the open, and he did it quite a number of times.

It is hard for me to believe that any other political party’s member could praise a common woman on a national platform. Could any BJP worker praise an ordinary citizen for their efforts to bring some change in the country? No.

In fact, BJP party workers know how to rant for months whenever a single thing is said against the party. However, even when I declared that I had criticized Rahul earlier, no Congress party worker said anything belittling to me.

I, being an unknown citizen, who is making a slow entry into public life, could have easily made some mistake at the event. But, Rahul did not hesitate in supporting me. He didn’t even check the documentary, and never met me before the screening, even for once.

What if the documentary had something embarrassing for him?

What if I could have said something humiliating about him in my speech?

Was Rahul Gandhi sceptical about all this? No.

I criticized him and he believed me. He showed his trust on me, something that politicians today don’t really do.
His presence at my event, gave a major boost to my publicity. And, what was his benefit in doing this?

Yes, he is the country’s leader who has been in need of some agenda, who talks about youth empowerment and progress of the nation. But, he has been talking about drugs in Punjab for a long time now. When he first brought the issue to limelight, people ridiculed him, Badals budged him saying he is making false allegations.

But, today with my documentary, people can say that what he said back then, made sense. If people would have believed him at that time, Punjab might not have been in such a devastating condition that it is in, today.

If we could stop believing what media wants us to believe and start thinking with an open mind, only then can we understand people like Rahul who are genuinely concerned about the country.

Many would say that coming to this event was important for him as he needed something to be known for. But, more than he could have been benefited with his presence at that event, it was me who have earned a great mileage through his gesture. It was the people of Punjab who were benefited more because of Rahul’s presence – as at least for a day, Punjab did trend on Twitter. It was the cause that was benefited more, because Rahul brought with him the power to garner the much needed public attention towards drug abuse in Punjab.

He might not have made a great call politically by coming to Punjab that day. But, one thing is for sure – he earned thousands of fans that day with his simple gestures and people who were present there got to know how good-hearted person he is – something that trolls have failed to have their focus on.

For someone who criticized him, his family, and his party, the experience to meet Rahul Gandhi was a life changing one for sure.

Even those who used to be his all time knockers held that whatever he said that day, he said with all his heart. Rahul made a difference in many people’s lives that day. And, I was one of them.

I seriously hope that he meets people often, for the country needs to know what lies behind those jokes that social media babbles.

Rahul deserves one chance to lead the country, and he could do so only when we, as Indian citizens, know him better, understand him better.

Media – The Fourth & The Much Manipulated Pillar Of Indian Democracy

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What is the role of media in India? This fourth pillar of democracy which was created to add weight to the three other significant pillars viz. legislative, executive and judiciary, has now become lost in translation.

I am of the opinion that media is way more important than political parties or even the governments. This is because government keeps changing every five years, and there is no permanency. If there will be no media, we will never know what the government is up to.

But, unlike its name, today media doesn’t act like a medium between the world at large and the viewers. Instead of helping people fight with the never ending tryst with poverty, unemployment, and the very many social evils that are haunting India, media today has resulted in a total disconnect between the ground reality and the viewers.

With somewhere around 800 odd TV channels in India, the world of media is a booming one for sure. Decades ago, the only channel which Indians could see as a source of information and entertainment was Doordarshan, but with privatization changing the dynamics of every industry, media industry was not an exception for sure. We saw the likes of Zee TV at first, followed by Sony Entertainment Television channel, and the rest.

Now, thanks to the rising number of entrants into the field, this world of media has taken a dramatic corporate turn.

Indian Media Today – Defeating its very purpose!

What were once meant to act as watchdogs of the government and help people understand what is happening in their own country and outside of it; have now become nothing but the envoys of different corporate houses and political parties.

Yes! I am referring to the numerous news channels that you can see today in India. Rather than speaking for the people, these channels can now be seen speaking for the political parties and special interest groups that own and control them.

The ownership, control and the ability of censorship seized by these interest groups speak volumes about the way media works in this day and age. A true example of leading by bias, the mainstream media today has defeated its purpose of being a watchdog and is now nothing else than the lapdog of the political parties and leaders that they support or by whom they are funded.

In my opinion, paid news is worse than no news. In the absence of any information, people form no opinions, but with paid news people form opinions which the broadcasting channels wish them to form. Just like little knowledge is a dangerous thing, wrong knowledge is the most dangerous thing in the world. Not being a neutral source of information has jeopardized the spirit of media as an important pillar of Indian democracy.

Let’s take an example of the recently recalled case of Ishrat Jahan. Killed in an encounter in 2004 by Gujarat police, Ishrat was accused of being a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) recruit who was sent on a mission to assassinate the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.

But the media had another picture in mind. There were several media outlets who labelled the encounter as fake and criticized Mr. Modi, Amit Shah and many other Hindu fundamental leaders to have committed an anti-Muslim act to suppress the minorities.

This is not all!

Media also blamed Intelligence Bureau to have given false information about the innocent girl who lost her life in a deceitfully created episode.

Last month, David Headley, a Pakistani-American terrorist who was involved with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) organisation to conduct the 2008 Mumbai attacks, informed the Mumbai court that Ishrat Jahan was actually a part of the LeT group. This revelation leaves us confused as to whether we should really rely on the media or not.

While the media is being criticized nation wide for spreading wrong information, it is about time these news channels realized that the countrymen only believe what media says. For us, whatever we hear on these news channels becomes legitimate.

Even though today we have social media so we can cross check the statements made by media channels on sensitive issues, a few years ago social media was not playing such an active role in India.

The 2002 Gujarat riots are said to have been triggered when a train, filled with Hindu pilgrims or karsevaks who were returning to Gujarat from Ayodhya, stopped at Godhra and was burnt owing to religious violence by the Muslims. The violence that took the lives of 58 Hindu pilgrims than incited communal disharmony in Gujarat and the aftermath was for the entire world to see – in the form of riots all over the state.

While this act of vengeance adopted by Hindus is absolutely appalling, but the media only focused on one side of the story and stayed away from telling the entire truth as to what actually led to this horrendous genocide of Muslims.

Isn’t this a responsibility of media to remain neutral and provide just and accurate information to the world, shedding any bias that moves stealthily and drives their coverages?

In fact, the 2002 Gujarat riot episode made this darker side of media a bit clearer. After the riots, Narendra Modi was trolled by entire media. Such was the upshot of this condemnation of Mr. Modi by India’s media, that he was boycotted on many fronts, for more than a decade.

Giving the true picture is important for media, but to sensationalize things, our Indian news channels can go to any and every extent.

The sensationalism that media resorted to during the Aarushi Talwar murder case is a typical example of how media can exaggerate things to gain higher TRPs. From demeaning a young girl, that too a deceased one, to sullying the image of a reputed doctor couple who lost their only child – media showed its ugly side during this 2008 Noida double murder case.

When it comes to leaving an impact on the viewers’ minds, media does dramatize things, but to what extent?

The frenzied overblown coverages of media channels have given birth to the manipulation of many such sitting duck stories in the decade or so.

I think media needs to draw the line between genuine reporting and fabricated one – before it causes an irretrievable damage to the society.

Times when media channels acted with all their righteousness!

While there have been several cases where media trials affected our country negatively, there have also been times when media actually helped in bringing the accused to hook.

In 2006, Manu Sharma a big shot, who killed Jessica Lal, walked free out of court, it was only with the help of media that Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lal brought her justice. The brighter side of media becomes apparent with cases like these when the convicts are put behind the bars. When Sabrina Lal did a candle-light vigil for Jessica, media proved to be an extremely powerful force, so much that because of media’s pressure the case got reopened and the Supreme Court sentenced Manu Sharma with life time imprisonment.

It can not be denied that media does have a positive side to it, and the Nirbhaya case is another such instance of media’s constructive role in helping the sufferers of the society. This heinous case that took place in 2012 could be one of the biggest reasons why Shiela Dixit’s government lost Delhi in 2014 election. The inactivity of the then Chief Minister of Delhi, and the limelight given to the issue by the media houses truly changed the political scenario of the country.

Media made us all aware of the loopholes that exist within our patriarchal society, and for its true and fearless involvement in such cases I truly appreciate and applaud Indian media. I just hope and pray that this scrupulousness and valor should be depicted in every coverage that comes out of these media outlets!

Politics and Media – A fatal combination for the masses

Instead of acting as an unbiased information provider, the news channels today can be seen dancing to the tune of the landed gentry of the country.

Don’t agree?

Well, just turn your television on and switch to any news channel. After hearing any journalist even for a minute or two, it will become quite clear whether they are pro BJP, pro Congress or pro any other political party of the country.

Many would recall the Radia Tapes Controversy which raised an alarm about the nexus of business, politics and journalism, encircling Niira Radia, the then famous corporate lobbyist. With names like Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi being involved in the lobbying and influence peddling activities conducted by Radia, the unholy connection between the corridors of power and media houses were exposed in front of the entire world.

Today, media which was once said to be the mirror of the society, acts nothing like it! Politicians have made Indian news channel nothing less then hostages of their power. In the anticipation of getting higher TRPs and earning their revenue, many channels pay no attention towards uncovering the truth.

If you take a look at the recent JNU row, then you will notice that there were different versions of news depicted on different channels. Some of the channels were stating that anti-national slogans were shouted inside the JNU campus, and some of them stated they were not.

So, how should a common man really decide who to believe?

Likewise, the reservation riots in Haryana resulted in a massive loss across the region, but many of the matters were not covered adequately by the media houses who claim to be the herald of mass realities.

What could be the reason behind this?

A closer look towards Punjab’s plight will lift the curtains on this rancorous union of politics and journalism. With so much happening in the state which was once the food bowl of India, there is hardly any news being reported about the unscrupulous activities that are being done by the state government.

And why is that so?

Well, because Sukhbir Singh Badal owns the widely followed channels in Punjab, PTC and PTC News being one of them. Even newspapers like Chardikala and Ajit Akhbar are pro Badals! Quite conveniently, all the important matters of the state, which are against the Badals, aren’t publicized on these prominent channels and newspapers.

If we move towards the south, then there is Jaya TV which is named after its owner Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK chief. Similarly, there is Sun TV which is controlled by the DMK chief Karunanidhi’s nephew Kalanithi Maran.

Now, if we talk about the renowned channels of Indian news industry, then it won’t really be a shocking revelation that many of these channels are divided already on the basis of the who’s who of the Indian politics.

While we have NDTV as a pro Congress channel because of the holdings of Congress leaders in this channel and because of the support that its founder Prannoy Roy extends to Congress, there is a shift of loyalty in CNN IBN’s reportage from Congress to BJP after the network was owned by Reliance Industries whose chairman and MD, Mukesh Ambani is a good friend of PM Narendra Modi.

Other TV channels that have been seen backing BJP from time to time are Zee News, India News, and Times News.

This is not all!

Journalists like Sonia Singh, Rajdeep Sardesai and Bharkha Dutt have many a times depicted their favoritism towards Congress in various news coverages. Then there are the likes of Gaurav Sawant who are ardent supports of BJP and the Sangh Parivar.

Many of these ace journalists thrive on their monthly salaries which are not much impressive, but still they afford such a lavish lifestyle which is difficult for a vast majority of salaried people to manage! Living in posh bungalows inside the top Indian metros, adorning designer clothing, riding in fancy cars, all this can’t really be possible without a hefty amount of income taking a backdoor entry!

Though there are no evidences of these alliances, one can judge them by the mere inclination that the journalists portray on matters of national importance – turning a Nelson’s eye to the unforgiving veracities that hit the nation every now and then!

I strongly uphold the vision that it is high time that our media changed the manner it operates. We, as audience, have to introspect the nature of these reportings that are aired on the different news channels and demand their broadcast in a much mature and accountable manner, free from any bias or political influence.

My personal experience with Media

If I talk about my personal experience with India media, I can describe it in only one word – ‘hopeless’.

I have been fighting hard to eradicate the drug menace out of Punjab and in the past two years I knocked the door of every media house and journalist in the country to help me in exposing the drug situation in Punjab, but no one came forward and helped me – be it Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Gaurav Sawant, Rahul Kanwal, or Shiv Aroor.

I pleaded all those eminent and not so eminent journalists who swore to solve the issues of the society by baring the evils that haunt our country. I sent them hundreds of emails, made several phone calls, texted them, but to no avail. Half of them did not respond, while the other half said this is not the right time to cover Punjab. It will be done when the elections would be approaching.

Imagine the ineptness that I had to deal with!

People are dying and our country’s powerful media houses say that they will cover Punjab when elections will come!

This clearly shows that our national media is focused on only sensational topics that can fetch better TRPs or on the political hot belt comprising of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Think and tell me how many news do you see about Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujrat on a daily basis?

Not much, right?

But, that’s not all!

You will find hardly any news on South India, whereas on the other hand, the North East could be labelled as the most neglected region by Indian media.

The media channels are busy making news on Delhi which is the hub of these media outlets and also the hub of politics. Anybody who wishes to have a smooth and successful entry into politics, Delhi proves to be the ultimate choice that can lead them to their dreams.

It is this capital-centric approach of these media houses only that the Aam Aadmi Party took advantage of and gained that landslide victory in the 2015 Delhi Legislative Assembly election.

As a matter of fact, Arvind Kejriwal is an out-and-out media creation. If you go back to 2011 when Indian anti-corruption movement was launched and anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare started a hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, the movement was immensely propagated by journalists – thanks to their easy access to the political affairs occurring in Delhi!

This is when Arvind Kejriwal played his cards well and gained massive popularity by taking an active role in the movement.

The moment he became a hero in the eyes of the public, he came up with Aam Aadmi Party. Anna Hazare had no intention to float any political party, but Arvind Kejriwal did it smartly at the cost of Anna Hazare, and Delhi’s overenthusiastic media left no stone unturned to publicize AAP and its so-called genuine propaganda.

If we take a look at Gujarat, then Hardik Patel is also a media creation. But, why? Well, the answer is quite simple. If media will cover just one person 24×7, then he is bound to become a national icon!

Tell me, how many of us really knew Kanhaiya Kumar about a month ago?

Hardly anybody; other than his friends, family and acquaintances!

However, today almost every house in the nation can recognize this person – no matter whether the viewers are in support of him or against him. That’s how powerful media is when it comes to turning a normal person into a celebrity!

Now, if we shift our focus from Delhi to Punjab, then it is absolutely disheartening to see that this state only comes in news when there is a terror attack in the state. In stead of taking up real issues or fulfilling the purpose they are formed for, media channels are driven by money-spinning news.

If media would have played a constructive role in Punjab, then the drug-terrorism cartel which is killing Punjab day by day, would not have reached to such a threatening height. This is because in that case, media would have exposed the Punjab government and its wrongdoings and would have pressurized the Badals to take right measures in clearing the mess that Punjab has been in today.

I truly feel that then this disaster in Punjab would have stopped at an early time only.

Saddened with the fact that our country’s media is not interested in solving the society’s issues, I took the decision to wear this hat of journalism and voiced my opinions through my blogs, so that readers like you can come forward and join me in my mission to save Punjab from its downfall – a difficult but the most important goal of my life!

What should Media be like in India?

Like any other country, India needs to develop in the real sense of the word. We need to rise beyond the vices of prejudice and have to do our bit in building the nation cohesively, not separately. To my mind, media channels owe a great duty to bring our nation out of the evils that have been hampering its growth since ages now.

Having spent a good amount of years in the United States, I am in awe of the way media works there. The media channels in the US go after ‘real’ issues. Of course, they do focus on politics as well, but then they don’t really cook stories on politics for too long to gain television ratings.

In India, it is extremely important for the media houses to inform the audience about real social issues that have an impact on the nation’s progress. There is hardly any coverage on poverty in India and the ways we can help the downtrodden of the society to lead a better lifestyle.

Each year, thousands of children are trafficked from the rural areas of the nation and are sold in and outside of the nation, but there is barely anything reported on such illegal and inhumane trafficking activities.

Indian media needs to understand the fact that it plays a key role in educating the citizens of the country about the many facets of social issues that are affecting as well as hampering the nation at large. It needs to not only cover these social issues, but should also assiduously present such concerns in detail.

I strongly believe that media should cut across the boundaries of money making and lucrative advances that are made by the aristocrats of the nation, and should stand true to the purpose for which it has been created.

A large section of our nation is still oblivious of the true sense of progress. Due to which, it becomes all the more important to bring in radical ideas of change between the masses, and this is something which can be done only with the help of media – as media alone has the power to reach every house in the country.

Media should bring out the real problems that are acting as obstacles in the development of the nation, and should voice the opinions of the public to pass those obstacles, without any bias or chauvinism.

Highlighting any and every event on the wobbly basis of shock tactics and mass hysteria together with influenced and off beam coverage should be done away with. Media houses have to realize their duty towards the nation that trusts them fervidly. This commercialization of media has to be stopped – after all these media outlets are spinning money by keeping their conscience at stake and this is something that won’t be tolerated for long, as the nation gradually is waking up!

Social Media – The Quintessential Crowd Puller

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Businesses across the world rely on it, youth stays addicted to it, organizations thrive by promoting their products and services on it, long lost friends connect with each other on it. In fact, such is the brilliance of this technique, that political leaders – even the not so tech savvy one, who fought the battles of thrones in India with their age-old tactics, are now enjoying resounding success with it!

Yes, you got it right!

This stupendous mechanism which has taken the world forward with leaps and bounds is none other than Social Media!

Studies revealed that in India alone there were more than 350 million active internet users till August 2015. Out of these internet users, 134 million were active social media users.

A whopping amount of social media savvy population it is! Right?

This impressive growth of social media can be attributed to several factors like a tremendous upsurge in the number of mobile users over the past few years, and the encouraging internet penetration all over the nation, even in the rural part of the country.

From school going children, to the youngsters who aim to change the nation, and the elderly people – almost every individual seems to be enjoying the very many benefits that the Social Media revolution has brought with it.

The increasing teledensity together with the never ending hype of social media and the ease that it offers have given the users a world of their own. This social media world is prospering with every passing day and if you go by the estimates, there is going to be a promising future of this world in the times to come for sure!

Social Media – A Godsend to the Modern World

From instances that mark the rescue operations of Indian women being hostages in foreign countries, to helping justice prevail – the power of social media can never be underestimated. This social boon has helped many to fight for their rights, brought information to the recipients in a quick manner and has truly revolutionized the lifestyle of the modern world.

If you want to find an old friend, turn to Facebook and you will get the help!

If you want to find better job opportunities, turn to LinkedIn and you will get the help!

If you want to follow the latest updates from your favorite celebs, then Twitter and Instagram are there to help you do so!

There is hardly anything that social media is not capable of doing, when it comes to the world of information dissemination.

If I talk about Twitter, then this incredible real time social media platform lets you share your thoughts with the world, albeit only in 140 characters! An amazing achievement you might call it, but these 140 characters have the power to set a trend all over the globe!

Today, common man has got a platform to speak, thanks to these social media websites. Earlier we did not have any stage to voice our opinion. We just had access to information from traditional communication media like television, newspapers, radio, etc. But now, with the help of such social media platforms, we no longer have to depend on news channels or newspapers alone.

In fact, in this day and age, news travel in micro seconds, unlike the earlier times when we had to wait for the newspapers in the morning to get information about the latest happenings in the world. It would be right to state that Twitter and Facebook have very smartly outmaneuvered the traditional means of news dissemination and have become the first place to get to know about any incident or event.

From my standpoint, this radical change has taken us all way ahead from our predecessors, and has resulted in a closer, more connected world. Now, to think of it, one of the biggest shifts ever made in the political industry of India involves the adoption of social media for electoral gains.

From the 2014 general election, we saw a dramatic use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Gradually taking the much needed transition from the traditional forms of marketing and promotion, towards influence generation over social media – the political parties in India have now caught the millennials by their hearts and minds, both.

One of the biggest success stories of social media political campaigning could be that of the Aam Aadmi Party. From using Facebook and Twitter to catch the eye of the voters, to resorting to communication through WhatsApp, there is a lot that AAP done creatively and wooed the voters eventually.

Today, one can easily see campaign groups making good use of websites, email marketing and Google Hangouts to gather more and more volunteers.

The landslide victories of parties like AAP have a lot to owe to the social media world. Political unions have now understood the fact that people today are not really interested in fancy talks, showy adverts, but what they really want is serious conversations and real agendas.

To give the voters the low-down, social media now constitutes a major part of the political strategy of any party.

Together come the ‘flaws’

But with boons come the banes!

Social media, no matter how crucial role it plays in reaching out to an individual or to the world at large, comes with its fair share of flaws.

What can be seen as a means of abuse – the world of social media is often blamed to be a mere platform to mar someone’s personality, rather than just making it. Time and again their have been scenarios where famous celebrities and politicians have been the victim of trolling.

You can take the instance of Rahul Gandhi. The Gandhi scion has had to face the brunt of the opposition from time to time, and has become the butt of every joke made on social media platforms. But does he really deserve this?

Well no! We can’t really judge a person by the jokes that are cracked on him. Social media evils are playing with the psyche of its users, slowly but surely!

Rather than vetting the sources of information, many of us rely on any and every information which is available on these sites, treating them to be reliable only because they are on Facebook or Twitter!

The transition from Social Media to Political Media

Social media, which was meant to be a blessing for the present generation, is slowly deviating from its sole purpose. We people have made social media negative instead of indulging in healthy conversations on the sites.

Although there are many people like me who use Twitter as a real person, but then there are also numerous dummy accounts that political parties are using these days. As a matter of fact, there is a large group of people who maintain several accounts on social media to troll others. You write a single word against them, their political ideology or the party that they support, and you will be burlesqued and even abused by them incessantly.

There is no denying the fact that social media has now become ‘Political’ Media. You can’t share your opinion without being trolled by the ones who have a different set of approach or philosophy related to politics. The negative impact made by social media is so huge that no matter what is the issue, it will be stressed to the core.

Let’s take the recent JNU row for an example. The moment this episode came in the public eye, millions of tweets were exchanged within seconds. Not even one percent of India’s population makes use of platforms like Twitter at present. So, when the percentage of those who write on sensitive public issues tends to be so low, whatever these people write is assumed to be true. If anything wrong gets mass circulation, then over a period of time, it could mold the opinion of others wrongly.

Now, religion is something which is too touchy a subject. We all are aware of the fact that religion has become a common ground for murders, riots and even genocide. Therefore, anything religious written on social media to take political advantage can hurt the devout sentiments of other community and lead to a massive destruction and an irrevocable unrest in the nation.

If we talk about politics and social media’s alliance, then the use of social media websites for polarizing the nation is not news anymore! There are many political parties who are propagating their agendas with hate campaigning about the opposition and resort to all sort of tactics that help them polarize the nation and earn vote banks.

Social Media – Giving platforms to socialize, or to nurture violence?

Something which is used so productively in several arenas is quite increasingly being used for political gains in an unconstructive manner – acting as a deterrent to the harmony and collective progress of the society we live in.

Worse still, social media is increasingly being used to spread violence and organized crime. From the screens of your mobile phones and laptops, this violence and crime then moves to the streets and results in riots causing loss of many innocent lives.

Social media is said to have added fuel to fire in cases like Dadri lynching and Muzaffarnagar episodes. Social enmity is being spread rapidly through platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp and no one can really help in stopping these.

The toxic outbreak that follows after the discussions held on these platforms is fatal for the society, but the riot mongers couldn’t give a hoot.

Communal violence, a dreaded wave of India, has been incited with the popularity of social media.
Not only India, but this menace extends to the entire globe!

The dreaded ISIS network has also been using social media platforms as propaganda and recruitment tools. Of late, Twitter blocked thousands of Twitter handles that were being operated by ISIS people as they were extensively using the site to recruit potential terrorists.

While the acts to shut down terror organizations are being performed painstakingly the world over, what remains the fact is that social media provides these terror groups an easy, consummate and unrestricted access to millions of individuals globally.

Thus, it goes without saying that the biggest and, perhaps, the most dangerous of all the negative impacts of social media is that it is being used by fringe elements and terrorists for operating their networks and for garnering massive attention to their animalistic cause.

No matter how hard we try, but putting an end to this disease of vandalism and hate crime that is spreading its wings under the shadow of social media is extremely challenging.

As long as we use this mechanism in a constructive manner, we can anticipate and work for a progressive world, but if we continue the use of this incredible tool as a means of stirring brute force, we are doing nothing but digging our own grave and at stake is the very heart of the entire world’s solidarity.

The Fight For Being Backward – India is ‘Reserved’, and so are its people!

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The seeds of reservation in India were sown centuries ago, before the nation actually attained its independence from the British Raj. What was once meant to uplift the downtrodden and outcasts of the society, has now become a nightmare for the countrymen, more so, for those who belong to no such ‘privileged’ caste.

Not even once, Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar would have thought that caste based reservation will grow one day and haunt the progress of the country like a demon disguised as ‘privilege’ – the privilege which was given to the depressed classes so that they can rise and stand tall with those who belong to the General category.

The historical context of reservation in India seems to be fair enough. I mean how else could we come out of the vicious circle of untouchability?

The backward sections of our society surely fought with untouchability and progressed, but what they still carry with them is the tag of their backward castes. They dine, party, and live like all other countrymen, but they have, in a way, become superior to many. Thanks to the reservation system which has been nurtured so well by our politicians that we could not suppress it. We did suppress the evils, but what we failed to suppress was the privileges that were given to the depressed ones!

Worse still, the demand of becoming backward is on the rise in India! When other nations in the world are striving hard to progress and become advanced, India is the only country where people want to fight to be in the backward class.

There are many sections of our society who wish to be classified as ‘Backward’ and with the recent upheaval caused by Jats, you would be aware of the fact that this time we have Jats who think that it is a pride to be backward!

Mandal Commission & The Rage That Ensued

In 1978 the then government headed by Morarji Desai set up Mandal Commission to uplift the socially or educationally backward classes by way of seat reservations and quotas. Chaired by B. P. Mandal, the commission stirred a never ending debate in the Indian Constitution when the report stated that 27% quota for OBC should be reserved in government services and public undertakings, making the total quota for the reserved category a massive 49.5 per cent!

In 1989, V.P. Singh, the then Prime Minister, brought the commission back into the picture and added fuel to fire by trying to implement its recommendations. This resulted in extensive panic and rage amongst the citizens, leading to strong and violent protests all across the North India.

After learning that the depressed classes have no longer remained economically or socially depressed and some of them have become at par or even superior to the general category, the anti-reservationists protested against the Mandal Commission and fought for their right to earn well – without any discrimination or bigotry being done on the basis of castes, classes, or reservations.

Anti-Mandal protests became the buzzword in 1990 when protestors attacked public property, burnt buses, closed roads, highways, transportation services, and did all that can be done to stop the already troubling reservation percentage from increasing any further.

What came as the worst aftermath of the Mandal Commission announcement is the self-immolation done by students to stop the implementation of the Mandal Report. Students like Rajiv Goswami and Surinder Singh Chauhan are few of those who burnt themselves to oppose the implementation of the Mandal Commission. Imagine the impact of reservations in the minds of such students, that they thought that taking their lives would be better than depriving the deserving students of the chance to use their skills and talent!

Caste System in India – The root of the evil called ‘Reservation’

India’s mainstream politics rests on caste, not development. Politicians here are keen on making their vote banks based on their identity, rather than their development agenda. Just like caste affects politics, the latter also affects the former and has been doing so since time immemorial.

Gandhi ji struggled all his life, fighting to abolish the caste system in India, but failed in his endeavors. Unless and until caste system gets abolished, reservation will remain to be the evil that stomps India.

Over the years, a trend has been observed – people in the reserved category are increasing steadily. As a matter of fact, since 1990, several communities that belong to the Unreserved or General category have been seen demanding reservation for them.

Yes! You read it right!

The Jats from Haryana are not alone in the race; there have been continuous demands by others as well – whether they are Gujjars in Rajasthan, Vanniyars in Tamil Nadu or Patels in Gujarat.

Talking about the Patels, it is a resounding fact that Patels are one of the most influential and richest castes of Gujarati communities residing in America. The American streets are dotted with grocery shops called Patel Brothers. Not only this, but the Patels also own many convenience stores called 7-elevens, and are also said to own a quarter of motels in the US.

When people of such high caliber, can strive to make their community proud all over the world, then why do many of them still need reservation? Instances marked with protests by people like Hardik Patel not only give these self-made, hard working entrepreneurs a bad name in the corporate world they are a part of, but also diminish the efforts and toil that they made to reach to the heights they have rightfully conquered.

This 22 year old boy’s demand to include Patels in the list of OBCs, had already caused a stir in the nation in August 2015, and now we have more protests in the queue – that too with a difficult-to-bear and extremely staggering aggressiveness.

What’s wrong with Jat Reservation Protests?

Everything!

Quashing the law and order situation all over Haryana, blocking highways, stalling essential commodities’ supply, burning hundreds of vehicles, ransacking and vandalizing buildings – everything that the Jat Reservation stir has made us see is nothing less than barbaric.

And what are they actually doing?

Using strength to gain strength?

Quite ironic! Isn’t it?

Causing a loss of around Rs. 20,000 crore, the Jat agitation has certainly resulted in greater loss than good that can be done to the nation with the reservation of the Jats. These protests took the lives of 19 people and made 170 injured, and both the state and the central government were incapable to take strict actions that can control the situation!

Instead of stopping the trail of destruction that continued for more than a week, the ruling BJP government in Haryana has declared that it will bring special BC quota Bill for Jats and four other castes in the upcoming Budget session of the Assembly.

There is no denying the fact that it is only because of political parties that such activities are given wings. People can protest and make their demands heard, whereas the government remains impotent.

While on one hand we have the state government which failed to come up with effective back-channel negotiations and which clearly depicted a leadership style bugged by its ham-handed approach, on the other hand was the central government which was busy in searching for the sloganeers who shouted anti-national slogans in JNU, something which is still not done, may be because the ones who made them were not in front of the cameras, but behind them!

I, like many other citizens of the country, feel dejected after witnessing the mess that our country is slowly becoming.

Is it because of us citizens, or because of the political parties who are trying to polarize the nation for earning their vote banks?

This is something that I leave on you to ponder upon.

An appeal…

The situation in India is soiled.

Jat agitation and other protests that we had to see in the past few days have left little to no hopes of witnessing a brighter future.

But, what should we do? Succumb to such issues? Get swayed by the political parties like always?

No! Let’s stop doing that! For once try and understand that we, as a nation, need to stand united. Religions, castes, creeds, cultures can’t divide us, if we don’t let them do so!

I request all of you to think on this grave issue and think where our country is heading to. People who belong to general category are left with no option today, but to send their children to foreign countries to get higher education and better jobs.

And why is so?

Simply because after completing their schooling, a majority of students are unable to get admission in top colleges of the country even after scoring 99% in their 12th board exams! The intelligent crowd is leaving the country and the brain drain that India is facing has become an advantage for other nations.

India’s brightest minds are migrating to European and American universities in search of education and employment which their own country is unable to provide to them, as it is busy in nurturing those who belong to the backward sections of the country – so what, if these students from the backward communities do not have bright minds, they do have the right to better education based on the quota that they have been given for free!

The upper-caste youth in the nation is fighting hard with the anxiety of being forsaken, while those who belong to the backward castes are enjoying the privileges that India has bestowed upon them.

It is true that for many decades, the depressed classes were denied of their fundamental rights, and with reservations the then leaders tried to bridge the gap between the upper-caste and lower-caste; but now when things have changed, why are we again trying to reverse the cycle?

If the urge to be listed in backward communities will continue to flourish so aggressively, then that day is not far when the general category will have to fight for reservation!

Why don’t we have the zeal and spirit to do something on our own?

Why can’t we live without this benefit, if we don’t really need it?

Reservation in India should be completely abolished, and if it can’t be abolished then it should be based merely on merit and economical needs of the individual, not on caste. Only then can we progress as a nation, and only then can we shift from being backward to being advanced, in the real sense of the word!

How the JNU Row has made the Great Indian Political Divide much more obvious and abhorring

JNU

The recent JNU row has sparked controversies like never before. And the Great Indian Political Divide which was already quite apparent for the past so many years, has now become all the more obvious and abhorring.

While the group of people who raised their voice in this disastrous event later stated that they do not support Afzal Guru, but they are fighting against the process of “Judicial Killing”, it does not give them the freedom to hurt the collective conscience of the nation by misusing the privilege that the country has given to them.

In all this chaos, which some defend with the right to freedom of speech and expression, I want to ask a simple question that slogans like “Tum kitne Afzal maaroge, har ghar se Afzal niklega!” or “Bharat ki barbaadi tak, jung rahegi, jung rahegi!” in what way do justice with the right to freedom of speech?

Had this been a case in the United States, the speakers would have been immediately subjected to law. But this is India, and here, we have the freedom of speech and expression – so what if the protestors have used this right to degrade the country who has given them this right? Everything is tolerable here, because India is a tolerant country!

For God’s sake, it is important for us to come out of the shallowness that has been residing within us for decades now. We in any case, can’t allow anti national activities spurring in the country. We already have enough to deal with. Such instances, if not suppressed, will turn out to bring a real havoc in the country. And, who will be at advantage? Well, the terror elements, and the political parties – something that we have seen quite well in this week.

Who is Afzal Guru?

Mohammad Afzal Guru is said to be the mastermind behind the Indian Parliament attacks in 2001. His role in the attacks was proven and in February 2013, his mercy petition was rejected by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee and he was given death sentence. Afzal was hanged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail secretly on 9th February 2013 and afterward buried inside jail grounds as per the Operation Three Star.

Since Afzal was from Kashmir, his death caused uproar in the Kashmir valley and led to massive protests all across the region. The primary reasons of these protests are said to be hiding the information from his family that he was going to be executed, and also denying his dead body later to the family. And there are many other reasons as well which have given Afzal a status of martyr in Kashmir.

What makes me feel sad about our nation is that many citizens in India are extremely gullible. When Afzal Guru has been proven a terrorist, still believing him to be an innocent is absolutely baseless.

How can people have sympathy with a terrorist who took so many innocent lives?

Since when did we start showing such respect towards terrorists?

If that is the case, then why didn’t Indians made protests when Ajmal Kasab was hanged? Just because he was a Pakistani, and not a Kashmiri?

When did we become that imprudent? Osama ji, Afzal Guru ji and Hafiz ji – all this respect that is being shown towards such sinful terrorists is nothing but an invitation to threat in the country.

Who is Kanhaiya Kumar?

Kanhaiya Kumar is the president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union. On 12 February 2016, he was arrested by Delhi police for being involved in an event organised by some students at the Jawaharlal Nehru university campus to protest against the hanging of Afzal Guru.

It is said that Kanhaiya Kumar made ‘anti-national’ slogans and tried to bring communal disharmony in the country. He, however, has denied the sedition charges and has claimed that he was neither shouting any such slogans, nor did he say anything against the integrity of India.

JNU & Politics

Jawaharlal Nehru University has an innate relation with politics. Known to be a supporter of free speech, this university has multiple student organizations within it. While many of the students visit the university to seek education, many others take admission only to enter politics.

Voicing your opinion on the important matters of the nation is something that every youth must do. But, voicing it in such a manner that hurt the sentiments of those who actually care for the nation is absolutely condemnable. I strongly believe that students should take the advantage of this prestigious academic institution only for academics and should refrain from politics, more so, if such politics gives birth to an unsolicited bedlam in the country.

Students in JNU must draw a clear line between study and politics. The time, energy and efforts of today’s youth could better be used on something constructive for the country. Rather than being the harbinger of destructive mindsets, the youth should voice opinions on matters that bring progress in the nation, not on those that hold it back.

Indian Politics and Controversies

There is no denying the fact that India’s political scenario is in the doldrums.

From BJP struggling hard to cope up with its diminishing authority, to Congress which has not been able to make an impressive mark in the minds of the young voters so far – political parties are looking for ways to count on these controversies and gain a competitive edge over their oppositions.

Congress is already hustling badly to improve its image in the nation, and with Rahul Gandhi visiting JNU, things have become all the more difficult for the party. The party needs to understand that such actions lead to further deterioration in its stature, and this is what the opposition is enjoying to the fullest. Fueling the matter even more, BJP has very well made its stance on Rahul’s visit to JNU, as a case of supporting anti-nationalism.

In my opinion, Rahul should not have paid a visit to the university as this was nothing but a trap set by BJP and Rahul has quite clearly fallen prey to it. BJP wants to misconstrue Rahul’s image when he is already not getting enough acceptance from the citizens of India, and this controversy has made matters worse for him.

The tweets made by Rahul through his Office of RG handle on Twitter came a bit late though. His intention to visit JNU was not wrong, but even after witnessing the ‘Hindutva’ fever which has caught BJP/RSS workers badly, Rahul should surely have avoided visiting the university’s campus. Even when he did, he should have made it clear then and there that he does not support those who made anti-national slogans. When he tweeted that Congress party condemns any expression of anti-nationalism outright, he should have made the statement at the right time.

Another bone of contention came in the form of the following tweet made by Shashi Tharoor on 16th February, 2016:
“I disagree with&reject the anti-national statements made by some JNU students but will defend to the emd their right to make them.Democracy!”

I mean really is that what we need at the moment?

Saying that you disagree with and reject the anti national slogans, but anyone has the right to make them as we live in a democratic country is simply absurd and condemnable to the core. Democracy doesn’t at all mean showing the will to divide your own nation. Does it?

While we have Congress on one hand, there is BJP on the other which is trying its best to polarize the country, in a slow and subtle manner.

There have been claims that this row could very well be a plot of ABVP (the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the BJP’s student wing) which has students studying in the JNU and which also has a union there. Whether these claims are legitimate or not, I have no idea, but what I surely know is the fact that BJP has gradually become a political wing that exaggerates everything and this is quite evident from this episode itself.

Slowly but surely, BJP is trying to create such an atmosphere in the country that anybody who doesn’t support PM or who does not support BJP/RSS, would be termed as an anti-national element by the party immediately. Just because Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan do not support BJP, they were labelled anti-national. And, this stands true for everybody else as well. Anybody who doesn’t support the party is termed as an anti-national person by the party, and any activity that doesn’t support the party is termed as an anti-national one.

And the Intolerance issue was not the only one where we saw BJP’s protests to curb the ‘anti-national’ elements. We saw the party’s reaction in the Dadri event, during the Award Waapsi protests, during the Rohith Vemula suicide case and now during the JNU row. Each and every time, the controversy could have been subsided, but stirred up instead, because of the statements and reactions of the BJP party members.

While the JNU incident is undoubtedly detestable, what is even more detestable is the fact that BJP is trying to blow it out of proportion.

On top of that, BJP’s spite knows no mercy – one who doesn’t support the party should be ready to bear the wrath, and the Patiala House court scuffle is a proof of that!

When students and teachers from JNU and several journalists from different media houses gathered at the court on Monday, February 15, at the time when Kanhaiya Kumar was to be produced before a magistrate, what could be called a mob of lawyers and BJP activists became the worst nightmare for them as they were thrashed badly by the mob in front of Police, who did not find it worth to intervene in the scuffle and stop it.

Om Prakash Sharma, a BJP MLA, was also seen thrashing a man inside Patiala House court complex and Police did not intervene even then. BJP has become such a big party in the nation that the party members don’t even think twice before taking the law in their own hands.

I wonder how can they do anything of such sort! Who gave them this authority?

If that is not enough, then here is another incident in this very series of events, which took place on Monday, February 15 during the prime time broadcast of Times Now. This incident was a well planned portrayal of the love that BJP’s party members have for the nation, which the opposition parties lack in.

BJP wants you to prove your nationalism! Are you ready?

Sambit Patra, BJP’s national spokesperson, was seen raising high-pitched slogans in praise of our motherland. With the voice of “Bharat Mata ki jai” taking over the studio, this man resorted to showing how loyal he is to the nation by shouting out these slogans loudly and giving ‘open challenge’ to the fellow panelists asking them to do the same, so that everyone can see who wants to fight for India and who thinks otherwise!

I mean really?

Shouting these slogans just because Sambit Patra asks the panelists to do so will prove their nationalism to him and to his party? Really?

Well, BJP has to understand that nationalism is not only about rhetoric, it needs to be felt from within and nobody really has to prove their love for the nation at the mere challenge of BJP’s party members! BJP is fighting hard for nationalism; it’s like pushing its ideologies down people’s throats.

I seriously feel that the biggest intolerance prevailing in the country is Political Intolerance.

Gluttony along with violence – both verbal and physical, have casted a spell on India’s political scenario and political parties like BJP have left no stone unturned to prove this right.

What should Rahul Gandhi do to rebrand himself?

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How does it feel to be born into an affluent family?

And, how does it feel to be born into India’s First Family?

Well, while many of us would say it is a blessing, but what we often ignore is the fact that there are two sides to every coin.

Such a privilege brings with it an inherited fear, a feeling of disquiet that whatever you do – no matter how big or small a decision you take – you will always be under the attention and scrutiny of the public – and that, is something which is not really a boon.

Rahul Gandhi, the heir of the Nehru-Gandhi family, who has often been blamed for his good fortune, is one such despondent being who could not afford the luxury of leading his life as a common citizen of the country. Irrespective of his actions, he has always been judged, always been there in the public eye.

But, being the bearer of the ‘Gandhi’ surname has done no good to this very soul, and here I am trying to figure out why!

Rahul’s Childhood – An ‘evocative’ trip down memory lane

Born on 19 June 1970 in the eminent Gandhi family, Rahul was the first child of Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. At the time of Rahul’s birth, Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India. Quite clearly, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and he never really got to feel what poverty actually is. But, there was one facet of life that he certainly encountered early enough than others, and that is misery.

It all began when Rahul had to witness his grandmother going to jail, merely at the age of 7.

In August 1970, in a letter to her friend Dorothy Norman, Indira Gandhi wrote about Rahul – “My grandson Rahul is a darling. He has got rid of his wrinkles and still has his double chin!”

This child, who was the apple of her grandmother’s eye, meant the world to her, precious just like all other grandchildren are to their grandparents. Imagine the pain he had to bear when his grandmother got arrested in 1977. The mere thought of having your family member behind the bars is heart-rending, but the tryst with despair did not end here for this Gandhi scion.

After seven years, Indira Gandhi got assassinated on 31 October 1984, at her residence. The assassination was done by those who vowed to protect her, two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, as an upshot of Operation Blue Star which took place in June 1984, on the Sikh shrine, Golden Temple in Amritsar.

The trauma and fear that Rahul and his sister would have gone through, could only be written about or imagined, but can’t be felt, for sure. Even after being a part of one of the wealthiest and most powerful families of the country, there was no security left for the younger Gandhi generation, who saw the life of their grandmother coming to an end.

The threat to death was ubiquitous.

It was the result of the death threats received from Sikh extremists only that Rahul & Priyanka had to take home schooling subsequently.

Then again, the number seven seemed to have put a spell on the Gandhi family.

Another seven years later, the family saw one more assassination, and this time it was the son of the family – Rajiv Gandhi.

A 21 year old Rahul faced the unbearable pain of lighting the funeral pyre of his father. Shattered into a million pieces, the emotions that Rahul might have experienced are ineffable.

Losing the two important pillars of your family, not to natural but accidental deaths, is something that no one would ever want to even imagine, let alone living with the very fact, all through your life.

The brutality showcased, the betrayal encountered from the ones who supported the family at a time, the pain that was excruciating to the core – all this has contributed in making Rahul the way he is at present.

His cautious, reluctant, and shy demeanour, is not something that he was born with, it is something that got instilled into him, over decades.

The Gandhis, their Interests, and Politics

What do you want to be in your life?

How does it feel if you wish to become a dancer and end up being an accountant, owing to parental pressure?

Reminds you of 3 Idiots, right?

Well, not only the common citizens of the country, but there are many political leaders who wanted to pursue something else in their lives, but had to join politics – not by choice, but by compulsion. One such prime example is Rajiv Gandhi, the father of Rahul Gandhi.

With zero interest and experience in politics, Rajiv Gandhi was Indira’s elder son who wanted to evade politics at all costs. As his classmates can recall, his bookshelves were dotted with books on science and engineering, not on philosophy, politics or history. His passion, though, was to be on the wing. This is the reason why after attending college in the United Kingdom, Rajiv came back to India in 1966 and was happily living his dream of being a pilot.

But as fate would have it, in 1980, Sanjay Gandhi (Rajiv’s brother) who was said to be Indira’s political successor, died in a plane crash. With the death of Sanjay Gandhi, Indira was devastated. It was then, that she directed Rajiv not to fly planes after his brother’s death in plane accident. Not only does Rajiv had to part ways with his passion of flying high in the sky, he was also made to join Congress and contest elections from Amethi, which was his brother’s constituency.

Irrespective of your affluence level, misfortune often comes as a part and parcel in the lives of many, and Rajiv was no exception. On 31 October, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards. Already finding it hard to cope with the loss of his mother, Rajiv was made to swear in as the Prime Minister of India.

But, with reluctance obscuring his view in the past, this youngest Prime Minister of India did all the justice that he could do with his political position.

Being the visionary that he was, Rajiv was ahead of his time. He wanted India to keep pace with the world and this is why he introduced the concept of Digital India with the launch of the National Informatics Centre. The Father of Digital India, Rajiv Gandhi was the one who actually planted the seed of the Information Technology (IT) revolution in the country.

At every step of his political career, he made sure that the decision that he took in tragic and distressing circumstances should never be compromised. The national responsibility that he carried on his shoulders marked the making of one of the best political leaders that India has ever had.

But Rahul Gandhi is no Rajiv Gandhi.

He is a different personality, though a few similarities do exist between the late father and his son. Just like his father, Rahul was also reluctant to join politics at first.

At the time of his father’s death in 1991, Rahul was a 21 year old, young boy, who could have easily entered the political stage – but he chose not to.

It was only in March 2004, that Rahul Gandhi announced his entry into politics by contesting the May 2004 elections in his father’s former constituency of Amethi.

This decision of joining politics took 13 years for this Gandhi inheritor, which is absolutely contrasting with what his father, Rajiv Gandhi did. Even when Rahul decided to contest from Amethi, he did not fight as a Prime Ministerial candidate. Given the Gandhi surname, he could have become the PM of the country and learnt the ropes the way his father did. But this display of reluctance costed heavily to Rahul. Rather than a matter of will, it seemed more to be a matter of skill.

Anyhow, time passed, and then came 2009 elections. This time again, he disowned the throne of Prime Minister.
Back in 2004, Rahul was given the benefit of doubt that he first wanted to learn a bit about politics and then take the charge, but what is difficult to understand is the reason which stopped him again to fight as a Prime Ministerial candidate in 2009.

A time period of five years is a long one to learn about the political situation of the country, more so when you belong to a political family and that too the First Family of the country.

Nonetheless, by staying out of the Game of Prime Ministerial Throne time and again, one thing that Rahul has certainly depicted is that he is not an opportunist. In a country where there are several power hungry PM aspirants, Rahul is not one of them – and this fact has been corroborated over Rahul’s political chronicle.

Unplugging Rahul’s Approach

In India, where personalities are voted more than the political parties, people would want anything but a reluctant leader to lead the nation. From Narendra Modi to Arvind Kejriwal, none of them exhibit an inherited reluctance to lead from the front.

Although Rahul was initially hesitant to enter into politics, but now when he has done it, and has crossed over a decade in the political realm of the country, he certainly needs to shun his reluctance.

He is seen everywhere, but people still do not know who is Rahul Gandhi. What could be the reason for this?

While a leader needs to make his agenda clear to the general public, be one of them, interact with them, lead them, Rahul has always been someone who wants to steer clear from the limelight and loves the sidebar. One thing that is extremely important for him to understand is the fact that politics is all about being in the limelight, maintaining a low profile has not helped anybody in politics and wouldn’t help him too.

In this game of hide and seek, it will be Congress who will suffer the most – as politics is no longer party-driven, it is now personality-driven. Despite the fact that Rahul has some brilliant ideas for nation-building, he has failed to implement them, let alone sustaining them.

Being a silent revolutionary is not what Rahul needs at the moment.

People still wonder what his Rahul’s agenda and they will continue to do so, if Rahul does not draw the invisible curtain away from him.

Had he taken the responsibility of being the PM of the country and even if made failures, like his father also did – still he might have gained the public support that he is making attempts to gain now. In fact, there is hardly any political personality or a normal human being who does not commit mistakes. Even PM Modi had his fair share of mistakes, but what is important is to learn from them, and not to succumb to them. This fear of committing mistakes that rests within Rahul needs to be done away with.

It is impressive that Rahul is not running behind power, but at the same time when you are in politics, and at an important position in the party that you are representing, you can’t just play second fiddle to the experienced party members.

There is no denying the fact that Rahul wants to have a fresh approach in Congress, but the seasoned politicians are reluctant to bring a new turn to the age-old political tactics that have worked in the past. Rahul’s mother, Sonia Gandhi relies more on seasoned politicians, whereas Rahul relies on youth. Ideally, there must be a balance between the two, because to make it big in politics you need political acumen and experience both.

Rahul’s ideology to make India’s politics efficient and accountable is definitely laudable, but then why the zeal to do so is missing in him?

In 2014, Rahul became the MP of Amethi constituency for the third time, but little has been done by him to uplift the place, which is one of the most backward constituencies of UP. Over the years, he could have easily changed the face of Amethi, but his inability to do so helped Smriti Irani diminish his winning margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Amethi could have been Rahul’s personal success story – a golden opportunity to show that he can work for the betterment of this district, the betterment of the nation and that he lies way beyond dynastic politics – but unfortunately; this has not been the case as yet.

However, with over three and a half years left for his term, it is still not too late to work on Amethi, and I hope Rahul does act to develop the district, before the wheels fall off.

If there is somebody who is gaining the biggest advantage out of Rahul’s reclusive conduct, then it has to be nobody else but the opposition. Both BJP and AAP have been talking loud about youth and women empowerment, but these were actually Rahul’s ideas which failed to follow through. Where Rahul is lagging behind is not ideas, but their implementation. This is what the opposition knows really well, and has been too quick to implement such ideas.

It is about time that Rahul came out of the character of inaccessible party leader that he has been playing since long. The world does not really know anything about who Rahul actually is. Once again, the opposition is gaining from Rahul’s closed personality. In the absence of the truth about Rahul’s life, opposition made no delay in tarnishing the image of the Gandhi scion with negative trolls.

Let’s just face it – in the absence of genuine information, whatever idle talk is made available to the people, they will believe it. They believe in hearsay versions. And, this is what has happened in the case of Rahul Gandhi as well.

Rahul needs to stop being an enigma any more. He has had a stint of over 12 years in politics now and he needs to come out in the open so that people can actually know what he really stands for. He will commit mistakes, everyone does, but he needs to come out of the fear and embrace it. Only then will he be able to win the hearts of those who genuinely wish to know him better.

Rahul’s Life – Less Personal, More Public

No matter how much advanced Indians might have become over the years, the psyche deep down remains the same.

Rest is all façade.

This might seem to be hypocrisy to some, but this is how Indians are – within our hearts, we want to remain free, hangout with friends, partners, live our lives on our own terms; but we can’t let others live unmarried.

And, if that person is a celebrity or a renowned personality, then nothing can spare the covetousness to see that person getting hitched to someone.

We have Salman Khan in Bollywood as an example and Rahul Gandhi in Politics as another.

Over the years, there have been several reports in media about Rahul’s alleged girlfriends, on and off. Rahul has ardently shielded his personal life and has said recently in an interview that he will get married only when he will find the right girl.

Seems cliché?

Why so? Actually, that’s what all of us want! To get married to someone who seems right enough to spend our entire life with. Then, what’s the big deal?

Let me guess – even though Rahul’s personal life is personal to him, it is not the same for the public. His decision to remain single has fuelled unending rumours throughout his political tenure. Although it’s his personal life and he is free to do what he wants, but being a public personality, people have certain expectations from him.

During the 2004 Amethi election campaign, Rahul disclosed that his girlfriend Veronique, is a Spanish girl and an architect. Not much has been shared by him on his romantic life again since then, but people want him to get married soon.

Considering the scenario where he does get married to his girlfriend, the love and respect that he will get from the people of India, will definitely be momentous. She will be welcomed by Indians, just the way Sonia Gandhi was welcomed way back when she got married to Rajiv and they both got settled in India. We Indians are emotional and we are crazy about celebrities and the happenings in their lives.

And, imagine the notability that Rahul will get to enjoy if he gets married to an Indian girl.

Agree with it or not, but married Rahul would have definitely garnered more support and respect from the people of the country than the bachelor Rahul does. It is said that marriage brings stability in a man’s life and makes him all the more level-headed and reliable. The positive public image that Rahul’s marriage will bring to him would certainly be significant for him and his career too.

Rahul Gandhi needs to accept the fact that being a personality that is of national interest, building a positive image is only possible if he first advances in his personal life.

Rebuilding ‘Brand Rahul’

If building a brand is difficult, then rebuilding it is challenging and onerous.

What does Rahul Gandhi stand for?

No one has a good explanation about this question which has been hovering in the minds of millions, since 2004.

People do not really endorse a brand if it stands for nothing, and till now, Brand RaGa has been seen as a confused alternative that does not have a clear cut agenda. This is what has acted against Rahul most of the times.

It is in this context only that Rahul Gandhi has to express what he stands for, rather than just being a good looking politician, carrying the distinguished Gandhi surname.

One of the biggest keys to success of any political figure is the art to communicate, and communicate well. It is not the distance that keeps people away from the aristocrats, nor is it the hierarchy. It is only the lack of communication and the failure to deliver what is promised.

Rahul Gandhi needs to learn the art of communication to avoid the foot in mouth instances that have brought him publicity, though negative one!

There is this man who once was a political outcast, and today is an inspiration to many! Yes, I am referring to Mr Narendra Modi here, who used all sorts of communication tactics and channels to turn the tables, and he did it very smartly.

Rahul lacks the skill of communicating freely, there is something that stops him from doing so, and this is what he should master.

First, there is a grave need to interact with young minds, and with those who have their trust in Rahul. He needs to communicate with them; he needs to make them aware of his agenda, and his aim for India. He has that spark in his eyes – the one that resembles that of Rajiv’s, but what he needs to have his focus on is to be able to connect with the masses, just like his father did.

He needs to inform the public what is it that he wishes to do for the country and how does he plan to accomplish it?

Secondly, he needs to be accessible to the people. It is my personal experience that getting an appointment with Rahul Gandhi is almost next to impossible. In the past one year, I wrote several emails to his office, but to no avail. If Rahul wants to reach to the masses, he needs to be accessible to them, just like PM Modi is. With his official Twitter handle, Modi has been seen connecting with the public zealously.

However, when it comes to Rahul, then even in this era of social media, he has no personal presence on Twitter or Facebook. While his team does maintain an official account of the Office of Rahul Gandhi, it is certainly not enough! His disregard to have a one-on-one interaction with the public is something that depicts formidable hauteur. This is why it is absolutely important for Rahul Gandhi to have a personal Twitter handle through which he can improve his relatability quotient by directly engaging with his followers.

Gone are the days when political figures can work cosseted within a small bubble of sycophants, now they need to move around to connect with the crowd!

It is about time that Rahul went beyond his coterie of advisors. He needs to breathe new life into the Congress party and this can only be done if he implements new ideas and involves those who have faith in the party. Participative politics is the need of the hour, and only Rahul can help Congress go through this much desired transition.

Another important thing that Rahul Gandhi needs to take care of is that he has to work hard to win the trust of the millions who Congress has lost over the past decade. If Rahul wants to be seen as the leader, he needs to act like one, and this can only be done if he does something substantial during his political term. Not just a tangible plan is important for Rahul to succeed, but what else is also important is to act on the plan and to deliver the promises that he makes on his way.

As Steve Martin rightly said, “Be so good, they can’t ignore you.”

Rahul needs to cut across his inhibitions and prove his mettle. After all, the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, the grandson of Indira Gandhi and the son of Rajiv Gandhi can not go down in defeat so easily!
The revival of Congress is in the making, and Rahul is all set for an extraordinary destiny – one that is blessed with the unappreciated sacrifices of the Gandhi family.
It is just the beginning…

Ek Saal Kejriwal

A year ago, Delhi’s common and uncommon people voted for a common party, headed by a common man – Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. With the appointment of Mr. Kejriwal as Delhi’s Chief Minister, the capital of India got a saviour who could take the state out of the claws of corruption, poverty, poor health, pitiable sanitation as well as miserable infrastructure facilities.

If not merely because of the hopes of the public, AAP came into power mainly due to the claims that it made, like any other political party, and still indicated itself to be a party which is different from others.

Now, after one year of ruling Delhi, let’s take a glance at the various initiatives that Delhi’s CM, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has taken to keep the party’s promises so far!

kejriwal

‘Lok’-pal or ‘Kejri’-pal?

In the years 2011 & 2012, the Indian anti-corruption movement led by activist Anna Hazare, Shanti & Prashant Bhushan, the then RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, and Kiran Bedi, etc., became a buzzword all across India with the aim to put an end to the endemic political corruption which is a deep-rooted problem in the country. With protests taking place all over the nation, the demand for a Jan Lokpal bill became invincible.

This fight for the introduction of a Jan Lokpal Bill that can help in the formation of an independent institution of Lokpal, without any control or influence of either the Central government or the State government, was the very core on which AAP got its historic victory in Delhi Legislative Assembly election held last year.

Now, even after a year, the bill has not been passed, and the news of Kejriwal fiddling with the bill has been making rounds ever since he got a bill tabled in the Delhi assembly.

The Delhi government’s new Janlokpal Bill proposed by the CM of the state has killed the very essence of Jan Lokayukta for which the entire country fought with full fervour over five years ago. This bill is said to have compromised on each of the focus areas made at the Ramlila Maidan in 2011 & 2012. From the most important principle that the Lokpal will be free from any and every sort of political meddling, to the premise that it will be in control of a separate, independent investigative agency – there have been many changes in this bill which lack the fulfilment of such principles that were the foundation of the Lokpal movement.

It is alleged that Kejriwal’s Delhi government will now have full control over the appointment and removal of an independent ombudsman. To add to the woes of those activists of the movement who actually worked for the welfare of the country, this proposed bill is said to influence the decisions of the CBI as well, where the agency will be supported by the officers that the Delhi government will recommend.

Perhaps, this bill proposed by Kejriwal should be called a ‘Kejripal’ Bill than a Lokpal Bill, because it is said to be nothing like the latter.

Standing for the Issue of Demolition or Fixing Wagon?

If there is something that Kejriwal could be branded for, it would be blaming AAP’s oppositions for any and everything, and if that thing is morally wrong, then there is no mercy from the house of Kejriwal!

After the unfortunate death of a six month old child during the demolition drive of Railways in Shakur Basti in December, Kejriwal swiftly turned the tragic incident into a national episode, in order to even the score with the Central government one more time.

There is no denying the fact that Mr Kejriwal supported the right cause to save the lives of the homeless, but with the constant bashing of the government at the Centre, it appeared more like a hate campaign against AAP’s oppositions, instead of a genuine concern for the poor.

Supporting the Right to Education

There might be thousands of reasons why people give AAP a bad press, but the initiative that the government has taken to aid parents give their children education conveniently, is something to be praised about! Over the past one year, the AAP government took several steps in the education sector and even came with a bunch of bills to bring about some major improvements in Delhi’s education system.

Giving many parents the much needed peace of mind, the Government stamped out management quota for nursery admissions in the private schools. In addition to this, AAP has also scrapped 62 criteria of admission process in these schools that were irrational and unfair.

With steps like these, AAP has instructed private schools to adopt transparent, well-defined, reasonable and unbiased criteria for admission in nursery class, extending the right to education to the common people.

Odd-Even Initiator or an Artful Deceiver?

A problem solver, an out-of-the-box thinker, a change-agent…

These words might not seem to suit Delhi’s CM, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, but with the success of the odd-even scheme he has certainly bagged these titles. However, I am not sure for how long is he going to do justice with these monikers.

With campaigns and rhetoric that have always worked for Kejriwal, he let his charm do wonders this time again, when he beseeched the entire Delhi to work together and contribute towards the success of the odd-even scheme, intended to reduce the city’s mounting pollution level.

Being termed as a ‘Gas-Chamber’, the pressure to do something soon, and something significant for Delhi was there on the AAP government and then came the idea to mimic the approach that has been already followed by India’s counterparts like China, France, Italy, Mexico, and Colombia.

The episode – no matter how trivial change it might have brought in reducing Delhi’s pollution woes – definitely helped many (more of them were the privileged-exempted ones) to get rid of their traffic troubles.

With lesser vehicles on the road, people reached to their destinations fast, making the scheme a hit amongst the Delhites, and giving Mr Kejriwal some initiative to be proud of – irrespective of the fact that it was not an original one, and it was not a well-planned one either – lacking thoughtfulness towards those who travel through public transport like Delhi buses and metro.

Anti-Corruption or Pro-Corruption?

Imagine this: A year ago, a party gets majority of votes in the capital of India and wins the assembly election based on the very statement that it is formed to kick corruption out of the country. After just a year, we have more than one-third Cabinet ministers of that same party charged against corruption!

Is it ironic or is it more tragic?

AAP’s ministers who vowed to protect the citizens of the country from corruption, and put an end to the evil, many of them were found supporting, or rather nurturing the evil. Many of the MLAs of the party were also held for corruption.

When one of the AAP’s ministers, Asim Ahmed Khan, was caught in the act of taking bribe, then our honourable CM of Delhi went a step ahead and sacked him!

Kudos to the honesty of this CM – who took no time to grab the opportunity of projecting himself as a leader who actually walks the talk!

Even when he chose the ministers himself and assured Delhi’s people of their spirit and aim to swipe off corruption from every nook and corner of the state, this step definitely came out as a well played master stroke by the CM. Only someone with as strong acumen as Kejriwal could have thought of doing something like this!

Instead of giving a chance to the opposition to rake up AAP’s failure in being a true anti-graft association, the CM smartly played his move and announced the decision of sacking his corrupted minister at a press conference – turning the ball in his court.

But what the CM has failed to notice is the fact that many of the AAP legislators, including the CM himself, have several criminal cases running against them. Apart from corruption, cases have been filed on AAP members on issues like land grabbing, extortion, molestation, to name but a few.

While AAP has always been a self acclaimed anti-corruption party, its relation with corruption and crime has shown a different picture to the Delhites, within just twelve months into the party’s stint in power.

I wonder what all will happen during the remaining tenure of the party!

A party for the ‘public’ or for the ‘MLAs’

No consensus amongst political parties on Lokpal in 44 years. If they have to increase their salaries, there is consensus in 5 min.

– Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 25, 2012

The above tweet made by Mr Kejriwal during the anti-graft movement that led Kejriwal to the ladder of success, is still there to haunt him.

Mr Kejriwal must have been exasperated with the fact that the Internet is one powerful tool – if it helps you win elections, it can also lead you to a disastrous fall – for what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet!

In early December, last year, the Delhi assembly approved a four-fold salary hike for city MLAs along with a significant increase in allowances, which will make the total monthly package of our ‘well-deserving’ and ‘patriotic’ legislators to amount more than Rs 2 lakh from Rs 88,000, with the basic salary increasing to Rs 50,000 per month from Rs 12,000 per month.

Quite an impressive hike, I must say! A hike that a common man would never be able to get even in a decade!

Instead of fulfilling the promises that it made during election campaigning, the focus of AAP government seems to be more on making hay while the sun shines.

The self-serving, rather than people-serving politics that this government is playing openly, takes a lot of guts and brazenness – something which the Kejriwal government certainly has. May be this is what they promised to give to the people of Delhi – a government sans corruption, a government which does not take any bribe, simply because it gets a whopping 138% hike just within a year.

Come on, I mean, who would need bribe, when someone is openly getting an extraordinary pay, that too in the name of government expenses!

Well, another remarkable master stroke played there by our capital’s CM!

Hats-off to his power-play – a novel one though – such kind of audacity was surely missing from Indian political front, till now!

Drugs in Delhi & CM’s new promises in Punjab

With the coming of 2016, we saw Mr. Arvind Kejriwal launching his party’s campaign for the 2017 assembly polls in Punjab on the ground of eradicating the menace of drug abuse which is rampant in the state.

While it is a great cause for sure, I would like to ask Mr. Kejriwal – what all initiatives has he taken so far in curbing the drug addiction problem in his governing state, Delhi?

The situation of drug abuse in the capital of India needs no description. Drugs like Marijuana, Charas, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), MDMA (Methylenedioxyphenethylamine), Ketamine and the new entrant Meow Meow (4-methyl methcathinone), are being peddled openly all over Delhi University campuses, which are allegedly the hotspots of drug selling.

Not only these areas which are flocked by students from all over the country and from abroad as well, but almost every other area in the city has been facing the peril of drug peddling, and Kejriwal’s government is busy making claims for taking Punjab out of its problem of drug abuse.

Can someone go and tell the CM of Delhi, that he is at the top most position of Delhi’s political cadre? It is his primary duty and obligation to do something worthwhile in Delhi and first take this state out of the claws of drugs, and then go make promises in Punjab for the future. It has been one year since AAP came into power in Delhi and there is hardly any initiative taken by the party so far to eradicate drugs from the state.

It goes without saying that AAP has a vested interest in winning elections in Punjab, and for this reason it is making every possible fancy talk to implore the people of Punjab, just the way it did in Delhi a year ago.

But, what the government has failed to see is that Delhi’s people are not soft in the head, they can look into the atrocious display of crookedness that AAP is up to and can question the party as well – putting it in a fix, which will be extremely difficult for the party to deal with!

Delhi slumping in dejection

My only message to Mr. Arvind Kejriwal after the successful completion of his one year as Delhi’s Chief Minister would be that he should stop stumbling as the road ahead is a long one! He needs to stop over reacting and has to start working on the promises that he has made to Delhi’s citizens.

Instead of having a new-fangled Delhi only in its manifesto, the CM of Delhi should actually work to bring the Delhi that he promised and which the people envisioned, out from the papers into the reality!

Delhi’s citizens are still in the anticipation of facilities like free water, free electricity, free Wi-Fi, better roads, more hospitals, more schools, improved women safety, and a corruption free government.

So, it will be great if Mr. Kejriwal can be a man who stands for what he says, and act as an ‘uncommon’, political man who works for the welfare of the people, not his party legislators.

Haryana Not Only Shares A Border With Punjab, But Also Its Drug Abuse Problem

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The Pathankot attack brought Punjab into limelight, and along with that, it brought into limelight the drug abuse problem that the state has been struggling with for years now. In spite of my numerous attempts to seek help from the Central government to look into this problem, the efforts did not yield any results.

Today we have lost Punjab to drugs and every Punjabi is hopeless and helpless.

But, the problem of drug abuse is not only existent in Punjab, Haryana – Punjab’s neighbouring state, which was once a part of Punjab only, is also fighting the tough battle with drug addiction. But till now it is missing the glare of publicity.

From Drug Laced Paranthas To Foetus Sex Change Wonder – Haryana Gives It All

With drugs entrenching deep within the roots of the youth in Haryana, one is left with no other option but to have pity on the situation of the country which is slowly walking towards its grave.

Call it because of the easy availability of medicinal drugs, or the ever increasing peer pressure, the problem of drug abuse in Haryana is a terrible one. Add employment and personal life related stress, as well as the border with Punjab to the other reasons of this mounting drug addiction in Haryana.

Such has become the plight of this state that drug is now available in eatables. Several reports have made news about the sale of paranthas and sandwiches in Haryana which are enriched with not just nutrients, but also the finest intoxicants available today in the country.

Food peddlers have now got a new profession – many of them are now food-cum-drug peddlers and are earning big bucks through the sale of food filled with drugs like ganja, opium and even pain-killers. They, usually, are operational outside the educational institutes, eyeing the youth, with the aim to cause an irreparable damage to the future of the country.

On the same mission, work those who claim that drugs can change the sex of foetus.

Yes!

As absurd and shocking as it may sound, this is the truth!

Expectant mothers are being fed with ‘magical’ drugs in Haryana with the aim to make them give birth to a male child.

When I learn about such practices which are rampant across the nation, I hang my head in shame, wondering what level we Indians degraded to, just to get a male child!

I, being one of the two daughters of my parents, never ever felt that men are better than women. My parents never made me feel so, and I am proud of being born in such a family that does not discriminate between a girl and a boy.
But then, such families are rarely found in the country, which claims to be a really advanced country today!

Already quite famous for its imbalanced sex ratio, Haryana has many people who believe that two drugs named Shivlingi and Majuphal which are filled with testosterone, progesterone and other natural steroids, can give their families male successors.

Are these people so dumb that they can’t understand that drugs, of any kind, can only hamper the life of an unborn baby – rather than changing their sex?

Instead of being ‘miracle sex selection’ drugs, these have turned out to be ‘life-taking’ drugs, and the people in Haryana are still relying on them!

According to a survey conducted by the Haryana government, this fatal sex selection drug has caused several fetal deaths in the state over the past few years.

Do we really care for the future of our family so much, that we are willing to put the present at stake?

What are we resorting to?

Who are we becoming?

Perhaps, these are the questions that we need to ask from ourselves, at the earliest!

Losing Youth To Drugs, Losing India’s Future To Drugs

As per a 2013 survey conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in association with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, New Delhi, the use of Cannabis in Haryana among the children came out to be as high as 63.3%.

The rising trend of inhalants can not be overlooked too. The study revealed a shocking truth in 2013 that over 46.7% of the youth in Haryana used inhalants at that time.

And, what about alcohol consumption?

Well, the study estimated that more than 80% of school going children indulged in alcohol consumption in Haryana in 2013.

Imagine this was three years ago!

At present, the problem has only worsened and like Punjab, the Haryana government too is busy in making promises on papers alone.

At an age when children should be learning new things about the world, they are now found cosseting in their own little world, doping day and night. They have risen way above the joys of competition, happiness, family, friendship, and have given themselves to the thrill that substance abuse gives to them.

What these school going children have failed to understand is that this thrill and rise that drugs offer to them, bring an unanticipated end to their careers. Drugs not only disable the youth and lead them to ruination, but also pose a threat to the lives of those who care and love them, which leaves them with nothing at all – making them a financial load to be borne by the world.

With the expansion of drugs from Punjab to Haryana and even Delhi, it would not be wrong to state that this menace is nothing less than a parasite and is slowly spreading all over the country.

And, we are doing nothing to stop the man’s most disparaging affliction from growing.

Let’s just face the fact that the present day government will not do anything to help eradicate the drug abuse menace from the country.

So, now, in order to save the future of our nation, ‘We’ need to act!

NGOs as well as schools and other educational institutions need to raise awareness about drug addiction and its fatal consequences. This awareness should be spread not only amongst children, but also their parents.

Genetics play a very important role in moulding the behaviour and conduct of a child. So, if you want your child to steer clear of drugs, then you also need to stay away from addiction, and this could be of any kind – alcohol, tobacco or drugs too!

To practice what we preach is utmost important at the present time.

Together with this, the society needs to stop categorising drug addiction as a social stigma. Parents need to take help from the government set authorities and counseling centers to help their children come out of drug addiction. First, parents need to accept their children, only then can the society do the same.

Being supportive and caring towards drug addicts is absolutely essential at present. The society needs to take an active part in shunning the drug menace, and for this we need to rise above our greed.

We need to curb the evil want of having a male child.

Once we transcend the regional stereotypes that are rambling in the nation, only then can we have a brighter and a drug free India.

And, I pray this happens soon…

Another Punjab In Making – The Rising Drug Menace Is Haunting Delhi, But Nobody Seems To Care

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Delhi, the place which has always been the centre of attraction for politics, media and trade, is empty from within. Perhaps, the hollowness that Delhi carries inside, is flourishing day by day with drugs.

Souls which are incapacitated, which have a lot missing in their lives – even when they have all the luxuries that are a dream for many – are thriving on drugs today. And, Delhi gives them all they need!

‘A spoiled child’s heaven and a woman’s hell’, as they call Delhi – the place is now slowly turning into another Punjab, and nobody seems to care.

Gaining popularity for more than just ‘education’

A stroll in the campus of the esteemed University of Delhi will reveal what’s wrong in there. Shocking as it might be, this coveted land of education is now home to drug peddlers and the youth is slowly turning towards the drug demon, instead of gaining what the university claims to offer – quality ‘education’.

From drugs like LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), MDMA (Methylenedioxyphenethylamine), Ketamine, Meow Meow (4-Methylmethcathinone), to Marijuana, Cocaine, and Heroin – you name it, and DU has got it!

Surprising for those who work on a 9 to 5 job, having to battle with the daily struggles of life, city’s traffic, work related stress, and a lot more – the drug menace in Delhi is not something which the Delhi government or police is unaware of.

Towards the end of last month, the Supreme Court instructed the Centre and state governments to build exclusive storage facilities for seized contraband, within six months. Not only storage, but directions have also been issued regarding the proper destruction of contraband, after noticing that only 16% of drugs seized by the government agencies were destroyed, while the whereabouts of the rest of 84% of those drugs were still unknown.

What could be the cause?

Allegations are making news that the remaining drugs have been recirculated into the market. Seems like there is a dreadful nexus of drug peddlers and enforcement agencies that include our responsible policemen and honest politicians!

Now, who can not agree with the fact that Delhi is on the verge of becoming another Punjab, but Mr Arvind Kejriwal is busy making promises to help Punjab, when he is ducking the responsibilities that he has towards Delhi.
What could Punjab expect from such a man?

Building a new future?

Well, just like Delhi?

Rich or poor, drugs slash everyone

Inside the happening clubs of Delhi, there is a life that you might have heard of – young brats dancing to the tunes of the latest international tracks, taking occasional weed breaks from the dancing, riding high on meow-meow which is the new rage in Delhi’s party circles, and so on…

For many young people it has become difficult today to handle the wealth of their parents, and they have nothing else to do, so they have now opted for doing drugs!

Richness brought Punjab to this present condition that it is in today, richness in Delhi is taking it slowly towards the present situation of Punjab.

But, wait!

If till now, you were of the opinion that only the rich Delhites afforded the luxury of drugs, then here’s a shocker – no one is spared from Drugs – be it a rich or a poor!

Delhi’s streets are swarmed with poor children, who get high of smack, marijuana and hashish; not occasionally but habitually. And, there are those as well who have developed an alarming addiction to inhalants like eraser fluid, petrol, Benedril, Corex, Iodex, glue, and anti-epileptic tablets.

The number of addicted street children is mounting with every passing day. Studies have revealed that over 90 per cent of street children in Delhi are into drug addiction.

Places like Old Delhi, Civil Lines, Yamuna Bazaar, Rohini, Chandni Chowk, Badarpur, Mahipalpur, Connaught Place, Mehrauli, Chhattarpur, and Sultanpuri, are the hubs for drug traffickers, not to miss the railway stations, bus stops, and slum areas of Jahangirpuri and Nand Nagri!

What is worse than losing these children to drugs is the fact that many of them resort to crime – ending up taking the lives of others as well.

Unable to meet their craving for drugs, there are many street children and those who belong to the high profile families as well, who have got involved in crime of one sort or the other. From committing a robbery, to killing someone for money – this is what drug addicted children are indulging into, ruining their entire lives.

Delhi – Getting advanced in drug abuse too!

The word ‘advancement’ is synonymous with Delhi.

With ‘home delivery’ taking the world by storm, drug peddlers are not far away. Today, in Delhi, drugs are easily available within an hour’s notice, right at the receiver’s place. So, one doesn’t really have to go and find the peddlers. They are just a phone call away.

Simply by giving them a call at one of the widely distributed numbers, one can get the parcel of death!
The capital is being eyed with huge interest by the organised network of peddlers, and the youth is busy in marching ahead with the trend – often because of peer pressure or the increasing level of stress related to family, relationship and education.

A menace that entails many others

Drug and substance abuse is not just dangerous in making someone physically and mentally debilitated, but causes many more threats. Children that are affected by drug addiction not only encounter anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity, oppositional defiant disorder, but also become highly vulnerable to HIV.
One by one, all the states are entering into the trap of drug cartels, and drug traffickers are enjoying this money spinning and booming trade, more than ever.

The future of youth in India is at risk now, and we are doing nothing.

What has happened to us?

Why are we losing our future generation to drugs?

Are we so incapable to fight with this menace?

Or, is it that we do not care?

Well, when will we care then? After losing our own children to drug abuse? I guess not!

We can do something, and we need to do it now!

Instead of solely relying on the government, which seems to be as ignorant of the situation as one can ever be, it is better to help the drug addicts. No matter how hopeless the situation seems to be today, a strong sense of perseverance and strength of mind can help us nip this evil, which has grown out of the bud.

Rehabilitation is indispensable to treat the rising problem of drug abuse in Delhi and we need to help those NGOs that fight for the cause of eradicating drug abuse from the state, and the country. The government needs to open detoxification centres at hospitals, especially for children, and this is what we need to ask from the Kejriwal government in the state and the Modi government at the center.

Let’s help our children stay away from the evil called drugs.

Let’s educate and inform them about the effects of this peril.

Let’s develop the lives of drug addicts and take them out of the world of drug dependency.

Let’s stop Delhi from entering into the burning lake of fire and brimstone, whose voracious flames are ready to devour the future of the nation!

Terrorism and Drug Menace in Punjab have a relation, but the Government chose to pay no heed to the raised voices

From the desk of Sadhavi Khosla

Open Letter
To
The Honourable Minister of Home Affairs of India

Dear Rajnath Singh Ji,

In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Punjab, I – a Punjabi by birth and spirit, seek some serious answers from you about the weakening security and safety of my state.

While terrorism in any country and any state is a reprehensible and horrid act, it becomes all the more loathsome if those who are the protectors of the society, turn a blind eye towards the masses and fail to provide them the security they need from the coldblooded, pitiless elements, termed as terrorists.

The acts of horror from across the border in Punjab have been mounting, and the Indian government has failed to put an end to it. What could be the cause of this botch that Indian government has to bear? In a time span of just five months, armed terrorists entered and attacked Punjab twice and India couldn’t do anything! I mean really, are we so incapable to provide protection to that part of the nation that need it the most at present, or is there something else which is being swept under the rug?

Even after losing seven of our highly capable jawans, do we care enough for the security of the nation and its people?

This Pathankot attack made some rounds on the news channels for about a fortnight and then they shifted their focus on some other hot topic.

Is this our way of taking things and issues like terrorism seriously in this country which once fought for its freedom with a passion that is venerable to the core?

Two events, with distressing similarities, took place within five months and the government is still not able to gauge the amount of fear around which Punjab sleeps and wakes every day.

What happened in Dina Nagar in July 2015, when the militants allegedly took shelter in the bordered villages after entering India and the adoption of almost same modus operandi when the dusk fell on the last day of 2015 is alarming, but does the government care?

And, what about the alarm that was raised by the Superintendent of Police, Salwinder Singh?
Why the Punjab Police could not take immediate steps after Salwinder Singh informed about the carjacking?

Why in the Dina Nagar attack there was no revelation of the identity of the terrorists?

Why wasn’t the case assigned to the National Investigation Agency back then?

I understand that the government at the Centre is not meant to interfere in the events of a state, but then a terrorist attack is something that needs the involvement of the Central government for sure.

Why in both of these attacks there was a similar way of actions taking place and why not even one of the terrorists was caught alive in both of these incidents?

Sir, don’t you think that it is high time that people who have the command made the right use of it?

Why do we repent later, when we can do things well in advance to save the lives of those who actually wish well for their country?

The Curious Case of SP Salwinder Singh

Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, along with his cook and a friend, first got abducted by terrorists on the night of December 31 and then later released. While the SP claims that his presence in the area late night was because of a pilgrimage visit to a dargaah in Taloor, the truth still appears to be distant from all these statements that he has made.

What seems to be suspicious is the very fact that the terrorists did not kill the SP, even when he says that he was first stopped by the armed terrorists, then blindfolded and after that released. It is difficult to understand why the militants will leave civilians, if that is what the SP had acted to be.

On the other hand, if the terrorists were aware of the fact that he was a high profile cop, then also why would they leave him safe and sound?

Why would they want to lay their own mission on the line, despite the fact that they could have easily shot the SP then and there?

More than a matter of chance, the incident is said to be the result of a connection of the SP with the militants and cross-border drug mafia. Orders of conducting a lie detector test on Salwinder Singh have been given by Delhi court following the plea of National Investigation Agency (NIA).

I just hope that the martyrdom of those selfless brave soldiers of India that include fighters like Subedar Major Fateh Singh, Lt Col Niranjan, Garuda (Indian Air Force) commando Gursewak Singh, Indian Army and DSC officer Havildar Kulwant Singh, Defence Security Corps officer Jagdish Chand, DSC officer Havildar Sanjeev Kumar, take the state out of this destructive situation.

I also hope that this terror strike at Pathankot IAF base turns to be the last terror strike that the state had to encounter, and Punjab gains back its lost glory soon.

Terrorism, Drugs and Punjab

The relation between the triad of terrorism, drugs and Punjab has been a long one for sure. Since time immemorial, the trio has been making news in the country, but to no avail!

For the past so many months I have been trying to bring attention of our government towards Punjab and its vulnerability. Trapped in the claws of drug abuse and militancy, Punjab has been demanding the thoughtfulness of the entire nation since long. However, nothing seems to be working in favour of this poor state – which was once known for its wealth and prosperity.

Militants from across the border have made the borders of Punjab porous, and this has not been done in a day’s time. For years now, there has been a continuous supply of drugs to India from Pakistan and this drug money has been used time and again to finance militancy – thanks to the alleged participation of politicians, statesmen and police officers!

In fact, such has been the condition of the state that one cannot totally rule out the possibility of involvement of the security personnel in this disastrous racket of drug and terrorism.

How can we even imagine our own countrymen, our saviours to be a part of such dreadful deeds?

But then how is it possible that drugs and terrorists enter our country freely and there is nobody on the border to stop them?

How the heavy arms and ammunition used in these attacks were transferred to India?

The nexus of drug smugglers and militants have brought Punjab to this rotten state and we cannot do anything but to be remorseful about it! Several intoxicants are making their entry into the land of Punjab from all across the world and we are accepting this with open hands. Synthetic drugs, pharmaceutical, opiates, heroin, cocaine – all are easily available in the state and it stands to be as vulnerable as ever.

There have been several conjectures that drugs are supplied to Punjab through PVC pipes and through the unprotected riverine belt which is about 100 km long. The problem really does not lie alone in the transportation of drugs and the ammunition that are being used by the militants, the problem lies in the fact that this procedure cannot work in the absence of requisite support at every level.

At the basic level, there is a strong network of drug peddlers, middlemen, as well as villagers who are forced into this vicious circle, after losing their fight to the proliferating poverty, unemployment and redundancy that the state has been facing for years now.

At the top level, many sources have revealed that there is a long list of politicians and police officials who have been playing active parts in this drug nexus.

Sir, don’t you think it is the duty of the state government to work for the welfare of the state? And, don’t you think that if the state government fails to improve its miserable plight, then the intervention of the government at centre becomes inevitable?

You, being the Minister of Home Affairs of India, very well understand the importance of a secure and protected nation – one in which innocent people are not surrounded with the fear of losing their lives.

The Punjab’s Drug Nexus spreading its wings – with Badals’ support?

Several allegations have come to the front that there is a strong association between Akali leaders and drug peddlers who have led to this gruesome terrorist attack on Punjab, once more. Over and over again, the politicians of the state have come into the limelight – for all the wrong reasons. Several names are being shielded by the Punjab Govt.

If the economic situation of the state is to go by, then Sir, you must be aware of the fact that Punjab is facing an economic crisis with the total debt amounting to be around Rs 1.02 lakh crore at the present time, which is virtually 30 percent of Punjab’s GSDP.

Over the past couple of years, the Badal government has mortgaged several properties of the state including Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) building, Mohali, Jail site property, Jalandhar, Mental hospital, Amritsar, Gandhi Vanita Ashram for widows in Jalandhar, and the like.

It is purported that various revenue earning assets are being used by the Akalis to increase their personal bank balances. From being the leaders in the transport department with their private bus service, to being a monopoly in the sand and gravel mining industry of the state, Badals have spread their wings to feast on liverish Punjab.

This financial mismanagement of the Akalis along with the widespread corruption, deindustrialization, unemployment, and much more, has led the state towards a deep rooted poverty crisis which is difficult to be improved in the near future – if the government at the centre continues to pay no heed towards the raised voices.

I request you Sir to please bring the focus of the ruling government on this deteriorating state which was once the pride of the nation.

Centre needs to discard its obliviousness

While being shocked is quite a natural reaction whenever a place gets hit by a terror strike, however the same reaction cannot be expected or approved every time. The government at the Centre and in the state need to take cognizance of the fact that they cannot ignore the striking similarity between the Gurdaspur attack and the Pathankot attack – for it indicates a pattern – a noxious one.

Just like Kashmir, Punjab has slowly moved towards being the borderline of terror. In order to protect this state and the country as a whole, we need to strengthen the security force in the state, and this Sir, can be done with your support alone.

Also, it is extremely important for the government to understand that we need to stop being the apostles of peace with the neighbouring country, because this creates a façade that we continue to be a soft nation against terrorism, which we certainly are not!

It’s about time that Modi Ji revised his directionless foreign policy and more importantly his policy towards Pakistan. We need to have a strong Border Security Force which is well equipped with all the advanced technological tools and equipment which can neutralize the tactics of the militants. We also need a well-fortified network of external and internal intelligence, and have to take necessary actions on time, instead of failing to take correct decisions and repenting over not doing anything fruitful later.

The Centre now needs to probe into the actions of the state government of Punjab and the conduct of the police officials in the state.

The BJP-SAD alliance is something that every Punjabi is well aware of.

But, to safeguard the nation, the BJP government now has to look beyond Punjab’s first family and stop all those who are a part of the drug-terrorism cartels.

This has to be done before a fearful crisis ensues, and for doing so, I put my faith in you.

So, Sir, please act – please save Punjab!

Why Congress is Important for India?

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The world of politics is an uncertain one. There is no assurance that one party which is in power today will continue to do so in the future as well. The mighty leaders of yesterday are now hard to be found on the political ground.

When political parties fail, they do not succumb to their failure. Instead, they work on their strategies and come up with ways that can help them make a re-entry into the political sphere. The same is what the Congress party needs to do at present. However, there are many amongst us who do not wish to have this political union in India any more.

While this abhorrence is quite natural, especially when the party has failed to stand to the expectations of the youth of the modern India, there is one thing that we all need to understand – in order to let healthy competition prevail in the country we need two political giants in the picture.

Though we have BJP at the centre at present, we can not rule out the necessity of reviving the Congress party – for this is what the country actually needs, and here’s why!

Extremism vs Balance

If there is one thing that helps us strive to be better, it is healthy competition. And, the same stands true for the political outfits of our nation. In the absence of competition, monopoly will prevail – something that we have witnessed with Congress in the past, and something that we will definitely not want India to witness again.

In fact, whenever a ruling government displays arbitrary and authoritarian behaviour, the onus of making an interrogation by soliciting information and by discussing the reasons of such acts in the House of Parliament lies on the opposition alone. It is the opposition only that plays a crucial role of check and balance so that public interest is looked into and rightful democratic practices are implemented, from time to time.

It is my balanced viewpoint, that rather than decimating Congress for political advantage, the ruling government should definitely embrace it for a healthy democracy, so that the voices and opinions of the people at large are enunciated in Parliament. At the time when I supported Narendra Modi, even then also I was always of the opinion that Congress should not be decimated, because I believe that in the absence of a strong opposition, the ruling party will never be able to know what is wrong and what is right.

So, in the vein of the other nations of the world, India is in a grave need of a strong yet agile opposition which can help in keeping a check on the ruling government and which can give the voters a dependable substitute. With Congress becoming weaker day by day, India fears a slinking despotism – evident with the Modi wave.

Just like power makes you corrupt, absolute power makes you absolute corrupt. If Congress is no longer a party that has a say in governing the decisions of the nation, it will merely result in out-and-out rule and autocracy of BJP workers. Due to the lack of a strong opponent in the form of Congress, who can keep a check on BJP party’s workings, tomorrow if BJP wants then it can approve any bill and can bring any type of reform, as the power will lie solely in BJP’s hands.

When power keeps on rotating, it is the nation that gets benefitted, simply because these parties work hard to get into power again. The hard work and spirit that they put to outwit the other, is commendable for sure. And, whether you agree with me or not, this competition-cum-struggle to win the game of thrones is definitely one of the reasons why India actually has been able to see some progress over the years – be it in its metropolitan states, or at the centre.

So, in order to strike the right balance of political power, Congress’ revival is essential.

A prime example of this balance lies within the United States. The country has two major political parties: the Democrats and the Republicans. Rather than nourishing a monopoly, these parties have a duopoly, by way of which, they play a crucial role in shaping the political situation of their country.

Therefore, just like the Democrats and the Republicans are indispensable for the U.S., both Congress and BJP are indeed more indispensable than anything else for the Indian democracy.

Struggling with Regionalism

India is already struggling with a lot many problems. From corruption to poverty, there are as many issues as one can think of! So, if the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty fades away from the political sphere of the country, it is only going to make things worse – no matter how much the Hindu hardliners disagree with this fact.

It has been more than 26 years that Congress has failed to make a comeback in Uttar Pradesh now, and since its debacle in 1989 when N. D. Tiwari vacated the seat of CM on 5th December, 1989, the state had been witnessing the rule of regional parties like Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party. While Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party is allegedly one of the most corrupted parties that India has ever had, Yadavs’ Samajwadi Party is quite popular for its apparent Goondaraj in the state. The strengthening of these regional parties in India’s most populous state is all because Congress tumbled in the state, and it tumbled badly there.

Likewise in Punjab when Congress got weak, the Akali Dal became strong. With the beginning of the steep descent of Congress in Punjab 2007, when Captain Amarinder Singh left the seat of CM, SAD came into power. Flourished by the support of BJP, SAD is ruling for almost 9 years now and has turned the state to a plight which can be best described as a mess.

Somewhere around 1500 km away from Punjab, in the east lies the politically savvy but downtrodden state of India – Bihar. In this state as well, when Congress was wiped out in 1990, Bihar’s regional parties got strong. From Janata Dal, Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samata Party or the ruling government Janata Dal (United), all have played their manoeuvres by being into power in the state, but the INC could not make a re-entry as yet, for more than 15 years now!

Moving towards the south we have Tamil Nadu. In this state, Congress ruled last in 1967 which was way back when the state was known as the Madras state. Unbelievably true, Congress is out of power in Tamil Nadu for nearly 50 years now and is struggling hard to make a comeback in the state which now has dominant regional parties like DMK and AIADMK.

Now, let’s talk about the National Scenario and the capital of India, Delhi. The tragic fall of Congress in the state needs no mention. Last year, in Delhi Legislative Assembly election, Aam Aadmi Party swept 67 seats out of 70, as there was minimal to no opposition at all. Witnessing the situation of Delhi, the necessity for a strong opposition in place can’t be stressed enough.

However, Delhi is saved as it is the capital of India, and so, it has regular interference of the government at center. But when it comes to the country, there is a grave need to have a healthy opposition. With the weakening of Congress, AAP emerged which is a team of immature, inexperienced people who are more experimental and anarchists than social workers.

Perhaps, the biggest drawback of Congress’ extinction will be that several revolutionaries and anarchists, disguised as social workers might emerge in the country in the absence of an overseer. These parties, targeting specific regions, would then add to the woes of the already miserable strait of the country and will ride high on the anti-national and much more regional-centric propagandas.

Thus, needless to mention that in order to come out of this situation of doom and gloom and to save the country from being fragmented based on regions, Congress certainly needs to be active and work towards its revival.

If the national parties of our nation would not be strong enough, then regionalism will start to flourish – thanks to such regional and fringe parties which will be nothing more than dead wood.

The Fight Over India’s Legacy

India, the proud owner of a culturally and historically rich legacy, is now striving hard to deal with the bout that is going between its political unions over the very same legacy.

With acts like discontinuation of Rajiv Gandhi’s and Indira Gandhi’s stamps and refurbishing the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, the Sangh Parivar is on a mission to change the legacy and history of the country. Congress has criticised these tactics of the Sangh Parivar who, in name of creating Subhash Chandra Bose’s legacy, is attempting to remove the materials of the secular Congress, socialist, communist, Gandhian legacy, slowly in a subtle way.

Now, if Congress does not remain as a strong opposition, then it will become much easier for the Modi government to play with India’s legacy. The present-day political and ideological power move at the centre has made such displays quite apparent.

In order to save India’s legacy and to protect the insightful supremacy of eminent leaders during the Nehru period, Congress needs to be saved.

Congress – Immensely Crucial for India’s Democracy

Gandhis who have been holding the reigns for decades are slowly losing their charm.

Is it because there are many anti-Congress elements who have been shouting out loud to build a Congress sans the Gandhis? Or, is it because the opposition parties have been on a task to demean the dynasty so that the very core of the party gets broken and it becomes easier to eradicate it completely?

Divide or rule, yet again?

Well, even though it goes without saying that Congress has done some grave mistakes in the past, but then which Indian political party has not?

Congress, being the grand old party which comes with a rich history of over 125 years, carries with itself notable experience which can’t really be denied.

Just like no individual is perfect, no party is perfect either! It is hard to overlook the mistakes committed by the party over the past so many years, but then why is it not difficult to overlook the developments it has brought in India?

To say that the party has done nothing positive for the nation is absolutely incorrect.

Why do we stop recognising the fact that the renowned freedom fighters of India have been from Congress only. It was due to the struggles of those legendary leaders only that we are able to sleep peacefully, in a nation, that we can call our own. It was not due to luck that India got freedom; it was blood, sweat and tears all the way – and it was Congress which made it happen!

Being in a phase where the party is declining with every passing day, it is absolutely necessary to work towards the rebranding of Congress. With an image that has been tarnished by the opposition parties, it won’t be wrong to say that Congress has today become the butt of every joke that is being told in the country.
At present, India needs the resurrection of Congress, more than ever.
The party members have to work against the clock, and work hard because the road ahead is certainly full of difficulties.

India needs Secularism, not Communalism

Congress is a secular party, and perhaps the only party that brings and keeps all the religions and communities together. Therefore, if India wants to move beyond communalist practices, it needs to have a party that can bring all the communities together, and with this only Congress can do the right justice.

If we take a look at the larger picture, BJP is perceived to be a party of Hindus, fighting for Hindutva all the way, making the minorities insecure. Going by the statistics, BJP has 281 seats in Lok Sabha, but there is not even a single Muslim MP in the party. Even when the party had fielded seven Muslims among 482 candidates, all of them lost the battle of politics, and the reason could be the incapacity of BJP in striking a chord with the Muslim community, may be because of its rather Hindutva-centric movement.

Election after election, the BJP party has portrayed itself as a political prowess that can ignore others in order to befit the interests of one segment of Indian, and perhaps, the largest one. This calls for an unceasing effort of supervision in the government’s affair, just to safeguard the interest of the other segments of the nation.

This can only be achieved by appointing Congress as the watchdog – the party which binds all the communities together with its inherited secularism and which remains to be a strong, sole national challenger of the BJP, since time immemorial.

Punjab – Why is it too Important to be Ignored?

Punjab - Why is it too Important to be Ignored-

Being someone who was born and brought up in Punjab, I have this unremitting and ineffable attachment towards the state, which only I can fathom.

Over the years, living in Gurgaon, Haryana, I got to know how much do I miss and care about Punjab. But it is heartrending for me to see that my state, the place where I took birth, is not really important for the Indian government.

Time and again, I have wondered about this bigotry, and I have always been unable to understand why the government in India showed little or, perhaps, no interest in the welfare of the state and its populaces.

Why is it difficult for the political parties to recognise the fact that being a bordered state, Punjab is as much vulnerable as Jammu & Kashmir is? I am disheartened looking at the second-hand treatment which is being given to my homeland, for decades now.

What could be the reason for this negligence of government towards Punjab?

Now, this question is the one that haunts my thoughts, every passing day…

Punjab, its vulnerability, and terrorist attacks

The beginning of the New Year gave Punjab a surprise that will be remembered forever – second terror attack in six months! And this time it was Pathankot, after Gurdaspur faced the havoc in July last year.

Is this what the government gifted to the citizens of Punjab for 2016?

Why, once again, the Punjab government failed to take immediate steps to prevent the attack, even when sources revealed that the Punjab authorities had received an input from the Intelligence Bureau in October, which hinted at another terror attack in Gurdaspur?

In fact, it is said that in December itself, a much more explicit input was provided to the authorities, intimating at the high chances of a defence establishment to be targeted by the terrorists!

So, what was the cause of this nonchalance?

When will the state and centre government wake up and really do something for this highly vulnerable state that needs their attention?

Be it the BJP government or Congress government in the state, it has always ignored Punjab, without realising the fact that Punjab is as crucial for the nation as J&K is. As a matter of fact, just like J&K is divided on Hindu-Muslim communalism, Punjab is divided on Hindu-Sikh communalism, and it needs the unrelenting consideration of those who are in power.

Punjab has always been on the hit-list of Pakistan. Being a source of strength, bravery and wealth that it was, Punjab had been a state which was needed to be destroyed by the neighbouring country. In order to dampen the fighting spirit of the Punjabis, the Pakistanis left no stone unturned to bring Punjab to this miserable condition, in which it is today.

However, our mighty yet irresponsible government failed to address this grave concern.

It failed by side-lining Punjab, not once, not twice, but always!

Be it through drugs, terrorism or Khalistan, Pakistanis are slowly poisoning Punjab – but the rest of the India continues to slumber peacefully.

Punjab’s Borders – Much easier to break into than J&K’s

Throughout its life, Punjab has lived as an exposed state. With several areas that lie close to the border with Pakistan, there is no denying the fact that Punjab’s borders have been a target of the bombers, for long.
And, if that was not enough, Punjab has been austerely adulterated with drug epidemic which is rampant all through the state – this again can be attributed to the easy access to Punjab through the borders that it shares with Pakistan!

One more time, I would like to ask the government – over all these years, what all measures have been taken to strengthen the security grid in Punjab? Apparently, none!

While Jammu & Kashmir has time and again fortified its security system, following the attacks in areas like Kathua and Samba, Punjab miserably failed to do so – even after the Gurdaspur attack that took place in 2015 only!
Thanks to the negligence of the authorities, this already vulnerable state has become an easier target for the terrorists, making it convenient for them to break into the state and cause an upheaval in India.

Well, needless to mention, India is not as vigilant as it should be, and sensing the opportunity, at least somebody is fulfilling its mission – no matter how ruthless it may be!

Fuelling Khalistan – A Danger that lies in India itself

Time after time, it has appeared that many hardliner Sikh groups wish to have the Khalistan which was suppressed after the partnership of Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP. These extremists were in need of support, and then came the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which was itself in need of support, though financial one.

The leaders of these hardliner Sikh groups are alleged to have been engaged with AAP to get the much needed boost for their religious outline, giving AAP the funds it needs to get the party growing.

I want to ask the AAP leaders, that are they even aware of the consequences of this tactic that they have adopted for electoral gains? Have they ever realised how dangerous fuelling Khalistan can be for Punjab as well as for the national integrity?

Acts like these make me feel as if we are facing danger from those who are a part of the country itself, so how can we really blame those who reside across the border?

Giving wings to the political drives of Sikh hardliners is not what the state needs at present, it needs security, growth and development – not another partition!

And, this is something that AAP must understand. The sooner the better!

Punjab – Paying the Cost of Being ‘Friends’ with the ‘Enemies‘, Yet Again

Exactly a week after PM Narendra Modi made his impromptu visit to the PM of the neighbouring country Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, Punjab had to face the brunt of the terrorists. This attempt of Mr Modi to make peace with the neighbours of India has costed quite dearly to Punjab!

BJP has to understand that every time India steps on the path of peace with Pakistan, it encounters attacks from militants.

In 1999, when the then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, inaugurated the Delhi–Lahore Bus called Sada-e-Sarhad and tried to be friends with Pakistan, India had to come across one of the goriest fights with Pakistan – the Kargil War.

I hope and pray, this spontaneous meeting of our Prime Minister should not lead towards the frightening days of battle between the two nations.

Also, I think that it is about time BJP reconsidered its policy of becoming friends with Pakistan, whenever it comes into power. When BJP is not in power, it talks about teaching a lesson to Pakistan for the latter’s hard-hearted deeds, and the moment the party gets the command, it starts to talk about making peace with the neighbours.
One thing that the Indian government needs to be very clear of is that there can never be any sort of peace between India & Pakistan! All these attempts that are made to restore peace are futile, and it is only India which is at the losing end.

We have lost several innocent lives to these attacks in the past, and we will continue to do so if there will be such acts and power plays of Lahore diplomacy in the future as well.

We can no longer afford putting the lives of our countrymen at stake, just to shake hands with the Pakistani counterparts of our aristocrats.

I beg the PM of India to have the government’s focus on how to reinforce the nation’s security, rather than being a peace messenger! Allegations of Mr Modi’s desire of becoming a statesman & gaining the Noble Peace Prize are on the rise. If this is something that the PM really wants to achieve, then he should do it, but certainly not at the cost of the nation!

We need a leader who can give India the much needed security from terror attacks – for it is high time we got it!

Is Arvind Kejriwal still an Aam Aadmi?

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Almost a year ago, during the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, the Delhi public made a choice – a choice to vote for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). A landslide victory, without a shred of doubt, the triumph gave AAP 67 seats out of the 70 available, and gave Delhi its new Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal.

Kejriwal, an IITian whose alma mater is the prestigious institute of the country – Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Khargapur, came into limelight in 2011 when he joined other social activists like Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi to create the India Against Corruption (IAC) group.

Delhi, the capital of India, rode high on the anti corruption wave started a few years ago, and that decided the fate of the state with the appointment of Kejriwal as the CM of Delhi. With hopes of a brighter future, the decision that Delhi people made in February last year, is now haunting them.

What is it that Delhi is remorseful of? Is it the fact that the leader that the public thought will bring a change in the state has not even moved an inch closer to their expectations? Or, is it the reason that this visionary leader has now turned more into a shallow braggart, than a change-maker?

From the day Kejriwal came into the political front till date, there are various personality traits of this spearhead of AAP which have become apparent. So, let’s just decode the façade known as Arvind Kejriwal.

The ‘Change-Agent’ Kejriwal

In a country where there were only two major players in the political field, BJP & Congress, Arvind Kejriwal came up with another alternative for the countrymen, and perhaps, a much needed one! Before the era of Kejriwal, the country was not really politically charged up and keen to change the face of the Indian politics. It is only with the emergence of this light that the nation, especially the Young India, decided to have a say in the way their country works.

Kejriwal appeared as a change agent, who can help the country’s people to have a corruption and scam free India. It would not be wrong to say that he tactfully captured the sentiments of the people – those people who were in need of a messiah who can take the nation out of the clasps of incompetence, poverty, corruption and the endless crisis of political misuse.

That’s not all! With the rise of AAP, those who could not join politics entered the realm quite easily. Well, needless to say, AAP did work for the aam aadmi, by giving everyone a chance to be involved in the political affairs of the country!

The ‘Dangerous’ Kejriwal

Just like I pointed out, any and everybody got easy access to politics, with the development of AAP. No matter, whether a candidate was worthy of being elected for a region or not, AAP made sure that whoever extended support to the party got the party ticket, without any hassles.

Before the Delhi election took place, Major Dr Surendra Poonia – an international award-winning sportsman, resigned from AAP, putting serious allegations against Kejriwal and his party members that in order to enter the political sphere of the country, they are compromising on the party’s ethics and alleged that they gave party ticket to Amanatullah Khan for the Okhla constituency.

In a letter addressed to Kejriwal, Poonia claimed that Amanatullah Khan had connections with the terror group Indian Mujaheedin (IM), and the party gave him ticket without caring about the country’s security.

Talking further about danger and Kejriwal, the duo seems to be inseparable. Many allegations have been put forth by eminent personalities of the country, debating about the conducts of the CM of Delhi. It is alleged that Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia have obtained huge amounts of money from the Ford Foundation which is said to have links with the American intelligence agency, CIA. When the Ford Foundation is suspected to work with the ambition to destabilize developing countries and promoting anarchy within them, it is not wrong to say that having Kejriwal in the front seat of Indian politics is a risky affair.

In fact, apart from having the funding from CIA spurious roots, Kejriwal has also been questioned of receiving funds from Sikh hardliners and Sikh diaspora. These groups who are in the quest of having a separate nation for the Sikhs (Khalistan) if got support from AAP, then they will definitely disrupt Punjab – which is already fighting a tough battle with drugs and terrorism.

The ‘Anarchist’ Kejriwal

Often known as the Rabble-Rouser, Kejriwal is nothing but an anarchist at work. Time and again, he has tried to garner media attention by talking about instances that do not really serve any purpose for the Indian public. If being in the limelight is what he seeks, then Kejriwal should have joined media as voicing opinions come quite easily for this gentleman.

Apart from being there on the Indian news channels for all the not so good reasons, Kejriwal has now even resorted to defaming others. From calling the PM of the nation a coward and psychopath, to dishonoring the very core of India’s democracy and values – he has done it all!

With the demonstration of his regular flare-ups and histrionics, it does not seem that Kejriwal is a product of the IIT. If refraining from negative politics for his own image is difficult for him, then at least he should show some respect to his alma mater and behave in the public as a decent, well educated and well read man – who senses what is right and what is wrong, and who doesn’t upset those who voted for his party in the past elections.

Here I hope that as we have entered 2016, the New Year should bring some sanity along with it and help it prevail in the mind of this IIT scion.

The ‘Opportunist’ Kejriwal

Now, this is something that most of you would agree upon! Kejriwal has always been quick enough to grab an opportunity and make the best possible use of it! Be it using Swaraj and Janlokpal bill, taking advantage of Anna Hazare or Kiran Bedi to make an entry into the nation’s political sphere, or having no second thoughts on being the CM of the capital of India, when earlier he used to condemn being at an aristocratic level – Kejriwal has repeatedly demonstrated his greed and emerged as an opportunist in the real sense of the word.

To quote Kejriwal in one of his interviews, “I never had any ambition to become the chief minister. I am here to serve the people. I want people’s voice to be heard.”

Well, I am unable to understand that when Kejriwal really didn’t want to be the CM, then who forced him to be one? Was it someone who made it obligatory for him to contest for the elections? I guess, no! So, this clearly means that he wanted to be at the position at which he is today, but is not capable enough to do justice with it.

What the CM of Delhi must understand is that when he has grabbed the opportunity that came his way, he should not really avoid fulfilling his responsibility. We do not need another opportunist outfit in the nation, as we already have plenty of them. All that we need from him is to stop voicing his own personal opinion, and naming it to be of the public – because the public does not include only the AAP supporters!

Another excellent example of his deviousness is the way he presented himself in the media at first. In the country which really respects people that come from top-notch institutes, he projected himself as a humble, refined ‘common’ man, who can work for the country and its people. Little did we know that all that he was doing was to capture the mind of the youth by utilising his IIT background and his position of an IAS Officer working for the country!

Needless to mention, he actually captured the mood of the country at the right time – and that really is a true sign of an opportunist. Well done there, Mr Kejriwal!

The ‘Contradicting’ Kejriwal

On several occasions we have come across the contradicting nature of the CM of Delhi, who is also commonly known as a hypocrite amongst the aam aadmis and aam aurats.

Every now and then, he makes appearances on the news channels with this capacity for hypocrisy that he possesses. One of the greatest examples of this two-facedness that lies within Kejriwal is the time when during the 2013 election he had been constantly promising the Delhi janta that AAP will never work with Congress to form a government, come what may. But, when the position of the CM fell into his lap, he could not really resist himself from jumping into the bandwagon! Shrewd much? Correct?

Likewise, right after campaigning against flamboyance and VIP culture in his rallies and promising that he would not take a government accommodation if elected to power, Kejriwal took no time in moving into a lavish duplex – a house that is a dream for the aam aadmis of Delhi, for sure! This U-turn made by Kejriwal was then reversed when a chaos broke out in the media after the disbelieving spectacle that he made in front of his supporters.

Much to the surprise of the AAP fans, there have been many such instances that have given AAP’s opposition parties the chances of revealing the pretence that lies within this gentleman named Arvind Kejriwal. In the Indian political realm, there would be hardly any leader against whom Kejriwal has not run his political campaigns! In fact, AAP took birth to sweep corruption from India and to bring the corrupted leaders out in the front. So, when earlier Kejriwal used to bash leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav for being a corrupted politician, he sparked another bone of contention by supporting the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar of which Lalu was an active part. And, to top it all, he was seen hugging Lalu during the oath ceremony of Nitish Kumar as Bihar’s chief minister.

This act of double standards that Kejriwal exhibited shook the trust of many of his followers in November last year.

Wake up call? A little too late, though! Isn’t it?

The ‘No-More-Aam-Aadmi’ Kejriwal

While Kejriwal has been found criticising Modi’s ascension oftentimes, the sad thing to see is that the once aam aadmi stays no longer the same! Many AAP members have been seen miffed with the Delhi’s CM, thanks to the dictatorship that is overriding him these days.

From being termed as arrogant and dictatorial, to being called a politician who loves staying in the company of adulators, sycophants and bootlickers – there are many allegations that Kejriwal had to face during his command.
As a matter of fact, Kejriwal is topping the charts on being an autocratic leader with his palpable demo of tyranny. Many hold the opinion that this despotism of Delhi’s CM will take him and AAP to a downfall which will be difficult for the political novice to cope up with.

It would not at all be wrong to state that Arvind Kejriwal is dreaming big – he is dreaming to become the Prime Minister of the country.

But in his mission to win this Game of Throne, one thing that he has forgotten is that it was AAP that gave him the popularity that he has today, and that AAP comprised of all the leaders who decided to work with him, not for him!

It was that same AAP which supported him in giving him the inevitable ascent that he is enjoying at present.

It was that same AAP that was formed to serve a purpose – a purpose to save the nation from corruption and to help the people of India to be free from the old and unhealthy politics that the nation has been shoved into.

With the kind of personality that Kejriwal has turned into, the nation’s hope of witnessing an India with clean politics has certainly vanished.

I hope that the aspirations of us Indians should not shatter once again, if in future we put our trust in another Arvind Kejriwal.

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