Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The first phase of Anna's Movement against corruption and for the stronger and effective Jan Lokpal is over. It was a success in bringing the issues involved into focus. It was a great satisfaction that the agitation which had a pan-India appeal was peaceful. The Government and the Parliament was made to take a due note of it and act accordingly. The media, to my mind, did not have much else to do and went over board in projecting the Movement where as this important organ of the system was expected to do its job with more objectivity and unbiasedly. Nevertheless, democracy is a process which shall continue. I would like to comment on, in the process, a development which has been termed as a " Game Changer ."

General Secretary of the Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi made a statement in the Lok Sabha on August 26 on the issues of corruption and the Lokpal with reference to Anna's agitation. Rahul Gandhi did not speak on the subject before his statement in the Lok Sabha, in spite of the fact that the Government led by his Party was finding itself in a tight corner in dealing with the Anna's Movement. The crux of his statement was centred on something new which did not find mention in the controversy or debate so far. Rahul Gandhi said "Madam Speaker, why not elevate the debate and fortify the Lok Pal by making it a Constitutional body accountable to Parliament like the Election Commission of India." It is not a bad idea but why did Rahul Gandhi thought that he should say something new and out of the blue ? Outside the Parliament after his speech, Rahul himself termed the speech a " Game Changer". Let us see that how far it goes ?
There was yet said to be another " Game Changer " act on the late evening of August 26. It was by a prominent member of the Team Anna, Kiran Bedi. While speaking from the Manch of the Ramlila Maidan, Kiran Bedi all of a sudden became hyper. She grabbed a scarf ( Gamsha) of a volunteer on the stage and started ridiculing the politicians by mimicking a veiled ( Ghoonghat) lady. She accused politicians of wearing "several masks.' When questioned on the purpose of such an action by a responsible member of the Anna Team and the so called civil society, She also termed it as a " Game Changer." She also claimed that her act got the attention of the opposition leaders, particularly of the BJP, and helped resolve the impasse between Anna Hazare and the Government on the issue of Jan Lokpal. Let us see that how many ' Game Changers' come on the way.
I was not very clear on the exact meaning of the " Game Changer " myself. The inter-net search gave me the following definition of a ' Game Change " A person who is a visionary ". The Investopedia further explained:
1. A game changer has new and different ideas that stand out from the crowd. This person has an idea that completely changes the way a situation develops. Companies employ this tactic to create ideas or events that change the outcome of a plan.
2. A visionary strategist uses creative innovation to alter their business plans, or conceives an entirely new plan by exploring new locations and different products.
I would rather leave it here with the hope that Om Puri, a renowned actor and Swami Agnivesh, the erstwhile member of the Anna Team may also not claim to be ' Game Changers 'in the forthcoming scenario.

'Who can say how the people of India and their political parties will behave? A bad constitution can work well, if the people involved are good, and a good constitution will turn out to be bad if the people working on it are bad '
(An excerpt of the concluding speech B R Ambedkar delivered as Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee on the floor of the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949).

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I have been writing about Anna Hazare's movement against corruption in this blog. In my earlier blogs I also quoted extensively from the father of the Indian constitution Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and also mentioned about the dalits and the Movement. Let me continue on the same note as I feel that the entire media and the intelligentsia have been discussing Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption extensively for the benefit of the public. But, unfortunately, the debate is not necessarily unbiased or objective
First of all, Anna Hazare and his team deserve congratulations for winning a decisive battle in the war against corruption. I had already termed the Movement as a ' Refreshing in put ' in my earlier blog. We are to move ahead as Anna Hazare himself has said that it was a half victory.
It is also a day of victory for the dalits of this country, to my mind. It is a hidden victory. It has become clear again that dalits and Babasaheb Ambedkar will remain a factor in the future of India. Anna Hazare and his team of the civil society did not consider the dalits as part of the public opinion against corruption. They also did not consider the wisdom and contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in establishing the constitutional democracy in India a relevant input in Movement. Arvind Kejriwal did mention once that the Lokpal Bill introduced by the Government in the Parliament was ' anti poor and anti dalit ' but no other member of the Anna Team or Anna Hazare himself mentioned about the dalits and Dr. Ambedkar during 12-13 days of agitation from the Ramlila Maidan. Some media channels invited some of the experts on dalit matters like Chandra Bhan Prasad, Udit Raj, Vivek Kumar, Kanchan Eliah and others to the various talks. They did their best to flag the role and relevence of dalits in the movement against corruption and also that of Dr. Ambedkar in the constitutional set up of the country. The slogans like ' Reservation is corruption ' at the public rallies contributed to the misgivings in the minds of the vast majority of dalits. As the movement climaxed on August 26-27 in the Parliament and other fora, the relevance of dalits and Dr. Ambedkar dawned on the players and stake holders in this important national event. That is the victory I am talking about.
It all began firmly with the statement of Chief Minister of UP Mayawati on August 25-26. She asserted that their party BSP would support the Lokpal Bill or any other legislation under the constitutional provisions of the established procedure and the constitution. The tone and message were clear that she felt that dalits were being sidelined and there was a subtle move to bypass the spirit of the constitution. I followed the debate on the demands of Anna Hazare in the Lok Sabha on August 27 with interest. It was an interesting debate. The statements of the Leader of the House Pranab Mukerjee and that of the Leader of the Opposition were focused on the crux of the matter that is the demands of Anna Hazare and his fast unto death. But the others speeches of the speakers of various political parties pointed to the ground realities. Revti Raman Singh of SP said that the dalits and OBCs and also minorities shall get due representation in the bodies and fora of the Lokpal establishment. Dara Singh Chouhan of BSP reiterated the stand of Maywati on the constitutional norms so laboriously stipulaed by Dr. Ambedkar and made it clear that the dalits were definitely interested stake holders in these matters. Sharad Yadav was forthright in pointing out that Anna Hazare remembered Shivaji but forgot Joytiba Phule and Ambedkar in the run upto the movement against corruption. The RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav also referred to Dr. Ambedkar and pleaded for association of dalits and minorities with the process. The young congress leader Scindia also referred to Ambedkar in his spirited speech. The other day Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi referring to Anna's movement obliquely mentioned about the dangers ( I think he referred to the issue of Reservation and dalit empowerment) said " Today the proposed law is against corruption. Tomorrow the target may be something less universally heralded. It may attack the plurality of our society and democracy. India's biggest achievement is our democratic system. It is the life force of our nation. " All this clearly brought out the relevance of dalits and Dr. Ambedkar in the years to come.
The poetic assertion ' कुफ्फर टुटा खुदा खुदा करके ' came alive in the excitement of the morning of August 28 before Anna Hazare called off his fast. Arvind Kejriwal recognised that the dalits were not happy with Anna's movement against corruption. He refuted such impressions and mentioned Dr. Ambedkar and the constitution several times in his speech and said that they were not against the Constitution and added that they respected the Constitution and its architect B R Ambedkar. "We salute B R Ambedkar," Kejriwal said. Anna Hazare's fast was broken in a dramatic way. Two small girls Simran, a dalit and Ikrah, muslim did the honours by offering a glass of juice and honey to the beaming Anna Hazare. The gesture of the Anna Team reached home the obvious message - ' देर आए दरुस्त आए '. How would Anna Hazare mend the tone and tenor of the movement so far. Breaking his inhibitions, Anna said "This movement has created a faith that the country can be rid of corruption and we can go ahead with implementing laws and the Constitution made by Dr B R Ambedkar." The circle was complete. We salute Anna Hazare and support his Movement against corruption with the hope that he would lead a similar public uprising against the ' social corruption of caste and inequality ' from which the dalits of this great country are suffering. I conclude this with a couplet of Dr. Iqbal:

गैरिअत के परदे इक बार फिर उठा दें;
बिश्डों को फिर मिला दें नक्शे दुई मिटा दें !

Thursday, August 18, 2011



Today’s headlines in the various media organs read – ‘ Anna Arrests Government ‘ - ‘ Anna Marches and Government Crawls ‘. I wrote in this blog about Anna Hazare’s agitation against corruption and the related issues. The situation and the ground realities have changed fast and are taking a new turn which has been reported by the media in flowery and poetic headlines. It is not an ordinary development in the national landscape of India. Though I have full faith in the constitutional set up of India and I have supported the constitutional means to affect any change to meet the new challenges yet Anna Hazare’s role and actions have provided some fresh inputs which may not be ignored. It is clear that Anna Hazare is, as of now, a potent force which has an ample and unstinted public support. The issue of corruption is important and the public upsurge in support of Anna Hazare and the Civil Society is a clear manifestation that the scourge of corruption needs to be addressed at a war footing. It is a matter of satisfaction that the constitutional machinery is still working and it shall remain so, if India has to survive. Some of the points which come to my mind and shall not be lost sight of are:

i) It is gratifying to note that the public uprising in support of the issue of corruption taken up by Anna Hazare and his associates is spontaneous and peaceful. It is not a small development. The credit goes to Anna Hazare and the Indian public. It is one of the most noteworthy inputs of the movement of Anna Hazare.
ii) The movement against corruption is wide spread in the breath and length of the county. It is so far is not marked by any political color generally. The movement is not sectarian and caste oriented luckily though Arvind Kejriwal in the initial stages termed the Lokpal Bill as anti-dalit and anti-poor. It is satisfying to observe that Kejriwal’s line of thinking did not find any mention later.
iii) The movement is no more an agitation alone. It has been supported by the wide spectrum of political establishment and parties as far as the issue of corruption and the mechanism to handle it is concerned. There may be differences in the means to achieve the goals but there is full convergence on the ends. The spiritual and moral Gurus like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev, who enjoy a consider clout and following in the general public have supported and stood by Anna Hazare.
iv) Media appears to be enjoying the festival of democracy spear headed by Anna Hazare. We all know that media has an important role to play not only in informing the public of the state of affairs as correctly and faithfully as possible but also in molding the public opinion to conform to the constitutional and desired needs in the larger interests of the country.

All said, let me come to yet another aspect which is equally important. There are no two opinions that the issue of corruption needs urgent and tight handling. Anna Hazare and the Civil Society along with the Government, the Parliament and the other political players are seized of the matter. Anna Hazare and his associates intend to have a tough legal framework as against the so called soft approach of the Government. The agitation and movement of Anna Hazare has proved and demonstrated its strength in the form of peaceful public upsurge in the country. The Government has been made to relent and listen to the public demand. The forces of democracy are at work. Anna Hazare shall be mindful of the practical and constitutional requirements to deal with the issue. PM Manmohan Singh recognized the demands of Anna Hazare in the Parliament on August 17 and said “I acknowledge that Shri Anna Hazare may be inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a strong and effective Lok Pal. However, the path that he has chosen to impose his draft of a Bill upon Parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our Parliamentary democracy “. Anna Hazare, to my mind, has made his point from the Tihar Jail. Ramlila Maidan shall send positive messages to the masses that we mean business in cooperation with the Government and in accordance with the constitution of India. It would not be good to further erode the authority of the duly elected and established Government. Anna Hazare and the public at large while celebrating the victory shall feel contented as their voice has made all the difference as, in the poetic words of Dr. Iqbal, the message is in the air and the Government cannot be oblivious of this:

उडाए कुछ बर्क लाला ने कुछ नर्गिस ने कुछ गुल ने,
चमन में हर तरफ बिखरी हुई है दास्ताँ मेरी !
उड़ाई कुछ कुमरिओं ने तुतिओं ने अन्द्लिवों ने,
चमन वालों ने मिल के लूट ली तर्ज़े फुग्हन मेरी !

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


It was Rakhi on August 13, 2011. It is a solemn festival dedicated to love and regard among brothers and sisters and all round harmony in the society.

We observed the festival of Rakhi with gusto and spirit in my younger days back home in Jalandhar. I moved to Delhi in the pursuit of my career in the Indian Foreign Service in early 1970. My sister Kamla also came to Delhi in 1973 to take up a job and later married to Kumar in 1977 and settled in Delhi itself. Till then the Rakhi festival was celebrated in the family as usual. My other sisters in Jalandhar sent the Rakhis through post occasionally. I started moving abroad in the process of my diplomatic assignments in 1977. The intensity and the spirit of Rakhi diminished over the years. The social norms, I think, also underwent change in view of the growing commercialization and economic considerations. On my side, I also did not have a ritualistic orientation. My other sisters, in the meanwhile, also got married and settled in life. The Rakhi was pushed to the back seat. We all got bogged down. We were engaged to the nitty gritty of life, in the process of earning our bread and butter and taking care of our families. The festival of Rakhi got confined to telephonic or electronic greetings, unconsciously or otherwise... Perhaps, it is the fact of life. We all got busy in our way.
I came back to India on retirement in January, 2011 after a long career during which we remained outside the country most of the years. The first Rakhi fell on August 13. My brothers politely, directly or indirectly, tended to sound me that it would be in order if we pay some attention to these social requirements and take the initiative to start and imbibe the spirit of Rakhi. It was good of them to help us in integrating ourselves with the family after our return to India. I with my wife Vidya, frankly, did not have any specific views, different from the routine, on all these matters. So far so good.
We are staying in our small flat in Gurgaon. We expected that Kamla, who lives in Delhi, would come and visit us on the Rakhi. Still just to ensure and take the initiative to revive the spirit of Rakhi, we spoke to her and invited her to come on the auspicious occasion. She said obviously she was planning to come. It made us happy. Accordingly, Kamla and Kumar came in the morning itself to avoid the usual rush and traffic jams. It was a great revival of the fine tradition of Rakhi in my family. My daughter Vaishali along with her husband JP also came, after synchronizing with Kamla Bhua, to tie Rakhi to her brother Rupesh and Sulekha, with whom we live. It was a good family get-together. We felt good. The spirit of Rakhi prevailed. I sent Rakhi greetings through e-mail to my other three sisters with the hope that the spirit of love and regard for each other will remain and prevail. Here lies the crux of happiness. I found with a sense of satisfaction that this wonderful festival of Rakhi is celebrated and rightly so with good spirit and gaiety throughout the country. Let me quote a poet to convey the spirit of Rakhi.
jaati dharm nahi vyavdhaan,
jaisi dharati khula aasmaan,
dhoop-chandani sa barse pyaar,
aaya rakhi ka tyohaar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prime Minister Speaks

PM Manmohan Singh spoke to the nation from the Lal Qila yesterday on August 15 on the auspicious occasion of the 65th Independence Day. It was a traditional speech by the PM which has become a yearly ritual. But this year, I noticed some departures from the traditions. I thought of sharing it with the readers of this lay man's blog.

PM mentioned and referred to almost all important issues and developments like corruption, price rise, terrorism. social inequalities, farmers and land issues, state of the economy, media etc. He also asserted that India has come a long way but still to go a much longer way. It was normal to report to the people the 'state of the nation' at this important occasion. There were two important and significant departures in the speech: i) there was no mention of foreign policy - it was a good skip particularly in the wake of ongoing internal problems of corruption and many other internal issues engaging the attention of the country. I think, foreign policy of any country, is the extension of its internal situation. It is important to set the house in order and foreign policy will flow from that. Anna Hazares, Baba Ramdevs and the self appointed spokespersons of the so called Civil Society shall consider and heed to PM Manmohan Singh who said, inter alia, in his Independence Day speech " The road ahead is long and arduous. Particularly, the prevailing situation both inside and outside the country is such that if we do not act with understanding and restraint, our security and prosperity can get adversely affected." and ii) there was no mention of any other national or international personality or quote from their utterances - I think it was a pleasant departure.PM rightly said " We should also have faith that our democracy, our institutions and our social ideals and values have the capacity to deal with any difficulty. We should all have faith in ourselves. The faith that we can build a promising future for ourselves. The faith, that united we can do the most difficult of tasks. Let us all resolve to build a bright future for our country " May be he has in mind the famous couplet of Dr. Iqbal:

जरा देख जो कुछ हो रहा है होने वाला है,
भला रखा क्या है अहेदे कुहन की दस्तानो में !

Sunday, August 14, 2011


India is celebrating the 65th Independence Day today the August 15. GREETINGS & CONGRATULATIONS on this auspicious day. India has come a long way in her development and progress over the decades. It is a matter of satisfaction. But still it has to go a long way in eradicating poverty, hunger and illiteracy in which millions of fellow Indians are living. The scourge of caste and social inequality is still a big blot on the face of independent India. More needs to be done. India, nevertheless, has aarrived, to catch up with the 21st century, but it is yet to reach and bring about cheer to the masses living below the poverty line. Last year on August 15, 1910, I had the honour to hold the flag in Minsk ( Belarus) and host the Independence Day celebrations.

I am reminded of the famous speech of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, at the midnight of August 14-15, 1947, on the eve of INDEPENDENCE, in the Constituent Assembly, in which he said in a poetic tone:

" Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity. "

These were the lofty ideals of our leaders. We started at the right path. We came on the rails with all the difficulties on the way. We are on the move. We have hopes. We tend to realise them under the democratic system which we adopted to run the country. The things are getting difficult. The vested interests and the messengers of doom are working over time to derail the process. India needs to ward itself off from the " Grammar of anarchy " as fore warned by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, being spread and propagated by some of the so called leaders under the guise of " Satyagraha " outside the constitutional parameters of such actions.

Let me refer to still another warning of the father of the Indian constitution Dr. Ambedkar. He said in the Constituent Assembly on November 24, 1949:

"Here I could have ended. But my mind is so full of the future of our country that I feel I ought to take this occasion to give expression to some of my reflections thereon. On 26th January 1950, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain her independence or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lost it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only India has once before lost her independence, but she lost it by the infidelity and treachery of some of her own people. .........Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. This anxiety is deepened by the realization of the fact that in addition to our old enemies in the form of castes and creeds we are going to have many political parties with diverse and opposing political creeds. Will Indian place the country above their creed or will they place creed above country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost for ever. This eventuality we must all resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood. "

Jawaharlal Nehru's ' tryst with destiny ' and Ambedkar's ' reflections on independence ' shall serve as the guide posts in the march ahead. India shall also not ignore the warnings of Dr. Iqbal:

वतन की फ़िक़र कर नादाँ; मुसीबत आने वाली है,
तेरी बर्वादिओं के मशवरे हैं असमानों में !
समजोगे तो मिट जाओगे हिन्दोस्तान्वालो,
तुम्हारी दास्ताँ तक भी होगो दस्तानों में !

Monday, August 8, 2011



a)Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's reply to speech of the Leader of BJP Yashwant Sinha in the Lok Sabha on the recent debate on the issue of inflation and price rise:
Yashwant Sinha said ' Go, for God's sake go' using the words of Oliver Cromwell in 1653 to the then British Prime Minister. What happened afterwards ? Pranab Mukherjee said reminding the BJP leader Cromwelss's skelton was dug out from the grave and hanged by the parliament for destroying democracy. There is no point in making such statements.

b) Jan Lokpal Bill goes elitist - Dipankar Gupta in The Times of India:They took their eyes off citizens and concentrated almost exclusively on big people in important positions. What tempted them to take this stance ? Is it because enemies in high places are better ego boosters than humble friends.

c) Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly on the Comptroller and Audit General, as said by a legal expert in one of the speeches:
During the 30 May 1949 Constituent Assembly debates, Dr BR Ambedkar described the Comptroller and Auditor General as “probably the most important officer in the Constitution of India” with duties “far more important than the duties even of the judiciary”, one who should have “far greater independence than the judiciary itself.” That is a remarkably strong statement and underscores the unique position of the CAG. It is a constitutional post, and the holder of that office can only be removed in the same manner and for the same reasons as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Saturday, August 6, 2011



I have been writing on the agitation of Anna Hazare and the Civil Society on the issue of corruption and accountability. The bill on the subject which has been termed as the ' Sarkari Lok Pal ' , I don't know whether there could be a ' Non-Sarkari Lok Pal also, has been introduced in the parliament. The debate goes on. But a new aspect of the issue has been introduced to the debate and controversy which I would like to refer. One of spokespersons of the so called Civil Society has slammed the bill as " weak, anti poor and anti dalit. " I myself saw on the TV channels that the said statement of Arvind Kejriwal was high lighted. I was wondering as to what was the import and relevance of inclusion ' dalits ' in the debate at this late stage. It seemed to me, as if, the dalits were neither poor nor civil and were separate element of the society. I think to include dalits in the controversy is a after thought. It would be better if Anna Hazare and the self appointed civil society enlighten the dalits at least, if not the society at large.

The Government constituted a joint drafting committee for the Lokpal Bill Neither the Government nor the Civil Society thought it appropriate to take a dalit on the Committee. Chief Minister of UP, Mayawati, commenting on the composition of the drafting committee said "“not even one member in the 10-member joint drafting committee... is from the Dalit community. It’s intriguing that the UPA government and civil society could not find even one competent person among the Dalits who is well versed with the Constitution after 63 years of Independence.” The civil society did bot care. What is the compulsion now ? I expect that somebody answers this. Dalits continue at the receiving end. The civil society may like to consider and agitate for the rightful and dignified space for the millions who are condemned to remain underdogs of the society. It would justify the appendix ' civil ' to their group's name. Otherwise, the dalits shall not be used - by firing the shots from someone else's shoulders - दूसरे के कंधे से गोली चलाना .

In my last blog ' The Grammar of Anarchy ', I quoted a couplet of Dr. Iqbal and here I complete the stanza:

इकबाल बड़ा उप्देसक है मन बातों से मोह लेता है;
गुफ्तार का तो यह गाजी बना किरदार का गाजी बन सका.