Tuesday, February 27, 2018

It is wrong to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not acted against corruption.

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference.

Whilst the anger on the 2G verdict was understandable, it amazed me how soon we forgot that a court has convicted no less than a Secretary to the Govt. of India in the Coal Scam. We now live in times where the PM is expected to know what the branch manager of a bank is doing, it was astonishing that former PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh was not hauled over the coals regarding the conviction of a secretary directly reporting to him!
The space in both the mainstream and social media is occupied by actions/raids/statements against politicians. The “big fish”. The “small fish” doesn’t interest this space. The “small fish” is what I would like to share my thoughts today though!
Let’s leave aside the politicians for a moment. What does corruption then mean to us? Remember that demeaning term – “broker”? Remember the number of times we might have heard that the “middlemen” and “brokers” eat up everything, and the actual beneficiaries don’t get anything? The “small fish” that directly impact the common farmer, the common petitioner, the common man. Enter the robust Direct Benefit Transfer program. First, Jan Dhan accounts have been opened up for individuals. And then Aadhar has been linked. And through this, all subsidies and payments are directly passed on to the beneficiaries themselves! The concept of “middle man” and “broker” is dying a slow death. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
What else does corruption mean to us? If you are from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, remember all those stories about Shell companies that YSR’s family had? Or remember the web of companies that Satyam Computers created? And then those discussions on how these Industrialists create these shell companies to eat money? Well, enter Demonetization. In one stroke, Modi government has cancelled the license of 2 lakh shell companies. Yep, 2 lakh shell companies and 1 lakh Directors of defunct companies have been struck off in just one night. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Remember the earlier days when you had to wait for police to come verify your address for passport and you had to pay “fees”. Getting passport has become so much easier now, that the concept of payment to visiting police has now become a thing of past! A direct change in how the system works has resulted in the near elimination of corruption in the department. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Do you remember those long lines farmers used to form outside Fertilizer shops? Do you remember those news items showing agitated farmers protesting about the lack of Urea? Do you know why there was a Urea shortage? Because Urea was being pilfered. It was being illegally diverted to Industries so that they can contaminate products that even included milk powder given to babies! What was the solution? To neem coat this Urea after which it could be used as a fertilizer. UPA allowed for only 35% of Neem Coating. Where the remaining 65% went, you can take an educated guess. There has been no respite to the farmer, because he still had to queue up outside the shop. What did Modi do? He made it mandatory that 100% Urea should be neem coated! What is the result? Do you remotely recollect any news of Urea shortage? Modi himself has mentioned this so many times – CMs used to write to him regularly when he became the PM, regarding Urea shortage. Now, no one writes to him about it. If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?

Remember those days when we heard about having to grease the hands of interviewers for government jobs? In one stroke, Prime Minister Modi has cancelled all interviews for selections to Class 3 officers and below. All selections will be through a merit based exam that will have no scope of corruption. Have you ever met people who yearn for such jobs but are forced to shell out money? And it is then these people that go on to become corrupt, justifying their action saying they have to “earn back” what they paid? If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
Am I done yet? No! There was a time when we used to question why politicians get allotted so many bungalows. Guess what Modi did – a whopping 1500 powerful occupants of Lutyens’ bungalows have been evicted, if they didn’t move out. 1500 of them! This includes many former ministers, MPs etc. No wonder they are all ganging up against him! If this doesn’t amount to action on corruption, then what does?
You may get back to me asking are these measures enough? Of course we would want a world where there is no corruption. I would definitely want our government offices to get to a place where a citizen can walk in with the supreme confidence that his/her work will get done without ever having to grease anyone’s hands. Modi is doing many right things in that direction. The “big fish” may be breathing a bit easy (this twitter thread says they are not, but just to give a benefit of doubt!), but the “small fish” are surely finding it difficult! Prime Minister Modi needs all the support he can, to curb this menace of corruption.

If your definition of an “intellectual” is equivalent to people like you and your friends Mr. Ram Guha, then I am really glad that this is an “anti-intellectual” government

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference

Ramachandra Guha’s elitist disdain for the Prime Minister of the country has been well exposed before. But it looks like he is not happy with the hatred he spreads. He finds new depths to plumb regularly. Latest in his series of diatribes was his shocking tweet after Prime Minister Modi addressed students to take out the stress when it comes to exams.
Every CBSE school was compelled to hear the Prime Minister promote his new book. The Principal of a school in my neighborhood was asked by a student: ‘Sir, what exactly is the exam that the Prime Minister has passed?" Doubtless the same question was asked in other schools too.”
First, I found it very cowardly that Mr. Guha chose to shoot from the shoulders of both an unnamed student and unnamed principal of his “neighborhood school”. Second, the choice of his words in the entire tweet only goes on to show how blinded he has become by hatred.
“Every CBSE school was compelled”. Students were watching the Prime Minister of India addressing them, about a very important event in their life. It beats me why most students would not want to hear him. When I was a student in school, I would have been thrilled to have had the opportunity to listen to the Prime Minister (any PM!) if he is talking to us about exams. Guha makes this sound as if some punishment has been meted out to the students.
What is “compelling” though Mr. Guha is when students are made to celebrate Children’s Day on November 14th, with no clue as to why “Chacha” likes them and what he spoke to them about! In Mr. Modi, we have a leader who communicates with students regularly and directly. He did this once earlier (in 2015 I think) and many times as CM too. Oh, whom am I telling this to – you are after all an eminent historian!
The Prime Minister was not promoting his book. He is not capable of promoting his book like some members of your ilk do. But we need not focus on this aspect, because there is a bigger issue to look at here!
You don’t think the Prime Minister has passed any exam. I am simply astonished as to how myopic you are in your understanding. Another journalist Sadanand Dhume saw this as an opportunity to join the bandwagon and wrote thus:
Modi has many qualities (strong oratory, fine work ethic), but turning to him for advice on exams is a bit like asking me about ice skating.
Your lack of confidence in yourself is appalling Mr. Dhume! If you can write about economic policy, foreign policy, domestic politics, international politics etc., surely nothing’s stopping you from spreading gyan on ice skating too?! If you can go to UP during election campaigning, write a lot of articles and yet not predict the wave, surely you can do such a sterling job talking about ice skating too, no? From when has not having experience in something ever stopped your ilk from commenting on it?
Mr. Guha, coming back to you now.  While you may want to harp on whether he literally passed any exam, you conveniently forget that he holds a Master’s degree. The elitist in you, may prompt you to sneer at a mere distance learning course degree. Even today, there are lakhs of folks across the country who work hard, in their free time, to gain these degrees and proudly display them to their family and friends. I have seen from close quarters how much these degrees mean to them, Mr. Guha. So maybe you can keep your elitist sneer to yourself.
If we move away from the literal sense of writing an exam, the Prime Minister has faced multiple elections so far. The pressure of performing well in those elections is exactly like an exam for a student. Any Prime Minister of this country (And I mean any Prime Minister, and not just Dr. Manmohan Singh, as you imply here!) is eligible to speak of handling of pressure, and facing tests under stringent conditions.
No other Prime Minister in recent times has had such connect with the students of this country. No other Prime Minister has communicated with them so frequently and so earnestly, in recent times. Your continuous tirade and disdain against Mr. Modi, calling this as an “anti-intellectual” government is now getting boring. If your definition of “intellectual” is equivalent to people like you and your friends, then I am really glad that this is an “anti-intellectual” government!

Shekhar Gupta and Tunku Varadarajan are hilariously off the mark and tragically ill-informed

The following article was written for OpIndia. Pasting it here for reference:

Shekhar Gupta printed an extremely motivated and ill-argued article by Tunku Varadarajan. He then took to Twitter to summarize the article in one tweet :
The first thing one notices is the irony of Tunku Varadarajan talking about being “gracious” and a “team sport”. He had recently used abusive language against the World Cup-winning India cricket team of the blind. So there goes his own “graciousness” for a toss. He has blocked several people on social media, merely for disagreeing with him. There goes, yet again, his “gracious to rivals” advise for a toss.
Nevertheless, many points immediately came to my mind regarding these “5 things Modi must learn”. So let’s go over them one by one.


I don’t need to delve into details yet again because this article in OpIndia summarizes well the 9 things that NDA did much better than the UPA. I’d doubt if either Shekhar Gupta or Tunku Varadarajan will even bother to do some serious research, so let’s leave it at that.


Prime Minister Modi, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, has acknowledged the work of all past Prime Ministers of the country. All of them. He has also acknowledged the work of all state governments. Needless to say, there are multiple political parties that have ruled in various states of India. Would that count as graciousness, Mr Shekhar Gupta?
Prime Minister Modi, has invited former Prime Ministers Deve Gowda and Dr Manmohan Singh, to join him on the dias when GST was being inaugurated. GST is the single biggest tax reform our country ever saw, and it involved the work of many political parties. When Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister, GST was not even under consideration. Yet, Prime Minister Modi invited him. Guess who chose to boycott the event? Your favourite poster boy, Dr Manmohan Singh. Who is being gracious and who is not being gracious, Mr Shekhar Gupta?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has ensured there is always a representation from the Central government for every single swearing-in ceremony of every new state government that took over. After acrimonious election campaigns, he ensured that the maryada of politics still remains. Senior central cabinet ministers were present in the searing in ceremonies of Arvind Kejriwal, Nitish Kumar, Mamta Banerjee etc. Would that count as graciousness, Mr Shekhar Gupta?
A graphic was doing the rounds in the year 2016. I did a version of it while writing for another website Myind makers. Am pasting it below for your reference, Mr Shekhar Gupta.
Am also posting here, what I wrote in that article – “Please notice the active presence of several high profile Union Ministers on the stage in 2016. Despite the Congress party ruling in Karnataka, the central government didn’t see that as an impediment to go and actively participate in the 2016 summit!” And note the absence of similar leaders in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit of 2013
Now, who is gracious and who is not Mr Shekhar Gupta?


Unless you don’t consider The Tribune, PTI, Network 18, Indian Express, India Today network, Zee News, Times Now, CNN, Hindustan Times, Dainik Jagran, Nai Duniya, Hindusthan Samachar, UNI, ANI, Time Magazine, CNN – as media, then I give it to you Mr Shekhar Gupta, the Prime Minister is indeed not talking to the media.
Perhaps you should come clean on who you think constitute ‘the media’, and who you think don’t. Because ordinary mortals like me still think the above-mentioned organizations are media. And ordinary mortals like me are keen to know why do you want to go about spreading this lie, Mr Shekhar Gupta, that the PM doesn’t talk to the media? Is it because he doesn’t talk to your friends and instead talks to some real journalists?


Oh, if you didn’t tell this to the PM, he would have never known! Remember the concept of Team India? Remember this picture, Mr Shekhar Gupta?
You are an experienced journalist, Mr Shekhar Gupta, so I don’t need to tell you the names and party affiliations of the various Chief Ministers in this picture. Do you know when this picture was taken, Mr Shekhar Gupta? Immediately after this meeting. In the year 2014 – much before you and your ilk’s imagination could conjure up a suggestion of a team sport!
Would you also want to know who played spoilsport to this idea of Team India? Your favourite party, the Congress party!

We are now eagerly awaiting an article from you on the graciousness and team spirit of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Hopefully, in this lifetime, we will get to see one article!


Guess what – he does. So perhaps time for you to stop writing and have only fun!

Image is a collage prepared for an article written for MyInd Makers here