Back to my words..

It’s been a while since I blogged last and well, a lot has happened since then. Pretty much on all fronts.

For those who sought pleasure in sarcastically congratulating me for the election results, you still made me smile, so thanks for that. And I wasn’t hiding away somewhere, unable to face the election aftermath. Just a bunch of professional engagements keeping me rather occupied.

So well, I won’t try and follow the world in advising what the BJP should be doing next.  My mentor had an interesting take on it. It answered a lot of things for me.

A whole lot of intellectual talk came his way after the election – ” You should be introspecting, undergoing catharsis, give up on Hindutva and all of that…”. His response was simple, ” All these ideas and talk is great, but the change that you talk about, what’s going to be YOUR contribution in it? What role are YOU going to play?”

Most people, love advising and solving problems for others – non accountable types – have a lot of gyan to give, but not enough time or enthusiasm to actually contribute something of value. In politics, if you want to be heard, being a pure intellectual won’t suffice. You gotta be a doer – help execute, at least partly, the ideas that you speak about. Or find other ways of contributing – fund them maybe.

With all these thoughts, I’m not going to delve into advising what the the party leadership should be doing with their ideology and political strategy.  I prefer to leave those at coffee tables conversations just like college gossip.

And while I’m rather hopeful with the current way of things, I haven’t forgotten that the same papers, who wrote ‘All Talk No Vote‘ after the election day, screamed aloud that India had voted for secularism,  ‘mandate’ for congress and all of that.  There’s no disputing that congress won the political game, and I respect them for that. But to say that the people of India have awakened to make wiser choices, and that the days of extremism are over – would still be a utopian thought.

Just for instance, in Mumbai North-east, out of 15 lakh eligible voters, about 6 lakh voted. 2.5 lakh each to bjp and ncp and 1 lakh to MNS. BJP lost by a mere 3000 votes. Same’s the case with 5 out of the 6 seats in bombay. I’ll not get into accusing Thackrey junior for sabotaging it for BJP-SS, but just point out that the extreme still got more votes than the congress/NCP as far as Mumbai is concerned.I have collated the nos. from the election commission site, so if you have doubts, feel free to leave me a note and I’ll share with you.

So while feeling holier than me, don’t be too naive and believe all that you see / hear.

So that’s about the state of my mind. Next , what am I looking to do, really. I don’t know how much I will be able to do really. Being a professional with elite education to back me, I want to use these to listen to the voice of people and give them a chance to participate in policy making and execution.

Accordingly, I want to :

– Work with a bunch of IITians / IIM students on some e-governance projects – pick up global case studies, analyse their feasibility in India at a basic level and develop concept papers that can be proposed to the state.

– Interface with  tax payers / professionals of various sorts – understand their greivances and issues (those that are not entirely obvious) and see if there’s anything that state’s intervention can help in.

– Crowdsource issues for the governance / leadership to answer – identify the ones that are most crucial to each group of audience and try to draw attention to them.

– Work on interfacing political leaderhip with industry leaderhip effectively – to enable transferring of ideas at the right level.

– Hold events that involve complete civilans into thinking about governance related issues and contibute with their ideas.

– Use online media to identify, spread and raise the issues that are important to the people and take them to the right places.

A few months into the system I’m still in the early exploratory phase and there’s a lot that may not be within my reach to impact yet, but well, the process is on and the lessons too.


After the elections…

Knowing me as an NDA supporter, people have directed a bunch of reactions at me after the results came out yesterday.  Included mockery, ‘i told you so’, consolations, and some others as disappointed, trying to find the way forward from here.

While the election results surprised me, like anyone else (pretty much?), the political irrelevance of my work, in writing blogs or talking to people had become clear to me, just the next day of elections. I had really sit down to understand what was happening at the booths really and how things on ground were really done and decided – the real politics, the real decisions – taken by people who do it as a transaction, not so much as the ‘jagruk yuva’ of the country.

Now theorists are talking about votes having been bought, EVMs being rigged and all that, but an electoral victory is an electoral victory and one can’t take away the credit from the winners for that.

So here’s congratulating the UPA leadership for having pulled it off rather well. I admire the discipline and the unquestioned hierarchy and leadership that seems to come across, so what if I don’t approve of the leaders themselves.

Was on a UTVi show, shot yesterday, (actually to bail out the host friend, who needed some talkers) to discuss the happiness or otherwise with the UPA and the expectations with this new government. While I’d have serious doubts about their capability as well as intentions in making a real difference, like I’m being told by Rahul’s fans, lets give him a chance. Chance it is, to prove his mettle in the parliament, when he’s got unquestioned power in his hands, and this time, the left is reduced to irrelevance too, so no more excuses on that count.

So what’s now the role of the urban, educated youth now, beyond voting. Firstly, I don’t agree that people who didn’t vote don’t have the right to ask questions or to complain now. They (or their parents) have been paying taxes to the government and that gives them every right to expect certain things in return. The first among them, is transparency and accountability on where the tax revenues are being spent.

To take the role seriously would mean that we don’t wait for another five years to evaluate the report card of the current government, but make intermittent checks that keep them under pressure to perform well over the next five years and if nothing is done, prove their hollowness. Rahul did all the youth-friendly college trips and held slum kids in his hands in poll time. It remains to be seen how far the interfacing with the youth continues, now that he’s in power.

Once you mention a political affiliation, people tend to forget about your essential bigger objective, which is to contribute to the society and nation in a positive manner. I continue to stand by the BJP and against the Congress. (Yet to ascertain which feeling is stronger). Congress is in power, fair enough, but to keep tabs on it, would need a principled and powerful opposition, an unbiased media and a demanding customer base of voters who wouldn’t be satisfied till their questions are answered and demands are met.

Trying to not let their past goofups bias me, I’ll try to keep track of what this sarkaar does and be an honest critic.

I hope that they’ll have an interface for people to reach to them – beyond Milind Deora and Priya Dutt’s facebook accounts.

I hope the PMO doesn’t now issue ‘secular’ statements giving the first right to the country’s resources to a particular religious community – but looks at India as India, not a sum of vote banks.

I hope Rahul Gandhi starts a blog and has someone update it frequently enough – not to tell us about his columbian girlfriend, but his political vision and what he’s doing to take the country forward.

I hope fundamentalist leaders from any religion don’t command our central policies and Rahul doesn’t feel the need to bend to anyone’s demands this time around.

Much like Amir Khan talked about the pro-voting campaigns for ADR, I urge people to become more demanding as customers. We lose patience at the omissions of our service providers, lets be a lot more demanding of those who govern us.

Lets take protests beyond the domain of the NGOs and do our own jobs beyond candle light vigils.

Lets ‘stay awake’ , beyond a one day ‘jaago re’.

Lets organize ourselves as ‘youth’, as ‘taxpayers’, as ‘citizens’, as ‘IT professionals’, a phone/internet users, flyers, retail buyers –  and make demands, instead of the caste and religion based identities to make demands.

For those who supported the UPA, the task is far from over, and those who were with the NDA, the challenge is even bigger now.

So now lets see what the youth can do for the country.