Opposition Politics

The new Government is being put together. As a pleasant surprise, we have had a decisive verdict in the polls and now its time for the government and the opposition to get back to work.

The government of course, has it’s work cut out. This time, hopefully, they will be able to focus on development and on actual governance as opposed to policies just to keep their coalition partners happy. At this time, I think it is important for the opposition to introspect and work on their issues. And also, concentrate on the more important bit  – on performing the role of a constructive opposition.

We have always seen in India, how the opposition believes in ‘opposing’ – everything and anything that the govt comes up with. I do wish our opposition comes to understand that just because they are in the ‘opposition’, it does not mean that they have to literally ‘oppose’ everything. A good opposition should act as a check when it comes to harmful policies and as a support in the times that the Govt needs support. Unfortunately, none of our political parties behave that way.. They are normally just too happy to score brownie points – not realizing that their conduct just lowers their respect in the electorate’s eyes.  I would have loved to see BJP support the government on the  nuclear issue.. The way they behaved just made it look like they were opposing it – just for the sake of it.. Had they been in power, they would have done the exact same thing that the UPA govt did. Instead of standing together for the good of the nation, it just tried to play opportunistic politics.. Having said that, I am sure even the UPA had the roles been reversed – would have behaved just the way BJP did..

I do wish we had the concept of Shadow Cabinet , like they have in Britain. I wonder why, when we took everything else from the British , did we leave this out?  It is such a great concept. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to pass criticism on the current government and its respective legislation, as well as offering alternative policies. Every cabinet portfolio, will have a shadow portfolio as well. So you have a Cabinet minister responsible for health, for instance and a shadow minster responsible for the same.. I think it helps improve the working knowledge of the opposition and also gives the electorate an idea of how the opposition can be expected to perform, if they were to come to power.. I personally feel that it also improves the accountability of the opposition.

 A good opposition checks and balances out a government. I do so hope that the parties in the opposition, particularly the BJP as it is the largest opposition party, if it wants to have a better showing next time round, needs to gear up and play the role of a constructive, effective opposition and not one of a disruptive opposition. A government with weak or no opposition can turn out to be even more dangerous than a cobbled together coalition government. Lets hope that both the government and the opposition work together for a better India.


PS: Does anyone know why we did not adopt the Shadow Cabinet? Was there any specific reason for it? I was not able to figure out.. I would love to know!

Election Results!

Just wanted to record how delighted I am at the results! After all the dire predictions of a split verdict and the possibility of cobbled-together, opportunistic, coalitions – the decisive victory for the UPA is a delight to see!!!

It is a delight to just know that all that heavy bargaining that was predicted is not going to happen.. and that all the predictions and exit polls are actually far from what the Indian voter wants.. Is this an indication of the growing maturity of the Indian voter? I, sure hope so!

Dance of Democracy

Masood’s post on Indian Democracy brought about this post.. It just reminded me of all the ways in which we take our democracy so much for granted..

I have heard comments, as long back as I remember, about how India needs a dictator to make things right.. How one dose of dictatorship will set right all our problems! Have we started taking our democracy for granted? Have we stopped valuing our democracy? Today, as we are in the process of voring in our 15th Lok Sabha, a brand new government, I really wanted to pen down, how I view the democratic process..

From what I have read, from the time India , as we know it today,came into existence, there have been dark and pessimistic predictions of how quickly the ‘democratic setup’ will dissolve and India will slip into total chaos. Initially it was the West which were predicting its decline and then we ourselves picked up the chanting, but miraculously, despite all the problems, all the flaws, and the short foray into dictatorship during the emergency, India has continued to function as a democracy.

Yes, we have our problems, but why do we forget that we are just 60+ years old.. That is surely very young, if you compare,for instance with England.  Despite being a monarchy – they had a parliamentary system in place as far back as 1295 . That is a lot of  years to iron out the issues and fine tune their system.. Add to that, the fact that India’s cultural diversity adds another element which brings a different take in our parliamentary system..  According to the wikipedia – ‘At least once every five years, India’s Election Commission of India conducts one of the largest, most complex elections of the world. India’s elections in the 2004 involved about 581 million voters who travel to nearly 800,000 polling stations to choose from some 11,680 candidates representing roughly 221 parties. The elections reveal much about Indian society.’

We talk so much about regionalism in politics and it’s harmful effects. But can we totally do without regionalism? Will that ever work? The way I look at it – in the UK, such a tiny country, especially in comparison to India, still has 2 countries within it – Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland.  They have their own sports teams and there is a very intense rivalry between these ‘countries’ and yet they remain a country. So in a ountry like India, these regional feelings are quite normal and expected.. What probably, needs to be done is that any sense of alienation, needs to be tackled by governments in a positive and encourahing manner  – as opposed to a patronising or ‘votebank’ style as is being practised today..

Yes, our democracy has criminals representing us – but isn’t that because of our own apathy?

Yes, our democracy has the caste card and religion based votebank politics being played – but isn’t that a reflection of our society, where which caste and religion you belong to, seems to matter ?

Yes, our media might be biased, but atleast we have the freedom to speak our mind. Google does not need to modify/alter searches for our country – we are free to look up what we want in our country.

Yes, we do compare with China quite badly, but really, do we want the government to take our personal decisions for us? And the truth is that we do not even know the whole truth behind China.. If some reports are to be believed, the villages are in as bad shape.. In India, we can, at the very least, question, our

Yes, our secularism has its flaws – but do we really want to be a Pakistan?

Yes, we have people like Narendra Modi and Madani in politcs, but we also have the right to question them.. If found guilty, Modi will not be able to contest elections. Yes, we have a slow judicial process – but isn’t it better than no judicial process? Or a judiciary which is totally controlled by the government?

Yes, a lot of us do not vote – but we have the option and the option to not use it.

I have heard of people dismissing news channels and freedom of press saying – oh they just debate the same things’! But at least, we can discuss, debate and question our leaders.. Today, even though there are criminals in politics, I do think that parties are aware that they will be questioned about it.. And even if it is a slow process, it will take effect.

Yes, we have a lot of problems, but are we not part of it? Are we all doing what we can do.. I especially feel this whenever I read some of Manju’s posts.. There is so much we can do, we can express ourselves, we can disagree with our political leaders, we can even complain that we have a democratic system which does not work – because we have a working democracy – however flawed it might be…

Just in case anybody is in any doubt…

This is what our future(possibly) MP has to say….

In an interview with the Hindustan Times… Sanjay Dutt had this to say…

Did your wife convince you to get into politics?

Manyataji takes the decisions in the kitchen.. aaj biryani banegi ya phir kabab or chicken. That’s where she rules. In other matters I decide what’s to be done. Yes, she’s my wife, so it’s obvious that I’ll always discuss everything with her.. like every other husband and wife.

Full Interview here.

I know a lot of you will probably ask me, why Sanjay Dutt again? Well, no reason, just saw this and felt like sharing, for a laugh! Ekta Kapoor must be clapping!

UP – A Haven for crooks?

I have been following the election drama in the news channels and all possible online newspapers and am seeing a pattern here..

Every crook that is entering politics seems to be getting a ticket from UP! Thank about it, Sanjay Dutt, who has lived all his life in Mumbai, suddenly realizes that he has ‘roots’ in Lucknow, calls it his ‘second home’????

Azharuddin, somebody who could not even play sports with honesty has jumped in the fray – originally from Hyderabad, is now going to contest from Moradabad, UP! Wonder what roots he found there? I am sure they will think up something!!

And not to mention, Varun Gandhi – he probably has more of ‘roots’ in Pilibhit, as that was his mother’s constituency.. As for whether, there is any other reason, he could be allotted that constituency – is anybody’s guess!!

So what is it about UP, that seems to be attract every crook in town? Is it because the masses have been kept mired in illiteracy, casteism and regressive traditions, to ensure that they are easily swayed by our ‘leaders’?? While I am not denying that every region has it’s share of crooked politicians, I just wonder if it would have been so easy for Sanjay Dutt to go and contest in a place like, say, Bengal?

Isn’t it, also not more than a little ironic, that the 2 states that send the maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha, seems to have the dirtiest politicians??

The Audacity of Hope

Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope was a real revelation for me. His honesty and vision for America shone through. To me it felt like a remarkable honest book by someone who seems to genuinely want to do good.

This is Barack Obama’s second book – I have not read his first one and after reading this one, am dying to read the first one. He comes through as very level headed and astute. The ideas and the policy positions that he has outlined in the book makes very interesting reading and gives an insight into the issues that Americans are facing now. The most interesting part is that the ideas that Obama has outlined could very well be applied to most countries. Education, health care and energy, for instance, are issues facing most countries in some measure.

After seeing the way our Indian politicians behave – Obama was very, very impressive and refreshing. He has analysed very sensibly what was done wrong during the Bush Administration and the measures that he thinks, could help change things. The best part is that he sounds very balanced , not resorting to any kind of negativism towards anyone and at the same time, coming up with sensible sounding solutions.

There are some interesting snippets from his meetings with various personalities like the US President George W. Bush and Warren Buffett, which add a lot of flavour.

One of the chapters in his book is Faith and to be honest – it was a huge revelation to me. I did not know the extent to which Faith is a factor in American politics. There are instances where he is made to look like a person of no ‘faith’ because he is pro-abortion. It is amazing that faith plays such an important role in American politics. For instance in India – religion has become part of politics but ‘faith’ as such, is not. We never hear of one politician accusing another of not being ‘Hindu enough’ or ‘Muslim enough’. Although I guess, India has enough trouble with religion alone , without needing the extra element of faith.

All in all, I really enjoyed Barack Obama’s writing style and a lot of things gave me an insight to American politics. I really look forward to seeing him elected President and then hopefully, we will get to see a new , responsible America as opposed to Big Bully America.