Saturday, January 12, 2013

The First Battle: down but not defeated

My life has been an easy one. I never had to try hard to get anything. You can say that I have been cruising through these years. Most of this comfort is due to the fact that nobody expected much from me. I've been better than average all through my life, but never the best.

After some odd 20 years of same life, one is bound to get bored. I also fell prey to the same fate. A dormant trait, ambition, activated itself. Now I was wondering how to pull myself out of the stream, in which I had been flowing along for all these years, and which definitely was leading me to a life of mediocre. So I started planning, with my graduation underway, there were two options. A better job or a better education. From my profile I could only land myself a software job, which isn't very hard to get in the current IT boom. Everyone has one. So it was better education that I needed. This path forked out into technical or managerial education. Here it was an obvious choice, management education. High return on investment and a degree that makes you fit for working in almost every field.

So it began, the war for MBA.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

An unintended revolution

When Anna Hazare sat down for his anshan at Jantar Mantar, on 5 April 2011, he had an agenda on his mind. He wanted to uproot corruption from India. A nearly impossible task, corruption has mingled so beautifully into our social fabric that, that we all have a blind eye for it. When an officer gets a bundle of crisp new currency notes, it is termed as a gift for the family and children. It is never for him. When one has to cough up more money than what is legitimately payable for any government service, one never feels extorted or bribed, it is more likely to be considered as 'Suvidha Shulk' - (Convenience Fee) a small amount of money which one can afford and others cannot. It must really feel good to stamp their financial superiority on others as people cruise up the long line, get their work done while others sweat there for hours. Same goes with our administrators, politicians, representatives and other elected people of authority. When they cut their commission from the public budget, they feel it is morally justified. It is a small compensation for the years of public service, even the people running NGOs draw their livelihood from the donations don't they?

In such social atmosphere how could a person with no organizational support? How could he fight a crusade against corruption? Will people turn against themselves? Was the 'society' mature enough to introspect and clean itself from sins that the members of the society loved to commit?

Anyone with a sane mind would know that this was not even a possibility. Even Hazare must have known, because instead of aiming at corruption in society in general with a cannon, he targeted corruption in politicians and ministers with an sniper rifle.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

India after Gandhi - Ramachandra Guha

Cover of the Indian Edition
India after Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy written by Ramachandra Guha. I would just like to thank the author for this great piece of Literature. It has given immense faith to me in Indian Democracy and its eccentric ways. It is a must read for everyone.

I've read books since I was a kid, a journey from Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys to the Classic Fiction of Jules Verne & H.G. Wells, to the fantasy of J.K Rowling and Tolkien, but India after Gandhi was my first venture into the uncharted waters of non-fiction. If it were to normal circumstances I wouldn't have ever come across this book. A lot of credit goes to PurpleLeap, a foe to the student fraternity of BBDGEI, who organized a Blogmaster contest and awarded me with a Gift Voucher of Flipkart to buy an Apple Ipod.

Uninterested in music I browsed through the site and decided to buy books, and bought all the box-sets and collections, and with them I also carelessly bought this book. I wondered if I would ever read whole of this book, which seems an epic of 900 pages.

As I started reading the Prologue of this book, it was literally a moment of awakening. In the opening few pages Guha explains why India is a peculiar nation, why it is an exception to most of the notions of a country. The ideas and facts presented are known to nearly every aware Indian, but when you observe them in the light of comparisons  with Europe, America, Africa and other Asian countries, it really makes you feel proud about India. Every page of this books fills the mind with nostalgia.

Guha brings about the best in everyone from the society in this book, the freedom fighter turned politicians are depicted as the founding fathers of the nation. The ICS servicemen who were the perpetrators in the crime of helping an Imperial power enslave their own motherland are also glorified for their services after freedom, which was necessary to bind the different states, with their own culture, language, and glorious history into a single Union of India. He really turns the post-independence India into some adventurous world, just like the Middle Earth. The first general elections after Independence is termed as the biggest gamble in the history of the world. He celebrates the democracy throughout the book, not only in India, but also in Indian National Congress, the largest political party.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Paradox of Indian Politics

'There are two ways of making politics one’s vocation: Either one lives “for” politics or one lives “off” it' - the great German sociologist Max Weber once remarked.

In our case, we are today dominated by the later case. Our political leaders would face massive unemployment if they stopped being political leaders. Firstly most of them have businesses which would not be profitable if they do not control the state machinery. The ventures in real estate, infrastructure and liquor licenses do not require skills of entrepreneurship as much as they require favors from public administration. In order to get land allocated at dirt cheap rates or to get licenses and tenders within weeks, you have to be a relative of an MLA or an MP. To bring such prosperity in ones family, people do have to overlook interests of general public.

After independence, the old guard of Congress that ruled India for a decade, was one which lived for politics, they weren't in it for personal interests. Their ideology was defined by the examples of Tilak, Nehru and Gandhi. Austerity was a habit. Pandit Nehru didn't win every general election of his time by rigging elections or by spending more on his election campaign that his rivals. He was successful because of his moral authority. A leader of his stature would still debate with his opposition, accept their better suggestions over his own ideas, listen to his own party's leaders who, though lesser than him, still had their opinions. The famous Kamaraj plan, in which the chief ministers and cabinet ministers of Congress resigned to dispel the lure of power and work for their organization could only have been possible in that era.