Vox Populi, Vox Dei !

The recent March 13 Supreme Court judgment on disclosure of candidate details raised several interesting questions. Many well-meaning and concerned citizens are asking: Will we really get information on candidates? Don’t disclosures disqualify candidates? Does it not affect the candidates’ privacy? Don’t people know the antecedents of candidates anyway? Is it enough to cleanse elections? What can people do now? etc. If we have to proceed further in the cause of democratic reforms, we need to find honest and sensible answers to these questions.

Devil in the Detail

One trip out of India, and we end up having so much material to write about on our return. I am not referring to the wonderful sights or technological innovations one sees abroad or the curtsey and efficiency with which even a third world country’s immigration and customs officials function. I am referring to the simple things which are overlooked because of lack of planning or attention to detail or plain insensitivity.

Problems or Opportunities?

Recently, I had an opportunity to interact with a bright second generation Indian American, who is incidentally doing quite well professionally and is on a fast track career path. Most of these kids are born and bought up in the US or elsewhere and their only link to India is that it’s the land of their parents. You might think that therefore these kids don’t have as strong an emotional link to India as their parents – but I am pleasantly surprised to discover that there are quiet a few young bright professionals of Indian origin who are willing to do their bit for India.

Freedom - for Whom?


Soon we celebrate one more republic day. Instead of the usual symbolic flag hoisting and traditional invocation to Ghandiji, can we take a few concrete steps and make some sincere attempts to realize his dreams? Ever since independence, every leader of our country has been paying lip service to Gandhiji’s concept of Gram Swaraj. But this continues to remain only an ideal with decentralization of power and local government empowerment turning out to be a mere mirage.

Smoke and Mirrors

The AP state government has recently released a document titled “ Annual Fiscal Framework 2003-04” (AFF). This document is ostensibly intended to serve as a basis for formulating the budget after considering the feedback received from the public. Without resorting to financial mumbo jumbo, I would like to draw your attention to the real issues, which get obfuscated by the mirages the government is trying to create.

Sand Tracks or Proper Rails?


Some one once asked Archimedes, "People say you are a great scientist, can you move the earth?". He replied confidently “Yes, give me a place to stand on and a long enough lever and I will move the earth”

Yes to Empowerment – No to Diktats

“If large-scale corruption is detected in any municipality, the government will not hesitate to initiate severe action, including dissolving the elected body. Public representatives are mistaken if they think they can fleece the people and remain indifferent to their problems” – this is a report of CM’s outburst carried in a newspaper. The CM was understandably annoyed on seeing garbage strewn all over the place on his surprise visit to Rajendra Nagar. He hauled up both the municipal chairman and the Municipal commissioner.

Restraint in Victory and Dignity in Defeat


Our society, culture and tradition always preach the values of equanimity and restraint. ‘Sthitapragnatva’ is our ideal. But sadly our public discourse, posturing and actions often betray short-term emotionalism, irrational exuberance or uncontrolled anger. Take for instance the developments in the sports arena. Tuesday’s papers carried headlines of Mohammed Khaif’s house being attacked by people who smeared the walls with black oil. The terrified family had to seek protection. The papers also carried photographs of Saurav Ganguly’s picture in flames.

Technology as a tool for empowerment or centralization?

All of us, we are privileged to live in a day and age of technological innovation. Modern technology enabled us to do many things, which would have been considered impossible a century ago Modern health care in the form of vaccines, antibiotics and aseptic surgery went a long way in increasing the average life span. The communications revolution coupled with modern air transport made the term “globalization” a reality. Networking, wired world, connectivity and e-governance are the latest jargon freely used by the new age gurus.

The Battle has just Begun

The Supreme Court verdict of March 13 reiterating the fundamental right of voters to know about candidates is a significant milestone in the evolution of our democracy. First, it has upheld constitutionalism and strengthened our faith in the institutional vitality and corrective mechanisms in our republic. Second, it provides a priceless opportunity for parties to break out of the shackles of criminal elements and moneybags at the constituency level. Politics as big business, power at any cost, and public office for private gain will simply not do.