Speak Now, Or

If we keep quiet now, the politicians of the country will soon enact a law to deny us the fundamental Right to Information about our prospective candidates.  And we will have only ourselves to blame. Today it is our Right to know, tomorrow it could be our liberty. If murderers and rapists and dacoits are not disqualified, the worst of things becomes possible.

Unfounded Fears of Disqualification

We will disclose the assets of only the winning candidates and that too, to the presiding officer of the House

Only the Parliament has the right to legislate.” – Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, Congress (I);

Are we supposed to disclose even our electricity and telephone dues and let an ordinary Revenue official have the right to disqualify our nomination?” – an indignant Mr. Arun Jaitley, BJP official spokesperson.

Public Opinion Is Everything

Haven’t we been complaining for long about the sorry state of affairs in India? Whenever two thinking citizens meet, isn’t the conversation inevitably about the extraordinary crisis facing the country – corruption, delay, inefficiency, extortion, criminalization? Why then aren’t we focusing on what can be done, instead of what is wrong? Is it just apathy, or skepticism, or cynicism, or is it something more?

Speak Up and Be Counted

This week marks the 27th anniversary of imposition of ”internal emergency” in this country. That dark chapter in our country’s history saw suspension of basic civil liberties and habeas corpus, and stifling of press freedom. About 100,000 people were incarcerated for daring to speak-up. Contrast this with just 864 persons detained during the whole of US Civil War!

Public Servant or Presiding Deity

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The press reported that Ms Humpy Koneru was in tears because she was not given the due recognition by the state government and the sports authorities for her recent accomplishment in becoming the youngest Indian grand master in chess. (Surely Humpy and her parents must have been aware that here even Nobel Prize winners are rarely given the media space they deserve - unless they happen to be controversial personalities. Only politicians, filmstars, and occasionally cricketers hog all the lime light in our society!) This set me thinking.

Unfulfilled Potential

The other day I was talking to a chauffeur who was driving me around in a district town. He stopped his education at 3rd grade. His father had passed away and his mother could not take up a job with two little kids in the house. So he and his older brother took up work to support the family. He is now about 30, and has a wife and two kids. He earns a decent wage. He seemed bright and hard working. “Why can’t you study now?” I asked. That set him thinking. He responded, “In my twenty three years of work at different places, no-body ever told me to study. You are the first person”.

Doing a Good Job vs Keeping the Job

Like the summer heat of India, bribery is something which most of us have come to accept as part of being Indian. And just as in the case of the weather, many of us talk at length but do nothing about it because we think that it is a doomed fight anyway. We haven’t even given it a try. And what is worse, for every one person making that extra effort, there are hundreds actively discouraging from the sidelines. Every one of us should shun the company of such cynics with as much dread and aversion as we would a plague. Show me a single cynical achiever!

Bettering (the) Party Democracy for Better Indian Democracy

Gandhi Bhavan was set afire by Congress’ own workers; KCR was gheraoed by his own party members from Khammam; the BJP office in Hyderabad was vandalized by their own cadre from Malakpet constituency and the TDP workers in Adilabad took out processions against their own party president.   All these workers were angry at the way their parties formed alliances, shared seats and distributed tickets for the impending state and parliament elections.

Election of a Selection (Process) that Functions

Recently, in May, an ‘entrance examination’ of massive proportions was held in our democracy.  The candidates’ performance within the span of just a few hours decides his/her future and career.  The doors to their dreams, ambitions and vision are opened only to those hopeful candidates who manage to qualify in this exam.  The large numbers of candidates who do not succeed are forced to wait for their next chance.   Without any doubt, this ‘entrance exam’ is probably one of the toughest and most demanding in the entire world.

F for Future and G for Generation but, H is for Hope

No sooner the EAMCET results were out, the faces of top-ranking students from various ‘institutes’ figured in newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, street banners and television commercials.  But to one institute, all these are somewhat passé. It went one step further: they organized a colourful and noisy car rally - one decorated, music-playing car for every top ranker they produced!