Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dear Mr. Gandhi

Dear Mr. Gandhi,

Given your recent antics, history would not judge me harshly if I addressed you as Rahul-baba, but since this is a serious letter let us keep the communication formal. In spite of this aforementioned  formality let me jest by clarifying upfront that  I don’t anticipate any seismic tremors  from my communication.

I am quite sure you would not  read my letter to you anytime, but I just do hope you would somehow chance upon it.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is not important, but what is important is that I was a Congress voter on the few times I used to bother to vote. The reasons for this was not my love for the party or my admiration in the ideology. Face it that most political parties in India including yours  don’t have any recognizable ideology. My reasons for voting Congress was what was called in your fathers time TINA (There is no alternative). There was really no credible alternative for a long time. Disastrous experiments by Successive non Congress governments just reinforced this belief leading me on the path of “The Congress was the least evil of all the known devils”.

Being what many people would call a pseudo secularist, I watched  with great unease the rise of the BJP who worried me with their thought process. I was always hoping that the Congress would somehow counter this threat and keep the nation safe from these right wingers. My support was solidly with your spokespersons in the Arnab  days running up to the elections hollow as their debating might have been. 
However as the last days of the UPA approached, I watched with amazement at the kind of scams that kept coming up. We had a government which seemed  to be completely lost themselves  and also  lost the ability to govern. Now politics is known to be dirty and let us not fool ourselves that any party in India is “not corrupt”. However the nature and quantum of  scams that seemed to be coming in and kept  weakening  my resolve and I was left at some stage wondering if it is better to have some one who could govern the country irrespective of their position viz a viz their orientation to the center, left off or right off.

I finally cast my lot with the BJP in the last elections and I have not regretted it since. Let me be clear at this point I don’t support in any way the ideology of this party’s parent organization. However I have seen no evidence till now of the fascism from the BJP that many of us were worried about. To digress at this point, many people who use the word fascist don’t know the meaning of this phrase.

As far as Prime minster Modi is concerned, he has my solid vote behind him based on his actions after taking over leadership of this country.

I am just a social commentator and not a writer, journalist or general pundit and don’t know how one quantitatively measures a prime minister.

However from  a subjective point of view, he has shown himself to be a statesman and has put the country at the top of his mind. He has developed a vision for this country and managed to articulate much of it. India has got a leader the people can look upon. What is clearly visible is a gradual betterment of quality of governance and most important putting India on the world stage.  I can just give one data point (which is not data in any form)  which is the pride when I felt during a holiday in Cambodia when  the auto driver in a remote place mentioned to me how India has become so strong in such a short time. Let us face it, there was a lot of cleaning up to do from the era of coalition politics of UPA II and I atleast am not expecting some grand immediate results. Strangely most of my fellow pseudo secularists seem to be very polarized and the majority  seem to be against Prime minister Modi. This disturbs me since they seem to oppose the prime minister on principle and not on an issues base.   I don’t see this changing in the near future but then pseudo secualrists don’t change election results. 

To clarify,  I am not a blind supporter of Prime Minister Modi and am opposed to some of his governments decisions and actions. I am also aware that many of his achievements had been started during the time of the UPA and it would be unfair to credit it all to the prime minister.

Now at this stage let me give you some unsolicited advice.  
This advice is not from any altruistic motives but a selfish one since it impacts me. You see I am a strong believer in democracy and for a strong democracy we need a strong and responsible opposition. 
In India the role of the opposition is to oppose the government whatever they do irrespective if this opposition is in the country’s interests or not. While such an approach might keep you in the limelight temporarily, the long term effect would be detrimental for the country for sure and quite likely for you. Face it, the electorate of today is not the same electorate who kept your family in power for so many decades. In the age of the internet ideas opinions and information flows at a very fast pace and it is difficult to fool all the people all the time.
As much as I support the prime minster, I do get uneasy at the thought of his party becoming another Congress. At the national level yours is the only party which can play the role of an opposition and if you play your cards right may even be back at the government in the medium term. To do this, you need to increase your maturity and reduce your “antics”. Face it, your attacks on PM Modi will not get you anywhere. He has managed to sell his vision to the people (whom I belong to) and all  seem to be behind him. To shake this off , you need to:
      1)   Develop an ideology of your own. Being anti Modi is not an ideology. TINA has been demolished and replaced with TIAA.
       2)      Having a dynastic rule has the major problem that you tend to supress strong leaders. Most of your inner circle cannot face the people directly and have been elected from the safer havens of the Rajay Sabha. It is quite unbelievable  to have a prime mister, home minister and finance minister none of whom  could  directly face the electorate. This is clearly a result of dynastic thinking. If a political party has to depend on one person as leader based on his lineage, it cannot have an ideology. Please do reflect on this. To build a strong party you need to have people who will one day challenge you. If you think that you can politically survive by a sycophantic circle with no direct power base, I have some stocks in gold mines and oil wells that I would like to offer you at a bargain of a lifetime.

       3)      Have patience. Your rout in the last elections is the result of your party’s actions and inactions and recovery will take some time. You cannot build a castle from ashes overnight but if you start now you might recover at some stage.

       4)      My request to you is to have a broader vision for the country. Disrupting parliament and continuous attacks on the government is not going to get you any “equity” as a MBA would say. An easy way out for you is to say that the “BJP” did the same when they were in opposition. That is not a line that a statesman would use and if you hope one day to achieve the exalted status of a statesman you better abandon this line. Playing the role of a responsible opposition and keeping the countries interests at heart viz viz pandering to vote banks might get you some short term gains at the cost of the long term ones. However thinking of the country as a whole might get you the longer term benefits even though the process is slow. Your actions right now are diametrically opposite to all that I am advising, but if you read my communication with an open mind I am sure there will be a convergence of thought.

Once again, India as with any democracy needs a strong opposition which does not have to be you. If you do not fill this place, someone else will. I would like this to be you assuming you do show me that you have the interests of the country at heart.

Feel free to ask me for any clarifications or further advise.

Yours Sincerely

Deepak Misra
Republic of India

P.S.  Next letter is to Prime Minster Modi which I might get around to once I recover from the effort   of writing this one and I will keep you copied.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rambling Thoughts on playing of the National Anthem

The recent controversy about the national anthem got me  bit interested in researching and "opiniating" on this a bit further. There has been sufficient media coverage on this but I learnt from my almost lawyer daughter the importance of reading a judgement and not going by 3rd party reports.

So doing a google search I downloaded, printed and studied the judgement and here is my analysis and opinion.
The judgement can be accessed here:

An excellent summary is here

This  write-up gives  a very good understanding but maybe a bit technical so my  layman’s analysis meant for fellow laymen. Much of the information is got from the above site which incidentally is also a very informative site on law in general.

The facts/history:
1)      This is not a judgement but an interim order.
2)      One Mr. SHYAM NARAYAN CHOUKSEY  a  [sic] Public Spirited person on 28th October 2016  filed a writ petition before the supreme court. The basic request  which this  public spirited person had to the court  was “take appropriate steps to specify what would be constituting disrespect and abuse of the National Anthem. In the petition, reference has been made to Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. It is averred in the petition that sometimes the National Anthem is sung in various circumstances which are not permissible and cannot be legally countenanced regard being had to the national honour.”
3)      The petition contained some “suggestions” to be followed.
4)      The court posted this case for hearing for 30th Nov.
5)      The court passed an interim order on 30th November. Highlights of the order are:
a.       There will be no commercial benefit from the national anthem
b.      There can be no “dramatization” of the anthem.
c.       National Anthem cannot be printed on any object
d.      All cinema halls will play the national anthem before the start of any movie
e.      The doors to the hall will be locked during this playing so that no one can create any disturbance.
f.        The national flag should be shown on the screen during this playing
g.       ….

The court felt that among other things:
[sic]The directions are issued, for love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the National 4 Anthem as well as to the National Flag. That apart, it would instill the feeling within one, a sense committed patriotism and nationalism.

The order goes on to state with some reasoning in-between:

“Be it stated, a time has come, the citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to National Anthem which is the symbol of the Constitutional Patriotism and inherent national quality. It does not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights, that have individually thought of have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible.”

 The above are all factual Here are my comments in no specific order:

1)      If you can understand the last sentence, please enlighten me. I have read it a couple of times and don’t understand what this means. I might be wrong, but it seems to me  that the learned lordships state that individual rights have no place. Hopefully I am wrong.
2)      The judgment seems to have accepted all the suggestions of the petitioner. There  is no logic as to why this applies only to cinemas and not to any other place and also asks the question if citizens can start making their own laws by filing a public interest litigation and requesting the courts to accept the same
3)      Someone has since requested  modification of this order to include singing of the national anthem in courts which has been rejected on technical grounds and a statement to not take the judgement too far [HAHA].
4)      This gets  a bit interesting.  There seems to have been a similar case filed in Bhopal against the move Kabhi Khushi Khabi Gham  before (hold your breath) the same judge who had ordered a stay on the film on account of the national anthem being played in the film. Details here (Warning: A lot of “learned” and “honourable” people are mentioned in this document and it is not light reading. I gave up after 2 pages).  This judgement was subsequently quashed by the supreme court  So part of this new judgement about not allowing dramatization of the national anthem is an old story which was found to be not in order and it seems it being reopened.

Some thoughts:

1)      This is one more example of judicial activism which I had written about earlier and which seems to getting more and more dangerous with time. The courts seem to be wanting to take over legislative functions.
2)      It is shocking that the government along with various politicians seems to be supporting this order. This is a complete abdication of their duties. 
3)      As a citizen of this country, I am shocked that the highest court of this country spends time listening to such issues.  As per my understanding the role of the supreme court is to adjudicate largely on constitutional issues and ensure that fundamental rights of citizens are not violated. The constitution of India guarantees me the freedom of speech and expression within reason and this judgement seems to say the opposite. I just hope my understanding is wrong

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Why dont they get it about linkedin ?

I don’t have any quantitative data to prove or disprove my hypothesis that  a vast user base of linkedin don’t get it. They don’t understand the purpose of linkedin and how to use it effectively. Let me try and list out the major annoyance that affect me.
  • Confusing linkedin and social networking sites like facebook

Maybe in some industries the distinction between social networking and professional networking is blurred but it is certainly not in my industry and I would assume most of my network.  Posts on politics, sports etc. really have no place on linkedin. I would go one step further and say that is  downright annoying. The problem is that if one your connections “likes” the post, it comes up in the news feed.  It is not a very big job to unfollow the perpetrator but then what is the purpose of being connected?
  • Cryptic “I would like to add you to my professional network”.

This actually belongs as cardinal sin one. Now if I don’t know you why would I want to add you to my network unless I know something about how this connection would be beneficial to me. If you are trying to tap my network, you are not going to succeed since this is hidden. I initially used to not add anyone I didn’t know personally but had to abandon this after realizing that I forget names of people who resurface after years and decades. Now there is no algorithm to decide which invitations to accept and which ones to reject and it is quite random.

Glancing through this post a bit, I thought this is a good excuse to start cleaning up the connection list and removing people I personally don’t  know but had  to abandon this  planned action seeing the amount of work involved.
So how does one use linkedin in  way to get benefit. ?
I don’t fully don’t know the answer to this one. I find the noise to signal ratio just to high.
My rough cut estimate is that 10-20% of my connection list post something of interest to me. So what works now is that as I am glancing through my connection list, I just unfollow the remaining 80% as when I see some posts.  Another technique is to use tags constructively.  I add a tag as soon as I add a connection. I have not yet found out what to do which this tagged information but assume it will help me at a later date.

If anyone reads this post and can comment on how they use linkedin effectively and get some benefit out of it –  it would be appreciated.