Friday, December 28, 2007

The importance of Development, Organization and governance


The results of the Gujarat elections are out and Modi has emerged the unscathed winner. Gujarat has crowned Modi by electing him and the media has done its bit by crowning the term “Moditva”.

Congress was drubbed and yet again the crowd that flocked to hear the leaders in the rallies failed to transform into votes. It would have been better if the Congress would have stuck to its own party members instead of allocating tickets to the rebel BJP leaders. These rebels were denied tickets by Modi and its no rocket science that Modi was aware that most of them will not be able to retain their seat and hence decided against giving them another chance. Yet Congress ignoring the obvious decided to ‘award’ these rebels. For the sake of a short term gain the party treaded on path to long term loss.

Time and again it has been said and seen that nothing serves better than a strong and sound state-district level organization and there is absolutely no substitute to that. Even For controlling and pulling strings you first need a puppet that is attached to the string that you intend to pull.

A person sitting in AICC headquarters in New Delhi cannot understand the ground realities of the situation in Patna or Rajkot. He will see what people want him to see. Till 22nd evening Sonia Gandhi was assured by the Gujarati leaders that Congress will win more than 115 seats. Ironically it was the BJP which won 117 seats. The Congress tasted success in 59 up from 51 five years ago.

The bridge between Delhi office and that of the state level functionaries needs to be strengthened. BJP is a much stronger at the lower level because it has the RSS and the VHP who operate on ground zero. It has achieved more penetration in the cities and the mohallas and Congress will always find it difficult to match BJP if it doesn’t works on strengthening its state level organizational cadre. The headquarters needs to give out a message that every state level organization is independent of each other and its day to day working is not in any way to be governed by what is happening at the Delhi Headquarters.

Development issues and religion based issues are two totally different things. Those who have lost the Gujarat elections are saying that it was Hindutva that sailed Modi through. Maybe it was Hindutva but can the same people stand up and say that it was only Hindutva and not the development work that romped BJP home.

NSUI and Youth Congress have become defunct in most of the states and even though Rahul Gandhi and Ashok Tanwar have launched a membership drive to rope in 2.5 crore workers still they need to understand that merely increasing the members won’t help much. The members need to be shown that they are a part of an organization that is alive and kicking.


At the time when Shivraj Singh Chauhan was made the Chief Minister , BJP in Madhya Pradesh was in dire straits. It was at that time the most vulnerable with Uma Bharti and intra-fighting threatening to destroy the whole organization. That was the best time for state Congress to demolish the BJP or at-least weaken it fatally but they threw away that chance.

Now after consolidating his position Shivraj singh has embarked on a development over-drive. With the election scheduled to be held next year the state administration is working tirelessly and that work can be seen in the streets of Bhopal and its appreciated by the voters. And it is not limited to the cities and the towns, rural areas have also been invited to the party.

Political workers need a strong leader whom they can follow; a person who has the faith of everyone. Sadly Subhash Yadav the state PCC chief is not that man. Everytime he seems to stand tall he is overshadowed by the Digvijays, the Kamalnaths and the Arjun Singhs.

Though Subhash yadav was successful in ensuring that his son wins an assembly by-election yet that necessarily doesn’t guarantees that it will be smooth sailing for him in the run up to the state election.

Similarly is the story of Congress in Chhattisgarh which also goes to poll next year. Ajit Jogi has and always had a following among the mass and in the party ranks. Yet his hand has been tied by the people sitting in Delhi after they discovered that was becoming too tall for their comfort.

With Moti Lal Vohra and Suresh Pachauri making sure that Jogi is denied a berth in the Union cabinet and Vohra successfully making his supporter C D Mahant the president of state PCC, the infighting between the party has grown more fierce. Who wins in Chhattisgarh next year will not be determined by the BJP but by VC shukla, Motilal Vohra and Ajit Jogi.

Somehow the high command at 10 Janpath will have to find a way to fit everyone in the scheme of things if it really wants to pose a serious challenge to the ruling BJP and Raman Singh.


Those who have been to Patna recently won't give much chance to Nitish Kumar of making a come back. Infrastructurally the age old Patliputra is in a mess. But lets not forget that this mess is a result of the 15 years old rule of another son of Bihar, and what was done in 15 years cannot be undone in 5 years.

A lot of changes needs to be brought. The mindset needs to be changed and that takes time. The bureaucracy is still nostalgic about the old days when there was no work.

Maybe Nitish kumar will not be able to fulfill all he promised but at-least he is trying. And that’s why he deserves another chance and I hope that he is not blown away by the so called ‘anti-incumbency’ wave.

Left- A fading mirage

The Soviet Union crumbled way back in 1992 and for the Left front in India it took 15 more years. They have not completely disintegrated in this part of this world but they are well on their way.

Leftist movement in India started in the 1920s. After independence it was a bastion of the intelligentsia. To be called a Leftist was an honor in itself. It was seen as a path that only the enlighted follow and a quality that makes one stand over the and above the rest. Even today university and college students spend long hours in discussing and understanding the leftist ideologies and its effect.

A leftist as in the general perception is a beacon for the mass and he is a different entity from the general mass It is his being a leftist that separates him from the right and the rest.

80 years and still the left is limited to only three states of Tripura ,Kerala and West Bengal. Comparatively BJP is a much younger party and yet it has gone in stature and is one of the two major national party of India. It has a much more wide spread presence in India than the Left.

If we pick up an imaginary ‘leftist preamble’ the first line will read that it is a party for the poor, the downtrodden and the downcast. The majority of this countries population comes under this definition and still the Left cannot say that it represents them.

The left prides itself with having horde of intelligentsia on board. Every political party would be more than happy to have the likes of Sumit Sarkar ,Praful Bidwai , Mahasweta Devi as its supporter. Post Nandigram most of them have come out in open criticizing the Leftist government in Bengal.

But what about the participation of the common mass? Why does it fails to invoke trust in the youths of the other parts of the country? And what about the poor and the trodden?

It has managed to rule Bengal for more than three decades and with around 55 MPs in a house of more than 540, has also managed to sway this country in which ever direction it wants to.

The cadre strength of the Left is one that every party would envy. And it is this cadre strength that makes sure that elections after elections are won by force and it’s this cadre that sees to it that protests are suppressed and territories are reclaimed by killing innocent people.

For the left economic development implies taking one step forward and two steps back, for them US is a greater evil than China and for them any foreign industrial body is East India company in disguise and a precursor to economic bondage.

Nandigram has exposed the truth about the left. Tasleema Nasreen’s eviction has shown that for the left hooliganism is more vital than freedom of speech.

Relish the fall of the Left for their will be nothing left of the Left after this. I may be wrong and the Left may still cling on for some more time but that doesn’t mean that they are here to stay. It only means that their fall will be more painfully prolonged.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Judiciary retreats-Executive wins-We lose

The Supreme court yesterday in a far reaching observation said that the judiciary has crossed the thin yet important line that separates the judiciary from the other two branches of governance ; the executive and legislature and the time has come for the courts to refrain from indulging in what it called ‘judicial over-reach’.

A two-judge Bench of Justices A K Mathur and Markandey Katju slammed the judiciary for over-reaching its limit and stepping into the shoes of legislature and executive.

The effects of yesterdays judgment were immediately felt as citing criticism of judicial over-reach, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court refused to hear a PIL seeking relief for ''sex workers''. The petition was filed in the form of a PIL by an NGO Prajwala seeking rehabilitation of victims of flesh trade.

The two bench observation humbly conceded that judicial activism has reached the fifth gear and it should be pulled back. They reiterated the same point which the legislative and the executives have been saying time and again, “Courts should be limited to overseeing that the existing laws are upheld and it shouldn’t take to creating laws.

The observations shocked the legal fraternity and the immediate effect was felt even on the Apex Court the following day as Justice S B Sinha and Justice H S Bedi, literally set the agenda for debate on judicial activism as their Lordships observed " Parameters for hearing the PIL now needed to be fixed by a larger bench ." 

They declined to hear the PIL which they had been hearing for the past four years and referred the matter to the Chief Justice for guidance. The petition was filed in the form of a PIL by an NGO Prajwala seeking rehabilitation of victims of flesh trade.

Same day, the Delhi High Court bench presided by Justice Mukul Mudgal, declined to hear the matter relating to ban on Begging in view of the forthcoming Commonwealth games and observed the court would proceed in the matter only after reading the observations of the Supreme Court.
The judiciary, particularly the High Courts and the Supreme Court were charged with governing the executives. Probably the statement holds an iota of truth. In many cases the courts intervened only when the executive failed to deliver goods to the common man, be it the ban on diesel run buses in New Delhi or commercialization of residential flats in the capital.
However, the Supreme Court had to face criticism when it issued guidelines for vote of confidence proceedings in Uttar Pradesh and then in Jharkhand state assembly and there were accusations that the judiciary encroached upon the functioning of the legislature.

Although it was the judiciary it-self that introspectively came out with the observation but for the present it seems that the executive and the legislature have had the last laugh. The humble self-judged comment by the two judge bench may push back the judiciary into a shell giving executive ample opportunity to deteriorate further.

Although it was the judiciary it-self that introspectively came out with the observation but for the present it seems that the executive and the legislature have had the last laugh. The humble self-judged comment by the two judge bench may push back the judiciary into a shell giving executive ample opportunity to deteriorate further.

Maybe the judiciary has erred while passing the above observations. Although it shows the level of maturity the judiciary possesses and the sanctity it has attained all through these years but the message that will go out would not be too good for the system in the larger context.

In a constitutional setup like ours none of the three branches of governance can be at the same footing, albeit this is what constitution calls for. Though the constitution talks about an ideal setup where each of the three branches of governance will work in its own distinct sphere still it can be reasonably expected that the either of the three will transcend its boundaries and unconsciously and for a good cause will dishonor the separation of power structure.

And if this tilt in balance occurs, as it is happening now then it should be in the favour of judiciary and the it’s the judiciary that should be on a higher pedestal.

Judicial activism traces it roots back to 1980s when the concept of PILs (public interest litigation) came into focus under the learned guidance of Justice P N bhagwati and Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer. It was these PILs that highlighted the environmental pollutions, the sorry state of river Ganga under a series of case filed by MC Mehta.

According to a study by Hans Dembowski, PIL has been successful in the sense of making official authorities accountable to civil society organizations in India. The executive in our country is in a sorry state and there needs to be an accountability that would push them to work efficiently. The courts are one such accountability tool.

Agreed, that as stated by the Supreme Court bench the judiciary has sometimes crossed the “Lakshman rekha” but as said earlier this things are expected. In Shakesperian language it’s about forgoing the lesser evil for a greater cause. And it should not be forgotten that we are not residing in a perfectly-built-ideally constructed world.

The court may have been forced into making these observations in view of the recent vociferous demands by the legislature for bringing judges accountability bill and this was evident when mincing no words the bench cautioned the judiciary to exercise restraint as the reactions from politicians may result in the curtailment of power and dent in independence of judiciary.

If a civil society faces problem and the executive thinks that problem doesn’t warrant attention then is it right to say that even the judiciary should tow the same line? Or the judiciary should portray a picture of blindfolded idol and say that since there is no law to deal with the problem hence there can be no enforcement or wait for a law to be enacted, violated and then decide to look into it.

The three arms of governance are independent and yet dependent on each other. If any one of them is given even a subtle hint of having a free run then there will chaos and anarchy and perhaps the executive has just received that message.

The judiciary is the always the last resort against the oppression of the executive and the legislature and if that last resort too decides to look the other way and ignore its ‘extra-resposible-activism, the country may still survive but then the picture will not be too bright.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The problem with me is that each day I love you more.... Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. The other problem is that you never realize it, not yesterday, not today..maybe tomorrow.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Oh Bhopal

In a chilly night on 3rd December, 1984 a gas leak took place and 3800 people died in Bhopal. It was as simple as this.

24 years have passed and those who lost their loved ones still fruitlessly yet religiously take out processions demanding action against Dow, the new owner of UCC, the company which was responsible for the leak. 

Warren Anderson, the then head of UCC is in US and his extradition constantly refused.

More than 1.5 lakh people were affected by the methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leak and now they are living their lives in complete oblivion. Though the same does not hold true for Dow. The US giant has been allowed to continue providing its service in India and in 2006 the Industrialist and investment commission headed by Ratan Tata requested the Planning Commission to absolve Dow of any liability so as to increase and strengthen the trade between the two country. Reliance too is now working with Dow in the chemical production field.

Another not so important fact that should be noted here is that under the Indian legal eyes UCC is still an absconder. Maybe the law will acquit UCC because it has managed to achieve what no one could do: put Bhopal on the world map.

Dow is represented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi in India and just for the records the PMOs file on Bhopal gas tragedy contains legal opinions that have given by Singhvi. During my law-studying days I frequently use to hear the saying " I am the jury and I am the judge". At that time these lines were too complicated for my nascent mind and it would have been more helpful if we were taught the same principle by illustrating the above example. Now I know what this 'Jury-judge' connotes.

5 years ago while waiting for my train at the Bhopal station I met a crippled man and in the course of having tea on the platform we struck a conversation. He told me that he was an unfortunate survivor of the 3rd December holocaust and he lost his wife, mother and 2 daughters on that fateful night. With moist eyes he told me that was able to survive because he was sleeping on the floor, one on which her wife had recently applied a fresh coat of dung to keep the place warm and insect free. According to him the gas released from the dung neutralized the MIC gas. His family was not so fortunate as they were sleeping on the bed above the ground when the gas leaked.

The dung saved him, at-least that’s what he believes.. He also had one more belief : America used Bhopal as a testing ground for its chemical weapon- the MIC.

In the year 1999 on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy the city of Bhopal observed a two minutes silence in respect of the departed souls. December comes every year. And every year rallies are taken out, speeches made and victims remembered.

For many it is enough. What else do you expect for a bunch of unknown toddlers, aged-old infirm, men and women who died many years ago?

Maybe some justice, not much, but still a small token as to convey the message that those who lost their lives were not worthless and expendable.

3800 people may not be enough to bring people out on the streets of Delhi for a candle-lit protest at the India Gate. Maybe the number is not just enough to warrant a 2 minutes slot on the news channels.

The survivors have now accepted their fate. The Bhopal victims don’t shy away from their helplessness, they have learnt to love with that. Probably we all have.

But at-least we can try to delay the inevitable by 10 years. Can't we resist ourselves from inviting Dow and the UCC to India for some more years? Till the last of the remaining survivor go to a never ending sleep and never awakes to see the ignominy.

"We are not expendable. We are not flowers offered at the altar of profit and power. We are dancing flames committed to conquering darkness and to challenging those who threaten the planet and the magic and mystery of life."

-- Rashida Bee, Bhopal gas leak survivor


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...