Tamil Nadu to Taliban Nadu

The state of Tamil Nadu entered the hospital in December 2015. Then it graduated to an ICU in September 2016 and finally reached the mortuary in December 2016. From then on, it continues to be in the same state – lying in state.

Dec 15 floods not only devastated Chennai but also wrote the preamble to the destruction of the state’s economics. When floods ravaged the state, overseas companies that had their offshore operations in Chennai took a serious hit. The offshore sites were not reachable for 4 days and that had a devastating effect on the bottom lines of many IT enabled companies.

I took it as a cue and moved a critical function to another state in India. Many had done that too, later I learnt.

Then came September 2016, when the then Chief Minister of the state Ms.Jayalalithaa was taken ill. She was in hospital until December 2016 when she passed away. The business scenario took a serious downward spiral as the state didn’t have a head of state for many months.

Later during January 2017, assorted groups took advantage of the situation and held the state to ransom by holding an indefinite strike and protest on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in Chennai. What appeared to be a ‘student’s protest’ to voice opposition to the banning of a popular traditional animal sport soon metamorphosed into an ugly monster that espoused sedition and linguistic chauvinism.

From then on, periodic protests in the name of safeguarding agriculture, protecting tamil pride, opposing the ‘exploitative’ attitude of industries et al have begun to surface with no warning. Meanwhile the state government has gone into a paralytic mode with no visible activity happening in the name of governance.

This sudden vacuum in the power structure has provided the necessary impetus to the anti-social elements to wreak havoc on the state and upset the carefully built image of the state as a safe one for investment.

The LTTE money that is still available in a few hands, the religious conversion inspired and church backed activists who have seen their folk dwindling, the out of business politicians who were kept at bay by the two state political parties, the parties affected by the recent demonetization by the Narendra Modi government – mostly the hawala operators, movie producers et al – these are the forces that are behind the incremental descent into chaos.

Yet another force that is not spoken about at all by the mainstream media is the rapid wahabi inspired elements that are seeking to consolidate and bring about greater instability in the state. The late Jayalalithaa too pandered to this sect when she allowed the ‘Anti-Superstition Conference’ of the wahabi inspired elements. The elements openly asked for the desecration of the sufi shrines in Tamil Nadu, as the latter were not as per the teachings of the wahabi sect of Islam. For 100s of years, hindus and christians have visited these sufi shrines as a show of inter-religious harmony in the country. Disturbing this amity is a recipe for disaster.

Some of the leading movie stars like Kamal Hasan have found it fit to come out in the open and voice concern on the state of affairs – an attempt to enter the political scene now that the all powerful leader – Jayalalithaa- is gone. It was Kamal Hasan who had to face the music of wahabi elements when he sought to release a movie of his – Viswaroopam – that talked about terrorist elements and the US war on terror. That Jayalalithaa used Kamal Hasan to consolidate the wahabi elements to support her was an open secret that none wanted to acknowledge.

Tamil Nadu is seen to oppose any progressive central government scheme much to the detriment of its own people. Overseas investors are in two minds whether to invest in the state or not, now that there is no political leadership with clarity of thought and action.

The recent ‘protest’ in the village of Neduvasal in the name of opposing hydro carbon extraction is worth our attention. This was conducted by, again, the assorted groups of anti-India and anti-Progressive forces. No sooner were the protests announced than the communist parties sidelined with them. The recent converts into communism – the JNU radicals and his ilk – came all the way to Tamil Nadu, to Neduvasal, and ‘voiced’ their support to the cause. This, even after assurances from geologists from the Periyar University in Salem that the hydro carbon extraction in Neduvasal had nothing to do with the water levels going down in the state.

The not-so-recent Kudankulam protests have to be looked into through the same lenses. The local church organisations had gathered together, pooled their resources, and financed the fast-unto-death programme of the local residents. The fasts continued for so long that even Arvind Kejriwal, the born-again-anti-national, came all the way to Kudankulam to voice his support. It is a different matter that Kejriwal had promised free electric power to Delhi ( where he was Chief Minister) and it didn’t matter to him that the free power that he was proposing was drawn from the Atomic rectors of Rajasthan.

The Neutrino project in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu has been shelved after considerable money has already been spent. Reason – environmentalists of this anti-national conglomerate opposed it.

Tamil Nadu is seen as the only state that opposes the national eligibility tests for medical seats. Recently the state also abolished the state level qualifying tests for its engineering colleges.

The number of Tamil Nadu students qualifying in central government conducted All India Exams has come down, thanks to successive years of decay in the educational arena. The normally multi-lingual Tamil student is seen to struggle even in Tamil, leave alone English and Hindi. The student knows the next movie that is set for release than what goes into a mobile phone that makes it work.

For the average student, a movie star’s personal attributes are interesting than the issues in South China sea. One should not be surprised if a student, when asked ‘Who is the president of Tibet’, could blurt out, ‘Dalai Lama’. Such is the situation on the ground. The educational statistics of the state’s students, especially in Math and Science, paint a grim picture. While the state should pride itself in providing quality and free educations, it has stooped to the level of distributing liquor through state agencies.

The state had the gory spectacle of the top bureaucrat being raided, in office, by central tax investigators.

However hard I try, as an Indian Tamil, I cannot restrain from thinking that Tamil Nadu is marching progressively towards being rechristened Taliban Nadu.  And feel sad at it.

I plan to write more on these contemporary issues at different times. I shall write them as an Indian first and a Tamil next.

Tell me your views and share the article as appropriate.

India Rising – a book review

This book is a compendium of various facets of India, from a Singaporean perspective, by an author-journalist who was part of all the facets. The book is not only interesting but also riveting as the author, Ravi Velloor, has dealt in detail, each one of the above facets.Even though the book is detailed, it doesn’t test our patience, as the lucid presentation lures us into the book and the details that it contains.

The book covers the happenings in India between 1998 to 2015. More focus has been on the UPA-I and II periods and the roller-coaster ride that the country went through under the regime.

Ravi Velloor talks about the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Singapore, the behind the scenes negotiations that took place to enable that, the role played by former PM Goh Chok Tong, and the necessity of cooperation between the two democracies.

The India-US relations, how the US began to lure India into its fold, how the partnership cemented, the background on Indo-US Nuclear Deal, the stupid role played by the communists in trying to stall the deal, how Manmohan Singh ensured that the deal was made – all these are captured the sequential manner  in which these occurred. Lots of insights here on how Singh ensured the deal got through.

The book talks in detail about the state or the lack of it in Pakistan and how the nation was behind the Nov 26, 2008 attack on Mumbai. The detail on the young Singaporean lawyer Lo Hwei Yen who was killed while on her one day work visit to Mumbai would bring tears to your eyes not only because of the dastardly nature of the attack but also because of the journalistic ethic that the author displayed when he didn’t want to look at the naked body of the victim, as he thought that would have amounted to violation of privacy of a lady. Such journalists are a rare breed in this era of Twitter journalism.

5188ewqcnyl-_ac_us160_fmwebp_ql70_The author is highly critical of Shashi Tharoor for his flamboyant methods to woo international opinion to favour his elevation as UN Secretary General. Tharoor comes out as selfish, attention seeking and always-after-power type in spite of his ebullience and erudition. Tharoor, in order to win over the confidence of Sonia Gandhi and get her support to get India’s backing for his position, goes to meet her in person, carrying a biography of Nehru that he had written. Despite the Indian external affairs ministry’s misgivings in fielding Tharoor, just because Sonia Gandhi approved his nomination, India backed him, and in the process got disgraced when the US sided with the Korean nomination, Ban Ki Moon. Condolezza Rice’s comment on Tharoor is all the more damaging. Tharoor becomes the case of a person who put himself ahead of the nation.

Sri Lankan equation makes an interesting reading. That the LTTE dug it own grave is all the more evident. But some genuinely sympathetic exchanges from Rajiv Gandhi to Prabhakaran – the former gave the latter his bullet proof vest – were discarded by the LTTE and today the terrorist organization doesn’t exist. This section explains in detail how the LTTE didn’t get the post 2001 international situation at all and this, coupled with Indian animosity, ended in the downfall of the Tigers.

While dwelling on Tigers and the final phase of assault, the author explains in detail as to what happened prior to Karunanidhi’s bizarre half a day ‘fast-unto-death’ when he had prior input from P.Chidambaram that there would be a temporary cessation of hostilities.I would only recommend that at least this section be translated into Tamil and circulated in Tamil Nadu. The sequence of event is as below ;

  1. Elections are underway in India. Polling in TN was to have happened on 13-May.
  2. Congress govt worries that any news of Prabhakaran’s death would jeopardize the polling in TN against Congress-DMK combine.
  3. Shivshankar Menon and Narayanan travel to Sri Lanka to ask them to stop hostilities for a couple of weeks.
  4. Sri Lanka agrees.
  5. P.Chidambaram conveys this to Karunanidhi.
  6. Next morning, on 28 April 2009, Karunanidhi announces a ‘fast-unto-death’.
  7. Sri Lanka announces ceasefire the same day.
  8. Karunanidhi declares ‘Victory’and calls off ‘fast-unto-death’.
  9. Polling gets over on 13-May.
  10. DMK & Congress get elected.
  11. Prabhakaran is killed on 19-May.

Conspiracy, self-centric policies, avarice, intrigue – the characteristics that Karunanidhi symbolizes, are shown in the above approach. The author captures it all.

Ravi talks about the ‘Mallu Mafia’ – the bureaucratic stranglehold that the Malayalee bureaucrats – TKA Nair, M.K.Narayanan, Shiv Shankar Menon – had on the govt, the politics that unfolded, the power struggle in the bureaucracy and after-effects thereafter.

Anthony, India’s worst defense minister ever, is dealt with in a separate chapter. As a result of the Right to Information Act, bureaucrats become averse to taking any decision and begin to pass on the buck. This strangulates decision making and puts purchases for armed forces under scanner. Meanwhile several mishaps take place in the naval force. The defense minister blames the then Naval chief D.K.Joshi and accepts the latter’s resignation in the most ungraceful manner. The UPA government under Singh had not only institutionalized corruption but also defamed the armed forces. The then Army Chief V.K.Singh’s retirement age episode took place in this period. The author has captured all these in minute detail.

What is shocking is the reason attributed to Anthony’s actions. Under fire from all directions on different scams related to 2G auction, Coal, Commonwealth Games and Aadarsh Building, Anthony was expecting Manmohan Singh to resign so that he could take over the reins.

There is an imbalance in the author’s treatment of a scam pertaining to a Singapore company in an Indian arms deal. Anthony had black-listed the company. The author loses his balance here and starts his mud-slinging on Anthony. It is a different matter that Anthony deserves not handfuls of mud but mountains of it. He makes a startling revelation that Manmohan Singh had early stage Parkinson’s disease and hence was not as active when he was Prime Minister and often looked wooden even in public appearances.

Ravi also talks about the ‘prince-charming’ who has been in eternal wait – Rahul Gandhi. He some how claims that Rahul is an exceptional listener, a voracious reader and an eager learner. None of what Ravi says has been visible sofar. He even says a Singapore minister had spent a day with Rahul and was enchanted at the latter’s curiosity. Ravi could have said more on this episode. The claim that Sonia Gandhi is also a voracious reader is news.

There is an interesting bit on Sonia Gandhi’s refusal to accept the Prime Ministership listening to her ‘inner-voice’. It turns out that it was Rahul Gandhi who argued with Sonia not to accept the position as he felt the position was too risky. Natwar Singh who was party to the conversation confirms this to the author.

Another interesting tidbit that we gather is that Rahul had come twice to Singapore and to spend some time listening to the legendary Lee Kuan Yew who had asked him not to hurry for position, to surround himself with smart and reliable folks and be ready when the time comes. Looking at the kind of folks that Congress has, it seems Lee Kuan Yew’s advice would remain an advice.

The author also covers the wholly unconstitutional National Advisory Council with Sonia as the Chairperson that had enormous powers even on the Prime Minister and the complete compromise that Singh had to resort to in order to please Sonia and her coterie and similar such items in this book that send shock waves over one’s spine.

The author concludes with Modi, talking about his performance in Gujarat, his gradual ascendancy in national politics and then becoming PM at last. An essential book on India through the eyes of an outsider who knows more people inside than the rest of the insiders.

Modi. Period.

No, ‘Modi. Period.’ has not been typed by mistake. I mean it.

Just travel with me for some time in the past. Come with me just about two millinnium backwards in time, just in case that is possible.

You are in the time period when Kautilya, the ancient political strategiest has taken a vow to bring the Maurya empire into focus again.

What you see is a humungous land mass that has been bisected, trisected, vivisected and what not by the myriad rulers and dynasties. People are dejected. There is a general mood of despair and melancholy. People walk down with shoulders drooped down. The pundits have become self-centered and resort to exclusion. The wealthy class looks at amassing what ever wealth is available for them to hoard.

The kings who are supposed to be just, behave in the most un-just manner. Coterie rules the nation or what ever is left of the land mass called nation.

Kings pander to paramours. The helpers of the paramours form the coterie around the king and amass wealth. In the process they resort to every possible means to subdue rebels and intellectuals. Any whimper of protest is put down with the most brutal force.

Nothing can be more inviting to the enemies of the nation than the downward spiral of the morale of its people. Even if an enemy chooses to attack the nation, the people think of looking the other way as they think that the attack is on the king who is anyways unconnected with the ordinary people. But the actual attack is on the nation and its wealth.

So, why do the people behave so, you wonder. A closer look at the people reveals the truth. They feel alienated from the King and its coterie. And so they are indifferent.

Then you see the luminous personality, Kautilya, better known as Chanakya coming over and declaring that he would one day make Magadh a powerful empire that it once was and install Chandragupta Vikramaaditya as the emperor of Bharat. And Bharat includes the present day Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And to perform that he trains the young Chandragupta in the relevant martial arts and statecraft that are needed to perform the turnaround.

Initially you see that people are still indifferent and look away from him. But he accomplishes his tasks in a meticulous manner. He helps annexe smaller peripheral kingdoms and slowly builds confidence in the young Chandragupta as well as in the people. With the initial victories, you see that people slowly begin to take notice of him. And over a period of time, having been used to the victories of Chanakya, the ordinary people fall for his words and begin to rally behind him.

Time passes as you watch. And Chanakya’s words get sharper. Chandragupta begins to realize that he too could be powerful. He understands that the nation is not doomed, after all, with all its resources. Every leper and mis-fit in the country begins to take notice of the positive energy that they are being swarmed under. The euphoria of nationalism builds up. You see that even housewives, who have no opinion on anything about the nation, begin to take interest in the national affairs and discuss among themselves as to the new uprising.

Children talk about Chanakya and Chandragupta. You and I watch the numerous martial arts training schools that are springing up just before our eyes. We are witness to the fact that middle aged men, sick men and otherwise inconsequential men take to these training schools hoping to take part in the national upsurge. Ordinary workers show a sense of pride in their trade. We see that there is a sense of urgency in everybody. We feel the energy and optimism that builds up and the despair and doom that declines.

We also see that the otherwise dismissive neighboring states suddenly take notice of the nation and are reacting to every small change that takes place in Magadh.

Now, stop day dreaming, my reader and travel with me to the future, that is the present, 2014.

Don’t you see the same happening before your very eyes ?

Modi. Period.

So who is the worst fool ?

Last couple of days I have been searching and blogging my search about who the worst fool was in India. I thought I was the worst fool. Then I came across this. I have no further comments. I give up my position. I stand defeated. I accept his victory. I am no match before this ‘erudition’. And Manmohan-ji wants to work under this ‘erudition’.

Simply put: There is no competition to the first position on foolishness and stupidity. Here is the evidence. I won’t name the person. Find it out for yourself !!

( The quotations are from Speakingtree.in and the comments in italics are mine)

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CII summit, New Delhi (April 2013)

“There is a tendency to look at India as a country. If you go back 1,000 or 2,000 years, India is actually energy. It is a force. It came from Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati. As this energy goes abroad, you are our people who will tell everyone what this energy is all about. It’s this energy that’s driving us”.

Now you know where energy comes from, dear reader. Learn from the Oracle.

Interaction with professionals, Ahmedabad (Feb 2009)

“Gujarat is bigger than the United Kingdom, to give you an idea. In fact, India is bigger than Europe and the United States put together”.

Now you know your Geography, dear reader. Learn from the genius.

Speech on nuke deal in Parliament (March 2009)

“I spoke about two poor families – one of them was called Mrs Kala. Mrs Kala said she had diversified her income sources and used that to bring up her nine children. Nuclear energy acts as Kala’s main crop. The problem is the way our nuclear industry is positioned. Our scientists are tied because they do not have fuel, investment and technology. I’m proud to say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has recognised the problem as well as the potential solution”.

Sorry. Didn’t understand anything. Let me know if you did.

Interaction with media, Kolkata (Sept 2013)

“Politics is everywhere. It’s in your shirt, your pants. Politics is everywhere. That is the problem with youngsters these days. This is a fundamental problem and we are trying to solve this problem”.

Now , dear reader, what is inside your clothes. Know your biology, reader. And that is why they say ,”don’t play politics !”

Reaction to Anna Hazare’s agitation at Ram Lila Maidan, New Delhi (Aug 2011)

“The real question is can we take up the battle against corruption? There are no simple solutions. It requires a firm political will. Annaji has expressed the same sentiments. The question before us is whether we are prepared to take corruption head on. Lokpal Bill cannot be a substitute to fighting corruption”.

Let me know what he means. Does he support or oppose Annaji ?

Chairing a talk on future of the Internet, JNU campus, New Delhi Jan 2013)

“Stop asking politicians what they would do. Start asking yourself what you would do. That’s how the country will move forward”.

Dear reader, please, don’t bang your head on the wall. I know it hurts reading the above.

A meeting with students of LN Mishra university, Darbhanga, Bihar (Aug 2011)

“If the country has to change, Gujarat has to change – a comment that sparked an uproar and resulted in his exiting the meeting midway. His correction: ‘Galti se Gujarat bol diya Bihar ke bajaaye’ (By mistake I said Gujarat instead of Bihar)”.

Dear reader, know your India. Bihar is where Gujarat is. Bang hard on the wall.

Indian Institute of Information Technology convocation, Amethi (Nov 2011)

“I would like to talk about the big picture. Here’s the big picture. When we started 60 years ago, we were not connected. No roads, no schools and no healthcare. Villages were not speaking to each other. The energy of India, which lies within people, was not talking to each other. We’ve been able to connect Indians. We started out as a poor nation where everybody was poor”.

Reader, here is the revelation. We started as a poor nation as we were poor and continue to remain poor as we started poor as we were a nation of poor which was because the people were too poor to start rich. Bang hard on the wall, man.

CII summit, New Delhi (April 2013)

“There are people doing yoga in New York and dancing around, that’s Indian power. You go to a night club somewhere in Spain and there’s Amitabh Bachchan on the screen there, dancing around. That’s the power of India. That’s the power of Indian people”.

Reader, know your Indian power. The man goes to night club and wants to rule you. Bang more, the wall is still intact.

Congress workshop on social media, New Delhi

“If India is a computer, Congress is its default program. Congress comes natural to India’s ethos. Here, anger and aggression are not appreciated”.

Reader, now you know why the computer wouldn’t start.

CII summit, New Delhi (April 2013)

“Optimism for me is like India. It is bursting with dreams and fearless ideas, brave ideas. Millions and millions of youngsters are struggling every day with optimism”.

Reader, do you know how to struggle with optimism? Don’t know ? So, bang your head hard on every available wall.

CII summit, New Delhi (April 2013)

“We have to provide the roads on which our dreams are paved. And these roads can’t have potholes. They can’t break down in six months. They have to be big roads because they are going to carry strong people, strong forces”.

Reader, learn to build roads, man. He has earlier asked you to ask yourself and propel yourself forward. So build roads, go forward and bang repeatedly on the wall.

A reaction just after the Mumbai attacks (July 2011)

“It is difficult to prevent every single terror attack. If the US can’t prevent terror attacks, how can we? The war is taking place. Not in the US, but on them. The war has moved. They are losing people in Afghanistan. We can stop 99 per cent of attacks, but one per cent may get through”.

Let me know if you understand this chinese script. Bang, bang..

Chairing a talk by Internet founder Vint Cerf, JNU, New Delhi (Jan 2013)

“Every situation that Indian person finds himself in is extremely complex. We have to deal with the red lights. As young leaders here have to deal with senior with senior leaders, suddenly someone disrupts your entire life. Everything happens, sort of, according to your karma, it’s all random”.

Dear reader, time to get admitted in the nearest mental asylum.Book a bed for me too.

CII summit, New Delhi (April 2013)

“We need to empower everybody, not one person, not almost everybody, but everybody”.

Dear reader, get ready to be empowered by the reader, err.. leader. Bang bang..

CII summit, New Delhi (April 2013)

“I went to University in 1991. I remember nobody thought of India. I remember conversations where people would laugh and say, ‘Do you have elephants on the road?’ Nobody is saying that today. A huge part of it is because of you people”.

Reader, please don’t walk on the road. Elephants are stranded. Bang bang..

During a talk in Allahabad on ‘Culture, Deepening Democracy and Most Marginalised Communities’ (Aug 2013)

“Poverty is a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty”.

Dear Reader, if you have reached here, then most probably you are an in-patient in the Government Mental Hospital, Kilpauk, Chennai as there is nothing else you can be once you go through these highly erudite quotations. And the one on your left is myself. But who is the one on your right ? Refer the title of this post.