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.

Soniaji, Just two words

Dear Soniaji – Just two words to you. Shut Up.

You have no business to disrupt my parliament for your family business.

Get the facts first. The National Herald case is not worth the salt that the Indians eat in a year. So better shut up.

If you have problem with Modi being PM, then say so. Bring a no-confidence motion in parliament and try out. If it succeeds, you win. If it doesn’t, will your 40 MPs resign ?

If you have a problem with the BJP, fight an election against them. Don’t stop parliament.

If you guys don’t want to  speak in Parliament, then do one thing. Shut Up and allow others to speak. You have no business stalling my country.

Again, Soniaji, we are watching and we are not damn fools, for we are not from your party.

This National Herald case is your damn family problem, a result of your avarice. If you have a problem with the court, have guts and say so. And remember, that would be held in contempt of court and you could lose your MP seat. So, just to be safe, Shut Up.

Don’t take cue from P.Chidambaram. He can talk anything about the case, for he is not an MP anymore. But your seat is at stake. So, better Shut Up.

I pity you. I know your problem. Your half-wit son is your problem. I know you are frustrated with him. But that is a genetic carry over. What can I, an Indian by gene, do for that?

And there is a means to shut your child up. Send him to Bangkok. He seems to have a fascination for the place. If in parliament, ask him to Shut Up. Even George Bush looks like Einstein if your son speaks.

Again, your half-wit son is definitely an embarrassment. Not for you, but for me. I am ashamed and alarmed every time he opens his mouth.

There is a way to shut him up. Get him married. Guys stop talking the moment they are married.

And for you, talk to Karunanidhi once. He knows the power of silence, the way he was silent when Tamils were killed in Sri Lanka.

Or there is another way. Join Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK. Once you join the party, you automatically become dumb with the exception of bleating the word ‘Amma’ twice every one second.

But, until then, just shut your mouth up and let parliament function. For it is my country’s future that is at stake, not yours.

Yours Angrily,

An Indian.

Thank You, Dr.Singh

Dear Dr.Singh ,

Thank you very much. Have a safe and active retired life.

You might have noticed that I have chosen to address you as Dr.Singh and not as ‘Mr.Prime Minister’.

I didn’t want to cloud my mind with negativity and despair and hence start an outpouring of emotions. Hence I have avoided giving the burden of being a prime minister to you.

Sir, the post of the Prime Minister of India was an institution. Yes, it is a ‘was’. That is because it used to be an institution with such raw power and authority to make or break the lives of a billion people and more. And now the ‘institution’ has become a museum where one gets a glimpse of what it used to be like and derive nostalgic pleasure. Thank you for that.

Sir, when you became the Prime Minister, I was enthralled not because of your political party but because of the number of letters that succeeded your name – your qualifications. But you helped me in a way. You have proved that the number of characters behind one’s name does not signify the ‘character’ of the person. Thank God, my name has just two characters following it.

Sir, I know that you are preparing to leave and you have written to the world leaders about your imminent departure. Now that you have written to them, I come to know that you have been there for the last 10 years.

When I come to think of the last 10 years, some thoughts come to my mind. I cannot help but think of these past events and people.

  1. Natwar Singh. Your minister in your first term. He was supposed to have taken money from, of all persons, Saddam Hussein.
  2. Sashi Tharoor. The Minister for Twitter. I don’t know if he has done anything more than tweet. He probably was an employee of Twitter, out to promote the company in India.
  3. Shibu Soren. You were not able to reach out to him, when he went underground. And might I add that he was a minister in your cabinet ?
  4. Mamta Banerjee. No, I don’t want to speak about her. Silence is golden, in her case
  5. A.Raja. May be I should not have brought his name at all. Oh yes, he helped Saravana Bavan open a branch in Tihar.
  6. T.R.Baalu. Well, the minister for shipping and transport who shipped and transported wealth for himself and his boss.
  7. P.Chidambaram. Hope you know if he did something while in office other than speaking about Gujarat.
  8. Pranab Mukherjee. He used to be Finance Minister when he was not mollifying Karunanidhi in Chennai.
  9. Kapil Sibal. The person who got the nobel prize for inventing ‘zero’.
  10. Veerappa Moily. The employee of Reliance.
  11. Salman Kurshid. The person who wanted to be in China and said so in Beijing.
  12. Renuka Chaudhry. Not sure what she was other than than she had difficulty in closing her mouth.
  13. Anand Sharma. Not sure what he did other visiting Singapore a couple of times.
  14. Mani Shankar Aiyer – The citizen of Pakistan who found himself in your cabinet for a few months and later in parliament whose job was to out-shout the T.V. anchors in their studios.
  15. Dayanidhi Maaran – The Minister in charge of digging up Chennai roads to lay telephone cables who also incidentally owns  some meagre cable television companies and just one airline company.
  16. Sharad Pawar. The Minister for Agriculture who was developing Agriculture in Dubai, officiating BCCI cricket matches.
  17. Suresh Kalmadi. Not sure who he is. But any mention of ‘stadium’ brings up his image on Google.

Thank you for having demonstrated that one can remain silent even in the company of the above characters.

And I have some retirement ideas for you, Sir. You could write a book on any or all of the following :

  1. ‘Why Gujarat was never a part of India’
  2. Transcendental Meditation in Troubled Times’
  3. ‘Cabinet and the Art of Not Making noise’
  4. ‘The Art and Science of Silent Loot’
  5. ‘Subservience to a woman and its benefits’
  6. ‘Why Coalgate is not good for India’
  7. ‘The Intelligent Investors’ guide to Switzerland’
  8. ‘Hiding behind sarees’

Thanks you.

Yours Sincerely,

Right Off Center

Dictionary of Stupidity

Have you ever thought about being stupid or being an idiot ? Never mind if you have not. I have profound experience in that pursuit.

In my relentless pursuit of knowledge to discover the difference between ‘being a stupid’ and ‘being an idiot’, I have come across many more such states in which one might find oneself – between being stupid and an idiot.

Let me explain. I know that I don’t understand satellite technology. Just in case anybody asks me to explain the nuances of the technology that goes in into a satellite, I fumble, flounder, prevaricate, stutter, groan, mutter and generally behave like Rahul on TV. it goes something like this :

Q : ‘Explain satellite technology?’

Me: Technology used in a satellite is satellite technology.

Q: Explain what technologies are used in a satellite

Me: Any technology that is supposed to be used in a satellite is the technology that is used in a satellite.

Q : Well, can you explain any one technology in a satellite ?

Me: Actually, the power to question and know the answer is a trait that manifests itself in the form of a technology that is used in a satellite. And that is …

If the interview proceeds in the aforementioned fashion then I am an idiot.

Suppose I repeat this exercise, again and again, in front of different audiences and appear to show that I am indeed answering the questions and that the answers are relevant, then I am stupid.

In short, the insistence on consistently exhibiting ones’ idiocy and pretending that one is on the right every time results in one being declared stupid.

Note : The explanations provided are trademarked and copyrighted ( copy wronged ?). Any resemblances to any incidents in the past or future or to any Television interview programs, in the past or future, with or without involving Arnob Goswami, are and would be coincidental.

Beginners' guide to Stupidity

The Art of being Stupid, as has been exemplified beyond normal human endeavor by Rahul Gandhi,is still part science and part art. And that makes it all the more difficult to master.

So, I thought that it would be better to come up with a guide to let the normally stupid citizens also realize their stupidity and declare themselves so for we are fast becoming a nation of stupids.

You would agreed with me more once you reach the end of this post.

Do you belong to the group of people who believes that you can even today stick to your stand and still be allowed to lead an honorable life after retirement ? Well , then, welcome to the elite world of stupids for it seems that you have not heard of the story of Justice A.K.Ganguly. Well, for the uninitiated, Justice Ganguly was a lesser known judge of the Supreme Court until he began to handle the 2G case. And the manner with which he conducted the proceedings and the manner in which he delivered a stunning judgment never hear of in Indian judicial history, that cancelled all the 125 licenses awarded to the the telecom companies because of the arbitrary manner of spectrum allotment, irked the powers that be. And by powers, you can safely assume those whose surnames rhyme with ‘Sandhi’, ‘Cebal’, ‘Pambaram’ and the like and companies whose names rhyme with ‘Sodaphone’  and the like.

So what happened later ? After an illustrious and un-blemished career spanning 40 years, Justice Ganguly, after his retirement, suddenly found himself in the company of a female law intern when he was in office and suddenly tried some tricks on her in a hotel room. Did you know that he had the ability to travel back in time ?

And how about the law intern ? She also somehow had the ability to travel back in time and realize that the good old Justice had tried to you-know-what with her some years ago in a hotel room. How did she remember that now, all of a sudden, after his retirement and after the 2G case verdict has been delivered ? Well, please update yourself with ‘Time Travel’ written by ‘Sunil Cebal’. And that would initiate your journey towards stupidity just as the prince-in-waiting a.k.a. the Buddhu was initiated into Harvard for all of three months on a donation made by Win Chadha after which he was shown the door. What do you mean “Who is the Buddhu?”. Ask Wamiya Sandhi. Better read her book ‘From Italy to India – the clandestine journey’ available in all ‘Suttorrochchi Stores’ worldwide. You can order online as well via http://www.bankrupt-india.com.

Ok. you are not used to reading heavy stuff ? Well, then there is this easy way to attain supreme stupidity.

There is this book by ‘Pambaram’ titled ‘Dismantling India – 101’  where the highly erudite author explains in great detail the baby steps one needs to take to defraud banks, open more ATMs than there are people in Sivaganga district, the step by step guide to speaking about economics that is understandable to Participatory Notes Dealers alone etc. And don’t miss the chapter on the ‘Art of winning elections’ where he has explained in great detail about the steps to be followed to win an election even if your votes don’t add-up. That chapter alone would justify the cost of the book.

Before I forget, there is this excellent article by ‘Mani Shankar Iyengar’ on developing ones ability to shout the moment you appear on TV. He explains in detail about the steps to be followed to out-shout everybody including the TV anchor. The way he explains the steps to start shouting even before hearing the topic on which you need to shout, shows his professional expertise in shouting that he has developed and honed in the parliament. A must for everybody who is out there to learn to be stupid.

The guide to becoming stupid is never complete without the recommended reading of ‘The Chindu’, especially the sections that talk about China. Yes it is a fact that 90% of the paper is covered with pro-China articles but I have to caution you about not spending your time on the remaining 10%. And do read the ‘Open Page’. You will encounter some highly erudite articles on ‘Un-masking Modi’ ,’Modulating the Modi-mania’ and several such modified articles. Never mind if you miss these on some days. They would appear daily. Only the author would be different. You won’t miss anything.

Reading ‘The Chindu’ daily for about a month would equip you with skills needed for furthering your stupidity index.and would make you eligible to read the highly intellectual ‘Lakshman Chandra Guha’ series on Modi. And do also remember to pick up his ‘India after Sandhi’., the most eminently un-put-downable book ever to have been written in recent times.

Oh, yes before I forget, let me tell you about ‘The God of Minute Things’ by Jarundati Kai’. You will get to know about the rights of naxallites, why dams are harmful, why nuclear power in India will impact Mar’s orbit and similar such matter. You will also know about why the terrorists have more rights to live than the citizens just by going through the index page of the book. And once you complete this book, you automatically qualify the the primary membership of the Communist Party of China.

If all these fail, please try changing your surname to ‘Sandhi’ or ‘Cebal’.

if that too fails, join the Congress Party.

Beginners’ guide to Stupidity

The Art of being Stupid, as has been exemplified beyond normal human endeavor by Rahul Gandhi,is still part science and part art. And that makes it all the more difficult to master.

So, I thought that it would be better to come up with a guide to let the normally stupid citizens also realize their stupidity and declare themselves so for we are fast becoming a nation of stupids.

You would agreed with me more once you reach the end of this post.

Do you belong to the group of people who believes that you can even today stick to your stand and still be allowed to lead an honorable life after retirement ? Well , then, welcome to the elite world of stupids for it seems that you have not heard of the story of Justice A.K.Ganguly. Well, for the uninitiated, Justice Ganguly was a lesser known judge of the Supreme Court until he began to handle the 2G case. And the manner with which he conducted the proceedings and the manner in which he delivered a stunning judgment never hear of in Indian judicial history, that cancelled all the 125 licenses awarded to the the telecom companies because of the arbitrary manner of spectrum allotment, irked the powers that be. And by powers, you can safely assume those whose surnames rhyme with ‘Sandhi’, ‘Cebal’, ‘Pambaram’ and the like and companies whose names rhyme with ‘Sodaphone’  and the like.

So what happened later ? After an illustrious and un-blemished career spanning 40 years, Justice Ganguly, after his retirement, suddenly found himself in the company of a female law intern when he was in office and suddenly tried some tricks on her in a hotel room. Did you know that he had the ability to travel back in time ?

And how about the law intern ? She also somehow had the ability to travel back in time and realize that the good old Justice had tried to you-know-what with her some years ago in a hotel room. How did she remember that now, all of a sudden, after his retirement and after the 2G case verdict has been delivered ? Well, please update yourself with ‘Time Travel’ written by ‘Sunil Cebal’. And that would initiate your journey towards stupidity just as the prince-in-waiting a.k.a. the Buddhu was initiated into Harvard for all of three months on a donation made by Win Chadha after which he was shown the door. What do you mean “Who is the Buddhu?”. Ask Wamiya Sandhi. Better read her book ‘From Italy to India – the clandestine journey’ available in all ‘Suttorrochchi Stores’ worldwide. You can order online as well via http://www.bankrupt-india.com.

Ok. you are not used to reading heavy stuff ? Well, then there is this easy way to attain supreme stupidity.

There is this book by ‘Pambaram’ titled ‘Dismantling India – 101’  where the highly erudite author explains in great detail the baby steps one needs to take to defraud banks, open more ATMs than there are people in Sivaganga district, the step by step guide to speaking about economics that is understandable to Participatory Notes Dealers alone etc. And don’t miss the chapter on the ‘Art of winning elections’ where he has explained in great detail about the steps to be followed to win an election even if your votes don’t add-up. That chapter alone would justify the cost of the book.

Before I forget, there is this excellent article by ‘Mani Shankar Iyengar’ on developing ones ability to shout the moment you appear on TV. He explains in detail about the steps to be followed to out-shout everybody including the TV anchor. The way he explains the steps to start shouting even before hearing the topic on which you need to shout, shows his professional expertise in shouting that he has developed and honed in the parliament. A must for everybody who is out there to learn to be stupid.

The guide to becoming stupid is never complete without the recommended reading of ‘The Chindu’, especially the sections that talk about China. Yes it is a fact that 90% of the paper is covered with pro-China articles but I have to caution you about not spending your time on the remaining 10%. And do read the ‘Open Page’. You will encounter some highly erudite articles on ‘Un-masking Modi’ ,’Modulating the Modi-mania’ and several such modified articles. Never mind if you miss these on some days. They would appear daily. Only the author would be different. You won’t miss anything.

Reading ‘The Chindu’ daily for about a month would equip you with skills needed for furthering your stupidity index.and would make you eligible to read the highly intellectual ‘Lakshman Chandra Guha’ series on Modi. And do also remember to pick up his ‘India after Sandhi’., the most eminently un-put-downable book ever to have been written in recent times.

Oh, yes before I forget, let me tell you about ‘The God of Minute Things’ by Jarundati Kai’. You will get to know about the rights of naxallites, why dams are harmful, why nuclear power in India will impact Mar’s orbit and similar such matter. You will also know about why the terrorists have more rights to live than the citizens just by going through the index page of the book. And once you complete this book, you automatically qualify the the primary membership of the Communist Party of China.

If all these fail, please try changing your surname to ‘Sandhi’ or ‘Cebal’.

if that too fails, join the Congress Party.