The political Ganesha festival

My home is on the intersection of a very busy main road (N. S. Phadke Marg). The lane which connects our society to the main road is often desolate and most of the year it lies in neglect. However, whenever you have a social festival such as Ganesha, Dahi Handi, Holi, etc, then this lane gets decorated and pandals are setup to give a different and lively look to the road.

Every year for Ganesh Chaturthi, we would have a pandal setup near the intersection and this would lead to a throng of visitors … good for the community, but irritating for the drivers trying to turn into the lane from the busy traffic signal. This year, there were two pandals instead of one. I decided to enquire about this, why would a community divide their resources for two different celebrations?

The Two Parties


Turns out that the local MLA of this area is a Shiv Sainik and was putting that over all the available hoardings during the festival. To match this the local Congress representative had his cronies setup another pandal with the Congress banners. Boom, you now have two pandals in a narrow lane.

I have not seen any of their decorations, however I am sure that there would be strong competition within both of them to outshine the other.

Interestingly, this has helped the local community instead of cause friction between the two parties. More people are involved in the local festivals, there is a constant presence of Police these days which reduces the traffic jams (although many would disagree on this point!).

So, what?

I see a lot of government resources being put to use. But atleast its not filling the pockets of corrupt people. The co-operation and co-ordination shown during this event is quite good to see … why cant this be done across the nation? At least that way we can stop this Congress, Anti-Congress … Modi, Anti-Modi … BJP, Anti-BJP.

Indian politics: A conundrum of choice

This can also be titled, why I do not bother to vote any more. But lets keep that aside for the moment.

Here’s the thing, there are basically only two major national parties (yes there are others who claim to be national parties, but who are we kidding). The Congress and the NDA. There are other small time players which keep on switching sides as they see fit.

Over the past 15 years of my conscious life, I have seen the rules of both the parties (sadly more of Congress and less of NDA … but that really does not matter).

Both the parties have proved that they are corrupt and have some really royal scams to their names when they were in power. Both the parties have similar agenda. Both the parties hardly live upto expectations (however there are some exceptions to these, but they will never make it to the top of the pyramid).

Another facet in this conundrum is the fact that the Constitution of India mandates that all political parties declare themselves as upholding the socialist values of the country (at least on paper that is!). I don’t know how Mamtadi has a communist party which is against the constitution, but when have politicians really adhered to rules? So lets not bark up this wrong tree.

The point here is that the constitution more or less forces all parties to uphold the same ideological values (if any!!). Add to it that many MLAs switch sides to get something more for themselves from these two parties.

So at the end of the day, instead of debating on ideological differences, we end up seeing a simple mud-slinging campaigns between the two parties. Look they swindled x thousand crores and look how corrupt they are. At the end of the day the party going to rule is going to swindle. And that’s the sad moot point.

To the common man, it really does not make any difference whether Congress or NDA are the ruling party. All initiatives taken are so miniscule in nature that they end up being money making schemes for the ruling party (and in some cases for the opposing party as well).

So I hope the conundrum is pretty clear here … which party to vote for? The end result is the same. Choice is just an illusion.

Johnny Walker Budget

Well, the Budget is out and the Hon. Fin. Min. (HFM … no, not the magazine) has finished his speech. I was going over the salient points and realized that the budget does not do anything great for the country or the economy.

  • An additional Service tax … iffy … yay! more money for the government
  • Tax slab revised by 20,000 INR. Meh, I am already in the highest tax slab. What about me :-)
  • Some forecasts on the GDP and the macro-economic rates, yawn
  • Okay, the Automobile industry can cheer about something

Some more such points which are only worth getting a yawn, meh or hmm.

I wonder by the HFM bothers with churning out such budgets, it talks of the attitude of if its working, then don’t fix it. So this is what they do after 1 year’s work? It’s really a Johnny Walker Budget .. nothing has changed pretty much … keep walking.


Where is the Marathi Manus?

For the past three years, I have been living in Mumbai. The city never ceases to amaze me with its variety, its vibrance and the sheer number of people it feeds. One of the threads that is seen snagging almost all the political conflicts in this place is the Marathi Manus. I think the term was coined and abused by the senior Thackeray, after which it has become the Congress equivalent of the Aam Aadmi.

Ask yourself this, how many times have you seen this ubiquitous Marathi Manus in action?

  • How many times, is he given an accolade for some achievement or something?
  • How many times does the society celebrate him?
  • How many time does he get cited in the newspaper (and not as a collective noun)

The list could go on, but I guess, if any individual does manage to do any of the above, then that person is automatically separated from the collective identity of the Marathi Manus. It’s a socialist collective noun.

And, that’s precisely where you will see him. The morchas, the ganpati mandals and the gokulashtamis, the political party rallies and the voting booth stints, the fairs and the trains. All places where there is a sea and no scope to stand out, that’s where the collective stands out the most.

That saddens me, the fact that this term requires a collective to define itself, and will always stay around a collective. A collective which is meant to be led, and to be manipulated.

Marathi Manus v/s Multiplexes

*** Disclaimer: I am not a Shiv Sainik, or a Congress fan. I just do not like the end outcome. ***

In the recent news, we saw how multiplexes refused to air MNIK, and how central government arm-twisted them into airing the shows, much to the chagrin of MNS. With threats of violence, people of the city still braved to see a hindi movie.

All in all, it’s interesting to see not the event, but the actual outcome … who has “won” and who has “lost”

Shiv Sena: Once again written off by everyone as a wannabe. Once again people thinking that the party is unnecessarily resorting to violence. Fighting for the right cause, but for the wrong issue and in the wrong fashion.

MNS: A missed opportunity to come together with the original party. Raj Thackeray could have shown to the people of Mumbai that he stands for the marathi manus and supports the cause. He is clearly fighting for the wrong cause.

Central Government: Having over-ridden the local parties in local matters, now Congress has higher say over MNS and Shiv Sena combined. What should not have been their jurisdiction has been given over to them on a silver platter.

SRK & Karan Johar: They were but a tool for grabbing this opportunity of who really controls the city. I hope they realize that they are not adding any value to the city of Mumbai, and that is what Shiv Sena is against. If you are living in this city, if you are feeding off this city, then please invest in it. Obviously, all this publicity is always good for their ilk.

Multiplexes: With ticket prices touching Rs. 250 onwards, profits soon rise. This almost seems like a win-win situation.

But what about us, the people, the marathi manus?

Marathi Manus: By far the clear loser in this entire muck-up. The one party who stood a chance to represent them has now been effectively silenced – silenced by the people who can afford those tickets. What about the people living in Mumbai who do not have that much expendable income? What about the people who see their homes being taken away from them simply because all the commodities are becoming expensive day by day? The backbone of these people has been broken. Broken by a trivial issue.

Media v/s Social Media

Why does the media corrupt? With the media being corrupt, I mean that instead of performing it’s duty of reporting news that matters to the society, what it ends up doing is look for sensational news – which are actually not sensational at all. I do not care about Amitabh Bachhan catching a cold … no I dont give a farthing about that. What I do care is a sugar scam happening right under our noses and we being oblivious to it all. Here’s how this sugar scam works –

Politician A (we all know who is the agricultural minister!!) gets into the power, then he sets up a shell company outside the country. Slowly this company acquires great hordes of sugar in its stocks. Then Politician A says that there is a sugar deficit in the country and the country might have to import sugar from outside. An artificial supply deficit causes prices to rise – simple enough?? Now, the shell company comes to the rescue! Supplies the country with the much needed sugar (of course at a higher price).

I was unaware of this till yesterday. The minute I came to know about it – one question that kept ringing in my mind was – why does not the media report events like these? If the media does not do its work, then who will?? Can Social Media take over the role of media in society??

Some would say no – since proponents of this theory say that social media is currently being used to report vain and idiotic things – like speak like a Pirate day … a’rrrr. How can you take the same seriously then? Another thought is that there is no reliability – a counter to this would be – as if currently the media is reliable :-)

I would say yes – social media is the exact kind of distributed model which needs to get its act together and let the people act for the people. Kind of like democracy, huh? More so, members of the society who are aware about the current events (and those which are under currents as well) are citizens, and citizens who act out for the benefit of other citizens are enlightened citizens. We need more of these!!!

What do you think?