Ten Constitutional Changes and a Mango Lassi

Brahma Prakash June 10, 2011

Image credit: Flickr@bthomso


…need a Prime Minister who can explain this to the nation. This is where I miss the Nehrus, and Vajpayees, and the Vishwanath Prataps of yester years. Manmohan Singh over the past years has alarmingly proved his impotence as a leader, and while we are at it, an honest impotent leader. The new-India seem to care more about the “honest” part than the political impotence part. The new-India does not seem to hate political impotence, they just hate politicians making more money than them.

A month or two back, over a hundred thousand workers marched in Delhi in what was one of the biggest protest marches the national capital region has seen in recent years. Do you know what their demands were? I didn’t see it on TV. Did you? BBC and Reuters reported it though. Only the BBC and Reuters, whose propaganda it is to portray India as a poor country with no workers rights, social security, and with one of the highest food inflations in the world. A week back, Medha Patkar’s fast entered it’s eighth day. Yeah right, eighth day. I didn’t see the TV channels exploding. Did you? Is there something we are missing or something missing in all of us. If the collective conscience of a nation does it’s reality check based on reality TV, when what is playing on TV determines our political priorities, it speaks a little tiny bit about ourselves.

I would like 10 Constitutional changes and a mango lassi to go with that

Like Shanti Bhushan and Anna Hazare want the Lokpal panel discussions televised. Policy making should be like MTV Roadies, or so they say. And as a tax paying citizen who votes, I chose the government representatives, I wonder who chooses the “Civil Society” representatives. Then I wonder why the civil society representation has no women in it. So much for civil society. I am not nitpicking here, a policy making committee in our country now has men (only men, and all upper caste men) who made back door entry through a well televised protest, and my “well educated aam aadmi” friends are asking me not to trust people who I elected, and trust people I did not elect. This I find irrational. The incredible arrogance of that, as P.Sainath put it.

And then last week another random Baba ordered an ala-carte of ten constitutional changes he would like to have, and decided that unless the democratically elected government of the country gives it to him, like they did with the demands of another individual a few weeks back, he would go on a fast unto death. The democratically elected government of the country went overboard to prevent, and once it started, end, the peaceful, Gandhian protest by this Baba and over a thousand of his followers. Even after the government assured the Baba of the steps it would take to meet his demands, this Baba reneged on his written promise to end his peaceful, Gandhian protest, thereby lying to his followers and rendering his protest non-Gandhian. Once the Baba cheated them, to be precise, within minutes of the Baba cheating them, the democratically elected government of the country suddenly realized it’s larger constitutional responsibility, and also the mammoth power entrusted in it (this includes nuclear weapons and one of the largest standing armies in the world), and ordered a local Superintendent of Police to go arrest the man.

500 Rupee Note Image credits: flickr@[jangid](http://www.flickr.com/photos/jangid/)

The Baba had obtained permission to do Yoga at the historic Ramlila Maidan, and as per the government, this was the first time Yoga was creating a law and order situation. They were wrong – Bhagwan Rajneesh’s Yoga had set a historic precedent in Oregon state of the United States, and unless one is a strong supporter of communal riots and tearing down mosques, nothing good has ever come out of the ‘JaiSriRam’ crowd over the past thirty years. Also to note Sadhvi Ritambara (known for her incendiary anti-Muslim oration and implicated in the Babri Masjid terrorist strike) was with the Baba, dreaming and fasting for a corruption free India.

Back to the incident, as the police cordon tightened the Baba refused to be arrested, and over the mike (goes to show he is a political novice) asked his women followers to form a ring around him, and then, on live television, his followers started pelting bricks at the police rendering his protest violent. Now there is this adage in Kerala, where reportedly every child is a protester at birth, that when you deal with the police force in a volatile situation, you can try to bend them, but never break them.

What happened in Delhi after that was sheer brutality by the police force. Nothing new, the same brutality, workers and students protesting across India are subjected to on a daily basis, the same brutality Dalits complain about in the southern hemispheres of our national newspapers, the same brutality peasants and tribals stripped of their ancient lands go through as their protests get muted. To be precise, the police used only tear gas and lathis, not even rubber bullets and water cannons, so it was much better. Like that other adage in Kerala, our police is much better than other states, they badmouth and once in a while beat us up, while in other states they rape and murder.

Gandhi Image credits: flickr@[benuski](http://www.flickr.com/photos/benuski/)

Bollocks (word of Anglo-Saxon origin, refers to testicles)

The reason the government gave for chucking Baba Ramdev out of Delhi can be called Bollocks. Rather very childish bollocks. A democratic nation needs the safety valve of protests in the interim of elections to lobby and influence the legislative process. It is a basic human right, and in our eternal struggle to catch up with China, India should give breaking up peaceful protests a miss. The Hindu fanatic mobilisation and the Baba’s squeamish immorality notwithstanding, armed police action against a public protest is deeply condemnable, and it displayed the Indian state’s rampant tendency to bark at public protests of it’s choice and bite at certain protests. The biting part usually reserved for worker’s strikes and peasant protests, was in this particular case oddly pointed at televised air-conditioned protests of the new-India with islands in Scotland and Wales. Surprising.

But what is important here is the government’s official response after the crackdown. We as citizens didn’t know who was in charge. To a nation waiting for answers, there wasn’t any. The government could have easily pointed out the political reason behind the crackdown, and that reason is justifiable. One of the largest groups supporting the Baba was a group called Youth Against Corruption also known as ABVP (was formed just in time by BJP’s student wing), VHP was shipping it’s cadre to Jantar Mantar for a new kar-seva, RSS had openly started mobilising cadre for the protests – all signs of a farcial hindu fundamentalist attempt at the central government. And in search of the real political reason, one needs to look no further than the heartland. No further than UP.

With Jagan Reddy’s by-election sending clear signals of where Andhra is heading come 2014, the Congress needs either a good showing or a powerful alliance in UP, and INC’s ability to dictate terms in UP is all dependent on it’s showing in the assembly elections. As for the BJP, surely there will be no Delhi without UP. These are real numbers, not bollocks. In UP, Mayawati had announced her intentions to advance the UP elections to possibly end of this year, and then Rahul Gandhi joined the famer’s protest in UP, Congress announced the Kisan Manch mobilization, BJP announced Ram Rajya as it’s poll plank for UP, and nd then all of a sudden Ramdev happens, taking the wind out of the violent farmer protests in UP. The day after his arrest Ramdev asks for permission to continue his strike in UP. Not Mumbai, not BJP cities like Ahmadabad or Bhopal, but UP. And Mayawati knowing the Baba is a black sheep and a trojan horse, said “Bollocks!”.

A new 7 Race Course and a Prime Minister to go with

See the reason can be political, but you need a leader to take responsibility, and be able to explain to the polity where we are headed. This is where I miss the Nehrus, and Vajpayees, and the Vishwanath Prataps of yester years. UPA government faces a vacuum when it comes to leadership. Digvijay Singh is the only person speaking the politics of matters, in a party that vacillates between soft-Hindutva and it’s secular constitutional obligations. I am a pseudo-secular citizen(isn’t that what they call people who want Narendra Modi in jail), and I expect the government to crush any right wing misadventures because I cannot have another Babri Masjid like terror attack or another Punjab or another Gujarat. Corruption when compared to right wing fundamentalism is a lower priority issue for me, because the India where I live 20 years from now could be a Pakistan or a Rajapaske Lanka or a Gujarat if right wing forces are not defeated every single time they seem to have an upper hand. Because my India is a Sufi, and I would like to have it that way.

Nehru Image credits: flickr@[eenar_6](http://www.flickr.com/photos/anaranar/)

But I need a Prime Minister who can explain this to the nation. Manmohan Singh over the past years has alarmingly proved his impotence as a leader, and while we are at it an honest impotent leader. The new-India seem to care more about the “honest” part than the political impotence part. The new-India does not seem to hate political impotence, they just hate politicians making more money than them.

I am not saying I need another Prime Minister, all I am saying is it would be great if Manmohan Singh could just step down, and someone, my first choice being Rahul Gandhi step into seven Race Course. Rahul Gandhi will never be able to say “it’s these arseholes around me who are corrupt, I am a nice guy, but I have no power”. Vajpayee and V.P.Singh who managed crazy coalitions never shirked responsibility. When his own party man Narendra Modi killed thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, Vajpayee didn’t do much. But he said “what face will I show to other nations now”. Yeah, that’s how you lead a nation, that exactly how we felt those days, each and every pseudo-secular Indian, and that’s why leadership is called the face of a nation. We haven’t had that spirit here since 2004. Manmohan is a failure, Manmohan must go. And as someone put it, need someone in 7 Race Course who can call out the dancing Sushma Swaraj in Rajghat saying Rajghat wouldn’t have been built in 1948 if the essential philosophy of hate her party subscribes to wasn’t there in the first place.

Gandhi Image credits: flickr@[mansionwb](http://www.flickr.com/photos/mansionwb/)

In looking for a solution, all of us should have the basic humility displayed by one of the one hundred thousand workers who marched in Delhi, Akhil Samantray who had come from Orissa to take part in the march said “We have come here so that our voices reverberate inside the house (parliament) and they can see what pain the common man is going through”. Yeah voices should reverberate inside the house of democracy where each and every individual of this country is represented, and if my MP does not act on the burning issues the workers, the marginalized, and the middle-class of this country faces, I will press my forefinger on the voting machine and set the Republic straight. And for the time being I would like to my government to ward off Babas, Swamys, Lawyers, Nobel Prize Winners, Film fare winners, pimps, and other lowlifes who try to hijack this democracy.

And for an immediate solution, we need a new Prime Minister, and if possible someone elected to the Lok Sabha. I’ll tell you why. I think this nation is in trouble and we have been rudderless for long, we have GDP’s growth numbers but no direction estimates. India is marching forward, but we are unsure about where we are marching. Because we have the highest number of poor people in the world, and one third of our kids are malnourished. Because right wing politics all across the world including the Nazis and even the BJP have come to power raising a hailstorm around corruption. So I need a leader who can explain that corruption is just a symptom and the bigger infection is somewhere else. I need a coalition which ensures there is social control over the leader, like the left did in UPA-I years. This is all politics, and this opportunity to set things right is the beauty of politics. And I think we need a leader who can set things right. And if you want to call him a politician, you can call him a politician.

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Amidst well written piece are

Amidst well written piece are few frowning remarks. Although, I tend to accept that there cannot be justification for personal likings. While putting comment here I carry a responsibility of asking that how the writer was able to give Vajpayee - a credible status and overlooking his dereliction of duty? Perhaps this link will be useful in that case. http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl1909/19091280.htm.

Another point is the usage of term "impotence". I understand that the idea here is to talk about faulty political stance or obstinacy of Manmohan Singh to use his apolitical stance as mark of his credibility. Yet, I think usage of such words can be avoided because 'virility' or 'fertility' of people can not act as scales for the political understanding and assertion. 'Impotents' also have right to be political. So is the fact that idea of 'apolitical' is also political. Every kind of exchange, correspondence, communication in any time or space has a political essence.

rahul gandhi would be a poor

rahul gandhi would be a poor choice

Vajpayee and Manmohan

@Anonymous,

the specific instance mentioned here was the lowest point in the Vajpayee prime ministership, and the NDA has been paying a price for it for the past 10 years. But case in point, Vajpayee despite his constraints was able to reflect the mood of the nation. Something Manmohan failed after Mumbai attacks, 2G Scam, 123 Bill, Singur - Nandigram, food price inflation. Never once could this nation look upto this Prime Minister. Manmohan would make a good cabinet secretary though.

"Vajpayee could reflect the

"Vajpayee could reflect the mood of the nation" - does that mean that country wanted to change the 'Constitution of India', 'being Nuclear power was more important than to feed millions of people and thereby dismantling of PDS system'. If Mumbai attacks took place so were all the fallacious narratives regarding Kargil War. And how can one afford to forget the scams like Tehelka exposed defence deal, stamp paper - Telgi case, Oil for food scam with major hand of his son-in-law. The irony is that innocent looking face of all the time inebriated Vajpayee, who in practical life did precisely opposite to what he said in public is still held high and awarded with status of 'Statesmanship' - thanks to 'Vajpayee cult'. No way my purpose is to pit Vajpayee and Manmohan against each other and choose either of them, for I wont like to fall in the pit of personality cults. Further, since you said Vajpayee reflect the mood of the nation, I am sure you cannot afford to overlook that the a considerable section of middle class, upwardly mobile who think corporatisation of every thing can sort out any damn problem under the sun - they did vouch for his crowning as PM and the result is that PMO and North Block act like Corporate House. And mind it neither Manmohan Sing nor was Vajpayee interested in listening to voices of proletariat.

There was one more thing in your article which puzzled me to realise that Nobel Laureates, Film stars and few others are lowlifes. I wish I could be explained that reactionary attitude.

@Anonymous, "Vajpayee could

@Anonymous,

"Vajpayee could reflect the mood of the nation" - the article nor my reply comment mentions Vajpayee in a continuous tense. I recommend you re-read it. What is mentioned is the fact that Vajpayee effectively gave voice to the nations feelings in some instances and to his policy moorings in some other instances. While I totally disagree with Vajpayee on the bomb, if I don't admit the fact that he literally 'electrified' the nation during may 98, and during Lahore diplomacy, that would be spitting on history. I usually try not to do that. While each of us can have our own opinions, its better to work on a generally agreed set of facts. I have listened to Vajpayee's speeches in the house for over ten years, and I don't think he is a bigot, and I havent seen anyone explain the Nehruvian model better. I personally dont think inebriation is a bad thing. Aurangazeb, Narendra Modi, Manmohan Singh, and Hitler never drank. No good came of it.

Now Manmohan Singh is an interesting species in his own regard. Manmohan and APJ Kalam, to name two from recent memory, is a beacon of hope for middle class parents who wouldn't mind their kids becoming the nation's leader, but dread the prospect of their kids entering politics. It's like you study well, top the class, get a Phd, do not respond to events around you (be it genocides or democracy under attack circa '75), land a cushy job, be the visible technocrat, faithful servant to corrupt governments or IMF wrecking havoc in Latin America, and when the time comes, India's educated middle class would show you love. And unless you are as stupid as Shashi Tharoor and try to make a quick buck, you might stay on for long if you stay below the radar.

I dont need a technocrat to lead the nation. Manmohan spectacularly failed everytime he had to address a nation in crisis. If Manmohan doesnt do that, who will? Pratibha Patil? Sonia Gandhi? Kapil Sibal? And the one time Manmohan spoke his heart was when he told George Bush "The people of India deeply love you.". Seriously?? deeply love? Is that what the tiny little worm inside his head told him.

I agree with you that head to head comparisons may not be a good idea. We are too young a democracy to do that.

Secondly, "Nobel Laureates, Film stars and few others are lowlifes" - the P.Sainath link in the article may be give you some satirical humor context. That said I personally have a deep seated grudge against both film stars and Nobel prize winners, after I realized I couldn't be both. It's just me venting. Please dont be puzzled.

Lastly, I personally have a two comment reply limit to Anonymous comments. So it would be great if you could identify yourself (any random name would do), and we can take the conversation further.

@ Brahma Prakash There was a

@ Brahma Prakash

There was a time in my life when I was fan of Vajpayee's oratory skills. Its only later I realized it was charisma of his style or content of his speeches. When you say that no one could understand or make people understand Nehruvian model, I tend to argue that isn't that itself an example of his bigotry and double standards. Nehru should be and has been criticized on various accounts yet I wish Vajpayee had picked just one strand of his model atleast. I wish Vajpayee would have followed Nehruvian understanding of democracy, secularism and socialism with in the paradigms of a multi-cultural and young nation of India. And he would not have rehtorically made statements that majority population in India are Hindus and they better decide the structure of democracy and secularism. Far more number of Public sector units were privatised in BJP regime, just to make a reminder. Inebriation is surely not a problem for me as well so is beef eating and is having multiple sexual partners (surely, you can argue all these are bluffs or matter of bickering -but let me just propose you to check back with your comarades in Delhi). The only problem for me is the pretense of being 'idealist' ( of a special kind i.e. celebate, vegetarian etc.) and throwing diktats for others to follow them. He was no island in his party. He cannot run away from the responsibility for the acts his party workers from both RSS and BJP had been involved on mass scale ( I am taking into account the acts commit in personal capacity). My purpose to talk at length about Vajpayee to be cautious of the projected images to en-cage the mind from overlooking the other side of coin.

Ofcourse, regarding Mamohan Singh and his attitude towards his job and this country, not an iota of disagreement.

I can be addressed as XYZ for convenience.

No Women? Really?

"Then I wonder why the civil society representation has no women in it": Are you sure about this? Kiran Bedi is part of the representation, isn't she? And are you sure about the castes of the other members?

Besides that, a good read.

@Aurorian, I'm afraid not.

@Aurorian,

I'm afraid not. Civil society members are - Hazare,the two Bhushans, Karnataka Lok Ayukta, and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

Good Read

Though I do not beleive that problem will be solved by changing a single person, I agree with your viewpoints if substituted the word "Manmohan" with UPA. Govt needs to be transparent, clear, goal-oriented, with vision. And that's what is lacking.

Grow up

Good attempt; Sorry to say too shallow a social criticism. Funny and interesting titles not connected with text. What does this article argue ? Manmohan Singh is impotent! Why waste so much bandwidth for that ? Concept of Civil Society in recent social development needs serious reflection, article fails to put any light on it, Why waste so much of your ink on Ramdev ? What have you said other then bursting your ill feeling. Grow up..

@Anonymous, A deeper

@Anonymous, A deeper reflection on the Anna/Ramdev episode was done by Prabhat Patnaik. In case you haven't seen it, here is the link -

http://newsclick.in/india/commodities-and-corruption

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