Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year, 2018

It's been quite a while since I posted something here.
Have been thinking what to write, though there are a few interesting thoughts to write about.
But quite hard pressed for time as well.

Stuck in office, like last year, on New Year's eve.
Missing the party in my apartment complex.
One consolation is that I am not alone.
There are plenty people out there who are missing the fun, since they are at work.
Factory workers; hospital staff; security officials; bus, train and airline employees are just a few of them.

Any New Year resolutions?
It's tempting to have one.
But in practice, any other day is also good to take a resolution, is it not?
Nevertheless, the turn of a calendar year is significant in its own way.
If nothing else, the festive air has a rejuvenating effect.

Wishing you the best of times in 2018 ... !!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Saurashtra made all the difference for BJP in Gujarat

Post election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the BJP, the winner in both the States, has plenty to pause and rethink.

Gujarat was showcased as the battleground for various reasons, and BJP's victory there, ironically, leaves nothing much to cheer about. It aimed 150 seats, and is ending up just close to 100. They have just about 20 MLA more than Congress. While BJP's number in the Assembly has come down, that of the Congress has gone up.

The big loss for them in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. where BJP lost 13 seats and Congress gained 15 seats. In the rest of the State, BJP lost three seats and Congress gained four. This area has high density of farmers (73%) and Patel (55%). The numbers indicate that a good number of that section of society was angry with BJP.

Himachal Pradesh has always alternated between the two parties. So, to that extent, the BJP win was expected. But importantly, their chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost.

What next

For BJP, it is not enough that they talk of development and roll out grandiose schemes. There has to be changes for the better on the ground - real development to talk about. No room for complacency.

For Congress, the Gujarat result gives them lot of hope. It also shows that they are a force to reckon with. How that will play out in next year's assembly elections in eight states will depend on how they consolidate their gains and convince the people that Congress is still a party they can rely on.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sindhu misses World Superseries title

After a long, long time, I watched a thrilling, edge-of-the-seat badminton match. PV Sindhu vs Japan's Yamaguchi, who is the top seed and currently world number two, battling for the Dubai World Superseries Finals.

Such a hard fought game.  Felt quite bad when Sindhu, after coming so close to victory, lost so narrowly.

The first set was Sindhu's. At one stage, she picked up eight points in a row, to gain a five point lead of 13-8. Again she picked up six points consecutively to reach 20-13. Then Yamaguchi gifted the game to her  - 21-15.

The second game was tough. Sindhu started off well picking up the opening five points. After that she could never keep up the same momentum. After leading 8-7, Sindhu never had the lead. Yamaguchi overtook her. Sindhu trailed 11-16, and then finally lost the game 12-21.

The third game was tougher and the best. It was a neck and neck progression, with neither able to get a solid lead over the other. Again Sindhu took an early lead 4-0. Yamaguchi kept chasing Sindhu, who kept the lead - though never with a gap of over two points - till 14-13, which was the culmination of one of the most toughest rallies I have seen.

Yamaguchi then overtook Sindhu, who managed to level the score at 15, then at 17 and finally at 19. But Sindhu could never overtake, and finally lost the game 19-21.

There were many long rallies. But the significant aspect of it was that, it was  always Yamaguchi who won them finally. That could be an indication of Sindhu not being able to keep her nerve and making the mistake of handing over the point to the opponent.

But there is nothing to suggest that Sindhu did badly. It was such a close contest, and Yamaguchi managed to nudge ahead of Sindhu just in time to win the game and the match.

Why Sindhu falters at the last moment is something that she and coach Gopichand will have to ponder over.

All said and done, really proud of Sindhu. Congratulations, for a fabulous and gritty display of badminton.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Rahul Gandhi -- the new Congress president

Source: NDTV
So, the much-expected elevation has happened. A few hours ago, Rahul Gandhi, took over as the president of Indian National Congress.

I don't think anyone even in their wildest dreams thought Congress would have a different person - someone not in the Nehru family - as the president of the party.

There have been many non-Nehru family persons in that position. The most recent one I can remember is Sitaram Kesri, and before him P V Narasimha Rao. They followed Rajiv Gandhi and preceded Sonia Gandhi.

The shadow of Nehru family on the party has been particularly imposing in post-independent India, though there has been lot of discussion and debates on the subject of how the Congress should not be a party controlled overtly and covertly by the Nehru family members. But that simply hasn't happened.

Is there anything wrong in a Nehru family member being the party president?

Theoretically, no. But it's a well-known fact, though not articulated by any Congress worker, that any Nehru family member is the first among the equals. That would have been less objected to, if the person, Rahul now, had a wealth of experience in politics and / or public service. His only qualification is that he is a member of the Nehru family. Shouldn't the Congress president have a more robust resume?

Not many ardent Congress supporters are happy about this development. They all wish that more competent and accomplished persons should be given a chance to helm India's oldest political party. Everyone just accepts what is happening as nothing but a fait accompli.

Why is the Nehru family not taking a back seat?

The only reason I can think of is a deep sense of insecurity. They have been in this comfort zone for far too long, and they can't even vaguely visualize a time when they are just ordinary members in a party they tightly control.

However, the earlier the family realizes that their stranglehold on the party, isn't helping, the better.

Now that Rahul is at the helm, what should be his strategy?

Adding to the problem of the family's overarching hold on the party, is the fact that Rahul doesn't have a good strategy to take on the BJP, and Narendra Modi. He has been basically only criticising Modi; and those criticisms aren't quite convincing either.

Aadhaar and GST, are two major policy decisions over which Modi is being hauled over the coals. But those aren't even BJP's or Modi's ideas. They have been in the works right from the time UPA was in power. Modi just carried it through and implemented. Could Modi have done better. May be, but Congress isn't telling how.

Congress says Modi's administration is only all show and noise, that nothing much has changed, on the ground. But Congress hasn't been able to prove that nothing has changed. So, since politics is all about perception, people are generally happy, that "Modi is doing a lot".

What Rahul could have done, and should do, is showcase his government's achievements in the states where Congress is ruling. Showcasing deeds done, works better than running someone down relentlessly.