Monthly Archives: February 2015

India Politics: Never Say Never

Another short trip to India and I came away with a wonderful whiff of the new political scene. Which is to say, the return of a past political scene.

Two items of note and progress –

First is the astonishing resurgence of Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party. They gave the ruling BJP party a massive trouncing that was as unexpected as it was sweet (to some of us). It was kind of a reverse of the trouncing the AAP had received during the general election (never mind the sweet part; that was so not sweet!).

For those of you who may be interested, the NY Times had great coverage yesterday of this landslide victory, summarizing comprehensively the context, the current political situation, what it means to Delhi, India, AAP, BJP (Modi) and Congress.

That AAP would win such a stunning majority – 67 of the 70 seats contested in Delhi – was something that no pundit or follower had dreamed would happen. Overused as the word is, this comeback is what I can truly call awesome.

aam-aadmi-party-BJPL 2015:

Second was a piece of news that was buried among all the news coverage of the Delhi elections. Quietly first and now not so silently, Nitish Kumar is working to take back control of Bihar. However, clearly this is not going to be easy, as those in power at the Center throw all the roadblocks they can to prevent his comeback. If it happens, the state should be ever so thankful.

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Both pieces of news give hope. It’s never pleasant to see good people lose in politics, no matter what government or country we are talking about. It’s always great to see them come back. As James Bond said (or was it Sean Connery?), never say never again. This time I can say it in the most positive sense.

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Modi Did Everything Right. Almost Everything.

Impressive & Unique - Camel contingent by Border Security Force, India Republic Day 2015

Impressive & Unique – Camel contingent of Border Security Force, India Republic Day 2015

The last time I watched an India Republic day parade was probably in grade school when we were coerced as school kids to go watch it live at Parade grounds in Bangalore. So, it’s been awhile.

This year with the chief guest being Barack Obama, I couldn’t help but tune in to the live stream of the action in the Indian capital. It was getting past my bedtime so I quit after about an hour or so but the pomp and circumstance that surrounded the event was certainly impressive.

President Barack Obama with PM Modi and other dignitaries

President Barack Obama with PM Modi and other dignitaries

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Regarding the entire “2015 Obama visit to India“, I really had only two gripes: 

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1. Does it take the visit of an American president to clean up the Taj Mahal?

Granted his visit was cancelled but in just a few days, India cleaned up so well that the Taj Mahal and its surroundings apparently shone with the efforts.

I remember my last visit to Taj a few years ago. As I got my first glimpse of this fabulous monument, it was so overwhelming that I got goose bumps. Literally. It truly is that fabulous. But I also had to put up with the filth and stench that surrounded it, as did all the other tourists.

An Indian worker cleans a water pond inside the grounds of the Taj Mahal ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit in Agra Photo: AFP

An Indian worker cleans a water pond inside the grounds of the Taj Mahal ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit in Agra Photo: AFP – Click photo to read article

It sounds like all it took for the Indian government to act was the motivation of Obama. Really? How about this – how about having enough pride in this remarkable heritage to keep it immaculate all the time?

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2. Modi Showcasing Modi the Narcissist

Modi Jacket:

Enough has been written about Modi’s “pinstripe” suit to fill several journals. Ah, but I haven’t had my say yet. 🙂

Imagine having none other than Hosni Mubarak as a  role model and ordering pinstripes that spell out his full name! Idiocy!

The supporters of Modi said something like this: US media’s excessive attention on Narendra Modi’s jacket was to make up for an inconsequential Barack Obama visit

My view is more like this: Narendra Damodardas Modi suit was a PM sized fail: Here’s why.

Just when I was beginning to respect some of the things this guy is attempting to do for the country, he goes and shows off in the most bizarre manner. Even for someone with his sartorial sensibilities, this was a bit too much!

I can just imagine Obama chuckling to himself or to Michelle once he learned/read about it. Because I doubt that he could have imagined anything so outlandish about those pinstripes when he actually met the man.

What an unnecessary distraction it’s caused. Methinks the chaiwallah PM of India could do himself and his country a whole lot of favors by being more true to his humble roots. If he can.

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Photo Credits:

Barack Obama et al By Pete Souza [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Camel Parade by BSF By Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Taj Mahal Clean-up from article in The Telegraph

Modi’s pinstripes from feature at NPR

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