Thursday, 19 September 2013

General Elections 2014 - Able Prime Minister Candidate

The biggest determinant in our lives is culture, where we are born, what the environment looks like. But the second biggest determinant is probably governance, good governance or a certain kind of governance makes a huge difference in our lives. 
                                                                                                Nicolas Berggruen 

The 2014 elections for the central government have charged the air all over. The most debated question is Who will be next Prime Minister of India?

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) have announced Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat as their PM candidate and in response to BJP, Congress has their mascot as Mr. Rahul Gandhi as their PM Candidate which was very well said by Dr Manmohan Singh that under leadership of Congress we look up to Rahul as next Prime Minister. 
The both the candidates have delivered a speech recently, Narendra Modi at SRCC, Delhi. His speech was focused on the development of the nation alone arguing that "Focus on developing India, and secularism will flow in". He thumped on sound governance and growth with Gujarat in the context. NM gave his formula as P2G2 [Pro People, Good Governance] which could be applied to whole of India. Sound Governance is the answer for India as projected by Mr. Modi.  
Mr. Rahul Gandhi's speech at CII Summit surrounded on Inclusive growth and harmony. Rahul Says, “Our economic vision must be about more than money. It must be about compassion. We must envision future of India that leaves no man or woman outside in the shadows. Embracing the excluded is essential to growth of India. These will the face of compassionate India. India will only move forward with inclusive growth that embraces everyone and is open and attainable to everyone. When you play politics of alienating communities, you stop the flow of movement of people and ideas and we all suffer. For me the greater danger is excluding people, excluding the poor, middle class, dalits. Anger, hatred and prejudice do not contribute to growth. ”Thus Mr. Gandhi states that Inclusive Growth is the answer for India.

Is the comparison between Narendra Modi's speech and Rahul Gandhi's vision fair? Both of them talk on totally different perspectives of nation’s growth. Rahul Gandhi is young, untained and is being seen as sincere, gritty and focused. At the same time he is a reluctant leader. Narendra Modi on the other hand is charismatic, mass leader, workaholic to the core, obsessed with development of Gujarat. 

Narendra Modi has the experience of first hand governance of serving the people being the Chief Minister of Gujarat for about 10 years. His policies are based on what he has analyzed. Whereas Rahul Gandhi does not have any first hand governance experience of serving the people other than UP and Bihar elections, so there may be no basis of what he has to say. Narendra Modi is charismatic and a very good orator and his PR skills always keep him in the news forefront whereas Rahul Gandhi does not speak his views publicly. When opposition targets Rahul, they say they do not know about his views on the critical and important issues that are dominant in news at that time. We need to hear more from Rahul Gandhi, What he believes in? What he stand for? Many People argue that Rahul has come from such a dynasty with the Gandhi name (born with a silver spoon), because of which his political journey became easy. I feel that this point of comparison is total bogus. It is been said that NM is a pan leader who has made himself of what he is today by what he has done which is not totally true as Modi even comes from a dynasty that is RSS! At the same time the history confirms that dynasty rather Gandhi Family does not affect elections. So arguments of Rahul being a member of Gandhi family going against him are not at all valid. 

Narendra Modi marked in his speech that the Gujarat model with the motive of implementation in whole of India which is not at all feasible. As the economic growth of Gujarat is over the edge with other states is not because of only good governance. But also because of various castes in the state who are very mercantile like Ambanis, Tata, and lot more. So it is not possible to take out gujaratis from Gujarat and place it across India and make them grow there to increase economy. He even mentions that the milk available in Singapore, Tomatoes at Afghanistan and various other commodities available in other parts of world come from Gujarat. This is not at all authentic and makes no sense. For educated people who believe this should go back to college and study bit more. Thus everything happening in Gujarat, the credit cannot go to Modi.

Narendra Modi has to cross three concentric circle of acceptance. 1. Within his own Party 2. Within NDA 3. Popular mandate in the country. 
In his speeches he seems to be more strategic, a PR agent and polarizing figure rather than a true leader who is more compassionate and humble. Campaigning on the basis of development alone will not pull down the baggage which he carries of 2002 riots is very critical as it is still unsolved and Gujarat CM has to confront it. Some may say that after 2002, there have been no other riots and only development has occurred in all sphere. So this 2002 incident should be forgotten and left behind. Yes we should get the riots behind us. Modi should condemn his minister who murdered 97 gujarati, that he has not done. He should stop persecuting the police officers who brought the lady to justice. It is He who can and has to put an end to this! Thus there is a moral question that there is larger humanitarian aspect which needs to be answered which shows what India represents.
Today in Gujarat the condition is not so good as it is being projected and talked about. If we follow the statistics and data, the HDI index is not so well. Even today tribal gujarat has high rates of poverty, malnutrition. The issues with the female child still prevail.It is same as any other state in the matter of fact that even in Gujarat we have to give chai pani to police and similar traffic as any other place. So what development are we talking about? Is it really holistic and equitable development? Who is the development for? If we look at the statistics, even before Modi's government Gujarat did progress. looking at the CAG report which mentions under valuation of land which attracted companies to foster in Gujarat.  
It is Hope and Aspiration that are being projected from Narendra Modi's campaign. Is it so that this hope and aspiration for the people of nation is talked only by Modi? Every leader and political party shows hope and gives aspiration to the people take it Mamta banerjee, tamil leaders, communist or Rahul speaks of sad things. Dr Manmohan Singh delivers a growth of 8.5%, was it not aspiration and hope?
Consider BJP with Modi and Congress with Rahul, as of now both of them are likely to get 150 seats. Question is that can Rahul's leadership make congress get more than 150. With BJP it is very clear that it needs 180 to 200 seats own its own. So finally can Rahul do 30 seats more or modi do it? Jury is out.

Rahul Gandhi is not tested yet in case of first hand governance, this could work in his favour in a way that he has the potential for Inclusive Development. As after becoming a PM, you do not work in isolation rather you work with other political parties and thus administrative experience would not be very important.(Barack Obama had the least senate experience)

For a voter if Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi be the final candidates for PM by next year, will have a choice if they want a more Inclusive man with no executive experience or a man with an experience of first hand governance.

In a nation like India which is multi religious and multi lingual, our political leaders should not have rough edges in their personality!

Jai Hind.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

RTI Amendment Bill 2013 - Compromised Right to Information!

For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.

                                                                                                                 -  Benjamin Franklin 

The Right to Information Act (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens". The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has its own act called Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days. The Act also requires every public authority to computerise their records for wide dissemination and to pro-actively publish certain categories of information so that the citizens need minimum recourse to request for information formally. This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005.

Central Intelligence and Security agencies specified in the Second Schedule like IB,Directorate General of Income tax(Investigation), RAW, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, Aviation Research Centre, Special Frontier Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, Special Service Bureau, Special Branch (CID), and similar few more. The exclusion, however, is not absolute and these organizations have an obligation to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Further, information relating to allegations of human rights violation could be given but only with the approval of the Central or State Information Commission.

Thus this act enables people of India to seek information about anything on going in the country from bodies which are directly or indirectly funded by Central Government and work for public interest. 

On June 3 Central Information Commission (CIC) issued an order to Union Cabinet, which held the six major political parties CongressBJPNCPCPI(M)CPI and BSP received subsidies from the exchequer and were thus answerable to the people under the RTI. The CIC, a quasi-judicial body, has said that six national parties are public authorities which have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government. The CIC had in its order held that this six national parties were required to appoint public information officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act. 

The order had evoked sharp reactions from political parties of non agreement  especially Congress which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law. The government or this political parties clearly show that they are not at all willing to be put under this act. Thus this led to Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2013 was introduced on August 12 in the Lower House by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V Narayanasamy. The Union Cabinet had cleared the proposal to amend the Act to give immunity to political parties and negate a Central Information Commission order to this effect. 

It was UPA who responded by deciding to charge the law to negate CIC ruling, though on record senior ministers maintain the final decision on whether any bill is to be referred to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny rests with the Speaker, based on the views of different political parties, the government has informally conveyed that it wants the bill to be passed during the ongoing Monsoon session itself. This means the amendment to exempt political parties from the RTI could be discussed and passed by both Houses of Parliament before September 6. The amendment is likely to be discussed in Lok Sabha on monday. The government confidence is based on the fact that with the exception of the Trinamool Congress and the BJD, all other political parties are united in being kept out of the transparency act. 

This amendment is on its way with a rapid speed to become a law which obviously is not happening with  any other bills in the parliament. Why do this political parties need a shied from RTI act? They are representatives of people of India and sincerely work for public welfare then they are definitely answerable to the people. Many RTI activist have opposed the proposed amendments. 

" The principle of transparency of political financing is increasingly gaining international recognition. Instead of bucking this trend by amending the RTI Act, political parties in India must act on civil society’s demand for greater transparency in their affairs. This change of mindset is more than likely to restore people’s confidence in the political establishment. "

PS. Visit the Right to Information website and there is a quiz on RTI which everyone should          undertake.