Sunday, 20 February 2011

Four kinds of Indians - or, Is there any POLITICAL hope for our country?

I was kicked out of India by Mrs Indira Gandhi’s government because I was not prepared to sit quietly and watch the country’s institutions being subverted during
the Emergency.

Not that I did a lot, or even anything much. I only raised my voice. And, as I was merely 25 at the time, the system could afford to ignore me - and did ignore me as
long as there were (lots! thousands! tens of thousands!) of more important people.

Eventually, however, the system caught up with me. I was given the choice of
joining the Party or leaving the country.

I was lucky. Many tens of thousands were locked up – and how many were simply eliminated we still do not know.

Much later, I gathered that about 200 young people had been given the choice between
exile and the Party, as they were considered “too intelligent to kill”. I have no idea whether that figure is correct. It could have been 20 or 200,000....

Where the others went, I have no idea. But I am aware of at least one other person in Europe who was then young, and who is now I guess around 60 years old.

After Mrs Indira Gandhi abandoned the stupidities of the Emergency and returned the country to democracy, it became possible for me too to return, and I have done so more or less often. However, most of my visits have lasted, for various reasons, only about a week.

Having been in India for about a month now, and having spent time in Mumbai, Goa and the National Capital Region, I am coming to the conclusion that we have four kinds of Indians.

A few – a very few - are like Trees. By which I mean that they are rooted in the soil, and they not only produce enough to sustain themselves, they are actually productive enough to provide for others: shade and flowers and fruit. They beautify
the landscape and contribute to the country in every way.

However, these Trees may or may not attract notice. Most of the people who come to the headlines and attract public attention are like Jackals – sniffing around for the best way of exploiting or attacking the living and the dead, in order to
take as much from the country as possible.

Then we have the Parasites: concerned with making as little effort as possible but living off the system. This includes not only smaller businesspeople, but all those who focus on collecting “unofficial taxes”. That’s most (or at least many) of our bureaucrats, police, teachers, doctors...

Finally, we have the Window Watchers – who constitute the majority in our country. They can see what is going on, but can’t or won’t (or, in any case, don’t) exert
themselves to change anything. That includes not only our ordinary citizens, but also most of our professionals – who should certainly be in a position to exert some leverage

In this discouraging and dry landscape, I have finally come across a ray of hope: India’s first political party founded on ethical principles. Called the Adarsha
Rashtra Vikas Party (ideal nation development party, or ARVP), it was founded in Autumn 2009 and is based in Lucknow.

What makes the party different from all the others that we have had since Independence is its commitment to ethics, equality, human rights and development (all necessary for an “ideal” nation).

Of course, every party pays lip service to such values, so what’s different about the ARVP?

Well, it does not allow people to have any level of leadership unless they undertake “ethical training” at their own expense each month.

Naturally, in light of the cleverness of our people and the deviousness of our culture, and in light of the fact that the party is in its infancy, it needs to put
lots of things in place in order to be both successful in ethics and successful in politics.

The founder, Mohan Philip, is confident that ARVP will be successful because the country is now completely fed up with the sort of unethical politics which has been practiced.

Asked why had other ethically-oriented parties, such as the Professionals Party, failed at the last general election, he answered, “Because they did nothing at the grass roots”.

What the ARVP is doing at the grass roots is truly remarkable, as it builds up a cadre of people committed to ethical action.

Once they decided to form the party, they sought people who would specifically connect with their vision. They selected 10 committed individuals and designed a pictorial vision document for them to clearly explain the vision to recruit other
potential leaders. Out of groups of 30 potential candidates who responded, two day meetings were held in Lucknow where the strategy, method and objectives of ARVP were presented in more detail. After the final two day meetings they were normally left
with about 2-3 leaders who were then invited for monthly training, which is vigorous, hard and focused on achieving their aim.

Says Mohan: “We are building a new movement completely alien to the existing political culture and we have implemented a detailed and difficult process to develop
leaders based on building relationships, hard work and a commitment to serve. Our goal was to find 200 such leaders by the end of 2010 to start the process of rigorous training. We will probably see a serious attrition of more than 50%. We currently have 160 such leaders and from this beginning, the enforcement of our strategy has commenced. We expect that by the end of 2011 we will be left with 60-80 serious and committed leaders who will be able to pursue our vision in the medium and long term.”

Mohan is aware that any corruption of the people in relation to the vision, methods and underlying ethos which gives priority to relationships, hard work and a commitment to serve, will have disastrous consequences in the short and long term.

I have various questions about the ARVP, and am investigating them to find out more. I hope that you will also want to at least find out about this first ray of political hope for our country.

Any information, evaluations or opinions that you can give me about ARVP will be very welcome.

(The post above is a version of my column, Guptara Garmagaram, titled :"Trees, Jackals, Parasites, Window Watchers: Four kinds of Indians, and a new kind of politics", published in the latest issue of The International Indian magazine, published from Dubai:

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Should we have more Sachar-type Committees?

Of course. Why not? We could have one for each caste. Then each sub-caste. Then each tribal group. Then each professional group. Then women. Oh, let's not forget the men, which is easy to do nowadays. Oh and then of course hijras. And so on.

But, really, do let's be sensible.

For my invited blog on the subject, please see:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Guptara Garamagaram

The above is the title for a column I write regularly in THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN magazine, which is published every two months from Dubai.

The last column, examining the question: "Why does the average Indian do so well in the USA but not so well in India?" is on page 82 at: