Monday, September 30, 2013

Secularism In Politics

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

In political terms, Secularism is the separation of religion and government. The word was first used in the year 1851 by George Jacob Holyoake a British writer. It is very likely that his reference to Christianity and coexistence of other religions, and allowing practicing of every religion with equal rights, and outside of the government as secularism. Considering that politics have been around for as long as human life, the description of the word secularism and its active use in political language is quite new to the humanity.

India is a state that declares itself as a secular society, and in general terms the country by far may be the most secular country on earth. The difficulties of day to day religious strife has come in to force just before the 1947 independence and the division of the country. Even after the communal strife with the independence and separation of the country, Indians do have great camaraderie with each other irrespective of the religion they practice and they coexist without much communal strife.

Common man in India, although belonging to different religions do not find it difficult to live together with multiple religions in a single community. Indians identify the religious differences with dignity and clarity and most times have great respect for each other, and have no issues of living together and in peace. It is rather a great mix of people, religions and castes who all live in peace and harmony, until political elements are injected into the communities. The difficulties of religion comes into play when the political elements interject religion into their politics and force the issues of differences among people.

Prior to 1947 there was little religious strife in India. The nation was ruled by Hindus and Muslims and some parts by other religions, and people were subject to same rules of the country and not different set of rules for different community. They were identified as who they are and primarily the work they did and religion went hand in hand, rather than what they practiced as a religion. The respect for every religion was a part of the greater Indian fabric and people simply lived together and practiced whatever religion they chose to embrace.

The injection of race and religion into politics in India has become common since the independence, and as the time goes by the political parties are using the religion as a political tool and delivering speeches to the insecurities of the nations population. The infiltration of destabilizing elements into to India from the neighbors, couple with terrorist activities and continues rhetoric of politicians and international elements; all of them add to the insecurities of the general population.

The political parties both national and regional constantly remind people of their secular credentials while also injecting the fear of each other into the general population. India in principal is a secular nation and before and after 1947, has continued to be a secular nation. In fact the word secular came into English language long after the greater India rulers have practiced the secularism as long as the country existed.

The current politicians are anything but secular, and their constant claims to secularism is far from the truth. For a human being to practice secularism, there is no need to reinforce it daily, as if it is practiced it is a daily routine, rather than a politicians speech. The country has a lot of other economic and real issues to deal with rather than worry about secularism, which is a part and parcel of the Indian fabric. There is no need to remind the people of being secular as they already are. What is is required by the politicians is that they avoid fueling to the religious fears of the people and stay focused on what they need to deliver to the needs of the ever growing population.

Irrespective of what happens in the country and outside of it, India will remain a secular country and people will be living happily coexistence, unless politicians interject the fear of each other. The electorate need not be fearful of itself, rather of poor politics and poor resource management by the elected representatives. We no longer live in a kingdom but in a democracy and we already know how to be secular as Indians, without being told that there are problems with coexistence.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Reinventing India

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

India and its population has been growing at an unprecedented rate, and in a decade or two India could be the largest populous country on earth. While the human explosion is not just the worrisome factor for the largest democracy on earth, it is the stagnant and stale leadership of the country and its states that has been in the dark ages for almost all of its time since the Independence from the British in 1947. The leadership, the followers and one person based build-up of the political parties and their ideology have not caught-up with the present day needs of the country and also the country's position in the global scenario. We continue to have the centuries old mindset of hero worship the leader and not put the public interest first.

Global economies and leadership are constantly changing and economic considerations and human resources drive the political and people agenda in most of the world. In most global democracies leaders get elected and leaders get replaced based on their commitment to positive change and people's agenda. India although the largest democracy on earth, still seem to be stuck in the medieval times in following the leadership, and only paying obedience to the leadership. Although we no longer have kings and kingdoms, the mentality of the elected people has been stuck in medieval times; blindly follow the leadership. Changing global dynamics and massive population and depleting resources and political greed, will not allow for the country to cater to the needs of its people first.

May be the British rule for so long and perhaps the invaders of India prior to the British, who practiced the that accepting the way of life with “baksheesh” has been well engrained in Indian culture and its people, it is catastrophic in nature for the country. Every aspect of the people and resource management of the country requires whetting of the hand at every level of the administration, its not just a small gift in return for a job well done, it is a greater portion of the resources that are lining the pockets of a few politicians than that are being invested into the economy of the country.

Even if we ignore the way of life of our religion and culture, the father of the nation constantly demonstrated and practiced Life of simplicity. We as Indians only have his name on our lips and never practice or respect his ideology. We only grab what we can and take whatever comes our way, and never want to be satisfied for what we work for. The father of the nation looking down on us must be wondering about what ever happened to his people, and more so his teachings. None of us want to worry about our neighbors and our society, we only want to worry about ourselves.

While Indians want to look forward to positive and futuristic changes to the society, individuals will seldom contribute to extending support to others. We are always looking for divine intervention, but seldom practicing the teachings from the history of the nation. Our respect for the resources and nature is seldom reflected in our day to day living. The continued and destructive natural calamities brought on everywhere in India are not really natural disasters, rather man made mismanagement that contribute to the destruction we face almost in every season of every year.

More than a billion people and growing, it is difficult to plan for controlling the demands of the population and basing them on available resources. The country will have to find the stomach to reinvent itself, and it must be through education, employment and looking forward to peace and prosperity. Politicians and people wanting power need to really look at the founding father's example of “service to people” rather than bank balances. There must be pride in representing people, rather than politics as a business enterprise.

Leadership and commitment to the people and making India First in the agenda of politicians will certainly point to reinventing India again and again, and when it needs to be challenged. We have the people power and knowledge power, and also the resources and needs to become self-reliant and self-sustaining. We just have to start by reinventing our individual attitudes to the country and our fellow-citizens, and then the country will start to be reinventing to a forward looking and progressive democracy, envisioned by the father of our nation.

God alone and prayer will not be able to solve the insurmountable issues that the country has without the greed of politicians and bureaucrats. It does require extended planning and unflinching commitment from elected officials at all levels to look for common good of all the people of the country. The nation has the natural resources and human resources to help meet the demands of its ever growing population and ever growing demands on its infrastructure. We can start with one or a few leaders who will make country first and then reinvent the process of building a happy and prosperous India that has the best interests of its citizens first.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Any Reason For Worry?

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

The chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Modi has been elevated to lead the main opposition party in general elections next year, and just a couple of days ago he was announced as the priministarial candidate of BJP, if they come into forming a government at the center if the elections are held in 2014. If the elections are held in 2014 is a real question based on the history of Congress in India, but all likelihood that next 12 months will be full of political super action in India. The rhetoric and accusations and counters will equal to some of the greatest action movies of India, if not the world. The public will be spared no time to worry about themselves and will have themselves inundated with abusive coverage for months to come.

The interesting challenge for the ruling party was to present its own candidate who will become prime minister if they acquire a majority of the parliamentary seats. They simply announced that their younger leader Rahul Gandhi will be an inclusive leader who will embrace all sections of the electorate where as Narendra Modi will be a divisive force in the nation with his hinduvata feelings.

Everyone in India and everyone who follows Indian politics and government agree to the need of changes required to the policy and power of India, where as the current party in power (twice in a row) would like to remain in power while promoting a new member of the political dynasty to the people of India. The main opposition wants Mr. Modi to take the leadership of the nation, which has been struggling with internal and external pressures.

The critics of Mr. Modi target him for his links to his religion and hinduvata. The Congressmen present Rahul Gandhi as a savior of the party and the nation. Until a couple of week, Mr. Modi was a fantastic regional leader with great people, political and business skills which all has shaped his state into a model for development. If you speak to just about everyone from Gujarat, irrespective of their political affiliation or whatever caste or religion they belong they have a high regard for what is happening in Gujarat. Gujarati’s are more favorable to their state than that of any other NRIs of other states of Indian origin. Some give very high praise to Mr. Modi, and some simply praise the development in their state without acknowledging Mr. Modi, but all of them are quite fond of what is happening in their state, and full of praise for the development in the state. The fact of the matter is that in general the Gujarati’s from India and the NRI's both contribute to development of their state, and take a lot of interest in what is happening there.

Mr. Modi's skills in managing the state and its bureaucracy is highlighted through his time in politics and his ability to mobile people and organize efforts are well documented and recognized. He has worked hard within the party ranks and various channels leading to the position of chief minister, and now being elevated as the party's candidate for prime minister. Even people who dislike him will grudgingly admit to his skills to organize and mobilize. One and probably the biggest asset he has is of not having baggage to carry to do any favors for family as he identifies no family connections in his resume, and doesn't have a long list of people who might use his name to seek favors. This man is hardcore politician and sees development as a model for helping his state and people.

Mr. Modi is also quite articulate and pointed. His speeches are full of directness and wit, and sometimes quite effective in getting into the skin of his opponents. His elevation in Gujarat was never questioned nor opposed, but his elevation at the national level has been seeing a lot of opposition from not just the opposition parties but also some with in his own party. While no one is questioning his leadership skills and organizational abilities, some point to his religious views. We will all forget that every leader comes from a different community and India has historically was never influenced by a single person's views on religion. India and its people should never worry about what will be the view of prime minister on religion, rather his or her competence in managing the millions of things that are of importance to the country, and having the abilities to focus on India and Indians. He or she should make every effort to stop the scams and cheating by the elected politicians and high level bureaucrats, and do everything in power to protect the resources of the country only for the use of its people.

It is not going to be an automatic decision to make one of these gentlemen as the next prime minister of India. Indian always springs surprises on its people and electorate, and next national elections can be one full of surprises. There is a lot of drama with regional parties and their interests aligning with their local requirements, and caste, religion, sects, language and whatever other factors will be a factor in electing and choosing the next parliamentary party to lead the nation and then a leader.

Its good to have these two men identified as their respective party's candidate to run the country, but we have a very long way to go before the elections. At this point of time no party might get the absolute majority to form the government and they will have to work with a number of alliances and regional parties to form the government. All we can do is look forward to the next general elections and see how the drama plays out. There is never a reason to be concerned about just one leader of the country, rather we must focus on eliminating the corruption and eliminating the thievery of national resources.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Policing The World


vasureddy@aol.com
Vasu Reddy From Chicago

The United States once again is looking at intervening in the internal conflict in Syria. For the past couple of years thousands of innocent people have died and millions have been displaced from their homes. The images from Syria are haunting with devastated country and death and destruction all over. The displacement of people simply brings back into memory the past wars which continue to be fresh in our minds.

Why people kill each other and destroy their own belongings is really a question that doesn’t have an answer. Since the beginning of time humans are their worst enemy. We have found every which way to create differences and destroy each other, and with each passing day there is more and more hatred for our own being.

Syria is the latest human tragedy, where people are simply being killed and displaced for no fault of their own, just for being in the country. There is no rhyme or reason for the killings except groups fighting one another for whatever cause they believe in, and a government which is using all its might and brutality to kill its own people, and a bunch of groups from outside fighting and killing indiscriminately. For more than two years killing and destruction has been going on and no one wants to intervene and stop the killing. The couple of weeks ago incidents on gassing people and the videos showing the human suffering is difficult to look at, but for some reason or the other the world doesn’t want to either get involved to stop the killing nor parts of the world doesn’t want to acknowledge the killings. A lot of discussion and debate on who is doing it and how to handle the situation and threats and finger pointing, while the people continue to get killed and displaced.

Whatever the debate that the rest of the world is having the people of Syria have continued to suffer and getting killed. Kids and women have nothing to look forward to but fear, with no schools or work, no markets or homes and nothing but destruction and death. The whole world sees these images daily and just gasps, but no one wants to stop the carnage. We just don't know what to do as the rest of the world is not in agreement with the steps to intervention. We show images of suffering and we give speeches on how bad it is, but really don't agree on anything that needs to be done to help the civilians who are in the line of fire, and have lost everything they ever had.

The countries with resources don't agree on the plan of action, and even the most democratic countries are not keen on involvement. When you hear the next person saying we are waiting for UN to report something, while viewing the carnage first hand. The US President doesn’t have the support of the electorate nor the elected officials, and so is the others nations which might have to form a coalition to stop the killing. With each war and with each intervention the countries have great experience that Afghanistan, Iran and other areas have never been a happy intervention by the international community. The helpful hand that was extended has never been appreciated and the way out of the conflicts have always been bitter and, bad for the counties who interfered.

Always all the time the human interest and national or global interest is there in getting involved in other nations internal conflicts. The price paid by the international community has been enormous, while the internal conflicts certainly destroy their own country and kill their own people, unabated.

Countries are not indifferent to human suffering, but the politicians have no support from their constituents to go and get involved in conflicts that perhaps have no end, and will only bite the future of the helping hand. People although being killed and displaced by their own rulers, most times are not receptive of others coming in and getting involved in their internal conflicts. There is always a call for international intervention, but the after the intervention reception has been always hostile. Syria is begging for help, along with nations surrounding Syria with the flow of refugees, but when the leaders of international community look for support from their constituents, very little support s being extended.

The reluctance of the international community is based on more than just lack of public support, but also what will transpire once you intervene and how do you get out? Get out is not just withdraw but also the after effects of the intervention, and almost assured negative reaction of the country you thought you were helping. While the leaders of the world who want to intervene are probably sincere in their public speeches, their public is reluctant to police the world. While we want to stop the carnage, we also are wary of the long term and negative consequences of the helping hand.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Minding My Own Business

Vasu Reddy From Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

There is absolutely nothing I can do or add to the crisis of dividing my state in India. Absolutely nothing. Since we all heard the announcement from the Congress leadership that Andhra Pradesh will be split into parts, there has been a lot said and written for and against the division by all people of the state all over the world. I too have written several weeks on the confusion that has raised from the decision to bifurcate the state, and it is absolutely and utterly confusing at best and there is no plan, process or people's involvement into how to go about dividing the state, except Congress have to split the state, and that's it.

I can't seem to mind my own business about the decision to split my state, and however much I discuss this with whosoever who may want to discuss it, and however much I write about the decision and its haphazardness and what might happen to my brothers who live in the state; a plethora of issues that I am incapable to even thinking about, and everyone else in India and outside keep talking about and discussing on the decision to separate my state, by there is not a thing we can do about it, except talk and talk.

While the non resident Andhra folks have been looking at the internet, watching every possible Indian channel on cable television, and burning the telephone lines with their friends and family (some with even total strangers), and a few NRI even going on hunger strike in the USA and some other countries in support of a united Andhra Pradesh, the center's decision as communicated has been as stated, and no change in the posturing of the ruling party. The folks that used to go on hunger strikes, and destruction and suicides and constant saber rattling have gone silent as their demand for a separate state has been accepted by the central government and they are now making new threats and demands on the so called settlers. The whole exercise has been quite television worthy, and for those who are living faraway, it is a reminder of helplessness and what is happening in the good old state.

From ten thousand miles away I have absolutely no influence on even making a case for anything that people are fighting for in the state. There in no discussion happening amongst the leaders with any influence that seems to appeal to the general public in the state, and the center after making the wild decision to separate the state is unable to present a plan that can appease the people. It is a guarantee that whatever the central leadership announces or decides next will further make a mess out of a already messy situation. No one will like it, and everyone will simply dismiss it as a heavy handed and political decision made for survival, rather than in the best interest of the state.

The whole mess is fodder for news magazines and television channels and great business for telephone companies and internet providers and anyone who can transmit the situation. Its an overload of useless and unwanted information that increases anxiety of the audiences. I try not to worry about the ramifications of a separate state and next trip to my home state, I might have to land in an airport that is no longer in my state. Not that the airport makes a whole load of difference but it will sure fell strange, for the very fact that the last time I left it was my state's pride possessions with a brand new and shiny airport, and now I will have to land in another state and then travel thru a couple districts to get back into my state. I really want to mind my business and not get too excited about the ramifications of the division, but I keep thinking about it, and it makes no absolute sense to keep pondering the situation.

People of the state have already started discussion on how best to deal with the separation and probably want this thing to be done and over with. The kids are not going to school and people don't want to work anymore, and everyone is protesting about something or the other. So, the difficulty of leading a normal life has really become difficult. The guessing game on what might happen to the new state and its capital, and its water requirements, its infrastructure and its everything is up in the air and no one has answers to the real questions. All you hear is we will do justice to both of the divided regions of a state.

It is a constant reminder that life will not be the same for my folks, and for some of my family and friends who have relocated for work and business and have made new home for themselves, and their kids who are all of a sudden being told that they might have to relocate to their parents native place, but it is not theirs. No one for sure knows what to expect after the division as the politicians continue to create as much noise as they possibly can, without any answers on the questions people have. Everyone is worried and that’s exactly what is probably the reaction wanted by the central government. They have no idea of what they have planned to do except keep people on the edge while they figure out how to get more seats in the parliament to be in power. The government at the center want to mind their own business; which is try to get back into power for one more term, and here we are trying to figure out what our business will be in the future, or if we will have anything left for doing business.