Monday, August 29, 2016

Election Manifesto

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Elections all over the world have become very expensive (not forgetting offensive).  Be it in India or the USA, or everywhere else where democratic elections are held, the cost of getting elected (just running) has become astronomical.  With each election cycle the cost of competing has been increasing by so much, it is difficult to comprehend the value of the elected office.  We constantly hear that the latest election is the most expensive in history of the nation.  It only keeps getting more and more expensive.

The reality with the USA presidential elections in 2016 are not only the most expensive but also the most absurd in the history of democratic elections.  One candidate has nothing to say to the public but insult everyone in the nation, nothing positive to say about the country or its global stature and knit pick the opposing candidates and paint a picture of anyone who opposes as unqualified, demented and unfit for holding any responsibility, let along lead the nation.  Especially when it comes to general elections the public (if anyone is listening) gets a belly full of negative barbs on a 24/7 basis, and this will continue until the Election Day.

After the Election Day only one of these candidates will become the leader of the nation for next 4 years.  The loser will have to call the winner at the end of the Election Day and congratulate the winner, and only god knows what transpires in that phone call from the loser to the winner after the Election Day?  The conceding conversation can be anti-climactic for the loser, especially considering the unparliamentarily language that has been hurled at each other for more than a year.  There can be little grace between two candidates at 70 years of age, who have used up just about every abuse on earth in describing each other.   Accepting defeat and humiliation at the end of the Election Day when you have spent close to a Billion dollars running someone down, and screaming at the top of your voice in depicting the person as unqualified.  It must the most difficult telephone call to make, and perhaps even to receive.  There is nothing civil left between the candidates and their supporters.

Each party announces the lection manifesto, essentially publishing a list of things that their party (the one that wins the election) will implement, support and promise to deliver to the voting public.  Election manifestos are a part and parcel of the political process and often align with the political party affiliation.  Each party makes every effort to reach out to their core supporters and also reach out to the independents that might be willing to appreciate the specifics of the election manifesto and its face value to vote for a particular candidate.

To start with the majority of the electorate has party affiliation, and unless and until a political party can’t place an acceptable candidate to lead them, people simply vote according to their party affiliation.  It is difficult to have people vote for someone other than their individual party affiliation.  By and large the democracies vote based on what is expected of the government in the next electoral cycle, and how effective the party in rallying people to get out and vote.  Politics are really an emotional sermon, and people are really serious about their party and its manifesto.  Only a very small fraction of the electorate is undecided or independent until the Election Day, and they certainly can swing the lection one way or the other.

Outside of the party affiliation and an election manifesto, the newly elected leader and the party in majority make up for an organization that can deliver to the often repeated election promises.  The parties have distinct differences in major initiatives, and they are hardly any common ground when it comes to guidance on what each party believes as their basic agenda.  If the leader has a majority required to pass through the legislation then the process of governance and delivery to an election manifesto becomes a reality and the promises of the election manifesto start to become a reality.  There should be no reason to forget the budgets and deficits, while pushing thru the political manifesto.  At the end of the day the country and its population can only live on borrowed money for so long.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Leaning on non-existent Legacy

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Pre-independence India (prior to 1947) did boast of a long legacy of kings, kingdoms and a fairly large history of civilization and accomplishments.  There is no question about the contribution of Indian civilization/s to the world’s accomplishments and advancements.  Indians have a great hangover of their family legacy, albeit much of it is hearsay.  Very rarely a family has any legacy that is properly documented.  It there was ever any real legacy, the nation and its current population has made every effort to decimate whatever that can be claimed.  Indians have a habit of referring to someone or something to profess family lineage and legacy.  Much of these claims have no back-up, but just by constantly repeating something people start to place importance to the fibs and even start believing in their own fibs.  By and large it is a normal Indian thing to speak of legacy, weather or not it is fact based.

India’s performance in the modern Olympics is really dismal.  As of 2016 there has been no individual gold medal winner in any category.  India does have a few individual silver ad bronze medals and that’s about it.  For a fact India never had a golf #1 (Vijay Singh is from Fiji), no one from India ever won a grand slam tournament (Sania Mirza only doubles), and we can go on and on about the non-accomplishments of Indian athletes in the global arena.  Outside of Indian cricket team’s recent accomplishments, the country never produces a winner (not including Chess) on a global stage.

As India accounts for more than 1/6 of the global population, we should expect a bit more of global competition, better yet a better performance from the athletes.  The last couple of decades only cricket team has been making noises, but cricket is a sport mainly limited to colonial legacy.  The Americas, much of Europe and Asia doesn’t even encourage cricket as a sport.  So, Indians can’t really claim sporadic dominance in Cricket as a global dominance in sports.  There is absolutely no question about the ability and commitment of the Indian cricket team, just that most of the world doesn’t compete in the sport.

Although Indians make a lot of noise about even a single medal at the Olympics, India has no legacy of the modern games.  If we leave behind the early success of Indian hockey team (much of the success was in the time of British India) there is little to show for India’s participation in Olympics.  India is no longer a competitive hockey nation, a legacy of a sport Indians can no longer refer to.

India is a nation that still speaks of the old Milka Singh (although a great athlete) who never won a medal at the Olympics.  A big movie was made as a tribute to him.  Such is our legacy system.  With TV and social media making sure of covering the most mundane things in Earth, the Indians participation gets a lot more ink than the pre mobile and internet age.  Mainly the social media makes a mess of covering the athletes prior to the games establishing a very high level of expectations, which has no basis and a complete backlash about the results which are inline with expectations.  Indians do celebrate every medal irrespective of the sport and type, and rightfully so.  Olympics are not a place of incompetence, ignorance or impunity.  It is competition between 100% best of the best in all games/sports.  Even winning a single medal at the Olympics is an accomplishment to cherish.  The athletes, their families and friends, their coaches, their training facilities, their sponsors and specially the people who cheer them on and the public at large; all of them deserve the appreciation  for the effort behind every competing athlete.

But, what is happening here?  Why don’t we have a single gold medal? Why do we keep being placed at the bottom of the medal tally?  Why don’t we become a nation that competes and wins?  We can keep asking questions every four years but we have no answers.

Let us not for a minute believe that India as a nation that doesn’t like to win.  If the nation wants to win, then do the athletes have the spirit and mind to compete at the highest level and win?  Are the athletes conditioned for a global audience and performance that is conditioned only to win?  The facilities, sponsors and conditions are available and easily accessible for every athlete that shows the promise to compete.  But, we keep asking the same question/s every time, but so far we have no gold medal winner to welcome home.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Clean India and Girl Power

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

August 7, 2016

The Honorable Prime Minister of India
Mr. Narendra Modi
New Delhi, India

My Dear Sir;


It has been 35 years since I went to study in USA, and after completion of my education I have made a life of hope and promise.  Everyday my wife, my children and myself speak, talk, behave and feel Indian, although we are 10,000 miles away.  We are proud of our Indian heritage and we try and represent the hard work of our nation.  Our classification as NRI’s doesn’t really make any difference in our life away from our India as the nation will always remain “MOTHER INDIA”.

Prior to and after your election, and your term as PM for the past two years, to me provide the promise of what our India should be on read in our history books and listening to the fables from our elders.  Although we no longer participate in daily routine in India, we do follow your every word and have high regard for your every speech and look forward to actions as follow-up to your pronouncements.  In the recent times there is no political parallel to your oratory and none in the world who present their nation to the world in the great light you do.

Your initiatives on Girl Child and Clean India are 100% close to my heart and I am sure to every person who listens to you.  Every opportunity I get I proudly speak of these initiatives that you constantly speak of.

Sir; we are simple people and live a simple life.  Our families in India and the USA represent the middle class of both of our nations.  We are what you and President Obama address as common man.  Our aspirations are for the well being of our children, our love for our families and friends, concern for our parents and our nations.

During the initial time of our current trip (end of July 2016) to our native state of AP, each of the four of us were in the greatest of spirit walking out of the Airport in Hyderabad.  Our children with their widest smile seeing their grand father, my wife and myself happy to see her father and also one of my best friend’s waiting outside the gate to bring us home.  Every time we travel to India, our people embrace us with affection with is certainly native.  It is after all our India.

Sir; if we listen to your Clean India and constant media and internet coverage, the clean part is confined to the international airport.  I must admit that the efficiencies in handling incoming passengers as one of the best in the world.  This is our first trip to India since your stewardship.  Since the time we stepped out of the airport and for about a week, there is absolutely not a single place I can find for the common man to feel clean.  The only place that has remained without trash is far from human habitation.  My overnight journey in pouring rain from Hyderabad to my home town was only comfortable inside the bus.  The call of nature was absolute in the middle of the trip, and along with other men I had no choice but to relive myself in the middle of nowhere in the rain, and pitch dark.  The women and the little girls on the bus, none of them were able to do what men could do.  Sir; this is the most cruel and most primitive way of life bestowed upon the people we love and cherish.  During the course of the week in India my nine year old girl and my wife had to endure the same discomfort again and again.  There is no choice of words that will comfort them from the indignity.  A simple call of nature in private is not possible and India is shining?

This was the same in 1981 and perhaps much more crude and uncomfortable in 2016.  You sir have chosen a life to be single, and perhaps with your stature will never experience this demeaning and unfathomable life experience of a husband and father.  You are very fortunate.

Irrespective of the experience, our love for family, friends and county will never be diminished, but your constant pronouncements on what you tell the world and the real India today don’t even come close to each other.  Although my experience has been limited to my small family, I am sure that except for people who travel in luxury, the humiliation endured by common man is for the vast majority of our nation.  Your words constantly reflect a positive approach to the most basic need in a human being, but there is nothing that shows that India has even taken a single step to allow our women the dignity with basic need.  Why do you want to promote GIRL CHILD, when the girl can’t attend a call of nature?

You should seriously stop lecturing, promoting and speaking of women’s empowerment.  You should start demanding every level of government to make sure no women must wait to go home to attend to the call of nature.  Forget your international diplomacy, forget your military spending, forget your infrastructure plans, and forget your politics, all of which have done nothing new with your administration.  Just focus on our women and dignity they deserve.  If you simply put our women’s dignity first in all your politics, you will become the best head of state to represent a democracy in this century.

Your clean India initiative and the enormous media coverage with fancy names posing with brooms has been just that.  The effort to clean has not reached anywhere, and the nation has become a huge garbage dump.

Your party has volunteers around the nation, and their primary mission at your direction can be to foster a Clean India that will translate to Girl Power.  You can do it.  Let this not be limited to inside the international terminal.

There is not one positive comment I have on your clean India drive.  Outside of your impeccable attire and your constant advertising there is no clean India.  Please direct every state and local politician and official, all BJP volunteers to deliver a clean India.  Make this your only mission for the rest of your time in power.  Allow my children, all children enjoy their neighborhood.  Let women travel without embarrassment and discomfort.

You will see that there will be no greater political power than that of the nation’s women supporting you for making sure of their basic need becoming priority of the nation.  After all these years of independence, its time to put our women first, and you Sir, work on it now and make sure everyone of our women the dignity.  I am 100% sure you will never be voted out of office, if women’s dignity is on the top of your politicking.  I urge you to make it your government’s only initiative, which will lead our great country into the greatest prosperity.  Just remember our women are our Lakshmi.  Jai Hind.

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Native Place without a Home – Proddatur Diaries

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

In many years since I came back to my native place, Proddatur. Close to twenty.  It is still quite a travel from the nearest airport.  It is an all night trip by bus, train or car from Hyderabad, Bangalore or Chennai.  I have always been an excellent traveler.  No amount of time spent on a plane, car or a bus makes me tired but for the waiting time to the destination.  My impatience comes from waiting in between.  It has always been something I did not like is to wait.  Just have to get from here to there, and as fast as it is possible.  Sleeping the entire way, anywhere anytime and being hungry on time and the favorite pastime of coffee drinking anytime and anywhere, all go along with traveling well.

Not much has changed in the way we travel from the city to my town.  For more than two generations to date the routes, the roads, and definitely the travelers remain the same, despite the multiples in increase in travel.  The infrastructure remains the same, and in reality the so called development really is neither adequate nor has kept up with the demand.  The only thing that has multiplied is the cost.  The rains this season have been incessant and in reality a fantastic monsoon season for the next agricultural cycle.  With the constant downpours, the entire state is waterlogged (no change in water management except what the politicians say as progress, but zero progress on this front) while providing much needed relief from heat and dust.  As people and the government don’t do anything about cleaning, the down pours also act as washing machines for the entire state, at least when the rain pours.  I still reminisce on the happiness rainy season brought to us as kids, which was a fantastic part of the Indian summers (all year long).

The buses are now available, and some even have beds (very small but utilitarian) and you can sleep your way to your destination.  Luckily no one was on their mobile phones on the bus I traveled.  For me the travel part did not matter to me as I just slept thru, except for an out door bathroom break in rain.  We had a relatively clean cabin when got in on the bus, although there no place to sit, there were only four beds in each cabin.  The Lenin was fresh including the pillow cover.  I believe there were 9 cabins with 4 berths in each cabin.

The last time I traveled home to Proddatur was a forgettable and unplanned trip, but the latest one was fairly accommodating and the mode of transport much more comfortable.  On both ends at Hyderabad and at Proddatur, I had the pleasure of best friends Prabhakar and Satyam, send and receive me.  While Prabhakar waited for the bus to get off in Hyderabad, Satyam’s voice woke me up in Proddatur.

Outside of sleeping all thru the trip, and constant rain, the only forgettable tidbit for the night was when the bus stopped in the middle of the road near a tea stall, the guy yelling thru the bus to get down and relieve yourself.  I had to just like all the other guys in a line into the rain, and I am 100% sure that each of the guys were feeling exactly like I did, pure bliss.  My guilt was short lived when I saw myself (and all the guys from the bus) at least find a way to make the call of nature, but the women had no such chance.  Nothing has changed; no one cares, and probably never will.  (My following Indian politics and Modi’s pronouncements all over the world, reminded me that every one with a mike can make speeches, but no one can really do anything.  The message to Modi will come shortly and will not leave any detail behind on crap that is fed to the people).  In the nation which had a female prime minister in the 1970’s and uses Bharat Mata as the name of its nation, this place is not even in the same ball park to either be clean nor have any respect for women, in fact for anything.  I some times doubt of people had any self-respect.  My India has gone to dogs and we probably need divine intervention to knock some civic sense.

There is some improvement in communications as phones work with constant yelling, and internet spotty, but reservations seem to work.  Satyam sent us a text with my bus ticket; it did provide details, and a contact person and number, which worked.  I don’t give much credit for the telecom infrastructure as I did work on this in the early 1990’s, and the current state of the network today is no where near it should be, except for the number of users.  In reality my experience for the week has been that it is a crappy network.  Yet again, what else you expect if the nation spends more money on graft.

Going back to the trip, Prabhakar had a big bottle of water along with my e-ticket, and I slept all my way, except for the nature’s call on the road in pouring rain.  I thought the rain was absolving my guilt on unabashed behavior.

The wonderful and the most thoughtful gesture of brotherhood from best friends provided comfort of being alone and venturing the bus travel.  All through the travel, sleep took away my anxiety of the time away from my native place.  Very little time was left to think about where to get off, how to get home, and will I know how and where.  But travel was never an adventure for me, but this trip had some anxiety.  As always sleep was comforting until I heard Satyam’s voice calling my name out and looking for me.  One of the most comforting feelings to hear a familiar voice before you even your friend is in sight. Nothing has changed, again here; neither the voice nor the person, along with the reception in person.  Friends forever, and nothing changes.

That’s where my familiarity stopped.  I would not want to claim my old town was a clean place when I left, but the shock of what I saw was immediate.  I did not recognize the place, and not for better.  This place has been trashed and abused.  I though I was seeing a child with 100% neglect.  Once again Modi’s pronouncements on clean India, either has not been embraced by the people of my town or they have completely lost cognizance of cleanliness.  No matter what this my town and this is where we roamed freely (walked mostly) and spent our formative years.

Satyam sounds and looks the same, and more than anything else he is the same as when I last saw him.  That’s what makes me happy instantly, and comforted.  Whatever started with seeing Prabhakar outside the Shamshabad airport as we walked out, which was also in just a few minutes with a very pleasant immigration officer, and no hassle luggage or customs.  Along with my wife’s father who had traveled far to get us with a lot of snacks (which could last the entire trip), Prabhu was also reassuring to see, as we were going to our respective native places.  Satyam’s familiar voice and his leading me back to my mother was best possible way to get to see her.

Immediately after you get off the bus, you can’t miss the abuse bestowed on the town.  No where I could recognize the town we left behind.  Sadness creeps in as you see street after street in disarray and trashed.  There was not a single building that looked well kept, not a single street free of trash, except the rains has really fed the trees and made the air less hostile.  I kept wondering, where was my home?  Even as the auto stopped in front of my home, I did not recognize it.  Despite a best friend, and his voice, this was an unfamiliar town.  While Satyam rode his scooter, the auto with me a couple of bags followed him.  My own best friend service the purpose of GPS in my own un-familiar town.

This place is unrecognizable, not a home, road, turn nor even familiar silence in my colony.  I had to look at my home twice after we stopped in front of it.  The funny thing is I did not walk into my own home, but exactly opposite into the apartment complex opposite to it where my mom lived.  All of a sudden I felt tired, and was in disbelief.  The transformation is more shocking than that I walk right in front of my own home into an apartment to see my Mom, which perhaps was the single most important part of the journey.

Satyam walked with me to the door, and left me with my mom when she opened the door.  Once again a gesture of a great friend to allow me to embrace my frail mother without even my best friend.  After all this is my town, and my home is where my mother is.  My mind was no longer pondering on how people have abused my town, and all of a sudden it did not matter.  The long wait to get here, the sickness and years of rehab to regain the mind and body, the stress of the Indian bureaucracy, travel along with a bit of fatigue; none of it mattered.  You have your best friends get you on the bus, and one to get you off it and here is mom.  What else would anyone would want to ask for?

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...