Monday, July 30, 2012

Anna must go ...Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ July 29, 2012

Where’s the party? Anna must go beyond protests to be the change

Dear Shri Annaji,

You have become a symbol of clean politics. Your team is fighting a selfless battle for change. You got a standing ovation from the young and the old, the rich and the poor, from teens, men and women cutting across class and community. When you chose to fast, your admirers gave up even water in sympatico. When you suffered internal agony, they fought the summer heat and power-hungry politicians. Your simplicity, frugality, transparent exterior and interior, and the resolve to teach a lesson to the tainted establishment through democratic means made you a soft target. People saw Jayaprakash Narayan in you.

Like you, JP also emerged from nowhere and captured the imagination of the masses that had lost faith in the political order of the day. You are, likewise, expected to dominate the political discourse and not become a part of it by joining government panels and sending emissaries to parley with scheming political satraps. You thought writing letters would have the desired effect on those who are used to feeding them to shredding machines or put away in files. Masters at their game, they outsmarted you and your team. Even those Opposition leaders you trusted double-crossed you and your mission. While JP aimed to replace the existing political charter with his own, your team chose to work through the system. You have also opted for a hi-tech, choreographed agitational approach by hosting fasts at urban venues which get you immediate eyeballs. But the crowds are thinning. This doesn’t mean they have lost faith in you; it only indicates the success of the political class in isolating your group. They don’t want any outsider to capture their space. JP did, by becoming one of them.

The difference between you and the Lok Nayak ends there. JP took the politicians into confidence. He took over their leadership and directed and dictated them to follow his line. Unfortunately, you committed the cardinal error of trusting the ruling dispensation. Many of your staunch supporters feel that some of your key confidantes were keen to share the high table with senior ministers. While their motives were never suspected, their methods proved disastrous as the might of the government roundly defeated and derailed your movement. You were promised a clean and powerful Lokpal Bill so that you would turn down the heat. But they unleashed vicious propaganda against your team members. Stung by the filthy campaign, your team decided to influence the outcome of elections in state Assemblies but met with little success. JP was able to throw the ruling party out of power in 1977. The mighty Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay lost the elections.

Now you are being accused of playing politics. As your team relentlessly pursues its agenda, it has chosen to attack all political parties with which it had previously opened dialogues. Since your commitment to provide a clean alternative to the current tainted system is never in doubt, it would be better for you to float your own political party and provide an alternative agenda.

In 1987, V P Singh floated his own political party on the anti-corruption plank and defeated the ruling Congress to become prime minister. It is time for transition: Anna the social activist must become Anna the politician. I know your team and you have already announced that none of you are looking for a government post. This would perhaps give you the popular mandate to implement your vision. You have the resources. You have the middle and lower middle classes following you blindly. You possess a team that has seen the system from within. Even if most of your aides belong to the urban elite, they can mobilise others. Don’t forget that Team Anna, including you, has the largest following among Netizens who dominate the mindspace of young India. A cursory Google search reveals that you have 46 million page views as against 36 million for the Prime Minister; 21 million for Sonia Gandhi; 36 million for Narendra Modi and just 20 lakh for L K Advani. Surprisingly, websurfers are more interested in your mission than in rich entertainers like Amitabh Bachchan (43 million), Priyanka Chopra (39 million) and Shah Rukh Khan (32 million). Combined with your followers on Twitter, you enjoy more cyber-support than the entire political leadership put together.

Indians are worshippers by birth. But they worship only those who defeat evil. For you, all political parties are foes of the people. The only option left for you is to prove that you represent the masses who have lost confidence in politicians. You have to shun the occasional flirtation with the enemy. In an age where image defines character, you sport the right look—the knight in shining white khadi, Gandhi topi and guileless smile.

Annaji, you have engaged the powers-that-be in both open and secret dialogue but they just don’t bother. They have now challenged your acceptability by asking you to contest an election. Take them head-on. You can’t continue to dictate your agenda to those who have, rightly or wrongly, got the public mandate. Baba Ramdev and you symbolise the inclusive nature of Indian society: a combination of white and saffron, urban and rural, and khas and aam aadmi could be a surefire winner in an election.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, July 23, 2012

Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ July 22, 2012

What has aam aadmi got from Manmohan’s economic reforms?

For the chief executive of a developing nation like India, no decision matters more than making the right noises and taking the right decisions. Ever since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken charge of the finance ministry, both he and his office have been making the right noises but haven’t taken the second part seriously. Bringing badly needed economic reforms back into focus has been their only obsession. Even after 20 years of liberalisation, the nation is still confused about the kind of reforms that can lift investor and consumer sentiment and ensure equitable growth. India’s GDP has grown by an average of over 5 per cent for the past decade; yet unemployment levels have risen, there are fewer homes for the poor, and the quality of healthcare has deteriorated. The supply of essential services like water and electricity to the country’s rural and urban poor has dwindled. More people live below the poverty line than a decade ago. The number of billionaires, however, has swollen by over 100 per cent, thanks to liberalisation. Economic reforms are not aimed at making poor people rich. Instead, they are meant to create oligarchies of the rich and affluent. Aided by powerful opinion-makers based in India and abroad, the definition of India’s economic reforms is camouflaged in such a way that it has only encouraged crony capitalism in the name of making the government look less intrusive.

Now, the children of the post-reform era are using all available methods and means to blame the absence of reforms as the reason for all ills that plague Indian economy. They are pushing for the next generation of reforms to boost the sagging economy. For them, pliable regulators, a liberal tax regime, privatisation of profits and public ownership of their losses, concessional bank loans, restructuring of bad debts and an expanded role in the decision-making process define a robust reformist regime.

Unfortunately, their avaricious addiction for luxury and ostentatious affluence is defining the quality and the contours of economic reforms. For them, unhindered access to public assets, freedom from any serious scrutiny of their deeds and misdeeds, and exemption from paying taxes are the essential ingredients of the reform process. They want not just special packages for their opulent survival but also special status in the dynamic of political power. For the past four weeks, India’s economic planners are finding ways to cater to the cacophony of this cabal which has come to acquire near total control over the administrative mechanism of our establishment and the political parties. This camarilla wants the government to hand over public assets to private persons so that they can multiply their net worth which is under tremendous pressure due to contraction of demand. For them, disinvestment in the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is a massive leap in the right direction because it will allow a coterie of a few bankers, stock brokers and private equity fund managers to make big bucks. Wouldn’t it be better to let SAIL raise money and set up a new state-of-the-art steel plant in a remote, underprivileged area of India which would provide employment to thousands?

For the PMO, reforms also mean resolving the tax issues of multinationals such as Vodafone. It took no time in withholding the guidelines for GAAR under which Vodafone would have to pay a massive amount as retrospective tax after losing its case in the Supreme Court. Former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s decision was dubbed as anti-reform, and a new panel has been appointed to dilute the guidelines. But the government hasn’t bothered to take a relook at the ever expanding service tax regime under which the consumer might even end up paying service tax at the local vegetable vendor. The finance ministry is not releasing income tax refunds to middle class taxpayers for the past three years, but still no committee has been appointed to ensure the speedy restoration of excess tax paid by ordinary people.

As some regulatory institutions like CAG become more aggressive while undertaking the scrutiny of public funds and assets, votaries of fast track growth are pushing for public-private partnership for all projects to avoid public scrutiny; and they call this liberalisation. All the state and Central government agencies are now under pressure to find favourite entrepreneurs for PPP projects. The debate on economic reforms doesn’t deal with the issues of inflation, reducing the size of government, ensuring transparency in governance, speedy judicial process, making villages and slums more liveable and reducing the disparities between the rich and the poor. If the Prime Minister and his advisers are serious about winning 2014, they have to define and implement reforms in a way that makes the masses, not the market, smile and flourish. Otherwise, the people will show the collective inverted thumb to the current basket of economic reforms as they did in 1996 by throwing the Congress out of power.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, July 16, 2012

Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ July 15, 2012

The aam aadmi’s voting finger is way stronger than any foreign hand

Policy paralysis seems to have vanished. The buzzword in the corridors of power in Delhi is ‘Just do business’. Talk to businessmen, listen to them and keep them in good humour. Ignore the aam aadmi. Pamper only the khas aadmi. North Block’s market-friendly mandarins have been instructed in no uncertain terms that the health and wealth of the nation is safe only if they can bring broad smiles to the sullen faces of corporate leaders heading for bankruptcy or looking to roll back their mounting losses and shrinking ratings in Fortune’s list of richest Indians.

As Pranab Mukherjee indulges in votepiling in various state capitals, his previous ministry has been instructed to demolish his left-of-the centre legacy. Fast-tracking reforms means allowing the rich and the famous to have easy access to bank funds, policy-making institutions and to formulate India’s economic diplomacy. Photographs of top corporate honchos lining up in front of the new finance ministry bosses reflect the change in Delhi’s business environment. The mandate and message are quite clear. All ministers and the civil servants have to win a war of perception even if they fail to deliver. It doesn’t matter if no decision is taken at any of the meetings; they must meet, discuss and disperse to tell the world that things are moving in the right direction. Last week, when important ministers from Mauritius and Singapore visited India, they didn’t ask for land to set up new plants. Instead, they pleaded for their investors to be given preferential treatment in tax concessions. It sounds quite ridiculous but is sadly true. Our ruling establishment, both in the Opposition and the government, fumes over any domestic criticism of their policies and leadership. But when it is a foreign-based institution or an individual who makes adverse comments, they rush into intensive care to identify faults in their vital organs. Suddenly, the government seems to be in hurry to revisit its environment regulations, GAAR guidelines, undertake massive disinvestment of public sector undertakings, reduce interest rates for corporate borrowings and prune subsidies on foodgrains and petroleum products. These measures are aimed at building foreign investor confidence. Even after losing elections in the states and local bodies, the UPA leadership is desperate to win back the endorsement of the non-voting elite class based in India and abroad—the retention of a seat on the high table of international economic diplomacy and corporate forums provides better dividends for individuals, even it means marginalising its presence in the hearts of the masses.

When a foreign magazine termed our Prime Minister an underachiever, the Congress party went into overdrive to dismiss it as a motivated charge. The magazine had made no startling revelations about the achievements or failings of the UPA government that were not known earlier, or exposed by the Indian media. But it was a shocker for the Congress, which had taken foreign institutions and media as its permanent admirers for the past decade. Many Congress leaders have been copiously quoting the foreign media in the past to bolster the India Growth story. But the party has forgotten that the only permanent interests of foreigners in India are commercial. As long as the ruling party was able to give them unlimited access to the Indian power system and markets, they were unsparing in singing paeans of fulsome praise for our great ‘reformist’ government. Since most of the so-called developed economies are failing due to wrong policies, they, along with their lobbyists, are blackmailing the Indian establishment to surrender. Never before has the government met with such negative publicity abroad as it has in the past few months. In what appears to be a coordinated move, most Western media has been making uncharitable remarks about India’s politics and economics. Instead of admitting their lack of understanding about our complex coalition politics, they are determined to paint India as a banana republic. Most foreign think-tanks have badly misread the contours of India’s urban and rural economy. They have been projecting a rosy picture about the fundamentals of Indian corporates. Since their reports were based on inputs received from their own kind, they proved totally false as the UPA came under coalition pressure.

Indian politics is all about winning votes, and not getting a few positive editorials in foreign publications. Do leaders like Obama, Merkel, or others bother about what the Indian media thinks of them? They don’t even read us. But not only do our leaders get heart attacks over such reports, they buckle under pressure and resort to solutions which force their parties to pay for their follies. Those with stakes in the future of their parties have now realised that pandering to videshi sentiments is perilous. They want politics and economics for the desis, of the desis and by the desis. Those who differ may be shown the door by aam aadmi.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, July 9, 2012

Since you can't be King.../Power & Politics / The Sunday Standard/ July 8, 2012


Since you can't be king, Be Kingmaker. The Option is Obscurity.

Dear Advaniji,

I am constrained to write an open letter to you. My fraternity is inundated with a flood of unadulterated reports on your politics, personal problems and views on the current state of affairs in the Bharatiya Janata Party. Depending on the colour of the source, we are told that you have been marginalised or lost credibility, thanks to your flip-flops on various issues like your remarks on Mohammad Ali Jinnah or your apologetic letter to Sonia Gandhi. But there are others, perhaps in small numbers, who still repose faith in you. They are telling journalists that you are the only one who is upset about the collapse of discipline and the culture of probity within the BJP—you are helpless now. You are, we are informed, upset about the turn of events in Karnataka where a powerful cabal of corporate-backed tainted leaders is able to dictate terms to the national leadership. While you sit at home wringing your hands—as you usually do—in desperation and anguish, others are busy striking deals and securing their political future as the party heads towards disaster. Instead of dictating your line, you are forced to fall in line. I’m sure you are aware of the rumours about some central BJP leaders reaching an understanding with state satraps; not only to protect and finance each other’s growth but also raise sufficient funds to impose their prime ministerial choice on the party and the NDA. I heard this in Bangalore. Whispers in Patna only reinforce this. Secret pacts have been made with chief ministers of NDA partners, who are now accepting some of BJP’s vagabonds with strong connections in New Delhi into their fold, even giving them Cabinet status. Their job is to serve as a link between prime ministerial hopefuls and chief ministers. We are told that you and party president Nitin Gadkari are unaware of these private treaties cutting across political parties and India Inc. BJP’s middle-level leaders in Bihar are saddened by your neutrality over Nitish Kumar’s strident opposition to Narendra Modi. They are upset over you sharing the platform with Nitish, and not letting Modi visit Bihar during the elections despite the fact that he is much more popular than Nitish. Sadly and inexplicably, you have not projected any of your chief ministers for their excellent work. Barring Modi, none of your CMs can even dream of a role in Central politics. On the other hand, occupants of 11 Ashoka Road have chartered their own growth plan over three years. They represent the new BJP who believes that ‘more money is not only mightier’, but is also right in the new politics. I know you are genuinely concerned about this dangerous drift.

Nobody in your party is in doubt about the rot in the BJP. Most committed and marginalised workers, and state-level leaders hold you responsible for keeping quiet so long. They never forget to sing paeans of praise about your organisational skills. They also take pride in telling stories about your gruelling Rath Yatras which polarised Indian voters and provided the cultural and ideological glue that held the party together. You, along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ensured that a party with just two members in the Lok Sabha in 1984 captured power in less than 14 years. While Vajpayee got the fence-sitters among secular nationalists to rally behind the party, you created the BJP’s two USPs: ‘a party with a difference’ and value-based politics. A large number of cadres credit you with making the BJP the only national alternative to the Congress.

Today, the party has lost both its USPs. The leaders you created, promoted and groomed to take over the reins have frittered away its ideological advantage. Not only do most of them resemble their rivals, they speak the same language, flaunt similar brands, fly in chartered planes, and wine and dine with a crowd that has only an opportunistic relationship with the party. Your admirers rightly and wrongly feel that you threw away all your virtues in your mission to become the prime minister. Every move of yours during the past five years has been seen as an attempt to grab the top job at any cost. Some of your own followers have been uncharitable about your motives. They have been creating a situation and an atmosphere that could force you into political retirement. Ever since you surrendered moral authority over the BJP, it has become a large family of rich individuals who want an ageing yet credible patriarch to follow their dictates or get lost.

The choice is yours. Your admirers expect you to make it clear that you aren’t aspiring to be the king, so that you can reassume the role of the kingmaker. In the politics of perception, sacrifice yields better dividends. A section of the BJP is still looking towards you with the hope that you will once again support institutions like the party president. As one of your most loyal followers put it, “The time has come for Advaniji to take charge or get discharged.” The option for you is to either become a footnote in the BJP’s book of history or its powerful cover jacket. ; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla

Monday, July 2, 2012

Aamir Khan on Teekhi Baat / IBN7/June 30, 2012

Interview with Betaaj Badshah of Bollywood, Aamir Khan on IBN7

PC: All other Khan’s wear Taaj, hence you are betaaj badshah

AK: Laughs. I do not wear Taj, nor am I the Badshah

PC: For the first time, some actor presented before a parliament committee. I saw green t shirt, jeans, like my son wears, a casual approach to such a serious subject, how the motivation does come

AK: I remember when I went, I did not wear t shirt, but a shirt. But I was called as they wanted to listen to my thoughts, not look at my clothes.

PC: It is also true that people in white clothes go there, which have stains on them.

AK: I don’t remember

PC: I saw you had worn casual sneakers, but subject was so serious. Aamir Khan can carry off everything, message was more important.

AK: The issue that we were to talk about was more important, I did not pay attention on clothes.

PC: I read Kiran Rao’s statement that this program has made my life hell, so many people come home talk about it.

AK: All this planning of Satyamev Jayte, was happening from home for the past two years. The whole house was upside down.

PC: From the time Kiran has come into your life, good work is happening it seems

AK: I find myself lucky that Kiran is in my life

PC: After that you gave hits one by one, all sixes, not gours

AK: Well, professional success was there before that also. But seeing her nature I feel lucky that she has come into my life

PC: What is the motivation behind Satyamev Jayte , because film star’s work is to do entertainment, what will you call this. Entertainment, reality show,

AK: This is a personal journey for me. I am trying to learn, get more closer to people of my country, understanding their feelings. And I want more people to join this journey, like when I came in tv, the people seeing it joined me. Hence this is a attempt to understand the issue first then highlight it. Highlight those who have fought solution to their problems so we also get a road to move ahead.

PC: There must be a conflict, is Aamir Khan’s personality of actor, entertainer, social activist

AK: There is no conflict because I am not naming what I am doing.

PC: Social

AK: All issues are important and are the ones that touch every Indian. But we try to present it in interesting way, so that people join it emotionally. And not only emotionally but also because humanly. People should feel enriched by seeing this show I as feel enriched form the experiences, people in the two years.

PC: What was the mission, because these issues are not a new thing in India, but you way is new.

AK: I feel Prabhuji, that when we understand a issue completely. Then the action we take on that issue also completely changes. And many times I feel we don’t understand the issue completely. Hence, our attempt was to understand those issues first, from every angle and when we put those issues in front of people and I feel that people many change the way they look at things. Like in the society, many people don’t want the girl child,

PC: There were television serious on that issue, Like Laado was a serial on that issue,

AK: No, I have not watched it

PC: Many of the shows that are currently on are on women and children issues. But all these issues like child foeticide, disability these are there in the country for long, you critics will say that this is a way for publicity or you feel at this stage you must put yourself to do this work,

AK: I felt Prabhuji that I have got so much in this life and due to gods greatness I have got some much love, name and fame, I should be able to make good use of it and return something to society. I should give something, contribute to society from my side. I felt that the medium of television is so strong, I should attempt to use it in a good manner.

PC: Like in flims

AK: We did it via films too, like in three idiots we highlighted education, in Taare Zameen Par we concentrated on primary education

PC: Child Care

AK: On child care we did. Have done this in films and television too

PC: Other people buy cricket teams via the medium of films, but you have not commercial interests like these.

AK: I do not have this interest, I have not much interest towards business, that I buy a team and do business, that is not wrong, I do not say it is wrong, I think every man has his own interest, every man his own passion, every man has a bent of mind, my bent of mind is that I feel happy if I can get happiness into any person’s life, some man can tell me that after watching your show my life changed, like after watching Taare Zameen Par, lots of parents tell me, till now they say that after watching that film, our relations with our children changed. Now this is a big thing

PC: Certainly there is an effect. But do you think that people will see the kind of programs that you are doing, that you are doing 13 now, will do 26, then there will be an effect for 2-4 months, people will forget after that. Aamir Khan will doing some other work then.

AK : No, I do not think that the people will forget, I think that the people will remember. I feel that when something touches your heart then you do not forget it soon. And it has been more than five years to Taare Zameen Par, people have not forgotten,

PC: Many people start crying after seeing

AK: Because, you have one perspective on something, when your perspective changes, then your thought changes and then for life it changes. It will not change only for four months.

PC: After you took after the issue then many schools there were changes, facilities were improved,

AK: There have been lot of changes, in the teaching profession, many teachers did not have knowledge about learning disabilities, many teaches had the knowledge, but many did not. They have realized that children have some special kind of problems, now their behaviour towards children has changed, parents behaviour towards children has changed, they have started getting additional help, in many states nobody knew what is dyslexia.

PC: I saw that when you become emotionally involved in the show, like to make show special Aamir cries and then moves out of studio. Is this special effect or for real, because there are many friends of yours, people who are sceptical like me who must be thinking, why does Aamir Khan needs to cry in this when the medium and message is so strong

AK: You said rightly that there is no need for crying and I am not crying because there is a need. Tears roll out because the person besides whom I am sitting and when he is telling his story sitting next to me, like when a mother tells me how his son died, or when a sister tells me how his brother died, or when a woman tells me how did his husband assault her,

PC: First hand information, there are many stories like this but first hand information

AK: And because the person is telling you what he has faced, and do not think any person, I think even if you sit there you will cry.

PC: Many times even watching serious people cry

AK: There are some people who cry less, or late or not at all.

PC: Like many times one sees like Kaun Banega Crorepati, Salman did something different

AK: As a contestant I have been to KBC but not as a host

PC: As you are growing younger, by age, you are getting a security by moving from big screen to the small screen, or message, or popularity you have to earn. What is behind this as all other actors are commercial shows totally? I don’t know if you have commercial interest in this

AK: In this I am actually losing money.

PC: You have left other work

AK: Like normally, what I could earn in two year by doing two films, or the advertisements that I was doing I am not doing, for a year, all these things I have not done, that what I could earn I am not earning, but, I am not even thinking about that Prabhuji

PC: You are charging nothing from the channel

AK: We are charging, the cost of our show is so much.

PC: So Aamir Khan is not charging anything in this

AK: Mentally I have kept nothing for me in this, in fact I am at a loss via this show. Normally, I do not say this but am saying this because you are asking.

PC: Am asking because what the people feel about you they should now that he is not commercial

AK: This is not at all commercial, I am not earning, on the contrary, I am losing.

PC: So many big sponsors are there, the way you travel, money is being spent

AK: There is a lot of money being spent on this show.

PC: Hence you are doing no profit no loss like NGO

AK: No profit no loss is not the case, I am in loss, I am telling this to you. I am not doing for that hence I am not thinking not am I sad because of that, the aim with which I am doing the show, on that I am very clear.

PC: Let me ask in one sentence, why you raised an issue like this, a show like this, what is your mission

AK: If you have seen my first show, I have answered these questions. I believe that every Indian loves his country, and everybody feels that some things in our country, can we make them better, we read newspaper in the morning, speak to people, some things come in front of us, which disturb us, and we feel how to change this, this thing is in me like others. I thought that I should use these feelings in a good manner, Uday Shankarji, who is the head of start network came, he offered me a game show, I said no, I have not interest. I told him I want to do a show by which we can get a change in society, and atleast attempt to do it. That I why I am doing

PC: You raised many social issues, Narmada Bachao, Anna Hazare you were with them, after that you step back

AK: I do not step back. You gave a symbolic support elsewhere, but you were very active in Narmada.

PC: Like you are doing this now, you will start doing films and then, hence what you are doing now socially will be there, or it will be a the end for this

AK: As far as Narmada or Annaji is concerned, whereall I feel that some things are correct, where I should support, as an Indian I support, that does not mean that I have become an activist. Or I do a promise that I will leave everything and immerse myself in Narmada Bachao Andolan, I never said this. But I felt that this issue needs to be highlighted, hence as an Indian I supported it. People who are getting homeless, even Supreme Court has said that they should be rehabilitated, and I supported that. The poor people who are getting affected, I have not become an activist but issued my voice of support on that issue. Like I feel that every Indian must support through his voice and that is democracy. When you feel something is right, at enjoin through your voice support. Like Annaji is saying that a strong Anti Corruption Law should come, I am not supporting Annaji, but the cause, I too feel that a strong anti corrupting law should come, every Indian must be wanting that, a strong anti corruption law must come into being. Hence, I am giving voice support like others. But when did I say that I will leave everything and join the andolan, I never promised this. Hence, when you say that I moved ahead and stepped back, I never stepped back.

PC: You said you did as much you felt like doing, then you went to other mission

AK: Certainly, there I one thing in which I must give voice support, and in a democracy, I want everybody to give their voice support. When you feel something is right, you must enlist your voice support. This does not mean that you leave your work and join that. The people who have made that their life mission they are social activist. They like to do that work continually and we support them.

PC: That means that there is no dream that Aamir Khan has of becoming a social avticist. I will support a cause but not join full time.

AK: Yes, because I do not consider myself a social activist.

PC: A good citizen of India

AK: I consider myself a responsible citizen of India. Whenever I feel I can support a cause I do it. Talking about Satyamev Jayte, this is a very big thing for me, I have put in more than two years of my life in this,

PC: In any cause you haven’t put so much time

AK: Yes, in any cause I have not put so much time. Hence, it is an important journey for me.

PC: Your films Talassh Dhoom are ready and waiting

AK: I will do films films give me strength, my popularity today Is due to films. Love and respect I got is through films. I have importance and respect for that. I want to move ahead in the movement that we started known as Satyamev Jayte.

PC: You are using film popularity to forward social mission

AK: Am trying,

PC: You commitment, acting, you serious style of films is seen in this, be it yours tears, your communication skills, these things have not as much effect but you said them and touched hearts of crores of people. But you would have on benefit in two years, you would have got many ideas to make films

AK: Actually I have not thought about that, but maybe I may get some ideas.

PC: Like films are entertainment, but while doing Satyamev Jayate, you would have got 20-25 ideas, when I saw i found ideas that can be made into films

AK: They can be made but when I did the show I did not see form that angle, nor my mind or thinking is going on that way, and I am not a writer, because for the films I do, the writer is somebody else, I hear stories when I like them, I join

PC: You have your own production house, you can tell people to find out something, you have not thought anything

AK: I have not got any idea, and the films I do I think that the ideas should come organically. I don’t like to pick them differently and work.

PC: You spoke on generic medicines should be free, you went and met people, do you want to get endorsement by meeting political activists. Mamta is praising one Khan, Gehlot is praising another.

AK: Our aim is that our work moves ahead in the thing that we are trying to do. We have intrest in this, we do not want anyone to be at a loss, we want the people to benefit, and we are trying to do that

PC: You slogan Dil Pe Lag Rahi Hain Nayee Soch Jag Rahi Hain. Uday Shankar would have put his mind to this. Normally Dil pe lag rahi is talked in romance, now in this it seems for real.

AK: Our effort is to touch people’s hearts, and tough people emotionally, this is our effort, certainly

PC: Like many doctors were behind you, do you feel many times things are exaggerated, many times showing in the show. That every doctor is bad, an impression like that was given

AK: One, I did not say anything like that on the show

PC: You did not say that was the impression

AK: I will send you the clip too you can show on your show when I said freely that every doctor is not like that and many doctors are doing very good work and they care and worry for patients are at the back of their mind every time and we salute them, this I said on the show. Hence, it is evident that I am not talking about all doctors. When we are keeping social problems in front of the people, then there are some people behind those problems, that is why we face these problems. Hence when we open up any issue, there are some people who are behind that problem, surely, they will not feel good that we are saying it,

PC: People like exposure

AK: We do not take anybody’s name normally, unless you people have already talked about it in the media, we make an effort that we should not get personal and show anybody’s face, we talk in general. But when we even speak in general , the people behind the same may not like it.

PC: Like when you are attacking a profession

AK: We are not at all attacking a profession, we don’t attack progession

PC: Medical profession

AK: We have not attacked medical profession, in my heart, I have utmost respect for medical profession, we have attacked those doctors who do unethical practices, and do not attach it to medical profession please, we have utmost respect for medical profession, but those doctors who do unethical practices, we do not have respect for them in our hearts

PC: Am asking a personal question, is Aamir Khan social, meeting people,

AK: Yes surely. And yes you said why we did not call doctors on our show, in fact on our show there were many doctors. On our show there was Dr. Gulati, Dr. Sharma, Dr. Devishetty, many doctors, were there on the show.

PC: Like personally when you go to Delhi, you saw film with Advaniji and otherwise what personal relations you have

AK: Yes, I know Advaniji, I know his family.

PC: You do not have social relationship with anybody

AK: There is social relationship with many people,

PC: But there is no political ambition

AK: No political ambition

PC: Not today or will never be

AK: Will never be

PC: You have never thought

AK: No, I have thought, I don’t want to go there

PC: Will never go

AK: That I not for me

PC: No there are so many awards, in flim industry, “ Yeh inaamo ki baraat main, Aamir Khan dulha kabhi nahi banaa’

AK: In fact, two time I have got award and I have gone to receive it, one time I got Deenanath Mangeshkar Award, I was very happy to receive that award from the hands of Lata Didi. And the next award I have got I golapuri award

PC:Nobody knows that, these fashionable awards, of glamour

AK: Glamour award I have not gone to take, or I would not have got it.

PC: Nobody gave you

AK: Actually, I do not go, hence I don’t know what happens there. But when you asked whether I went to take award or no, I said that two awards

PC: Not awards like these, but the names you told me I heard for the first time, I spent so much time in industry

AK: You would have not heard about these award but for me

PC: No I have heard about the Mangeshkar award it is very prestigious

AK: I have lot of respect in my heart for these two awards

PC: You do not like other awards

AK: Yes, I do not go

PC: In future also there are no plans of going

AK: There is no inclination

PC: May you show run well, thank you for coming to our studio

AK: Thank you, Prabhuji !

Portraying Pranab Departure as Good Riddance.../Power & Politics/ The Sunday Standard, July 01, 2012


Portraying Pranab Departure as Good Riddance May be a Costly Mistake

Logic and consistency are not virtues in politics. Changing their response in accordance with the varying tunes of political music is a popular vice with most politicians. Judging from the dialectical response to Pranab Mukherjee’s three-year tenure as finance minister, it is evident that the UPA leadership — including the prime minister — would like to forget his “valuable contribution” to the government. Ever since he demitted office, Pranabda is being dubbed as the destroyer of the India Growth story. Rarely in Indian political history have both Marxists and markets cheered a minister’s exit. In Pranab’s case, elation reigned both in Gopalan Bhavan and Dalal Street.

What is striking is the attempts on part of the Prime Minister’s Office, corporate leaders and promoters of foreign investors to form a coalition of Pranabda baiters. Once they lived in awe of the man who listened to them patiently, but refused to be led by them. Pranabda as finance minister stood his ground with conviction. He followed the concept of collective responsibility of the Cabinet, both in spirit and in law. Now, Congress spokespersons have invented a fancy lexicon to disown his legacy. The articulate Manish Tewari coined a phrase to redefine the principle of collective responsibility; when asked to explain why the PM also shouldn’t share the blame for unpalatable decisions taken by Pranab, he admitted that though it was a matter of collective responsibility, there was also something known as “differentiated responsibility” which held the Prime Minister back from interfering in finance ministry matters.

Nothing could have been more damning for the UPA’s presidential candidate than being held directly responsible for leaving the country in an economic mess. If there weren’t a captive electoral college, P A Sangma wouldn’t need to speak on the intellectual infirmity of his opponent. The backers and the promoters of the new, though temporary, finance minister are doing it in abundance. Instead of being projected as the most ideal and iconic choice for the country’s highest post, Pranabda is being painted with two different brushes. The Prime Minister, in a letter to the former finance minister, said: “We are confident that our country and the people will continue to benefit from your wisdom, knowledge and decades of experience in public life.” Within 24 hours of writing it, the PMO and other babus made official and unofficial comments that left none is doubt that Pranab would be made the scapegoat for an ailing economy. For the Congress and the PMO, the former finance minister was a master of good politics but the villain of bad economics.

The conflict between the PM and his former finance minister has been a matter of speculation so far. But now, when Pranabda is set to become the constitutional head of the country, the current strategy of the powers-that-be to downsize his stature and ability is fraught with dangerous consequences. According to sources close to him, Pranab will not be a pushover President. If he was assertive about his powers as finance minister, he is going to be even firmer while performing his constitutional responsibilities. He enjoys more numerical support from political parties than the UPA and the Prime Minister himself. He may not have had the trappings and authority of a prime minister, but Pranabda always behaved like one for the past eight years. Unlike previous ministers who have been elevated to the Rashtrapati Bhavan— besides being both more experienced as well as a maverick — Pranab is not one of those faceless sycophants who can easily be bulldozed by the Prime Minister. If some ministers or Congress leaders continue to paint Pranab as an incompetent minister, he may carry the ignominy with him to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The relationship between the Prime Minister and the President is so delicate that its continuity depends on respect and full faith in each other. Even the best of political friends like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad fell out because of ego issues. The Rajiv Gandhi-Zail Singh confrontation almost created a constitutional crisis because Rajiv didn’t give Zail Singh the respect which he expected from the prime minister. Fortunately for Indian democracy, barring the exception of Rajendra Prasad, all previous Presidents have been either outstanding individuals or weak politicians. All of them bowed to the advice and suggestions of prime ministers, who have either been popular leaders or were backed by powerful parties. But Pranabda will be the exception. Not only does he enjoy vast political support cutting across ideological boundaries, he has also been the boss of the current Prime Minister and many others in the government. If Pranab, after moving into the Raisina Hills palace, decides to prove once again that he is the wisest of them all, it will be an ominous signal for the government. It is better to send him to Rashrapati Bhavan as a guide, friend and philosopher of the government, rather than portraying him as good riddance.; Follow me on Twitter @PrabhuChawla