Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Pappu paas ho gaya"

The election results 2009 fizzled out like a one-sided IPL match. By 11 am yesterday hysterical TV anchors and all the assembled experts had nothing to say, really.

And so the big story of this general election is the rise of Rahul Gandhi. For many years there have been doubts from many quarters about whether he 'has what it takes'. Well, it appears that he has changed many minds. Including mine (to some extent).

Yes, a while ago I had blogged about his doubtful academic background. My main issue was not his actual qualifications but the fact that he should earn the right to hold high office. That his surname alone should not see him through.

My exact words were:

"I do not believe that only highly educated individuals who pass examinations in flying colours have the right to hold public office. But, the issue is honesty and integrity as an individual.

If I were Rahul I would have come forward and said, "Look, I have never really been that keen on studies. What does one learn in a classroom anyways? I have had an education in what India really is - on the dusty streets of this country. I have what it takes!"

Now I do not really understand electoral politics but helping his party win 20 seats in UP on its own, against the very crude and divisive politics of the BSP and SP is an achievement . Whether it is class 10 equivalent or 'graduation' in terms of a political education, I can't say. But hey - Pappu paas ho gaya :)

A part of me still thinks it's unfair, even shameful, that a country of one billion people has to look up to a single family, when it comes to national leadership. But here's the reality: Politics is like Bollywood. If you are a star son, or daughter or wife you have an advantage.

In films that means you will get signed on by a big director.
In politics, you will get a ticket to stand for the Lok Sabha.

(Apart from Rahul Gandhi, in this very election we have several such examples - Akhilesh Yadav (son of Mulayam Singh Yadav), Supriya Sule (daughter of Sharad Pawar), Sanjeev Naik (son of Ganesh Naik) and of course Varun Gandhi, to name just a few).

The difference is that in films, your family background can propel you upto the big screen. But, when the curtain rises, the public decides your fate. No one can make you a star.

In politics, it's a little more complicated. It seems to me that you may be an inefficient or invisible turd but keep getting elected - until you really screw up(like a Jagdish Tytler/ Sajjan Kumar).

The analysts and experts say this is changing. That the 'shareholders' of Indian democracy want more accountability, more results, more kaam from their leaders.

They say, "Politicians will have to move their butts and deliver the goods, or suffer". Well, I certainly hope that is so! And in such an electoral atmosphere, I think there is a place for both 'insiders' and 'outsiders' to make a difference.

Remember For every Abhishek Bachchan, there is an Akshay Kumar.

For the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, the risen-through-the-ranks and now much admired Nitish Kumar.

Each must struggle and strive, to earn his spurs.
Acting maketh an actor, and action maketh a leader.

Awaiting more action from the man of the moment. Now that electoral politics is out of the way (for now).

Update: New Indian Express had raise some doubts about Rahul Gandhi's Cambridge degree in a report dated 7th April 2009.

Mine was one of the blogs which linked to the IE report, because I felt it was a subject in the public interest.

On April 28, 2009 Cambridge University issued a statement saying that Rahul's MPhil degree is indeed valid and was issued in 1994-95.

In the light of this, I have decided to withdraw my original blogpost on this subject. Why? Because I think the matter has been clarified and the points I raised are no longer relevant.

In a further development, the Congress party has sent a legal notice to The New Indian Express, which originally published the story. The Editor has clarified that the paper stands by its report.

It will be interesting to see which way this plays out and I am sure truth shall prevail. But as an individual I no longer care whether Rahul studied development economics or development studies in the past. What I care about is the development he and his party undertakes in the future.

On which I will be keeping a close watch!

One issue of interest to young people across India would be passage of the Foreign Universities Entrance and Operation Bill which was held up because of opposition from the Left. As well as old fogeys like Arjun Singh.

There will be some pain but this bill could do for education what entry of FIIs did to financial markets. Shake up things and help India achieve a quantum leap in quality of higher education!

Related earlier post: From Cambridge to Harvard - a Political Journey


  1. // But as an individual I no longer care whether Rahul studied development economics or development studies in the past. What I care about is the development he and his party undertakes in the future. //

    Very rightly said! Its high time we as a nation started looking at the larger picture. I didn't get a chance to watch any of those news shows which I hear were on air coming up with minute by minute trends and results but yes something that I'm really glad about is the fact that the election results have established a very strong value i.e. Portrayal of strengths is far more effective than mindless criticism of the opposition's prospective weaknesses. BJP went way too far crtiticizing UPA instead of presenting its own USP. What is also pleasing is the fact that Congress no longer has to bank on allies like the Left to take decisions. After a long long time, we have a Government which can function on a stand-alone basis. Take a bow India!!

  2. It's strange but i can still see your old post when i clicked on the link provided. But next time i clicked it was gone. It magically reappeared third time...

    Dont know how. I made a notary of the original page in iterasi, just in case..

  3. "Pappu paas ho gaya", par exam kisi aur ne diya.He is reaping the benefits of the work his parents did - particularly in the two constituencies of Amethi and Rai Bareli (The place where he is called the kunwar sahab). I must agree though, that he does occasionally go and visit huts in a village or two. ;)

    Particularly these kind of reports and people make me fear for this country -

    "Rahul will become prime minister when he desires"Yeah. So much for being the world's largest "democracy".

  4. Rightly said, But whom to blame for not looking the options. Have we literate people come out of this one family structure. In out general talks, we talk more about sonia and rahul than manmohan n chidarambaram. So when we are unable to make out these differences how can you expect this from people of rural UP. These people follow the person
    what they are told to.
    Dont you think this is media which is more prominently to stabilize ghandhi monarchy? Our journalists show interviews of rahul, madam priyanka, sonia like the new god/godess on earth. When the faces of democracy are counts till one then is there option to choose?

  5. yup correctly written............too early to predict the credibility of Mr rahul Gandhi...........hopefully he will carry forward the support he got into good work towards those who voted for him

  6. Hey!
    Came across this webzine the other day.
    Found the articles fresh and funny, sorta like what JAM did in the past.
    Thought you should know there is competition, and complacency at being the only youthmag in print isn't gonna keep you guys afloat for long.

    And Buck up!

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  8. Hey,

    I was looking for youth blogs (a little same as mine) and I bumped upon your blog. Read a few posts and thought I'd comment on this one. But before the real comment, here are a few things that I would like to mention:
    1. I like your writing style, the way you look at things.
    2. The blog is simple and sweet.
    3. There is a diversity in the number of different topics you have touched, which makes it an ideal youth blog.

    Now heading towards the comment:

    Well, as far as education is concerned, the New Indian Express has been proven wrong now, so no need to debate on that.

    You have quoted "A part of me still thinks it's unfair, even shameful, that a country of one billion people has to look up to a single family, when it comes to national leadership. But here's the reality: Politics is like Bollywood. If you are a star son, or daughter or wife you have an advantage".

    One needs to understand that this time Congress came in with a huge mandate. It's been years since something like this happened. It's ironical that Rahul Gandhi is a "Gandhi". Is it his fault? If the TATA's enter their family business and do wonders you don't call it 'vanshwaad'. But if the son of a politician does the same, you call it 'vanshwaad'. I know that politics is not a business, but there is not a single point where one can say that Congress has let us down. You are saying that we are looking up to a particular family. Well i STRICTLY oppose this point. You could have said this only and ONLY if Congress would have come in by a small margin, but look at the numbers, do you think that the majority that voted for Congress voted because they want a "particular" family to rule or did they vote because they liked the work Cong. had done?

    And even if people are looking up to a single family, it is only because of the work they did. Just check the tremendous schemes and the action work. It is ironical that they are a family.

    And ask yourself, who is secular? A party which led to the Babri Masjid demolition and the Godhra riots. Whose sister organizations caused damage to Kandhamal?

    Let's chuck the secular point. The main point is that there has been been delivered of work.

    How can someone support a party which thinks about only Hindu's?

    Nobody is living at the helm of Congress.

    I know that I am getting a bit too worked up, but its my prerogative and I respect your prerogative as well.

    Think from all aspects.

    Great work!

  9. Rashmi,
    though you gave up on the names very early when it came to relatives who have faught elections or got tickets, the fact is the trend in politics on that note is probably the scariest. It is increasingly resembling a dynastic culture right down to the corporator level. A father who dies in office is invariably replaced by his son/daughter. Even Arjun Singh and family seemed to believe that they had 'earned' the right to a ticket for his daughter.
    Be it costs, access to top leaders or 'hold' over the organisational machinery, families are tightening the screws.

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