Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Aurangzeb Road or Abdul Kalam Road: A road treaded a bit too far

   Recent renaming of Aurangzeb road to Abdul Kalam road by New Delhi Municipal Corporation has caused uproar among a section of society including mainstream media and political class. I would not go into whether it is right or wrong. They could well have avoided it. What is funny is the kind of points being put forward in both print and internet media to criticize the action, justify Aurangzeb's actions and to prove greatness of the last prominent Mughal ruler.
   A close look at a few articles is in order. This mostly well balanced article compares Aurangzeb's destruction of temples with that of Vasundhara Raje Sindhia, present CM of Rajasthan and almost justifies the act.  
   This article tells us that Aurangzeb "is like the kuttichathu of Malayalis—responsible for anything that went wrong." The author contends that Aurangzeb was made responsible for all wrongs. And what wrongs are being cited - that the last mughal was a bigot, fanatic, imposed excessive taxes and destroyed temples in every nook and corner of India.  
   Now lets take a look at the very popular TOI and Mumbai Mirror. A very prominent journalist in this informative article(picture below) in Mumbai Mirror puts Aurangzeb in perspective with other Mughal rulers Babar, Shah Jahan, Akbar, Jahangir and Humayun. He tells us that Shah Jahan and Jahangir were nobodies, that Akbar was no less cruel than anybody else. He further goes on to tell us the greatness of Aurangzeb declaring with the ending line that "Aurangzeb was certainly great".
   As for his shortcomings, we are told that "The action against temples came in three stages: no new temples, no renovating old ones, break old temples" and that, "this order was followed indifferently, probably because of the emperor's lack of enthusiasm". So two points are to be noted, one, destruction of temples was done indifferently. So the thousands of temples were destroyed with no "specific interest". Two, author would like to attribute this indifference to Aurangzeb's lack of enthusiasm. One should consider this along with the fact that Aurangzeb stopped listening to music because one of the hadiths said so as per the same author. To conclude, Aurangzeb was ardent follower of Islam so much so that he stopped doing what he liked, but he had no particular interest in destroying temples which he did in countless numbers.
   This TOI article (picture above) tells us that Aurangzeb was the only Indian that Britishers could not beat. Isn't it a matter of pride for all Indians? But it would like us to forget that Aurangzeb was the emperor of India and Britishers were nobodies then. And Gujarat had its "tangible achchhe din" under him. A historian is quoted that ban on music was really economic in nature. I have no problem with this explanation except that it doesn't tie with the Mumbai mirror article quoted above. It also safely ignores the war on temples that Aurangzeb waged across India as it would like us to believe that the Mughal emperor is being victimized and shall remain alive among historians.
   While these articles have brought a lot of hitherto not known facts about Aurangzeb and other Mughal rulers they have gone a bit too far to twist the picture they would like readers to see.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A letter to Narendra Modi from an angry supporter

Modi ji, good evening. I will start with the confession that I am your die hard fan and have been following you since 2007.
So, it's a night of introspection, night of feedback, night of advices! 
Rings any bell? "Kaala dhan Kaali raat Kaala karnama (black money, black night, black deeds)", You had said in an election rally. You also said, "Our country can forgive mistakes, but not betrayal". You really know the people and know how they behave and vote. They forgave Arvind Kejriwal's mistakes. But if you continue to lie and fool people, you may not be forgiven.
   Todays Chanakya which predicted your resounding victory in general election 2014 did a social survey in Delhi on election eve. It tells us quite a few things. One, Brahmin, Baniya, Punjabi, BJP's traditional vote bank preferred AAP to BJP. Two, SC, OBC and Muslims voted in huge numbers for AAP. Even among age groups, you were given a complete thumbs down. All in all, there was not a single class who preferred BJP to AAP. NOT ONE!
   I have to say, this was one of the worst campaigned elections by BJP. Either there was no campaign-in-charge or there were too many. Negativity, conspiracy, mud-slinging and what not! You had seen all this in 2007 and 2014, but you stayed clear of them and were rewarded handsomely. What went wrong this time, sir? Are you getting surrounded by a coterie of advisers, something we hear Sonia Gandhi had the luxury of. Have you started enjoying the luxuries of Congress? If that is so, people won't give you 10 years that you have asked and are planning for. 
   I am sure you already know. But to get any chance, not only would you need to increase your focus on public good (I do not doubt, you are already doing it), but also you would need to stay clear of mud-slinging, unnecessary nose poking in other party matters. For e.g. what is happening in Bihar and Jharkhand wont be seen favourably by public. Not only do people see through your lies, they also are disgusted at such cheap tactics.
   If this election is not an eye opener, none would be.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

NaMo - The Commodity

   Going through the news on Google for the last few days, it came to me that Narendra Modi is probably the highest selling commodity right now. Well, I mean Narendra Modi, the name.
With the amount of response the name generates, not only are tens of blogs and news articles, both positive and negative written about him everyday. In fact, he might soon or even already be the most talked about person in India.
   Browse through the news and there are all kinds. Sample this

  1. Narendra Modi likely to reach Delhi for NDC meet
  2. Will fulfill any responsibility given to me by party: Narendra Modi
  3. Narendra Modi keeps away from Nitish Kumar at NDC

   And one of the news, which apparently has been taken down (or headline changed) since stated: Commercial sex worker gang raped in Narendra Modi's Gujarat. 
(an equivalent news is linked here ) The news contained nothing about NaMo, it does not even mention him in the news.
   I am sure you would have seen similar news before on web/ TV/print. The point is anything associated with Narendra Modi raises eyes and ears. In commercial TV terms it is good for TRP. 
   Newspapers and news channels have realized this for quite sometime now and ensure that anything and everything even remotely related with Narendra Modi shall be captured and published. After all, people esp. netizens want to know more and more about NaMo. And this helps increase the number of hits the website and webpage gets and ultimately drives up the advertisement revenue. 
   Even if it means, only saying he shook hand with someone or chose not to, he reached a party office or is just expected to reach some event. Never mind news where he has no role, it is just an incident that happened somewhere in Gujarat.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

LPG Subsidy Cut - Is there more to it than what meets the eye ?

Manmohan Singh has finally started taking the desperate steps of economic reforms, when news rumours were strife that Congress party itself is opposed it. I say it was Manmohan as the decision was taken at 7 Race Course road, his residence and workplace. Official government release said, limiting subsidized LPG cylinders to six a year will reduce the under recovery to OMCs by 5300crores and a 5 rupees increase in diesel price will reduce the under recovery by Rs. 15000 crore. 
       Even if we keep the argument around its economic sense away for a while, the step of reducing LPG subsidy hasn't stopped intriguing me. Most of the household I know use about a cylinder every month and I also know that 350 Rs a month is a lot to them. This is the amount an average household using a cylinder a month will have to shell out extra in addition to the impact that would come with increase in diesel prices.
       A quick look at the internet tells that there are 14 crores domestic gas consumers. Even a simple calculation tells that 4900 crore (14crore X Rs. 350) would be recovered only if the government had said, every household would have to take one un-subsidized cylinder! But government hasn't stopped a that, it further said, that for the remaining year you would get only 3 cylinders at subsidized rates. So even if you have used only 2 cylinders so far this year, you would still get only 3 and not 4 cylinders at subsidized rate.
       Govt has further noted that total under recovery owing only to LPG subsidy would be 32000 crore for the full year after the subsidy cut. That is, total subsidy without govt. action would have been 37300 crores. On an average it is Rs. 2664 per person for the full year, or the subsidy on 8 domestic cylinders. By simple calculation, 2 cylinders per consumer would be sold at market rates and that shall reduce the under recovery by 9800 crores. 
       But that is only the beginning of the story, as a huge amount of these cylinders are not used for domestic purpose. By a moderate estimate 15% of these are used for commercial purposes. It was an obvious issue, as commercial cylinders are so much more costly owing to the fact that they are sold at a profit. Compared to a domestic cylinder they are sold at a profit(19kg cylinder sold between Rs 1400 to 1500) which is about Rs 700 per cylinder.
Plugging this leak is what I think is the unsaid and probably the biggest benefit of this subsidy cut. So doing a quick arithmetic again, you get a profit of about Rs. 9000 crores taking the total gain(under recovery plus profits) for OMCs to approximately Rs. 19000 crores. This is a full year figure and so the figure for remaining part of the year is Rs. 10000crores.
      The government is obviously downplaying the figure they would recover. The biggest question though with this government is will it do what it is supposed to do - GOVERN? Because even plugging these leaks wouldn't be simple as Indians especially the enterprising units are smart they would find some ways to work around this limit. 
     Lastly, it looks like that our politicians are the people most impacted rather than the common man who has to arrange only Rs. 2000 a year. How would these people arrange for 200 un-subsidized cylinders which is an increase of whopping Rs. 70000 to their annual budget ?

Friday, January 28, 2011

It happens only in Japan

       I was in Tokyo for some time last year. Any one who has been there would concur that it is an amazing country. On my first day in office I went for lunch with an Indian colleague who has been in Japan for about nine years. As we walked across the street, I started the conversation, "This place is so wonderful, this is like..."
      "Ram Rajya", he pre-empted me. Frankly, I wasn't looking for this word but it describes Japan in just one word, at least to his mind. In this light, I thought of listing things that possibly happen only in Japan.
  1.  Although Japan is a developed nation for decades now, English is still scarcely used and most people don't know it. Even in big super markets, you will be lucky if you can communicate with even broken English. Once, when I was speaking to a local I said a sentence and used the conjunction "which", she completely lost me. She repeated the word and her face read ??????????? Even after a few months of stay, my local grocer still could not find anything I asked him. It didn't take me long to realize how interesting it can get, when I lost my way the very first day.
  2. One of the colleagues narrated how he once lost his wallet and to his surprise got it back after two days, with all his belongings of course. A few other people have had similar experience, he added. 
  3. People are naturally programmed to form queues. At every place where there are more than one person (including the case where there are only two), the person coming later creates a queue by standing after the first. Easy to see this while boarding train, climbing stairs after de-boarding the train,  waiting for the elevator.
  4. Japanese would avoid speaking at public places and more so on trains. It is a rare to see people talking on mobile, while on train. Normally, people would just read something, work on their gadgets or simply sleep. 
  5. It is really hard to find ATMs and if you have a travel card from India, only god can help. I was thinking it was just me as I am a tourist. But I was proved wrong very soon when I saw a veteran colleague taking some time to find one. Even after a few months of stay, I knew only a handful places to get the cash. 
  6. Japan is an economy of hard cash - no plastic money please. There are a few who accept credit cards but debit card is a strict no-no. One day we went for team drinks. After we were done with one of the pubs,  we moved to another. But, before we could get there, we stopped at a cash machine so my manager can withdraw enough cash for the ensuing drinks.
  7. It is easy to see people with masks on their faces. Why?? Because they don't want to spread the disease (flu) they are suffering from.
  8. I would also add this, because I just hate this: McDonalds do not sell Vegetarian burgers. It took me sometime to explain to them what do I mean by a veg burger.
  9. Comics are a big hit in this land. Age no bar, sex no bar.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

ठिठुरता हुआ गणतंत्र - हरिशंकर परसाई

चार बार मैं गणतंत्र दिवस का जलसा दिल्ली में देख चुका हूँ। पांचवी बार साहस नहीं। आख़िर यह क्या बात है की हर बार जब मैं गणतंत्र समारोह देखता, तब मौसम बड़ा क्रूर रहता। २६ जनवरी के पहले ऊपर बर्फ पड़ जाती है। शीत लहर आती है, बादल छा जाते हैं, बूंदाबांदी होती है और सूर्य छुप जाता है। जैसे दिल्ली की अपनी अर्थनीति नहीं है, वैसे ही अपना मौसम भी नहीं है। अर्थनीति जैसे डॉलर, पाउंड, अंतर्राष्ट्रीय मुद्राकोष या भारत सहायता क्लब से तय होती है, वैसे ही दिल्ली का मौसम कश्मीर, सिक्किम, राजस्थान आदि तय करते हैं।
   इतना बेवकूफ भी नहीं कि मान लूँ, जिस साल मैं समारोह देखता हूँ उसी साल ऐसा मौसम रहता है। हर साल देखने वाले बताते हैं की हर गणतंत्र दिवस पर मौसम ऐसा ही धूपहीन ठिठुरन वाला होता है।
   आख़िर बात क्या है ? रहस्य क्या है ?
   जब कांग्रेस नहीं टूटी थी, तब मैंने एक कांग्रेस मंत्री से पूछा था कि यह क्या बात है की हर गणतंत्र दिवस को सूर्य छिपा रहता है? सूर्य की किरणों तले हम उत्सव क्यों नहीं मना सकते ? उन्होंने कहा, "जरा धीरज रखिये. हम कोशिश में लगे हैं कि सूर्य बाहर आ जाये. पर इतने बड़े सूर्य को बाहर निकालना आसान नहीं है. वक़्त लगेगा. हमें सत्ता के कम से कम सौ वर्ष तो दीजिये!"
   दिए. सूर्य को बाहर निकालने के लिए सौ वर्ष दिए, मगर हर साल उसका कोई छोटा कोना निकलता तो दिखना चाहिए. सूर्य कोई बच्चा तो नहीं जो अंतरिक्ष की कोख में अटका है, जिसे आप एक दिन ऑपरेशन कर के निकाल देंगे.
   इधर जब कांग्रेस के दो हिस्से हो गए तब मैंने एक इन्दिकेती कांग्रेसी से पूछा. उसने कहा, " हम हर बार सूर्य को बादलों से बाहर निकालने कि कोशिश करते थे, पर हर बार सिंडिकेटी वाले अडंगा डाल देते थे. अब हम वादा करते हैं कि अगले गणतंत्र दिवस पर सूर्य को निकल कर बताएँगे ."
   एक सिंडिकेटी पास खड़ा सुन रहा था. वह बोल पड़ा, "यह लेडी(प्रधानमन्त्री) कम्युनिस्टों के चक्कर में आ गयी है. वही उसे उकसा रहे हैं कि सूर्य को निकालो. उन्हें उम्मीद है, बादलों के पीछे से उनका प्यारा 'लाल सूरज' निकलेगा. हम कहते हैं कि सूर्य को निकालने की क्या जरूरत है? क्या बादलों को हटाने से काम नहीं चल सकता?"
   मैं संसोपाई भाई से पूछता हूँ. वह कहता है, "सूर्य गैर-कांग्रेसवाद पर अमल कर रहा है. उसने डॉक्टर लोहिया के कहने से हमारा पार्टी फॉर्म भर दिया था. कांग्रेसी प्रधानमंत्री को सलामी लेते वह कैसे देख सकता है ! किसी गैर कांग्रेसी को प्रधानमंत्री बना दो, तो सूर्य क्या, उसके अच्छे भी निकल पड़ेंगे."
   जनसंघी भाई से भी मैंने पूछा. उसने साफ़ कहा," सूर्य सेकुलर होता तो इस सरकार कि परेड में निकल आता. इस सरकार से आशा मत करो कि वह भगवान् अंशुमाली को निकाल सकेगी. हमारे राज्य में ही सूर्य निकलेगा."
   साम्यवादी ने मुझसे साफ़ कहा, "यह सब सी.आइ.ए. का षड़यंत्र है. सातवें बेड़े से बादल दिल्ली भेजे जाते हैं. "
   स्वतंत्र पार्टी के नेता ने कहा, " रूस का पिछलग्गू बनने का और क्या नतीजा होगा! "
   प्रसोपा के भाई ने अनमने ढंग से कहा, "सवाल पेचीदा है. नेशनल कौंसिल कि अगली बैठक में इसका फैसला होगा. तब बताऊंगा."
   राजा जी से मैं मिल न सका. मिलता, तो वह इसके सिवा क्या कहते कि इस राज में तारे निकलते हैं, यही गनीमत है.
   स्वतंत्रता दिवस भी तो भरी बरसात में होता है. अंग्रेज़ बहुत चालाक है. भरी बरसात में स्वतंत्र कर के चले गए. उस कपटी प्रेमी कि तरह भागे जो प्रेमिका का छाता भी ले जाये. वह बेचारी भीगती बस स्टैंड जाती है, तो उसे प्रेमी कि नहीं छाता चोर की याद आती है.
  स्वतंत्रता दिवस भीगता है और गणतंत्र दिवस ठिठुरता है.
   मैं ओवरकोट में हाथ डाले परेड देखता हूँ. प्रधानमत्री किसी विदेशी मेहमान के साथ खुली गाडी में निकलती हैं. रेडियो टिप्पणीकार कहता है, "घोर करतल-ध्वनि हो रही है." मैं देख रहा हूँ, नहीं हो रही है. हम सब तो कोट में हाथ डाले बैठे हैं. बाहर निकालने को जी नहीं होता. हाथ अकड़ जायेंगे.
   लेकिन हम नहीं बजा रहे हैं, फिर भी तालियाँ बज रही हैं. मैदान में ज़मीन पर बैठे वे लोग बजा रहे हैं, जिनके पास हाथ गरमाने के लिए कोट नहीं है. लगता है, गणतंत्र ठिठुरते हुए हाथों की तालियों पर टिका है. गणतंत्र को उन्हीं हाथों की ताली मिलती है, जिनके मालिक के पास हाथ छिपाने के लिए गर्म कपडा नहीं है.
   पर कुछ लोग कहते हैं, "गरीबी मिटनी चाहिए." तभी दूसरे कहते हैं, "ऐसा कहने वाले प्रजातंत्र के लिए खतरा पैदा कर रहे हैं."
   गणतंत्र समारोह में हर राज्य की झांकी निकलती है. ये अपने राज्य का सही प्रतिनिधित्व नहीं करतीं. 'सत्यमेव जयते' हमारा मोत्तो है मगर झांकियां झूठ बोलती हैं. उनमें विकास कार्य, जनजीवन इतिहास आदि रहते हैं. असल में हर राज्य को उस विशिष्ट बात को यहाँ प्रदर्शित करना चाहिए जिसके कारण पिछले साल वह राज्य मशहूर हुआ. मेरे मध्य प्रदेश ने दो साल पहले सत्य के नज़दीक पहुँचने की कोशिश की थी. झांकी में अकाल-राहत कार्य बतलाये गए थे. पर सत्य अधूरा रह गया था. मध्य प्रदेश उस साल राहत कार्यों के कारण नहीं, राहत कार्यों में घपले के कारण मशहूर हुआ था. मेरा सुझाव माना जाता तो मैं झांकी में झूठे मस्टर रोल  भरते दिखता, चुकारा करने वाले का अंगूठा हजारों मूर्खों के आगे लगवाता, नेता, अफसर, ठेकेदार के बीच लेन देन का दृश्य दिखता.
   जो हाल झांकियों का, वही घोषणाओं का. हर साल घोषणा की जाती है की समाजवाद आ रहा है, पर अभी तक नहीं आया. कहाँ अटक गया ? लगभग सभी दल समाजवाद लाने का दावा करते हैं, लेकिन वह आ नहीं रहा.
   मैं एक सपना देखता हूँ. समाजवाद आ गया है और बस्ती के बाहर टीले पर खड़ा है. बस्ती के लोग आरती सजा कर उसका स्वागत करने को तैयार खड़े हैं, पर टीले को घेरे खड़े हैं कई तरह के समाजवादी. उनमें से हरेक लोगों से कह कर आया है की समाजवाद को हाथ पकड़ कर में ही लाऊंगा.
   समाजवाद टीले से चिल्लाता है, "मुझे बस्ती में ले चलो."
   मगर टीले को घेरे समाजवादी कहते हैं, "पहले यह तय होगा कि कौन तेरा हाथ पकड़ कर ले जाएगा !"
   समाजवाद के घेराबंदी कर रखी है. संसोपा-प्रसोपा वाले जनतांत्रिक समाजवादी हैं, पीपुल्स डेमोक्रेसी और नेशनल डेमोक्रेसी वाले साम्यवादी हैं, दोनों तरह के कांग्रेसी हैं, सोशलिस्ट यूनिटी सेन्टर वाले हैं. क्रन्तिकारी समाजवादी हैं. हरेक समाजवाद का हाथ पकड़ कर उसे बस्ती में ले जा कर लोगों से कहना चाहता है, "लो, में समाजवाद ले आया."
   समाजवाद परेशान है. उधर जनता भी परेशान है. समाजवाद आने को तैयार खड़ा है, मगर समाजवादियों में आपस में धौल-धप्पा हो रहा है. समाजवाद एक तरफ उतरना चाहता है कि उस पर पत्थर पड़ने लगते हैं. "खबरदार, उधर से मत जाना !" एक समाजवादी उसका एक हाथ पकड़ता है, तो दूसरा दूसरा हाथ पकड़ कर उसे खींचता है. तब बाकी समाजवादी छीना झपटी कर के हाथ छुड़ा देते हैं. लहू लुहान समाजवाद टीले पर खड़ा है.
   इस देश में जो जिसके लिए प्रतिबद्ध है, वही उसे नष्ट कर रहा है. लेखकीय स्वतंत्रता के लिए प्रतिबद्ध लोग ही लेखक कि स्वतंत्रता छीन रहे हैं. सहकारिता के लिए प्रतिबद्ध इस आन्दोलन के लोग ही सहकारिता को नष्ट कर रहे हैं. सहकारिता तो एक स्पिरिट है. सब मिल कर सहकारिता पूर्वक खाने लगते हैं और आन्दोलन को नष्ट कर देते हैं. समाजवाद को समाजवादी ही रोके हुए हैं.
   यों प्रधानमन्त्री ने घोषणा कर दी है कि अब समाजवाद आ ही रहा है.
   मैं एक कल्पना कर रहा हूँ.
   दिल्ली में फरमान जारी हो जायेगा : "समाजवाद सारे देश के दौरे पर निकल रहा है. उसे सब जगह पहुँचाया जाए. उसके स्वागत और सुरक्षा का पूरा बंदोबस्त किया जाए."
   एक सचिव दूसरे सचिव से कहेगा, "लो, ये एक और वी. आई. पी. आ रहे हैं. अब इनका इंतज़ाम करो. नाक में दम है."
   कलेक्टरों को हुक्म चला जाएगा. कलेक्टर एस.डी.ओ. को लिखेगा, एस.डी.ओ.तहसीलदार को.
   पुलिस दफ्तरों में फरमान पहुंचेगे, "समाजवाद कि सुरक्षा कि तैयारी करो."
   दफ्तरों में बड़े बाबू छोटे बाबू से कहेंगे, "काहे हो तिवारी बाबू, एक कोई समाजवाद वाला कागज़ आया था न! ज़रा निकालो !"
   तिवारी बाबू कागज़ निकाल कर देंगे. बड़े बाबू फिर से कहेंगे, "अरे, वह समाजवाद तो परसों ही निकल गया. कोई लेने नहीं गया स्टेशन. तिवारी बाबू, तुम कागज़ दबा कर रख लेते हो. बड़ी खराब आदत है तुम्हारी."
   तमाम अफसर लोग चीफ-सेक्रेटरी से कहेंगे,"सर, समाजवाद बाद में नहीं आ सकता ? बात यह है कि हम उसकी सुरक्षा का इंतज़ाम नहीं कर सकेंगे. दशहरा आ रहा है. दंगे के आसार हैं. पूरा फोर्स दंगे से निपटने में लगा है."
   मुख्य सचिव दिल्ली लिख देगा, "हम समाजवाद कि सुरक्षा का इंतज़ाम करने में असमर्थ हैं. उसका आना अभी मुल्तवी किया जाए."
   जिस शासन व्यवस्था में समाजवाद के आगमन के कागज़ दब जाएँ और जो उसकी सुरक्षा की व्यवस्था न करे, उसके भरोसे समाजवाद लाना है तो ले आओ. मुझे ख़ास एतराज़ भी नहीं हैं. जनता के द्वारा न आ कर अगर समाजवाद दफ्तरों के द्वारा आ गया तो एक एतिहासिक घटना आ जायेगी.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Compulsory voting bill - Controversial, Impractical, Dangerous law ?

Ignore my apprentice mind or my (lack of) understanding of polity, if you think the title of this post is not consistent. But my friends, this is how it is being reported in the media - 
•    NDTV reported narendra modi defends vote or face action law - The latest controversy surrounding Narendra Modi is his decision to make voting mandatory for local body elections.
•    DNA called it a Dangerous Law in its editorial

And what does the leader amongst Indian news channels - TimesNow had to ask Mr Narendra Modi(or NAMO) on this - "Why are you so keen on making voting compulsory?"

   For those who are still puzzled and can't see what this is about - here is the news. Gujarat legislative assembly has passed a bill with unanimous vote to make voting compulsory for all local body elections. So all muncipal elections, zila parishad, panchayat elections in Gujrat will be elected by most of Gujratis, if everything goes to plan. Why? Because everyone has to vote, if you don't you will be served notice and will need to give explanation. Off course people may still not vote for valid reasons like illness, out of town etc. And before you ask further, there is an option to reject all candidates. For the first time, people will get the chance to vent their anger through voting and not just choose best among the worst.

   But what is so controversial about it? My apprentice mind has been failing to find the answer to this.
   And Impractical? This could be a valid point, as this has not been tested. But is our media analysing the fine prints raising relevant issues or is it easy (takes little effort) to behave like oppostion parties and say NO NO NO to everything, what NAMO does.

   When this was brought to parliament four years back to make a law, it was rejected. The house was then told that the Dinesh Goswami Committee, which went into matters relating to electoral reforms, had studied the issue and rejected it due to "practical difficulties".

   Interestingly, the response of Election commission themselves is much better than the naysayers. “The issue of compulsory voting has multiple dimensions, and it’s for Parliament to legislate on this. As for the Election Commission, we think it’s not practical to enforce 815 million-odd voters in a country as large as ours to compulsorily vote. Having said that, we would watch the Gujarat initiative with interest,” Chief Election Commissioner Navin B Chawla said.

   What is most pleasing is the response of the general public. Some excerpts
•     There are lot of things in the Indian democracy that are mandatory. The democracy is not perfect but it's at its best when everyone counts and not just a few. Why not make tax returns optional? How does that sounds? Voting in national elections is just once every five years and the compulsory taxes filings are every year? Why cannot this be beneficial? - Maulesh, New York

•     What the heck? Dangerous law? Let the people decide... making democracy strong means dangerous? What is your problem? - Kalpesh, Surat

•     It is very practical provided our political leaders have the will power to implement as they never wanted that Educated people should come out and vote? However since it is proposed by Modi it's not practical? However if the idea was originated from Rahul Gandhi then it was an excellent idea and was practical? Lets give up biased approaches. A good idea is a good idea irrespective of a person who advocates it. - Anurag, New Delhi.

   I can only smile at these childish moaners  - it's a shame and unfortunate for India that these moaners are big influential media houses.
   To me, it is a welcome step in more than one respect, most important being - Any policy should be created for the benefit of majority and not to satisfy targetted few, as has been the case in the history of free India. This bill takes the first step towards reaching there.
   Let's give Modi a fair chance, if we cannot encourage, to attempt what has never been done. Let's criticize him for the gaps and shortcomings rather than blindly using any adjectives we are aware of.