I have the power…

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Every time He-Man wants to take on an any, he rises up his hands and proclaims “I have the power”. The rickshawallah, coolie, illeterate agricultural labour and street vendors of India became He-Man on 16 May 2014. They raised their hands in unison and proclaimed that THEY HAVE THE POWER. Stunning, stupefying and blowing to smithereens a government that had held sway over their destinies for ten long years. Good, bad and the ugly – all of them – lock, stock and barrel – who were smug in the belief that the illiterate average Indian was happy listening to the stock song of caste, community and personal mud slinging – were routed beyond belief. The voter has proved that however high and mighty a politician be, voter is king!! This is not just a political victory for a party, it is the most authentic demonstration that PEOPLE are the actual power in a democracy.

There are quite a few note-worthy achievements in the General Elections of 2014:

1. Held over 09 phases, in 900000 polling booths across the country to enable 814 million people who are eligible to vote. There simply is no parallel anywhere else in the world and we are confident that this is one area that China would not like to compete with India.

2. 1647 Parties (national/regional/recognised/registered) directly participating and/or involved in the mammoth effort to reach every section of the populace. The second biggest democracy, USA, has just 02 Parties. We have one for every 700000 population on an average!!

3. Over 8100 candidates were in the fray for 543 seats.

4. The average turn out till now has varied between 56 – 63% from 1952 onwards. Some places like the North East had over 83% turn out for voting. Surprisingly, the ‘kurukshetra’ of elections UP, showed the lowest turn out at 55%.

5. 100 million new voters this time – all in the 18-20 age group. Young India was actually having a say.

6. Introduced for the first time, NOTA (None of The Above) option in the EVM, upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, grossed 1.1% of the vote share. Can you believe that this is more than what the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Janata Dal United (JDU) polled together!! This is the voice of people against corrupt local politicians. Hope political parties, both victorious and vanquished, take note.

7. The mandate given to Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Odisha and West Bengal are also interesting. Strong functioning State Chief Ministers have been preferred by people and the usual ‘anti-incumbency’ factor is missing. Not that these CMs are without their share of corruption/other scandals but their thumping victory is testimony to the peoples preference for governments that deliver. It appears that people want strong and functioning governments; they are fed up with ineptitude and empty talk on peripheral issues. Even BJP victory becomes easily comprehensible when viewed from this perspective.

On the whole, a historic episode with profound impact on peoples lives. The heroes likely to remain unsung of this story are not actually the politicians who contested/lost or the citizens who have made their choices. It is the Chief Election Commissioner of India and his deputies/assistants and the millions of school teachers, revenue officials, policemen and other support staff who have conducted the biggest exercise of democracy in human history till date without a single glitch, incident or unsavoury interruption. They not merely need to be complemented on their humongous achievement but merit the gratitude of the entire nation as well from the proponents and advocates of democracy elsewhere in the world. CEC, we salute you!!

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What we find in our self is what we will find in others!

I was not feeling very well. So went to meet our doctor. While waiting in the clinic, I chanced upon a poster that most hospitals display. It was about a hospital in Dieunne (Dijon) run by Sisters of St Martha. The Sisters have been serving the sick from 1443 AD. Wow! What dedication, I said to myself and decided to check upon the same in the net. What I found on the net really set me thinking about life and faith.

Martha, along with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus lived in Bethany, a village about two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus was fond of the family and came to visit them thrice. The first time when Jesus arrived, Martha readily welcomed him in and immediately set about preparing food for Christ. To her dismay She found her sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him, instead of helping her. So she complained to Jesus. Jesus smiled and said:

“You worry about so many things while she is doing what one must!”

Martha, realizing the true implication of what Jesus said, remained devoted to him. During his later visit, she even left the grieving household to listen to him. Later, she went to Avignon (Tarascon), where legend has it that she flayed a dragon and became the patron saint of hospitality.

In many ways Martha reflects the normal humans that we are, always worried about something or other. If the past does not worry us, then it is our future that bugs us. If it is not our wife, then it is the children. If it is not the boss, then it is some colleague. If it is not an enemy, then it is our friends. In the constant process of these worries, there is only one thing that we seem to forget – to have faith and to live today.

Faith is not about God. It is about one’s self. When we do not have faith in our self, how can we ever have faith in God?

What we find in our self is what we will find in others!

If we do not believe this, all we have to do is look around.

There are millions of ‘faithful’ we see who go to their temples, masjids and churches without fail.

Just across the fence, we also see thousands of non-believers and atheists.

Both seem to have the same amount of joy and sorrow mixed in their cups.

Is there a case then to believe that there is a God for only those who believe? For the rest who do not, there is a NO-GOD?

 

Much after the great war, the story goes in Mahabharatha, Kunthi the mother of Pandavas, called the famous charioteer, Vidhur, and said:

“Go to Dwaraka and ask Sri Krishna to come here. It has been a while since I have seen him”.

So, Vidhur meets Sri Krishna, who readily accepts the invitation.

As the chariot rolled, Krishna noticed that Vidhur was rather silent and withdrawn. When queried, Vidhur simply replied:

“Lord, you are omniscient and I need not elaborate”.

“My dear Vidhur, if there is something that you want to know, then you must ask!”

“So be it, Lord, then. You knew that brothers would kill brothers and millions would perish on the battlefield. You being the Lord God could have prevented this. All you had to do was to wish it that way and the Kaurava and Pandava clan would have lived happily ever after. Instead you let them kill each other. Why?”

Krishna smiled. “Tell me Vidhur, what did the brothers ask me when they came to see me before the war?”

“Well, Duryodhana who came first asked for your army to fight on his side and Arjuna who came later asked for you to be his charioteer”.

“Did they get what they wanted?”

“Yes, my Lord. Duryodhana believed that he will win the war, with the army on his side. Arjuna believed that he will win the war with you on his side. Eventually, Arjuna won, for you the Lord God was with him”.

Sri Krishna laughed. “Vidhur you seem to have missed something”.

Insightful and intelligent that Vidhur was, he understood. “Yes, my Lord, none of the brothers believed that they could live together in peace. Though both of them came to you, all they believed was mutual destruction. That is what they got!”

“So, my dear Vidhur, it is not what I want that you will get. It is what you desire from the core of your heart that you will get. Have faith!”

 

Have faith. What we find in our self is what we will find in others! 

Grassroots Groups Improve Health Care, Education at Local Level in Burkina Faso

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The National Democratic Institute NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

via Grassroots Groups Improve Health Care, Education at Local Level in Burkina Faso.

Celebrate the Departed…

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As we watch South Africa hold a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, one feature stands out. People everywhere are dancing, singing and celebrating. Mbeki, when asked by BBC commentator, gave a beautiful explanation for this. He said that in South Africa the departed neither go to heaven nor hell. Their spirits (as ancestors) remain guiding the lives of people. That is why when someone departs, they celebrate because they departed have now become their guardian angels. What a wonderful thought!

Indeed there is a huge lesson for all of us here. Instead of merely mourning the dead, we must celebrate their legacy. Do not mourn death. Celebrate life!

Nelson Mandela is and will remain in the hearts and minds of people only when we celebrate. His ideals of freedom, equality, empathy and forgiveness will and must live in our hearts when we want to realise a better world for us and leave a good legacy for our children.

Long live Nelson Mandela, long live freedom!

I salute you San Francisco!!

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Five year old Miles Scott becomes the Bat kid on November 17th, 2013. At 10:15 AM, he rescues a damsel in distress; at 11:15 AM he prevents a bank robbery and at 1: 15 PM rescues Lou Seal – saving Gotham City from certain doom at the hands of Riddler, the villain. The city folk of Gotham City hail the draped crusader as their savior and turn up in huge numbers on the street to cheer him and hail him hero. A grateful Mayor of Gotham City felicitates the Bat Kid in the City Hall at 2 PM.

This is no script for a Batman series on TV.

San Francisco turns itself into Gotham City; Lamborghini donates a bat mobile; an actor plays Batman to give company; City Police Chief himself plays the role of Gotham City Police Commissioner; City Mayor plays the role of the distraught Gotham City Mayor; volunteer women play the role of the damsel in distress and Lou; an actor plays the role of the green clad villain Riddler; the City police turn up at places of crime and wriggle their helpless hands, outsmarted by ‘Riddler’; the city traffic aligns itself to give precedence to the Bat Mobile, watching in awe their capped crusader go from crime scene to crime scene defeating the villain; the city news papers come out with a special edition of Gotham City Chronicle screaming the head line ‘Bat Kid Saves City’ and the media in San Francisco runs live coverage of his ‘exploits’ on virtually every channel.

That is not all.

Actor Ben Affleck tweeted live – ‘Batkid. Best Batman ever’.

President Barack Obama puts out a video on Vine – ‘Way to go, Miles. Way to save Gotham’.

The five year old Miles Scott has leukemia and has been under treatment for two years. He is a Batman fan. The Make A Foundation of USA decided to help the kid live his dream for a day – to be Batman!! What started as a small initiative to get him batman drapes and perhaps a ride in a car around the city turned into a day when Miles Scott lived ‘Batman’ with San Francisco going out of its way to be part of his dream.

Honestly, my son, wife and I cried as we watched the event on YouTube. The human touch was so overwhelming that we wished and prayed Miles Scott the best of everything that he (and his parents) could ever hope for. Our prayers will remain with him.

The Make A Wish Foundation of USA deserves a standing ovation – our wishes and blessings to its volunteers in whatever they do. There are millions of children in this world who need care, dignity and love. May your service reach as many as the will God would grant!

Thank you, the Hindu, for the lovely coverage on Metro Plus, 21 Nov, in your Chennai edition, from where I read the story and then went on the net.

I must say it this way: Compassion must become a passion.

I salute the Mayor, Chief of Police and the Citizens of San Francisco. You are simply wonderful. You have demonstrated that in a world that is ridden with strife and suffering, you stand tall with a heart filled with compassion. Behind the shine and blind of worldly affairs, you are darlings with a heart of gold. Good Show, Frisco. Live the way you are!  

 

PS: In case you have missed, here is the YouTube link to watch the Bat kid in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrkoNjbSRBg

 

Typhoon Haiyan

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Typhoon Haiyan wrecked devastation in Philippines a week back. More than 10000 feared dead and the body count continues. Thousands have lost their home, stead and bread. Philippines wails.

The net, TV and media are ablaze with stories on location. As we watch, USAID and USAF aircraft offload relief material. Belated though, but much needed. On CNN a Filipino women says ‘it is worse than hell’ and breaks down crying. An elderly person is sobbing, unable to express his grief at the loss of loved ones. In yet another street, we see scores of bodies wrapped in available material, lined up on the street side waiting to be lifted to their burial ground. Some of these may get identified and the desolate surviving relative will get a chance to pay appropriate homage. Yet others will get buried nameless and unmarked. In a few days, for fear of disease and epidemics, the unclaimed bodies may even be burnt or buried away. No one can actually estimate the loss – physical and psychological. Sitting thousands of miles away, we watch helplessly as the trauma unfolds. In a few days, we also would have forgotten Philippines as our own life would take over our concerns. The survivors in Philippines on the other hand, will live with their pain and memories that will subside only in their graves.

At this moment of great tragedy, there are quite a few things that all of us, as citizens of this world, can do:

First, pray. May the Good Lord protect these people from further trauma and give them courage to accept their suffering with fortitude.And may the Lord give them abundant strength to build their life back again. Let their pain be their strength, let their tears be their solace in courage. Amen.

Second, if you are someone in your respective government who can mobilize relief material, please get involved. Love their neighbor.

Third, if you are a volunteer, this is your moment.

Fourth, if you can find the right agencies on the net, contribute whatever you can.

Philippines needs the world more than ever now. As the UN theme says “IT IS YOUR WORLD”. It is our world.

Thank you for reading. That is actually one prayer said for Philippines. God bless you.

Ab Esse Ad Posse

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Ab esse ad posse valet consequentia – If something exists, then it is possible.

Point I:

There is much talk on the net as well as in hard print on governance, law and society. Everyone from rulers to the ruled, academics to party workers, from kings to despots are concerned. It is just that our opinions are as varied as many people that we are. Academically speaking, it must be so. If there are no contrast, then everything around us in the world would be drab. So we grant our selves the right to think and express our opinion on everything concerning everything.

We also find that sometimes the discussions tend to get a bit grey, perhaps for want of clarity in the concept or perhaps due to the limitations in our grasp of the concepts. In so far as implementation is concerned that is quite another story. There is an off-side from the military that says “Desktop Generals can not lead”. There is much truth in that. Unless the general has had the expose to the trench, the loyalty of his men would be hard to earn.

In political science, this moral perhaps does not apply. Whoever heard of our MPs, Senators or whatever else they are called in the world, graduate first in pol science, economics or law; do a stint as a subordinate of the district collector or join an NGO working with its hands on the mud; publish at least a dozen papers on governance, politics or law (preferably do a doctoral study) and then get into politics. If that were so, most of the parliaments in the world would for ever have vacancies unfilled!

Then what do we see? We see Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Deng Xiaoping, Abraham Lincoln, Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Ho Chi Minh, VI Lenin, Fidel Castro and a host of others (my apologies, for these are not the only political leaders that I would like to mention – some with formal education including in the art of politics, but most tested in the fire of life. Some with outstanding understanding of Aristotle to Thoreau and some with an absolute understanding of the needs of the people they were destined to lead.

We also see Hitler, Mussolini, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussain, Gadaffi, Milosevic and a host of others whom history bestowed an opportunity to lead their people to greater destinies. They chose to lead them to destruction. Among these were also as many pundits of political science as there were grass-root leaders.

So, the point I am trying make here is this: Understanding governance as a concept and practicing the same from a leadership position are two different things.

Point II:

Talking of the wealth of discussion on governance and government, We find that while some contemporary experts do come out with a distinction that is quite clear. I mean between Governance and Government. But even among the most accomplished of these, we find that the distinction between these two blurs quite often. Perhaps when we talk of two inter-related aspects, it becomes difficult to keep the distinction  at all times. Take for example the discourses on spirituality and religion. Most often than not, you find that the narrator fails to recognize their difference. Both may be for the same and of the same but they are not by the same! Think over and we will know the difference.

In the same tone, governance and government are for the same, of the same but they are not by the same. While governance is the concept that at times defies definition, government is tangible, definable and assess-able. When we talk of governance, aside the six tangible parameters by which WB or ADB or TI may chose to assess a country, there are intangible factors that remain crucial to the quality but defy statistical analysis.

So, the second point that I am making is that attempting measure GOVERNANCE is to be done more cautiously. The venerated saints of every religion have attained the same God – we may chose to name the Gods separately. The paths that they chose are akin to government; what they attained is governance.

Point II:

Why am I taking examples from religion or spirituality? The reason is simple: all leadership is a matter of the spirit. A sterile, book bound leader or for that matter academic or scientist or a military top brass has never achieved anything. It is only those among these who have put their spirit into their pursuit who made the difference in their respective field. It is possible to change opinion provide we have a open mind.

I suppose it is okay for me to set the platform for the discussions that I intend taking up on this blog. Spirited, yes by all means, but nonetheless well meaning comments are welcome. 

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Courage, of all…

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Courage, of all national qualities, is the most precarious; because it is exerted only at intervals, and by a few, in every nation; whereas industry, knowledge, civility may be constant and universal use, and for several ages may become habitual to the whole people

– David Hume

David Hume, 1711-1776, Scottish philosopher. The quote is from his work ‘Of National Characters’, Pt I, Essay XXI, p 212