The Times of Change

Through my eyes

  • About Me

    Gaurav Goel

  • Background

    Currently working on a development start-up

    2009-20012 :
    Management Consultant

    2007-2009 :
    PGDM, IIM Calcutta

    2002-2007 :
    B.Tech. + M.Tech.
    Computer Science
    IIT Delhi

    1997-2001 :
    Delhi Public School
    R.K. Puram
    New Delhi
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Narendra Damodardas Modi

Posted by Gaurav Goel on May 30, 2013

There are two fundamental questions that I want to discuss through this post. Firstly, whether Modi should get an opportunity to become the Prime Minister? Secondly, whether Modi would get an opportunity to become the Prime Minister, given the political dynamics within and the BJP and the situation of potential allies?

Let us first dwell into whether Modi should become the Prime Minister or not? I think he is clearly not an ideal candidate for being our Prime Minister, but given the current drought of genuine leaders at the national level, he is the country’s best bet at the moment.

The view point that he is not an ideal candidate comes from three factors that go against him. Firstly, he is a polarizing figure (I am not referring to his secular credentials here). People have strong point of views, either for him or against him. You will find millions of people who swear by him (such people are increasing by the day!) and millions more who hate him. He lacks the cross cutting appeal that a Nehru or a Vajpayee enjoyed in their times. This puts a question mark on his ability to take the nation along, something he will need to do if he becomes the Prime Minister. Secondly, his style of functioning is not best suited for a country like ours. He is more of a benevolent dictator that a democrat. His style might have worked well in a largely homogenous  state like Gujarat, but is unlikely to suit a diverse country like India. Specially in an era of coalition politics you need an inclusive figure like Vajpayee to head a Government, as opposed to a strong headed person like Modi who is unlikely to accommodate contrary view points. Another associated issue is his likely contempt for constitutional bodies which has also been one of the biggest fallacies (along with several others) of the current UPA Government and does not auger well for the country in the long run. Well, some will argue that Modi might adapt his working style. This certainly can not be ruled out but sounds improbable given his enormous success with the same style over the last 10 years. Thirdly and lastly, his inability to follow the rajdharma in 2002 has a certain repercussion. We can safely assume that he will NOT discriminate against the Muslims if he becomes the Prime Minister, but the very fact that he is allowed to lead the country has a potential of alienating the Indian Muslims – “how could someone who allowed us to be killed become the Prime Minister of our country?” This fear of alienation can be completely unfounded but only history will be able to tell if it were so?

Now coming to the point, why in spite of the above 3 factors he is our best bet at the moment. Most importantly, he brings with him virtues which the country so desperately needs at this stage – strong and decisive leadership, focus on genuine development (not just sops), clean governance and an ability to inspire optimism. I would not dwell into the details of why each of these virtues have become so important today and why Modi fits the bill perfectly on each of them. The record of the UPA and the state of the nation makes the answer amply clear. The second and rather disappointing reason that makes him our best bet is the absence of any other leader at the national level who cuts it for the Prime Minister’s role – L. K. Advani is past his peak (and better suited to be the President rather than the Prime Minister), Arun Jaitley is an armchair politician who lacks connect with the common man, and Rajnath Singh remains a light weight despite being BJP’s president twice. Sushma Swaraj, the only other genuine contender with a mass appeal has proved to be a cynic and obstructionist in her biggest responsibility – Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. She has taken a cynical stance on several policy issues (which the BJP had traditionally supported) just for the sake of opposing the Government. In spite of being a good orator she has preferred obstruction over debate. The mobilization against the UPA that could have been best done by incisive arguments inside the Parliament and public mobilization outside of it, has been left to news reports of Parliament obstruction and press conferences by opposition leaders. The shoes of vintage Vajpayee (the best Leader of Opposition our country has known) have been clearly too large for her to fill. On the other side if you look at the Congress, their offering for the Prime Minister’s role – Rahul Gandhi – is immature and incapable to say the least. Even after 10 years of trying to polish himself and enjoying undying loyalty of Congressmen, he has done not anything worth a mention. This dearth of leadership at the national level, makes Modi the best person to lead the country at this stage.

Let us now dwell into whether Modi would get an opportunity to become the Prime Minister or not? This is a more analytical question and has no clear answers. However, let me try to predict how things will unfold based on an analysis of the prevailing political situation in the country.

To begin with, let us look at potential allies of the BJP in 2014. By any stretch of imagination this list can not go beyond the AIADMK (Tamil Nadu), KJP, JD (S) (Karnataka), TRS, YSR Congress (Andhra Pradesh), Shiv Sena, MNS (Maharashtra), BJD (Orissa), AGM (Assam), TMC (West Bengal), JD (U) (Bihar), RLD, BSP (Uttar Pradesh), INLD (Haryana), SAD (Punjab), and the NC (Jammu & Kashmir). States in which BJP’s presence is insignificant, making it difficult for it to contribute to the tally of an ally, parties are unlikely to join the NDA before the elections. This rules out the AIADMK, TRS, YSR Congress, AGP, TMC and the NC as pre-poll allies. In addition, BSP would want to contest is the whole of UP and RLD in the whole of western UP, ruling both of them out from the potential pre-poll ally list. Amongst the remaining parties – KJP, JD (S), Shiv Sena, MNS, BJD, JD (U), INLD, SAD – only the BJD (if it considers allying with the BJP at all) and the JD (U) are likely to get affected by Modi being projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate since both of them have a material Muslim support base. To all others – KJP, JD (S), Shiv Sena, MNS, INLD, SAD – the Modi factor is either positive or neutral. Since the BJD and the JD (U) together can contribute around 20-25 MPs to the Lok Sabha, BJP is unlikely to strain relationship with either of them before the elections on the Modi issue. Coming to the post poll scenario, amongst the entire list of potential allies, it is only the JD (U) that might have an issue with Modi. The BJD also would have already contested the state elections (along with the General Elections) by then. A closer look at JD (U)’s (in particular Nitish’s) position will tell us that it will not be able to retain power in Bihar if it goes to the extent of breaking ties with the BJP. But the fact that Nitish has so openly come out against Modi, might make it difficult from him to retract thereby putting him in an extremely uncomfortable situation if indeed a call has to be taken after the elections on the Modi issue.

Now let me get to the predictions. Firstly, I believe that the NDA is unlikely to project a Prime Ministerial candidate before the 2014 General Elections. The prime reason for this would be internal politics of the BJP where leaders are unwilling to accept Modi as the first amongst equals and have political ambitions of their own (which they feel may get realized depending on the scenario the election results present). The second reason would be lack of consensus on Modi’s name amongst pre-poll NDA allies (as discussed in the previous paragraph). The alibi the BJP is likely to take in not announcing a Prime Ministerial candidate is “the UPA has also not announced one” (which is most likely to happen). So in all likelihood BJP (and NDA) will contest the 2014 elections without declaring a Prime Ministerial candidate under a collective leadership of L. K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi. This will be sub-optimal because of 2 reasons – the electorate will be confused whether Modi will actually become Prime Minister if they vote for the BJP, leading to some swing voters playing safe and not voting for the BJP; and the election campaign not being a cohesive exercise with the leaders working on their own strategies. What is Modi likely to do is such a scenario? In addition to Gujarat, he is likely to focus on the crucial state of UP which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha. He will do so with the support of his confidante Amit Shah (BJP General Secretary, in-charge of UP) and Rajnath Singh, whom he seems to have taken into confidence on this game-plan. They may face some resistance from local leaders like Vinay Katiyar and Uma Bharti but these leaders are also expected to toe the line once they see the writing on the wall.

Let us come to the post poll scenario. If Modi is able to make a mark in UP (25+ seats) and BJP is able to touch 190 on its own, then Modi will become the Prime Minister with the support of Shiv Sena, SAD, AIADMK, TRS and a bunch of other parties. If BJP lands up below 170, then Modi is unlikely to become the Prime Minister. Either a consensus candidate from within the BJP will lead a bigger and weaker coalition, or the Third Front Government will become a reality once again supported by the historically undependable Congress. If the BJP gets anywhere between 170 and 190, then anything is possible!

This is how in my opinion the future of national politics, with Modi at its center, is poised at the moment.

PS: I have tried to stick my neck out in making the final set of predictions in the last paragraph. They have their own margins of error. However, I am pretty confident that all the other predictions in the earlier paragraphs are likely to hold true.


Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

The Beginning of the End for Musharraf

Posted by Gaurav Goel on July 18, 2007

I think the countdown has begun. Its just a matter of time (my estimate is in months and not years) when General Pervez Musharraf will no longer be able to do the 2 things he does best – a balancing act between the international community and the radicals within Pakistan; and manipulating the system to crush all voices of dissent – things that have ensured his survival for 8 long years.

It all started a few months back with protests against the suspension of the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry. Unexpectedly for Musharraf they took the form of a revolution, a kind of independence struggle (literaly for the judiciary and symbolically for the common man). I can’t forget reading an article in the TIME magazine about one of Iftikhar Chaudhry’s rally. It was reported that Chaudhry left his home in Islamabad with a convoy of 100 cars to address a rally in Abbottabad (about 110 kms. from Islamabad). Guess what? It took him 15 hours to cover the distance and by the time he reached the venue (where people had been waiting for more than 12 hrs.), the convoy was 2000 cars strong. I don’t remember reading about a public rally in Pakistan as big as that one in the last few years, atleast not for a protest against the Government!

The Iftikhar Chaudhry issue which is still hot, has created an environment that everybody else is using to target Musharraf. The extremists have become more vocal and more blatant in their activities. The forced resignation of the Pakistan tourism minister for hugging her flying instructor, attempts to enforce the Shariat Laws in Islamabad, kidnapping of 6 Chinese nationals for alleged indulgence in prostitution, bloody counter strike by Musharraf (under Chinese and US pressure) against the extremists (hiding inside the Lal Masjid) who were behind all this, and the recent retaliation by the extremists by means of a bomb blast in Islamabad, highlight that the balancing act is increasingly becoming difficult for Musharraf.

Add to all this the following facts – 40 opposition parties of Pakistan recently met in London to form a united front against Musharraf and to explore the possibility of contesting the November elections together; Peshawar, Quetta and other cities of western Pakistan are under control of strong Taliban supporters; women in these areas can not leave their homes without a burqa, else they risk their safety; drivers in these places can not listen to music to soothe themselves, else they affect their prospects of coming back home unhurt. Forget about the drivers, even Musharraf is not sure of coming back home alive when he leaves for office in the morning. He has been attacked several times and his life is under constant threat. If all this was not enough, then there is growing dissent in the Pakistani defence establishment against Musharraf. And remember, Uncle SAM is always sitting there with a stick in hand.

Many would say that this is not the first time that Musharraf is facing problems. Yes it is not. But what is different this time around is that he is being targeted form ‘all’ sides and the sheer ‘magnitude’ of the protest is unprecedented. An unfavorable judgement in the Iftikhar Chaudhry case can bring his regime down. So can the elections which, given the strong public opinion against him, he will find difficult to manipulate (the way he has been doing so far). Assassination obviously is a possibility that can end it all.

I think that given all this if he can still manage to remain in power then it would be a miracle. Since predictions can not be based on possibility of miracles, I am waiting to see how events unfold and how soon Musharraf’s era comes to an end. After all, India would prefer to deal with a democratically elected Head of State in Pakistan than a military dictator who doesn’t even mind breaking submits mid-way for petty reasons.

Posted in International, Politics | 2 Comments »

Inflation, Rising Rupee and High Interest Rates

Posted by Gaurav Goel on July 10, 2007

High inflation, a rising rupee and increasing interest rates – this has been the scenario of the Indian economy in the last one year (though inflation has been controlled of late). This article attempts to establish a relationship between these observed phenomena. It discusses how one led to the other and how one occurred as a consequence of attempts to control the other.

First let us talk about how the rupee-dollar exchange rate affects our economy and what role does the RBI play in influencing this exchange rate. As a general concept, in a scenario where the rupee is growing stronger against the dollar (or for that matter any other currency), the importers stand to gain as they have to shell out less units of the local currency for each unit of dollar to pay for their imports. On the contrary, the exporters stand to loose as they get less units of the local currency in exchange of their dollar earnings from exports. Another way of looking at the loss to exporters is to observe that as a result of a strong rupee, Indian goods and services become costlier (and hence less competitive) in the international market. On the other hand, the affect of a weak rupee (against the dollar) is exactly the opposite. The RBI in the larger interest of the economy tries to minimize fluctuations in the rupee-dollar exchange rate, by buying and selling in the international currency market. Since it is a big player in that market (as is the central bank of any big economy), it is able to influence the exchange rate by suitably affecting the market forces of demand and supply.

For the last few years, a net positive swing in invisibles (due to increase in software exports and remittances sent by Indians working abroad) and increase in investments (both FDI and FII), has been improving the Balance of Payment (BOP) of the Indian economy and increasing the demand of rupee in the international currency market. In view of this the RBI has been following a policy of buying dollars (by selling rupee) in the international market, thereby avoiding an appreciation of rupee viz-a-viz the dollar. But, the RBI changed its policy some time back. There were several reasons for this. One was that the China was selling dollars to diversify its forex portfolio which was pushing the dollar down and the RBI thought that it might benefit by selling dollars at that stage and buying them later at lower exchange rates. But the single most important reason was the rising inflation in India and the impact it was having on the poor. What was this change in policy and how was it to help contain inflation?

The change in policy was that the RBI decided to stop buying dollars in the international market and allow the rupee to rise (against the dollar). This it believed (and rightly so) would control inflation. The thinking was the following – if rupee appreciates then goods and services which are imported into the country would be available at cheaper prices in the local markets. Moreover as discussed earlier, a rise in rupee will not be favorable for exports. This would divert some of the goods, which were earlier exported, to the domestic markets and hence support the supply side constraints which were one of the reasons for high inflation. So essentially, the RBI decided to marginally compromise the interests of the exporters for the larger good of the economy (specially the poor) by controlling inflation.

Last but not the least, let us discuss how interests rates are related to all this. Taking high domestic interest rates to be a cause, a significant effect is that it checks inflation. Higher interest rates act as incentive for people to keep their money in the bank and as a disincentive for companies to borrow and invest (because the cost of borrowing increases). As a result the money floating in the economy decreases and inflation is curbed. This is the main reason why the RBI signaled its desire to keep interest rates high by raising the rates at which it lends to other commercial banks. Though this mechanism of controlling inflation worked, but at the same time it also encouraged local Indian companies to raise debt from abroad which gave a further upward thrust to the already rising rupee.

This is how high inflation, rising rupee and high interest rates interplayed and affected each other in the last one year with the RBI constantly trying to keep all of them suited for the Indian Economy.

Posted in Economy | 31 Comments »

Behen Mayawati

Posted by Gaurav Goel on May 20, 2007

You can like or hate her, but you can no longer ignore her. From the slums of Delhi to the gaddi to the Lucknow, this dalit ki beti has seen it all. And the very fact that today I can call her a dalit ki beti without being accused of being castist, has been her and her party’s most important (and probably the sole) contribution to our country and particularly to Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati and her late mentor Kanshi Ram have over the years instilled self respect and a sense of confidence, in the minds of the backward and the oppressed. Its no longer a shame to be a dalit in UP. Instead, it is a matter of pride. Now they even have a Mukhya Mantri of their own. They call the shots in the corridors of power in Lucknow and therefore to some extent in Delhi too. It would be right to say that for the dalits, behenji has delivered on two fronts — social and political.

She is a mascot of (atleast one of the three pillars of) democracy, she is the maseeha of the downtrodden, and she is the Mukhya Mantri of politically the most critical state of the country. But, she is also opportunistic, she is also brash, she is also dictatorial, and some will say she is also a liar (she publicly pledged support to the Vajpayee Government in 1999 and then voted against it). Since the genesis of BSP, its philosophy has been that acquiring power is the first and the most crucial step in the upliftment of the Bahujan Samaj. That is why behenji has played every possible political/electoral trick to come to power in the last 15 years —

She allied with Mulayam once, with the BJP thrice and (virtually) with the Congress this time like a bin painde ka lota. She talked about Bahujan all these years but paved the way for Sarvajan when she felt that it might help her win more votes. She coined the famous anti-upper-caste slogan — “tilak, tarazoo aur talwar, inko maro jute char” (tilak here refers to the brahmins, tarazoo to the baniyas and talwar to the thakurs); but in these elections it was no where to be heard. What was heard instead, was that she distributed a lot of tickets to these very brahmins, baniyas, and thakurs; and that Satish Mishra (a brahmin) is emerging as the clear no. 2 (although still very far from no. 1) in the BSP.

All these tricks have brought her to power for the 4th time. But, if she wants to maintain the political ground she has gained, she will have to deliver on the third front (the first two have been mentioned in the first paragraph) — economic. Most dalits are still poor and there has been little or no improvement in their standards of living. Since she has raised their aspirations, she might as well fulfil them while she is in power. For that, she will have to work on the other BSP of politics — bijli, sadak and paani. But mind you!, even if she does that, she still might need to do some more ‘social engineering’ in future to win elections. That is the nature of democracy in Uttar Pradesh where (a political analyst rightly said) “people do not ‘cast their vote’, they ‘vote their caste'”.

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments »

The Orkut Generation

Posted by Gaurav Goel on May 16, 2007

There is our generation, and there is our parents’ generation (The gap between the two is understandable). If we divide our generation further, then on one side there are the now twenty-somethings who have seen the emergence of communication technology (more specifically, cell phones, chatting and social networking); and on the other side there’s the younger lot – kids now in their teens who grew with all these technologies already around. It this post, I will first try to explore the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ (no disowning intended)[I will sometimes refer ‘them’ as the ‘Orkut Generation’]; and will then discuss the impact of these technologies on ‘them’.

We use cell phones when we need to talk to somebody, they use it for sending jokes through smses and transferring ring tones through bluetooth; we chat to discuss something or to remove boredom, they chat because for them its the obvious thing to do; we use social networking sites to keep in touch with old friends, they use it for masti. In short, our use of communication technology is more need driven than there’s. We can imagine life without all these things, they probably can not.

Before moving on, I must hasten to add that many amongst ‘us’ are more like ‘them’.

What effect does all the communication technologies have on our ‘Orkut Generation’? Well, I believe that on the positive side there are many things to look up to. But here I will focus on what is ‘not so good’ about such an exposure. The other day I stumbled upon the profile of one of my younger cousins on orkut. I noticed that the profile did not match with what I knew about my cousin. Then I saw the profiles of some other younger acquaintances. And there was a definite pattern in all these profiles — there was a conscious attempt to project oneself as ‘kewl‘. I was not sure how to react, but certainly it was not at all pleasing. I went a step further, and read some of the scraps in their scrapbooks. To my horror, the discussions, and in some cases the language used, were not up to the mark. There were also a large number of scraps form seemingly unsolicited people wanting to be friends specially with young teenage girls. All this saddened me. It gave a feeling, that may be its too much too early for these kids; and that the direction in which they seem to be going is not correct. Add to this, the time that they waste on these technologies. They would be better-off playing, reading, going out, or even surfing (not to mention studying) than spending time playing with their cellphones, chatting, or orkuting.

I don’t think the negatives I discussed outweigh the positives that the communication technologies bring for our teenagers; but at the same time I am convinced that everything is not rosy and atleast there needs to be some kind of a check on the amount of time the kids spend with these technologies. Remember, ‘excess of everything is bad!’.

Posted in Society, Technology | 2 Comments »

The Latest Buzz: Online News Videos

Posted by Gaurav Goel on May 15, 2007

The last one month saw 2 of the biggest media houses in the country, NDTV and The Times Group, transform their presence online. Both of them went for a complete overhaul of their websites, and respectively. A lot has changed, but the feature I would focus on is the free video content (clips from the corresponding news channels) that has been made available on these websites. The only other significant player in this space is CNN-IBN through its website Infact my guess is that it was the emergence of as the first amongst equals (mainly due to its free video content), that forced others to follow suit.

This new development is surely a blessing for all those desis spread across the globe, who crave for quality news videos from the homeland. But having said that, it has affected me, a resident, in no small way either. It was for the first time in many years that election results of an important state like UP were declared, I had time, but still I was not glued to the TV to catch all the action, the reactions, and the analysis. On a daily basis also, no longer do I hurry home to watch my favourite shows on news channels — ‘The Big Fight’, ‘Walk the Talk’ or for that matter simply ‘The 9’o clock News’. Instead, every evening before going off to sleep, I log on to the 3 websites I mentioned in the first paragraph and watch whatever I wish to (of course I need a good broadband connection to be able to do that).

This new way of doing things allows me to choose what I want to watch, rather than force me to see what is being shown as is the case with a TV. It also enables me to catch up with news, interviews, talk shows and specials that were aired at times when I was busy or unaware (its increasingly becoming difficult to track everything of interest that is aired on news channels). Last but not the least, it saves me from the commercial breaks that are a must while watching a TV.

On the flip side, a poor download speed can spoil the entire experience (though there are ways to get around it like pausing the video and letting the buffering complete). Some might complain that the resolution is poor in the full screen mode (in the normal node, the video box is very small). Others may say that it kills the experience of watching the TV together with the family.

Ultimately its a matter of individual choice and feasibility. Remember its not being forced on you. If you find merit in it (as I do) then use it, otherwise continue the same old way.

I personally feel that its a very good development. It is something that was long overdue. In has finally arrived and it is here to stay. It will grow and grow at a rapid rate. So, be ready for more of it!

Posted in Media, Technology | Leave a Comment »

The Big Fat Indian Weddings

Posted by Gaurav Goel on May 8, 2007

My two sisters got married in the last one and a half years and the weddings gave me valuable insights into urban middle/upper class marriages in our country. In this post I will try to highlight what according to me is good and bad about the ‘Big Fat Indian Weddings’. I will focus on the celebrations only, and not on what happens at the time of match-making or after the marriage (that’s a long story in itself).

First the positives. The best part about the entire event is the coming together of the extended family that takes place, specially if the celebrations are spread over a period of 3-4 days or more. The atmosphere that is created in the house — where the jijas and the saalis, the dewars and the bhabhis, the mamas and the bhanjis, and the chachas and the bhatijas, all engage in witty conversations and leg pulling of a unique kind — is something, that cannot be experienced in any other setting. Add to this the small small telas (rituals) that are performed during the course of the celebrations, each one demanding the presence of a different relative (bhai, bhabhi, jija, mama, dewar etc.), which keep the interest levels high beside providing fodder for humorous comments and hilarious anecdotes. The very frequent breaks for yummy food and even better manuhar where all the pyar is poured in that one extra poori that the behna is serving, make the occasion even more memorable. It won’t be wrong to say that the real wedding takes place over the course of these 3-4 days; what happens on ‘The Day’ is more of a mela.

To sum it all up in one sentence, the best part about an Indian wedding is the expression of the 2 most crucial pillars of our society — ‘parivar‘ and ‘parampara‘, that takes place in a fun filled and joyous atmosphere.

Now is the turn of negatives. The thing that annoys me the most is the whole lot of len-den that takes place during a wedding. Let me hasten to add, if all of it happens wishfully without the footer ‘yeh to karna hi hota hai‘, then its fine; but as soon as the slightest element of expectation (on the taker’s part) and/or compulsion (on the giver’s part) creeps in, then it completely disillusions me. Basic reasoning is enough to establish that a lot of len-den that takes place between the ladkiwalas and the ladkawalas in a wedding is based on the old assumption that ‘a girl child is inferior’; otherwise the parents who give their beloved daughter in a marriage, would not have been expected to accompany that with material things for the ladkawalas. Despite the ‘girl child is inferior’ syndrome being absent in many urban families, the len-den still continues. And remember, this is just one type of len-den. A lot of it happens within both families also.

Equally disheartening is a lot of dikhawa that is done to match/uphold people’s perception about you, your status and your ‘big heart’.

On a lighter note, another thing that I would like to see changing is the following — most telas are performed blindly just because some elders have seen them happen since their childhood, without themselves ever understanding their relevance. Remember, we are living in the 21st century, the century of knowledge. Know the significance of the different rituals, follow the ones that are still relevant and pass the information on to the next generation. This will make the entire exercise more fruitful.

Because of my self-imposed limit on the length of my posts, I have just been able to mention the most profound goods and bads of urban Indian weddings. Though the bads have consumed more space in this article than the goods, I strongly believe that the goods still outweigh the bads, and that is why I am eagerly waiting for the next marriage in our family (that of one of my cousins, not me!!).

Posted in Society | 2 Comments »

Shashi on Sunday

Posted by Gaurav Goel on April 7, 2007

The ‘All That Matters’ page in The Sunday Times has for long contained columns by a bunch of eminent writers — ‘Swaminomics’ by Swaminathan A. Aiyar (Consulting Editor, The Economic Times), ‘Men & Ideas’ by Gurcharan Das (Author, India Unbound) / ‘Indiaspora’ by C. Rajghatta, ‘Jugular Vein’ by Jug Suraiya (the man behind Dubyaman), ‘Politically Incorrect’ by Shobhaa De / ‘Flat World’ by Thomas Friedman (Author, The World is Flat) and ‘Erratica’ by Bachi Karkaria. But this post is about non of these. Its about a new column that has been added to this illustirous list since January this year. I am talking about ‘Shashi on Sunday’ by Shashi Tharoor.

The man who joined the United Nations at the age of 22 and captured national headlines a few months back when he was nominated by India as its candidate for the post of UN Secretary General, has written a series of interesting articles in the weekly edition of the national daily. I generally don’t like to make sweeping statements, but I would not hesitate to say that ‘Shashi on Sunday’ is arguably one of the best columns that I have come across in the Indian print media in recent years.

This post is not about Shashi Tharoor – the person. So, if you interested in knowing more about him, you might want to visit the following links:
His Website
Information about him on Wikipedia

Coming back to ‘Shashi on Sunday’, what has captured my imagination the most are the views expressed in it by Shashi Tharoor, and the easy and free flowing narration of the column. Also interestingly, the column refuses to comment on the ‘Big Story’ of the week. It ignores the hot debates and takes up relatively lighter issues. It comments on matters which are not immediate but are never-the-less relevant in these ‘Times of Change’. To cut a long description short, I would simply refer you to some of my favorite editions of the column :

Making the most of India’s soft power
The elephant who became a tiger
India, Jones and the Temple of Dhoom

If you go through these articles, it will give you a better sense of what I am trying to say. As for me, this is Saturday night and I am waiting for the morning, when I will get hold of yet another edition of The Sunday Times and turn to my favorite column — ‘Shashi on Sunday’.

Posted in Media | Leave a Comment »

The happiness of relief

Posted by Gaurav Goel on March 31, 2007

The apex court has stayed the implementation of 27% reservation for OBCs in central universities. When I heard this, I didn’t jump of happiness. Neither did I call up friends to congratulate them for the now visible fruits of their efforts (of speaking on this issue last year). My reaction was more sublime and less visible. The news gave me a peculiar inner happiness, the ‘happiness of relief’ one gets, when he gets to know that what he believes is right. I am an optimist. Even in this era of pessimism about the systems that we have in place in our country, I strongly believe that though things are in bad shape, they are not rotten, and more importantly, they are getting better with the passage of time. The Supreme Court judgement simply reinforced this belief of mine; and thus that inner happiness. [One could not have expected such a bold judgement by the court, say 10 years back]

The judgement I think, made a stronger statement than what the print and the electronic media reported. According to me, it said 2 things loud and clear — firstly, “you can’t get away with everything” (‘you’ here referring to the legislature); and secondly, “there is still place for logic in decision making”. This was clear by the questions the SC asked the government — regarding credibility of data on the number of OBCs in the country, and about the logic behind non-exclusion of the creamy layer from the quota benefits. The court even went ahead to say that its all “vote bank politics”. I think these are the more important reasons why this judgement should be applauded.

We all know that the ‘reservation debate’ is far from over. What will happen in August when the next hearing on the issue takes place is yet to be seen. The final judgement can go either ways. But this stay order has certainly brought smiles to the faces of all students, who protested on roads across the country last summer against reservations. More importantly for everybody, including those who did not protest on the roads (but never-the-less discussed the issue in their drawing rooms), it gives a clear message — “Don’t Lose Hope!”.

Posted in Education, Politics | Leave a Comment »

What to expect?

Posted by Gaurav Goel on March 27, 2007

Hi! Its been long (almost 2 years) since the thought of starting a blog first came to my mind. But as they say — its better late than never.

Coming straight to the point, what can one expect from this blog? Well, as the title says, these are changing times (in India). And the change is not restricted to any particular sphere. Its one thing that is increasingly becoming constant in every aspect of our life. And with the passage of time, more and more of our countrymen are becoming a part of this change — positive change (atleast the net effect is positive). Through this blog I wish to express my viewpoint on a wide range of issues (as and when they crop up) and share my experiences in these times of rapid change. You can expect posts on politics, business, society or for that matter anything that directly or indirectly affects us. To cut a long story short, this would be a generic blog with focus on India in these very exciting “Times of Change”.

I cannot comment with certainty on how frequently I would post here but to begin with I plan to post atleast once a week. Your participation in these posts would be most welcome. I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Posted in About the Blog | 9 Comments »