Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Full of contorversial FAF - Arundhati Roy

It was simply disgusting knowing what India’s noted writer, Booker Prize winner and human rights activist Arundhati Roy spoke and wrote on Kashmir. Sadly, it was inconclusive, unproductive, negative faf-speak meant to be controversial (only) without mettle.

Quoting one of the newspapers, she said, “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact”. She lashed out against India’s policy of oppressing “the people of diverse culture” and praised the Kashmiri struggle for increasing “consciousness in India about the oppression you face”.

And later she justified saying, “…what I say comes from love and pride... they (whatever she said) were a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir… for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways…”.

The worst part in this whole media hype is that the solution to the Kashmir problem is not even being discussed. Everything that happened was emotion without action veering towards negativity.

Arundhati, being a respected personality could have instead pull the strings towards a solution, could have lobbied for a particular set of action points, could have tried to bring the central government, state government, opposition political parties, and other representatives of public opinion to one table.

How it is (whatever she said) was a ‘call for justice’? How would that bring justice? How would secession bring justice to the common public of Kashmir? I have spoken to localites in Kashmiri quite extensively and I can vouch for the fact that they don’t want ‘secession’. They realize that the lack is of an effective, efficient leadership which can steer Kashmir to development and progress.

If the local leaders couldn’t run the state with abundant central Govt. funds, how would they run a separate country with no external fund?

How is Kashmir ‘one of the most brutal military occupations in the world’? You can’t call the military ‘brutal’ by the count of military personnel alone. Once I had stopped my bike at Lal Chowk to speak to one of the Jawans, when the first thing he said, “Do not stand too close to us, we are the soft targets of grenades thrown from those wooden windows”. That is the actual plight and fear of the Jawans posted in Srinagar that the media completely ignores. Even if I agree with Arundhati for a moment, then she should have instead delved into the reasons of ‘Kashmir’ becoming a military occupation. Just saying that it is ‘one of the most brutal military occupations’ is very ordinary and controversial. It is just plain copying what many others have said in the past and is a waste of effort, time and energy.

How it is (whatever she said) providing justice to the Kashmiri Pandits that were thrown out of Kashmir by the Islamist fundamental groups? Is she even bothered about the Kashmiri Pandits? How is the Indian Govt. responsible for the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits? Why is Arundhati, being the Booker Prize winner blabbering?

One of her other points was about ‘justice for Dalit Soldiers killed in Kashmir’. Who killed those Dalit Soldiers? Why she is only concerned about ‘Dalit Soldiers’? What about the other regiments? Why is she casteist? Who have killed these soldiers? It is clearly either Pakistan, or ISI or Islamist fundamentalism. So how is her statement even relevant to ‘justice for dalit soldiers’?

Dear Arundhati, the need of the hour in Kashmir is an effective political leadership that can steer Kashmir towards quick economic progress. It is also the easiest strategy to implement given the political and cross border scenario. Issues with Pakistan, communal tension would always remain, or would need a longer term solution, but time cannot wait and standard of living cannot be compromised.

We should take Mr. Modi as an example for developmental politics reducing the gap between Hindu and Muslim mindsets. Today Mr. Modi gets a sizeable chunk of votes even from the Muslim community.

With economic progress and effective local leadership, Kashmir can march ahead as a progressive state. With progress, employment and rising income, communal hatred, Pakistani interference and orthodox fundamentalism will ultimately get marginalised.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Power of Development Politics. Mr. Modi shows us the way...

In October 7, 2001, when the Indian economy was going through turmoil, Mr. Narendra Modi took charge of Gujarat as the Chief Minister. In February-March 2002, Gujarat faced the worst communal riots, where Mr. Modi was labelled as the primary anti-Muslim responsible for the killing of over 1200 lives by the media.

Turn to October 12, 2010 BJP and Mr. Narendra Modi in Gujarat is stronger than ever. BJP has swept the polls to six municipal corporations in Gujarat retaining power with two-thirds majority in all but one of them. In this age of fragmented polity where getting a majority seems unreal,  BJP bagged 80 percent of the votes (30% Muslim votes) in almost all the places. Interesting to note is that these poll victories came just a few weeks after the BJP won Kathlal constituency in Anand district in a bye-election. This assembly constituency was a strong Congress bastion from the time it came into being.

How did Mr. Modi and the people of Gujarat make all this possible?

One particular remark of Mr. Modi caught my pride and attention. He claimed that only politics of development can do something good, not the politics of vote bank. He said, "I have succeeded to deliver my message that politics of vote bank or politics of appeasement would not do any good, but the politics of development would do"

The truth in this statement is the future of India. The truth in this statement will bring in faith of the Indian population into the political democracy. Development, prosperity and improvement of the standards of living will and can bring in a permanent political stability. And will tag along prosperity with stability.

Today we are being short-sighted. The political attitude is of vote bank politics, 'blanket' politics, immediate selfish goals and corruption ridden personal growth. It is vicious cycle that takes us away from socio-economic development.

Mr. Modi also could have been short-sighted after Godhra. He could have assumed his imminent fall in the next elections and could have concentrated his energies in making as much wealth as possible for a lifetime. Instead he chose the difficult path of development.

He once said, "An opportunity to work is good luck for me. I put my soul into it. Each such opportunity opens the gates for the next one."

Faced with massive economic losses brought in by 2001, he concentrated on reorganizing the government's administrative structure and embarked upon a massive cost-cutting exercise.  As a result of Gujarat government efforts under the guidance of Modi, Gujarat registered a GDP growth rate of over 10% during his first tenure. This was the highest growth rate among all the Indian states.

Gujarat is probably the only state witnessing a double-digit growth for a long time and also the only state growing higher than the country's 8-9 per cent growth. Gujarat is growing faster than some of the Asian economies.

It's all about labour harmony, infrastructure development, transparent policies and prudent State fiscal management, which have contributed to Gujarat's growth. For instance, the man-days lost due to labour unrest in Gujarat is only 0.65 percent as against 5 percent in Maharashtra.

During my stay in Ahmedabad, I remember Sabarmati River as a dry riverbed for years, now it is flowing bank to bank. If the Sabarmati has begun to meander once again, that's because the water is coming from the Narmada canal, courtesy the ambitious river-linking project of Mr. Modi.

Sabarmati in full flow is an apt metaphor for the miracle that Modi has pulled off in making Ahmedabad a model for urban development. Today it boasts of wide roads, minimum traffic congestion, BRTS and ample green spaces along with malls, multiplexes and coffee shops. It is a delight to hear Mr. Modi speak about development. He once said, "Our roads will be as good as the Autobahns of Germany".

This is at a time when most Indian metros are creaking under their own weight. Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi - speak of any metro and you would see chaos.

It would be worthwhile to dig a bit deeper on the unique Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) with a high-speed dedicated corridor for AC CNG buses that will ply a 55-km stretch. The concept of BRTS was first proposed by the Gujarat Govt to the centre, which was later copied by a few other states. Today, Ahmedabad is the first city to have successfully launched the first phase by the intended deadline. It won the prestigious 2010 Sustainable Transport Award this year from the Transportation Research Board in Washington. Ahmedabad BRTS has caught the fancy of several countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and Tanzania.

There are many such success stories. You can read about quite a few them in

It's a proud moment for India that a political leader is showing us the path of long term development to win a democratic election, to be a popular leader. This is learning and teaching to all the national and regional political parties including the BJP, who have not been far-sighted like Mr. Modi in Delhi and the other states.

Lets salute to the power of development.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Twitter - Truely a phenomenon.

“What’s twitter?” I used to ask. They use to say, “It’s a new micro-blogging site”. Honestly I didn’t understand the sentence in context, content and attitude. It had made me feel outdated. More irritating was the un-easiness because nobody had a clear answer for me. That was 2008.
I had talked to myself, “You have to jump into the water in order to learn swimming.” I opened my twitter account and named the account @lifeisbetter.
Almost immediately, I was clueless on twitter. I found twitter to have no head or tail, no start or end. How do I search for my friends, how do I create a network, how do I meet new people, how do I upload more photographs, who will read my tweets that takes a long time to compose in 140 characters, and so many such questions were left un-answered.
I didn’t return to twitter for a few months. It had left a bad taste because I couldn’t relate to the seemingly in-thing. Now that I look back, I realise that my mistake was in my pre-conceived notions. I was looking for social networking site in twitter, which it clearly is not. It is much to the power infinity more than that.
This post is about my discovery about this amazing phenomenon called Twitter. It is simply incredible.

Twitter takes you closer to your favourite (or hated) celebrities.
It was the celebrity quotient of Twitter that got me back to it. I could follow @gulpanag and read up on her opinions. She even responded to some of my tweets. I was elated and so would so many of us when we get to interact with our demi-idols, know their lifestyle, next movies, where-abouts and personal candid photographs.

Twitter is an excellent news channel
Thanks to one of @gulpanag’s tweets that I got introduced to @outlookindia, which opened a whole new world of relevant news being available to me to devour. I am currently following @outlookindia, @thehindu , @ietweet , @DNA , @BBCIndia among a few others who actively tweet about news and opinions from respected writers and journalists. Then there are individuals like @sonaliranade, who untiringly tweets about financial and political news from all around the world. It is such a pleasure to read up on varied topics on a single platform.

Twitter is the easiest to access
Twitter is an example of growth via sharing. Twitter is perhaps the only platform where over 50% access happens through third party applications. Twitter made it very easy to allow other websites and mobiles to access twitter. The result was that we have got better third party applications
with better navigation and UI to access twitter than the twitter app itself. Today I access twitter mostly through my mobile phone. I have downloaded a mobile application called ‘Pocketwit’ from Google labs for my windows phone. It is convenient, easy and multi-faceted. It has all the twitter features for reading / posting tweets and much more. In fact, as per latest data, 20% of new twitter users join via mobile device, as opposed to signing up on the web.

Twitter has led to many innovations and business models
Two years back, I had read an interesting one-liner for twitter. It said, “Twitter is the SMS of the Internet”. I found it to be an intelligent line, but not anymore. Today the line seems very shallow and narrow in its scope to define the juggernaut – twitter.
The twitter revolution came with a lot of associated products and services. Thanks to the total API support of Twitter programmers. Software developers easily came up with amazing products that compliment and supplement the twitter experience. The three most significant among them are: tiny URL sites like, photoblogging sites like twitpic, text-shortenning sites like Twitxr and 140it. The restriction of 140 characters has led to all these inventions.

  • One can shorten a long URL and post it directly to twitter along with a message by logging on to also let us know about how many people have clicked on the URL.
  • One can upload a photograph on Twitpic, which gets converted into a tiny URL and then one can write a message along with the tiny URL to post it directly to Twitter.
  • If the tweet is longer than 140 characters, sites like twitxr and 140it helps in shortening it using shorter words like r for ‘are’ etc. If the tweet is still longer after than 140 characters, then it stores the tweet in a tiny URL and lets the user post it directly to twitter.
It is amazing that how much we can now do with 140 characters. Imagine a news item tweet with a tiny URL, which you can click for details. You can choose to read more, or decide to let go. Even amazing are the mobile applications to access twitter. For instance, Pocketwit gives me all these features in one platform. You just need to put the long URL and it becomes a tiny URL. It connects to for the same without the mobile user knowing the complexities. Pocketwit allows me to shoot, convert that image into a tiny URL and post it to twitter. It also allows me to browse and post an existing image in the mobile. It is integrated to Twitpic in the back-end and photos are actually getting uploaded to twitpic and can be also viewed by logging onto Twitpic !
Twitter has led to so many innovations and applications that we have websites like whose complete focus is on the third party twitter applications.

Twitter is second only to Google !!
Twitter is doing over five times the search queries that Bing handles at 19 billion per month, and about 20% of those that mega search star Google processes. In a tweet, one can prefix # in front of an important word and these words help in searching the tweet easily. Twitter co-founder Mr. Williams said that Twitter does about 600 million queries per day and added to say that “the figures aren’t all apple to apples”. The search queries from third party applications and mobile application are not fully accounted for. How’s that compare against the major search engines? Working from ComScore figures from December 2009, we have the following data set:

  • Google: 88 billion per month
  • Twitter: 19 billion per month
  • Yahoo: 9.4 billion per month
  • Bing: 4.1 billion per month

To conclude, Twitter has been a true phenomenon not only for networking and publicity needs but also for socio-economic-political discussions, viewpoints and news. It has given a new meaning to sharing and collaboration. It is still nascent in terms of its use for advertising and promotion. I believe there is a huge scope for monetizing twitter to benefit human kind.
Great Job Twitter. Thank you Jack Dorsey.

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