Is the NDTV Ban = Abolition of Free Speech?

If you’ve seen the news these past few days, you must be aware about the ban by the government on NDTV’s Hindi news channel. Yet another example of intolerance and an indication of the impending emergency under newly christened, Hindu India. It has been alleged that the government is restricting free speech and by controlling the media, it is restricting free speech in the vibrant democracy that is India. This charge is nothing new for the Indian government; it has faced numerous such allegations in the past over such “high-handedness”. But let’s examine the facts a little more clearly.


Diving a bit deeper into the issue, one is forced to ask whether the issue really is about free speech or not? The charge against NDTV India is of causing security concerns by airing live-coverage of the counter terrorism operation undertaken by the Indian forces against the terrorist attack on Pathankot air force base. It is the Cable TV Network (Regulation) Act under which such an action has been taken by the government. The charge that the order was arbitrary seems made up. The government followed due process by issuing a show cause notice to the channel and then forming an inter-ministerial committee to look into the charges. The channel’s representatives were given a fair chance to put forward their case to the committee before such an order was passed.

The first issue at hand is how did this entire issue become about free speech? It is the Indian Constitution that disallows such an act and it is purely related to security reasons and has no relation whatsoever to free speech. NDTV has received support across media circles and the media has effectively changed the narrative by focusing on free speech rather than national security.

NDTV then goes on to argue how information that it displayed was not harmful to national security and was already available in the public domain. It goes on to justify its stand by making petty arguments about how it revealed only vague details and in no way harmed national security. I’m sorry but since when has NDTV assumed the role of the nation’s national security advisor? Since when did we give power to mike-wielding TRP hungry reporters to determine what is and what is not harmful to the lives of the nation’s soldier? If NDTV feels that it has adequately analysed that its disclosures were not harmful to the nation’s security, why doesn’t it approach the honorable Supreme Court and attain a stay order on this ban? If it feels that it is being single out when actually all other channels were displaying the same information, it has all the powers of the constitution (the same constitution that mandates this ban) at its disposal to appeal against this “tyrannical” order by the government.

I doubt whether the government is engaging in a witch-hunt and has decided to punish NDTV just for the heck of it. One must examine the reason behind the constitution of such a law. This law was mandated by the botched up job that the esteemed Indian media did during the 26/11 terror attacks. Terrorist handlers from Pakistan saw the action on live TV and directed the terrorists towards actions that generated panic and positions of the security forces. A local politician trapped in the attack gave a live interview to a news channel thus compromising the hiding position of all those with him.

Such botch-ups clearly reveal that the media is incompetent to decide on whether it conducts itself in a manner that upholds national security or not. There is no iota of responsibility in these so-called journalists and any attack or criticism on their profession is seen as an attack on free speech and democracy itself. If the media desires to be the fourth pillar in the democracy and the upholder of values of free speech and expression, it must look into this word called Responsibility. It is their hunger for TRP that makes them bloodhounds trying to find a story. If the Indian security forces had allowed any reporter to enter the air force base during the attack I believe the reporters would have found a terrorist and interacted with them in their clichéd Takiya Kalam, “Aapko abhi kaisa mehsoos ho raha hai?” If free speech is important in a democracy, a rider must be imposed on its upholders.

The media must understand that it is not above oversight in any case.


Reforms on the Backburner?

After much political wrangling, the government has finally been able to pass the GST Bill after almost a decade of when it was first talked about. Touted as a major reform towards Ease of Doing Business, the GST might still not be enough. Although India is being talked about as the fastest growing major economy, it’s the jobs growth that still lacks. With more than a million people joining the workforce each year, the government can ill afford to ignore this major demographic drain.

The keys to reform are held in the regressive Land Acquisition Act and the leftist labour laws. The Modi government tried to overturn these laws early in its tenure but got bogged down by an opposition blitzkrieg focused on painting the government as a ‘suit boot ki sarkar’ which translates into a pro-business or pro-capitalist government. Such a government is of course the need of the hour after decades of a left to centre policy leading to the infamous Hindu rate of growth. “A government survey found that job creation fell by more than two-thirds in 2015. Analysts at HDFC Bank estimate that for every percentage point the economy grows, employment now adds just 0.15 of a percentage point – down from 0.39 in 2000.”

The fact is that the farming economy’s good days have gone by and to usher in an era of development India needs to focus on manufacturing. The government has effectively given up amending any acts that seem even slightly anti-farmer (which follows ‘once burnt twice shy’) which is effectively stalling reforms. Any move to dilute stake in government organisations to improve their effectiveness is opposed by leftist elements prompting a strike by unions. There are several industries where the government need not be in business but the cushy job security of a government job makes the unions jumpy at even the slightest mention of privatization.

Once jobs dry up and efficiency runs into the ground, only then will the government realize that inability to deliver on growth will lead to its own doom. The Central government has passed on the buck to the state governments for making land acquisition easier and labour more flexible. While this has promoted competitive federalism, it still is not nearly enough to a centrally mandate reform.


How The Third World War Is Likely To Start

The question to be asked about the Third World War is when will it happen and not if it will happen. Because obviously, a Third World War is long overdue. Let’s rewind a little; the First World War started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and other unsolved grievances, the Second World War was a manifestation of unresolved issues from the previous war. So how do you think the next war is likely to start? Let’s chalk out a probable scenario of how such a war is likely to take place.

The most likely scenario in my opinion was pointed out rightly by Mahamandleshwar Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri, chairman of executive council of the Madhya Pradesh Gaupalan Evam Pashudhan Samvardhan Board. So, based on his opinion, the Third World War will start over a cow. I had my doubts about it but acute insomnia over such a dreadful prediction and lot of free time brought me around to his viewpoint. Now, as we all know, in Hinduism cow is a much revered animal and people go gaga over religion.

3rd ww.jpg

Now that we have established that India will play a part in this role, let’s look at the spark which will ignite this war. No prizes for guessing, it will be Pakistan, because Indians lose their shit once we talk about Pakistan. Photos emerge of senior Pakistan politicians and army butchering unarmed Indian cows that have unwittingly trespassed into Pakistani territory and are labelled as RAW spies. Pakistan approaches the UN and releases tapes showing the cows eating grass on their side of the border near Lahore which is apparently a conspiracy to support secessionist movement in Baluchistan somehow. Mahamandleshwar Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri calls for complete boycott of all talks with Pakistan and mobilization of troops.

Donald Trump, the US President will call on Modi and in his trademark style will ask us to build a border wall so Indian cows will not trespass and get involved in this bloody conflict. What follows is a tweet marathon by Arvind Kejriwal in which he blames Modi and the BJP for promoting drug culture in Punjab (by citing Udta Punjab) which led to the cows, who were high at the time, not realizing that they had crossed the border. Rahul Gandhi goes to a gaushala in Punjab and dines with the cows to show his solidarity with their cause. Protests begin across college campuses in India, especially JNU, once Kanhaiya Kumar proclaims that the cows were actually Dalits and the government is not doing enough to protect them. From being a symbol of Hindu Nationalism, the cow has now become a unifying symbol of Indian nationalism. The nation unites as one in condemning Pakistan.

Reports surface that cows across India refuse to be milked until their brethren are revenged. Losses mount on Amul and Mother Dairy. In such a circumstance, the central government has no choice but to call for massive troop movements. India and Pakistan are on the brink of war for the fifth time. China falls behind Pakistan because the Chinese don’t give a damn about human rights, why would they care about cow rights? Organizations crop up around the world (funded by Mahamandleshwar Swami Akhileshwaranand Giri) calling for cow rights. Trump declares support for India because milk from Indian cows helped him ‘Make America Great Again’. Soon enough, American troops began arriving in Mathura to take blessings from Sri Krishna’s cows. “Holy Cow” becomes the war cry of the Indo-American troops as they train together. Other countries also start picking sides and as the first bullets are fired, the world is engulfed in yet another war leading a few people to ask, ‘How much cow is too much cow?’

Where India Shamefully lags behind Pakistan

Of course we know that India and Pakistan cannot be compared, India being this great country viewed as a future superpower while Pakistan being described as a radicalized failed state. However, there is one area where Pakistanis have put us Indians to shame. It is with a heavy heart and genuine shame that as an Indian I have to accept this. Pakistan is better at incubating startups than India is.


Surprised? Well we have all these great IITs, so many engineering colleges, students etc. We have such a vibrant startup economy with success stories like Flipkart, Olacabs, Zomato, Inmobi and whatnot. Unfortunately, our government is not as supportive of these startups as Pakistan is despite the Startup India program.

You might now start to doubt me and ask “Well where are the statistics?” Unfortunately, no one has yet effectively compared our start-up economies due to their diversity. So here I present to you a comparison of Indian and Pakistani startups for your enlightenment.

Sr. No. Incentives India Pakistan
1 Free Unlimited Finance No Yes
2 Travel Facility Abroad for Business Purposes No Yes
3 Purchase of Devices and Machinery No Yes
4 Tax Free No Yes
5 Active State Support No Yes
6 Training and Development at No Cost No Yes
7 Conferences with Successful Foreign and Domestic Startup Founders at no Cost No Yes
8 Retirement and Family Pension No Yes


The above chart clearly represents why Pakistani startup economy is clearly in a much better shape than the Indian startup economy. The blame lies entirely on the Modi government as well as the previous governments for ignoring entrepreneurship and employment generation opportunities for the youth of this country.

India has failed to provide a robust infrastructure mechanism that allows founders to employ their full potential towards successfully converting a startup into a full-fledged business. Moreover the Indian mentality is such that parents would prefer their child to have a stable job with a stable salary rather than to venture out on their own. Since Pakistan’s overall economy is a bust, the youth do not find well-paying jobs and are forced to engage in self-employment which is creating an increasingly wonderful trend in this country of suicide bombers.

Moreover, unlike successful Indian startups, most of the Pakistani startups are involved in exporting their services which as everyone would agree is a lot better than capturing just the domestic market. While this does not mean that the domestic Pakistanis have not been influenced by these startups. A lesson lies here for the Indian bureaucracy and the government to allow a free hand to our startups and take a page out of their books.

Here’s a list of some of the most successful Pakistani startups:

  1. Lashkar-e-Toiba (huge exporter in the Indian market)
  2. Jaish-e-Mohammed (having vast business interests in India)
  3. Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)
  4. Haqqani Network
  5. Al-Qaeda
  6. Taliban
  7. Indian Mujahedeen

While some of them may not have initially started out in Pakistan, they definitively would have failed but for Pakistan’s aid. Shame on India, for discriminating against foreigners; while Pakistan treats them all fairly. Even Indian startups are given adequate funding and machinery by Pakistan.

Yes we suffer from Brain Drain. Here’s why it can be good.

As Indians, brain drain or more euphemistically called human capital flight, is something we come across quite significantly. Owing to our high fascination for reproduction, emigration was always going to be a big issue for us. More troubling is the emigration of a highly skilled workforce. However, such actions are rarely unjustifiable. People leave the nation for better educational and employment opportunities which is their right.

A large number of Indian migrants pick the United States as a favored destination, ‘The land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’. The Indian-American community has established a niche for itself and counts among several model minorities. “A model minority is a minority group whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average.” It is principally the Indian Americans who are considered to be the most educated and wealthy of the Indian immigrants. And it is this diaspora which can contribute much more to India than it ever can by reversing this brain drain.

Indian Americans occupy chief spots in politics such as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley (both of them being the most notable). Indian Americans also occupy key spots in international tech giants such as Microsoft and Google (Alphabet Inc.). A Pew Survey found that the median income of Indian American household is higher than any other Asian subgroup at $88000 against a national average of $49800. We Indians take a lot of pride in throwing around names like Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, Indra Nooyi, Nikesh Arora, etc. Yet it is time we ask how most of these IITians can give back to the nation. It is time the Indian American community contributes to India what a robust Jewish American community contributes to Israel.

Being a shade under 3.5 million, the Indian American community has a significant clout in academia and government. Yet just as the Jewish American community identifies solely with Israel, we Indians lack a unifying identity towards India. What works in our favor though is that most of these Indian Americans still have a large amount of folks back home and the Indians, wherever they maybe, pride themselves in having a highly rooted family culture.

It is primarily this soft power which Narendra Modi attempted to target in his Madison Square Garden address. Just like a robust Jewish lobby, the Indian expats must work towards forming an active Indian lobby. While such lobby groups do exist, such as the US-India Political Action Committee, their success has been limited considering the economic might of the Indian Americans. In contrast, Jewish lobbies have significantly influenced American policy making towards benefitting Israel in the Middle East. One cannot emphasize enough how such a lobby can benefit Indian interests now that India is vying for a bigger role on the global stage.

The Indian diaspora abroad can contribute significantly to the Indian economy as well by investing in India and sending back remittances. It is time that the government provides significant incentives to this community to mobilize the soft power it holds such as a dialogue on dual-citizenship for the expats making life significantly easier for them. The time has gone for right-wingers like Subramaniam Swamy to question the patriotism of Indian Americans like Raghuram Rajan. While the nation may still feel let down by the massive scale brain drain, effective lobbying for Indian interests is the best way the Indian diaspora can contribute to our growth story. To quote a cheesy cliché, “You can take the Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of the Indian”.

Raghuram Rajan: The latest casualty of Indian Politics?

As the Indian economy decides to take a leap of faith from the throes of sub-par growth to an era marked by stupendous growth, it is the rock and roll central banker that stands in the way. Or does he?


Raghuram Rajan, the awe-inspiring central banker is staring at the end of his term in September of this year with no evidence of an extension in sight. He took over the reins at the Reserve Bank of India in August of 2013 when inflation was sky high, growth prospects were well-nigh dead, the Rupee was in a tailspin and our hopes in a revival were as slim as the chances of a Donald Trump presidency. Since then, the wholesale price index has touched historic lows, the nation’s foreign exchange reserves have scaled historic highs and we have seen approval for eleven payment banks. The banking sector is churning for the better and hopes in a revival now look well founded.

It would be stupid to give credit for all this to Mr. Rajan. A lot of the credit goes to the Congress Party and Rahul Gandhi for being stupid enough to not get re-elected and for Modi to just show up on the scene.

Lately though, the Raghuram Rajan fanclub seems to be diminishing with the finance ministry being conspicuous by its absence. The BJP has unleashed its favorite bloodhound on Rajan, Mr. Subramaniam Swamy and I’m pretty sure Rajan’s not one to bite back. If all goes as per plan, Rajan might return back to the University of Chicago as a professor and Modi will get to put in another of his yes-men at the helm of the banking sector.

Mr. Rajan is not your everyday nationalist who is willing to put everything at line for the Indian economy. Yet, who is Subramaniam Swamy to put a question mark on Mr. Rajan’s nationalist credentials. One has no idea how the wheels of governance churn. It is not Mr. Rajan’s prerogative to stay here and fight the current regime tooth and nail. He should and will return to his cushy post abroad once the dust settles over his re-election. The question is, whether Modi and Jaitley want him to stay?

The stock market will show the nation that Raghuram Rajan is good news for the economy once it falls on the day a new central banker takes over. The autonomous Rajan is set to lose his job over his own opinions and refusal to fall in line with the government’s reading of what the economy needs. While disagreements are a good sign and no one wants conformity for the sake of it, but unleashing a hound like Swamy was a low blow from the government. While I derive utmost pleasure from the antics of Mr. Swamy in dealing with the Congress party, employing such tactics against a non-political technocrat who the government badly needs depict a lack of sensibility on the part of the government. It is unreasonable to think that Swamy is acting on his own motion. What has happened here is a tacit signaling from the BJP central command that Rajan is persona non grata and his handling of the economy is not in line with the government’s. To be honest, Rajan has had his job longer than Jaitley and Modi have and it was Rajan’s actions that have brought about a principal change in the banking sector and the economy at large before the Modi-Jaitley duo got a look in.

If Rajan decides to stay after the Swamy-show, it will be out of his big-heartedness. All that is possible if only the government realizes that Rajan is an integral part of India’s rise to being the next economic superpower and it is the combined efforts of a Modi-Rajan duopoly that will be required and not to forget an absolute absence of our left of centre friends, i.e. Congress, Kejriwal, Nitish, Mamata and whosoever harbors Prime Ministerial ambitions in the current political scenario.

Rising Intolerance; Myth or Reality?

Lately there has been a significant media glare on incidences of religious and caste based intolerance. Notice that I do not mention a significant rise but a significant media glare on such incidences. To set out the tone of this article right here, I would like to say that India is a diverse country with diverse interests pulling in different directions. Intolerance is as real as everything else in our nation. Unless you’ve completely cut-off from all news sources, you obviously know what’s been termed as the Dadri Lynching and the beef bans. This preceded another campaign by the intelligentsia, termed as rabid anti-BJP leftists by the BJP, of returning of awards conferred upon them by the nation. A string of writers, authors and scientists have put their weight behind this movement along with historians and the Sahitya Akademi.

The problem with this movement is it smacks of short-sightedness. These awardees have been around for long enough to see what the nation has been through. They have seen riots, lynching, corruption, terror attacks, human rights violations, need I say more? Nothing can be further from the truth that India is an epitome of peaceful and tolerant existence. This isn’t true today and certainly hasn’t been true since time immemorial. Being a nation so wide and diverse, incidences of religious intolerance will never be uncommon. There are always fringe elements in all communities who thrive in such environments. The point here is that the incidences of late are being magnified and blown out of proportion. No wonder the killings of people who eat beef or the murder of activists is condemnable. However, is this new in India? Have we not got used to these reports in the media? Have the writers, scientists and historians not seen the Sikh riots of 1984, Ayodhya 1992, Godhra 2002, innumerable corruption scandals? Where was this conscience then? Intolerance is not on a rise. It is the media that has jumped upon such incidences and projected an image that such incidences are uncommon when in fact such murders and lynching were so common that it never got reported by the mainstream media. Are the awardees so short-sighted that they do not realize a media-generated incident when it is staring them in the face or is there a deeper political controversy that is behind this?

The question is not whether the BJP is behind this or whether the RSS is communal, it is media that is stealing the government’s thunder by exaggerating on issues that it somehow missed out in the past decades thereby creating this image that we are becoming an intolerant society thanks to the present establishment. I say exaggeration not because the incidences are so miniscule that they do not deserve media attention but they have been provided disproportionate reel time than the precedent set by the media itself.

The liberals argue that the Prime Minister’s silence is hurting the nation. Modi must reel in the BJP loudmouths who seem to be more publicity hungry than Rakhi Sawant. However, a comment on each and every issue by the Prime Minister sets a very wrong precedent. Modi is not a silent bystander but a hunter biding his time. Like every other issue that the ignorant media and we as an ignorant nation have forgotten, the BJP knows that this too shall pass. Remember the December 16th Delhi gangrape that generated enough media hype for the world to call us rapists? This is an exact repeat of such a media-generated crisis. Rapes happened in India just as much as they did before and they take place around the world just as much as they did before yet when the media “takes up a cause”, for as long as it appears juicy to them, they make us believe what they want us to believe. The news channels and newspapers lack responsibility and their demands for freedom of speech appear less and less agreeable with their current conduct. No wonder China likes to keep a state-controlled media.

What’s Ailing Indian Cricket?

To say that Indian cricket is in a transition phase would be a gross understatement. The situation has been like this since one can remember. Questions about players’ place in the eleven emerge much more often than they should. The batting order sees more changes than dresses in a fashion show. How and why have we reached at a point when we must question the captain’s place in the side and rightly so?

indian cricket

The answer lies deep within the structural composition of the team. The decline began soon after the 2011 World Cup victory. India’s away record became dismal, to say the least. Series after series, losses mounted with no ray of hope. The time had come for the seniors to hang their boots or were they booted out? Next thing you know young guys who had taken the IPL by storm composed the eleven, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Mohit Sharma to name a few. One would have thought that the team was finally ready. However, the key to any transition is the slow phasing out of the older players and the arrival of younger ones one at a time as they fight to make their mark. However, in the Indian team, the motley of players like Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Zaheer didn’t stick around for reasons ranging from ego, poor performances and injuries. The side lacked and still lacks a bowling spearhead. The pace department is hardly fixed as our pacers are usually unfit.

If one concentrates solely on the performance of Dhoni, based on his batting, he has left a lot to be desired. His role as a finisher is repeatedly being called into question and his batting at the death has been characterized by more hits and misses than boundaries. His tactics of playing it slow and taking the game to the last over have had modest impact, to use a euphemism. No wonder his batting and captaincy is being questioned. Perhaps somewhere in between Dhoni wanted to act more as a comprehensive batsman and less as a finisher. He was probably in two minds and ended up choosing the path which may not have been the best for the team. Realizing this now, he is trying to make amends, however, time has passed and Virat Kohli is knocking on the doors of captaincy. Dhoni must face the same fate that he subjected others to. For far too long he enjoyed the patronage of his godfather, N. Srinivasan.  Now that there is a change in the BCCI leadership, Dhoni’s freedom and autonomy along with a gross lack of oversight are at a risk. The no questions asked approach will no longer hold good.

The batting department has deteriorated to mind-boggling extent. While Rohit Sharma may be in a fantastic touch at the moment, he hasn’t been like this nor can he be like this for long. Sharma’s run-ins with inconsistency are hardly a surprise anymore. He has always had the strong backing of the captain and one can argue perhaps that it is bearing fruit now but at the cost of several losses earlier and the deprivation of an equal opportunity to players of the caliber of Cheteshwar Pujara. Shikhar Dhawan has time and again shown that he lacks any sort of consistency along with Suresh Raina. Under Dhoni, players are being extended a very long rope and a single good series or performance from a player is used as an excuse to include him while ignoring a slew of bad performances. The old adage comes to mind, “Form is temporary, class is permanent.” Perhaps the lack of proper team management and evaluation of performances has allowed mediocrity to permeate the highest echelons of Indian cricket. One can only hope that under the next captain, players are included in the team solely on the basis of their merit and not on them being in the captain’s good books or IPL franchise.

If one looks at the bowling department, barring Ashwin there has been no single player who has managed to retain his place. The pacers are injury prone and in their quest for speed sacrifice on line and length. One must remember a great loss to Indian spin community has been in the form of Pragyan Ojha who has been sidelined for quite some time and has always been overlooked in favour of second-rate spinners like Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel by terming them as all-rounders. If the definition of all-rounder was being a mediocre bowler and a pathetic batsman, they surely do fit the bill.

As we criticize the bowlers, why should we forget the coach? After Gary Kirsten, arguably one of the finest coaches India has had in recent times, we saw the arrival of Duncan Fletcher. He spoke little, did little and achieved little. His mild-mannered attitude was never really taken seriously by the players and one cannot imagine how he could have had any say in the team among the Dhoni-Srinivasan nexus. Perhaps he was the accidental coach and his position is widely similar to that of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister.

Why should we forget the BCCI then? The most corrupt and mismanaged cricket board whose greed surpasses imagination. Srinivasan was the biggest cockroach that Indian cricket has dealt with. So much so, that the Supreme Court had to intervene to ensure his removal. Conflict of interest is something that the BCCI knows not. Its cash-cow, IPL has been marred by so many controversies that Pepsi ended its sponsorship contract so as to disassociate itself with something so corrupt. IPL has provided us with players that for some reason we think are fit to play test cricket.

At the end of the day, one can only hope for a revival in the team’s fortunes. While the BCCI leadership has changed, Dhoni’s position is yet secure despite being untenable. Somehow, one good score when the world criticizes him is enough to overlook a string of poor performances. As long as you do your job once in a while, you are allowed the liberty to indulge in poor performances as long as you like! The transition must now be hurried along and Kohli must be allowed to form his own team as soon as possible. Until then, Indian cricket is going to remain stagnant.

Reservation for the Unreserved?

There used to be a time in this nation, or rather before we were a nation, when being from a backward caste would mean a destitute life deprived of even the most basic amenities. Alas, the tables have turned! Being a backward caste today has its fair share of benefits. Reservation in jobs, educational institutions as well as promotions is ingrained in the Indian system.


Indians have more or less accepted this as the norm and are grateful to the Supreme Court for capping the reservations to a maximum of 50%. Because when votes are concerned, equality and fairness conveniently disappear. Yet, this is nothing new for us. We have always been lackadaisical and have found our own ways to deal with this. Then there was this 22 year old lad that took the Gujarat political sphere by storm.

Gujarat is a widely diverse state, like any other in India, with numerous castes and religions. Among Gujaratis, Patels or Patidars are at the forefront. Traditionally being engaged in agriculture, Patels have been succeeding in various fora, be it business, politics or immigration. Today, this community is economically, socially and politically among the most powerful communities in Gujarat, if not the most. The Chief Minister, numerous MLAs and MPs are Patels. Their sheer population has meant that governments have risen and fallen based on their support. So it seems a little strange as to why this community is demanding inclusion in the OBC quota when they have everything any community could aspire to have. Mind you, if the Patels fall under backward caste, no other Gujarati community can claim to be forward or upper caste. So if Sachin Tendulkar was rated as a mediocre batsman then can Ishant Sharma be called a good one? In no parallel universe can a Patidar possibly be backward class however, that doesn’t mean that there are no economically challenged people in the community who maybe deserve certain benefits available to OBCs, but not the community as a whole. If Patidars acquire the status of OBCs tomorrow, what’s to stop other communities who are as it is not as advanced as the Patels to demand such a status? The precedent would then state that everyone else deserves it. So if everyone were supposed to get reservation then would that mean that effectively no one got reservation?

Now the facts of the case are simple. Patels, largely an agrarian and business community, have realized that education will be tomorrow’s currency. However, not only Patel youth but all general caste communities have seen their deserving and meritorious students missing out on educational and job opportunities due to the long overdue scrapping of the anomaly that is reservation. As a state policy, caste-based reservation has failed to fulfill the needs of the vast populace and has instead bred hatred and led to violence. The Patels are the first ones after a long time to have risen against this issue, however their stand currently is impractical and their methods violent.

The show of strength and sheer numbers that the Patels are showing has effectively said that they are a majority with might, so on what basis do they deserve reservation? Hardik Patel, the leader of the movement is effectively holding the government hostage in terms of re-election which threatens to give rise to more vote-bank politics. Violence in any form must be avoided and the destruction of property has tarnished the sanctity of peaceful protest. If the government capitulates, it will open a Pandora’s Box. The precedents would have wide-ranging effects not only for Gujarat but the nation as a whole with more and more demands from various communities. The ramifications of this protest, whether successful or not, will show that reservation’s sell-by date has gone. Caste based reservation was as it is faulty and wrought with issues aplenty. Maybe reservation on an economic basis makes sense but since that would effectively end discrimination and vote-bank politics, it represents a conflict of interest for the politicians of the day. The methods and demands of the Patels maybe questionable but the issue they raise is an important one, that which has prompted caste-based discrimination in this nation for decades.

Nuclear Weapons = New Peacemakers?

World over nuclear flashpoints have been springing up like anything. These flashpoints have made the world much more unstable than what it used to be. Kashmir, Ukraine and Korea are amongst the most active and dangerous ones at present. Any escalation between the parties can lead to an all-out war with disastrous efforts which may never be mitigated. There is a definite arms race in South Asia, although not overt in its characteristics. With increase in weapons stockpile, we are at the brink of a nuclear war every passing day. Or are we?

While we may argue that nuclear weapons are undoubtedly a dangerous proposition, can we not say that they have prevented the skirmishes worldwide from turning into full scale wars? A perfect example is the Kargil War. India and Pakistan declared themselves as nuclear powers in 1998. This was followed by a brief Kargil War in 1999. Pakistan, riding on the fact that it had a sizable nuclear stockpile to counter India, occupied strategic Indian peaks leaving India red-faced. The Indian Army then undertook a serious challenge to oust these invaders and ultimately succeeded. What if the war would have continued? There was a serious possibility of it turning into an all-out war on all fronts with a high chance of involvement of nuclear weapons. However, I personally believe that it was the threat of the consequences of nuclear fallout which prevented both the nations from resorting to full scale devastation. In the end Pakistan anticipated Indian caution correctly. This was followed by a bold attack on the temple of the world’s largest democracy, the Indian Parliament, again leading to troop mobilization along the LoC. Perhaps in all subsequent years Pakistan has tried to provoke India and India has had ample reasons to resort to aggression yet perhaps it is the elephant in the room, aka, the nuclear weapons which prevents an all-out war.

India and Pakistan have been at each other’s throat since Independence and even after 1971, there have been ample instances where a war would have been justifiable. But the threat of international fallout and the inability to control the effects of a nuclear war has resulted in wars being fought at a micro level. Kim-Jong-Un may or may not have a nuclear stockpile but his veiled threats are enough to keep the Americans and South Koreans guessing leading to peace on stand-by mode. As the nuclear deal with Tehran has been signed off, the Middle East will become another nuclear flashpoint with Israel also being an alleged nuclear power.

All in all, worldwide, the possibility of a nuclear war has kept nations at bay which ensures that no skirmish turns into an all-out war with unimaginable consequences. With the number of instances of this being higher, one can correctly argue that due to the presence of nuclear weapons, many a war has been prevented from escalating. Nuclear stockpiles are playing a major role in de-escalating tensions.

The danger though is still very real. There are nations which possess the virtue of responsibility and in their hands these weapons have indeed become weapons of peace. India being one such nation. Despite ample provocations from Pakistan, we have managed to put off an impending war on more than one occasion simply by the threat of a nuclear war which I doubt Pakistan would have been able to outlast. However, was India to give Pakistan reason to start a war, would the ISI and the army hold back from going nuclear?

The threat of an atomic war seems very real with unstable nations like Pakistan being able to possess weapons of mass destruction. The civilian government in Pakistan has as much say as the President in India. It is merely titular and the army runs the show. The army and ISI’s goals are short-term and they would see a nuclear war as highly beneficial despite knowing India’s superiority. Besides this, Pakistan harbors terrorists which not only attack India but also Pakistan. Unstable nations like Pakistan would never be able to safeguard their stockpile so as to not let it fall in the hands of extremists. In fact they would have a conflict of interest from keeping these weapons safe from a LeT or ISIS for example.

So despite the nuclear weapons being weapons of peace in the hands of countries like India, US, Russia, etc. Pakistan and North Korea are the prime example of rotten apples whose immediate goals clearly take precedence over peace and stability. With responsible nations, nuclear weapons supplement diplomatic back channels to resolve conflicts from escalating into all-out wars but with unstable pseudo-democracies, they are indeed weapons of mass destruction.