Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Apartheid In Israel

[Israel] (Photo credit: edoardocosta)
Kerry warns of 'apartheid' without Middle East peace

Israel is a remarkable story of survival. No ethnic/religious/cultural group in human history has been of such a small number with such an outsize influence and identity. And then there is the blemish of the Holocaust, the largest state crime in history. Tech in Israel is inspiring. The state of Israel is a leader when it comes to dealing with day to day terror acts.

But that does not change the fact that Israel today is an apartheid state. Either there is a two state solution, or all people living in the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza strip become full citizens of Israel. There is not a third option.

It is the most complex geopolitical knot on earth. That is there. Some of the larger changes that could help the situation is if there were a near total spread of democracy across the Arab world.
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Indian Elections: A Big Mystery

I am used to following US presidential elections surveys where the polls are often within points of being accurate. They are quite often within their declared margin of error, if not individually then definitely collectively. Measured by that standard, I have no idea what's going on in India right now, and half the country has already voted.

If the Indian surveys get it right this time, it will be the firs time. As recently as the Delhi assembly elections the surveys were way off the mark. We did not see Kejriwal coming. Heck, I was not paying much attention to the guy at all until he became Delhi Chief Minister. And I had never heard of Kumar Vishwas until then. A friend mentioned the name in a phone conversation, only then I did a search on him on YouTube.

So I am looking forward to May 16. It might be another week or so before a clear picture emerges. It is going to be a frenetic few days.

I get a lot of my news through Google News. I have created a section there for Nitish Kumar. After Nitish came out saying he is better qualified than Modi or Rahul, for days there was no news about him. It was as if the Indian media had collectively engineered a Nitish blackout. For about a week there was no news item on Nitish in my Google News section on Nitish Kumar. I was used to reading a few new news items on him every day. How could that happen? It is not possible the BJP paid all of Indian media to stop writing about Nitish. I think what happened is the Indian media has never had to face a Mandal Commission to date. The Indian media's power structure mirrors the power structure of Indian politics before VP Singh came along. And there is a huge upper caste bias against someone like Nitish in the Indian media. That is harmful for democracy.

The same goes to campaign finance. Why does Rahul not know how much money the Indian corporate houses are giving to Modi? Why is he left guessing? That information needs to be public information.

Indian democracy will be better served if laws are passed such that (1) it becomes easier to create new media houses, (2) all media houses must publicly disclose money received from political parties or political groups affiliated with them, (3) those conducting polls are made to disclose their sources of funding, and (4) it goes without saying all political parties must do what AAP is doing voluntarily, they must disclose all their sources of funding on their websites.

And on that note I think Kejriwal has a real shot at winning in Varanasi. He has an advantage: he can actually spend time in Varanasi. He has been telling people, if Modi will not come meet you before the elections what are the chances he will come meet you after?

I could not tell you where the political parties stand today. I will patiently wait until the votes are counted. I know for sure the surveys are off the mark, but that does not mean I know where each political party stands. And it is best I not guess.
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Saturday, April 05, 2014

Rahul Is A Natural

Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Ernakulam, Kerala.
Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Ernakulam, Kerala. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have said Nitish is my first choice for Prime Minister, and Modi is number two. But I do admire Rahul Gandhi a bunch. I think he comes across as a natural. And he has sounded progressive on many social issues, especially those to do with women. I think he would be a great Deputy Prime Minister with Nitish taking the lead.
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Friday, April 04, 2014

Pawar’s Prognosis

india kerala boat people
india kerala boat people (Photo credit: FriskoDude)
mamata neemuch
mamata neemuch (Photo credit: dr.dayaram aalok)
English: Young woman from Tamil Nadu near Maha...
English: Young woman from Tamil Nadu near Mahabalipuram, India Français : Jeune femme du Tamil Nadu près de Mahâballipuram, Inde (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Nitish Kumar
English: Nitish Kumar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sharad Pawar, who has had a front seat to Indian politics for half a century now and was at one point touted as a prime ministerial candidate, said something interesting recently. He said the BJP will emerge the largest party, but it will not get a majority even with its allies tagging along. He said the key to 2014 was with the magic six: Mamata, Naveen, Mulayam, Mayawati, Nitish and Jayalalita.

When the BJP stands at around 100, the Congress stands at around 200 seats. And then they switch. That has gone on a few times now. Which means the non-Congress, non-BJP parties have a solid hold on about 245 seats. They together are almost as big as the Congress and the BJP put together. If the BJP moves from around 100 seats to 200 seats, it should be called a pendulum swing, not a wave. A wave would be if the BJP hit something like 250 seats. Not even BJP-paid pollsters are predicting anything like that.

Modi might have peaked before a single vote has been cast. And it is downhill for him now on.

I think of India as an European Union that is actually working. It is such a large country. You put America, Europe and Africa together, and you get India. One big reason I love New York City is because it is crowded and it reminds me of India. Although India is more crowded pretty much everywhere. American cities come across as ghost towns by comparison.

It is hard to create a national wave in a country the size of India. Data analysis shows “India’s national elections may not be national in its true sense but merely a series of state elections held simultaneously to elect a central government…… even during large national waves such as anti-Emergency, Indira Gandhi sympathy or Bofors scandal, the southern states and West Bengal voted as per local trends, throwing up local winners or contradicting national trends. During the height of the 1977 anti-Congress wave, of the 12 largest states, the Congress won five — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala. States like Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal, which account for 32 per cent (171) of all LS seats, seem completely immune to any national sentiment and vote as almost separate nations in themselves.”

Let’s throw in a few numbers. Let’s put Mamata at 30 seats, Naveen at 20, Mulayam 25, Mayawati 25, Nitish 25, and Jayalalita 20. It has to be noted the three gentlemen belong to the Janata Parivar, and might form a core. That core of 70 seats might form the nucleus that might catapult someone like Nitish, and the three ladies might envelope those 70 with their own 75, or alternately the three ladies might come together first and that might catapult someone like Mamata. These magic six with their 150 seats might bring in Rahul as Deputy Prime Minister to rope in 100 seats the Congress might get. That is 250. My projection puts another 75 seats into that kitty. And you are looking at Sushma Swaraj as Opposition Leader, thank you Mr. Modi for crisscrossing the country on her behalf.

Nitish has been the top performing politician in India for years now. Gujrat was already the leading Indian state before Modi ever came along. As the top performing Chief Minister Nitish deserves to be Prime Minister. And the people of Bihar should not worry. His being Chief Minister has been like he has been riding around on a bicycle. He becomes Prime Minister and he will be riding around on a motorbike. Imagine how much more he could do for Bihar as Prime Minister.

For a landlocked, agricultural, poorest state like Bihar to clock a 15% growth rate is nothing sort of magical. All of India deserves what the people of Bihar have had. And that is Nitish and his magic.

India is a two trillion dollar economy today. If it grows at 10% every year until 2050, it will have become a 60 trillion dollar economy by 2050. 2014 is a watershed year. It is like 1980 was for China. India has finally arrived. And it could do double digit growth rates for the next 30 years and more.

It is not like Nitish is not a proud Hindu. He is building the largest Hindu temple in the world in Bihar. But being a proud Hindu does not mean you negate the plight of the Muslims in India. There are more Muslims in India than there are British in Britain, than there are French in France, than there are Germans in Germany.

If India can outdo America on free speech, on diversity, it can hope to outdo America as an economy, and that is the way to becoming a global superpower. The key to the spread of democracy across the Islamic world lies right there in India. America could not export democracy, but India could inspire it. Hindus and Muslims living peace and prosperity in India is key to that essential spread of democracy. Getting along is good domestic policy, it is also good foreign policy.

Like a young Muslim voter in Bihar said recently about Nitish: “He has set his tail on fire for us, now wait and watch him burn Lanka down.”
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