Thursday, July 31, 2014

Was Syria Bait?

Vladimir Putin - World Economic Forum Annual M...
Vladimir Putin - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)
Barack Obama: An American Portrait
Barack Obama: An American Portrait (Photo credit: tsevis)
Barack Obama showed flashes of political genius in his first speech that introduced him to America, at the Kerry Convention. He showed flashes of genius on the campaign trail. He showed flashes of genius in his first few years in office. Nailing health care reform after 50 years of trial and error, Wall Street reform. Getting Bin Laden was a flash of genius.

Immigration reform is in a ditch, and that is a sore point.

He took the right move on Libya. A dictator was toppled. But I was sore with him on Syria. How could he? How could he stand by?

But by now Syria feels like bait. It pulled Russia in. And by now Putin looks overstretched and brittle. Putin is a dictator. The Russian economy is the size of the Indian economy. It is not that big right now. And it is headed in the wrong direction. As in, India will double and triple in size and Russia will stagnate.

Obama just might topple Putin. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush -- none of them brought democracy to Russia. Obama might.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Nitish, Laloo, Mayawati, Mulayam, Mamata, Left Coming Together

It is precisely the spectacular victory of the Modi-led BJP that has prepared grounds for the coming together of forces that did not see eye to eye for a long time, such is the emergent political arithmetic. Nitish and Laloo will come together in Bihar. Congress and the Left will join that bandwagon. Mayawati and Mulayam show no signs of seeing the writing on the wall. Mamata is strong on her own, but is observant of the fact that the BJP has displaced the Left as the principle local opposition.

Uttar Pradesh might be the trickiest. Right now the BJP is positioned to form the next state government. But the Bihar state elections will be held before the Uttar Pradesh state elections. And so UP has more time on its hands.

Nitish is obviously not finished yet.

Patnaik in Orissa and Jayalalita are already in good shape as it is.

Uttar Pradesh is the trickiest because Mulayam and Mayawati do not have what Nitish does, which is the development mantra. And without the development mantra you can't beat Modi just with alliance making.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

You Can Not Beat Modi Just By Building Alliances

English: The temple at Modinagar, Ghaziabad di...
English: The temple at Modinagar, Ghaziabad district, Uttar Pradesh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nitish has a great record on development. He can compete with Modi. He was an excellent Chief Minister, and Laloo was an excellent Railways Minister. If they come together, they can give Modi competition.

But Uttar Pradesh is not the same. There not only Mayawati and Mulayam don't have a development record, they are nowhere close to even talking, let alone seeing an alliance's need. Political arithmetic might suggest a Mayawati-Mulayam alliance would trounce Modi. But that is like when Microsoft and Yahoo ganged up to take on Google. It did not quite work out. Google's share did not diminish. In fact it ended up with even more users in the aftermath. You compete with Google on the quality of your search results not by building alliances.

The way to beat Modi is with development. Alliances are secondary, though important. Modi, in his historic victory, might have prepared ground for the unthinkable: the coming together of the Left and Mamata in West Bengal, Nitish and Laloo in Bihar, and Mayawati and Mulayam in Uttar Pradesh.

Nitish has to take the lead for all three states on the development front. Otherwise it will be a Modi juggernaut all the way.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Family, Internet, New York City

English: Saraswoti temple at Budhanilkantha School
English: Saraswoti temple at Budhanilkantha School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 74th Street portion in Jackson Heights is the most famous Indian strip in all of North America. But then Wall Street - the world famous Wall Street - is not all that impressive either. It is but a pavement. It is not even a proper street.

I am an Indian who grew up in Nepal. I identify with the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Hindu minorities in Bangladesh and Pakistan. I identify with the blacks in America because I grew up Indian in Nepal. That sums it up nice.

The DaMaJaMa equation in Nepal’s context can be seen in the head count of Nepalis in New York City. The smallest population is that of the Dalits. Madhesis are the second smallest group. Janajatis are sizeable, but they are dwarfed by even the Bahun Chhetri women. Bahun Chhetry men swarm the city’s Nepali holdings. You can’t say you will hold your breath until there is proportionate representation. At a micro level you reach out to people based on basic decency, courtesy, good behavior, bonhomie. It is not political. But then during the course of things you also pick up hate speech against Madhesis which is not a call to arms locally - you are not going to pick political fights with Indians a shouting distance from 74th Street - but rather a suggestion the fight is not over yet in Nepal.

I have little time for politics anymore, if any. But if I had, I would purchase a few phone cards, and start dialing up the leading Madhesi politicians in Nepal, most of whom I know. But instead I send out blog posts here and now. They pick it up in their Facebook inboxes.

When Ratan Jha launched ANTA years ago, I was the only Madhesi he knew in NYC. He reached out to me offering to make me Vice President. I said I can not be part of an organization that is non political. It gets in the way of the hard core political work I am doing. But I will help launch it in the city, which I did. That is why I don’t see me seeking any officer position with the NRNA, not now, not five years from now, not 10 years from now. If I had time, I’d instead express interest in the US presidential politics, or the city’s mayoral politics. But then we all watch the sports of our choice. My sport of choice right now is Indian politics. I watch it closely. I need it.

Budhanilkantha School died for me towards the end of my Class 10 year through an administrative decision people who ran the place took. The Bahuns and the British who ran the place ganged up on me and destroyed the final three and a half years of my high school years. And I was a star student, not only academically, but also because I had given the best year to my house Kanchenjunga as House Captain that any house captain ever in that school’s history had given to any house to date. Precisely because I was a star student they came after me.

Berea College died for me early in my term as student body president there. I got myself elected to the office as a freshman, a school record, within six months of landing as an international student. An administrative decision by the Student Life Department killed that college for me that I tried so hard to get into.

Becoming Barack Obama’s first full time volunteer in NYC was me getting even. But that also asked for its own price, the steepest price I have paid in life to date.

The Nepali identify is being formed as we speak. I have never been a Nepali before. But I might become some day, if the country gets a constitution fair to the DaMaJaMa, if the state is restructured right. In that I don’t have a country right now. But I sure would like to contribute to the creation of that fair Nepali identity. If Charlie Rangel would not have messed up, and if I had been able to give total attention, Nepal would have had its constitution through the first Constituent Assembly itself.

I have my family that I love. I have the Internet. And I have New York City. The institution I most identify with right now is the company I am working to create. I worked full time for Nepal’s democracy in 2005-06. Then I worked full time for the Madhesi Movement. Now my total focus is on Nepal’s economic development. The only Nepali interactions I am truly interested in are business deals I can cut. I have a super network in Kathmandu. I can get all the hydro projects I want, no sweat. But I will get serious on that count later. Right now I am focused on software, especially on the augmented reality mobile game my team is working on. I am also about to do some fundraising for other people’s biotech startups.

The best way for a NYC Nepali to interact with me right now is to angel invest in some of my endeavors. Do it or miss the boat and regret in a few short years.