Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What is Left with "Left" in kerala

General election 2014  was very crucial for left politics in Kerala. Having been pushed to the wall in West Bengal, Kerala was critical for the survival of the left.
There are various challenges faced by the party in Kerala and it is  high time for it to  introspect and do the required course correction.

Left ideology and its relevance in post globalisation era has been much debated and written about in great detail for the last 15 years.
But still it could remain relevant in the electoral space due to the two party dominated politics in Kerala. But if you analyse the 2014  result, Then “Leftis now left with the some hard choices.

Left in Kerala is facing existential challenges ,and any delay in recognizing this by its top leadership will be losing a chance to revive and rebuilt.
The state secretary’s radical moves towards accepting the new world order alienates a section who was fascinated by the ideology.
AAP with its near ideal image is drawing another class which is deep routed with political idealism than pragmatism.
Radical right wing politics of BJP is slowly drawing another section of the moderate Hindus from its ranks.
The leader’s arrogance and attitude is impacting another section of society which is glued to news channels from dawn to dusk for their political recipe.
Add to it any effort to win minorities is not getting the expected results. 

What is sad for any liberal left supporter in Kerala is the leadership reluctance to accept the reality.
Rather than realizing and admitting the ground realities the just concluded PB meeting came up with reasons like Minority consolidation for the recent failure of the left in Kerala.

The only Way Left can being relevant is to transform itself and unless the comrades have the courage to correct their leaders left will soon become history in Kerala.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kerala: Untouched by Modi Tsunami

The most repeated question I had to answer to my friends from northern part of India Since May 16 was why did Kerala didn’t show even a sign of Modi tide in this election. I tried to answer it in bit and pieces but couldn’t actually  convince my neo Modi friends with any theory. For every theory  I proposed there was probing questions for which I failed to come up with any convincing conclusions.

Now after the results are out, There is now a  broader consensus that the there were two visible narratives for this election one of aspiration and hope championed by Narendra Modi and the other one of fear of Modi  by others. There were under currents of polarisation beneath the surface but judging by the result the conclusion is that the story of development and good governance did had a larger impact than the pessimistic negative campaign.

Considering theory of change and aspiration politics as the cause for Modi wave in India, One wonder why a politically active and highly literate electorate in Kerala didn’t buy it? By any standards the roads and other infrastructure in Kerala is in a dismay,The civic amenities is worse than any comparable north Indian city, People were more disillusioned with UPA than any other part of India and State government didn’t had a wonderful track record to boost.Still one wonders why  Modi  and BJP failed to convert the favourable climate to at least tide even if not a wave.

My logical conclusion are the following. The BJP failed to communicate effectively the hope and aspiration narrative successfully in kerala.
They failed miserably in selling the product “Gujarat Model” which was packaged superbly by Modi and successfully marketed in other parts of India.
The Gujarat Model and the Good roads ,Industrialisation, Jobs and economic revival are as relevant to an educated Malayali as his counterpart in North.
But none of it was a primary discussion in this election in kerala.Modi’s oratory skills were not able to impress the Malayali and lost in translation.
The Kerala media houses was successful in  ensuring  the two rallies he attended in Kerala  was a no event. When the speeches by modi was aired live by national television ,there was not even one media house which had given more than 5 minute time for airing Modi’s speech at Thiruvanthapuram.

So the Marketing of the “Gujarat model” and “Good times ahead “failed miserably in Kerala and the lack of any meaningful leadership in the state failed to dictate this narrative in this election.

If you go by the other narrative of communal  argument that Modi succeeded in polarising the electorate theory ,This should had a greater impact in Kerala under the current circumstances especially in southern part. There was an ideal scenario to reap benefit from such an approach. There was  a government controlled by minorities and there were lot of propaganda run by various  Hindu sections formation prior to elections in these lines.BJP having realised the need for minority votes didn’t actively pursue this approach either.

Oomen chandy  attributed the congress win to the liberal  and secular mind set of Kerala community.
But that is difficult to digest to someone who leave in Kerala where religion and caste divisions are increasingly growing in all aspect f social life.
If that was the case AAP should have made a better footprint in Kerala in this election.

The lefts theory of minority polarisation due to the fear of Modi helping congress in Kerala too is flawed as  this time they did all the trick in its books to get it share from minority.

So digesting this election to find why Kerala voted differently or rather why Modi didn’t had any positive impact lead to only one answer. There was no right positioning of what worked in India in Kerala.

You will not find any one on in Kerala who has even a slight hope of anything related to governance of government will ever change. They have  strong belief and conviction about what a government means in India at all levels which cannot be broken that easily. Until and Unless a strong leader emerge who can directly communicate to Middle class and lower section of the society in Kerala effectively like Modi did in UP,
 Kerala will continue to choose to remain the way it is deep routed in despair and denial and as of now there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

God's own country to God's only country

With elections around the corner, it is increasingly becoming evident that the educated, politically aware Kerala population is leaning more towards religion and caste based identity politics.
It is indeed sad that when other part of the country is slowly moving towards development oriented debates, the state which was known for its progressive outlook is going backward.

In Kerala there was always deep caste and communal mindset but the strong Left moment never allowed it to dictate the political mind map of the people.But recent developments and opinion polls strongly show this trend is getting reversed that too with alarming rate. This will have severe consequence for a state like Kerala.The way the major politicians compete openly for patronage of Bishops, Imams and other Caste leaders is unprecedented in the state history.

In a highly politically active state like Kerala, the political landscape does reflect the Social mindset. There seem to be a polarization happening along caste and religious lines than never before.The key reason for this is the ideological decline of Left activism from Kerala. The moderate voices from all religion are moving out from Left to the corresponding political groups representing their interest.What is striking is that the younger voice which collectively resist against caste based politics in other parts of the country is absent in kerala's social limelight.

There may be various reasons for these alarming phenomena but the most striking and the root cause seem to be the selfish crony capitalist mind set of the new generation which replaced the deep routed moral socialistic mindset of the past one, but interestingly the responsibility for this transition actually lies with the old one who taught money was more important than anything to their children.

Ones a God's own country is now a God's only country with more emphasis on God and Religion than Humans.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

General Election 2014: Economy (“Good Economy, Bad politics” ? )

Like any other dimensions for election 2014,Economist is also as deeply divided and are taking extreme positions.The two major schools of thoughts emerged and deeply divided are from Amarthya Sen  and Jagadish Bhagavathi,They had written and dissected the “Gujarat Economic model” in great detail.

On a broader prospective Bahawathi emphasis for more “Growth” and believe this will eventually tickle down to various weaker sessions and will more or less automatically follow.While Sen believes more important is distribution and empowerment of the “Weekest”, so that with there contribution the economy will grow.One emphasis on the need for creating more resources for re-distribution and other one emphasis for distribution of the current resources to create more resources.
Clearly a Chicken-Egg problem with out clear answers, the middle line is what everybody agrees so that it is equally important to create resources and also effectively distribute it to poor.

If you look back, the Vajpayee led NDA focused only on first and the UPA II continue the second approach even after the tipping point.Getting in to growth track is relatively easy with right policies but to fixing the distribution mechanism will need real administrative excellence.
What need to be distributed? Is it direct cash or is it subsidized food and fuel or is it cash for job which doesn’t create value.Economist agrees it has to be spending on Education, Health and Energy. But will any of that is effective in bridging rich-poor gap in India?

Coming back, Congress is clearly put more emphasis on the redistribution but without fixing the effectivness of the channel. Hence even if Sen was right, the tickle up effect didn't happen for Indian economy.
Only the agents benefited and most of the impact was in shadow economy rather than the real one. The flagship “AADHAAR”  to fix the distribution issue is still a non starter.
AAP lone focus is fixing this channel of distribution and fights against corruption with whatever methods seem possible.They don’t have any policies or doesn’t seem to have one to fix the already emptied coffers to even continue most of the Social Security schemes dolled out by UPA.
BJP, even though haven’t come up with a clear road map, the market see Narendra Modi the right choice to fix the growth issue.He hasn't opened his cards on the distribution question but time and again emphasis to fix the channel issue using more transparency and with the help of technology.
I don’t want to talk about any regional parties economic policies as there is nothing remarkable even from the Left.

Clearly on the economic front,BJP is the clear front runner from the available choices, AAPs focus on fixing the weakest link in the chain to fix the economy and thus  rank  second and Congress with his focus only on legislating more social schemes perform badly in this subject.
It is no more “Good economy, Bad politics” in India.

Really appreciate any comments if any are restricted to economic policy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


“In the west, People expect their representatives to have higher moral integrity than them, In India it is the other way around, it will be nearly impossible for a divorcĂ© to run for president in USA”.
Dr Shashi Taroor said to packed hall of Techies in Zenith hall at Techno Park who had gathered there to hear the charismatic diplomat who is just back from his glorious stint at UN.

Came 2009 election, when congress fielded him despite opposition from local units. It was a ray of hope, Fresh air to the rotten political landscape of kerala.
I have asked all who was within my realm of influence to embrace the opportunity and be part of the change.
Back then there were no congress machinery supporting him, He was still an outsider to vernacular media and top leadership of congress.
Still he won, won with a margin of 1 L plus vote.

After 5 years, Rather than changing the system Shahi Taroor got changed to be part of it.
Now, in 2014 he is seen as another congress politician. He is no more an outsider people want to experiment.
So they will go by track record. For Taroor the expectation bar is higher than the other usual candidates as he promised to be different.

I think, as a mister for state for external affairs minister he did well and that was his natural area of strength.
Then came the IPL controversy and the resignation, He made a historic speech in Loksabha before his resignation that made every Keralite proud.
His intentions were right and Kochi Tuskers was a new experiment which did give some new breath to kochi’s hospitality business.
I think IPL fiasco made him change the course, From then on he was just part of normal political business and learned that it is better to be part of the “political system” rather than being outside.
The results were rewarding in personal front. Another marriage, Came back to the ministry of Human resources.
But for Thiruvanthapuram voter, they lost the real representative they selected in 2009.

I went through the achievement list from Dr Shashi Taroor, and if he really thinks he is satisfied with it and think people should elect him on that then I am really disappointed.
And add it to that the same person who thought “Cesor’s wife must be above suspicion” in 2008 now come to the full circle form Western Morality to Eastern political standards.