India! I dare you to be rich

Category: India


I’ve been offline for a few days. Back online now, albeit with relatively limited connectivity. I’m copying my FB post here.

The first thing I’ve noted from my emails is that Sharad Joshi has passed away during this period. This is a great loss to India.

I last spoke with Sharad Joshi over the phone in mid-2014, and after significant hectoring finally persuaded him to send a delegate to the liberal political conference FTI had convened in July 2014.

Joshi and I have a long history now – I have known him since around 1999 when I returned to India from USA. He wanted me to be his PS and Deputy Secretary in Delhi while he chaired an agricultural task force in the rank of Cabinet Minister under the Vajpayee government. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Later, between 2003 and mid-2005 we were in regular contact over email, and spent many days together in January 2004 at IPI’s 5-day workshop-cum-seminar.

Persuaded by his leadership at the workshop, I joined his party (Swatantra Bharat Party) as life member in January 2004. The IPI event and follow-up publicity it generated contributed, I understand, to his getting a NDA nomination for a Maharashtra Rajya Sabha seat later that year. Unfortunately, by mid-2005 I was forced to conclude that he could not lead the liberals of India and – much to my regret – left his party (and my citizenship of India).

Having revived my political work in 2007-08 with FTI, I had many further discussions with Sharad Joshi over the phone and email. One particular long discussion I had with him in late 2012 (or early 2013) when I first engaged with Ramdev who had committed me a broadly liberal party that would fight socialism. He was very sceptical about Ramdev (and Ramdev had an equally sceptical opinion about him). In the end, he proved to be right about Ramdev who turned out to be a man without integrity. I kept Sharad Joshi in the loop regularly with key progress regarding the new party.

Till late-2014/early-2015 I had hoped that we could work together; but that’s where his great flaw – failure to communicate – came into the picture once again. He was either not willing or physically incapable (being by then very sick) of endorsing (in-principle) the SKC agenda, some of which is almost taken verbatim from Swatantra Bharat Party’s manifesto. It can be stated that the SKC agenda is a hugely refined and improved version of Sharad Joshi’s own vision for India. I recall his contempt (for instance) of the MS Swaminathan report.

But without such in-principle agreement, there was no hope of working together.

Had Sharad Joshi been a better communicator and more willing to discuss any issues he had, he could had been the beacon that the Indian liberals have been looking for since the passing away of Rajaji.

But that was not to be.

But while I have lost all hope with the likes of Ramdev and JP of LokSatta, I never lost hope with Sharad Joshi till the very end of his life.

I had only recently requested Sanjay Sonawani​ to keep engaging with Swatantra Bharat Party delegates in Maharashtra, to keep looking for common ground.

I believe that there is some merit in the Swarna Bharat and Swatantra Bharat parties merging at this stage – a proposal I had been canvassing with Sharad Joshi for quite some time now. The modalities could have been considered, and can still be considered.

India has lost one of its greatest sons since independence. We must mourn that loss. I may have more to write in the coming days, time permitting.

But this must also be taken as an opportunity for the “rural” liberals and the “urban” liberals (a false dichotomy that Sharad Joshi created in his mind which, I believe, lay at the core of his disconnect from the group of liberals he had connected with in 2004) to come together as a single unit.

I’m Shyam Ashtekar​, Manvendra Kachole​. I’m happy to convene a meeting of key leaders of both parties in the coming months. Only when the real liberals of India learn to discuss and to work with each other, can India get the liberal revolution that it desperately needs. Our goals for India are the same, but I find it impossible to explain why Swatantra Bharat Party is so silent, so inscrutable.


With ref. to this article, my FB comment:

There is reference in this article to the pivotal 2004 liberal workshop I convened – which agreed to accept Sharad Joshi as leader. Joshi did many good things after that, but for some inexplicable reason, he fell short of expectations. Just what exactly was missing in his leadership, I could never understand. He just wouldn’t communicate. Maybe he didn’t trust others – particularly those from urban areas. I don’t know. I’ll never know. If he had trusted and communicated better, things might have been so much different.

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MJ Akbar is HOPELESSLY wrong. Secularism is NOT “faith equality”. It is about a “non-denominational State”.

I met MJ Akbar at his home in Gurgaon a few years ago, to try to persuade him to join liberal politics. But the man is mentally a hopeless mess – can’t think straight on any topic on earth. I came out of the meeting thinking I’ve wasted my time with a half-senile, totally confused man. A little while later, he joined BJP.

He has now suggested, in continuation with his hopeless confusion about everything, that secularism means “faith equality”.

Sorry, that’s pure nonsense. I agree that ALL faiths are equally detestable and abhorrent. They represent little minds, people unable to think clearly.  But their equal stupidity is not the meaning of secularism.

Secularism is about the TOTAL separation of the state and the church. It is about the non-denomination state (a term coined by Minoo Masani).

Let’s never respect or recognise faiths – which are a throwback to the era of man’s deep ignorance and mental delusion. In any event, the state cannot – under any circumstance – recognise anyone’s faith.

A secular country is one in which the state is non-denominational and treats everyone’s actions purely on the merit (or otherwise) of the actions. The idea of considering anyone’s “faith” doesn’t enter into the picture.

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CRIMINAL Modi has **FURTHER broken the law** by not publishing the Nanavati Report till today

The Indian media is a scam. It is 100 per cent bought out by criminal politicians.

Modi became PM on the back of the most corrupt and rotten “investigative” machinery ever cooked up in independent India. His Nanavati commission abruptly, and without hearing all parties, shut down the inquiry after Modi became PM – WITHOUT A FINAL REPORT. Job done. Crime hidden.

More than one year ago I asked for its findings to be made publicly available. But more than one year after the “report” was provided to the government it has not been published.

The media has kept quiet. Totally bought out by Modi.

R. B. Sreekumar sent a letter to the CM of Gujarat to flush out the report. [PDF copy]

Extract below:

The Section-3, sub section-4 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act, 1952 stipulated thus – “The appropriate Government shall cause to be laid before the House of the people or, as the case may be, the Legislative Assembly of the State, the report, if any, of the Commission on the enquiry made by the Commission under sub section(1) together with a memorandum of the action taken thereon, within a period of six months of the submission of the report by the Commission to the appropriate Government”.  Since the Act had used the term “SHALL”, the State Government has NO discretion or option for not presenting the Commission Report along with “a memorandum of the action taken thereon” to the State Assembly within the prescribed time frame, i.e.; “within a period of six months of the submission of the report by the Commission to the appropriate Government”.  Already one year is completed on 18th November, 2015, since the submission of the report by the Commission.  Strangely, the State Government did not even care to  make a statement in the State Assembly or to the citizens, explaining the reasons for such inordinate inexplicable delay and unlawful refusal to publish the Commission’s findings and action taken thereon, so far.

Guess what? NO ONE in the media is going to bother to raise this issue. PAID ACCOMPLICES, NOT “MEDIA”.

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The sorry case of Madhu Kishwar, whom I totally misunderstood till September 2013

Madhu Kishwar was among the five people I invited in 2000 to consider forming a liberal political party.

She was a member of the 5 day workshop I held in 2004 to consider India’s liberal political strategy.

I met her in the Melbourne University when she came here for some training, and also dropped her to the Melbourne Airport.

I held her in high esteem, even till mid-2013, when I last spoke with her on the phone.

But she has deteriorated into a rabid RSS fanatic.

Just look at her language:

Sickular! That’s pretty much RSS language.

And her flattery for killer Modi (and supporter of beef-based lynching) is unrelenting. NOT ONE WORD IN FAVOUR OF LIBERTY AND RULE OF LAW.

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