Atal Bihari Vajpayee Retires: A Brief Look at His Achievements

Today Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced his resignation from politics. Vajpayee was a prime minister of India for a brief period in 1996 and then for a longer period from 1998 to 2004. Personally, I have always liked Vajpayee and supported him. I can't say I like BJP (the party he is associated with) - I am more like indifferent towards BJP. I know I prefer it more than Congress (the other major party in India because I think Congress has ruled India for too long (for 40 years right after India's independence in 1947) and achieved very little. I believe Congress has had its chance at trying to run a country (and really failed at achieving sustained levels of growth) and other parties should be given a fair chance. May the best man win. And hence, when Vajpayee ran for prime ministership, I wanted him to win. I believe in the man's abilities to run the country and to pull together all his coalition partners and balance it all well.

I think Vajpayee has demonstrated good leadership abilities to be able to rise within a party with primarily fundamentalist views although he was more moderate and to be able to rally the entire nation behind him and take control of the wheel when India was dabbling with coalition politics in the late 90s (and also with financial instability, especially the Asian financial crisis). Vajpayee also conducted the nuclear tests in 1998 which established India as one of the major nuclear powers in the world. Although most of the world frowned at us, I think it was a necessary to take the step in the way we did to establish India as a south asian power. India has always been a peaceful country and it has never invaded any country and all the wars we have fought were for our self-defence. If power were to be concentrated in one country, I believe India is a good country to be that one. (However after Pakistan's nuclear tests in response to India's the power is more equally balanced and that in my opinion is even better).

Vajpayee also initiated the Golden Quandrangle Highway Project which aimed to create America style national highways in India that connected the four major cities in north, south, east and west and hundreds of other small to medium cities along the way. It was an ambitious project (for which unfortunately the Congress prime minister Singh cut funding after BJP lost in the most recent elections) that could have accelerated India's growth, especially foreign investment in large plants and projects.

There are many other Vajpayee achievements which have led India to be where it is today. Ofcourse not every thing is achieved by one person, it is a team effort, but a country needs someone with the right attitude to move ahead as a whole and I still believe Vajpayee was the right man for the right point in time when he was in power. I say "still" because a lot of people believe that India only grew in the urban areas and only the rich and the middle class enjoyed the benefits of Vajpayee's politics. Most of the poor were left in the dark. Hence their "India Shining" campaign failed miserably. True that India Shining failed, but I think it takes more than 2 or 3 years for all the benefits of change can percolate through to all the different classes of people and that the people of India should have had more faith in Vajpayee for another term.

All said and done, this man has done a lot for my country and hence I would like to salute his time and his work for India. Thank you Atal jee.

A decent read is the article "How will history remember Vajpayee" by BBC. It was written when Vajpayee lost the elections to Congress and its alliance in 2005, but it assesses Vajpayee and his work and its impact on India.

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The mystery that is Laloo Prasad Yadav


I got this image in a forwarded email. The claim is that at an Indian function, while the national anthem was being played, Laloo and his wife were photographed sitting while everybody else was standing (as we can see). The question is, is it really true? Was the national anthem really playing at the occasion? In Laloo's absence, I'd like to defend that it is quite possible that the national anthem was not playing (maybe it was just some speech being given at the time this picture was snapped) and that the people in the background are standing, simply because there are no seats. What do you think?

The obsession with the freedom of sexual expression in India

The movies of old time Bollywood were clean and meaningful. Comedies were actually funny. Drama was actually well done. Not so anymore.

What happened was, slowly, the movie directors found that you can draw a bit more audience if you have something spicy, something racy. Nothing wrong with tryin to make a bit more profit. So we saw Madhuri dancing in the rain wearing a wet saree. Okay so far so good.

But the gimmicks only work so far. After a while the people who contributed to the tiny (or maybe large, the point still remains) rise in the viewership, those people are no more interested in watching the same amount of skin show that was shown in the previous year's movies. So you see a dip in the numbers. Fortunately, if you keep increasing the degree of crowd-pulling measures - aka increase skin show - you keep drawing the audience.

Its a cat and a mouse game. Sort of like the computer industry. The hardware keeps getting better. So operating systems and other applications keep getting more and more bloated. To keep supporting the bloat in the software, the hardware must continually evolve and keep getting better. Just compare the memory requirements of today's latest games. Somebody is already working on making a graphics chip which has more memory than today's best graphics chip. And somebody is already beginning to code out a new game that probably won't work on today's best graphics card either.

Whatever. The point is, movies have gotten just worse. Skin show and sex is used as a mere crowd puller. Without any meaning to the story. There are no more real comedies. Can you even think of a recent movie that compares with Golmaal or Andaaz Apna Apna? Movies have become awefully dry. And boring. Well Everybody knows that.

My question is, where is it going? Will it just stop after a while? And why has the media in the nation become so obsessed with covering India's newfound freedom with sexual expression. For instance, indiatimes.com, a site I used to go to everyday to check on news four years ago, has at least one link which is a cheaper-than-anything-can-get feature that mentions "SEX". And that too under its "Top headlines feature". Don't believe me? Go check it out yourself. Or check the current snapshot (below). Why do we have to deal with complete nonsense and degradation, not only in the movies, but also in the media. I used to respect Times of India. The Times group overall. Not anymore. Why, oh why?



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India

Hello Everyone!

Here is a kick start to our blog:
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India!
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From the diamond streets of Surat,
To the looted trains of Bihar;
The snow covered hills of Simla,
To the intolerable heat of the Thar.

Many different races, and faces,
O Mother India! thou art,
Art a true land of diversity.

From the dollar a day earning beggar
To the wealthy king of the TATA Nagariya
The shrew merchant from Gujarat
To the brainy programmer of the South

We all will return your glory from
The days of Silk n Spice
Into the era of IT n Space

Soon you shalt see magnetic trains
Takin thy people from K to K
Solar and nuclear plants
Sending energy to the heart of thou
Cars that give you back some water
And planes taking us beyond the earthly matter

We don't care if the world eats more gas
We promise thy a face lift
The beauty you had when you were a kid
When your folks created zero and Krishna, the hero

To kick off the development at last,
Here is a blast to you, O Mother
The Mother of one sixth of us all
The Mother so powerful that
Other mothers and fathers will bow down
To you and thy brothers.
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About this blog

Its great to see India doing so well these days, isnt it? However, while we are getting there, we are not there yet. Often times there are things that could be better. Like every day life in India for the average citizen. Education. Public health. Recreation. There are so many things the government could do. For our citizens, for the nature, for the world. Many a times, I wish if only things could be this way or that. And I feel passionately about it. And I'm sure there are many other Indians who feel the same way too.

Ofcourse, there are reasons behind everything that we dont agree with or that is not right - there is not enough money. Or, there is corruption. Or, there is no motivation. But many things could be achieved if the right people were driving them. If the problems were attacked in a particular way. I find myself having discussions with other Indian friends that run long into late nights. So I know I am not alone. Many Indians (whether they reside in India or not) still carry India in their hearts every day.

Hence Hrishi and I decided to create this blog. It is meant to be a channel to put these issues that India faces and some of our views in public. We created a team blog to include as many people like us in the process as possible. If you are someone who feels connected to India in any way and has opinions about how things should be, you should contribute. After all only be working together and having an open discussion we can get somewhere. Think about this blog and issues faced by India as if you were the prime minister or someone in power. How would you do things differently.

We would like to have as many people on the team and if you want to join this blog, just send an email to kumar_chheda 'AT' hotmail 'DOT' com (ofcourse replace 'AT' with @ and 'DOT' with . and remove the spaces) with a brief introduction about yourself and I'll gladly add you on to the team blog as a contributor. Go India!




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