Time for a revolution…

I must confess that in the last few years, I have never so deeply followed any issue as much as I have followed the agitation to implement the Lokpal bill. To put it simply, the bill aims to grant authority to the civil society to investigate corruption against politicians. It’s effectiveness depends on whether the highest political authority in the country viz. the Prime Minister and all the bureaucrats are brought under its purview. No wonder, Mr. Sharad Pawar had to resign from the GOM to draft the bill citing conflict of interest. Indeed, there could not have been a bigger conflict of interest!!

Hats off to this man..

Why I am so deeply influenced by this issue is because it’s the only one which seeks to address the need for systemic political change in India. My beliefs have changed over the last decade from being against politics to supporting the cause of effective & professional governance. There have been many agitations in India in the past  viz. the fight by medical and engg students against reservation, protests against purchase of sub-standard equipment for the armed forces (esp. the infamous MIG-21), fight to implement a strong anti-terror law to protect its citizens etc. However, all of these sought to merely address a particular issue in isolation. This is not to say that the Lokpal bill is the panacea to all problems. However, like the RTI, it is a step in the right direction. For a change, it’s nice to see media houses providing more coverage to Mr. Hazare’s fast and social activism rather than focussing on the cheerleaders who will perform in the forthcoming IPL.

And talking of IPL, what else can be a more elaborate example of corruption. All the investigation which started with so much fanfare last year – Flow of IPL money into tax havens, hidden stakes by politicians & BCCI officials in IPL teams, lack of accountability & transparency by the BCCI who are yet to show their financial accounts to the public – merely died down with an 80,000 pg long report by the ex-IPL boss and the corrupt nature of the ex-BCCI chief and current ICC president. It’s sad to see the IPL, which aimed to provide lucrative opportunities for our domestic players, still proceeding ahead with its 4th season without the corrupt officials being brought to book. Lalit Modi continues to evade investigation by parking himself in UK. If all IPL accounts were to brought out in black & white, it is quite possible that the event that we Indians so lauded of will prove to be a matter of great shame as we seek to become the global powerhouse of the 21st century!!

Sports has always been a passion for me and is one area where I wish to contribute. I was speaking to my good friend, who has worked with a popular sports marketing firm & the CWG 2010 sponsorship team, yesterday about the condition of sports in India. And all his experiences only pointed towards one conclusion – India can indeed become a great sporting nation if we could weed out corruption. And I do not wish to further rant about the CWG scam, the National Games in Jharkhand, the pathetic facilities given to our athletes & sportspersons, the number of years spent by our sports bosses in different federations (which will soon exceed the years most sports-loving youth in India would have spent alive) etc.

I learnt from him that our union civil aviation minister is also the secretary of AIFF, not to mention his substantial contribution in creating one of the new IPL teams and his enthusiasm for cricket given the amount of time he spends in VIP pavilions during cricket matches!! Ofcourse, nothing could beat our current ICC president holding the post of Union Agriculture Minister in India!! While it’s fascinating to have such multi-faceted people governing us, it begs to ask the question if India can afford to provide 2-3 key roles to a single politician in a country of 1.2 billion where nobody really cares about unemployment rate, job creation or social security status. The counter argument could be that we do not have enough skilled people for these positions which begs the question as to if these people were indeed interviewed and chosen to be the sports bosses based on their resumes. My friend told me that a former Indian Olympian is pushing the agenda with the sports ministry to get paid professionals to govern Indian sports. Well, I would love to witness the day when the Kalmadis and the Gills of this country are thrown into oblivion with no remorse!!

Just as sports requires passion, so does national leadership. The other day I was talking to another friend of mine who is a social entrepreneur. He told me that for a social enterprise to benefit from any of the ‘generous’ government schemes aimed at supporting rural development & employment, one has to ‘pay’ bribe and that too at the highest level (read Union Cabinet Minister). There exists an organized procedure to collect such bribes even if none exists to address complaints against corrupt practices. No wonder some of the ministers in the ‘jumbo’ cabinet almost never make a public appearance or statement!! For all the supporters of parliamentary democracy who cry out loud asking citizens to file complaints in a court of law, I only have one question to ask – Was any politician convicted over the defence scandal exposed by Tehelka? Has any politician ever been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment or death for the numerous crimes for which they are chargesheeted and will continue to be since citizens have only a limited lifespan!! No wonder, our politicians have ensured that India has remained largely uneducated so far. Coz if we could not just read and write but also think like a concerned citizen, there is certainly no way some of these ‘old warhorses’ will survive in our parliament.

It is indeed time for a revolution, possibly the biggest after India’s freedom struggle, for people to unite together and overthrow some of our leaders. Hope to be part of governing our nation someday!!

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What it feels to become a champion………

Well, nice to be blogging after a really long time. A series of unfortunate events ensured that I never got down to writing one but one incident has changed all that hopefully forever.

For someone who has followed Indian cricket in all his living memory, being crowned the World Champion in cricket was indeed special for me. It wasn’t surprising to see my batchmates at IIM Calcutta bowing themselves before the God who was carried all over the ground by much younger shoulders and to whom this trophy was proudly dedicated. Most of us have witnessed Sachin taking India to victory on numerous occasions. When he won, India won on most occasions and so did most of us. Somewhere, the young Indian generation has been sold on Sachin for the right reasons as he taught us how to fight in times of adversity and more importantly, how to become the best in the world – a title we can proudly lay claim to as we graduate from India’s top business school!!

I always believed that our parents’ generation did not understand the gravity of success nor had the desire or will to win. Ofcourse, there are exceptions but by and large, India in the last century was as good as the Indian cricket team of yesteryears. You could always have the odd Kapil Dev, a trailblazer who set off to across the seas in search of his or her destiny and more often than not did India proud. However, that feeling was yet to sink into most who lived back in India. Today, Indians in India can imbue the feeling of being or atleast becoming a champion in their own right. It’s time to break the shackles of defeat and misery which hound us more mentally than materially and prevent us from becoming a champion. As in no other domain is there a greater need for a champion than in politics. On the day when India won the Cricket World Cup, an ex-union minister was chargesheeted in the 2G spectrum scam, a rare if not the first occasion in Indian political history. Hope when the younger generation gets into leadership roles, we will witness champions ruling our country instead of sore losers!!

A lot of people were quick to give credit to MSD for his spectacular captaincy and brilliant batting in the final. However, the seeds of yesterday’s victory were sown nearly a decade ago. I still remember March 15th, 2001 when India defeated Australia in Calcutta against all odds. 10 yrs hence, I believe that was a turning point not just for Indian cricket but for India as a whole. I guess a lot of Indians would have seen their personal fortunes fluctuating with that of the Indian cricket team, which is simply amazing. Perhaps, that is what brought them out to celebrate like crazy on the night of 2nd April, 2011 when India were crowned the world champions!!!