Monday, July 13, 2009

Inconsistencies in Prof Sabharwal murder investigation ?

State of law and order in our country:

This 'sting' investigation by CNN IBN shows that police/CID are trying to threaten key witnesses, and supress the police investigation in general. Some key accused are in jail but are allegedly being provided VIP treatment.

Can this be made an election issue ?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blind faith

... and greed .... of money, power, knowledge, respect ...

Quota vs Equality of Opportunity

Only 10% women in the Parliament. All democracies, including advanced nations have required strong measures to get women decisively into politics.

Why not make it compulsory for the political parties to give women 33% tickets, instead of rotations in constituencies (equality of opportunity) ?
-- Political parties may then field women candidates against strong opponents, where they are bound to loose.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Human Capital

Philanthropy, Leadership, Ambition and Country wide real reform - How do we connect these ?

Instability in AfPak, Impact on India etc

Good militant groups (targeted at India) versus bad militant groups (Taliban etc) which have now joined hands and pose a threat to Pakistan, US.

Are there 'good militant groups' ever - who kill innocents ?

Thursday, June 4, 2009


In bureaucracy:


Plan: 2009 - 14

President's speech to the Parliament / June 4, 2009

Judicial Reform

Judicial Reform top priority for Moily (w/o confronting the Judiciary !?!)

June 2009

Merit and Identity

Friday, May 29, 2009

Policies and Institutions

Which policies and institutions historically led to growth ? (eg. 300 years of north american growth compared to poor growth of latin america).

More egalitarian institutions compared to elitist institutions (beginning with slave plantations).

Egalitarian access to economic resources like land, education, patents/new-knowledge.

90% of adult white population in US was educated by 1800 ! Lately (1960-1990s), education is one area where tremendous progress has been achieved in developing countries, with primary enrollment reaching almost 100% levels (and secondary about 60%). However, there is a long way to go, including in terms quality of education remains a concern.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Punjab - History, Issues - The Vienna Incident

Friday, May 22, 2009

India, China HW/SW Industry

A new book titled "New Industries from New Places" (2009).

I was at a launch talk this afternoon at ODI, London (video recording may be made available soon).

Key insights:
- China's SW industry is larger than India's, but Indian SW exports far exceed China's.
- Our HW industry revenues are many 100 folds less than China's, in terms of revenues ? (and this is without including Taiwan).

Results: New Politicians

Politics of Youngistan:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Election 2009 Analysis

According to ADR's latest analysis of Lok Sabha 2009 elections:
- Number of MPs with criminal charges has increased by 29%
- BJP has the maximum number of elected MPs with criminal charges (43 = 37%). Congress is second (41 = 20 %)
- The number of MPs with 'very serious' charges has declined.
- If voters have a choice, they prefer a clean candidate

- Average assets of Congress MPs is Rs 6.8 Cr, and BJPs MPs is Rs 3.6 Cr (substantial increase in both since 2004)

- Among the MPs, there are 390 graduates including 130 Post-Grads, and 23 PhDs

Full report here:
Shantanu's related blog post: (thanks Shantanu !)

Suresh Prabhu (Shiv Sena), Left party in general are clean and ethical


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Elections 2009 - Final polling % - Around 58%

Same as 2004, which is good as it means that downward trend has been stalled !
Also, some interesting trends at micro level. For eg, voting in Chennai apparently increased by 12% !!

I am wondering what was the change in 'urban-rural' voting %s ? And what is the age wise polling % ? Let me know if you know.

Chandigarh: urban vote catches up with rural

No Criminals - Results ... MPs, Cabinet

Thumbs down to criminals in many constituencies.
But 43 from BJP, and 41 from Congress still get in !!! What % of total fielded made it ?
How many of criminal MPs will get into the Cabinet ? Lets wait and watch.

JP of Loksatta wins, inspite of corrupt politics

Dr J P Narayan won a seat in the constituent assembly.
Loksatta spent less than Rs 1 lakhs per contestant.

cheers !

eGovernance in India

Checkout Dr. Subhash Bhatnagar's talk at LSE on "Impact Assessment Study of e-Governance Projects in 12 States in India"

Rs 23000 Crores National eGovernance Plan (2006-) includes several interesting initiatives, including those touching judicial reforms (eCourts), land/property/registration process reforms (land records, property registration, vehicle registration, driving license ..).

Ofcourse, true reform consists of changing process (possibly enabled by ICT) rather than applying ICT to existing processes. eGovernance projects are great opportunities for attracting attention to processes which need reforms.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CSDS - Centre for Study of Developing Studies

... of Prof Yogendra Yadav, CNN-IBN fame

PRS India - Legislative Research

CPR incubated initiative.
Parliamentary research. Brings out bulletins to make things more transparent.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Encouraging voting trends in LokSabha 2009 ?

Middle and upper class voter turnout has been 58%. This has been a trend reversal from the past elections !

Build your stage diases strong :)

Some humorous clips showing stages collapsing (due to overcrowding)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Jana Gana Mana Vs Vande Mataram Controversy

I wrote an article on this, which was posted as a guest post on Shantanu's blog on April 24, 2009.

It is available here with comments !

Monday, April 20, 2009

Comparison of Party Manifestoes

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Six Myths About Indian Elections

Do women in India vote according to the wishes of their husbands? Do Muslims vote as a community? Political scientist Yogendra Yadav examines six myths surrounding the Indian elections.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Legal Reform in India

It seems legal profession in India is highly nepotistic. Lots of patronage-client relationships.
Will a jury system help ?

This may be true of some other professions - like CA, Doctors - as well ?
How to bring in more professionalism into these fields ?

What are the trends in general ? Are there ways of hastening things up ?

How to make the justice system in India fairer and faster ?

Hindutva, Secularism and the importance of 'framing' in general

In some interpretations of Hindutva - as I discovered - it means the same as secularism.

The problem is that most people - both Hindutva supporters, and opposers - this meaning is not clear. If for example, RSS organises a rally to promote secular principle or religious harmony etc, not many people may join.

Organisations, and political parties are too clever not to recognise this confusion. They seem to be exploiting it infact. If they are really serious about the all embracing and secular values of Hinduism, the need to proactively and explicitly frame things right. The use of 'Hindutva' for secularism is not going to work unfortunately, as it is too close to a particular religion, and very widely misunderstood now. For example, imagining the word for secularism in 'urdu' India wide ... I am sure it will not be as welcome and 'neutral' as the english word 'secularism'.

Framing is important. Both to create confusion. And to dispell it.

Laws vs People/Parties

A 1.5 hr discussion with Rahul Mehta from Ahmedabad brought out an interesting thought :
It is perhaps easy to gather support for a law or legislation, rather than a party or a person. Because law is (supposedly) neutral, and people can (theoretically) judge for themselves whether it makes sense. Different parties and people can support the law, and people can promote the law in their party of group of choice.

Rahul has clearly done lot of thinking on the 'root causes' and solutions to India's problems today. And has come up with some 'master-key laws' to solve these problems.
eg. 1. Right for citizens to have their complaints displayed on PMs website
2. Right for citizens to recall/dismiss local officials/bureaucrats if they are not performing

Checkout precisely at :

Rahul also been advocating this for many years now. Has also launched a political party in Ahmedabad recetly around this it seems.

What is positive about India, Asia ?

There are different levels of optimism about our past and future among different sets of people. Common people are generally more balanced and relatively on the positive side, academics tend to be more negative and focussed on failures.

Kishore Mahbubani is a rare academic/diplomat bringing about the positives, and therefore important rare truths and perspectives about Asia.

The longer audio interview is more comprehensive and better :

Very interesting !

A more balanced view:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Know your constituency, state

1. Click on
2. Select your state, constituency
3. Select language
4. Generate code and Add this code on your *website/blogs.*

eg. For Jabalpur and MP, see tables below :

It seems 13 candidates are contesting this time from Jabalpur. Tradionally, the key battle is between BJP (Candidate this time : Mr Rakesh Singh) and Congress (Candidate this time : Mr Rameshwar Neekhra). Ref :

Also see:

Uma Bharti -

Monday, March 30, 2009

Politics - Nuts and Bolts

Find some questions and answers on Shantanu's blog :

BiPartisan Electoral Reform Organisations

  • Jago Re
  • No Criminals Campaign

Election Funding

The official spending limit for a lok sabha candidate is Rs 25 lakhs, and for constituency candidate is Rs 15 lakhs. However, in practice, much more may be spent : Rs 10-15 Crores for Loksabha candidate and Rs 2-6 Crores for an Assembly candidate (according to Hindu Article : see below). This amount may be doubling every 5 years.

The biggest head (65-75%) in the expenditure seems to be 'buying voters', including liquor expenses. Other "major heads of poll spending are: engaging at least 2,000 active men for campaigning, poll management and counting; hiring or purchasing, and maintaining, vehicles; organising publicity material; opening village-level offices; preparing and distributing voter slips; fetching electors to polling stations; getting star speakers and picking up the tab for their travel, lodging and boarding; and other miscellaneous expenditure"

Hindu : Unofficial cost of fighting elections

Donations to political parties are exempt of Income Tax. There are several dummy political parties which do not engage politically but use the party status for tax savings. Election Commission cannot derecognise political parties, though they requested that this power be given to them. As a result, there may be 100s of disfunctional registered political parties in India today.

Many politicians are very rich, with assets work many crores !

About the first General Election, 1952

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Get your facts right if you aspire to be a politician

What do you need to have if you wish to contest elections through an existing political party ?

The video shows congress' recruitment drive in Gujarat.

It will be interesting to figure out what these recruits will actually do once they join. How are they different from regular party 'workers' ? What aspirations and motivations do those who are applying have ?

Students at Anna Uni, inspired by ex-President Kalam :

I do not agree though that politicians are not accessible, as these students claim. This is a wrong perception I feel. Have you tried calling up or speaking to your local MPs/MLAs/politicians ? I did, and it was actually fairly easy to meet them. And most politicians are extremely good with people, so they leave you with a warm feeling. I also found their office to be like an 'open darbaar' (same as offices of some civil servants whom I visited). There were 100s of people who came to meet everyday.
One thing which may be different compared to business meetings though is that there may be no strict appointments. You may get a general time-slot and may have to wait for a couple of hours (in the open darbaar) to get your real meeting going. But it is easy to pass time as you can see other meetings happening right in front of you and in fact may also pitch in if you like. And so, be prepared for an open transparent meeting with other visitors sitting close by in the same room when your own real meeting begins !

Youth in Hyderabad :
Elite Politics, South Mumbai :


If I were PM / BBC :

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New (Ethical ?) Political Parties

There are more than 15 'new' (ethical) political parties, who may be fielding candidates in the Lok Sabha elections. Please find a list below.

From what I know, Loksatta is one of the most impressive among them, with a grassroots movement backing it. However, it is not clear whether it will win any seats this time. It does not figure as a major factor in AP, even though Praja Rajyam does.

Bharat Uday Mission
Bharat Punarnirman Dal
Professionals Party of India
Lok Paritran
Right to Recall Party (Rahul Chimanbhai Mehta)

Bhartiya Democratic Party
Jago Party
New Republican Party of India
Youth for Equality (checkout this about Loksabha 2009)
Swatantra Bharat Party
Yuva Party (Rahul Pandit, Hyderabad)
Humanist Party
India Awakening Society
Bhartiya Rashtravadi Samanata Party (BRSP) (Ref:

A working list is available at :

Also checkout Shantanu's Blog :

Criminal Candidates

On Shantanu's blog

From :

We looked at which parties accounted for how many of the 96 MPs whom we could categorise based on the maximum possible sentence. It turned out that the BJP headed the list with 23 followed by the Congress with 17. It is true that the RJD’s seven, the SP’s nine and the BSP’s five constitute a much larger proportion of those parties’ MPs, but what is clear is that these smaller parties have no monopoly on MPs with criminal charges pending against them. What should be more worrying is the fact that all the parties that fielded candidates with criminal charges against them won 494 of the 543 seats in the April-May 2004 elections."

BSP is perhaps the most criminalised, then BJP, then Congress ? Are there better options ? Any pointers or insights will be very useful !

But BJP says it is a clean party ??
Criminal BJP Candidate -

This news brief mentions some other criminal candidates, including from BJP and 'Apna Dal'
It mentions that there are more than 70 contestants with criminal records contesting elections.

What is wrong with identity politics ?

Some news videos

All political parties are opportunistic and exploit caste or religion to some extent. At national scale, BJP looks most communal (but their communal intensity varies depending on forums they are speaking in. eg. read this). At regional scale there are many other parties which play identity politics eg. BSP :: Low caste votes.

What is wrong with identity politics ? For example, even 'Professionals Party of India' is appealing to the identity of 'professionals'.
Answer : What is wrong with identity politics is that it trumps debates on values, and policies. Voting for someone because s/he is a professional or muslim or hindu or low-caste, at the cost of another who may be advocating better policies and may be upholding better personal values, is what is wrong about identity politics. It divides us into class or blood based identities, rather than uniting us as a nation of equals, on the agenda of progress and development.