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Friday, June 3, 2011

Pulling a Fast One

It has been some time since I have expressed views on something other than emotions, life and relationships. However, today I try my hand at the latest sensation sweeping the nation.

That of pulling a fast one......... :):)

Consider the given two descriptions.

A small time farmer, a retired army truck driver……………..Someone who spent the better part of his life ridding a village of liquor menace and getting it to stand on its proverbial feet. Someone who does not have a bank account, owns perhaps one suitcase full of khadi, and sleeps at well wishers places.

Now look at someone who is a self appointed guru of Indian culture. All worries can be solved by simply breathing with thought. Knowledge notwithstanding, he can dispense off opinion on anything from economy to cancer. Who spearheads an empire turning close to 1000 crore annually and has a villa in Sweden courtesy faithful followers.

Of course I am talking about Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev respectively.

I am just trying to step into baba’s shoes for some time. A shrewd businessman, a Yadav by birth, he had everything going great, a nice business, good number of followers, and the basis of a political formation. Sometime back even I revered him for propagating the ancient Hindu way of living. Then all of a sudden he became predictable, he started talking politics. He realized just yoga cannot spearhead the business for long, you need policy as well. He picked up the oldest horse to run his political rhetoric on, corruption and black money.

His happy run was interrupted by Anna who came out of nowhere and sat on a hunger strike against corruption. His timing was perfect, rocked by scams, India Inc and India youth were desperately looking for some trust and respect to be bestowed on someone who wasn’t the ritual orange clad ascetic. This Gandhian kindled the same emotion as the real MK, courtesy age and impeccable credentials. His consequent success earned him the respect and power for which he believed and lived for. Anna became a thorn to Ramdev, which was pretty much evident by his displeasure at the appointment of father son duo for heading the Lokpal bill. Parry and counter parry went one, sometimes in front of the curtains and sometimes at the back (just guessing!).

Finally Baba decided to show Anna …that mine is bigger than yours!

So now a subset of corruption was picked up a.k.a black money. While Anna’s fast was the consequence of series of well planed but failed steps Baba is all smoke and mirrors. Anna had written to the government for the Lokpal bill, suggested a team a plan and a methodology for its implementation. Anna had done his homework well, he had a bureaucrat Kiran Bedi and a saffron counterpart (swami Agnivesh), on his team. Working together they had tried other bureaucratic routes before turning on to a strike. 

Baba on the other hand has done nothing apart from rhetoric. Does he have a plan of getting the money back, no. Is he aware about the working of global economics and finance, I doubt?Does he have a team that could bring this is a lone warrior.

Even I want to get Swiss Bank loot of India back here but I am neither a veteran economist, nor a politician and I really don’t think a juvenile thought of banning higher denomination currencies will even scratch the surface of the problem.

A half naked orange clad god man fasting in India is not going to stir any diplomatic routes or generate hysteria that could be milked for India’s benefit. Au contraire the bending of the Indian government (4 senior government official to placate one man in the airport?!!!!) to a single man appeasement is going to send a wrong signal as a weak nation.

Before the strike nobody knew Anna and that was his key success factor. I read about Anna after news screens splashed him all over and I could read nothing but good.Baba however has his shares of good and bad.

So what exactly does Ramdev intend through his fasting?

Judging by the preparation for his elaborate setup it seems partly to be an exercise in showing political might. Ramdev is not going to sit on strike for one day and call it off. Government can get the crores back in India in the blink of an eye certainly not before lack of food does damage to Ramdev.

  1. Middle Ground - A middle ground perhaps then? This time we could maybe get one bill, a law, or something that could outshine Lokpal. It is going to be a tough one as the Lokpal has an admirable history of repeated failure that has kind of added on to its delayed partial success.
  2. Leave me Alone-The other one could some kind of understanding, of leaving Baba’s empire untouched and letting him build his might in peace. Remember Brinda Karat and bones in medicines, a failed attempt to nip a rising competitor in the bud. But this seems a long shot. If Ramdev is left alone then from Haridwar he can come to New Delhi pretty soon. And leaving religious leaders alone is scarily reminiscent of operation Bluestar and our Khalsa Sant Singh Bhindranwale
  3. Share the Success - The last one. Share the limelight, adding a clause in existing Lokpal bill tabulation that could have a little something on black money? This way Ramdev and Anna can be on the same team yet be used on and off against or for each other.
My predictive powers are limited I will wait and watch, but the last one seems plausible. However a gut feeling says that this could be over fast and have a surprise element in it…..

PS- I am neither a believer nor a supporter of either Anna Hazare or Ramdev, I am too narcissist and selfish. I am just offering a perspective that seems to be logical!