ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

UP election 2017: Which side will the camel sit?

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up_election_2017.jpgUP election 2017 is a riddle which no political pundit wants to touch. This is unlike last 2 elections where BSP and SP were predicted to win respectively. Unlike the regular issues of caste and vikaas, demonetization (pro and against), hangover of successful religious polarization in 2014 general election, the Yadav family feud and Congress-SP alliance have muddled the already murky waters.

BSP was the clear favorite over BJP on ground, until SP-Congress alliance materialized and it makes more difference than some understand. Who will this alliance hurt more and can it turn into a winner by itself is a million dollar question. Depending on which channel you tune in to, predictions range from SP-Congress, BJP, BSP and hung assembly.

No political pundit (or political hack as some call them), is ready to put his/her reputation on the line by choosing a side before the count is done. I expect even the exit polls (when they come out) to be divided too.

The biggest setback of all time, BJP in 2014, is a major factor why predictors are wary. Also no one knows the effect of demonetization in rural areas. People want to say SP-Congress but they are afraid of Amit Shah the wizard. Alliance has relegated BSP to a second choice and spoilt their Muslim-Dalit strategy as against Muslim-Yadav-‘Leftover Congressi’ combine.

BJP has ceded a lot of political mileage since 2014, when Modi asked for votes on state election issues. With no substantial ‘acche din’ for people on ground, Akhilesh Yadav has been able to make BJP the incumbent party in the state. Instead of answering for last 5 years, he has been able to successfully question BJP about the good days promised. For BJP, just saying, ‘we didn’t have control on state issues’ might not be enough.

Early next month, results will come out and the riddle will stand solved all by itself. Till then, can you answer this billion dollar question? Which side will the camel sit?

Written by arpitgarg

February 23, 2017 at 1:21 am

Posted in Political

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Shahrukh Khan: The end of a superstar

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fan_srk.jpgI grew up in an era when only Shahrukh Movies excelled at box office; others were relegated to a distant second, apart from occasional few. Now it’s the other way round. Chennai Express aside, there has been a string of duds from the ‘former’ megastar. It started from Don Line of movies, when SRK went from a mass hero to a multiplex one.

Still his movies kept getting initials (first weekend collection), which is driven mostly by star appeal and not by the content. But a string of movies backed by ‘loss absorbing’ corporate studios, has taken audience’s faith away from him. When Ra One bombed, there were murmurs but no one was deeply concerned. Even Aditya Chopra (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi) and Yash Chopra (Jab Tak Hai Jaan) could muster mere hits with Shahrukh and not Salman/Aamir type of blockbusters.

More than Fan, I think what stamped the end of an era was Dilwale. Even with dream SRK-Kajol lead, it was beaten hands down by a period drama Bajirao Mastani, both released on the same day. There was a time when others planned their movies around SRK releases. It was saddening to see how SRK was forced to delay the release of Raees by a year and still struggled to find a solo Friday.

Some fans cited backlash against him for his intolerance remark, as a reason for failure; this until, mega success of Dangal. Aamir’s success showed that intolerance issue did not have public support and was just limited to political sound bytes. Road ahead for SRK seems tough mostly due to his failure to reinvent himself and the cult successes of Salman and Aamir.

Let’s see what Raees has in store for him and the audience. Don’t bet on a Sultan/Dangal type blockbuster.

Written by arpitgarg

January 15, 2017 at 11:32 am

Bengaluru to Delhi: Real reason behind the beastness

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black.jpgAnother New Year celebration showcased another round of incidents by rotten eggs of the society bringing shame to the nation. Then there were remarks by his highnesses and how so easily media changed the narrative. No one cared other than for TRP’s and hence no one dared to speak the real truth behind the dare of such beasts.

The real reason is the failure of law enforcement and the judiciary of India. If over the years such culprits had been caught and jailed in time and an example made out them, even the high and mighty would have thought twice. Local police stations do not register majority of such cases as they sully their record. Women are left with no option when the law enforcers say, “Madam yeh sab toh hota rehta hai, Jaane do”. Whatever cases do get registered, they take ages to come to conclusion. Women get no support from police, judiciary or the society, while the hooligans are out on bail, breaking the spirit and squeezing the fight out.

But no, who is concerned about the real issue, when the politicians and their apathetic remarks give the ready mix for high TRP’s. The high drama in the late night news shows and the society sleeps sound. Had the police and judiciary done its duty over the years, we would have seen a much better society.

Such selective outrages are good for getting adrenaline going, but what purpose do they serve? It’s been years, still Nirbhaya has not been avenged. The case has been moving through the damping by lanes of courts at snails pace. Want to bet on how long before the men arrested for Bengaluru are out on bail and how long before they are put in jail. I suggest, don’t bet me on it!

Written by arpitgarg

January 6, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Obama and Trump: Implementing each others agenda

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obama_trump.jpgFirst African-American President of United States, Barack Obama, will vacate office in Jan and Billionaire Donald Trump will take office. It is well documented that they are opposites when it comes to their electoral agenda. What I want to touch upon is something that is not discussed too often.

Democrats promote higher Govt. spending and immigrant reforms, while Republicans represent smaller Govt. and less immigration. But the problem is when you support certain position too openly, you get push-back. Obama faced a lot of resistance when it came to implementing his agenda. At the end, he couldn’t achieve what he wanted to in terms of medicare and public spending. What he achieved was deporting more immigrants than George Bush did. In the end he was able to implement the agenda of Republican Party more successfully than of his own Party.

I have similar prediction for Trump. At the end of his tenure, he might be able to do more on medicare and public spending than tightening immigration. He would be successful in implementing Democrats agenda more than Republicans. Begs the question why?

When you implement opposition’s agenda, you get their support. Your own party supports you anyways. But while implementing your own agenda, you don’t get opposition support. Hence the result.

Instead of shaping policy by legislation and bureaucracy, US Presidents most potent weapon has been appointing Supreme Court Justices. That is what guides the agenda and that is what defines the policy.

Written by arpitgarg

December 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Political

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Ideological death in Democracy?

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illusion-free-choice.pngI was talking to one of my seniors at office about current state of politics. It got me thinking about the ideology in a democracy. We have been brought up in a society where we came to know how much our forefathers had to struggle to achieve the democracy that we live in.

We have learned that political ideology can be broadly divided into left and right with a center. Left leans towards communism, right leans towards capitalism. Let me take an example of India. Historically we have seen Congress and BJP as left and right parties. Over the years they have grown center-left and center-right.

Today, I don’t see any stark difference their ideologies. Whatever keeps them in power. Congress introduced MNREGA and BJP has continued with it. BJP might very well give loan waivers to farmers before 2019 elections. Both the parties have benefited selected business houses in their own capacity. Both are against electoral reforms and hate scrutiny of donations to political parties.

Makes us wonder is there any classical ideology left in politics? In the sense that does society at large support such ideologies of left/right/center? Coz political parties can only adhere to such ideologies as long as people vote for them. In US, right and left has sustained for decent amount of time, given two party system and high percentage of registered members. In India it has moved to a scramble all too soon. Number of regional parties, based on anti-Congress plank, have mushroomed in last 30-40 years. Their ideology is not left/right but is to uplift certain sections of society.

Advent of Trump, an amalgamation of left right and center, signifies a landmark event in democracy. Democracy anyways is a recent experiment on how to run the society. About last 200 years or so. I believe it’s still in a development phase and will take another 200 years or so, to judge the pros and cons. Maybe we will see a new societal system altogether, who knows.

One thing is for certain, the era of discrete left and right might already be over in major democracies of the world.

Written by arpitgarg

December 17, 2016 at 8:29 pm

National Anthem in Cinema Halls

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anthem.jpgI normally avoid writing on such contentious issues which involve nationalistic fervor. Simply because it’s lose-lose situation. Take for example the current Supreme Court order on National Anthem before movies in cinema halls across the country. If you are for the decision, you will be labeled jingoistic, right wing extremist. If you are against the decision, you will earn the wrath of being anti-national.

Hence a worthwhile conversation goes out for a toss. Still I would try to clear my views on this. National Anthem is a celebration of the constitution state we live in. It’s the celebration of the togetherness among the citizens, togetherness of agreed upon rules which govern us, celebration of a culture, and celebration of the country. Do I respect National Anthem? Yes. Do I stand up when it is sung? Yes. Do I hate the fellow who does not stand up? Meh!

My view is, disrespecting is not the same as not-respecting. I don’t think, sitting falls in the category of disrespecting or being anti-national. If a person starts dancing, goes shirtless, maybe. But still not anti-national. Take for example a person who stands up for the national anthem but take bribes. And a person who does not stand up for the anthem but is a hard working, non-corrupt person. Who will you call anti-national. Either or Both? I think, not standing for the anthem is wrong but should not be termed anti-national.

Consider a guy, who has been wronged by corruption and muscle in society. Justice failed him. He might feel anger towards the county and what more peaceful way to show that anger? If we take that peaceful protest away from him, we are leading him to a path of violent protest. The more we force someone, the more rebellion we will face.

There have been occasions when I have come across people not standing for the anthem. I have gone up to them and had a conversation. I started the conversation by, “Sir, you have full right to do what you want. I just want to know why you don’t want to”. Most of the times, people realize their folly and apologize. Sometimes they are angry with the corruption, with something they feel wronged about, that they don’t want to. Sometimes they feel that it is wrong to impose and that they should not be forced to prove their nationalism.

As I said it’s a tricky situation. Again, I think the people not standing are wrong but I won’t go as far as terming them anti-national, specially if they are not corrupt and help in nation building in their own way.

Written by arpitgarg

December 14, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Media bias and why it is bad

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media_bias.jpgIndia had its first brush with power of media with Jessica Lal murder case. Govt. and Courts buckled under media pressure. Public supported the campaign whole heartedly. The case had all the ingredients of a pot boiler made for television. It garnered TRP’s and served justice. A win-win.

Media backed Anna Hazare who shook the roots of Indian politics and gave us Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal’s anti-political diatribe was tailor made for claps and whistles. People lapped it up (at least those who could afford cable television), resulting in a resounding win.

Last half decade or so Arnab Goswami took media activism to another level, equalling US journalists. In US, journalism is too bi-partisan. Two major political parties reflecting two differing ideologies have their own propagandist media apparatus. Last decade or so has given India the same. Media, which used to be a stronghold of Congress, got rivals in BJP. Today the field looks evenly distributed.

But the bias in media has turned out to be bad for society. To be true, it’s not just the bias, but the biased people earning millions and prospering is what irks common man more. It’s not mere coincidence that oldest and largest democracies are headed today by individuals who rode the anti-media wave. Modi called media news-traders, his people called them presstitutes. Trump has called media all sorts of names.

6-8 years back, in India, media was this promising child with high credibility. Currently, it’s credibility is as bad as that of US media. Biased towards one side or the other.

Earlier media used to shape the politicians and politics worldwide. Nowadays politicians shape opinions about media. Ironical isn’t it? In India it would be a first in modern times that PM and Govt has more credibility than media. And it’s scary. I’ll tell you why.

Media is one branch which has the power to keep the legislative in check. It talks directly with public and informs them if executive is doing anything wrong. And public does the rest in the next election. The loss of credibility of media will hit this balance hard. With corporatization of media, the problem is bound to get much worse. Media bias is the new form of crony capitalism and quid pro quo. Scratch my bacl and get favorable coverage.

Whatsapp, facebook and youtube channels have come up as alternate media. They berate main stream media just like I have been doing through this post. Some like the_young_turks have got a huge following and along with that subscription money. It was nice initially but as the current US election showed they too became biased and carried out their own propaganda.

It’s very important for media to curb political leanings. If media persons want to be political activists, it’s their right but they should quit the profession first. If they can’t curb this inherent bias, they should not go on air. Rise of fascism is preceded by a biased media!

Written by arpitgarg

November 30, 2016 at 5:09 pm

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