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Indian elections 2014

The 2014 elections of India are over, the verdict is out, the process of getting the mandate from 500+ million people across 930,000+ polling booths have been completed, the happiness of the victors and the despair of the losers are out in the open. Yet, as a common man, I find this particular election fascinating – specially with the verdict that has come up. Not going into the technicalities (the percentage vote swings, the conversion of these vote swings into actual seats, etc), my personal point of view of this election is based on some trends that I tried to think through from the results.

Let me start with the overall verdict – the BJP and NDA under the leadership of Narendra Modi has got a thumping majority of 333+ seats and the main other party, Congress party, that has ruled for maximum number of years in Indian history have been reduced to shambles with 44 seats only. So, the verdict has been strong and clear – a change after so many elections that has happened in last 15 years. To me, this verdict has established or challenged many things that we have been used to for last so many years:

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This has challenged the very concept of “dynasty politics” – a modern era “quota” system followed by Congress party. I find it strange that such a big and historic party still believes in the principle that the leader of the party has to come from a family with a surname of Gandhi, irrespective of the fact whether the person is capable enough to lead or not. The general perception of the leader was “weak” (which was apparent in his many speeches and “deadly” few interviews) – but still a majority of more capable leaders of the same party still believes that the name “Gandhi” will mesmerise the voters even in today’s world. Only time will tell whether this thought is eliminated or whether we see another member of that family trying to steer the ship in the future.

People are always sick and tired of corruption and scams – this has been true in the past, in the present and will be true in the future. But the frustration increases when scam after scam are exposed and millions of taxpayer’s money are siphoned off, the government, the ruling party leadership either remains mute spectators, or tries to “defend” the same as the first reaction, or tries to do some “lip service”. Add to the event of the head of the country remains silent or looks for inspiration to the party high command before uttering a word. In effect, corruption with “proxy governance” was something that happened in last few years and people have had enough of this, I believe.

The personal charisma of a leader counts heavily – sometimes much more than the party he/she represents. That happened with Narendra Modi. In spite of having some controversial past, the branding, the dreams spelt out by that person appealed to most of the people, including the 100+ million of new voters. Of course, there has to be a vision, a concrete plan to transform the nation – but at the end, you often tend to go with the perception of a person when you feel “Yes, I do think this person probably can transform the nation better than the others”.

It is also time to move on from the past that is more than 5-7 years old. New generation, today’s youth hardly believe in drooling on history (does not matter whether it is perceived as “good” or “bad”). Lives have changed, tha pace of life has changed – hence, we do want things to change fast and very often, the time period allocated for the change is in 1-2 years, if not in months. Yes, history is important – but more important is the vision for tomorrow, vision for our own lives – rather than the rich or not-so-rich history of the parties. So who cares what has happened 7-10 years ago – let’s discuss what will happen in next 1-2 years ! This probably scored heavily in the decision-making process as “development” took more priority than “RTI”, “women empowerment”, etc – rightfully so. Because with “inclusive growth”, other parameters like empowerment will come automatically.

The delivery contrast between two main persons help differentiate the difference much strongly. Hence, the more one leader failed to articulate the vision and instead kept on harping on non-priority things, the more strong the other leader was becoming in the minds of the people. So, a poor performance of a main player helps the others – now add to the fact that the other person by himself had more charisma and vision — then it becomes a double whammy to the poorer performer. So, field the best candidate who is best suitable for the role –> basic stuff, but often forgotten by some.

Finally, my belief that “development is more important than caste, creed & religion” got  more strengthened in this election. In a country like India, where the culture, the dialect of the same language, food habits, etc change probably every 50 km across the length and breadth; harping on religion, appealing for votes from a particular religion or caste do have an impact on votes. And probably this happened this time as well – but overall, I have a hunch that people disregarded this caste/religion play much more as compared to last few elections. I find it sickening when this divisive play, this polarisation of people is even attempted by so many parties.

Probably, this is the time when all of us should introduce ourselves to the external world as an “Indian” instead of a “Bengali, Marathi, etc” or a “North Indian, South Indian, etc” or any such classifications. That way, we will not allow anyone trying to “divide” us going forward.

Let’s make our country proud by taking this first step together !

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The continuous change

“The only thing that is constant is change” – never before this statement of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus is true than today. The world has changed dramatically in last 10-20 years – and I am referring to the positive change, not the negativity surrounding the change (like inequality, extremism & radical views, etc). And we as professionals working in this world for last 10-15 years have actually experienced the change with our own lives. Further we can see further dramatic change in the near future as well – we don’t need to be a philosopher to predict this.

I believe the fundamental drivers behind this major change are two main reasons : 1) the rise of the so-called “third world” economies now often referred to as BRIC countries and 2) the rise and popularity of internet and ability to do business across the world almost seamlessly. And when I refer to internet, it is not the “conventional” desktop / laptop based internet, but the revolution that was triggered through the mobile technology (be it our smart phones or our tablets or a combination of the above).

The economic growth in the “third world” countries has helped in not only creation of wealth and “hunger” for materialistic goods, but also helped in drive huge “aspirations” to compete with the once-upon-a-time Goliath’s of the world.  Even the population of some of the BRIC countries (once perceived as total “curse”) has helped in bringing in that aspirational energy into life – that to some extent has become the “strengths” of the emerging countries. The average age of working people have reduced drastically in these countries. This has not only increased consumerism but also making available global pool of skilled resources that is challenging some of the foundations of the west.

The cheap availability of internet along with its capability to force business through has helped in driving more global optimisations within corporations. Hence, issues like supply chain optimisation across the globe is now possible – wherein you look for quality but cheaper supply chain catering to different market segments. While there will always a set of the market looking for the best of Ferrari, Apple; there will also be a big part of the market who are ready to accept a product having 60% of the features but at 40% price discount. All these potentially can be addressed through a global enterprise taking into account pockets of expertise – whether that comes from Taiwan in Asia or Netherlands in Europe or USA, it does not matter anymore. That is why for a given market, we have products sourced from various countries. I feel UK is the best example for that where in the supermarkets we have tomatoes from Spain, clothes from Bangladesh or India, chillies from Africa and nuts from Brazil. Just imagine driving the entire supply chain in such a scenario without internet – will drive you crazy I am sure!

Let me share some statistics that I found recently in the internet:

– 36% of global GDP is through movement of goods & services
– cross-border internet traffic has increased by 18 times in approximately last 7 years
– 38% of total cross-border movement of goods & services are coming from emerging economies
– since last 5-6 years, increase in cross-border calls through Skype has been over 500%
– globally more than 2/3rds of the population has mobile phones

The above scenario is a huge opportunity for all of us as individuals. We ideally are no longer restricted by local constraints – jobs / opportunities within our cities / countries. If we are rightly skilled (rather if we are “timely” skilled) and look forward to make the entire world out village, this is the time.

Opportunities are huge but as we enter into the broader world, the one thing we all need to keep in mind is “the only thing that is constant is change”—which to us means that if we do not adapt to “change” (in mind-sets, in updating our skills, in taking challenges, etc), we can also perish in this process.

We are really living in dynamic times!

Life after 9/11

The horrific terrorist act of 9/11 has redefined the way we live in the future world. This incident has impacted everybody’s life, directly and indirectly. It’s a fact that with due course of time, we will be used to some of that impacts and will take them as life as usual.

There will be a continuous increasing trend of more background checks, more verifications, more biometric recordings for all people travelling to various countries. Unfortunately, this is currently being applied more on Asians – but I have a feeling that this will spread across other citizens, keeping in view the gradual spread of extreme thinking across countries.

Whenever we do an international travel, we will continue to face additional security measures, liquids in checked in baggages, extra immigration measures and so on. Even we can face sniffer dogs, radioactive searches – nothing will look odd in the modern life.

All names like Khan’s, Ahmed’s’ etc will be subject to more scrutiny and checks. I have even seen one innocent 25 year old TCS employee having surname Aslam denied a US visa just because his name appears to be in a “hot list”. I heard in the consulate that there will be a 4 weeks investigation and background check before his L1 visa can be processed. Because of this delay, he mentioned that his chance in getting into the project will just disappear – but no negotiations on this topic was entertained.

Whether we like it or not, whether we deny or not, we will be eyeing our co-passengers, people across us with suspicion, specially if they carry a brown skin and has resemblance to a particular community. The trust will be lost, we will think ‘is he one of them’ and will try our best to disappear from the near vicinity of those persons.

Any unattended briefcase, luggage will call for a mini panic. We will see sniffer dogs, bomb-disposal squads very soon in those places. And we will again try our best to go as far as possible from the spot where these objects are lying unattended.

All “hoax” terror mails will be treated with utmost importance and will trigger lot of action from the local authorities. This is simply because the qualification of the mail to be a “hoax” cannot be determined at the time when the mail is received.

War on terror will be one of the main focus areas for all countries. There will be more international cooperation in the area of intelligence sharing than ever before. Budget for equipping certain special forces will go up and we will see an increasing growth of arms and weapons market.

Our lives are changing after 9/11 and that will continue to change in the future …. of course, there is a saying that the only thing that is constant in life is change.

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