Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Fear and Loathing in Neta, Babu, Media, Corporate Kleptocracy: Is BJP Government Narendra Modi's Narasimha Rao Moment Or Gorbachev's lost Glasnost?

As Narendra Bhai Modi as he is fondly called by those who know him, brings colour to the black and white political spectrum, there has been a sea of stories in the media. From secular aka Communist media warnings of a threat to peace, communal harmony, and other dire predictions, there are others, more positive and optimistic, and yet points further those who hold ultra conservative nationalist views.

Narrative Derailment 

What was passé once as Hindu Terror, Hindu Nationalist, and other forms of anti-Hindu slander which could range from double standards to belittling Hinduism, is suddenly being questioned. The change in narrative has meant a volte face in the mainstream media, from fears of retribution, real or apparent, is only a question time can answer. For now the gravy train has derailed, and nothing is off the table. For the media this is a time of fear, loathing and uncertainty.

Vanquished Victors

In all this tumult, the new BJP Government has taken its first policy steps. Steps that have been overly careful, sometimes to the point of being fearful of criticism. The newly appointed Ministers are still in vanquished mode, as the cultural reality of being victors, has to yet seep into gait, stance and posture.

Media Management

BJP media management is a manifestation of this transition: weak, badly researched spokespersons, sullen and beaten, and harassed from years of rigged debates, populated by Congress and Communist clones like AAP, in bed with the press. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting remains on the back foot even before making any moves, the Minister apologetic and sheepish, for imagined sins. Sometimes you need to put the stick down when situations warrant, but this does not seem a MIB that  has the stomach for enforcing governance and fair play in an often bent media.

From Smriti Irani's educational qualifications to New Delhi Power crisis, or the Pune murder of a Muslim boy, ruled by Congress and NCP Government in Maharashtra or the Badaun Rape & murders of Dalit girls, in Samajwadi Party governed Uttar Pradesh, everything has been laid at the doorstep of Narendra Modi. If the BJP Media Relations is unable to provide the perception cover for Narendra Modi's agenda, if it is deficient in putting forth a dominating viewpoint of the Government, then this will remain a Government on the back foot, not the best stance if you wish to move forward to bring change!

The massive successes in Social Media have now reducing returns as being in Government brings complaint and unrest. Social Media Monitoring, Engagement, and not throwing the book at Social Media through the draconian IT Act is easier said than done. This is the tiger you love to ride, but if you try to get off it eats you!

Kleptocracy of Neta, Babu, Media, and Corporates

And it is here lies the nub of the matter: If the ubiquitous 'Modi', has to deliver the goods of change that he promised, if he has to usher in the 'Ram Rajya' of Economic Development, Governance and Security, grassroots reform will be the baseline. Reforms in disassembling the Kleptocracy of Neta, Babu, Media, and Corporate crony capitalism. Reforms in bureaucratic transparency from procurement to work ethic, Infrastructure to Health. A veritable nation to reimagine, rebuild or simply build where no precedent exists. So many things to change, such little time. Add inertia from deeply ingrained cultural impulses, cynicism and power centres.

It is here indeed that the loudest protests of harking back to an inglorious but predictable past are heard the loudest. And it is here again, there is no tried and tested to fall back on, no precedent to play safe against. While the impediments of vote banks and coalition extortionists are gone, the dogma of the Indian mind remains, stubborn, obdurate and stoic.

The Neta, and even those of the BJP, who just rode the Modi wave, pasty faced, remain socialism smeared, dogma stalwarts, clearly lacking Modi's messianic thirst for change. These steady, loyal animals remain dependent again on the bureaucracy for implementation. Such is the omnipresence and omnipotence of India ruling elite in the generalist Civil Services, that first time ministers to cadre mules, right up on to the PMO, all depend on this self perpetuating, self serving parasite that ails India's governmental entrails. The bureaucracy remains sullen, populated with sycophants with loyalties to the earlier Congress led UPA. With no skin in the game nor any incentive to topple the applecart, the bureaucracy remains Modi's achilles heal.

Cadre Mules, Loyalty and Ideological Congruent Professionals

Narendra Modi has a tough job ahead, balancing loyalty to party colleagues like Jaitley and ideologically congruent professionals like General VK Singh, who are can do fighters of the BJPs tryst with change. Currently the cadre mules and the retrogade bureaucrats of the MoD are winning and Modi is losing. Jaitley has shown signs of this retrograde harmony, in an embarrassment to the BJP Government over the Army Chief issue.

By going against his own party on a sensitive issue Jaitley has shown a petulance, his defeat in Amritsar does not warrant. Is Jaitley on board with the rest of BJP? Should everything done by the Congress led UPA in grandfathering key appointments before departing, be accepted force majeure, given its clear malafide intentions and appointing sycophants, is a stink in the making! It also flies in the face of the change that BJP promised India! Clearly things can not be business as usual as there is a nationalist constituency of Veterans out there that BJP will disappoint, in time for 2019, or much before in the States.

15 days into Government, this may be a chimera or a one-off event that may not qualify as a trend, giving the Government a chance to settle down but the fundamental issues of ideological congruence, and all ducks in row in the BJP Cabinet are very real. Pigs in shit are the happiest creatures and don't like being disturbed. This is the log jam the BJP Government led by Narendra Modi has to break!

Om Namoh Shivaya

Creation can not happen without creative destruction. As a Shaivite Hindu devotee will tell you of Rudra, Lord Shiva, destroyer of the worlds, this is also the key attribute of a leader who can break silos ruthlessly and usher in change. Does Modi have the stomach for creative destruction, change will entail?

India has given Modi a lot of love, trust and looks to him with a hope that belies the traditional Indian fatalism. This is the Karma Bhoomi, where the Prime Minister Narendra Modi will toil. History and posterity will be the judges whether he will be the next Narsimha Rao, or be the half way cautionary tale of Gorbachev's Glasnost and Perestroika. 

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