Friday, December 04, 2009

'The Destroyer' in action

Amidst all the things happening these days, I could not resist the temptation of jotting down a few words for Sehwag for his batting performance yesterday. He literally butchered the Sri Lankan bowling attack with a ton of runs. With 40 boundaries and 7 6's, Sehwag played shots all across the ground. He made strokes at will. Whenever he wanted and wherever he wanted. The runs kept on flowing. Though he missed the world record of highest 300s in Test Cricket, he scripted a special place for himself in the history of Test Cricket. Hats off !

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Festive Times

The Good Ol' Christmas Tree is back for the season in Bloomberg compound

Time 23rd Nov, 17:30
Place Bloomberg Tower, NY

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Colbert Report - A Sampler (11/10/09)

For those who don't watch this show, this is a good place to start. One of the best episodes in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another absurdity of Manhattan

Gratuity: something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially tip.

This is how Webster dictionary defines the word gratuity. And this is the most common sense meaning of a tip or a gratuity. It has to be volunary. Now I agree that there are gratuity etiquette. You normally give 15% or more as a tip in restaurant or any such service that you receive. But New York city has a way with twisting definitions and meanings.

I went to The Olive Garden restaurant at Times Square in midtown Manhattan a couple of days ago with a friend who was visiting US for the first time. Olive Garden is famous for its overly courteous (read nosy and interfering) waiters and high end (read unnecessarily expensive) dining experience. But what got me the most this time was the bill we got at the end. The restaurant had already added 15% mandatory 'gratuity' to the total. And if this was not enough to piss of customers, there was an additional blank field for 'Extra gratuity' !! My friend was taken aback by these crazy customs of the NY city. And there was just one thing I could say to him. 'Welcome to The City, my friend'.

A Dangerous Trend

Continuing the dangerous trend of narrow minded regionalism, Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan said that more importance should be given to Marathis in employment in Maharashtra.
This is extremely disturbing. I was not much worried about comments made by Shiv Sena leaders or MNS party workers. But when the Chief Minister of a state starts making such remarks from his official post, it is indeed time to start getting anxious.

Any great economy is founded on basis of multi cultural meritocracy. Take any great city. Like New York or even our own Mumbai. What made them great? Was it some extra ordinary governance? Or some political party? No. what made them great were the people living and working in them. It was the talent that built the economy of such great mega cities. Cultural diversity, tolerance, respect, secularism and above all pure talent act like bricks and mortars of an economically viable city. If a couple of centuries ago, politicians of New York city had started throwing tantrums that 'we won't allow any non-americans to work in New York', would it be the financial capital of the world today? Similar argument can be made about Mumbai or any other city as well.

This trend is even more dangerous than caste system and reservations. Because here, politicians are trying to divide the country in even narrower factions. The day the politicians successfully bring such legislation in any state or city, it will be the death knell for meritocracy in India. The politicians have been driving long nails into coffin already. It's just a matter of time. Unless the citizens of the country wake up from the slumber, rise above the narrow mindedness of regionalism, and say 'No' to such politically motivate moves, India is on its way down.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Sing or Not to Sing: That is the Question

Jamiat-e Ulama Hind passed a 'fatwa' banning Indian Muslims from singing Vande Mataram - India's national song. I don't know what provoked Jamiat after more than 50 years since Vande Mataram was designated as national song. Were they deliberating whether it was against Islam to praise your Motherland all these years? Or it dawned as a divine message upon their leaders one fine morning and they decided to release a fatwa. I don't know.

However, the recent controversy made me curious and I revisited the song to find out its meaning. And here is what I found.

Vande Mataram
Sujalam Suphalam
Malayaja Seetalam
Sasya Shamalaam Mataram
Vande Mataram

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.

Shubra Jyotsnaa
Pulakita Yaminim
Drumadala Shobhinim
Sumadhura Bhashinim
Sukhadaam Varadaam
Vande Mataram

Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

These are the stanzas we normally sing. It's a no brainer to think that there is anything Un-Islamic in these.

However, later on in the song, the following stanza appears.

Tvam Hi Durgaa
Dasha Prahara Nadhaarini
Kamala Kamaladala Viharini
Vani Vidhyadayini Namaami Tvam
Namaami Kamalaam,
Amalaam, Atulaam
Sujalaam Suphalaam Mataram
Vande Mataram

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her
swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue O candid-fair

And I think this is what got onto the nerves of the leaders of Jamiat and other Muslim leaders in the past. And even at the time of adoption of this song as National Song there were same controversial voices of protest. And that is what prompted Congress at that time to adopt only first two stanzas as National Song.

Anyway, controversy surrounding Vande Mataram is not new. It has been under attack for a long time. Jamiat just added a spark to ignite it again.

What is your opinion?

[Translation above is by Shree Aurbindo taken from Wikipedia.]

Monday, November 09, 2009

Downward Spiral

Every time I open a news website, I am welcomed by some macabre headline staring at me. And it is not that I frequent just one or two sites. Sites ranging from Indian news to CNN and Time have only sad stories to tell.

Some of the latest headlines:

- 4 MNS legislators suspended for attacking Azmi
- UPA ministers' travel expenses: Rs 300cr in 3 yrs
- Pak daily passes 'death sentence' on US journalist
- Naxals could hit investment climate, warns FICCI
- Speeding car mows down 3 in Noida
- Suicide bomb attack kills 3 in Pakistan
- India is world's No.1 in retail theft: Survey

All these are just from Times of India site for today. And these are not all. Such news occupy pretty much 80% of the site.

Here in US, the papers are flooded with Fort Hood killings, Cleveland rapes and murders, Legalizing marijuana (This has surprisingly become such a hot topic these days. What a waste!), Tropical Storm Ida, Hateful radical preaching outside the mosque in NY and on and on and on.

Sometimes I wonder, is the entire world degenerating into misery, woes and sadness at an accelerating pace? Deterioration of everything over time is inevitable. Home towns becoming inhabitable due to pollution and traffic, weather becoming more and more hostile, terrorism eating the society alive, widespread epidemics of diseases increasing and so on. But in recent times, the pace of that seems to have accelerated.

Like the God is in a hurry to fold the game on our little planet earth and maybe start afresh.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Empire State of Mind

Continuing the mood.. Turn up the volume ! Enjoy.

"Empire State of Mind" by Jay Z and Alicia Keys

Friday, October 30, 2009

The City I Love

Clicked some shots while walking back from office yesterday. Boy, I love the city.

Place: Around Times Square, New York City
Time: 9:00pm, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2009
Camera: iPhone [explains low resolution!]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"A Cricketer's life is very challenging" - Yuvraj Singh

Humorous Quote by Yuvraj Singh - "A cricketer's life is very challenging'
Yeah sure. Driving a Crore Rs. worth Hummers in India. Dating Bollywood Actresses. Appearing on front covers of fashion magazines. Wearing Tag and Rolex. Contracting with companies for a few million bucks for posing in front of television. Flying business class to coutries. Living in five star hotels. Having one billion people as fan base.
Boy, it sounds so challenging and tough. I am jealous as hell. Are you?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Joy of the first bicycle ride

Do you remember the feeling of your first bicycle ride all by yourself ? Your parents pushed your bicycle from behind, ran with it and then eventually let you go on your own. A moment of fear then a delicate balance, then surge of self confidence and finally the feeling of liberation! Your bicycle sailing on the road. Your first ride.

I was in a park jogging today and I saw a little kid on a bicycle with his father. I saw him ride on his own after a while and I saw his face. That triumphant and jubilant face reminded me of the days when I was learning the bicycle. Though the memories were very hazy, I could still feel it myself after all these years. And although I can't recollect who it was that taught me, I do remember the place. It was in the playground of my uncle's vacation home in the suburbs of Sihor town. It was a very old Atlas cycle of red color with handles bent inward as it was the style in its days. It was a bike almost a generation old at that time. Nevertheless, it did the job!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CFA Level 1

Today I got my result of CFA Level 1 exam that I took last month. I passed. Hard work of six months paid off in good! Feeling happy and proud :)

Edit: CFA = Chartered Financial Analyst []

Thursday, July 02, 2009

'Legally Gay' in India !

Today Indian society took a giant leap forward. The Delhi High Court ruled today in favor of decriminalizing the gay sex between consenting adults. This is an extremely bold ruling considering the nature of Indian society and prevailing orthodoxy of Indian culture.

I call this the victory of 'Modern India'. The rational side of the Indian society won this long and hard fought battle. Not surprisingly, all religious leaders came out, bashing the high court's decision.
Ironically, for them, it is OK to kill, burn, rape, plunder in the name of religion. But it is not OK to have a loving relationship between two consenting adults who happen to be of the same gender. I would just like to tell them one thing. It is the victory of love over hate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No Angels. Only Demons.

A valuable lesson was reaffirmed when I came out of the theater after tolerating Angels and Demons for more than 90 minutes (And the movie was still going on). The lesson was 'Garbage In, Garbage Out'. A trashy book can only give birth to a trashy movie if not worse. The demons of this movie are going to haunt me. For a long time to come.

Ron Howard's Angels and Demons had the honor of becoming the third movie I left half way in the theater. The same thing had happened with the book. There are few books I have left unfinished. This was one of them. The movie is a complete waste of time, money and energy. Just within half an hour, it will leave you exhausted with its unbearably haphazard screenplay and a camera work that trivializes the art of movie making. The actors will leave you breathless, not with their stunning acting, but with expressionless faces and senseless dialogue deliveries. There are so many problems with this movie that this can be taught in a course like 'How not to make a movie'.

The entire movie is about some insane man who poses as a follower of some imaginary bizarre ancient cult 'Illuminati', taking the Vatican hostage with a stolen 'Anti-matter' from CERN. I know it sounds ridiculously funny. God knows what I was thinking when I decided to go for it!

In this agonizingly long movie, Robert Langdon, the Harvard professor runs around the Vatican churches, following some directional clues given by the statues of saints. A big problem with the movie is lighting. It seems that the entire movie was shot in twilight without the camera lights. How can a director be so ignorant about visual look of a movie escapes my reasoning. I am not claiming that I am very attentive in listening to dialogues. But I have a reasonable ability of understanding dialogues of a movie without much effort. However, dialogues in this movie are hardly more than whispers. And the background score (which by the way is completely out of place), adds to the inaudibility of those whispers.

The size of this post would have been five fold if I had stayed till the end of the movie. Fortunately for you and me, I did not. So you won't have to bear with me and my stinging attacks on the movie anymore and I preserved my own sanity as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Year

It has been one hack of a ride! Sometimes smooth like a sail. Sometimes rough like a storm. I complete one year at job in Bloomberg LP today!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Optimism, Delusion or Propaganda

First they projected Congress as the winner in all of their opinion and exit polls to create a positive aura around Congress party and their leaders. And now once that task is done (helping them win election), media is now all praise for the newly elected government even before they start doing anything.

Sure the results were an eye opener. Initially, I thought, maybe I was wrong. It is possible that the media rightfully projected the winner with support of a good fundamental analysis. But now after all these days, when I constantly see articles showering optimism, praise and appreciation on the new government, day after day, I sit back and think - something is fishy here.

Every single day, is full of news regarding how the government is dedicated to make India a better place. Be it their 100 day education scheme or their plans for divesting the ailing Government business entities.

Today's headlines on IBNLive
- Promises to keep: UPA govt has its task
- How the govt plans education for all
- How the govt plans to shelter homeless
- How the govt plans to fight terrorism
- How the govt plans to feed the poor
- Why India Voted for Congress (Rajdeep Sardesai)
- Voting For the Nation (Sagrika Ghose)

Today's headlines on NDTV
- Divestment back
- IPO market to get a divestment boost?
- Divestment, sops likely for steel sector
- Blog: BJP: Against the tide

To be very honest, after the initial shock of the defeat for BJP, I recovered relatively quickly as compared to last general elections. Because I believed in what the news sites were saying. I thought maybe this is the change people voted for. Maybe this government is what people wanted at the center. And I still don't deny the fact that I have highest respect for Dr Singh.

But then every day media got louder and louder. Praising the government even before the parliament session was in place. Publishing opinions, blogs which were full of 'mud-throwing' on BJP and attributing fragrant flowery bouquets to Congress. All of a sudden people like S. M. Krishna, Sharad Pawar, Pranab Mukharjee, A K Antony were turned into heroes. Like the 'Ultimate Saviors' of the nation. Who in next five years will change the face of the nation.

Once again, people will call me a religious fanatic! They will call me 'A moron, stuck in the past'. But those people who oppose my posts are so narrow minded that they have forgotten the concept of freedom of expression. People here proudly call themselves 'Democrats' or 'Republicans'. They don't have to pretend that they are neutral. Then why should I be shy of openly supporting a party like BJP?

I realize that my ramblings here in this blog are useless and pretty much irrelevant at this time. But the media sure as hell sounds not only fishy but repatitive and boring now. I hope they stop running marketing campaign for Congress and go back to business of journalism.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Eric Cartman - Interview

Respect Mah Authorita !

David Gilmour - Royal Albert Hall

I watched the telecast of this concert in a movie theater in Phoenix, AZ. I hope I can attend one of Gilmour's concerts in person someday. However, we will miss Rick Wright forever. May his soul rest in peace.

Wot's uh the deal

Comfortably Numb

Coming Back to Life

The Blue

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech

It's the Graduation season. Here is one of the best Commencement speeches.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Singh is indeed King

It's a sad day for us who believed that BJP would come to power. There were two kinds among the supporters of BJP. One, like me, who did believe in the Exit polls but still had a ray of hope for a miracle. And two, those who thought exit polls were all wrong and BJP would sweep the polls. Both the kinds were proved wrong today.

I was really shocked to see this huge swing in favor of UPA and Congress in particular. A change of +78 seats from 2004 for Congress ! Something definitely went wrong for BJP. Or something went unexpectedly right with Congress. I genuinely want to understand the rationale behind voting for Congress. Why did people give a huge landslide victory to UPA?

1) Is it Rahul Gandhi's charm?
2) Is it the clean image of Manmohan Singh?
3) Is it the wave of sympathy towards Singh who was under bitter attack from BJP? Or because he has to follow orders from the high command?
4) Did people really believe that UPA government did a good job of leading the nation in last five years?
5) Did people forget all the terror attacks including Mumbai massacre?
6) Did Modi repel the voters away from BJP?
7) Did people underestimate UPA's failures in economic policies? (For whatever it is worth now, go through this article on WSJ.
8) Did people forget the row created a few years ago by Arjun Singh for reservation?

Or it's just that people are too infatuated by the Gandhi dynesty to have any discretion. A servile, mindless fascination towards anyone and everyone who enters politics from that family. That family seems to have some sort of invisible grip on the psyche of the people of India.

I can find some comfort in the fact that now the regional parties and their rogue leaders will not hold the central government hostage. A clear majority is always good for democracy. It shows a clear mandate by the people. (God knows what people where thinking when they gave this mandate! But anyway...)

Mr Advani's hopes are dashed. Now the history books will never have his name as one of the Prime Ministers of India. He had come so close so often. And yet destiny deliverd a blow everytime.
Modi is in a very delicate position now. And a very unenviable one for that matter. He could not even gain seats in his own Gujarat. And his campaigning was supposed to be a major factor in BJP's success. The party leaders joined the band wagon and pronounced him as the next PM candiate. Now they are swallowing their words and are feeling like kicking their own butts.
BJP's stratagists must be feeling completely flabbergasted. They failed to see the red signs. If at all there were any! Many people in the party are going to face the heat in near future. They need to do some serious introspection.

The Left too was caught on the wrong side. May be finally the people of West Bengal are realizing that Communism is probably not the best governance system in 21st century.

Rahul Gandhi is 'The Blue Eyed Boy' for Congress and a natural successor of Singh. Mr. Singh himself has given several not-so-suble indications of that. I won't be surprised if he is elevated to the most coveted position in the world's largest democracy soon.

Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. This is going to be a stable government for next five years. And all I can do is hope that they have a little more to offer to the people of India than just stability.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The D-Day arrives

It's time now. Only a few hours to go. The fate of the politicians and the country is sealed in the boxes. And tomorrow it is going to open up. Some will give pleasant surprises, some will get dejection and despair. If we are to go by the exit polls, most likely scenario is a Govt formed by Congress with support of almost all the rest anti-BJP parties and someone like Sharad Pawar becoming PM. It is to be seen if such a government will be any more successful than past governments like Deve Gowda or I.K. Gujaral. If Congress indeed is able to gather up a larger chunk of seats, we might see repeatation of 2004 with UPA government coming to power under Manmohan Singh's leadership. In any case, the chances of NDA forming government look bleak to me. However, deep down inside my heart, I still have the hope that people of India have made the right decision and chosen L K Advani as the leader of the nation for next five years.

So what will be the expression on your face tomorrow? A smile, a grimace, a frown or complete apathy? (Provivded, you even know what I am talking about tomorrow!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finally Feed on my blog !

After much insistence of my good old friend Dr. Asav Patel, I finally activated feed and email subscription to my blog. If you care to read what I blog, subscribe via this feed. You will get a notification whenever I post something on my blog.

Thanks for your suggestion Doctor.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Take me back in time! - Samajwadi Party's horrifying manifesto

The future. If we don't act now.

No English medium schools. No computers at your desk in office. No technology on the farms. Only minimum wage for each and every person regardless of merit. No more malls in urban communities. Alliance with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

This is not a plot of some sci-fi movie which predicts the end of the world as we know it. Neither are these pages from history books describing 18th or 19th century. These are the main themes of Samajwadi Party's manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.

"The use of computers in offices is creating unemployment problems. Our party feels that if work can be done by a person using hands there is no need to deploy machines" proclaims the SP chief Mulayamsingh Yadav. There is not one person I know who has more grossly underestimated the role of technology in human civilization. I thought he was being funny when he said this. But I realized he is no Lalu. He does not joke. He was actually serious.

"A harvesting season brings employment for the labour class for at least six months but these harvesters (machines and technology on the farm) will snatch their earnings." So now I know. Studying those stupid subjects like Science and Technology was all a waste of time. The human progress from the stone age to the technology age was all in vain. People just didn't get it right! Alas.

"The salaries provided by private firms should be in sync with the minimum wages that have been set by the government. This is only the way to build up a strong national capital" - Classic, classic Socialism. Need I say more?

The SP will ensure stronger ties with Pakistan and Bangladesh. "The basic cause of terrorism lies in regional differences. The forums across the world which deal with the issue of terrorism work at the behest of America. If a government comes to power with our support, we will ensure that action is taken against communal powers (Read BJP, RSS and largely all Hindus in the country) and attack terrorism at its roots,"
Regional differences! Yeah, right. When a group of terrorist travel all the way from "distant lands" to attack your financial capital, bomb the trains, murder innocent people, it is all because of some 'Regional Differences'. Perfect interpretation of terrorism I must say! He should be acting as senior adviser to the Department of Homeland Security in US.

These are the ideas that can take a nation 50 years backward. Minority appeasement has taken such a dangerous form that now politicians are actually ready to be in bed with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Nothing can be more terrifying than such ideologies of politicians.

I wish this was all a belated April fool's prank. But unfortunately it is not. It is as real as it can get. And it will become a eternally lasting nightmare if the citizens of the country don't wake up and vote for making India a strong, developed and forward looking nation.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Different Colors of Manhattan

There are only two feelings you can have for this city. Either you love it or hate it. But it is very difficult to have the consistency in your feelings towards it. One day you hate it because of its narrow streets, ruthless cab drivers, noisy and dirty subways. But there are days when you just love the city for the very same reasons. The busy and happening streets, fast moving traffic, efficient subways and so on. The city has so many different colors and shades to itself. It's like a living organism. Breathing and thriving.

Out of all the boroughs of the city, I am most familiar with Manhattan. What makes Manhattan interesting is not only the skyscrapers that talk to the clouds. It is the people that make it fascinating. Just like I mentioned in one of my previous posts about the city, during the weekdays you get very typical views on the streets and sidewalks. The city is flooded with black suits and beautiful faces. Neat looks with fashionable looking accessories like leather bags and expensive watches. Busy executives who talk, walk and breath money. Aspirations and optimism floating in the air. Tense nervousness seen on the faces.

And as soon as the weekends come, the city is rid off black suits. And you see totally different scenes around you. Now the city is taken over by the tourists. Leather bags are replaced by Nikons or Sonys or Samsungs. Tense faces are replaced by relaxed ones wearing a variety of funky sun-glasses and hats. Dark suits are replaced by colorful tops and jeans. Leather shoes give way to sneakers. You can feel the change in the air. You can breath the relaxed atmosphere. Aspirations and anxiety take shelter in a moment of surrender. Surrender to sheer bliss of enjoying the beauty of the city. But you need eyes that can be soothed by this kind of beauty.

It is Monday tomorrow and I know what I am going to feel while walking towards the subway at 8am in the morning. (For those of you who care to know "Darn, it's Monday!" is what I will have in mind)

Image source: My Sony Cybershot H7 clicked about a month ago

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The greatest festival of Indian Democracy - General Elections '09

I haven't blogged in like what, 3 months! And now there is this irresistible topic which has compelled me to drop a few words here on this platform. The Great Indian Elections of '09.

The greatest event in Indian Democracy, the General Elections are approaching the people of India. I can not say that I am hopeful of an upshot that is favorable to the country's future but at least I am curious.

I am curious to see the fate of the veteran leader L K Advani and what becomes of his final wish in his career - the most coveted position of Prime Minister of India. He has come so close to his dream being materialized and yet it has slipped from his hands. I am curious to see the fate of Manmohan Singh who is only the face of Congress Government and also of Sonia Gandhi who is the brain and brawl behind the government. I am curious to see the role that Mayawati, Lalu Yadav and Mulayam Singh will play in making the king at the center. What will become of the Left front this time which seems to have weakened over the last few years? How will the Third and even the Fourth Front shape the future Government? In the event that these fronts have a say in forming the Government, which is more likely than not, who will defeat the competition and come out a winner as the PM candidate? Will it be the ever manipulative Mayawati, Congress's old headache Mulayam Singh, or the good old Lalu Yadav or some compromise we had in the past like Deve Gowda.

I have been a BJP's staunch supporter all my life. And my belief in BJP being the best party to rule the country is unshakable. It was the biggest shock in last election when despite being everyone's favorite and running the seemingly successful 'Feel Good' campaign, BJP performed miserably and gave way to UPA. Congress was ready to pounce upon the opportunity and it had a bunch of allies waiting. The only common agenda that these parties had was Anti-Saffron and Anti-BJP. Instead of naming themselves UPA, they might have named themselves UABA (United Anti-BJP Alliance). Since then, BJP has strengthened its dominance across the political map of the country. They have won state after state in last few years barring two major debacles of Rajasthan and Delhi. Their one of the biggest victories came in Karnataka when they entered the Southern India which was an alien and distant dream for BJP. The most serious problem BJP is facing again is of alliance. It has failed once again to establish partnerships with influential parties across the states in which it does not have much dominance. The unfortunate break up with Navin Patnaik is certainly going to cost them a major chunk of votes in Orrisa. Shiv Sena has been losing its hold on Maharashtra and BJP is stuck with them. There is virtually no strong alliance for them in Tamilnadu and Andhra.

BJP is facing a severe identity crisis this time. They are reluctant to go back to their raw bare-knuckle Hindutva agenda because they know that they will need allies if they want to form the Government and the allies come from the states in which they can not afford to put a brave Hindu face for the fear of losing minority vote. In last elections they at least had their good governance to talk about. Here, the only thing they can talk about is UPA government's failures which are in plenty. But even then, it is only a negative publicity. They can certainly talk about their good state governance if there is any. I can vouch for Gujarat but not other BJP ruled states. And the last thing they needed this time was a brewing rivalry between their two of the best leaders Jately and Rajnath Singh. Though it seems to have been resolved, it surely sent the shock wave through various layers of the party leadership. BJP's stand for the newly found saffron hero Varun Gandhi has been somewhat unclear. Here again their reluctance to support Hindutva is clearly visible. BJP needs all the help they can get from RSS. There have been news about the new leadership in RSS being favorable to BJP and especially Advani but it is to be seen how RSS and its progeny institutes like VHP and ABVP mobilize their troops during the poll campaign for BJP.

Even though I would love to see BJP at the center, forming the government with absolute majority, it is in most likelihood going to remain an impossibility.

Congress has its own problems. The obvious inclination of Sonia Gandhi is to hand over the reign to the Congress's blue eyed boy - Rahul Gandhi. But she is not sure about the general public's reaction towards such a step. Therefore she is sticking with the old war horse Manmohan Singh. Nobody can say that the calm and gentle Singh is popular with masses, but at the same time, nobody can say that he is unpopular among any faction of the society. That's his biggest strength. He does not have any opposition among the party or the allies. His image is too clean for that. His track record of leadership has been a little too clean. Almost like a clean slate in which the only handwriting you can find are of Sonia Gandhi. Frequently called a puppet in the hands of the high command, Mr. Singh does not have many achievements to boast. Scores of people have died during last five years in terrorist attacks. The Mumbai attacks are the blackest spots on his Government. The government's diplomatic pressure and warnings fell to the deaf ears of Pakistani Government. Failing world economy and India's vulnerability added to his woes. And Arjun Singh's gimmick will be fresh in the minds of the youth. It might have a considerable impact only if the youth cares to vote.

Alliance worries are haunting Congress as well. They have been deserted by most of their allies. Even the old allies like Lalu Yadav have dumped Congress to nurture their ambition for the top position.

However, Congress is in not as bad a position as BJP when it comes to allies. In my opinion, all these pre-poll break-ups are meaningless. Eventually, just like the last time, their hatred for BJP will unite them at the center. But this time around I can see Congress government providing the support to the King maker, whoever it might be. Congress will not be in a position to have their say in PM candidate. They will have to support someone to keep BJP out of position. And in such a situation, BJP is going to be at a major disadvantage. Despite name calling and fighting, I can easily see SP or Left or BSP joining hands with Congress but not with BJP. Thus BJP is most likely on its own here. Like a lone soldier. And it remains to be seen if this lone soldier can turn the tide and finish off the mighty foes.

Next five years are going to be extremely important for India. We have to balance the economic interests with the more important national security concerns. India needs to work hard towards clamping terrorism within her borders and develop more intimate relations with US and other international community. But that is not going to be enough. We ourselves have to be proactive in securing our borders and our nation from falling prey to the terrorism rather than relying on International Diplomacy which has never worked. Next five years are also going to be very important from economy's point of view. When the US and the whole world will be recovering from the mayhem, we do not want to be left behind in the process. Indian economy must continue to grow aggressively.

So once again, the common man is skeptical yet hopeful. There are expectations. Whichever party comes to the power will have to work hard to lead the nation into the new beginning. An era of rising economic and political might of India on the international fronts.

Image Source: