The Drama of the Italian Marines

As per the earlier agreement the Italian Marines were to return to India on March 22nd. However the Italian government tried releasing a trial balloon 10 days ago to check India’s reaction and that balloon burst. India talked tough and the Marines are expected to return as per the original plan on March 22nd.

Several conversations by arm chair pundits and the government’s detractors took place in the intervening period with taunts on Italy and the Italian born Congress President flying around. In the end the government ensured that its foreign policy expertise and diplomatic channels  were put to the test. How happily we all abuse freedom of speech and pass judgment!

Well, as the country of 1.2 billion people gets increasingly complex it will be best to let the government do its job since we vote for it or better still be part of the government by contesting elections and winning. This can happen only through hard work at the grassroots or being part of a political dynasty. One can choose the former but not the latter.

So next time there is a diplomatic fiasco it is better to wait and watch rather than jumping the gun. Let the Indian Foreign Service do its job. You did not attempt to be part of that service so passing cheap comments won’t help.

Does politics make you giggle?

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The Joy of Voting

The first level of democratic participation citizens need to do in order to have a say in their governance is to vote during an election. Paying taxes is not about citizenry but about being a stakeholder in a certain geography. For example one may not be a citizen of a place but has the duty of paying taxes.

The next level is to be part of the process of governance by speaking out to those who govern and speaking up for those who do not have a voice. The ultimate level is to run for office itself and offer time and talent to the process of community and nation building. That said how often we choose not to vote because the right candidate does not seem to be in the fray.

The right candidate will only emerge when we define what is right and start that process by exercising our franchise. It may seem like chicken and egg but when a group of like minded people inspire each other to draw the picture of the right candidate and then vote for that person there will be hope on the horizon. How else can we change the way we are governed?

The process has some home work to be done. Writing and expressing thoughts on what type of person should run for office. Then making sure one is enrolled to vote and has found such candidates to vote for that ca bring about the positive difference.

Does politics make you giggle?


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The Abuse of Public Relations

A few days ago I learnt that Google was organising their Big Tent event in India. Big Tent is a series of events held around the world, bringing together speakers with diverse points of view to debate some of the hot issues relating to the Internet and society. I was glad to see two of India’s leading tweeting politicians in the list of speakers – Shashi Tharoor and Narendra Modi and was wondering why has there been no conversations on this topic. Well, just as I was wondering the PR machinery of Modi was at play and a press release was up on his website making this invitation seem like the world was at his feet.

To put things in right perspective Kapil Sibal will be the keynote speaker. Sam Pitroda is on the opening panel. And Narendra Modi is on a hangout post-lunch because he is engaging and will keep people awake after the heavy lunch at Taj Palace besides he is not the only CM invited contrary to what his office put out.

But all politicians have failed in making much out of this speaking opportunity. The entire ModiTribe on Twitter is blushing about this invitation. The three pieces are hyperlinked below and gives one sense of the propaganda including NDTV’s news piece on how he is the only CM invited.

The press release from Modi’s office does not mention the other Indian politicians who are speaking at the event (they don’t need to but the audacity of saying he is the only CM was a bit weird) and later had to change the release after the CM of J&K tweeted that he was an invitee too. The Big Tent website mentions more details of the event. This is an excellent example of sharing the half truth and thus abusing the art of Public Relations.

Now the Modi Brigade will argue as to what was wrong with the information. He was indeed right in saying he is the only CM invited because J&K is a state in dispute. The point is not about the choice of wordings but about how it is made to seem like it is a global event while it is indeed happening in Delhi. On the other hand any event that can be tweeted about and broadcast is a global event.

Does politics make you giggle?

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