The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday 6 February 2013


Rahul Gandhi was elevated as the Vice-President of the Indian National Congress in the recently held party meeting at Jaipur. He delivered his first Vice-Presidential speech on January 20, 2013. It had all the elements of a Rahul Gandhi speech (

But since it was the first one after his formal elevation (even if the elevation was just a symbolic one and he was already the part of central decision making pivot along with his mother, Sonia Gandhi, in the grand old party of India), let’s have a look on the content and contention.

The speech had many contradictory elements and the central-most was his rhetoric on ‘power centralization’ in the country and ‘no focus on leadership development’ in the Congress party.

Now there can be alternative ways to look at the contradictions in the context of this speech.

The elements of contradiction may be an indication that Rahul Gandhi realizes the pitfalls and negative elements in the functioning of the Congress party and intends to work to rectify them.

Alternatively, it was a poor speechmaking again which belied the content of the speech in the context of the history of the background.

Let’s take up contradictions* from the speech (sourced from the All India Congress Committee website (1)):


“Power is grossly centralized in our country.  We only empower people at the top of a system.  We don’t believe in empowering people all the way to bottom.”

“We need the aam aadmi to participate in our politics.  Because even as I speak their future is being decided in closed rooms.” 

अब मैं थोडा हिंदी में, संगठन के बारे में बोलना चाहता हूँ। आपने मुझे ये बहुत बड़ी जिम्मेदारी दी है, और ये एक पार्टी कहलाती है मगरसचमुच में ये एक परिवार है। इस बात को आप मानते हैं की ये हिंदुस्तान का, शायद दुनिया का सबसे बड़ा परिवार है और इसमें हिंदुस्तान केसब लोग अन्दर  सकते हैं।

दूसरी बात, हम लीडरशिप डेवलपमेंट पर फोकस नहीं करते। आज से 5-6 साल बाद ऐसी बात होनी चाहिए। अगर किसी स्टेट में हमें chief-minister की जरूरत हो, तो जैसे पहले फोटो हुआ करती थी कांग्रेस पार्टी की, चालीस फोटो हुआ करती थी। नेहरु, पटेल, आज़ाद जैसे हुआकरते थे, giants होते थे, उनमें से कोई भी देश का PM बन सकता था। उनमें से कोई भी देश को चला सकता था। सिर्फ प्रदेश को नहीं, देश कोचला सकें, ऐसे 40-50 नेता तैयार करने हैं।” 

Yes, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, power is absolutely centralized in our country and it has much to do with the absence of the internal democracy in the political parties and an ever-strengthening dynasty politics.

The prevailing culture of the political parties in India has become person-centric when the need is of a process-centric political culture.

It began with the Congress party just after the Independence and slowly engulfed the whole political space in the country leaving few exceptions.

A look back at the prime-ministerial tenures and the Congress party presidential tenures is self explanatory.

Presidents of the Congress party from the Nehru-Gandhi family post-Independence (since August 15, 1947)

Jawaharlal Nehru – 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954
Indira Gandhi – 1959, 1978-83, 1983-83
Rajiv Gandhi – 1985-1991
Sonia Gandhi – 1998 to Present

Total number of years when the Congress party has had a party president from the Nehru-Gandhi family: 32 years (Out of 65 years of Independence)

Prime ministers of India from the Nehru-Gandhi family post-Independence (since August 15, 1947):

Jawaharlal Nehru - 1947–1964
Indira Gandhi - 1966–1977, 1980–1984
Rajiv Gandhi - 1984–1989

Total number of years when the country had a prime-minister from the Nehru-Gandhi family: 38 years (Out of 65 years of Independence)

Since 2004, the Congress party is in government and Manmohan Singh is the prime-minister but the world knows the real power lies with Sonia Gandhi. So if we add these 8 years to the 38 years, we find that the country has been under the rule of Nehru-Gandhi family for 46 years out of its 65 years of Independence.

Lal Bahadur Shastri who was prime-minister from 1964-1966 after Nehru’s death, though seen as a person of probity, was seen as a Nehru loyalist and was chosen to corner Morarji Desai. At that time, Indira Gandhi was just beginning her journey to the political centrestage of the country. 

1991-1996, when PV Narasimha Rao was the prime-minister, there was no one from the Nehru-Gandhi family to take the political centrestage of the country so we cannot say it was the internal democracy of the Congress party that chose Mr. Rao as the prime-minister of the country.

So, no true mass leader, not from the Nehru-Gandhi family or independent of the patronage of Nehru-Gandhi family, could emerge in the Congress party to reach to the political top when there was a name from the family in the active politics and ‘circumstantially’ fit to take the prime-ministerial chair.

And still, it is the same old story.

Now do we call that an element of democracy Mr. Rahul Gandhi?

It is this culture of absolutely centralized political parties in India that has marginalized the prime entity of a democracy in the country – which you, your party and your prime minister of the moment call as the ‘aam aadmi’.

The giants that you speak of like Patel, Azad were the making of the pre-Independence days. Why can’t the Congress party produce such giants in the post-Independence phase who were (and who are) not from the Nehru-Gandhi family?

How can we say it a democratic decentralization of power?

Congress party has become a family where the authority has narrowed down to the realm of the Gandhi clan (the Sonia family). Yes, everyone can become member of this family, but the person needs to follow the dictum that the ‘top’ is reserved for the Nehru-Gandhi clan.

Manmohan Singh was never a prime-ministerial material and he was chosen for being a yes-man. He has performed the assignment given to him dutifully. There is no other political giant in the country from the Congress party including you.

What separates you from others in your party is your inheritance, the legacy of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the Gandhi surname.

There are many in your party and the larger political fraternity who have spent decades in politics and yet are not seen as suitable prime-ministerial material. How do you qualify with just 8 years in active politics then?

The fact is, there is no one in the Congress party qualified enough to become the prime-minister of the country at the moment. The party does need to focus on the leadership development but needs to reform the process.

When the political top is so centralized and narrowed down to very few ‘political elite’, it is foolhardy to expect that an ‘aam aadmi’ would be allowed to participate in the political process and grow in stature.

How should we read this element of contradiction in your speech Mr. Rahul Gandhi?

The need is to have its unorthodox side, away from the Congress party legacy, the upper hand but the ground reality favours the worn-out line.



People who are corrupt stand up and talk about eradicating corruption; and then people who disrespect women everyday of their lives talk about women rights.

What about the Robert Vadra cover-up then?

When it was done by the people sitting at the top, don’t you think the statement made by you regarding corruption squarely contradicts its pretext, if there was any?

Corruption was always there but the country has seen it touching mammoth scale since 2004 when the United Progressive Alliance government took over. All the big scams like the 2G spectrum allocation, coal-block allocation or Commonwealth Games scams or many others have seen genesis during the term of your party rule.

Instead of treating them as the warning signs and embarking on a course-correction mode, your party’s government chose to go in denial, delay probes or castigate Constitutional agencies like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the reports of which unearthed many scams.

What do you have to say on the corruption ombudsman, the Lokpal?

Given the fact that the Congress party has been in power most of the time in the Independent India, the formation of the Lokpal should never have lingered on for over four decades. And your party’s government, along with other political parties, has successfully derailed it even this time to formulate a toothless anti-corruption ombudsman. Given the goings and thanks to a corrupt and alienated political class, the upcoming Lokpal (whenever it comes), not going to be a gamechanger. It will be a Lokpal of political scheming and not of public demand.

Do you remember your parliament speech where you spoke of making Lokpal a Constitutional body and the gamechanger stuff? Whatever little that the political class has agreed to empower the proposed Lokpal with is nothing but a lip-service to mislead the people.

Can corruption, that has become a chronic malaise of the Indian society, be eradicated with such a lip-serving attitude Mr. Gandhi?

You also spoke about women rights.

It’s basically about sensitivity that is not there in your government and the larger political class. You too, fall short on it. The recent context of the Delhi gangrape protests is a self-explanatory corroboration to it.

The major reason behind death of the Delhi gangrape victim was your government’s apathy that reflected in continuing with an ill-equipped hospital and delay in the treatment when every hour of the victim’s life was important.

Also, why it took you so many days (your first reaction came on December 23, 2012, a week after the crime) to break your silence?

The youth of the country that you so emphatically spoke about in your first speech as the Congress party Vice-President, was there on the streets, raging silently, questioning the authorities’ inaction and demanding quick answers and reforms of permanent nature. Why were you so reserved in communicating with them then?

Your very own government initially snubbed the report submitted by the Justice J S Verma Committee that slammed the government, the police and the public for crime against women. Why your government had to do so when its spokespersons had assured the country that the committee was constituted to address the concerns and demands of the masses on crime against women?

The committee, then seen as a face saving exercise in the aftermath of the huge protests, slapped back in the face of your government with its report. Reportedly, Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde and his Ministry of Home Affairs were unhappy with the report. After intense public scrutiny, the government had to bring an ordinance to incorporate some of the recommendations in the Indian Penal Code with the promise that others will be discussed in the Parliament. Mr. P Chidambaram conveyed this to us. Where was Mr. Shinde who compared the young protesters with Naxals?

Also, do you remember what you had said on the Delhi gangrape when your silence became the talk of the town? I quote here from a December 23, 2012 report of the Economic Times*: “Sources said during the meeting Rahul told the group of youths that while he understands and respect their emotions and acknowledged that the issue is very emotive, he also stressed that "decision making should happen in a rational manner. Decisions taken cannot be driven merely by emotions.”

Mr. Gandhi, like you tried to deliver an emotional speech, policymaking for humans too, should have emotional connect, especially when the public outrage pours on the streets, when the remedy given the law fails to deliver, and when the need of change acquires sense of urgency.

Why can’t some decisions be driven by emotions, when an issue has been stretched to the level of emotional breakdown in the society; when the ghastly incidents are breaking every heinous limit; when the criminals are easily finding ways to skirt the law; when the criminals are becoming more and more audacious feeding on the parasitic fear of the victims; and when the rule-book and the defined procedure is failing to control the rot.

Sadly, the political class of the country today is emotionally disconnected from the problems of the ‘aam aadmi’. 


Rahul Gandhi said while setting the tone of his speech:

In 1947 India was liberated not by arms, but by unleashing the voice of our people. Other countries fought violently.  Other countries fought with weapons.  Other countries fought with death.  India fought with non-violence and with voice. Everybody told us that it cannot be done.  Everybody told us that if you want to get id of the British you have to use violence. And the Congress Party said no, we are not going to use violence.  We are going to use non-violence.  And we defeated the biggest empire of its time and we sent them home.  This was energy behind of Freedom Movement. Voices.  Millions and millions of our voices.

Now Mr. Gandhi, how do you justify your silence on the brutal use of force by the police on the protesters against the Delhi gangrape?

Mere expressing regret on what happened wouldn’t absolve the Congress party of this anti-democratic sin. 

Sushil Kumar Shinde is not a thinking minister of independent thought process we all know that. He could not have taken this decision in isolation and that too, when the atmosphere was so tense, when every voice was a raging call against the ineffective political class demanding it to act pro-people and not pro-power.

The emotional quotient of the masses, reflected by the spontaneous outpour of the youth in the streets, was not for ‘nothing’. It was there, after the insensitivity of the political class had tested enough the public’s patience.

But, ironically, the political class is still about sucking the common man. Ministers continue to make bizarre comments on issues ranging from corruption to women rights.

Your government is now looking to act on the Justice Verma Committee report but given the initial snub, (reports saying the Home Ministry believed the committee had exceeded its brief), is a familiar ominous sign for the ‘pro-public’ policymaking. It is not about quality of the report whether it is practical or academic; whether it is narrow in approach; whether it is just new wine in the old bottle.

Here, it is not about the report, it is about the haste in which your government reacted on it. That was absolutely uncalled for. The government action on the report is not a spontaneous one. That shows the mindset.

Shall you confirm us that you are going to respond to the youth in spirit and letter; the youth that was the high talking point of your Jaipur speech?

Shall you confirm us that you are going to identify and crackdown on the elements who allowed the use of force on the peaceful protesters?  

Tell us, are your own countrymen not dignified human beings, as you are, for your political colleagues and be treated in a way that imitates the mentality of the colonialist British who enslaved us for centuries?

Why do you contradict yourself Mr. Gandhi? On one hand, your party said no to using violent means to oust the colonialist British, while the very same party mercilessly beats down the peaceful protests when the protesters are your own countrymen.

Do you have clear answers to this Mr. Gandhi?

How ironical!

If you and your party claim to be the apostle of peace and non-violence in India, how could you allow the brutal act by your police just a month ago?

Your proclamation falls flat even in other cases like the midnight Delhi police crackdown on Ramdev and his supporter at the Ramlila Ground or arresting Anna Hazare under the garb of maintaining law and order or for that matter, the historic blot of the anti-Sikh riots where the Congress party is to share the central blame.

If the Congress party is so peace-loving, why it tries to scuttle every peaceful protest movement as has become the trend since the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare?


Rahul Said: All our public systems – administration, justice, education, political systems – all of them are designed to keep people with knowledge out. They are all closed systems. Their design promotes mediocrity and mediocrity dominates discussion while the voices of insight and thought are crushed by the loudness of those who possess neither understanding nor compassion.

And every single day all of us are faced with the hypocrisy of this system.  We all see it.  And then we pretend that it is not there.

The time has come to question the centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems of decision-making in governance, administration and politics.  The answer is not that people say we need to run the system better. The answer is not in running these systems better.  The answer is to completely transforming these systems.

So far so good! But how (HOW)?

By promoting good-for-nothing populist measures like the one that your government brought in 2008 to score electoral mileage in the 2009 general elections or the attempted present incarnations of similar mediocrities? 

After four years, now the reports have started pointing out large scale scams in the farm debt waiver scheme launched by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2008. A Business Standard (2) report on January 28, 2013 said: “Senior CAG official confirmed the reports detailing how UPA could not deliver on the loan waiver scheme. CAG conducted an audit of over 90,000 farmers’ accounts between April 2011 to March 2012. Of the audited accounts, over 34% were not issued debt waiver certificates, over 8.6% were not eligible but still got the waiver and around 13% were disqualified by banks despite being eligible.”

Now, implementation of this scheme has been a high-talking point of your government Mr. Gandhi.

You have been talking emphatically about the direct cash transfer. The food bill is Sonia Gandhi’s brainchild.

The fear that the direct cash transfer of subsidy and the food security bill, some more election-oriented populist measures, would only deepen the purse-strings of the corrupt bureaucracy and the political class with the real beneficiaries used as pawns to siphon-off the money is not unfounded.

Don’t you know that majority of the Indians are illiterate when it comes to the ‘quality education’ like learning and realizing their rights? There is no dearth of such studies done independently. How can they ask for their due in a system that breeds corruption at its every level? How can they bypass the middlemen present at every level of implementation of such benefit schemes when over 65 per cent of them cannot earn even Rs. 3500 a month? Remember, we are in a country where bribing has become a norm to get anything and everything done.

Now projected as a PM-in-waiting, I should assume that you are aware of this aspect of India as you talk of ‘transforming’ the systems.

How, then, can you allow diversion of the scarce public funds in such mammoth projects when the track record has been so poor? Every such project is inundated with reports of misuse and corruption - take any, be it MNREGA, NRHM, highways development projects, universal education scheme, mid-day meal scheme, Antyoday or so many others.

Isn't it hypocrisy to call the systems ‘closed’ and at the same time, feeding these ‘closed’ systems with lubrication of easy prospects of under-the-table money?

Don’t you see and hear of these scams? Your government is aware of the scams and has ‘dutifully’ tried to suppress them from coming into the public domain as long as it could. The country very clearly saw it in 2G Spectrum scam and the Commonwealth Games scam.

Is this how you and your government intend to make the system better?

You talk of the ‘closed’ systems yet your government denies naming the criminals stashing black money in foreign tax havens.

You talk of questioning the centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems of decision-making in governance, administration and politics – yet you represent the biggest face of centralized decision-making system in the country – the Congress party.

Yes, all our public systems are in urgent need of change. But the precedents set by the Congress party and others in political fraternity tell us they want to maintain the status-quo.


The Past, the Present, the Future – summed up..

The Green Revolution restored the voice of the farmer.  Bank nationalisation restored the voice of the poor in the market for credit.  The IT and telecom revolutions literally gave the people voice, millions of people’s voice.  And if you have a cell phone in your pocket today, it is result of that revolution.  And it’s an honour that Manmohan Singhji is sitting here because he spearheaded another revolution.  In 1991, he unleashed the voice of thousands in the field of entrepreneurship and changed this country forever.

The Food Bill will ensure that no mother sees her child go hungry at night; the RTI allows every single Indian to personally take on the battle against corruption; MNREGA has given millions of Indians pride in their work; Right to Education enables every child to aspire to greatness.  All of these radical innovations were possible only because of the growth provided by the Congress Party and the UPA.

Now how many times Mr. Gandhi? What you speak of so authoritatively and so possessively is not yours. Everyone knows and realizes it. You run to beat the drum but why don’t you see the wisdom that every big decision in India was either a follow-up or a compulsion. We are still not leaders of innovation in the technology sector. We are still nonentity in the public infrastructure. Just do a simple research on what the Independent India have added to the existing railways infrastructure left by the British. It is shamefully incompetent.  And the grand old party has ruled the country most of these years. We are just writing on the scripts devised by others. We are not creating. We are not innovating.

It is not about ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It is about claiming the legacy. The Mahatma never claimed the legacy even if he remained the central figure of India’s liberation from the colonialist rule. His family is nowhere to claim the legacy. That was what made Mohandas Gandhi a Mahatma. And you and your family, using the surname of the Mahatma, is spread across the length and breadth of the country to claim a legacy that owes to the process only; a process that any republic follows to nurture its population, to strengthen its sovereignty, a process that began spontaneously on August 15, 1947. 

I would like to borrow from a previous article (3) that I wrote on the subject:

..staking claims for achievements like mobile phones or computer revolution in the name of the glorious history of the Congress party is equally counterproductive.

Now no one is going to buy these statements. As said earlier, these are basically consumer-driven industrial policies and have to be followed and promoted by every government.

Like the retail FDI decision, every such decision to introduce a new format of businesses or a new technology for commercial purposes is taken in the global environment. It is not about who let the television technology come to India or liberalized industrial policies for the private players to play larger role in the business sectors like telecom, information-technology and now retail.

Such decisions are driven by the incumbent internal and external factors. The decision to allow the multi-brand retail FDI is the telling example in hand. The slowdown of domestic and global economy and the pressure of countries like the US played the major role in it. Had it been the NDA government at the helm of the affairs in the circumstances, it would have done the same.

And claiming benefits of such decisions, the outcomes of which are so huge, spread over a long period of time, dissected and diversified, to a single party or a single or group of persons, is another thing that one should avoid while writing speeches (India may be a half-baked democracy but certainly it is not a North Korea or China) – no singing paeans please.

1991 was a compulsion. The country had no other way but to open the economy. China began on it in 1978. What Manmohan Singh did in 1991 was already delayed by over a decade. All this while, the country had your party’s government from January 1980 to December 1989.

Also, it took years of struggle (over two decades) to get the Right to Information Act passed.  Why didn’t you speak of Lokpal? After all, your government is going to burden the country with yet another unproductive administrative while elephant.

MNREGA and Right to Education are grey areas. Scams are routine. The corpus of fund involved in such populous and routine schemes could have achieved much better scale provided you and your government would have thought of ‘transforming’ the systems before introducing them.

There is nothing radical in these overstated and hyped achievements. The only radical element is the scale of easy money that public welfare schemes have provided to the corrupt officials. From few crores, now the scams run in multiple thousands of crores.

Also, why don’t you introspect and talks about the negatives? Your party has cursed the country with appeasement politics. What the Congress party has done is dangerous enough to divide the country on the lines of religion and caste. The social affirmative action, an innovation in the beginning, has become a political tool promoting social aberrations.

Then there are other blunders like gifting China membership of the UN Security Council, the Emergency, the Sikh riots, blindly following a model of mixed economy with socialist pangs, and above all, suppressing the democratic soul in the country, by promoting the dynasty politics. And this list is not exhaustive Mr. Rahul Gandhi. 


My father used to speak about 15 paisa to the rupee reaching the people and we today are preparing the system that is going to answer that question.  We are going to answer that question. And 99% of our people’s money can go to them. It is a revolution that no other country has done. 

Let’s count the magnitude of Big Daddy UPA scams as reported by different sources:

Coalgate: Rs. 185,591.34 Crore
2G Spectrum Scam: Rs. 1.76 Lakh Crore
Maharashtra Irrigation Scam: Rs. 72,000 Crore
Commonwealth Games Scam: Over Rs. 30,000 Crores


The black money stashed abroad: In multiple of tens of thousands of Crores


The different land scams (including the Delhi International Airport Limited): In multiple of hundreds of thousands of Crores

Do you know Mr. Gandhi these scams have flourished during the regime of your party led coalition government?

And you claim of ‘having a system in making’ that will deliver 99 per cent when it is the same system that has ‘revolutionized’ the scale of corruption in the country.

Rajiv Gandhi had talked of ‘15 paisa of the Rupee reaching to the people’. It cannot be said if it was an eye-opener or some electoral speech rhetoric. Before Rajiv, the country was ruled by the Congress party most of the time. After Rajiv, the story remains the same. Since 1991, the Congress party has been in the government for over 13 years out of the 21 years.

It should indeed be a revelation that scams have touched unheard of proportions in the UPA regime.

Their riot requires nothing but a complete and ruthless crackdown. It needs 100 per cent. Are you ready for it Mr. Gandhi? (While forwarding this question everytime for your kind perusal, Mr. Vadra makes the intent of the possible answer shadowy.)

Nothing can match your commitment when your set your goals to the absolute limit – promising the deliver the 100 per cent.

And why not!

In a Republic, government’s income and expenditure is directly accountable to the common man. In theory, he elects the representatives to manage the resources with maximum efficiency. He needs the 100 per cent ‘honest’ utilization because a country with large poor population base can afford procedural mistakes but cannot survive the intentional mistakes of corrupt practices.

It is the time to practically realize the demands of the democratic theory.

Time has told us about increasing reports of corruption in MNREGA, NRHM and other such big-ticket social empowerment schemes. The futility of the windfall farm debt waiver scheme for farmers launched in 2008 has started unearthing. It is a glaring fact that in-spite of the huge debt waiver scheme of 2008, 17,368 farmers committed suicide in 2009. Take it or not Mr. Gandhi, the direct cash transfer of subsidy and the food security is going to see the same outcome if implemented by the system you are talking of ‘being in making’. The rot is deep.

India continues to go down on quality of life and human development indices. Corruption in the country has become a global talking point.

India is at crossroads. The size of its economy is growing but the distribution of wealth is becoming more and more skewed.

The worrying feature of India growth story is the growing social disparity. It is not that country’s wealth has not increased. It is not that the per capita income has not increased. From 1991 to 2012, size of the Indian Economy has quadrupled. In contrast, malnutrition in India has come down to roughly around 46 percent. It has fallen only six percentage points since economic reforms started gaining pace in 1991.

Also the per-capita expenditure requirement is simply outdoing the majority of the Indians and incessant price rises (and now the subsidy cuts) are adding havoc to the already dilapidated psychological frames. The 2012 Global Food Security Index puts the world's fourth largest Economy at 66th position out of the 105 countries surveyed. India’s Human Development Index was ranked 134 in 2011 while it was 123 in 1991.

The Indian growth story is there but its vital signs are not as vital for the majority of the Indians. It is already over 65 years of the sovereign India. The Republic needs the just and equitable distribution NOW. The aftereffects of the delay are spilling over. Increasing protests are the living testimonies to it. India at his juncture needs honest intent. India NOW needs 100 per cent from its politicians Mr. Rahul Gandhi.

Only time will tells us if the country is going to see the answers in you. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -