Offstumped – Commentary on India


Politics, Policy and all things Digital about India

The Third Freedom Movement


Burra Bazaar

The Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project

Delhi BRT mess

Vadodara CDP

Mumbai BMC

The list goes on, cities across India are crying for local governance that is responsive to local needs and directly accountable to the local community.

Unfortunately more than 60 years after Independence, Local Governance continues to be at the mercy of centralized bureaucracies and the vagaries of State and Central politics.

The third Freedom Movement shall have many connotations but primary amongst them is the one issue that every sagacious leader from Gandhi to Gowalkar agreed on – trusting the wisdom of local communities to shape their autonomy through autonomous Local Self Governance.

The new Big Tent must draw a stark distinction from the Progressives by standing clearly and unambiguously for directly elected Local Self Government that takes responsibility for all local services.

As this post goes to press, comes news from the United States of Towns that want to de-incorporate their local governments in the face of recession. Also comes news from the United States of the perils of Direct Democracy with voters in California rejecting fiscal measures to balance the State budget through a referendum. This follows other vagaries of direct democracy on a host of issues.

All of the above will be cited by critics in favor of the current Indian system of centralized bureaucracies and toothless local bodies.

It is important however to recognize that the excesses of the variety witnessed in the United States are precisely the reason why the White Umbrella shall come to represent “Freedom with Responsibility” with Dharma as the moral compass.

From Article 370 to urban crowding to flexible labor laws there is a case for taking Federalism in India to its original intent as envisaged by the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution which even Swadeshi Socialists like Govindacharya recognize.

A defining feature of the new Big Tent must be autonomy to the States and freedom to the people of the State to decide the most appropriate and practical unit of Local Government.

Local Governments must have the freedom to raise money through taxes and bond issuances while giving them more control of Urban planning and development. Such autonomy will also come with the responsibility for the Local Government to provide day to day services like Law Enforcement, Public Safety, Water and Waste Management.

Freedom to the Community must not stop with the banal issue of Local Governance and every day services.

There is a larger purpose behind a building sense of ownership and responsibility within Local Communities for solutions to a swathe of intractable socio-economic issues lie in participative direct democracy via Local Communities. 

From cultural preferences leading to Moral Policing as in Vadodara to Land Acquisition for economic activities and public projects, there is a case for direct democracy within the Local Community to make decisions by involving all stakeholders.

To legitimately push for a specific course of action on behalf of the entire community, the new Big Tent must clearly and unambiguosly stand for a ground up democratic consensus within the community.

The White Umbrella shall stand for protection of the rights and freedom of local communities from the tyranny of Centralized diktats and vocal demands by lobbies which are neither democratic nor representative.

In the new Big Tent Central and State Governments when dealing with public projects cannot ride roughshod over the different stakholders interests through legislations or rule by decree.

The White Umbrella shall clearly and unambiguosly stand against centralized legislations in implementing public projects.

The White Umbrella shall also also clearly and unambiguously stand in favor of a process of stakeholder consensus that is democratic and representative involving local communities.

It is only through such a process can we create an Ownership Society that engenders a Culture of Responsibility.

More on this and the Spirit of Enterprise in the next post.

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Filed under: DesiPundit, Shveta Chhatra

92 Responses

  1. aru says:


    In the current structure local bodies survives on the funding provided by center or state. Unless local bodies can raise money on its own it won’t get freedom. Local bodies should collect taxes for various service it offers and users should be made to pay for using any service. If the current competitive freebies continues achieving this will be tallllll order.

  2. offstumped says:

    Aru – agree, we must make a beginning with cities and districts and drive it downwards over time with expanding economic activity.

  3. drummasala says:


    Add BMT project in Pune to the list. It has created havoc in the city and its a brainchild of Kalmadi. Thats why people were unhappy with him…but MNS helped him to win.

  4. NR says:

    Interestingly, after something similar to centralised funding is a system in railways. I came across it few hours ago and with yoos twitter on disbanding the minsitry, I have a few observations to make

    The railway budget when allocating the money for its zones- also decides what amount of money needs to be spent on which project in the zones. As a result, sometimes due to whims and fancies of politicos, the lifeline and most priority projects get delayed and the whole zone suffers.

    Many zones have reportedly tended to divet amounts to other projects to address such priorities.

    This an absurd system. The central budget must only care to allocate total funds to zones based on approved projects targets and the balance amount needed to complete those.

    To distribute the funds among which project must be the headache of the zonal railway. the existing system has resulted in nice shifting of blame game between zones and railway board and ministry whenever the concerned zone people come up with questions.

    Railways is one organization, in my view that needs to avoid this top heavy model.

  5. trupti_inlaw says:

    off topic but interesting to see how Rahul Gandhi is handling his lot. All this was not even publicised during elections

  6. Balaji says:

    Some specifics again on the Freedom of the Community.

    1. People like Narendra Modi should not be allowed to subvert democracy in the local communities by offering sops. Neither can state governments be allowed to dismiss local bodies according to whims and fancies. Let the independent central election commission handle local body elections as well.

    2. As NR and offstumped have also mentioned, railway ministry needs to be disbanded. We instead need a Transportation ministry consisting of Railways, Shipping, Surface transport and Aviation depts. Create railway zones for each state instead of the ad-hoc approach we have now. And handover city transportation to a single entity which will be owned in parts by PSUs under the Central Ministry of Transportation, state Road Transport ministry, City Municipal body and private players if needed. Look at my old city Los Angeles Metro system for example.

    3. However inviting it may be, a city mayor elected directly by the people is a non-starter. In India, even the prime minister is not elected by such a large electorate. It’ll make the position too politically important that only crooks will occupy it. Mayors and Municipal chairman must be elected by the corporators and councilors.

    4. Village panchayats and Zilla parishads must have the power to decide whether land acquisition for Industry be allowed from their area. And State governments should not get into land acquisition. Let the industry pay market price to individual land owners.

  7. Sundararaman says:

    The Local Government should be run apolitically and Narendra modi’s idea of encouraging apolitical Local self governments are brilliant and needs support

  8. Balaji says:

    Aren’t local bodies apolitical in all the states? Atleast in TN, political parties cannot contest panchayat elections. Ofcourse local political leaders contest individually.

    But what Narendra Modi is doing is to give 1 lakh rupees as incentive to select the sarpanch by consensus. The kind of consensus that gave Advani as LoOP and gonna give 2 years extension to Rajnath Singh. Anyway what is the need for the incentive? If a particular person is too popular he may anyway get elected unopposed.

  9. Sundararaman says:

    In all the states including Gujarat it is political. The basic fallacy or the drawback in a democratic polity as opposed to consensual polity is the problem of Atma Stuti and Para Ninda as a template of democratic polity. These two result in executional (I do not know if that usage is correct) biases and hence any institution vested with Executional responsibilities should remain apolitical. Since Local governments are mainly executive bodies directly executing tasks unlike legislature which is a policy making body with responsibility for executive function as a supervisor of executive, the ills of electoral democracy are not much reflected. I think people here will understand that distinction.

  10. NR says:


    railway zones based on each state will be a disaster. The some of the zones have already lead to statism after the expansion of no of zones. and the way salem divison was formed by splitting palghat in sr thanks to pmk and dmk has only resulted in heartburns in kerala. If zones were functioning on state basis it will be disaster as more intercities within state will be operated based on regional demands, but it will block the vital capacity of the line to other states. state based zones promote regionalism.

    yes we dont need separate ministries, it is just departments which oversee the policy decisions for individual companies like national railways, national highways.

    In my view zones are fine as such, it is just that they need independence and not left to mercy of politicos and nanus in delhi, and it is the divisons which need to have max power, not even the zones. it is just the states need to have stakes in the concerned zones in their state.

    Balaji,I second you in city transportation. Chennai is the best example of non cooperation.

    There is just no cooperation between city buses, sr which ooperates the mrts and suburban. All mrts stations were designedto have bus bays and yet not a single bus is operated to any station as city buses by that linking dont want to promote rail use.

    Unified transportation body was demanded by all players and 2.5 years back they announced the process to set up one. They are still setting it up and not even discussion have been started.

    I think chicago transit authority is better than LA. Even london has a good system.

  11. Vivek says:


    On the lighter side, do you have any plans to write a book of some sort about Svetha Chattra. Sorry if the question is intrusive. Just curious. It just seems to be too big a topic to simply blog and illustrate!

  12. Balaji says:

    yes, Chicago is probably better than LA. I like their card system.

    I’m suggesting statewise zones only as a measure against inter-state rivalries. Nepotism and regionalism are already there, aren’t they?!

    In the Salem-Palakkad fracas, I don’t think Kerala was being reasonable. If the majority income is coming from TN, they shud probably get a division, no? Agreed it raises questions of how equitably the railway budget is spent on various states. But the same problem occurs in all central govt budgetary allocations. So just give a zone to each state. Let them fight for budgets.

    Besides unless States each get a zone, I doubt state govts will give city transport systems to independent entities. So state zones are a sop. We also need vested political interests to support privatization of railways.

    Becos eventually Railways has to be split into Rail Authority of India (RAIL!) and Indian Railway corp. The former will be like Airports authority (to handle stations, tracks etc) and the later like Air India. And private players (even Virgin’s Branson) should be allowed to enter Railway business. And state govts will have no say in Indian Railway corp. So all along we need to keep states in good humor.

  13. Ajay says:

    There is hardly any revenue generated for governance from rural India.

    Besides, in pre-British India, a sort of consensuses existed on working together for good of village. That concept is completely lost now.

    Local governance also may lead to gap in technology adoption and survival of archaic processes.

    Local governance in today’s world is feasible only when the populace is highly educated and are well connected with progress in rest of the world.

  14. Vivek says:

    On the topic of Railways,

    I had an interesting conversation with a vendor one day at railway station in my hometown some one year ago! There was big queue for tickets. Train got delayed but the people got really pissed off with the pace! This guy infornt of me was a wholesale vendor in nearby towns. He does up and down travel from my place to near by towns. He buys stuff from my place and sells them nearby. So he almost everyday travels by train.

    He started off a conversation with me. He said the whole ticketing system should change. I asked why. He said “This system is too old and is very slow. There should be some kind of punching system where daily travellers like me can just punch somewhere and get tickets to travel. Moreover there should be one ticket for travel between given two places. That way one can get down anywhere in between these two stations and can continue journey after a break. Moreover this will negate the need for on-train toilets since one can get down anywhere and get back on to any train to the destination! And that would increase capacity of each coach!” He went on to give examples of delhi metro and some services in london, paris etc. I asked him if he went to these plcaes. He said I talked to some people here and there and gathered this info. We were in the queue for about 45 minutes. In that short period of time, he had enormous number of ideas just in ticketing. He also told me about how he plans to make his little business go online on internet. I asked him if that would help in small towns where he does business. He said right now it wont but 5-10 years down the line even our villages will use internet and then it would reduce delivery time! I was amazed at the optimism he was showing! And no, not one idea of his talked about government. He was only concentrating on what he could do for bettering things!

    He studied till higher sec it seems but jsut one person has got so many ideas! Unfortunately, there is no way to tap into this potential.

    Ideas are there but the encauragement to nurture them and get them to a meaningful point are not there!

    I guess the process of education needs to cultivate this. If the individuals are encauraged from child hood to convert ideas into actions they, instead of behaving like herd of sheep, would start to think about ways to find oppurtunities where the system is unable to do better! After all what all government should do is to give framework and it is enterprises that chip in and provide services basing on the available framework and under some judicial guidelines!

  15. Devolution of financial powers is one important issue in regard to local self governments. While taxes can be levied by Local self governments that is very limited and that would not be enough for even the administrative costs. When the likes of Chidambaram allocates from Centre as if the Central resources are his ancestral fiefdom, there are favouritism. Why should’nt some norms for devolution of finances from Centre to State to Local governments be evolved? or Conversely the flow of taxes be from Local to State to Centre? That would be revolutionary and very difficult to balance out. May be some system was the Mahalwari system of Sher Shah Suri.

  16. NR says:

    Well Vivek,

    I guess there were lot of optimistic and encouraging people like him.

    The SR in chennai after the outpours of complaint on ticketing introduced a automated ticket vending machines and smart cards for suburban. But none wants to use it and instead only stand in line and complain that not enough counters arethere. Its been more than a year and the machines are only rusting.

    As far as toilets are concerned there is SC ruling that sets the distance parameter at 160 km or 3-4 hrs for toiletless operation.

    Many have suggested daily passes for n number of travel between two points, but all we get is Rs 20 pass announcement as dole out.

    Apart from technicatlities, yes individuals must be encouraged to convert their ideas.


    I am not a great fan of the way virgin operates its trains in UK, but the UK system of having lines auctioned is worst privatisation model that can be adopted into India. It will be a disaster, with kind of internetworks in india.

    The kind of model that i have felt is a good one is allowing states to own the stations and start new projects within their state. if funded fully by them, it for exclusive use of the needs of state.

    Having three separate arms for operation, one for inter state operations and other for intra state passenger services and other arm for freight operations.

    The second can be divided into subsidaries owned by the respective state and the operations( decision to operate new trains/increasing frequency) in existing tracks regulated by a independent central regulatory board.

    A network arm will maintain the operations part

    Each arm gets exclusive ownership of any new project that they carry out and can involve the private investment/players as the need be in these.

    I think under existing circumstances this rough model is what i envisage.

    privatisation of the type in UK wont work in India is my feeling

  17. NR says:

    That way states will have more powers with regards to their transport system and can streamline them and decide how they want it. That will allow more buses tobe operated to rural areas and feeder operations. Orissa need not be at mercy of central ministers. They have been demading a project for several years now, that could trigger development in those areas, and also for important mines, yet it is always being neglected. They got some reprieve atleast with regards to new trains only during the period of last board chairman jena who hailed from orissa.

    Railways is one area where states need to have more power.

  18. Karthik says:

    The local Government bodies should have the all the responsiblities for anything that directly affects the local community. We should have the local bodies that directly elects the mayors and council members who will be able to raise majority of funds from their community. The main source of their funding could be the Property tax and a portion of sales tax. Also they can even levy an income tax if the local community approves. Ofcourse to do this we need to have a honest efficient tax collecting mechanism. Also they should be allowed to raise money through issuing bonds. To make these ideas work the local bodies should have complete freedom and the state Government should not have the rights to dismiss them.Once we have the funding in place then the local Government can take care of the day to day needs of the community such as
    Water supply
    Transportation infrastructure
    Housing zoning
    Waste Management
    Neighborhood parks
    Public school management
    Local Law Enforcement

    The public schools also should be freed from the central/state tyranny. The local school board should be constiuted either by election or some other process comprising of parents whose childredn goes to that schools. That board should be responsible for monitoring the schools performance and appointment of teachers and approving budgets with the help of educational experts.This would go a long way to solve the huge rot in the public schools.
    Also the local Police chief should be appointed by Mayor not by whims of the people in state capital. The other thing would be the local citizen should have a voice in the local development activites like a new factory or any other activites needs to be put to vote or a public hearing should be arranged before the council votes on the proposal. This will eliminate a lot of issues with the land acquistions.
    Once you have the local bodies up and running then you can even have the district collector as an elected offical rather than a bureaucrat.

    On the issue of politicizing the local bodies I think it is a good thing provided the state and central parties do not interfere in the process. The candidates should be decided by the local primary election not by the party leaders in the state capital. Villages and small cities can be run without the political party candidates. But for a city like Mumbai,Delhi or even a city like Madurai needs politicians as a mayor. The big city voters needs to hear the competing ideas and policies and future vision for their cities from the political parties. Then they can decide which policies are needed for their cities. I think the top most leader in any big city should be politician who then can appoint managers to implement his policies.

  19. NR says:

    this is one clear case where local communityhas no power.

    Alot of what karthik said, i think has been implemented in countries like britain and their local borough councils.

    typical known example is the use of floodlights in lords and how it was restricted by local council based on local peoples views.

  20. NR says:

    OT but a There lies a subtle point on local body power here.

  21. NR says:

    Thank you sir. hope you stick to your word and dont say i bow to demands of party after creating artificial demands from inside for extension. we also welcome you taking responsibility.

    The IE pic captures the state of bjp in central politics during your tenure.

  22. mpanj says:

    Those that blindly object to everything that NaMo does have not really taken the time to understand his many initiatives.

    If you have any background in management or business, you will realize that his initiatives are nothing short of revolutionary.

    Allow me to explain.

    1. Rs. 1 lakh for unanimously elected local bodies:

    This idea came from the fact that a fractured mandate at the local level led to a logjam – much like coalitions of competing forces destroys governance at the state and national levels.

    The lingering bitterness created a constituency of local leaders who were left out of the gravy train.

    Note: Anyone who thinks local bodies are ‘apolitical’ is smoking something illegal. By that definition even student politics is apolitical but how does one explain NSUI, ABVP, etc.

    Candidates have their affiliations and only academics from JNU and IIC are living in this utopian delusion that these are just independent individuals running for office for the greater good.

    What NaMo’s initiative did was create an incentive for the local populace to force their candidates to work toward the common good.

    Remember these are microscopic local bodies and candidates tend to live amongst their voters as against a Shashi Tharoor or LKA or MMS who use their seats to get elected but dont really belong to that state/seat.

    This proximity tends to breed a level of accountability not witnessed in other elected bodies.

    Secondly, this incentive works toward creating a long lasting organizational infrastructure that can help implement future programs and initiatives. This is not a handout, but an incentive to build a culture that can outlast government tenures and individual candidates.

    Lastly, with candidates not required to raise funds for future elections the propensity to indulge in corruption is reduced.

  23. mpanj says:


    sorry for the long responses. This is an important issue – at the very heart of our ‘Mai baap’ culture of politics.

    2. Unparalleled Success of SEZs in Gujarat

    Why do Nandigram or Raigad dont happen in Gujarat.

    For those that arent aware of what happened in the Raigad district of M’rastra heres a quick recap:

    Reliance had planned one of its biggest SEZ in this region.

    This is traditionally a poor but very productive region – with exports ranging from fish to Mangoes.

    Reliance (Mukesh) wanted to buy the land and build a brand new city here.

    Our friends in the Congress had given the green light and were going about doing the dirty work of acquiring land from locals to hand over to Reliance.

    Land was being acquired at under-market prices under ‘Eminent Domain’ laws

    The local population opposed this tooth and nail and the SEZ itself was dropped after years of wrangling – locals demanded market prices which in turn made this SEZ unprofitable.

    We already know what happened in Nandigram – the only difference being the use of force by Commies.

  24. mpanj says:

    So how is NaMo’s SEZ program different and what makes it so successful.

    1. He is Mr. Clean – ‘Khatu nathi khawa detu nahi’.

    2. NaMo laid out two preconditions that were inviolable

    a) SEZ would not be used for real estate development

    b) all land acquisition would be done by the promoter directly from local land owners – govt. would have no part to play.

    Why is the land acquisition so important?

    There are cases after cases of land acquisition by govts. across India that have led to property speculation.

    Corrupt politicians use their govt. power to acquire land at throw away prices and hand it over to promoters for a hefty commission.

    Bottomline: Other than certain environmental, tax approvals, NaMo allows locals to have a greater say in how SEZs are moulded.

    Another point: Just last week NaMo’s govt. withdrew the need for approval allowing the need for agricultural land to be used for industrial purposes.

    This approval process was a source of immense corruption and delays.

    By scrapping it NaMo has transferred greater discretion to local land owners and local bodies and sped up industrial growth.

    So please bring your facts to the table before you mouthoff on NaMo and his policies.

    He is decades ahead of any leader India has seen since independence.

  25. mpanj says:

    A few links to bolster arguments in support of NaMo’s policies and initiatives:

    Note: Almost each headline and article try to put a negative spin on these amazing initiatives.

  26. Balaji says:

    I stand by my argument that Modi’s 1 lakh sop is an act of subversion of democracy aimed at appointing cronies as sarpanchs. Even otherwise bribing the voters to vote some way or not vote in this case is an assault on democracy. If any citizen in this country is discouraged from contesting elections, thats unacceptable. I’m also against reserved constituencies in this regard.

    Maybe these ‘NaMo’ supporters shud read how Nazi’s subverted democracy or Chinese still do, giving the same kind of reasons.

    And the number of unelected sarpanchs is anyway high in many states.

  27. Amit says:


    Is the incentive going to a person or to the local body? If it goes to the local body, it benefits the community and is not a corrupt practice as such.

    BTW, here’s similar news from AP where the incentives are 15 lakhs and 5 lakhs instead of 1 lakh.

  28. Balaji says:

    Funny, your Hindu link has the following ominous paragraph.

    “The announcement assumes significance in the light of reports that several posts of sarpanches and upa sarpanches had been auctioned for amounts ranging from Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 15 lakhs in different parts of the State. In several villages, elders were said to have encouraged auctions stating that the money would be utilised for development.”

    Any attempt to do away with elections, however well intentioned and done by people of integrity will only lead to corruption and nepotism. If people are auctioning offices, such panchayats shud be punished not rewarded.

    I have serious doubts about the future of Gujarat or atleast the future of BJP in that state once Modi moves away from the scene. He has done so much damage to local institutions and internal democracy in the party, that anyone, Anatiben in this case, will surely misuse that autocratic setup.

    Modi is doing a reasonably good job on governance, no doubt. But people on kool-aid often don’t recognize his non-performance in social sectors and his attempts to subvert democracy. When Rahul Gandhi conducts elections for youth congress in Gujarat, it’ll be a mighty slap on Modi’s face. Media will screw Modi and sing paeans for the ‘young democratic prince’ atleast until 2014. You have been warned.

  29. Amit says:

    What is funny is your insistence that this kind of scheme is somehow special and unique to Gujarat.

    Can you stay on topic please? Rant against the evil fascist twins Modi and YSR elsewhere.

  30. Umesh says:

    I think your idea on decentralisation of Railways is damn good. We see examples of the problem manifest in all the major poverty stricken states in the country.

    Let me do a brief case-study. The eastern coastal raileway zone provides profit in the range of 3000-5000 crores a year. But, when it comes to approval of lines in these regions, things are in terrible shape.

    In 1947, a survey was done to connect Khurda(Near Bhubaneswar) with Balangir via a railway line. It took 50 years to sanction the money required(abt 1000 crores). This sanction happenned only when there was a minister of state for Railways from Orissa. Since, then we have had ministers from Bihar and West bengal. But, the tragedy is that even today the line is not even 20% complete. This year, the Govt. allloted 36 crores for the line. Even money alloted in previous years does not get spent.

    Sometimes I think only, when my grand-children are born, we will see this line through.

    If Khurda-Balangir line is happens then, the starvation districts , korput,kalahandi, balangir would be transformed. Today, Balangir is the poorest district among the 3.

    This line was expected to pass through Nayagarh. Some of you might remember abt a year or so back, there was a Naxal attack at Nayagarh. If this line was there this problem would not have happenned.

    perhaps, some of you would care to comment on the above.

  31. Umesh says:

    hey balaji,
    This is an important topic. Some people like Modi, they will talk about him. What is the need to divert this topic by ranting abt fascism/dominance/subversion etc.

    If you have any constructive suggestions, just provide them. What is the point in getting personal?

    You run the risk of becoming ignored if you keep on baring the knuckles.

    Cheers..Feel free to ignore if irrelevant..

  32. mpanj says:

    “Subverting Democracy”.


    So what is dynastic politics. Celebration of democracy :-)

    Other than the BJP there’s not one political outfit where merit will bring you to a seat of power where u can make a difference.

    And NaMo epitomizes this political meritocracy.

    Its fine for arm chair pandits to mouth peans to upholding democratic ideals lounging in their airconditioned existence.

    Rural life – as Baba #1 is ‘discovering’ is a different ball game.

    60 years of ‘upholding’ democracy and discussing Panchayati Raj, have left us with an India devoid of even the most abysmal living standards.

    India has more malnourished people than even Africa. And lets not even start discussing other social parameters – education, literacy, health, clean drinking water, etc.

    And I still dont see any facts. Any particular facts to substantiate NaMo’s “non-performance” in social sectors.

    So 24 hours of power that help raise rural education standards, drive the sprouting of small scale units, improve quality of life for the poorest of poor, is what – the American Express Black Card. To name just one of his achievements.

    (Btw, Gujarat under NaMo is the only state to have achieved this)

    Those supporting NaMo understand this:

    Finally, India has a leader who embodies a near perfect confluence of – strength, vision, courage and competence.

    What others grudgingly concede as a ‘reasonable’ performance is a monumental change.

    From the Politics of Patronage to the Politics of Performance. Period.

  33. Ot says:

    Fascinatingly, “democracy” and “liberalism” are Balaji’s claimed ideals. Ironically though, his ideas are quite fascist in nature. He consistently comes across as a hater of democracy.

    To incentivize people to follow politics of consensus is not “subversion of democracy”. Face it: the majority of politicians are in politics for power and money. Modi has checkmated petty politicians in small communities with his development sop. The idea is to make sure the pressure comes from within the community on these small-time politicos to not contest. This is not an experiment that can be replicated among larger populations. Try offering the sop that Bangalore city will get 5000Cr development aid if voters will unanimously elect a mayor. Bangalore is not a “community”, and pressure on city’s politicians to heed to appeals of common good will not work.

    Subversion of democracy happens when voters are induced to vote for reasons other than those that democratic franchise is meant for. Bribing individual voters with cash, as dravida parties and congress routinely do, is an act of subversion of democracy. Intimidating and killing voters, as communists do, is another. Buidling caste- and religion-based votebanks is another example. Buying off newspapers and TV channels to manufacture consent is yet another. I have a suspicion that Comrade Balaji secretly believes that bribing off voters or killing a few as long as the politicians he approves of are voted for is good for democracy. At any rate, his publicly voiced ideas are fairly scary. He campaigned for BJP, I learn. No wonder the party lost. :-)

  34. Balaji says:

    wow! the topic is on freedom to the community and people are discussing local bodies. and I have given a very specific instance of Modi subverting democracy in village panchayats. and its me who is being off-topic?! kool-aid at work.

  35. NR says:


    I know who the tribal states are crying for railway help. TN like guj, raj, mpand chattisgarh had lot of metre gauge/narrowgauge.

    But almost all metre gauges in this state have been approved, even the difficultone on sencottah-punalur, linking kerala and tirunelveli cutting through the ghats.

    And besides these numerous 10-12 gc, the state has had n number of new lines appoved,work started, many completed, doubling approved and same holds good for kerala. Add to this a lot of fresh surveys have taken place.

    And this in a zone which is the only loss making zone of railways, as depends only on passenger earnings which all over is loos making. Other zones compensate with enourmous freight but this zone does not have the freight opportunity. Reason TN, kerala, ap mosr have been there since 98(datteraya,rajagopal of bjp rep ap,kerala for feww years and rest by pmk ministers)

    Yet the states like orissa, chhatisgarh, mp that contribute immensely to the railway kitty due to the innumerable mines are left behind. It is these states that give the railway a major part of its profit and its these very states that need the social humane face of railways at work. Yet they are given a step motherly treatment. It is after having a look at these that i suggested such an option. Atleast then central funds can be put to use in these states and developed states can do whatever they want for new projects and may also involve private players, as the lines are new.

    I view railways as one important domain that will herald development and growth opportunities in these tribal dominated, naxal infested, profit spiining belt.

  36. Umesh says:

    If you take a map of the naxal dominated regions, invariably, you will find that railways dont exist in these areas.

    Lalu yadav claimed that he has restored profitability to the railways. Why is it that, they dont seem to have made any new social investments in the required states? Forget new investments, even the approved lines are not getting enough funding.

    The problem is aggravated due to naxal growth in such areas. I think it is time for more accountability in such areas. Some more devolution of power is necessary for faster progress in the states like Orissa, chattisgarh and Jhrakhand.

  37. NR says:


    i think Savarkar team is probably reading offstumped or may be there is debate even in the forum. Have not devoted much time too reading the post there since last week.

    but suddenly this post by the moderator after a e-mail he received makes me think like this

  38. NR says:

    May be balaji made a post there too like he made in swapan da blog triggering the response.

  39. NR says:

    I dont know how chhindwara people keep electing kamalnath. After lot of persuasion lalu announced the gc of narrow gauge bet nagpur-chhindwara on the ngapur-nainpur-jabalpur route through tribal regions. He gave 80 cr for the 109 km section first in 2008 and yet nothing has happened and lalu was lambasted for his in rajya sabha. Only a few trains for name sake run. Infact the Jabalpur-gondia stetch of over 300 km must have bee converted by now if taken on a serious note but is really slow in even meeting the slow target dates due to not enough funds being allotted year after year these all pass thorugh tribal regions and no improvement. Even the creation of SECR zone with raipur,jabalpur divisons has not heralded any development here.
    Gujarat which could have got its private players involved is also struggling as a lot of its regions are in ng and mg with trains running for namesake or closed for years now.

    There is greater need for devolving powers in railways.

  40. NR says:

    Karuna attacks N.Ram who was his friend till some time ago, but he once again uses caste to attack.

    Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi on Monday accused a newspaper baron in the State of running a malicious campaign against the Congress- DMK alliance during the just concluded Lok Sabha elections.

    Without naming the newspaper owner, he said the person camped in Delhi and continued his campaign among other media.

    “But the results of the polls has made that person and the Delhibased television channels cut a sorry figure,” he said in a statement here.

    Referring to former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s remark that the Ramayana was the story of Aryan-Dravidian rivalry, Karunanidhi said those who closely followed the politics at the national level and in Tamil Nadu would agree that the statement still holds good.

    “Even now, the enemies of Dravidas, hidden under the appendage of ‘Dravida,’ desperately try to attack us by re-enacting Vaali Vadham [Lord Rama, in the Ramayana, killed Vaali, the monkey king, by hiding himself].

    The enemies of Dravidas use newspapers and television as weapons.” He said till the results were out on May 16, a strong campaign was going on in the media, asserting that the DMK-led alliance would draw a blank and that the Union Government would be formed as per the wishes of AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa.

    “A newspaper owner ran a malicious campaign as if the person has taken a vow,” the Chief Minister said

  41. NR says:

    Sorry for OT.

  42. NR says:

    Kanchan gupta has raised some key issues in his last two post in his blog.

  43. mpanj says:


    your suggestion that the Rs. 1 lakh incentive is a subversion of democracy is your opinion.

    If NaMo used force or bribes to achieve this consensus your argument would hold water.

    But in our nation where (as Ot points out) every two bit leader hires goons or promotes politics of divide-and-rule such a community driven consensus is the best solution to promote rapid development.

    When Indians irrespective of religion, caste, language come together with the sole purpose of promoting collective prosperity we must celebrate it.

    But your blind hatred toward NaMo prevents a rationale discussion.

    But one important distinction still remains. You are short on facts.

    You claim NaMo has ignored ‘social development’.

    I have given you several examples to prove his performance is better than anything seen in Independent India.

    I’m yet to see any counter (fact based) arguments.

    If name calling is your trade.

    I rest my case.

  44. Balaji says:

    Kanchan Gupta has picked up the Integral Humanism vs Hindutva theme I have been talking about. Although he doesn’t think BJP should choose between either of them, I think the fight has just begun. I hope sooner rather than later, the Hindutva Fascists are thrown out of the BJP/RSS.

  45. Balaji says:


    you probably don’t understand what I meant by “social sectors”. its about the rampant womb renting in Gujarat, literacy rate, status of tribals and dalits, women’s rights, refugee welfare, female infanticide, marriage age of women, rapprochement between communities etc.

    He has chosen the ‘trickle-down’ approach to these issues, believing economic progress will solve these problems. but I doubt social progress is related to economics. look at Kerala, not much economic progress but is number one on the social index. and look at Maharashtra and Punjab. they have always been economically ahead but have abysmal social indexes.

    and btw I’m aware of Modi’s drive on girls primary education. I appreciate that and wish there is more emphasis on schemes like that.

    and people who think I’m against Modi by default are just stereotyping me. I believe he like Advani is a Fascist. its just a fact. But less academically inclined people here will cry fowl at the mere mention of ‘fascist’. wonder how will they reconcile with Golwalkar’s views on Nazism.

    in anycase I have no problem with Modi ascending to the leadership position at the national level. except that he cannot and will not become PM. people of India aren’t stupid enough to vote for him. so he’ll be better of becoming BJP president after Bal Apte in 2012 and support Sushmaji for PM in 2014.

  46. NR says:

    Balaji i noticed it and that is why i brought it here. Swapan da also has left his viewpoint on it.

    But he has raised not only that, he has raised several other issues.

  47. NR says:

    As he says, there is good discussion outside, but inside world seems to have none.

  48. Balaji says:


    I think Swapan da is trivializing the issues. His call to talk on Economic and Foreign policy issues is laughable. Nobody doubts BJP’s economic conservatism. Even illiterate people identify BJP with Golden Quadrangular project. Infrastructure is synonymous with BJP. Middle class knows this too except that it sees no credible or decent face in the BJP pantheon.

    But then they are all somewhat electoral issues. The main issue that BJP needs to reconcile is ideology. BJP today is doing no justice to either the Hindutva crowd nor the center right crowd. If BJP is gonna be a ‘governance’ party sans ideology, then people will associate with it only during elections and judge on its ability to deliver. And this election they rightly thrashed it!

    I wish BJP shows the Hindutva guys the door. But I’m ok if it chooses to embrace Hindutva more forcefully. Just that I’ll move out.

  49. Umesh says:

    Your stridency to denounce Hindutva as a fascist tendency shows that you’re already out. So, No question of you being in..

    I dont consider Hindutva to be rioting and extreme values. But, I do agree that the Hindutva as a philospohy needs a change of perception. Maybe RSS should adapt to Modern times and hire some ad-gurus to work on it.

  50. Balaji says:


    If you think Hindutva is in and we are already out, can you care to explain what BJP did in the last 10 years on Hindutva? None of the BJP leaders in this period Vajpayee, Advani and Modi have any respect for the Sangh. Sangh has been crying, threatening and begging for support and BJP has been doing lipservice. Just that Hindutva crowd is too stupid and doesn’t realize they are no longer welcome in the party. Any other self-respecting crowd would have already moved out.

  51. Sundararaman says:

    Latest Post is quite ok except that it will be the hindutva guys who will be in majority and hence the call would be for the center right crowd to be shown the door. But we should try to reconcile both the crowd in the Shwetha Chatra

  52. Tanmay says:

    Swapanda was on NDTV in the morning during the Ministers’ swearing in ceremony.Barkha & Vir were going on about how Modiji needs to apologize before he comes to the national stage.Swapanda thinks Modiji is a too fixated on the Gandhi family and the dynasty debate.

    On the Gujarat results,Swapanda said he had met Modiji after the candidates were announced and Modiji said BJP would get 16 seats and anything above that would be a bonus.

  53. maidros says:

    You are crossing the line into indecency. It is fine that you don’t care/loathe about Hindutva and `Brahmanism’, although you have displayed pathetic understanding of either. Caught lying about both, your only response was `I don’t believe’. What makes you think that you are indispensable to the BJP? Go ahead and start your own party with your `centre right policies’ and see how far that gets you. Descending into obnoxious verbiage, calling everyone who believes in Hindutva and `Brahmanism’ ugly names – you are ill suited to the culture of the BJP.

  54. offstumped says:

    Sundaraman – Has said it best, both sentiments need to be reconciled within a coherent ideological bedrock. Stay tuned for more on that in the next few days.

  55. Ajay says:

    People please stop indulging trolls. It is one thing to have a meaningful debate. But if somebody’s intention is to only insult your beliefs and make you angry, then they’ll celebrate no matter how you react.

    Can you agree with Balaji? No

    Can you disagree with Balaji?

    Irrespective of what you do, he’ll continue ranting. The formation of sentences may vary to account for your reactions to his earlier posts, but the content will always be the same,

    So please stop reacting to his comments, because your reaction has absolutely no bearing on what he’ll write next.

  56. Balaji says:


    I perfectly know that I’m a nobody in the BJP. And I don’t expect anything from it. If BJP cannot even convince a virulently economic conservative guy like me, good luck convincing the voters.

    And I don’t know why you think I don’t know anything on Hindutva or Brahmanism. Anyway I’m hardly interested in impressing you. If you recall we were discussing whether Ramayan is Brahmanical or not. I have noted down your defense of Ramayan which I conceded was good. But it’ll take me several hours of debating to convince you that Ramayan is just a propaganda material for Manu Smriti. It takes a leap of faith.

    And can we please avoid this sissy, “you hurt my feelings” kind of drama. I know we are all interested in discussing issues. But I have nothing personal against anyone. If we meet privately, I’m sure we’ll get along fine. I just put forth my views forcefully, thats all. Expressing contempt is also an opinion.

    And as Vinod Mehta wrote recently, the level on sissyness in Indian political debates is remarkable. Here’s his amusement at the ‘indecent personal’ exchanges between Manmohan Singh and Advani.


    If this is aggression, what would non-aggression be like? Do we forget that we are bang in the middle of the election season during which there are invariably rude exchanges between the contenders. I had visions of Bal Thackeray or Varun Gandhi or Parveen Togadia when I read the headlines. It is true Dr Manmohan Singh does not relish the cut and thrust of heated debate, but he is not a babe in the woods. At any rate, I thought both Mr Advani and Dr Singh did not cross the line. The charges they flung at each other are routine in a democracy and perfectly normal at election time.

    The prime minister and the leader of the Opposition are vying for the top job in the county. So, why do expect them to behave as if they were at a tea party thrown by the Speaker? I hope there are more exchanges which go beyond, “what my good friend, Mr So and So, has said is not correct.”

    In the mother democracy, an Opposition MP called the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, “a one-eyed idiot.” (Mr Brown is almost blind in one eye.) Nobody raised an eyebrow!

  57. NR says:

    When i talked of railways i forgot thaat karnataka too had before these 10 years of mosr with jaffer sharief.

    The bihar-bengalrm- south india -mosr nexus continues. This time it is worst. both mosr are from south kerala and karnataka.

    This ministry needs to get out of this cursed nexus.

  58. Sudhir says:


    “But it’ll take me several hours of debating to convince you that Ramayan is just a propaganda material for Manu Smriti.”

    Even if I accept this statement of yours, I am bit confused as to why this propaganda was authored by Valmiki. (I guess you have some conspiracy theory ready to explain this)

  59. Balaji says:


    I think regionalism is not just in railways but across the board. In those early ‘congress single party’ times, Congress states will get all the projects. In the last 15 years it has become reverse with states that return more national party MPs left high and dry. Congress has/had 30+ MPs from Andhra, they have got no worthwhile ministry. But TC gets 6 Ministers of states! And less said about TN, the better.

    In a way, a third front govt blackmailed by a national party would have perhaps gotten more goodies for many states.

  60. mpanj says:


    >>because your reaction has absolutely no bearing on what he’ll write next.

    Too funny.

    But we cant let this ‘spin masquerading as fact’ go unchallenged. That has been the trick these leftist use to discredit us ‘Fascists’ :-)

  61. mpanj says:


    >>>Social sectors such as “rampant womb renting in Gujarat, literacy rate, status of tribals and dalits, women’s rights, refugee welfare, female infanticide, marriage age of women, rapprochement between communities etc.”

    Here are two great links that explain why NaMo should be our PM in 2014.

    Now mind you we will only know the outcome of these initiatives after the next census results are tabulated (2010-2011):

    Kanya Kelvani
    Beti Bachao Andolan
    Nirogi bal varsh

  62. Ajay says:


    These Railway ministers from Karnataka did absolutely nothing for the state!

  63. Balaji says:


    As I said, it’ll take several hours. But why is this obsession with Valmiki? His was just one of the versions. And I’m not accusing/acquitting Valmiki of Brahmanism. Unless we know what he knew and what he thought fit to write, we cannot make any judgments. Some people are even ready to believe that Ravan was a Brahmin!

    Epics are neither completely stories nor acceptable histories. As a story Ramayan makes interesting reading and we Indians can rightly celebrate it. But as a glimpse into the life in those times, and viewed together with our historical understanding of that time, its a shocking tale of racism.

    For example, you only need to read Kambar’s Ramayan in Tamil (Kambar was an aryan and had no agenda to grind) to see how much he has sweetened the Valimiki version removing many of the offensive parts.

    As I said, it takes a leap of faith. Besides, I’m not hopeful of convincing anyone, unless the person makes an effort. People shud contemplate themselves. Probably wondering why most historians and philosophers consider Ramayan as racist gives a start.

  64. Ajay says:


    You may believe to be countering him, but take it from me, your writings have absolutely no impact on him, all it does is encourage him to spout more non-sense.

    Have you ever seen him accept any of our assertions? or at-least debate them fairly. Even if you convincingly trounce him, he’ll only switch topics for a while, and re-assert his falsehoods in another debate later.

  65. Sudhir says:

    “But why is this obsession with Valmiki?”

    obsession!!!!! Brahmanism, Fascism, Aryan-Dravidian Theories – What are these?

    “His was just one of the versions.”

    But it is the earliest and most accepted. Also most other Ramayanas are just variations that have taken Valmiki Ramayana as the base.

    “Some people are even ready to believe that Ravan was a Brahmin!”

    How convenient…..

    “Probably wondering why most historians and philosophers consider Ramayan as racist gives a start.”

    Please name a few of these “emminent Historians”

  66. Balaji says:


    Even I mentioned the girls primary education initiative in my comment. But if you think social changes are possible by token schemes, you are being optimistic. A lot mores needs to be done.

    and no, judging by the recent elections, people are not ready to vote for indecent people irrespective of performance.

  67. Sudhir says:

    Ajay @ (May 28, 2009 at 10:45 pm)

    You have written exactly what I was thinking….

  68. Balaji says:


    John Keay, Romila Thapar (cut the crap about her being left. she is the greatest historian in the history of India and her political views are immaterial), Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan come to my mind immediately. and as I said, I’m not hopeful of convincing anyone, unless the person makes an effort.

  69. Sudhir says:


    “and no, judging by the recent elections, people are not ready to vote for indecent people irrespective of performance.”

    But same people voted for him in 2007 Gujarat assembly elections. May be between 2007 and 2009 he has suddenly turned indecent.

  70. Sudhir says:

    “cut the crap about her being left. she is the greatest historian in the history of India and her political views are immaterial”

    Did I say anything about these “emminent historians”.

  71. Balaji says:


    what is your problem? am i too important in your life that you need to analyze me? when making points do I ever get personal? why can’t we just exchange views?

  72. Sudhir says:


    I am very curious to know as to what did Dr. S Radhakrishnan say and where he said that.

    I would definetely like read that book.

    I would only comment after reading the book suggested by you.

  73. Umesh says:

    I give up.:)

    Dear Yossarin,
    In a post a few days back, I had asked you(if possible) to ask BJP to focus on Orissa. Let me pass you an Intelligensia opinion on the ministry formation today.
    Link :

    “As per Orissa, it seems like humiliating Orissa is your favorite sport or perhaps your lucky charm, as you seem to be again starting your innings with that.”

    I think BJP should exploit this to at least become the main opposition in the next few years. As mentioned BJP needs to gain 9% voteshare from Congress. Orissa can provide such swings fairly easily.

  74. Amit says:

    Since we are debating the *-isms I have been wondering how to classify our leftists.

    The National Socialists believed in socialism and propaganda through the media.

    Indian leftists like the Congress and Communist Party control the media and believe in socialism.

    How are they different from the Nazis?

  75. Balaji says:

    1. Indian Philosophy. Volume 1, Chapter on Epic Philosophy.

    2. A Source book in Indian Philosophy. Chapter on The Epic Period.

  76. Ajay says:


    Your “discussion” has hijacked entire threads. Yoss had to close down one thread previously,

    You can as well take the discussion elsewhere, why don’t you start blogging on the topic and “exchange views” thru it?

  77. Ajay says:

    @ Umesh,

    Good pick about injustice to Orissa. Guess you should post this in LKA forum

  78. Umesh says:

    Is it active? I will post it in Swapan da’s blog..

  79. Balaji says:


    True, there have been lots of digressions. But isn’t this supposed to be a Big Tent?

  80. NR says:

    Umesh, it is active. its better to post there or mail to mitra who was incharge of orissa.

  81. Manish says:

    Lets say I live in a small/medium sized city like Vizag/Nagpur/Mysore. The municipal elections have just concluded, with election of Mayor pending. If I declare that if the elected corporators were to elect Mayor unanimously (I am neither specifying whom they should elect nor favoring anyone) I’ll give Rs. 100 crore to the city. Am I subverting democracy here?

  82. Mandar Joshi says:

    I thought of the following song after reading this post:

  83. NR says:

    kanchan gupta has raised an important point in his latest post- how bjp failed to address any one issue it stood for years before coming to power once it was in power and also how it took positions contrary to what it stood for and therefore indirectly indicates it lost credibility.

    Again the main point- walk the talk which increases credibility.

  84. senthil says:

    Indeed a good topic for discussion..

    But, while decentralising, we need to consider the historic significance of the regions.. In my opinion, the linguistic organisation of states needs to be Undone, and reorganised based on historic and cultural coherence…

    For example, the telengana and royaseelma should be different.. the konkana and marathwada region has their unique significance..

    In tamilnadu, the kongu region is divided b/w karnatak, kerala and tamilnadu.. it’s a cultural block, that needs to be re-organised..

    similarly, in WB, the 24 parganas, the gorkhaland etc are all different regions.

    Any nation should be a continuance of its history.. and for us, the current administration and regional setup is highly artificial..

    We need to connect with the history, and for that, we need to re-organise ourselves in historic perspective.

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