Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Will the Indians Vote Against Crime? Or for Merit?

Indian voters cannot ignore the pressures of global meltdown, terrorism or technology. They cannot ignore the young leaders who are running the world today. They cannot tolerate criminals as their leaders. So, what is the new profile of leaders India’s mostly young voters can choose?

Forgetting about merit and leadership, will Indians again elect scores of criminals as their leaders in the coming elections in April and May? And in total contrast to the global trends today, will the young Indian voters elect old persons are their top leaders?

Will the voters repeat their dismal choices of the last elections by choosing criminals? In the 2004 elections, no less than 128 of the 543 winners had faced criminal charges, including 84 cases of murder, 17 cases of robbery and 28 cases of theft and extortion. Many face multiple criminal charges, including one member who has 17 murder charges. Even if a person has been charged with a crime but as long as one not convicted, one can stand for Parliament. Since court cases take decades to decide, the accused are out on bail and get elected as Members of Parliament. That’s how lawbreakers become lawmakers. Proposals have been made that any person charged with a crime that can be punished with a five-year sentence must not be allowed to stand for elections. In this case, opponents can slap fake criminal charges against their opponents and push them out of the election contest in the dirty game of politics.

Will a young India elect men and women well past their prime as their leaders? A new youthful India, 70 per cent under 40 years of age, is gearing up to vote for her future when about half of the MPs in the last Parliament were well beyond their retirement age. Nearly 700 million Indians go to polls in April and May in a watershed election. A new youthful India, 70 per cent under 40 years of age, is gearing up to vote for her future when about half of the MPs in the last Parliament were well beyond their retirement age. Indians are allowed to vote when they reach the age of 18 years and at least one fourth of the voters are below the age of 25. At least 100 million voters are between the ages of 18 and 24. Thus the results of this election will show the choice of the young voters youth or experience?

But most of the candidates are middle aged, if not older. The most powerful leaders of the eight most powerful countries (G 8) are becoming younger. The lineup of these youthful leaders shows that the youngest of them, Russian President Dmitry Medevev is just 44 years old. The election of 47 years old Barrack Obama has set the pattern for youth – rather than age – to lead the most powerful nation on this earth. Five others are in their middle age while only one, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is over 70 years. If India has become a trillion dollar economy to sit at the table of the richest countries, its leaders should measure up to the vitality and verve of the ones already sitting there. The two leaders vying for the post of the Prime Minister are aged 76 and 82 respectively from the two major political parties, the Congress and the BJP.


G 8 LEADERS According to Their Age

Russian President Dmitry Medevev - age 44
US President Barrack Obama - age 47
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper - age 50
French President Nicolas Sarkozy - age 54
German Chancellor Angela Merkel - age 55
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown - age 57
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso - age 69
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi - age 73

Source: The Internet.


The young voters are very active with their mobiles and may also use the Internet. The aspiring politicians have seen the power of the Internet after Barrack Obama’s election. So they connect with them by mobile and Internet campaigns especially in the cities and towns. The Indian voter may not have the yardstick to judge merit, but wants change and action. After high economic growth of nine per cent that has eased off with the global economic depression, the Indian voter wants fast economic recovery. After the November terror attack on Mumbai, the Indian voter demands accountability, full preparedness and instant response on security threats.

Long experience of political leadership is not enough in this age of high technology, massive economic shocks, lethal terror attacks and global vision while attending to local, basic needs. About ten per cent of urban youth voted in the last election but a much higher percentage will go the polls with more middle aged and old voters to try and make a difference to the type and quality of leaders they choose.

So what is needed? Education, yes. Not many of the elected members of the last parliament can be termed as educated considering their dismal behaviour or contribution to matters of national interest. Osho wants merit to be basis for both for voters and leaders.

“You can make it a point that you have to have a first class bachelor's degree if you want to vote in the state government. You have to have a doctorate if you want to stand for any position in the federal government -- a Ph.D. is absolutely necessary. If you want to become the president of the country, then you must have at least a D.Litt. or D.Sc. Without having these qualifications you cannot stand, you cannot run for the post.

“So we should require merits for each post - the highest merits. And we should make grades of voters: for the federal government, the highest degree; for the state government, a lower degree; for the county, a little lower degree. But meritocracy has to take the place of democracy.”

The leaders have to deal with ever changing and progressing science and technology and make meaningful decisions. Since all leaders cannot become scientists or even know about all the disciples of science, they ignore the new developments of science and continue with the antiquated methods. Or, they get scientific ‘experts’ to advise them before making decisions. Osho’s vision of Einstein the Buddha or marrying science and spirituality is more crucial now than ever before in this day of nuclear weapons and environmental disasters.

Equally important is spirituality – not religion that has been manipulated to divide and destroy the national fabric. Unless the elected leaders go beyond the intolerant and fanatic confines of their idea of religions, indeed terror, violence results. A person of meditation, on the other hand, has learnt to how to be full of energy at the maximum. He also gets the insight and the vision from the meditative no-mind.

Never judge a man by his actions. Osho says, “There is no other way because you have not known even your own being, then how you can see the being of others? Once you know your own being, you will learn the language, you will learn the language, and you will know the clue of how to look into another’s being. You can see into others only to the extent that you can see into yourself. If you have seen yourself through and through, you become capable o seeing into others through and through.” So he lives at the peak, says Osho. He united and leads without going on an ego trip. And he has no pseudo mask that hides his true face. Osho quotes a Latin proverb that he finds tremendously beautiful – Agere sequitur esse – to do follows to be; or, action follows being. That’s the type of leaders India needs now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obamania at its height in Kenya

“Obama is very popular everywhere in Kenya,” said Karam Singh, a Kenya Indian currently on holiday after settling abroad. He saw that all over; and no wonder, the Inauguration Celebrations for President Barrack Obama start in Kenya much earlier than in the United States.

“I went for dinner to one Indian friend and he had portraits of Obama alongside pictures of Hindu Gods,” he said, “In traffic jams, vendors run up to cars selling his autobiography, pictures to hang at home alongside the President of Kenya. Vehicles have his photo painted on them.”

“I came across one coach on Mombasa Road with Obama's portrait painted on the back. Sections of this road are very rough. Some Chinese who are re-building this road, got menacing when I raised the camera. It was then a race to get a good vantage point from by car seat to take picture of the moving coach. I drove the driver crazy asking him to get as close as possible on this dangerous stretch of the road.

“After several wasted shots - I got my exclusive at the cost of being cursed by driver and passengers. They could not fathom the reason that someone from UK would want to take a photo of the back of the bus bearing Obama's photo! To me, this photo embodied aspirations of ordinary Kenyans who strive for greater achievements both in terms of monetary gains, power, high powered connections and personal embellishments,” he said.

Kenya declared a national Holiday when Obama won - the next national holiday will be when he visits Kenya. Now that has to be an event in itself. The Inauguration Celebrations for President Barrack Obama take off in Kenya earlier than in the United States. A five-day cultural extravaganza starts in his ancestral village, Kogelo, in western Kenya, on 16 January with traditional African music, dance, poems, art exhibitions, folk stories and feasts. Kenya’s Ministry of Culture and Heritage is assisting to organise this major event attended by many elders from his tribe and experts on African culture.

“The most important guest at Obama's inauguration is from Kenya,” headlined an American newspaper reporting on the presence of Sara Obama, Barack's Kenyan grandmother. She is the mother of Obama's father, whom he missed greatly when he was growing up. The US embassy in Nairobi has granted visas to eight members of the Kogelo community to attend Obama’s inauguration on January 20 in Washington DC. The group includes five immediate family members of Obama who will also be travelling to the US.

On the historic day when the first African- American takes the oath of office to lead the most powerful nation of the world, Kenyans will be singing to hail him. The trail blazing Boys Choir of Kenya, a group of 26 young men, will perform for Obama and his guests in Washington DC during the inauguration. They will present the song America the Beautiful, a US national song, and Jambo Bwana, a popular Kenyan ditty that means “Hello, Boss”.

Kenya is already reaping a bonanza for its tourism sector after the Obama’s election for tourists are coming to visit his ancestral village after its tourism took a big hit following the ethnic violence in January 2008 soon after the elections in December 2007. Now, no Kenya safari is complete without a visit to Obama’s village in Nyanza Province of western Kenya, not very popular on the tourist circuit until Obama won the US elections.

Many Kenyan companies and politicians are cashing in on Obama’s victory. The vastly popular beer called ‘Senator’ when Obama won the election, it launched a new beer named “President”. East Africa’s leading newspaper, Daily Nation, published a calendar entitled ‘The Obama Year” and was sold out quickly on that day. Obama posters and T Shirts are top sellers. Kenyan politicians published advertisements congratulating Obama on his victory to promote themselves.

Many tour companies start their safaris from this village and then escort the tourists to the national parks. The safari packages, costing between $ 2,000 and $3,500, are promoted as ‘Obama Kenya Roots and Heritage”, “Presidential Heritage safari”, “Roots of Obama” and “Discover Obama’s Kenyan Roots”. The tour operators caution tourists, “There will be no entry into the private residence of Obama's grandmother nor will there be any interviews or contact with any of the Obama family members.” The road to Kogelo has been upgraded, a police post has been established, the airport in nearby Kisumu town is being expanded, and a museum telling the story of the Obama heritage is under construction and set to open late this year. Kenyan tour operators, including many Kenya Indians who own safari companies, are travelling to the United States to promote Obams Safaris and bookings increased since November. Kenya is cashing on Obaboom.