Hello Sir

48 Comments

Hello sir. It’s me again.

Let me start out by saying what a delight it was to hear you speak.  One never comes away from a speech of yours without learning something new.

And your latest bhashan in front of the captains of industry was no exception.

For instance, I learnt that one could sit on a tide (“We are now sitting on an unstoppable tide of human aspiration”), which led me to look at the laws of Physics in a new light. Which in turn provided me the reference to understand the deep significance of your “India is not a country, it is energy” statement. After all Indian land-Mass multiplied by two successive “C”ongress governments (C-square) does equal to Energy, as per the laws of Relativity.

I also learnt that there are two kinds of systems—centralized systems and de-centralized systems. I could not have guessed that in a thousand years.

I also came to know how you kept yourself busy in the time that you sir, Member of Parliament, were not in Parliament (40% attendance to remind you sir). You, sir, were meeting people by the boatloads. Girish the painter. The Muslim boy. Friend of yours from United States who wanted to do engineering work. People from MIT. Chinese PM’s secretary.

Such lovely stories they are. So illuminating.  For instance, I came to know, from the “the friend with the engineering problem” of the way technical consulting is done in some of the top academic institutions of India wherein someone walks into the room of the professor and obtains a solution for a technical problem for the price of, hold your breath, a couple of thousand rupees. Of course, I understood the moral of that story, namely that the said professor was not aware of the value of his solution (which your friend said was $30,000) because he was, to quote a great 90s song, “Kya cheez ho tum khud tumhe maloom naheen hai”. This was again something I had not expected since in my experience, the best of educational talent in India’s top institutions like IITs and IIMs are well-connected to the global research and industrial community, quite aware of the value of the work they do and hardly “nadaan”. Note to self: walk into the room of an IIT prof with Rs 2000 in my pocket, next time I have a technical problem at work.

And then there was that thing that totally blew my mind: the reason according to you why India will beat US, France and China which is that while guys in the US and other developed nations are trained in simplicity, we are trained in complexity. And that is why we rule. In contrast, China, has no complexity.

When I first heard that sir, I will admit, I was confused. How is the chaos that is India, the red-tape, the lack of transparency, the crazy system of taxes and tariffs,  a competitive advantage for Indians in the US market? How does China being a dictatorship reduce its economy, its foreign policy and the interaction between the two to simplicity? When you say “India is a completely different system than the American system, the Chinese system, the Japanese system. It (Indian system) is a decentralized system…” are you seriously trying to say that America, with its extremely strong notion of states rights and power concentrated in corporations (as opposed to just in the hands of federal officials), is more centralized than India, which still has a central finance minister delivering budgets and five-year plans prepared by the Center?

Are you sir not being too simplistic?

Which is when I realized that this simplicity is actually your complexity.

In that  since I have no idea as to what you are trying to say, it makes you  (and I will quote you here), a “master of complexity”, which I will accept would be a cool degree to have, and hence by extension awesome.

Second note to self: Sir Jadeja is a better all-rounder than Sobers because Sobers is simplicity in his excellence and Sir Jadeja is complexity in that we do not know if he is a worse batsman or bowler.

My mind was also blown by your live demonstration in which you showed, through an actual physical demonstration, where China is different from India. While China gives people a firm handshake, India embraces people. Soft power, the cornerstone of India’s place in the world. Well played sir, though sometimes when people from other countries send back the bodies of our soldiers mutilated or sends their ambassadors of peace into our country on a boat, some of us do wish that our embrace hardens into something else, like Dhritarashtra’s embrace of the iron Bheema.

But forget that for a while. Because your speech was not about such trivialities.

It was about your grand vision.

Which if I understood correctly is this. It is that the real power of India lies with its billions of people and they, only they can, be the masters of their fate. No single person, no “man on the horse” can come and lead the country to prosperity. And that Indians should stop expecting this to happen because it won’t. Your vision is to open up India to its own people, to unblock the blocks, to make sure that “businesses not compete in the corridors of Raisina Hill but in the streets and galis of our towns and village”.

Admirable sir. Most admirable.

But sir, I have a few questions. If personalities cannot solve problems and are, by your logic, not important why do your political posters and cut-outs celebrate the cult of the personality,  looking almost always like a page from your personal family album? Why isn’t my picture there or the face of any of the billions whose power you want to unleash? Forget me and other Girish the painters, why arent there the faces of other Prime Ministers who came from your party but do not belong to your family?

Why, sir, if you truly are “insignificant”, do people in your party sing your paeans and that of those with your surname who came before you? Why sir, if you truly are “insignificant”,  are you giving a talk to adoring captains of Indian industry and not Girish the painter?

Why sir if you truly admire the American system of primaries and are concerned as to how a few thousand actually select political leaders of the entire nation, is there no expression of contrarian opinion inside the party you yourself lead?  Why sir does it happen that inside your party, everyone speaks in the same voice, and leaders always unanimously elected?

Why sir if you want to hear the voice of the people does your government pass laws to restrict freedom of expression online?

Charity starts at home and so do implementation of grand ideas, if I may be so bold as to say.

You say, sir, that your being one of the most powerful men in the country is “accident of fate”. To quote “Happened to come from a chain of people, in the DNA. I have put in this situation. Boss, here you are. Ok.”

Sir, who put you in “that situation?” Don’t you want it? Are you very reluctant? Sir, please do not feel obliged to suffer for our benefit if that is the case. Please.

Finally, let me conclude with your analogy of India not being an elephant but a bee-hive. Allow me to totally subvert the intent of your metaphor. The way a cynical guy like me sees a bee-hive is that worker-bees buzz around to produce honey and then a human being comes, takes away that honey, puts them in jars and sells them in the market. Unfortunately, that is what India is today. The common people, the billions, they work and they produce “common wealth” which is then taken and sold to the highest bidder, with the beneficiaries being those that are not the bees, those that are external to the system:  the in-laws, the cronies and the apparatchiks, who are found to benefit from everything—from the bandwidth in the air to the minerals in the ground.

And that is where I felt I missed something in your speech. To put it as simply as possible (and pardon me for being simple, since you like it complex), there were no new prescriptive ideas. No policy specifics. No records of concrete, measurable achievements. It was the same cliches of people empowerment and inclusive growth and poverty alleviation that we have heard for decades, and through generations. It was the same old straw man arguments like where you paint your opponents in broad black strokes like when you point out that some people say  “Muslims? You say they don’t exist. We are going to keep them out of the system.”

Not that I don’t appreciate the new garnishings—the TED-talk like moving to and fro and not standing in front of the mic, the importance of having a demonstration (that hug), the folksy style of speaking,  the use of “personal stories” to make a larger point.

But you know, thoda material hota na, to baat baan jata.

Boss.

Err…sorry…sir.

48 thoughts on “Hello Sir

  1. Looks like if you would have been selector, Jadeja would have never played a test for India. Followed some of your tweets and I feel you were expecting Jadeja to fail against Australians, so somehow you are not able to digest that he was one of the reasons that India won the series. Doesn’t feel right if a person in media is after a player at any given opportunity. Let him enjoy his moments and if he is not good enough to succeed in foreign conditions or against better players of spin, he will be out of the team sooner or later. Anyway, Indians don’t have that many spin options and for now Dhoni is comfortable with him as it gives India 5 bowlers option where your ‘Sir Jadeja’ was second highest wicket taker in the last series. I feel it is unfair if people are after him for his performance in couple of international tournaments earlier, as long as he is doing pretty decent job. What if he has improved as player? What if instead of his bowling becoming a liability in future, his batting start contributing? What if we can leave him alone for some time and stop being judgmental?

    • At least Jadeja scored triple centuries in Ranji Trophy. He has proved himself in domestic tournaments. So you cannot compare RG with RJ. RJ has earned it.

  2. Very Well Said…especially the Beehive analogy…cant agree more with what you have written. That is the irony of India…a person who has done nothing of note is touted to be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party in power…and the folks at CII very clapping! What a joke! I am a regular reader of your blog…needless to say..well written again!

    • I agree. I bemoan the day when this loser becomes the PM, cause that’s inevitable of course :( .. Am a regular reader for the past 4 years and a huge fan :)

  3. Trust the folks at Hamara Congress to spin this as an inspiring speech.

    Personally speaking, this has been the case with the prince since he entered politics, the same generalities, the same personal stories – speeches that can be made by any grad student.

    I shudder to think he might control the next elected government (like his mother did till now), even if he doesn’t want to become a PM and face the fire.

  4. Unfortunately a part of the fault lies with the people. To paraphrase and misquote the Dark Knight…a country gets the leaders it deserves, not the leaders it needs.

  5. After a decade in Indian politics, this is the best he can come up with. The too-earnest demeanour, the lack of direction and the substitution of meaningful solution-based content with feel-good phrases are cute in a college-going student leader, not in a 42 year old man whose is being positioned as a potential PM.
    Modi was far more impressive in HIS Q and A round at the India Today conclave- despite the exaggerated Vibrant Gujarat claims and a disposition bordering on narcissism.

  6. Excellent article! The beehive analogy is most appropriate. What disappointed me most in amul baby’s speech was that the CII audience was clapping at his moronic jokes and examples. Are our industrialists really so stupid or have they been sold out to khangress??!

  7. Oh! That’s what I immediately recognized (I guess many did) -‘the TED talk estyle’. You must agree he did his homework well- I mean, as to ‘pehle darshan dhari’!..Probably he also did an analytical little study that nowadays the second part of that idiom doesn’t work..no, ‘piche guun vichari’. Another thing is that beehive metaphor may be read a bit differently too, such as, ‘the queen bee just gets the drones to work and lays eggs’? What say?
    After all said and done, we just need to watch for what is ‘in the name’!…

  8. Congress’ beehive.
    Sonia as the queen bee, with the corrupt media and government agencies as her soldies bees, and the ever obsequious pseudo-secular parties and followers, the worker bees.

  9. Bee hive theory : worker bees actually work for the “QUEEN” bee. am sure Mr RG meant it that way… u know…

  10. I disagree with this article almost completely. You say that there was no substance. Can you give an instance of any other political leader giving speeches that have substance? At least RG has the honesty to come out and say that he has been put in this situation and he does not have the solutions to India’s problems. Nobody does. But the other leaders do not even have the guts to admit it. If they had the solution, we as a country would not be in such a bad situation today.

    Even the person being projected as the most suitable person for the PM’s job – Modi – shows his pettiness by responding to an unimportant point – that India is not a beehive but our motherland and saying that it is a beehive is an insult. Where is the substance in this reponse? Does this imply that whenever anyone says that India is an elephant it is an insult too? Does a chinese person need to feel offended everytime someone calls China a dragon? You have to understand that the word beehive was used to denote some quality. If anything comparison with a beehive would be a complement to India. A beehive is superbly organized, an architectural marvel, all its members work in unison for a common purpose, everyone is looked after properly and it is something that other animals are scared of.

    It is surprising that the ‘most popular politician’ in India cannot understand this. His stature should be above this. If RG is immature, where is the maturity in Modi?

    Instead of ridiculing RG, you would be better served to put your mind onto constructive message. He talked about empowering the billion people of India. That is the biggest idea. Have you ever wondered how powerless a normal Indian citizen is – at the mercy of the government servants, politicians, police and powerful businessmen? Or by ridiculing RG for saying this are you implying that you would prefer the opposite – having all the power concentrated in one hand.

    You talk about the congress posters looking like the Gandhi family album. Do you think that RG or Sonia designs those posters? It is the work of the sycophants in congress. Do you think that other parties do not do this? Do you think BJP ruled states do not name government schemes on Atal Bihari Vajpayee or BSP does not name schemes/parks/roads after Ambedkar or Kanshi Ram?

    Your article, Sir, is of no substance. It is full of cynicism and you have twisted the meaning of the speech to suit your sarcasm. Very disappointing. It just appears to be a publicity seeking tactic.

    • RG merely said people of India have to be empowered but saying doesn’t translate into action. His speech was at best cliched. If this is what he can come up with then God save this country IF & when he becomes a PM. His party has been in power at the center for the longest period & had the perfect opportunity to ‘EMPOWER’ one billion people. Infact if we are in this state today then it is only and only because of the congress. Maharashtra is the best example. Congress loot has left the state in such a mess that no solution for drought or any other problems is in sight.

    • Vinayak,
      Do read again what you have written. Substance in RG speech. You must be kidding…

      Mr. Prince has always been going bla bla. He had 10 years of ruling. He was better off to serve as a minister and prove his worth, if any. There are enough people around who can deliver the ideas and theories of inclusive growth, development, business and what not. Leave this goodie talk to CB. Mr. Prince is better off doing something actual on ground and not just reading these written speeches.

      • Himanshu

        I reread what I had written. I could not find any place where I am saying that RG’s speech had substance. What I am saying is that NO other political leader is different. Everyone’s speeches are full of similar platitudes. I have even requested the author to give an example of a speech with substance. If he does so, I will stand corrected.

        Do reply to what I am saying rather than using rhetoric.

      • @Vinayak,

        But the original post here doesn’t talk about others’ speeches at all. If you are not saying RG’s speech had any substance, I don’t see how you disagree with GB’s post.

      • Tejas

        I disagree with what the post implies – that RG is blame for all that is wrong with congress and India. I disagree with the subtle twisting of the facts that the author has used to convey this impression. For example, the author asks why is RG giving the speech and not Girish the Painter – how does this question arise. If I mention someone in a speech and talk about empowering them, does this mean they should be giving the speech and not I?

        GB is good writer. He is already super popular. I cannot understand why does he need to resort to sub-standard logic to write an article. Is it because writing about RG is sure to get clicks?

      • @vinayak,

        RG is not to blame for all that is wrong. Nowhere does the post imply that. RG is the result, not the reason of what’s wrong. And RG-bhakti is symptom of what’s wrong. If RG was given a responsibility from grounds-up work, and was there a proof of his ability for us to see, we would be having entirely different discussion.

        Whether you find Modi’s or Nitish’s talk substantial or not, you would only be turning away from the fact if you said they have not been proving themselves with their work. In case of RG, there is nothing to back him apart from sycophancy of his party workers.

        May be you can state some examples of the Prince’s work, and I will stand corrected.

    • Vinayak,

      RG’s family has ruled (note ruled not governed) India for ~ 50 of the 60 odd years we have been a nation state. So who’s responsible for all the ‘disempowerment’ etc etc. And this is primary school level stuff, everyone knows the problems. Where are the solutions?

      I hope you are a Cong (I) paid social media ‘consultant’. If you are the average Indian who gets suckered by this tripe and then goes and votes for RG and his cliche spouting sidekicks, we are in even deeper trouble than I thought :-).

      Lose the rose tinted glasses mate

    • RG’s address was a study in stupidity and the sycophant CII people were clapping as it does not pay not to clap for the Royal family. The speech is a masterpiece of non-content.

  11. Excellent post. While the speech itself can be ignored or written off, what stuns me is the reaction to captains of the indian corporate world and the Indian media. The paeans sung by the corporate big-wigs, the editorials and front page stories – all made this non-event seem as if Moses had just finished delivering the Ten Commandments.

  12. Vinayak wrote,
    “He (Rahul Gandhi) talked about empowering the billion people of India. That is the biggest idea. Have you ever wondered how powerless a normal Indian citizen is – at the mercy of the government servants, politicians, police …”

    Response,
    The polity and the political party that Rahul Gandhi represents is the cause of this problem. In fact the lethargy, the corrupt value system that Mr Rahul Gandhi’s lineage of polity has created, is the reason why India is not empowered. And this disempowerment is the reason why this helpless effigy of mediocrity (RG) is even getting an opportunity to speak in front of CII.

    • I agree that the policies of congress have a lot to contribute to India’s current state of affairs. However, you cannot hold RG responsible for it. It is like blaming you for something that your gradmother or great-grandfather did. How logical is that?

      As far as the opportunity to speak in front of CII is concerned, I would say that if RG is mediocre then giving him the opportunity to speak is a reflection on CII and not on RG. Think about it.

      • If I inherited and were running my grandfather’s business, and he took some awful decisions in his time that I now overlook, it is still *my* oversight.

      • @Tejas

        … and would you be able to set all those decisions as well as their repercussions right in 10 years – regardless of what those decisions might be? Are you assuming that you are omnipotent? And would you be liked to be judged with finality while you are still in the process of change?

        No one (except perhaps the Creator himself) can guarantee anything.

        This is exactly what the man is saying – that he is not omnipotent. He is trying and he might fail. He admits this and is saying that he alone cannot solve all the problems. Why are people after his life for saying this?

  13. Sir an exceedingly well written article. While most of the things RG said was too complex for me to comprehend, I did expect congress stooges to defend him in the best possible manner. Your article has completely exposed the lack of substance a man, touted to get India’s top job, possesses.

  14. Vinayak – In this post GB has merely criticized rahul and his mediocre speech, which it deserves to be.
    “Instead of ridiculing RG, you would be better served to put your mind onto constructive message”. Why? Shouldn’t a ridiculous speech be ridiculed ? Your logic is because everyone else is doing a shit job, therefore no one should be criticized.
    Rahul Gandhi has never proven his abilities to lead a small town, let alone a country. His political homework is less than that of Sarah Palin!
    Charming your way through scripted speeches and using dynastic heritage to become a nation’s leader seem to be okay with you, but hopefully it won’t be for a majority of india.

    • Crime Master Gogo – My logic is not what you state it to be. It is actually quite opposite – I am saying – criticize all who give such speeches. Do not single out RG.

      Regarding RG’s abilities – I have not said a word. And by the way, nor has he. He has never claimed that he is fit to lead the country or a city or anything. He has been saying all along that he DOES NOT want a post.

      This surely is a ridiculous situation – where he is specifically requested NOT to be considered for a post and people are not only assuming that he will become PM, but are also criticizing him that he is going to be an incompetent PM. WTF??

      • @Vinayak – Of course he can single out RG, it is at his discretion how he would run his blog. He might or might not single out someone else from the other end of the political diaspora as well. That again is his discretion. Just like you, who though in your comments have tried to maintain that you do not side with RG and have an objective view, yet reveal your identity with a Rahul Gandhi thumbnail as a display pic. Aint these all our own choices?? :D

  15. @Vinayak:
    RG not picking up any post in government may be good news for all of us. Let’s remember one thing — RG has given just 2 speeches in Parliament in two terms

  16. Too good. And the best line for me was:
    … though sometimes when people from other countries send back the bodies of our soldiers mutilated or sends their ambassadors of peace into our country on a boat, some of us do wish that our embrace hardens into something else, like Dhritarashtra’s embrace of the iron Bheema.

  17. Vinayak,
    not sure why you are defending, to quote Utsav, “helpless effigy of mediocrity”.

    you said – Regarding RG’s abilities – I have not said a word. And by the way, nor has he. He has never claimed that he is fit to lead the country or a city or anything. He has been saying all along that he DOES NOT want a post.

    but his sycophant fans/party loyals are saying it and he is enjoying that and privileges that come with it without taking any responsibility.

    you want to compare him with other political leaders. most of political leaders are chors and thats the best form of defense for them. whats the problem if i have looted crores, other guy sitting next to me has done same.

    also he does not accept that his ancestors has done anything wrong ? if he does than why does he let his party men put their photos and so called achievements put on posters of his party.

    btw he later on clarified that he will take the post if situation arrives (he want) in future. ultimately both the statements if seen together does not convey anything. that’s how meaningless this guy is.

  18. Interesting read… as always. Boss.
    I would like to address a point which a lot of the comments have raised – Why were the CII honchos clapping? Are they stupid or have they sold their souls to Congress etc etc.
    I wish some of the commentors would look at the way business heads have been merrily dancing to the tunes of one smt mamata banerjee in Kolkata. Sanjeev goenka and mr. dhanuka SINGING on stage when she requested (to be read as ordered) them. How she would pick on businessmen during her previous interaction with the business community. Hell, forget business heads, she even picked on consuls and consul generals of various nations.
    Let us be realistic…these people are not fools. They are well aware of the shallow-ness (sic) shown by RG. They clap because it is the most polite thing to do…Laughing at his face would not be really such a good idea when you have a multi million dollar business to take care of. As was in the case of the Mamata interaction. These people go back to their offices, curse the day they were made to clap/sing/dance/juggle for such third rate politicians and …get on with their lives. simple.

  19. I have a feeling that Rahul Gandhi’s coterie and the india’s corrupt-pseudosecular combine was getting rather desperate at one important development – the ineffectiveness of mainstream media propaganda against BJP’s Narendra Modi.

    Over the years, the mainstream media’s Goebelesian attitute (you repeat a lie a thousand times) towards Narendra Modi has led to his inoculation to lies and propaganda, and is eventually backfiring on the other side. The situation has come to a point where the maistream media’s negative propaganda against BJP’s Modi is actually being percieved as a indication of his accomplishment amongst the masses.

    After having tried everything, from giving Padma awards to shady “activists” for perpetuating phony riot cases, to using back channels to subvert foreign invitations to Modi, the CPC (corrupt-pseudosecular combine) just ran out of options and was finally forced write a speech, and coach the Pappu to stand up (or pace around) at the mike.
    But Pappu can’t dance… sala.

  20. lol thats classic utsav….Congress is macabre …just a blot on our existence. I cannot believe how any sane person can vote for them. Just leaves you shaking your head. And we have some zombies actually still defending them. Bizzarre

  21. came across this blog while browsing through, and read a few lines. I was laughing initially, ;later when I found it was on a political subject of which I am ignorant but nevertheless interesting and expected of your readers and admirers alike. Keep on writing sir

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