The PMO on Twitter

It’s been rather relieving ever since the Prime Minister’s Office decided to improve upon its work so far, and finally decided to step up on delivering effective governance to a yearning country by doing something so unforeseen, so unique, so pathbreaking, so example-setting, so sewage-pipe-auto-clearing-of-disease-carrying-rats in nature.

They opened a Twitter account.

Naturally, I found myself browsing Twitter Search (How-To guide) looking to monitor interaction between the aam aadmi (who exists on Twitter, yes!) and the PMO. I was keenly interested in finding out how the aam aadmi conveyed his grievances to the Prime Minister, and also wanted to know if the Prime Minister actually replied and took action upon those grievances.

Unexpectedly, I was overtaken by the flood of requests directed towards the @PMOIndia handle. Clearly, India had taken this new initiative quite seriously. Most expressed genuine concerns like asking him the direction to good drinking water. To which, the PM replied “Dude, I can only take you to the pond but I cannot make you drink water from there..”

Others merely asked him how his vacation was in Goa, hoping they would get a Twitpic in return of the Prime Minister by a pool with two women in bikinis nearby, like Shahid Kapoor’s #ShahidGoanCrazy birthday bash that involved such a humungous amount of puking which saw Goa sullied to such an extent that desperate teenagers in their final college years, ND Tiwari and his troupe and Amar Singh and Bipasha Basu bombarded Shahid’s Twitter account asking him to clean up the mess immediately or they will unleash Ranbir Kapoor’s attempts at stand-up comedy on him. Or Pappu Yadav.

Meanwhile, a mysterious Swamy Army – which at first I thought is a support group of some sort for Subramanian Swamy and features anybody who has ‘ANTI-CONgi, Flying Sickularist, Underwear-outside-wearing Nationalist, #PaidMedia Creetik’ or something like that in their Twitter bio – decided to go threadbare and launched a out-and-out-attack on the PMO Twitter account by declaring it to be the most boring Twitter handle in the country. Clearly, the Swamy Army has never opened a tab on Google Chrome and visited Shah Rukh Khan’s Twitter account. Moving on to some positives, others decided to congratulate the Prime Minister on coming up with stringent traffic fines. But the way the message was conveyed to the PMO makes you wonder if you’ll have to bribe the guy to explain in proper English what the message meant.

Several others decided to take up national causes with the Prime Minister. Like this guy. Clearly, his commitment to pursuing a Padma Vibhushan award for Sridevi is on par with a Chennai rickshawallah’s commitment to extracting maximum auto fare from you. He is warning the Government to WAKE UP, just like esteemed scholars have warned the Government to wake up and deliver infrastructure and good roads to those areas of our country that border with China. More importantly, I don’t think he understands that the value of the Padma is so poor currently in Indian society, that Padma should be applying to win a Sridevi award.

It is heartening to see the Prime Minister on Twitter, tweeting away like the rest of us and attempting to solve the problems that refuse to leave our country. Continue tweeting your problems, hopes, aspirations, needs, requirements, blood donation requests, house hunting without brokers, discounts on wholesale condoms, restraining order on Vilasrao Deshmukh’s requests at hosting any more lavish weddings for his sons etc etc.

There are only so many ways he can help you.

<This is me, on Twitter>

13/7–A Perspective

A few thoughts, following yet another terrorist attack on the city of Bombay.

1) An Indian reaction is overdue. It doesn’t matter if it has been 30 months or 10 years since we were struck by terror strikes. But it is high time India’s leaders understand that the buck really stops here. Two decades of suffering and loss of innocent lives cannot be put away under the carpet without a reaction that raises our dispirited levels, which are currently at an all-time low. The cycle of terror is currently unstoppable and we are all sitting ducks, waiting for that bomb to go off.

2) Yes, there has been improvement in India’s immediate reaction to attacks. The Home Minister was wise enough to not speculate which terrorist group was behind the blasts that killed 17 and injured over a hundred others. This helps avoid alerting the actual group that may be responsible for these vicious attacks. As of now, no group seems to have claimed responsibility and this blogger will also refrain from speculating who might be responsible.

3) News channels and newspapers have disappointed in their scramble for rating points, with gory images doing the rounds in both of these mediums. With the odd exception, most media sources crossed lines and it is unlikely they will ever learn when to respect the dead. Especially, given the way in which these lives have been lost.

4) While we await an official Indian reaction, it is distressing to note that the government admitted to having absolutely no intelligence prior to these attacks. One would expect that given the scale of the attacks in Mumbai less than three years back, India’s intelligence services would have learnt the lessons of failure and improved drastically. Instead, we were treated to question-mark faces. And these are the faces that are supposed to answer our questions in the first place.

5) Twitter, significantly more than Facebook or any other  form of social media, played a heart-warming role in circulating information, aiding the search for missing people and in general, spreading awareness. The idea of creating a spreadsheet listing down all the people capable of delivering help of several kinds stood out. Obviously, Twitter is incapable of helping actual on-ground operations, but it’s importance cannot be understated given how spreading information during a crisis is absolutely desirable. The occasional misleading/erroneous information aside, most of it is generally intended to be useful. I am not sure or qualified to comment if it helped emergency response systems on the ground, if there were any at all.

6) At this point, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader Narendra Modi have stressed the importance of unity. In my opinion, this misleads us. People are not empowered to do much, apart from the usual outrage and creation/circulation of public opinion. It is the leaders at the top who are supposed to make critical decisions that is supposed to justify why they were elected to be there in the first place. A mere statement like “India will not tolerate this” never saved our souls. Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has proved himself to be a top-notch humbug of a leader by claiming that the UPA has thwarted 99% of terror attacks, but 1% of attacks do get through. On what mathematical basis he has managed to come to this conclusion is sense-defying, and makes you want to pull your hair out. This is all the more worrying because this man is almost certain to take up India’s top job, come 2014.

In essence, it is disappointing, depressing and bewildering that yet another terror attack has managed to shackle up the Indian mainland and caused the loss of yet more innocent lives. It was supposed to be a perfectly normal day, with people going about their usual routines.

And suddenly, there came deafening sounds and blinding lights. And some blood.

Chaos Minus Progress


Women and children.

There were women and children in the crowd that was attacked by the police at a peaceful protest by Baba Ramdev and his set of followers. And it was absolutely disgusting that the UPA ordered a crackdown on something that is a constitutional right of any Indian. What is surprising (or maybe, not) is how several UPA leaders have issued statements and remain completely unapologetic about the events of yesterday night. It is important for other influential national parties to react in strong opposition to the UPA’s actions. And that has at least happened.

While I primarily disagree with Baba Ramdev’s methods (why – read this earlier post), which I believe is nothing but another example of an unelected civil society member seeking power and influence that he does not have any democratic right to, it is deplorable that the UPA sanctioned the interruption of a protest purely based on it’s own deluded suspicions surrounding the influential sage. There is absolutely no call for any form of brutal suppression of freedom of speech (even up to the extent of it being against the Indian republic and it’s functioning), unless it directly harms the safety and security of the people.

Histrionics are a part of mainstream Indian life. Every other day, there emerges a new figure demanding change without understanding the core of how a democracy is supposed to function. Hence, we are left to endure unnecessary drama that isn’t even helping our cause as a country. First, it was Anna Hazare. He is an admirable public figure, but seems to miss the point. Now, it’s Ramdev and a repeat of ‘fast unto death’. And he has thousands of followers, mind you. Not only is there so much confusion, but there is likely to even be a delay in the actual cause that the anti-corruption brigade is pioneering! [Link]

The problem is clear. Current laws remain unimplemented. Reforms aren’t even talked about. Unelected and self-styled spokespersons of the ‘People Cause’ want more laws. More institutions. The result is likely to put more people in government, something that we could and should avoid. The situation ends up being a round-about, and people watch yet one more reality show unfold. It’s even unfortunate when peaceful protests are cracked down on, and innocent women and children are police targets.

Sad.

Will India ever nab Dawood Ibrahim?


No.

Not in the near future, at least.

There are simple reasons behind this, and one does not need to dwell into deep thought to realize why India is unlikely to ever apprehend Dawood Ibrahim. Reasons like ‘Lack of political will’ and ‘We don’t have the capabilities (yeah right!)’ and others of this ilk have been repeated ad nauseum in the hyperventilating Indian media and have even been emphasized by several commentators.

To put it straight, I don’t think these reasons matter. There is a whole psychological argument that I intend to play in this post. It’s plain and simple – India gives it’s enemies too much time to scuttle away. Now a counter-argument can be made here. Some may say it is important for the credibility of Indian democracy that we deliver justice within the ambit of our ideals. Fair enough. But what about people who are our enemies, but not in any sort of direct or indirect control of the Indian state? Like Dawood Ibrahim.

Note that Ajmal Kasab does not come into the equation. I pray, hope and have ample faith in the Indian judicial system that justice will be delivered in the manner it should (i.e. in constitutional accordance) and I call for no urgency or portray any misguided patriotic fervor in hurrying up with the execution of the 26/11 terrorist.

But the question is about the likes of Dawood, and so many others. Here is a man, directly responsible for the carnage of Mumbai 1993 that cost us the lives 257 Indians, who lives and roams around freely in our neighboring nation (?) with no insecurity whatsoever. He marries off his daughter in a five-star Dubai hotel, and we Indians just watch the action.

What is this, if not some sort of intelligence failure? Oh wait. It’s not even intelligence failure. It’s failure of action despite the necessary intelligence. More so, should we wait for inspiration from the Americans before we undertake any action of our own? “Oh, the Americans took down Osama Bin Laden. Time for us to ape them”?

A counter-argument here would be about the threats of retaliation we face from Pakistan, as has been made clear by the Pakistani Army and the ISI, that if we do conduct any operation (covert or not) in the country. In fact, the whole idea about India having to face consequences of any action from the Pakistanis is a despicable farce that is extremely well played by the Pakistani establishment.

The only consequence we face is the time the Pakistanis get to stock up the necessary resources. Pakistan will then go on a series of denials and eventually become stronger in several aspects – diplomatically, in military terms and many others. Yes, stronger. By the minute. By the hour.


So here is a man, wanted by the CBI and the Interpol in connection with 1993 and several other ‘Bleed India’ events, who has no worries whatsoever. A potential superpower sits and watches, weak-kneed all the time. The whole scenario begs the question – Do we eliminate any of our enemies?

No, we don’t. At least, not the ones who matter. And it is not just about the lack of political will or the lack of military logistics (both of which may be fair reasons). It’s more about a basic Indian duty, to instantly counter any attempt made to destabilize the lives of it’s people and convince them that the Indian state does have the necessary power it can portray that will put us to sleep at night with the knowledge that we are safe.

And this is the least we deserve. Just like food, water and shelter.