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   My Wishes for India    

Omkar Goswami


You will probably be reading this piece while lazing on Christmas Day, or as you and the family are winding down during the last week of the year. This is no time for criticism or negativity. As 2013 beckons, it should be a time for wishes and hopes. Here, then, are mine for 2013.

Can the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs at least show the courtesy of attending the Parliament when it is in session? It is dreadful to see this great democratic institution being routinely dishonoured by terrible attendance. Most days, especially in the afternoons, it has the look of two very large university classrooms suffering from mass bunks. The MPs have been elected by the people to raise national issues and debate these in the lower house; and to pass or send back legislation only after sufficiently educated discussions. Can we hope to see a bit more of it in 2013, with both houses looking relatively full?

Can Manish Tiwari, now a young minister of state, do us — and himself —the courtesy of not grimacing from here to eternity? I am not asking the young man to always smile in public places. That would require a metamorphosis beyond belief. But he can at least stop scowling, frowning and contorting his face with sneers of varying kinds. It looks awful and so needlessly belligerent. Sonia Madam, please do tell him so. Surely he will listen to you.

Can Narendra Modi stop behaving as if the prime minister-ship is his birthright and when it happens he will goose-steppingly lead India to its zenith of discipline and hard core purpose? Modi can be predicted to win Gujarat yet again, after which he will want to be anointed as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. But it is a pipe dream to expect him to show a softer, gentler, more accommodating side. These are antithetical to his being. So, expect him to goose-step on… and on.

Can we expect to open our major white papers for ten days at a trot without the first page being entirely devoted to an ad? Given the money-making opportunity of leading newspapers in India, one shouldn’t expect that to happen. But one can wish for it nevertheless.

Can A.K. Antony, our scrupulously clean minister of defence, focus a bit more on defence instead of cleanliness at the cost of all else? Processes matter and these must be adhered to. But not at the cost of endlessly delaying the purchase of essential defence equipment. Or ratifying critically important manufacturing programmes, which capital intensive and have long lead times. Shri Antony needs to ask just one question: How well equipped are his armed forces to immediately and effectively counter a short, sharp Chinese incursion in Arunachal Pradesh? If the answer is ten days or more, he had better change is tack.

Can Rahul Gandhi be seen leading the Congress to win an election for a change? Most will agree with me that he is good chap; he means well; and would certainly like a better India being served by a more caring and effective government. But to do that, Rahul needs to win elections. For which he needs to choose the right candidates. And to create a political platform that means something to voters of different hues. Can he do it at all? Because the fate of a secular, all-India political party depends on his electoral calibre. And if he can’t, does the first family have in it the calibre to name a worthy set of successors and move on?

Can the telecom companies or the regulator or some apps provider give us a simple device to effectively block the ridiculous text messages that come at all times of the from astrologers, builders, car dealers, match makers, tutorial homes and what have you? So that in a short while from now, each of us can honestly say that a week passed without this invasion? Surely this is technically possible.

Can the horn that goes “tee-tee-tee-tee” or some such horrid shrill as cars reverse be banned by the police in all cities and town? The indescribable happiness that such a permanent prohibition can create beggars belief.

Can air travellers be told that the boarding cards carry seat numbers? Which can’t be taken by any other? And, thus, there is no reason to madly break queues as you jump from the bus and rush to the steps of the plane? How many times will it need to be told before we see a semblance of order and sanity at the time of boarding?

Can we usher in 2013 without text messages that specialise in awful poetry? This is my all time favourite wish. Which, expectedly, is never granted.
Published: Business World, December 2012


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