How to enter politics in India

It's unfortunate that the frequency of 'vetti posts' has increased in this blog. But given my academic commitments and looming sense of guilt I just don't seem to have anything new and worthwhile to say.
This post is a direct lift of what I posted in a forum a couple of years ago. Someone had asked what's the best and practical method to become an MLA in India. As usual, there were some bland, "man! it's bloody clichéd" responses that said "murder at least 5 people" etc. But the truth is most of the current politicians actually have impressive credentials. No, seriously. So I though I'll post an alternative not-so-popularly-known method. It's bland in its own way, but, whatever.

Here's a practical and decent way to become an MLA or MP (takes reasonably long time and vision).
  • Read extensively on history, political science and few areas of sociology and general economics.
  • It's better if you can improve your language skills (both in English and Tamil or the corresponding regional language).
  • Establish yourself as a scholar in some field (preferably in one of the 4 areas above)
  • Use platforms such as college symposiums, book releases, religious and caste meetings and even weddings. Impress the audience with your intellect or what sounds to be intellectual prima facie (don't take controversial stands even if that's the right thing to do).
  • Occasional jingoism and display of cultural pride won't hurt either (Hindu culture, Tamil culture, your caste's culture, youth culture, student culture, Indian culture - whichever works in that situation)
  • Criticize only those who are potential victims (meaning, many people are likely to criticize him/her along with you - to gather mass consensus)
  • Praise even the tiniest of charities done by local industrialists. Exaggerate it and project it as an inherent quality for whatever caste they belong to.
If you start doing these things when you are around 30 you'll have some recognition by the time you are around 36. Because of your incessant praise, some industrialists will come forward to nominate you for candidacy (in whichever party you're targeting), increasing your chance to contest.

There's another thing to keep in mind: you have to analyse which party has least opposition in your constituency in that term. Ex: There's no point in pleasing an industrialist from DMK or criticising JJ when you know that DMK doesn't stand a chance in your constituency. For even if you get the chance to contest you'll end up losing anyway. So you have to strategize it right from the beginning.

To explain in detail: TN is now voting anti-incumbent like Kerala, regardless of how good/bad the ruling government is. I'm 24 now, by the time I enter politics, ADMK is likely to be the ruling party (Around 2010) - I'll be aiming for candidacy in 2016 assembly election or 2019's legislative election. DMK faces an uncertain future after MK's demise. If BJP can pull itself together before the next election it might become a stronger party on a national level (and hence improve its bargaining worth in TN). So even if I enter the political spectrum (a career meant to influence politics) I'll stay away from any party affiliation until I can judge the arithmetic reasonably well. Once I can do that, affiliation will follow suit. After affiliation you follow the steps that I had mentioned above.

If you have to win in politics you have to either gather overwhelming support of the capitalists (who are willing to invest in you with hopes of reaping it back) or gather mass support (proletariat backing). Only these two things sell in politics.

Only way to create mass support is to pander to their base instincts and idiosyncrasies such as casteist pride, cultural pride, linguistic pride and all sorts of ego boosters (or extra bonus and right to strike like the DMK did). Crowds "cannot handle the truth" unless it comes from a person of power, so you have to let your principles and morals take back-seat till you get to power.

As for pleasing the industrialists/landlords/property-owners, or the rich folk in general, you have to assure monetary benefits. As with people, even money can be tackled easily if you have power. Meaning, you need not get them contracts or push their files exactly as you promised. Now that you’re in power you have some immunity, you don’t need them anymore. Well, you do, but not so much. Just be a good leader, provide the people with visibly good governance and your support base can be shifted smoothly.

Remember, no principle is good if it cannot do good to anybody. As for politics, the only good principle is the principle that assures you victory.

There are simple methods to do the right thing and not take the blame (yes, it’s ironic). For example: You can propose a bill in favour of 69% reservation for OBCs in private companies. Talk about it in length (knowing that it's total nonsense and you're going to lose the case in the court). Once the case is lost blame the judicial system. Now, even though you did nothing for the OBCs you can lure the majority of the electorate into believing that you did something (Sounds familiar? Yes, that's what the Andhra CM did with Muslims).

For me, especially in politics, the ends justify the means and the larger good is what counts.

Of course, all this will only increase the probability of you being elected, nothing’s assured. But it’s still a very practical and adaptable method. Or You can try the unpopular yet working version of becoming a grass roots politician who starts from ‘Panchayat Board President’ and proceed from there. Or get into civil service and take the diplomatic route.

Roast of Pokkiri


This video is from one of my favourite comedies, Chasing Amy. 3'10" of this video reminds me of a guy who made a post recently. Like he pulled it all out of his ass. The conversation is kind of clichéd even for 97. This is 2007, man...anyway!

Marital status: WTF?

I was collecting some data for my work and I ran into a very disturbing and puzzling statistic. Data in this table state that 2,009,502 children, between the ages 10 and 14, are "married."

I don't know if I should put married in quotes. Well, that's the point in question too. When the legal age for marriage is 18, how do these children get a "married" status under the government's census? We are not interested in the criteria set by government in concluding what accounts for a marriage, for the legal age limit makes them all void.

Let's keep aside the questions like, how come pedophilia is almost an organized "business" in cities like Bombay and Calcutta? The government can always pretend like they don't know what we are talking about. We all know child marriages are common in India. There's no surprise there. But this is government authorized data. What are they trying to tell us? That we should be happy that at least there is zero married persons under the age 9?
As if that's not enough, here's another case. It's somewhat old, but the issue is still alive.
Fatima says: "Muslim personal law says you can marry at 12, so I didn't see a problem with it. There are lots of bad things in society these days, so the sooner a girl gets married, the better."
adhu seri! Have a look at this and this.

Microsoft: the same thing?

A lot of us have no qualms in “hating” Microsoft. Even those who never paid a penny for any of their products, like myself, included. Common reasons range from its dubious ‘creative history’ to its product pricing (BSOD in the past). I haven’t had any serious problems with my version of XP for over 19 months – the longest I’ve ever had an OS installation without any anti-virus s/w. It may have to do with the fact that I’ve significantly cut down on the ‘technical tweaks’ that I try since the time I switched fields. Of course, one of my best friends, Badri, would never take this as a reason to accord them with new respect. He started using Linux in 99. So you can imagine his opinion about MS. Technical inadequacies of MS products in contrast with open-source stuff like Linux is worth writing pages and people do it all the time. I neither have the expertise nor the passion to do it here.

In a recent conversation, one of my friends said that her friend quit his job with MS because of some “anti-corporate enlightenment.” I’ve read several articles that have detailed unethical practices of MS, but I still thought his move wasn't well thought out. Yesterday another friend of mine, from political science, shared the image below with me.I usually avoid talking about economic models because I believe they are structures that are beyond individual repair. Any contribution by someone like me would take a significantly long time to have any measurable effect in anyone’s life. And obviously, my knowledge on economic models is fairly limited. When “experts” can’t agree on what’s feasible why should I expose my ignorance? But as always, I am interested on the measurable effects of corporatization. By measurable I mean things that are beyond subjectivities – war, inflation, unemployment etc. I’ve always wondered if MS can be painted along with the other corporations that several leftists have learnt to hate. I’m not sure. I’ll just paste the exchange we had after I saw the image.

Suresh: I don't know if I would have had windows in the same list. I mean, Microsoft
Friend: why not?
Suresh: after all, they have the largest charitable foundation
Suresh: I think he's one of the very few corporates who's actually "giving back"
Suresh: maybe not as much as he can, but he is
Suresh: he doesn't kill chicken or exploit slum dwellers of Bangladesh (well, if you call outsourcing s/w jobs to India as exploitation, then yeah)

Friend: i know all about their "charity"
Friend: see, i have a problem with that framework
Friend: and outsourcing is exploitation
Friend: i mean, it's more complicated than just good corporation, bad corporation
Suresh: well, basically all kinds of profit making is exploitation, isn't it?

Friend: because so much of this is about power structures
Friend: the idea of capitalist profit is based on exploitation, yes
Friend: cheap labour and so on
Friend: creating needs
Friend: i mean, that's what capitalism is all about
Suresh: but I think one needs to be nuanced in his/her approach. They cannot equate Coke and McD with MS purely on the basis of their capitalist business model
Friend: no you can't
Friend: but you can talk about complicity

Friend: the idea that these businesses are complicit in a certain kind of nationalist model
Friend: or promoting certain nationalist goals and doing nothing to STOP their militaristic goals
Friend: i mean, their obviously genocidal goals
Friend: where is responsibility
Friend: so it's an issue of complicity
Friend: well, when it comes to that it's every american
Friend: but their tax dollars are significantly smaller than the ones that these people give america/israel

Friend: anyway
Suresh: yeah, never mind

Her comments were centered around the Israel-Palestine conflict the image represents. So I didn't want to point to the obvious shortcomings of her arguments (which I presume she knows too). I just wanted to hear her out. But I'll say it here. What do you expect them to do? Refuse to sell OS to government organizations? Refuse to pay taxes? Provide food and shelter to those who are willing to protest everyday on the street?
I'm not going to give CNN and others the same treatment. Of course not. They are criminals who consciously construct a contrived reality, but MS?

PS. I didn't edit the actual exchange. Just spaced them in a way it's easier to read.

vetti post-4

I tried writing in big letters in plain white paper with a marker pen. When I finished it I realized something: the language teachers were right, I can't write anything intellgible by an average person.

adhu seri!

From an Orkut forum,
Just a few weeks ago, something really bad happened here in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A tamil couple, who had recently flown to US, on deputation, was arrested on charges on child-abuse. Looks like the kid was known to be mischievous and had got lot of warnings in school (hearsay). One night, the parents allegedly were trying to discipline him and in the act were threatening to burn him with spoon (soodu podradhu). By accident, he came in contact with the spoon and had a small burn. The next day, when his teacher asked about the wound, he has said something which caused the teacher to call police. The parents were arrested and now the case is in court.
The American children are given protection from their own parents, which leaves parents with no strict way to discipline them. Result: the American children grow up indisciplined, not understanding cultures and finally most of them go waste.
ROFL@ the actual incident. enda dei? @ 'waste' comment

Random quote

If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.

Popularity: conflict of interest

Recently I got a mail from one my podcast listeners and we were discussing this article. It's an exchange that happened over a few emails. Since he wasn't too comfortable with I publishing his side of the conversation, I publish parts of mine. I hope it still makes sense.
Whenever I talk to some of my politically active friends here, a question would pop out occassionally: why are almost all political critiques we get to see in mainstream media partisan? The immediate answer would be, “corporation!” “Corporation is the root all existing malice,” we would complain. And it is true to a great extent.

But ironically, it’s worse in India’s case. The mainstream has not been completely corporatized yet - we still have little factions doing their share of damage. But sadly, their damage isn’t constructive either. Of course, I’m referring to the likes of Nakkiran. It’s amazing how all the mainstream and pseudo-mainstream media in India get a chance to paint themselves as “revolutionaries.” “ADMK adakkumurai – aalum katchi araajagamm” said Sun TV; “DMK arasin adhikara dhusprayogam,” says Jaya TV. Needless to say, Nakkiran was built on this mode of publicity. Every six months you’ll see one of its offices ransacked by someone, and that someone will have “strong connections” to a ‘big shot’. (Is this a scenario lifted directly from ‘Oomai Viligal’ or am I just connecting stars in space?)

“Victims” who “survive victimization” without “fear” become “revolutionaries.” The untold rule (thaaraga mandhiram) that the “victims will always say the truth” has become the running platform for everyone. Everybody wants to be “victimized” just so that their “truths” are heard. But when there are too many “victims” and too many “truths” opposing each other – victimization loses sensitivity, truth its value. I think that’s what has happened in TN.

The popular notion that “if you want to know the truth watch both Jaya TV and Sun TV” is completely false. While they do a lot of mudslinging, there is a lot that neither of them would say. There’s a lot of collective connivance on their part (kootu kalavaanithanam).

About my podcasts: my friend once asked if I was not afraid to say things like “Muslims and Christians are idiots” in voice (I said the same thing about Hindus as well, but he didn’t think it was dangerous enough). I said “I am, kind of”.
I have always had mixed feelings about my podcasts. While I often welcome people to be vocally expressive (because I know there are people who are a thousand times more eloquent in Tamil), and urge them to do podcasts, I’ve also feared that I might be in an ugly mess if they get too popular. Seriously, I don’t want my podcasts to become popular beyond a point (whether it has the material-worth is a different issue).
Even though I live in Canada, my parents are in Madras. I have to land in Madras at some point. I’m not as popular or rich as Rushdie. I cannot escape a ‘fatwa.’ Heck, a prank-call will rattle my parents and ruin their sleep (and in turn mine). I can only hope that there aren’t any “Jihadis” listening to what I say.

I often stress the dangers involved in expressing our opinions “freely” in a state (as in the ‘State’) where even the ‘powerful’ are easily targeted – literally, with stones and petrol bombs. To make matters worse you have a judicial system that is astonishingly ‘conservative’ and condescending to those with ‘liberal’ views. I don’t know; sometimes all this seems far-fetched, but then again it’s India – “impossible is nothing.” So it’s no surprise that people don’t want to take chances for what is mostly a thankless effort.

Radical views are just too dangerous for an Indian in India. He/she is safe as long as his/her views are within the academic and ‘intellectual’ circles. One has to increase his/her ‘self-worth’ before his/her views are exposed to the common, belligerent, and often violent, Indian. Periyar is an example for this. His views on feminism and sex came about well after he had established himself on the “paarpaniya aadhikkam” rhetoric. Most of his followers were just tolerating his criticisms on “Tamil culture”, gender equality, marriage etc. So it’s not a surprise that people like Thiruma' don't turn to those views of his, today.
Disclaimer: The email(s) has been modified from its original form. Yes, I confess, I am just too lazy to type anything original for a post. I also apologize for saying a few things that seem very pretentious.

Random quote

இந்திய 'நாய்கள்' இன்னும் எப்படியெல்லாம் சிண்டைப் பிய்த்துக்கொள்வார்கள் என்று தெரிந்துகொள்ள ஆர்வமிருந்தால், f... tamil, tamil mentality, tamil idiots போன்ற கூகிள் தேடல்களைக் கொடுக்கவும்! Forumhub Tamilல் சட்டை பனியன் அண்டர்வேர் கிழியுமாறு நாயடி அடித்துக்கொண்டிருப்பார்கள். தமிழன் கன்னடனைத் திட்ட, கன்னடன் தமிழனைக் கறுப்புக் கம்மனாட்டி என்று திட்ட, 'இந்திக்காரன்' தமிழனை குரங்குக்குப் பிறந்தவனே என்று திட்ட, தமிழ்க்காரன் இந்திக்காரனை, பல்விளக்காத வெளிநாட்டு காலாட்படைகளுக்குப் பிறந்த இழிபிறவியே என்று திட்ட, இந்த அனைத்து 'காரர்'களும் சேர்ந்து, யாராவது இலங்கை ஆசாமிகளைத் திட்ட, அவர்கள் பதிலுக்குத் திட்ட....நாலு இந்தியர்கள் சேர்ந்தால், ஐந்தாவது ஆள் ஒருவனைக் கவிழ்ப்பதற்காகத்தான் இருக்கும் என்று சொல்வது இந்த விஷயங்களில் சரிதான்.


A new world record: WTF?

Are they going to give her a gold medal or something?
Indian-American astronaut Sunita 'Suni' Williams added another feather to her cap by spending more time spacewalking than any other woman to date.
Interestingly, though, her Wiki-page is full of 'seruppadi'

Her roots go back to Gujarat in India and she has been to India a couple of times to visit her family. She is also of Slovenian descent from her mother's side.
What? Slovenian? ada naaigala!

Boy meets train

An extension of this post

Download. Original Page

adada, sentiment'a koraingada!

What binds Dara's family together is their search for their lost son, his memories captured in a fading photo album, including the last image of Azhar in his school uniform proudly holding the tricolor.

vetti post-3

Gurumurthy's writings have informed me about a lot of things - especially on the 'local' level functioning of small scale industries in India. They are simple case studies embedded in powerful narratives. I've admired him for his ability to stand-up against authority and embarass the Indian-commie 'intellectuals.' He is one of the few India columnists who pay so much attention to factual accuracy of their pointers. Of course, I now have some major disagreements with a lot of what he says (his incessant praise of the "Indian culture" not being least of it) - mostly ideological. I was running through some of this stuff and found this interview. Good wit is always good.

Can't we call some of our big industries also multinational companies?

I prefer an Indian dacoit to a foreign dacoit so long as we cannot avoid having dacoits around. I go that far. He will not bomb India while Dubai-based smugglers do.

You said, all industrialists amass wealth. So, what is the difference between an insider and an outsider?

All Indian politicians are corrupt? Then why not elect a foreigner as our prime minister?

Huh, ironically, the hook in his answer isn't all that bent, now, is it?

PS. The webpage reads "Rediff On The Net." Did/does rediff have any business beyond 'net?

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