Friday, May 8, 2015

[Reprint Post] The Devil’s Advocate & The Inimitable Rebel

The following post is published courtesy of Chandra garu, who kindly gave permission to reprint a version of his article originally posted on May 3, 2015
Both revel in controversies. Both never stuck to a known position in their lives. They critique for the sake of criticism or when they find the weather is not suitable. Sambit Patra was dot on point when he called Arun Shourie “ The Fair Weather Politician”, one who enters or exits a political argument as the weather is suitable or not. Karan Thapar, as the name Devil’s Advocate means, argues for the sake of argument.
In the Shakespeare drama, “ Julius Caesar” a character Cassius, who entertains a grudge on the famous Roman engages others to participate in the conspiracy to kill him. The conversations between these conspirators look similar to the interview of Shourie with Thapar. Cassius turns each dialogue and each event in such a way that the others are but forced to agree with him, “Yes! Caesar is ambitious”. “ Yond Cassius has a hungry look”.
These are hungry politicos who used their intellectual dishonesty to occupy positions that well-deserved full time workers of the party deserved. Once, that power is gone they rebel. In 2005, 2009 and again now, Shourie tried to hog the headlines, to repeat his own words. I need not elaborate on the economist turned politician, turned ideologue who roused passions, turned journalist, turned rebel against his mentor Goenka, turned politician, turned Minister with controversies that never left him, turned rebel and ambitious like Cassius to settle scores with one politician that he thinks does not match his calibre. Calibre in politics does not come by just learning vocabulary. If that was so, many including me, would have been Prime Ministers.
Many in India prayed for a weak coalition at the Centre post May 2014, so that they can pursue their agenda and continue to rule by proxy. When that did not happen, I knew one lady journalist, that hopped and jumped between Pro-Modi and Anti-Modi stances until results are out and the day when Modi became strong started coming down heavily for taking this as minister, not taking that one or this policy was wrong or that one disastrous. They influence a few disgruntled elements. But not many. The reason is disappointment that they can no longer blackmail the establishment with their columns.

Now, let us come to the interview part. The questions were premeditated, mostly known to the interviewee and the interviewer too got his expected replies. The timing is important. When Modi’s stock is rising internationally with his hands down approach to spur the whole bureaucracy into concrete action in reaching out help to Nepal even before authorities in Nepal knew what happened. This news should not hog limelight. So, create controversy. So, who better than the Devil’s Advocate or the perennial rebel with no cause and a few Brutuses here and there who are swayed by emotion.
Now, the crux of the interview. The questions were leading and the answers naïve and 200 percent below the level of the high IQ politician. Many answers were off the track and I still do not understand why intellectuals like Amartya Sen and Arun Shourie stoop so low to pursue a set agenda. They do not differ from another A, Arvind Kejriwal.
The very first question and answer. “ What is your take… “. Okay, Modi is good. I do not know what others are doing.” Did he as minister come out in public and say what he was doing? On economy, I was disappointed. Did he want the rubble in Nepal cleared in one day? Or Rome built in one day?”
And the second. On foreign visits. Shourie projects as if the whole exercise was to downplay China leaving aside the great success Modi achieved on economic issues and investments. Is this intelligence or cunning like Cassius who infers each word spoken by Caesar to suit his needs?

Third and fourth questions dwell on China and Shourie conveniently turns it on Modi quoting the experience of not following up and hence he did not have confidence. It looks like friendly advice, but in journalistic lingo is like breaking news to rouse passions instead of subduing them. With his reach in BJP, if he has any, he could have sent a mail PMO, instead of blabbering with the Devil’s Advocate.
In the fourth and fifth questions, both try to downplay the Modi visit and Thapar goes to the extent of declaring “So, there is no big break” and “Yes” says Shourie like Brutus.
In the sixth and seventh questions, Thapar continues to taunt (pre -meditated) on America and China and Shourie says some-one told him so and so and hence things were moving slow and USA was impatient. India is sovereign country that can make its own policy vis a vis China or USA or this some-one unnamed. In politics some ones and sources are enigma and Media uses this to the hilt.
Eighth is continuation and is aimed at people who did not still catch what these two highly intellectual guys were plotting to dilute the Modi spirit.
Ninth and tenth questions are hazy and answers too. Shourie advises on an issue that he is not sure whether it is being followed or not, outside advisors, on India’s Pak and China policy but passes on advice unasked for by the government, just because Thapar asked him. Too naïve.
Eleventh and twelfth questions are musings of Thapar than that of Shourie–confusing us who the interviewer was and who the other was. Ultimately, Shourie says a meek “Yes”, like again Brutus, who says “yes” to conspiracy not knowing why he was doing that. Neither of them knows exactly the role of Foreign Minister in policy framing as she never talked on the subject and is religiously doing her duty.
Thirteenth and fourteenth questions. The answer is “Yes!” Steadier thinking. I wonder what was meant by that or what Thapar understood. In the third month after marriage, if child birth does not happen and if some nincompoop says “Yes! Steadier Relationship needed”, do we accept the answer? It is surprising how low people stoop to pursue personal agenda.
The next three questions on economic policy. The very first diktat of Modi to his ministers was not talk to Media unless concrete results were achieved. And since they are not talking these guys imagine nothing is happening, everything was at standstill etc. Who was responsible for bad loans? How does credit off take happen? If a politician walked into a bank since 1969, his loan was cleared with no verification and that was the credit off take and the bad loan portfolio. Work is done in tranches. Since I am suffering from headache I cannot chop my head and say “Gayab”, if I too have to stoop low as these guys.
The next two questions: Credit is not to the government but international factors. In Congress time too there were ups and downs in international factors. When wind was unfavourable they blamed it and when it was favourable, they used to swallow the benefits instead of passing on to consumers. De-listing millions of dubious gas connections in three months is enough proof of what changed. If UPA continued the whole subsidy, part would have gone to the coffers of the neo-rich politicos. Shourie should have known better or he is wearing a mask.
Subsequent questions on coal auctions is not only naïve but laughable. When CAG pointed out that there was loss of Rs.1.86 lakh crores UPA clarified that it was spread over a period of 30 years, but loss was loss. Then, how can the government mislead people that Rs.2.00 lakh crores was earned now? Government and Ministers gave the break up figures and improvement in coal stocks, reduction in imports of coal reduced by 38% are indicators. In fact, if I remember well the figure was Rs.5,942 crores this year. There too, he bungled.
The next answer is funny. If people opposed to change do not agree to government policy, is it confrontation? Just because hostile media projects them as mountains instead of molehills is it confrontation? Why did you all oppose the NAC under Sonia if you feel experts outside must be consulted? What is the basis for your allegation that they are not consulted? Just because they did not consult you both, is it a fault? Please know facts, before you go public.
The questions and answers to the next questions are out of my realm now and I do not want to make surmises like Shourie. So, I will study and blog again. No comment now.
The answer to the next question is naïve again. Reason is, Modi is the first PM to involve all states in his policy making. He made more funds available. He reacted to disasters fast, which his bete noir Nitish too agreed. In case of Delhi, Kejriwal is a “second by second” rebel and he does not know what he is rebelling against. He does not attend meetings by the Centre but sitting outside critiques that his state is being ignored. He can be brushed aside as one that is adept in guerrilla war than direct confrontation.
Answers to the next three questions reflect his penchant for attacking Jaitley. It happened in 2005, 2009 and 2015. Will happen again if Jaitley is treated with good position and Shourie is ignored. Again, it is the Cassius in him, and the positions are like Cleopatra. Who woos her better?

A mechanism is being worked to fill vacancies in institutes as this government wants experts not “nod-heads” as heads of prime institutes. They are not decided in TV studios by Thapar and Shourie. It is better to neglect the next answers as they are on premise. At least one report said so and so, one industrialist said so and so, Deepak Parekh said so and so (and how can he be ignored? Is he magna carta of Indian economic policy?).
Answer to the next question is purely political and Mamata and Nitish will be on board soon. Jaya cannot go anywhere nor KCR, Jagan and NCBN. This is again on my premise because I have to ape Shourie after reading so much of this natak in his interview.
The answers to next questions can be given by a Congress Spokesperson better than Shourie. Do we still call him as part of intelligentsia? Unfortunate.
Next question is safety on minorities. The three issues he quoted were wrong interpretations by Media and culprits were booked. As a minority basher in his earlier avatar who opposed conversions per se, he should have advised the Missionaries instead of Modi. He is totally bankrupt today intellectually and the only explanation we can give may be it is out of envy on others. His answer on Modi suit shows his hatred to the whole system, even after the matter issue was laid at rest.
Last question. If Shourie is familiar with the goings on in the country he would not have said that Government should maintain low profile. There is mounting criticism in Media and other sections that he is interacting less. And this is contradictory to his earlier view that he should interact more with experts. Does he underestimate a common man as not an expert but stupid? That is more like a journalist than a politician or an assumed intelligentsia.
I suggest Shourie go back to his writing books and Thapar to his columns discussing where he was during earthquakes and what he was doing. And when he was in loo, how the earth under him shook and what happened then…

You can follow  Chandra garu on his blog here and on Twitter here.
Disclaimer: This article represents the opinions of the Author, and should not be considered a reflection of the views of the Andhra Cultural Portal.

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