The relationship and disconnect between business and projects

In an interview a few years back for a project management role, the interviewer asked me what project management was. I was taken aback a bit. First of all that’s too generic a question to ask an experienced candidate. Second, project management is such a vast area that it is not possible to explain in a minute or so what it is unless I were to record and playback what is known as industry standard definitions. So I replied that project management is the management of execution of business strategies. The interviewer looked lost for a moment and for a very good reason.

The evolution of the IT industry has created mayhem and consternation in the understanding of business and projects. The mid section of the IT industry has swelled up with managers and is bursting at it’s seams. The hierarchy and designations are complicated and ridiculous. Even more confusing are designations that are total mismatches to the roles. I have worked with the designation of Senior Consultant and the role had got absolutely nothing to do with consulting. Then there are companies with Project Manager designation but the role would be as an individual contributor. What would make sense is that a project would have a team and the manager of the project would also manage the team. The designation of Business Analyst is even more bewildering. Fundamental requirements are to have in-depth knowledge of some software applications.

In one of the case studies during my MBA program I had read about a company whose founder and CEO had approached a venture capitalist (VC) for investment. After due diligence, one of the conditions put forward by the VC was to appoint a new CEO for the company. The founder refused and walked away. Six months later, he came back to the VC and agreed. The VC had wanted him to focus on the products and services his company was offering and let someone else handle the business and financial aspects. So every company has a top management team that walks, talks and breathes only business and money.  It is here that business strategies get created with the objective of better financial outcomes.

I use a simple analogy when talking about business strategies. If I get stamped on my foot, my foot doesn’t cry. The sound comes from my mouth. Similarly if there is a problem in business the red bulb may not necessarily be flashing from the problem area. This is why understanding the business problem is so crucial. Business problem could also be a new venture for the company without proper understanding of moving ahead. Digging deeper into the business problem has direct impact on the quality of business strategy development. But having the best business strategy amounts to nothing without taking action on it and execution of business strategy is a different beast altogether.

One critical aspect of having different functions inside organizations comes into focus during execution of business strategies. The business strategy could have a strategy for the sales team which in turn could result in a strategy for the finance team and so on. Once strategies for different functions are established, then comes their execution. It could be as minimal as a small change without any consequences. But where there are financial outcomes then there would be accompanying risks as well. This is where the whole premise of project kicks in. So projects are essentially execution of business strategies with the objective to create positive financial outcomes. The execution of a business strategy can be broadly visualized as a change management program with several projects managed and executed within its boundaries.

Every project is intended to create a positive financial outcome so I visualize every project manager as having a small cloud of money over his/her head. A senior manager who manages several project managers would then be having an accumulated bigger money cloud over his/her head. Scale this up and the CEO will have the biggest money cloud over his/her head. The divide between creation and execution of business strategies has given rise to the concept of outsourcing. MNCs develop the entire premise of projects before shipping out to their factories and back offices where the projects are executed to create products and services.

Better understanding of business strategies and organizational requirements has a direct bearing on project management. But project managers usually do not get their sights that far and are not expected to stretch their understanding beyond the boundaries of their projects. This is why I believe projects either fail or project outcomes do not result in positive business outcomes. Outsourcing has only complicated and compromised the purpose of projects. A project manager in another corner of the world may not have any idea about the intended outcomes of the business strategies which has given rise to the project he/she is managing. Early in my career I had to resolve a problem with an IT application of a client and according to the SLA with the client I had 3 hours, so I worked on other more important issues. When I finally reported the resolution, the client’s staff lamented about how their work was stuck and the amount of business they lost in those 3 hours. Poor understanding of client’s business environment and requirements coupled with poorer understanding and communication were the reasons.

The relevance and importance of projects and project managers should never be undervalued. In India business degrees are not required to manage and execute projects. This in itself shows the disconnect between business strategies and projects. This is why the growth of project managers gets restricted to the project and program management levels and very few get to break into the top management. This can be observed from how companies hire for executive level positions from other companies rather than their own employees growing through the ranks into those positions.


The aftermath of floods in Kerala has been as tumultuous as the floods itself

The devastating floods in Kerala has shaken and stirred the country in an unprecedented manner. Nature’s fury, tragic scenes, political wrangling, communal rhetoric, diverse India uniting and a dash of comedy have ensued in the past fortnight. It all started when the Home Minister of India made a quick visit to Kerala and announced a immediate relief fund of Rs. 100 crores. Problem was, Kerala Govt. had asked for more than Rs. 1000 crores. Then the PM wanted to do an aerial survey and assessment of the affected areas with his team. Problem was, thousands of people were stranded in the floods in inaccessible areas where only helicopters could reach them. For rescue, military personnel deployed were only in hundreds. All state TV channels were impressively covering flood affected areas to the best they could. Politicians and government officials in the name of aerial survey were using helicopters that could have been used to rescue people. Moreover their aerial survey was inhibiting the rescue operations. They should have simply stayed at home and watched TV.

Then the Central govt. announced a flood relief package of Rs. 600 crores. The simmering social media erupted. A Govt. that has thousands of crores to give as loans to other countries and for building statues did not have enough money for saving it’s own people’s lives. The reasons were quite evident. The communally harmonious society of Kerala has never allowed BJP to plant it’s roots in the land even though RSS has been actively trying to find some ground. The frequent clashes between RSS and Communist cadres is the clear testimony of that. RSS has even gone to the extent of eliminating it’s own people for defaming the Communists as has been found out from police investigations in some of the cases. The Left parties won the last assembly elections and are in governance of the state now. Moreover Keralites have unanimously rejected any ban on eating beef. The Central govt. has been at loggerheads with the state govt and the Kerala society as a whole which got clearly reflected in the callous approach of the Central govt. towards the time of crisis.

What the Central govt. needs to understand is that Kerala is a part of India and is one of the highest payer of central taxes and excise duties to the Central govt. Kerala govt. had only asked for the support and assistance it is entitled to get. As per 2015-16 estimates, Kerala has 2.7% of India’s population and contribute 4.4% of its GDP. For every ₹1 Kerala pays to the centre, they get only 25 paisa back. And Kerala gets only 3.25% of its GSDP from centre. Every Malayali who stays in Kerala pay ₹12572 per year to centre in different form of taxes (2015-16 data). Rejecting the requests of Kerala govt. and offering measly sums as relief packages is clearly a violation of the federal structure of governance of the country.

Meanwhile a comical episode started off on the side when the ruler of UAE met a prominent Indian businessman and apparently told him that he would be willing to give a relief package of 100 million USD to the Kerala govt which was in turn conveyed to the Kerala CM. Then the ruler of UAE tweeted a statement of support and solidarity towards the people of Kerala which was responded by the PM with a tweet of gratitude. The next thing everyone got to know is that the Central govt. had rejected the offer of help from UAE citing an incident from the past when the erstwhile UPA govt had refused to take help from foreign countries. The ruler of UAE in turn stated that he never made any explicit offer of help. All of this made me wonder why people in important places are tweeting and talking about providing assistance for such a huge calamity on social media when they should be working towards getting help to the affected people. So essentially the Central govt. neither showed willingness to do enough for flood relief nor allowed governments from other countries to help which got totally exposed with this incident.

The communal elements across the country did not sit idle either. RSS was trying to spread it’s own organizational propaganda in the name of helping flood victims. Posts and comments started pouring in on social media about why the people of Kerala should suffer because Keralites still continue to eat beef and the women of Kerala are trying to desecrate the sanctity of Sabarimala by trying to get equal rights to enter the temple. Arnab Goswami has even gone on record to call the people of Kerala as shameless ones. All of these are stark reminders that we have only found freedom from foreign rule and we are a long way away from cleansing our society of the many evils and darkness that has taken control over our minds and thoughts.

In the meantime, the govt. of Kerala got pulled into a couple of raging debates. One was about the handling of excess dam water and the opening of dams which ensued in large scale flooding. OPIndia, an online news platform has falsely interpreted a NASA weather report and claimed that the timing of the opening of the dams resulted in the floods across Kerala ( NASA’s report ( only mentions that above average rainfall caused floods in certain parts of India. Nowhere does it link floods with the management of the dams. Commonsense says same amount of water would have flowed out regardless of when the dam was opened. Only difference would have been in the amount of pressure of the released water. In normal case, rainwater swells rivers which ultimately flows out into the sea. In this case, excess rainwater swelled up river banks and water flowed into human settlements where it got stuck causing floods. Excessive rainfall, human encroachment of land, poor maintenance of drainage systems can all be blamed, but questioning the timing of opening of dams is blatant blaming and false propaganda against the Kerala govt. The Minister of Fisheries of Kerala has stated in an interview on a state TV channel that people had claimed land from the rivers for their constructions and farming and the rivers simply took back those lands which was the best way to explain what had happened. Flooding in human settlements should not be blamed on any governments in particular. The civil administration (municipalities, corporations) should be taken to task for illegal constructions, unplanned expansion of towns and cities and poor maintenance of infrastructure.

The second one was about a 2011 environmental report which stated that large scale sand mining and deforestation is damaging the environment and destabilizing the natural ecosystem of the Western Ghats. This is not for any one govt to take blame. When there is no control over population growth and we venture out into destroying nature for our needs, nature will take it’s own course of corrective actions to stabilize itself. Destruction of nature has been happening across all the states. Nature conservation and environmental protection is a national level problem which the Central govt. and all state govts should come together and discuss upon. Maybe it is time we took a leaf out of China’s development model. Every year a certain amount of forest land is acquired for development activities and at the same time a certain amount of unused or waste land is marked for conversion back into forest area.

In between such a massive tragedy and all the ensuing chaos and mud slinging three factors have stood as silver linings and shining beacons. The first one is the communal harmony of the Kerala society which has only grown stronger in the face of the calamity. In the aftermath of the floods, pictures have emerged of Muslims cleaning a temple compound, something unimaginable in most places in India. Second is the absolutely massive level of support and solidarity Kerala has received from all over India. Support in the form of relief funds and materials have flowed to Kerala right from Jammu and Kashmir. Just the ideal reminder that we may be divided by many reasons but it takes just one reason to unite our minds and thoughts.

The third one is the best of it all. The fishermen of Kerala swooped into the flood waters to save lives as if they were from another world. None of the military might of the world can match their skills in water. They ride the huge waves and choppy waters of the seas in their boats and ships like normal people walk in the park. They moved in silently into the flood waters, saved thousands of lives and went back expecting nothing in return and earning the highest respect from all quarters. When high seas ravage their dwellings and they have to rebuild their lives year after year the rest of the state lives in complete ignorance about it. It is high time the state govt. starts working towards the betterment of the fishermen community.

I am not sure if we have seen the last of the controversies yet. Someone has tweeted questioning the possibility of using the gold stored in the vaults of the Padmanabhaswami temple in Thiruvananthapuram. I am waiting to see if this is going to stir the hornet’s nest. The problem with using the gold is, if we knew why so much gold was accumulated and stored we would also know when to use it.

The Deluge In Kerala And Nature’s Not So Gentle Reminders To Us

It is looking like the wrath of the Gods is upon their own country. Kerala is in a deluge of Bibilical proportions. The ongoing rains and the ensuing floods are being compared with the Great Flood of the Bible. I am marooned in the city of Thrissur with no option to travel anywhere. The highways towards the south of Kerala are all flooded. Towards the north where roads have been built through the Western Ghats, mud slides are happening in addition to the accumulating water. Roads are shut, railways lines are inundated with water and airport runways are flooded. For me this is not a natural but a manmade disaster.

One of the most critical parameters of measuring and classifying ancient cities as developed and advanced are it’s irrigation and drainage systems. The question is how efficiently did they bring water into the cities from water bodies and how did they manage to take the water out from the cities. All great civilizations of the past were located in the vicinity of the biggest rivers. If we take the same parameters and apply them to our cities  and towns then we would realize how woeful their conditions are.

None of India’s big cities are planned, rather most of the cities and towns in India are unplanned ones. They got expanded based on the burgeoning population. Now, earth can be divided into hard grounds and low lying areas. Low lying areas are preferred for cultivation because of the ability of those lands to hold on to water. Hard grounds are preferred for construction. As population grows, so does the need for land grows. We inadvertently started taking up the low lying lands for construction. Low lying lands have been getting inundated with water for centuries or thousands of years so doing construction on them is plain madness even if mud is put on top of them and flattened out before doing the construction.

What is happening with the flood in Kerala is very simple. There are two reasons for the flooding. If we look at the flood affected areas being broadcast on TV channels, water bodies, primarily rivers have overflowed. River water is flowing water and it is looking to continue it’s momentum of flowing. But what it encounters on the way is our towns and cities. There is nowhere for water to go so it gets stuck. The bigger reason is with the dams. Yesterday news channels were reporting that Sholayar dam in Tamil Nadu became full so they opened it’s gates which in turn flooded the Mullaperiyar dam and opening it has caused the floods to worsen. Every time environmental activists make a hue and cry when governments comes out with a proposal for a dam, this is what they are trying to highlight. What comes out of the dams are massive quantities of held up water and this is very different from normal flooding caused by rivers.

So where will all this water go? There are three ways. Flow out which is not an option anymore because it does not have anywhere to flow which is why it is stuck. Then it has to go up or down. Up means sun has to evaporate the water. But this is monsoon season so there is not much help that can be expected from the sun because the monsoon clouds are hanging over it. The other way is down, into the earth. But we have replaced earth with tar and concrete both of which cannot absorb water. Water will try to flow to the low lying areas as it is used to but we have occupied those places as well with our construction so flooding is inevitable. The same has been happening in Mumbai every year. The same happened during the flood in Chennai. After 3 years of weak monsoon season in Bangalore, in 2004, it rained one day and I was caught right in the middle of it. The rain and wind were ferocious and in about 2 hours of rain entire areas were flooded. There was nowhere for water to go. Add to it the incompetency of the corporation and drainage were not cleaned and the rains had actually punctured holes on the roads. During the flood in Chennai, my friend was telling me that water levels had risen to 7 ft and more at many places. Why is this happening? Simply because water has nowhere to go. The walls of the Kochi airport have been brought down to drain out the water accumulated on the runway. All of these are man made constructions done without considering and caring about nature which have consequently disturbed the flow of nature.

It would be ridiculous to blame nature and Gods for this disaster. I was taught in school that Kerala and Cherapunji are the places which gets the highest rainfall in India. Monsoon seasons in Kerala have traditionally been moderately to extremely heavy every year. The intensity has waxed and waned in the last decade or so. The process of water going up by evaporation and coming down later as rain plays one of the most critical roles in nurturing an ecosystem on our planet that is conducive for life forms to live and evolve. No other living being goes against the rules of nature, especially disturbing and destroying nature for it’s own needs. This is not nature’s wrath or God’s punishment, this is nature following it’s rules and we are paying for coming in it’s way.

Nature has no empathy or compassion towards the inhabitants on the planet. The rule is simple. Adhere to nature’s rules and ways or suffer. Nature has no sympathy for the lives that are being lost in natural calamities. Animals and birds have their senses fine tuned to nature so they know well in advance if a disaster is approaching. If floods are coming, they instinctively move towards higher grounds. We are totally out of tune with nature. We are not part of nature’s food chain which is why our population has grown so much. In the name of development with zero planning and understanding of nature we are on a collision course with nature.

Natural disasters for me are nature’s way of reminding us that though we have been able to become the most dominant species on the planet, we can never become dominant over nature. I hope we realize it before its too late that when nature cannot handle anymore of the destruction and imbalance we are causing to it’s ecosystem and existence it will go ahead and expunge us from it’s belly just like we vomit out what our stomach cannot handle.

Why there is no intent of cow worship and their protection in cow vigilantism

After the bloodbath during Indian independence religion was used again to spark tension and polarize society on a large scale when the Ram Janmabhoomi fire was stoked. But the intensity of that fire has waned with time. So a new issue has been fired up and wind has been blowing steadily to fan and spread this fire. Cow worship and ban of cow meat because of which gruesome lynching is fast becoming a common practice now.

I have been watching over these incidents but I have never once noticed anyone talk about the background of cow worship. Cow worship has it’s roots in the mythical stories of Kamadhenu ( in the ancient Indian texts. So why is cow actually worshipped? Because every aspect of a cow is useful to us. Cow’s milk and products made from cow’s milk have sustained and nourished the population of India for thousands of years. Cow’s urine and dung are supposed to have medicinal properties. Burning dried cow dung is supposed to keep mosquitoes away. In Kerala, coconut trees are treated in a similar vein. They come under the category of what is called as ‘Kalpa Vriksha’. Every part of such trees are useful to us. So it seems to me that a cow goddess was created and divinity was associated with cows to make people respect them.

Because of the Kamadhenu association, Hindus have largely refrained from eating cow’s meat for a long time. But times have changed and now a large section of Hindus including a sizable portion of the Brahmin community are indulging in beef and pork meat. Increasing Christian and Muslim population have increased the demand for cow’s meat. Here is my contention about all the fracas that has been going on in the name of cow. How does demand increase? When there is adequate supply. This means enough cow meat is being supplied to the market to meet the demand so people are asking for more cow’s meat. So where does all this cow meat come from? Cows are not being hunted from forests. They are livestock we have been rearing for thousands of years. They are made to procreate and reproduce so that the supply can be kept in line with the demand.

So the Hindu fanatics who are masquerading as cow vigilantes want cow slaughter for meat to be stopped. Fine. Then what is to be done with all the cows? Here is a summary of the hapless state of cow shelters (  Cows are supposed to be worshipped as divine mother (coming from from the legend of Kamadhenu) but all over the country cows can be seen roaming around the streets. I have stayed abroad and I have observed that one of the favourite pastime of foreigners is watching videos on YouTube of traffic on Indian roads littered with garbage, groups of cows lying and standing, hawkers lined up on footpaths and are mesmerized by how people navigate their vehicles through what is a maze of insanity for them and people are driving in all the directions at the same time. Forget worship, I would be happy if people were to show minimum respect to the cows for what they are getting from them and not let them wander on streets all day long. I don’t see the cow vigilantes showing any distress at the pathetic state of their “mothers”.

So here is the crux of all of this mess. If we look at nature, the population of every being is meticulously controlled. At no time does the population of any being goes out of control. Problem here is we are not part of nature’s food chain. So anything we cultivate and the animals we domesticate and nurture does not come under the control of nature. If nature has created buffaloes and deer to keep vegetation under control it has also created lions and tigers to keep their population under control. We raise livestock for our own use so we ourselves have to figure out how to use them and control their population. If cow vigilantes want cow meat consumption to be banned they should ban the procreation of cows first and not let cows reproduce.

Now cows are worshipped in Hinduism but not in other religions. They have no reason to bow down to the diktat of the cow vigilantes. Here is when the fundamentalists inside the vigilantes will rise up with the agenda of making India a Hindu Rashtra. But the mindless ignorant ones do not stop to think that all the people of other religions in India are descendants of people who converted from Hinduism to those religions. So what is this all about? One simple reason. Politics stoking fire in the name of religion to polarize the population and create vote banks.

I was a reluctant meat eater from my childhood and stopped eating meat when I realized that flesh of all beings including ourselves are made of muscle fibers. So eating any animal’s meat to me feels like eating my own flesh. Moreover flesh of any being has no taste because muscle fibers are tasteless. Carnivores have no taste buds and they are created that way because their purpose is to control the population of herbivores. We cannot eat raw meat and we take so much effort to cook meat before it can be eaten. What we ultimately enjoy is the combination of the taste of all the ingredients that go into the cooking of the meat. I prefer adding all those ingredients to vegetables rather than to the meat coming from another being whose life was excruciatingly taken away. So it feels idiotic when people ask me if I don’t eat meat because of my religion.

This is my message to the cow vigilantes. Have you seen how cows are bundled into vehicles when they are transported? They do not even have enough place to stand in those vehicles. Cows wander around on the streets all day long. When you talk about protecting cows, talk about the agonized lives of bullocks as well. They are made to plough fields, pull carts and do everything else we make them do and when they are not fit to work anymore they are sold to slaughter houses. Before you start worshipping learn to respect whatever you are going to worship. Moreover when you say beef should be banned, my understanding is that beef constitutes both cow’s and buffalo’s meat. So are you asking only for ban on cow-beef and not buffalo-beef? Why? Is it because there is no buffalo version of Kamadhenu in Indian texts?

If you believe you need to get the minimum respect for yourself then you also need to understand that all other living beings feel the same way. Why ban cow meat only? Would you take up the cause of all other hapless animals who are slaughtered for their meat every day? I don’t see you doing it because your objective is not to protect cows but you have other sinister agenda in the shadows. This is precisely why the people of Kerala have from all religions have rejected your attempt to impose the ban of eating cow meat on them. Regardless of whether they see through your agenda, the ban makes no sense to them.

Aadhaar – A good example of failed government project

I didn’t see it coming, maybe no one saw it coming. 4 days back I was on Twitter when the current chief of TRAI who was the boss of the Aadhaar project suddenly tweeted his Aadhaar number and posed the challenge to Twitterati to try and access his personal data that could cause him potential harm. His objective may have been to prove that people’s data is safe behind the digital system for Aadhaar he has helped build, but it didn’t go as he had thought. Successive governments have tried to make Aadhaar the single identity for people and have been making people link up all other identity details to their Aadhaar numbers. The government has been trying to make it mandatory to use Aadhaar number wherever people’s identity has to be verified, even for buying a new mobile sim card. What he didn’t seem to have counted was how deep search engines can dig into the internet and unearth data. No one hacked into the Aadhaar database but still people were able to bring out a substantial part of his personal information associated with his Aadhaar number to make his life uncomfortable.

Started as an ambitious project in 2009 at the scale of the SSN in the US with the objective of streamlining the country’s public distribution system, I believe Aadhaar has become a good case study for a failed government project. Primary reason for this is the lack of proper privacy laws. The foundation of a well strategised and executed project lies in the to-do lists which contains the activites to be done before and after the execution of the project. The process of collecting data from people was started before adequate data privacy laws were framed. It is actually weird that in spite of being a democracy, Indians live as if they are under dictatorship. Whenever governments come out with new regulations or standards, people obey them without questions because we have no awareness of the fact that governments are accountable to the people who vote them to power. In a democracy people have the right to ask questions till they are convinced. In India people who ask questions are seen as troublemakers so I have no option but to be part of the crowd.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that UIDAI, the statutory body that issues Aadhaar numbers has outsourced the collection of data and processing of enrollments to contracted bodies. After Aadhaar numbers are allotted, users have the option to modify their details on the UIDAI website. For this, OTP authentication through their registered mobile numbers is required. A year or so back I had logged in and modified my details. But 2 days back I found that I am no longer able to do the authentication because my registered mobile number and email address are both missing from my profile details. I had to go to one of the contracted bodies, pay money, suffer the arrogant behaviour of their staff and put back the data that was already there in my profile. The same happened with my father as well. When I contacted UIDAI customer service on Twitter and asked why my data was deleted, they did not even respond.

Without privacy laws and people’s data so easily available to be deleted, what worries me is what if people’s data gets manipulated. The Aadhaar act is riddled with ambiguities. Criminal procedures cannot be invoked against improper use of people’s details. More worrisome is about the security of people’s data against potential hacks especially because Aadhaar collects biometrics of people for enrollment. People simply don’t know how safe their private data is. More than data getting hijacked, identity theft could become a potent possibility and I cannot even start to think what impact it would have on the society.

Christianity needs to shed its age old male dominated Orthodoxy to stay relevant

The Church has crossed all boundaries of blasphemy with the recent revelations about the string of sexual abuse cases in Kerala. I am writing “The Church” to represent all churches in India and across the globe. Accusations of sexual abuse from inside the hallowed walls of the Church have been flying thick and fast from across the world in recent times. I am not a Christian but I have very good friends who are Christians and I do not intend to hurt their religious sentiments in any way with this article.
I had come across an article sometime back stating that religions and especially Christianity is dying in 10 countries. When I was in the Netherlands I had noticed that people were mostly not inclined towards religions and did not engage in discussions about religions. So why is this radical shift happening now? Here is my take on it. Netherlands has a progressive and prosperous society and as they reached the present level of maturity as a society, their tendency to attribute the highs and lows in their lives to external influences must have also decreased. Every religion advises us to live good lives, work hard and become successful and not hurt anyone intentionally. These are basic human values and need not be associated with any religion which is what I observed during my time in the Netherlands. Further and latest endorsement of this is Canada banning all teachings of Christianity from classrooms.
The crux of the matter goes far deeper though. There was no religion called Hinduism till idol worship started in the Kali Yuga as mentioned in ancient Indian texts. None of the Hindu Gods have created Hinduism. Vedas were written to define and streamline the erstwhile society but they do not define Hinduism as claimed by the proponents of Hindutva. Similarly Jesus Christ did not create Christianity and the Church, his followers did. Now here’s the thing. Jesus is referred to as the son of God, so there is God, Jesus and then the Church in Christianity. Jesus never claimed to represent God and neither created a religion called Christianity nor the Church so I believe the Church cannot claim to represent him just like Hindu temples can have idols of Gods but cannot claim to represent any of them. It is a known historical fact that Constantine, the Emperor of Rome integrated the followers of Jesus into Rome and gave shape to what would become a new religion called Christianity. Now the question is, where to put our beliefs. Before Lord Krishna left earth, he had advised that in Kali Yuga, only He can hear people’s prayers so people need to pray to Him. Since Jesus is mentioned as the son of God, praying to him will be the way to reaching out to God. But going by my statement that the Church cannot claim to represent Jesus, is adhering to the diktats of the Church the way or the only way of reaching out to him?
There have been many issues attributed to or plaguing the Church through the course of it’s existence. Thousands of free thinking women were supposedly branded as witches by the Church and burned on the stakes during the Dark Ages, best exemplified by the story of the Joan of Arc. The Church also ignited the Crusades by persuading Britain and France to send their armies to Jerusalem to free the supposedly Holy Land from Muslim rule. Jerusalem was portrayed by the Church as a land flowing with milk and honey but was actually the barren arid land it still is. But the most contentious one I believe in the present times is the rule of confession. The neighborhood around every Church is under the hegemony of the Church’s priest, commonly addressed as father. The fathers are supposed to know everything that is happening in every Christian household under their watch. Done wisely and honestly, this practice amounts to uniting all those families into a community. Treating the father as a mentor and guide and confessing to him about our circumstances and actions, taking his advice and him praying on our behalf are all great practices. But to me, making confessions mandatory is nefarious and not well intended. Religions are never supposed to enforce any rules on its followers. The risk is always there that we could become hostage to our own words in case the father we are confessing to turns rogue. This is exactly what has happened in one of the latest sex abuse scandals to hit the Church. A union minister in the capacity of being a Christian has waded into the issue and is trying to gain consensus to rebuke the attempt by the National Women’s Commission (NCW) to ban the practice of confession in churches ( My take here is that the practice of confessions should only be by the free will of people and enforcing it upon them amounts to controlling and enslaving them to the Church which is draconian and law of the Dark Ages and should not be allowed to continue.
I have always felt a sense of vulnerability at young girls and women joining or made to join nunneries under the Church and spending their lives supposedly in the service of God. It places far greater moral virtuosity on the male dominated structure of the Church than is logically comprehensible. Now that this incident of sexual abuse of one nun has come out in the open, the premise opens out that more nuns could have been the prey of sexual abuse for decades or even centuries and they were hushed up and made to suffer silently in the name of Jesus and for the sake of Christianity. Though many serious and satirical movies about the state and affairs of the Church in Kerala have been made in Malayalam, one movie, The Romans, deserves special mention here and is worth a watch.
I am wondering what might Jesus be thinking if he is indeed watching all of what is happening from somewhere. My heart melts at the thought of a poor shepherd who had chosen to teach people to live well, not hurt each other and had died for them and what has got created over the centuries in his name. True followers of Islam have always maintained that none of them can indulge in violence especially against their own kind and the ones who use violence are not followers of Islam. I am inclined to believe this because no human being who prays diligently for 5 times a day can detach himself/herself from the spiritual world and embrace violence. Similarly, the Church can no longer hold on to it’s claim of representing Jesus and continue with it’s orthodox, male dominated structure and let damning incidents such as sexual abuse of women and children happen under it’s umbrella. Every organization and practice needs to be revamped and revised to stay relevant as the society evolves and no religions are exempt from it.

Jesus Christ deserves far better for giving up his life for our sins.

My story of love, despair and nirvana

I believe whatever turmoil is happening in our world are because of two reasons. Love and Death. If all of us understood and found true love and if all of us knew when we would die, our world would be a paradise of peace and harmony. Countless wars have been fought in the name of love, millions have lost their lives without knowing when death was coming for them and still love has remained an elusive mirage. I learnt about both from one person at a very young age and it made me who and how I am.

Everyone who knew my grandfather has told me that there was never a more self centered man than him they have ever come across. It took me a long time to realize why. Anyone who goes through difficult times in his/her childhood would develop a heightened sense of survival instincts, the propensity to survive against all odds and regardless of everyone and everything else. He was an artist by birth, an excellent oil and canvas painter and adept at doing anything because of the genes he inherited from his father who was a palace architect. All artists have a brooding nature and are always marooned in their own worlds. Research says that all of us truly become parents when we become grandparents. I was not his first grandchild but it took the sight of me crying in the hospital cradle to finally invoke his paternal instincts. The first time I called father and mother, my eyes were on my grandfather and grandmother. I didn’t know otherwise.

For 10 years, I got all the love and attention for a lifetime. No one on either sides of the families liked me for being the apple of the eyes of my grandparents. All those years, I didn’t have friends, I never wanted to know or cared about the world because I had everything I wanted in my life at home. Grandpa was 12 years older than grandma. In those times, marriages with large age difference was very common. In his last years, grandpa stopped caring about everything else and would just wait for me to come back from school. When I was at home, he used to eat only from my hand. The last thing he had was his medicine that I gave him before he slipped into his death bed. I had seen cats die at home but the significance of death had never hit me before. For 3 days and nights, I prayed to God to take me with grandpa because I didn’t want him to be alone wherever he goes and I didn’t know life without him. When nothing happened, I started praying to God to take him and end his suffering. On the 7th morning, he left.

It took me all of 6 years to find my mental balance again and I never really recovered from that trauma. The lessons I learned were very bitter. Everyone around me will leave me and go one day, not just through death but for a variety of reasons. I am essentially all alone in this world. Never invest my emotions beyond a point into any relationship. Don’t let anyone in to my space after a point. Life as a recluse is better than life with a broken heart. But through all of this, grandpa had taught me the lesson for life. He had loved me with everything he had, never once holding back. He had nothing to expect from me. I didn’t have anything to give him except myself. He taught me to love without expectations and to love without holding myself back.

I met her when we were both 6 years old. Same school, same batch, different classes and neighbors for some time. Her parents were college lecturers and were staying in a rented house near my house at that time. They used to leave her at my place when they used to go to work. I started waiting for her to come home in the morning and in the evening, I couldn’t see her go back home. I used to run after school to catch a seat for her to sit in the school bus. My mom used to feed both of us together and put us to sleep on the same bed after we came home from school during exams. After 2 years, she left to her own home quite some distance away.

I had started off my school life in kindergarten with flamboyance and as an extrovert but grew quieter as I grew up. Our classrooms kept shifting so I never found the opportunities to go and meet her. I still used to wait for her near the school to give flowers which mom used to send for her. Every time the doorbell at home rang, I used to run and see if it was her. Then grandpa left. Years of mental and emotional struggle followed. I dropped off in studies. The one person left in my mind was her. Dad was having his own struggles with health and no one at home really understood the conflicts I was going through in my mind especially after adolescence hit me. The constant thoughts about her in my mind started taking shape and form.

Adolescence is the time when we get affected with even little influences. I got influenced by music. I started going to her house to see her. I felt no physical attraction towards her. I never once looked at her anywhere other than her face. It was her and nothing else mattered. I had no expectations from her. All I wanted was to be always with her. I couldn’t define what I was feeling for her. In spite of my mind being in a mess, I found my mojo back at the right time. I managed to finish school as a topper. That’s when it struck me. I wouldn’t be able to see her everyday like before. What if someone else started liking her and she started feeling the same for him? Life became a nightmare. I finally conjured up the courage to write whatever was on my mind and go and give it to her.

She never replied. That was the time of no mobile phones, internet and email. Whenever I came across her again, she never came to speak to me. I decided that I wasn’t going to chase her for a response. I thought the best way to do it was the Indian way of asking her hand in marriage through the families. I had to take an year out to prepare for the engineering entrance exam. I passed with flying colors and went to tell her about it. Then reality started hitting me. We were of the same age. Her parents had a late marriage and they would look to get her married off as soon as possible. There was nothing I could do about it. I had no idea how she felt about me and if she had any feelings for me at all. Despair followed. The most overpowering of all that we feel is the feeling of helplessness.

Then something struck me. All I wanted was to be with her and in return I wanted to keep her safe and happy. Even if she was not with me, I would still want her to be safe and happy wherever she is. I didn’t know how else to feel love, if all of this was indeed love. I had to watch my grandpa go helplessly, if I had to do it one more time I would. Couple of years later, I got to know that her marriage was getting fixed. One day, her fiancee’s brother who was my senior in college came and asked me bluntly what my relationship was with her. I wanted to shout on his face who she was to me and throw him down the building. I felt pure burning rage in that instant. I chose to keep quiet and send him away. We were not invited for her marriage. I cried silently in the shower on the morning of the marriage.

My life went downhill after that. Years of financial turmoil at home coupled with my mental and emotional struggles took it’s toll on my body. My lower back gave up on me. I couldn’t walk one fine day. Doctor gave me the choice of surgery and 50% chance of walking after that. I was returning home with my dad by train and for a fleeting moment, I had the urge to jump out of the train. Then commonsense prevailed. If I cannot live for myself I should live for the people who are in my life and those who may need me.

Then I started seeing her in my dreams. Years passed, I started working and I never had the opportunity to think about her. But out of nowhere she would appear in my dreams. For years I used to wake up in the middle of the night and cry alone. When my parents started talking about my marriage, I felt huge resentment at first. Then I started thinking that a life with another woman might help me get off those dreams. I met girls but realized that the love which is prevalent in society is all based on expectations. I tried to fit in and change myself and it only caused me more misery. I realized that I was only trying to fill up the empty spaces in my life.

Through all the trials and tribulations of life, all I wanted was to see her one more time. I managed to get in touch with her best friend in school and got a picture of her. Then the unthinkable happened. After 22 long years, I got the chance to meet her. Her father passed away and I went to her house to pay my respects. Her mother didn’t recognize me but she did instantly. Those were magical moments for me. I felt exactly the same way about her as I always did. Then magically, those dreams vanished. After many days, I saw her in my dream again and I woke up smiling.

I do not know who she is and why she came into my life. If we look closely, everything that happens in our lives are all connected and everything has it’s own meaning in defining our lives and making us who we are. With her, I am not able to find any reason. All I know is that there is a definite connection between us through space and time. In my darkest days in the last few years, I took up wildlife photography and I have become quite good at it. Then I chanced upon my autograph book from my high school days and this is what she had written to me.



It almost feels like she was pointing me to go towards nature and she had shown me my way long back.

I didn’t know it back then but her astrological star would have matched mine perfectly for Indian style marriage. I do not know if I would find the love I understand again but it doesn’t worry me. I have had to live my life after losing both the people I truly loved. If everything I have experienced about her is true, then I am sure I will meet her in afterlife, just like I am sure my grandpa is waiting for me.

It took me a long time to realize what still hurts me about her. She may have never understood my love for her. I did not even expect her to have the same feelings for me. All I wanted was understanding and acceptance. It was up to her to choose whom she wanted to spend her life with. What I really wanted was a place in her heart, forever. What matters more than having a woman in life is for the man to be in her mind and thoughts. What hurts and will hurt forever is that she left without talking to me even once. If what I felt for her is true, she will realize it some day and that is all I need.

What ails India’s IT bellwether behemoth

There was a time, till not so long ago when a job at Infosys used to be a crucial factor in arranging marriages in India. The enormity of influence Infosys used to have over the Indian job market has parallels with Siemens in Germany. I have heard of small towns in Germany with an office of Siemens and one or more people from every house in the town working there. A job in the Indian IT sector was at one time the aspiration of every graduate but when it came to marriage, a job at Infosys would add brownie points and with a very good reason. Infosys has been the public sector company in India’s private sector. Job security at Infosys has been the differentiating factor from other IT companies. Add to this their policy of hiring spouses that was borderline outrageous. Employees were easily able to onboard their spouses to Infosys and if one such employee got the opportunity to work from a client’s location abroad Infosys would figure out a way to find a similar assignment for the employee’s spouse at the same location and send them both together. But the company has become a pale shadow of those glory days because of internal factors and external influences.

During my MBA program, I came across a case study about how Infosys, in 2004 had developed strategies to evaluate and figure out the best road to the future. One of them was investing into the infrastructure in India which they did not pursue ultimately. While I admit that the Indian ecosystem is extremely complicated right from acquiring land to bureaucratic red tape to political and religious influences, Infosys, with it’s enormous influence over the society as a whole could have had easily negated every obstacle. The strategy they chose was to focus on expanding their clientele abroad. I believe this choice was made with the sole purpose of increasing their earnings because of the value difference in the Rupee and the currencies of western countries. There were two major issues here. After a point in the lifeline, be it that of an individual or a corporate company, influence and the ability to get things done takes or should take precedence over money and wealth. Infosys caters to clients in retail, manufacturing and other sectors abroad and all such companies are in India also. In 2004 they were poised perfectly to bring the entire Indian corporate sector under their hegemony. Secondly, sitting on a mountain of profits with no debt makes any company vulnerable for a takeover bid by another company. No debts and a huge list of clients abroad are enough mouthwatering prospects to go on a takeover offensive.

The company’s woes in the last few years have been created by two factors. The first one is with the blatant misuse of the US H1B visas. Infosys reportedly has more than 80% of their clientele in the US. The H1B visa ecosystem has been created for US multinational companies to recruit and take bright minds and experienced people from foreign countries to work in the US. But Indian companies, right from the heavyweights like Infosys to small recruiting consultants have found ways to bend and bypass the visa rules. Hogging the H1B visas and eating away the job market in a foreign country by replacing local people with people exported from another country on lower pay scale was never going to be a sustainable business strategy. The powerful Indian lobby in the US had barricaded any investigation into the H1B visa usage by Indian MNCs for a long time but some day the skeletons were all going to tumble out of the cupboard which is what happened with the ascent of Donald Trump into presidency.

The second and the more critical factor that has brought Infosys down from grace has been it’s management of employees. A very good friend of mine is a senior project manager at Infosys and we have had numerous discussions about the work he is doing and about the management in particular. There is one profound aspect about Infosys that distinguishes it from all other IT companies. For the longest time, the founding partners of the company had taken turns to occupy the CEO’s chair and be at the helm of affairs, thereby fostering a very unique corporate culture. Once their terms ended, there was no one else within Infosys to take their place. Did they not understand the enormity of the corporate culture they had created and because of this, did they forget to set in motion the wheels of inheritance? After everything that has been happening, maybe not. Instead of promoting their employees into the top management, like other IT MNCs, they started hiring executives from other companies. These external hires are undoubtedly experienced and seasoned players, but question is, how many years of experience with Infosys do they have to be at it’s helm of affairs? None. Their initial impressions about the company are formed by the opinions and words of the people at Infosys they interact with when they join which usually makes them skewed in any one direction rather than being balanced in their comprehension. This is usually the case in all companies but the unique culture of Infosys has become the stumbling block.

Above all of these, I believe one aspect of the company could threaten it’s very existence. They have changed their business and organizational strategies to remain competitive in the market and have been restructuring their work flow hierarchy but with a critical deficiency. They seem to be clueless about identifying the right stakeholders within the organization, the most critical aspect of Kotter’s 8 steps of transformation. My friend has been with Infosys for about 15 years now and never has he been asked or consulted about changes in company strategies. Now why should a manager know about changes in company strategies? Because project management is essentially the management of the execution of business strategies. Projects are after all born from business strategies. He has been working on projects of a particular domain for a very long time so I asked him how much does he know about what Infosys is doing in that domain. He said 70%. So I asked him does that much knowledge help him to understand the deficiencies and help create better strategies in that domain. He said yes. Stakeholders need not be executives, directors or even managers. Even a team member can be a stakeholder if he/she has enough influence in the team to understand deficiencies and drive changes. Stakeholders have to be identified from ground up because all of them can provide critical information from their levels. All of this information has to flow up and become the most important aspect of developing the organizational and business strategies. The fallout of what has been happening is immensely disturbing. Employees at all levels are feeling uncertain about their future in the company which could kickstart increasing employee attrition and the propensity among IT employees to stay away from the company.

It is becoming very clear that Infosys is no longer sure about it’s road ahead. They hired an assertive Vishal Sikka as the CEO who had an ambitious agenda backed by mighty plans. Then the fallout with Narayan Murthy and the spat in full public view ensued which has caused immense damage to the company’s reputation and more importantly shaken the company’s confidence in itself. They seem to have realized their mistake but instead of finding someone with the right balance, they have brought in Salil Parekh who seems to be on the opposite polarity of Sikka. My friend was telling me that it’s been more than 6 months since Salil has become the CEO but he is yet to address the employees, explain what has been happening, what would be the road ahead and try to calm their uneasiness and uncertainty. Not even by an email. When communication flow from top management to the base of the company pyramid stops, it means only one thing. Everyone at the top are fighting their own battles and are trying to save their own skins.

My friend has been helplessly watching his career growth stagnate over the years. At the level of his immediate manager he says there are people with 25 years of experience. Most of them seems to have reconciled with their life at Infosys because they have family responsibilities, loans, etc and have become totally risk averse. The company seems to have piled on a bloated middle management, an obese company midriff. It is very evident that Infosys does not know what to do with them. What is saddening is, Infosys will never know what these people might be capable of and what they can do to transform the company. There is only one strategy for mature organizations to follow. Empower and transform their employees, let them grow and simply ask them. They will know how and where to take the company ahead.

I am a Hindu and this is why I don’t need to patronize the Hindutva Agenda

I was born into a Hindu family with a Brahminical lineage on my father’s side till 3 generations back. My great grandfather married a Nair lady and since Kerala is a matriarchal society, the following generations did not inherit the Brahmin roots. My father and mother were born and brought up in Kolkata and Mumbai respectively and even though they eventually settled in Kerala, I was brought up in a completely cosmopolitan household. Caste based discussions used to happen rarely but there were no religion based ones. We do lament the fact that being upper caste Hindus do not accord us any governmental privileges like the lower caste people. I studied with kids from all walks of life from school to college and religion and caste based discussions never came up.

Being a Hindu never mattered till the Ram Janmabhoomi (Lord Ram’s birth place) issue flared up. I was in my teens at that time and didn’t understand much about all the fuss. Bricks and funds were being collected from every house to be taken to Ayodhya to build the temple. What people didn’t know at that time was, it was a political game kick started by Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress party to woo Hindu votes which would end up in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, provide BJP the political platform to become a national party and plunge the country into the perpetual darkness of communalism. The Hindutva card has been used time and again by the BJP to call for the conversion of India into a Hindu Rashtra (Country).

Now, according to the dictionary,

Hindutva is an ideology seeking to establish the hegemony of Hindus and the Hindu way of life.

According to Wikipedia

Hindutva (“Hinduness”), a term popularised by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923, is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India.

Savarkar’s Hindu nationalism included in its fold the followers of all Indian religions including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, but excluded the followers of “foreign religions” such  as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

When leaders are not sensible and do not have enough knowledge and commonsense to take balanced decisions, the repercussions can ripple through the society for decades and generations. Islam and Christianity are the biggest practiced religions in India after Hinduism and both of them are indeed “foreign religions” but who are the followers in India of both religions? Every Christian and Muslim in India has Hindu lineage. Both these religions came to Kerala first and were accepted into the society wholeheartedly. The first Christians in India were Brahmin families who converted to Christianity. Savarkar and his band of nationalists clearly didn’t know India’s history nor did they have the measure of how diverse and accommodating Indian society and mindset is. People from all major countries have aspired to travel to India, have come and done their bit be it with trade or ruling large parts of the country. Indian society has undergone unprecedented cultural exchanges with all these countries and in spite of going through monumental changes, Hindu culture has remained untouched and has actually thrived. The enormity of being part of the most diverse land in the world is yet to hit in the face of every Indian.

The proponents of Hindutva should first understand that Hinduism is and has never been a religion. In the pantheon of Indian deities there are Gods who represent all natural forces such as rain, wind, etc. The earliest humans used to worship nature as part of their lives and Hinduism has it’s roots right in the dawn of modern humanity. Now this is where it gets interesting. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism all have their roots in Hinduism. Christianity and Islam have their roots in Judaism. What does this imply? New religions sprouted out as improvements to the older ones. All religious texts mention about an entity who is going to arrive and liberate humanity from the clutches of darkness and sins. For Hindus it is Kalki, the 10th avatar of Vishnu, for Christians it is the return of Jesus Christ. Logic says only one entity is coming. If every religion is saying the same thing, it has to be based on some fact. From the moment the entity arrives, will any of these religions have any significance? Every human being is supposedly going to be evaluated and rewarded/ punished based on his/her karma. If belonging to any religion is going to be immaterial then, what relevance do religions have now? Every religion may be meant to guide humanity as communities to the time of arrival of that entity which is why newer religions have improved rules for societal life.

Now what is the proof that Ayodhya in UP is the birth place of Lord Ram? Ayodhya has been described as the biggest city on Earth in Ramayana but absolutely no evidence of such a city has been excavated yet. There are many places called London and Delhi in the world so just because there is a place called Ayodhya does not mean that is the birthplace of Lord Ram. Facts and fiction about places and incidents merge and become inseparable with time. Let me propose a theory for consideration. Both Ramayana and Mahabharata speak about weapons of mass destruction that were deployed in wars and annihilated thousands and even millions of soldiers. Scientific expeditions to Mars have concluded that the planet was just like ours in the distant past and two massive nuclear wars seem to have destroyed the planet’s surface and it’s atmosphere making it the red planet it is today. What if the incidents mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata happened on Mars and the stories managed to reach somehow to Earth?

To understand the concept of Hindutva, we need to look at who needs Hindu nationalism. If we go by the Hindu caste system, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas were the warrior and business clans respectively who were busy with their respective occupations and had little to moderate time for religious affairs. Sudras, the menial class did not even have the right to pray to God. People of all these 3 castes have successfully integrated into the modern society. Its the Brahminical class that has been steadily losing their relevance in society just like the might of the Church has waned off in many western countries. The proponents of Hindutva all belong to the Brahminical class which is again a minority group within Brahmins itself. I am bemused by their multi-fanged agenda about treating cows as our Mother. Cow is mother everywhere except in Goa and North East states and cow is mother for everyone except the Hindus who own the largest exporters of beef in the country. This is why Kerala society has chosen it’s culture of eating beef over the Hindutva diktat.

I would like to know how many of the self professed agents of Hinduism are actually aware that idol worship as a practice started only at the beginning of Kali Yuga and Kali Yuga started after the demise of Lord Krishna as per Hindu texts. Only one God has been mentioned as being worshipped in ancient times, even by Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. The perpetual and omnipresent Lord Shiva and I am quite sure most of these Hindutva preachers may not be knowing why. Destroying and subsequently paving the way for new creation is the most important and most intense activity which requires using the entire energy of the Universe with utmost focus and without any remorse, empathy and compassion. Temples are meant to be places of rejuvenation of our chakras and the energy flow in our body rather than the residence of Gods. So what relevance does building the Ram temple have for people who are being choked with inflation, lack of employment and education and struggling to make their ends meet? Only political. That’s why it flares up during elections and whimpers to its demise afterwards.

None of the above are indicators that I am an atheist or anti-Hindu. So much has been written in ancient Indian texts that it is impossible to assume everything as fantasy stories. We are just not technologically advanced to interpret them correctly. I am proud of my Hindu lineage but not arrogant to desire for a Hindu land. For thousands of years through the invasion of India by foreign kings and countries and their subsequent rule, Hindus haven’t felt threatened about losing their identity. There is no such danger now and there will never be.

India’s journey from 2014 to 2019 and beyond

The general elections in India are a year away but preparations and build up towards it has already started. The recent state elections in Karnataka was dubbed as it’s precursor or the ‘final before the final’. The situation is identical to how it works in the corporate sector. In a Business to Business (B2B) relationship, one party will usually be the client and the other it’s vendor or service provider. If such a contract is created for say 3 years, the vendor will not wait till the end of 3 years before trying to extend the contract. By the half way mark the vendor will start preparations and by the end of the 2nd year, they will initiate discussions with the client. They have a single critical objective which is to ensure that the client does not start evaluating other vendors. If the client starts evaluating other vendors, it means the client is not satisfied with the current vendor and the most likely outcome will be the contract not getting renewed and going out into the market. This is all about perceptions and the vendor needs to ensure that the perception the client has about them is favorable to them. The game of politics is also about perceptions especially in India since politics in India is governed by religious, caste and community based vote banks.

The tone of 2019 elections was set during the elections of 2014 itself. The 2014 elections were dominated by two factors, the scams that happened and were subsequently unearthed during the 10 year rule of the UPA government and the rise of Modi and his Gujarat model of development. The UPA government’s tenure was plagued by the financial meltdown of 2008 and it’s after effects. Indian economy did not experience the full blown effects of the situation like most countries did but overall growth of the economy became grinding slow. The GDP tanked, inflation and unemployment flared up and when the scams came out in public view, discontent against the government soared to an all time high. BJP did not have a prime ministerial candidate until about 2012 and was a headless party. Modi’s team took advantage of both these situations and used the Gujarat development model as the premise to project Modi as a national leader which worked remarkably well.

But as the trail towards the elections heated up, I realized that what was being projected about Modi and Gujarat weren’t hunky dory after all. From my neighbours who had moved to Gujarat, I learned that except some cities like Ahmedabad, nothing much had changed. Ravish Kumar of NDTV ran extensive coverage of some of the major cities and villages of Gujarat where there were no signs of any development. Most importantly, the perception that Modi becoming the PM will make all the problems go away and bring the economy back on the path of growth did not sit well with me because this was explained away by his Gujarat development model and was not quantified enough by facts and figures. This, especially after the country’s economy and stock market were getting affected even by variations in the valuation of the US government bonds. Modi’s much vaunted plan to bring back the flushed out black money also sounded hollow after Arvind Kejriwal, in a televised interview mentioned that the more urgent need was to first stop the flow of black money before chasing the money already funneled out of the country.

To summarize, the Modi chant never rose high enough to become a wave. The country’s GDP no longer seems to reflect the ground level economic conditions. A country’s GDP and inflation are related in 5 ways as per Investopedia ( and none of these conditions match India’s present situation. When crude oil prices were falling globally, India’s fuel prices were still going up and inflation along with it. Yet the GDP was being shown as growing which makes no sense at all. GDP growth can trigger inflation but inflation can never affect GDP positively. Also GDP and unemployment cannot rise together. Two major initiatives of the government, demonetization and GST have failed completely in their stated objective to curb the black money menace. Money laundering and loan defaulting by big time corporate players like Vijay Mallya which started during the UPA rule continued unabated during the last 4 years as well. All banks are struggling to cope up with increasing NPAs. Possession and auction notices of houses and properties along with the auction notices of pawned gold throng the daily national and local newspapers which tells the sordid story of how common man is suffering from lack of employment and earnings. To add to the woes, farmers across the country are taking their lives. But the rich have been getting richer despite all of this. In the last 4 years, India has been successfully added to the list of countries where 99% of the wealth is under the control of 1% of the world’s population.

The deeper impact of what transpired in 2014 is only becoming apparent now. BJP did not seek the support of other political parties to fight the 2014 elections. Instead, they chose to go on their own with Modi as their face effectively making him a single point of success or failure. Given the circumstances under which the elections of 2014 were conducted, I am inclined to assume that the INC did not want to win the election because they were helpless to stop the downward slide of the economy and they did not want to continue taking the blame for the economic conditions. I had realized in 2014 that if Modi wins and fails in the next 5 years, it will unite the opposition and it will become a battle between Modi and the rest of India. The country has seen the fiasco that unraveled in Karnataka after the state elections last month. INC and JD(S) which had fought the elections against each other joined hands to form the government and then started bickering over allotment of portfolios. So if the condition arises that so many regional and national parties unite to form the government in 2019, bickering among them over portfolios would rise to preposterous levels.

For political parties in India, elections have always been more about seizing control over power and money and less about governance. In the supposedly fastest growing economy in the world, election manifestos are still filled with empty promises to provide clean drinking water, electricity and education. How can a country’s economy grow when a large part of it’s population still does not have access to clean drinking water, electricity and education? These are the fundamental rights of every citizen of the country and it is the primary responsibility of the government to ensure that people have access to their basic rights irrespective of which political party is in control of the government. People should not vote over promises to provide them their basic rights. Arvind Kejriwal and his government claiming success in transforming the lives of the people of Delhi with cheaper electricity, access to water and improving the education and healthcare sector actually reflects poorly on the country in the world arena because in spite of Delhi being the seat of the country’s government, the sordid and miserable condition of it’s population for such a long time is getting exposed.

What will happen in 2019 elections and it’s aftermath already seems like a nightmare to me. Modi and BJP seemed to have assumed in 2014 that governing his home state for 12 years was enough credentials to govern the world’s most diverse country. Their spectacular rise and fall in the last 4 years have proved that they do not have the firepower to govern the country. The alternative is a united opposition with possibly the INC at it’s helm, united only with the intent to grab power. When it comes to Arvind Kejriwal and his party, all other parties unite against them because they seem terrified of his people oriented governance agenda. So they will keep him bottled up in Delhi itself. 5 more years of uncertainty seems to be definitely in the offing.