Saturday, March 28, 2009

Indian elections

I am election watching with a vengeance. Expect little else on this blog for the next few weeks. First, to get the non-issue of the week out of the way: Varun Gandhi. Don't mistake me - I think hate speech has to be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately. But I also think there is a danger in giving someone who, for all practical purposes is a non-entity in Indian politics, too much importance. I think it's silly for the media (NDTV), for instance, to be describing him as a 'martyr for the saffron cause'. This is exactly the kind of attention he craves and giving it to him only provides further incentives for rabid and incendiary rhetoric. Frankly, I do not think Maneka and Varun Gandhi hold views on religion and politics that are very different from those held by the Congress party. At the root of this is not fundamental political and ideological differences but a family feud. We know that after Sanjay's death, there was a very public falling out in which Maneka was basically shown the door. It's not clear whether the feud was with Indira or Sonia. Maneka has recently indicated that it was Sonia who was behind her expulsion from the family (and conversely has spoken rather fondly about Indira). But why the formidable Indira would have been so easily manipulated by her elder daughter-in-law is something of a mystery. I don't think the details are very important. My point is simply that the search for an alternative political home - first in the VP Singh government and later in the BJP - was motivated more by a sense of grievance against the Rajiv branch of the family than by any sense of genuine political disagreement. Varun's membership of the BJP is epiphenomenal, merely a superstructural dimension of a disagreement of which family rivalry is the base. These people need therapy; not an alternative political platform from which to wreak their vengeances.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sometimes, Jon Stewart is like Noam Chomsky with a TV show. Watch the interview with Jim Cramer, who spends most of his time whingeing like a baby.

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