Monday, August 16, 2004

I-Day Speeches

The President's speech and the PM's are like two meandering rivers. They meet sometimes and don't a others. No actually the President's speech is like a straight river curving only when points are to be emphasised. Kalam is not an ideological person - thankfully. His vision is rooted in reality and his own experiences. He is a very ordinary simple and homegrown achiever who has kept his eyes and ears open for matters far beyond his own shells. But he has tried to score 1s and 2s before hitting those sixers. There are others who can talk better and in greater detail about this man who is surely India's best President. But in this I-Day's speech he talked of his concerns regarding education and health. He is not talking of vast ideological chasms to be crossed - but simple steps that must be taken at the level of villages and mohallas. In keeping to form his I-Day dinner invitees included 20 Panchayat Sarpanches - men and women - the simple folk who keep our villages well run - here are pictures of the gathering - When are we going to listen to him? And for that profound fool Prafool Bidwai who wrote a nasty smear piece on Kalam a couple of years ago when Kalam accepted the nomination to run for President there is yet another kick. In this hate-filled and moronic tirade Bidwai implies that Kalam advocates "Eugenics" for suggesting that bio-implants be used to improve the faculties of those who are mentally disadvantaged. Apart from the fact that Prafool shows himself to be a careless hack by mixing up eugenics that contemptible inhuman and abominable quest - which is about breeding humans by selecting for superior abilities - with mental ability improvement in individuals - he displays an unpardonable ignorance of contemporary research into the methods for alleviating the problems of the mentally challenged. Bio-implants for a variety of ailments are among the many approaches - including embryonic stem cell transplant - in this exciting area. As if to show us what a prejudiced and idiotic hack he is Kalam's speeches since then on the matter of education have always included sugggestions and directions for taking better care of India's mentally and physically challenged folk. In this year's I-Day speech too Kalam has made an entreaty on their behalf. Some months back he adminitered a pledge to children that included a promise to treat mentally and phycially disadvanteaged folk with care and concern. Is Prafool going to apologise for his hate-filled rant?

Now for Dr.Singh's speech. It meets Kalam's speech on matters of practicality it divereges a little on matters of accountability, but wanders away very sharply in its references to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi! Indira Gandhi's Garibi Hatao? For God's sake Doc, that was a campaign slogan that got IG into office and achieved nothing else. And Rajiv Gandhi and IT? Here was a man with a 400 seat majority in the Lok Sabha who could have done anything he wanted including commanding that sun rise from the West (As Tavleen Singh puts it) and what did he do? The Shah Bano retreat, soft-Hindutva, Bofors, holidaying in Andamans and Lakshadweep (>Rs. 30 crore for each outing) and a lot of other forgettable things. As for IT this man did not have the vision to lift capacity restrictions on manufacture of computers or throw open telecom infrastructure to competition. Dr. Singh if not for your bold moves in 1991 with Rao-garu we would have been looking at the wrong end of the abyss by now and all you can do is to pay words of praise to Rajiv and his Mummy? I do admire IG for many things. But economics is not one of them. Must you talk of them? You would win another term of office if you were to run on your achievements Doc. Spare us those days of stasis and mediocrity.

Anil Ambani's article in "What Freedom Means to Me" read it at Mid-Day merits a special post all by itself.


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