Tuesday 14 January 2014

Finger point everyone: The 4th mistake of Mr Chetan Bhagat's life

I am not a member of the Aam Aadmi party and I don't plan to become a member either. But I support them.

So when I read what Chetan Bhagat has written in his blog in Times of India, I felt like offering some gratuitous advice in much the way he does to AAP. So I say to you, Mr Bhagat, please stick to writing novels. There is no logical thread in this political blog of yours, your analysis is pedestrian at best and hollow and biased at worst. While you may be used to making up your own reality when writing fiction, you cannot take such liberties when it comes to political analysis. You are a famous man, Mr Bhagat and you have a responsibility to write with integrity. I also do not see that you have any respect for facts.

You have said
It is not easy to write a column with views that run against the wave, particularly against well-intentioned people you have yourself encouraged. I face this dilemma when I write about AAP and its need for a reality check. AAP is the flavour of the month. The media is going gaga over it, the poor see it as their messiah, and rich but bored executives are quitting their jobs to join the ‘movement’.

It deserves some of the hype. It is honest, humble and responsive. The party quickly adapts to public opinion, even if it means changing a previous stance. This responsiveness alone makes it stand out from existing political parties, led by dinosaurs that couldn’t move even if their tail was on fire.

And I say to you, Mr Bhagat

Your piece is titled "India first, AAP second." If AAP quickly adapts to public opinion and is willing to change its stance, is this not a case of AAP putting the country ahead of the party ? How then do you go onto say that they are putting the party first ? You trip on your own logic Mr Bhagat.

You have said
If AAP plays its cards right, it can be a leading national party over the next decade. However, AAP needs to realize that the bigger concern is not AAP, but India. Sadly, some recent policies and decisions have been highly questionable in terms of national interest.

In a bid to come across as a hero to voters, AAP announced free water, and a bizarre subsidy-based cut in electricity tariffs in Delhi. Some estimates say this could cost thousands of crores a year. This money could have been used for hospitals, schools, flyovers, employment generation and a dozen other purposes. The poll promise was to reduce the alleged corruption in the electricity sector, and pass on the efficiency gains to the people. The cheeky accounting and subsidy-based reduction was irresponsible. If the AAP tariff decision is extended pan-India , the cost could be lakhs of crores a year. Such moves can not only wreck the country’s finances, they will send the wrong signal to private players who will shun investing in India’s electricity sector. It helped AAP win some instant applause, but did it help India?

My response
1. You have not bothered to even get the facts right on the water initiative. Go on, read the manifesto or if you want the distilled essence, feel free to visit my blog . AAP is not doing this to come across as a hero, but to make good on a promise they made in their manifesto.
2. Pray do tell me what is bizarre about the promised cut in power tariff. In most law abiding societies, tariff is fixed on the basis of an audit of costs. How is this bizarre, Mr Bhagat ? BTW, the BJP too had promised a 30 % cut in tariff do you not know that. May I also point you to the statement of a former Chairman of DERC Brijendra Singh who ordered that tariff be slashed by 23 %, an order that the Delhi government shot down. Singh's was the voice of experience that, as you argue later in your post, AAP does not have but the Congress and BJP do. You have a lot of explaining to do for your irresponsible choice of words. Cheeky accounting is what the electricity firms have been doing, not AAP. Cheeky would be a good word to describe your snide remarks directed at AAP.

Says Mr Bhagat
Another example is AAP’s bid to have 90% reservation for Delhiites in Delhi colleges, many of which are national brands. Note the damage this creates at many levels. It prevents students across the country from joining the best colleges. It denies the colleges the best talent, and damages their brand. It creates pressure to move to Delhi, adding stress to urban infrastructure. It encourages parents to send kids abroad to study, costing us foreign exchange. Shouldn’t we discuss all this? Why don’t we have top Delhi colleges opening branches across the country, for instance?

Again, this move may have helped AAP, but did it help India?

You may be honest, but if you are ok with raiding the national treasury and hurting national brands to aid your party, are you completely pure?

My response
Again your disdain for detail shows, Mr Bhagat. I must tell you that hyperbole cannot ever be a substitute for facts. Manish Sisodia has proposed a 90% reservation in the 12 colleges funded fully by the Delhi government. Here's the link to two news reports on the subject. One appeared in the ToI the other in HT. If the Delhi government is funding these colleges in full with Delhi tax payers money, why should they not reserve all of the seats for residents of Delhi, I ask you. How do you say that this creates pressure on people to move to Delhi. The intention is to offer reservations to Delhi residents and not to people moving to Delhi to reside to be able to get college admission. Then you talk about kids having to go abroad. But wait, Sisodia is only talking about denying admission to kids from elsewhere in favour of Delhi kids. How does this lead to more kids being forced to go overseas, I don't get it, Mr Bhagat.

I know whats bothering you, so let me also put your mind at ease, Mr Bhagat. Under the scheme proposed by Sisodia, none of the colleges where your audience studies is affected. Not Stephens, not Hindu, not LSR. You may not even have heard of the 12 colleges. Here's the list: Indira Gandhi Institute of Phy. Education & Sports Science, Shaheed Raj Guru College, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Bhagini Nivedita College, Maharaja Agrasen College, Mahirshi Balmiki College of Education, Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Dean Dayal Upadhyaya College, Acharya Narendra Dev College, Keshav Maha Vidyalaya, Aditi Mahavidyalaya and BhaskaraCharya College of Applied Science. It will be stretching one's incredulity to refer to these as national brands given the state they are in.

When I read your argument, it reminds me of the story told of the wolf who accused the sheep drinking water downstream of muddying it.

You have said
There also seems to be a self-righteous attitude towards an ‘aam-aadmi’ lifestyle, and a disdain for affluence. While conspicuous consumption is wrong, I fail to see how aspiring to a good lifestyle, or living it with one’s hard-earned post-tax money is less virtuous? Millions of Indians have worked hard in the past decade and upgraded their lifestyle. That has increased our per-capita GDP. Should we discourage that? Do we want an honest, but poor India? Is AAP pro-poor, or pro-poverty?

Why is AAP getting it wrong already? One, an explicable hurry to compete in the LS elections. Two, a mindset that lacks vision on what India needs to be, apart from being corruption-free. I wouldn’t blame AAP for the latter. They were meant to be an anti-corruption movement. Now they aspire to be a national party. There is a substantial re-think and reinvention required before it goes ahead with its new goals. It needs to learn governance, and have clarity on how it can deliver not only a corruption-free India, but also a thriving economy with millions of opportunities for youngsters . All this needs time. However, the upcoming election and the overrated ‘momentum’ it seeks to capitalize on, is hampering this crucial process. In this hurry, AAP also risks attracting the wrong people who seek power over a better India. If AAP opted out of the LS 2014 race, only the truly dedicated would join. AAP’s entry in the LS race will increase the chances of a hung parliament and a khichdi government. For what it’s worth, a lot of foreign governments, investors and local entrepreneurs feel Modi can put India back on the path of growth. I am not sure they feel the same way with AAP. What is best for India then? Similarly, the Congress, with all its ills, has the most experience in governing India, while AAP has none. Does that experience amount to nothing? Should these factors not be considered in 2014 when we think of India? Or is it not about India anymore, but only about AAP?

Let us citizens also place India’s progress over any political party’s progress. The keys of the nation should be given to people who are not only honest, but can also take India to the next level.

My response
I follow AAP reasonably closely and I have never heard them express a disdain for affluence, or speak disapprovingly of anyone seeking to upgrade their own life style. I don't know where you got this from especially when I remember the Delhi CM making a reference to transforming this country into a "sone ki chidiya" in his post swearing in speech.

The only one getting anything is wrong is you and I have not spotted one fact that you have got right through this rant of yours. Why should they opt out of the LS 2014 race Mr Bhagat? Yes, their participation increases the possibility of a khichdi sarkar but what is wrong with a Khichdi sarkar ? Congress may have the most experience governing India but have they done anything to improve the lot of the common man ? You extol Modi who, now that he has been cleared by the courts of any wrong doing, can still be charged with inept governance when his state burned. Let me also tell you that neither the BJP nor the Congress fight elections on a shoe string budget and flout every rule in the book. AAP has kindled faith of common people in the system, I urge you to not prick this with your sanctimonious spiel.

I don't get it Mr Bhagat when you say that those that rule the country should listen more to foreign governments, investors and local entrepreneurs and less to the voters who elected them in the first place. How ridiculous, Mr Bhagat. We live in a democracy where the majority will should prevail, not that of a small privileged elite and certainly not that of foreigners.

I submit to you, Mr Bhagat, that if corruption is tackled effectively, much of India's problems will disappear. Public services provision will dramatically improve, the poor will find succour. The face of this country will change. Pity, you don't even see the possibility. Let me suggest to you that you may want to take your own advice.



  1. I was recently with a supporter of a party promising return of the Ram Rajya. So, he tried to convince me. He is also against what he calls freebies and subsidies (not when given to big industries, IT companies and big farmers). So, I asked him why Rama ordered his wife to undergo the fire trial, not once but twice. His answer was that Rama as a king, had to factor in the people's sentiments and do what his 'subjects' wanted him to. When I asked him but would not that also be populism (that he so clearly detested, the crime that BPL subsidies are accused of being, he lost his cool.

  2. Very well written. I really liked Mr. Datta's comment also. Unfortunately people remember where you end and not where you start. Country is going through a very interesting time. I am not sure good or bad for future generations. It is the current day wisdom which is shaped by the incidents of past ... that is what makes the whole thing so interesting and some times very scary too.

  3. Nice Swami!

    CB writes for the masses. With a silent mmmmm, he thinks.

  4. What else can be expected of VETAN BHAGAT !!

  5. Swami
    Do send in this response to the TOI where Chetan Bhagat's article was published.. so that all those who have read it.. have an opportunity to read your rebuttal..
    it needs to be read by more people

  6. You said it all. Excellent!

  7. Brilliant point by point analysis. It is well known that Mr Bhagat is an unofficial BJP spokesperson.

    Thank you for shining the light on the propaganda.


  8. Beautifully written and replied point by point, the thing is that at the bottom of the heart everybody knows that corruption is the root evil of all evils and just solving this issue would help bring in good governance and help develop a lot of sectors, public and private. However the difficulty also lies in every individual who has somehow got used to get the things done, illegal construction, tax avoidence. Therefore reducing corruption may not be an easy task at levels but surely it's good start.

    What Mr bhagat forgets that the thinking or philosophy that has brought unprecedented support from population so far needs some strengthening faith and support by eminent voices like him, unless sabotage is deliberately intended.

    Mr. Bhagat we must also not forget that 66 yrs old culture of 'doing things' is not going to change overnight and initially things may go topsy turvy but honest intention is still better than hidden kniving deals for personal gains.

    I believe that 'Life is a lottery' to 'life is a surity' is a scale on which a country's level of development can be measured, and unfortunately, India does not fair high on this scale.

    Please Mr. Bhagat please return to recreational writing which made you famous or you run a risk of loosing credibility.

  9. C. Ramachandraiah16 January 2014 at 01:06

    Excellent piece. Please send it to TOI. Also circulate this widely in the social media. I am particularly happy to see the list of colleges in which Sisodia proposed 90% reservation. Earlier I was worried about this proposal as it was not clear. AAP also did not clarify this properly.

  10. From the responses available so far, I guess, the responses have been pretty selective, favouring the author's thought-process... But, just in case, if this response gets published, am writing this response...

    Mr. Swamy neither am fan of yours nor of Mr. Bhagat.... And what actually surprises me is the fact that our so-called elite and well-educated class, come down on pointing fingers at person, than on the intention... I read both Mr. Bhagat's blog, as responded by your blog as above... After reading both these blogs, I am of the view that, Mr Bhagat's blog, was a piece of advice to AAP for the "betterment of INDIA" and was written with a bonafide intention, whilst yours is written with a sole intention to how to bring down someone, who as per your own follower is "CB writes for the masses. With a silent mmmmm, he thinks." (Subhrajit Kaur)...

    Well, my intention of writing this response is only one, and that is, PLEASE ALL OF US LETS WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE A BETTER INDIA... And I may not be such a great person to have fan following like you all, but am clear with my intentions, and to achieve that, if I have to criticise someone so that we can have a better tomorrow, I wont be hesitant in doing that... The points raised by Mr Bhagat were quite fair, reasoned and was to make AAP a "better party", while, I could not find any "reason" in your blog (which you claimed to be a rebuttal)... Please note, am a lawyer, so am aware of the meaning of these easy but critical words like "reason" and "rebuttal"...

    Anyways, signing of with just one thought, if we all could become awake and work in a direction, which can make India only better, rather than putting our time and efforts in finger-pointing on our own citizens...

  11. Firstly, I never reject criticism, I allow posting of everything, no matter how critical. If CB has a bone fide intention he must get atleast one fact right. He wrote it because he is launching a political show on TV, and he is trying to be a political analyst which he is ill equipped to be when he has no respect for facts and will not do research.

  12. Varadaraj Acharya16 January 2014 at 11:59

    My two-cents-worth on the matter:
    The AAP has burst upon the political scene quite spectacularly, riding mainly on the common man's anger and frustration with the all-pervading corruption. Some of the readers have opined that if you tackle corruption, all the rest of the problems will be solved automatically. That is a seriously flawed argument. It shows that AAP wants to cure the disease by tackling just one of the symptoms. Corruption is just one of the symptoms of the disease called 'SOCIALISM'. Unless the disease of SOCIALISM (and its offshoot-CRONY CAPITALISM) is tackled, corruption cannot be rooted out even by putting in place the Jan LokPal which addresses only the punitive part of it.
    I think what Chetan Bhagat was driving at (though I grant, his figures need verification) is that AAP, in going for 'freebies and subsidies', is only adopting quick-fix, socialist nostrums in dealing with the economy, aimed at quick and easy popularity. That can never extricate our nation from the morass into which it has sunk. For that we need to have long-term, world-class economic policies aimed at unleashing the potential of the Indian people to usher in wealth and prosperity. There seems to be a complete absence of such thought in the AAP.

  13. Dimple Mannshahia16 January 2014 at 17:42

    I do not claim to know many or all the facts of AAP, but I definitely support it and am soon going to join. Hey everybody, give the Political Party a chance. Whether it is the Congress or the BJP, I am SORRY to say, but members of both the parties are responsible for orchestrating Riots very happily in this country... And those responsible have merrily gone on to hold senior positions in their Parties.. Unfortunately, we all talk about these events and do NOTHING..

    And so, if some people are actually trying to make a difference and succeeding at it; lets not feel left out!! I feel CB has been given TOO much credit and he seems to be writing sitting on a pedestal, passing condescending remarks as people give him the attention.. Which I am sure he deserves from his loyal readers. But he has to realize that there is another part of the population of this country that has a mind of its own.... And does not necessarily agree with him or each other!!

    AAP is a "part" of a very major movement happening RIGHT NOW, this very minute as we read and write our views and we are witnessing history in the making. We should all stand up and take the relevant issues in this country very seriously. And DO something to contribute towards it.. Or just remain inconsequential bystanders...

  14. Ok, so if that is the case, and if you believe that his statements/ assertions are not based on facts, then the right thing would have been, just call him up and tell him that.

    You can equally have a fair argument that same thing could have been done by Mr Bhagat while writing his blog, but, you also know, thats not possible, as AAP is not open for views of his own party-members.. I would give example of Capt Gopinath (and not that Delhi AAP MLA Binni, who seems to me more oriented towards his own personal interests than the interests of AAP or the state or the nation) to substantiate this..

    Also, I dont know, if you would still like to justify the action of Delhi Law Minister of day before yesterday night and also of the previous days (like calling of Delhi HC judges meeting and all).. I mean, common man, he is a "law" minister, and should be aware of the law more than any common man.. It is the principle of law that "ignorantia juris neminem excusat" and no one is spared because of the ignorance of law.. And above all, I dont know, how did media managed to reach at that incident spot, where police, allegedly took 4 hours to reach.. Anyways, since, am aware of only the limited extent of the facts which are available in published media, wont comment on this entire incident..

    But would just say one thing (and since, I am also from Delhi, would love to see that happening), that the law minister or for that minister the entire AAP government should take sometime off and make themselves aware of the intricacies of running a government in an efficient manner, find out the effective ways to deal with the issues of common man, and then come out with all the ways and means to fulfill the promises that they have made, without putting any more burden on the exchequer (which in effect goes down again on the common man in the form of taxes, duties, surcharges, cesses, levies, etc.)..

  15. I have no access to Bhagat, so i could not have called him. I do not have the clout to get my stuff carried in the Times either. he wrote in public, as did I. I sent him a link, he has not responded. Your opinions and views seem to be getting shaped by media reports as you concede and, might I add, your own biases. You see goodness where you are prepared to see it and muck everywhere else, conditioned as most of us are by our biases. Please don't let that happen, because that would be a shame.

  16. Thanks for clarifying some of the facts, esp the one on reservation in Delhi colleges

  17. Appreciate your advise... Will keep that in mind...

    But would like to admit that, my only bias is to have a GOOD AND BETTER INDIA, wherein the importance, opportunity and equality is provided to everyone, and not to certain specific persons on the basis of caste, religion, creed, race or place... And if your rebuttals (or advisory) can help in doing that, then am more than happy to support them...

    With this last piece of reply, I hope and really pray, if we all can work towards a better India with real "inclusive" growth...

    Cheers :)

  18. true lines sir


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