An Indian at Berkeley: A ‘Long Shot’ by Venture Capitalists

First Nobel Prize was awarded in 1895. Physics, Chemistry, Peace, Literature, Physiology and Medicine were included in 1901. In the last eight decades, 29 Berkeley alumni have received Nobel Prize. Subject wise breakdown is as follows:-

  • Chemistry 11
  • Physics 08
  • Physiology and Medicine 05
  • Economics 05

I always believed until recently that institutes of international repute for academic excellence such as Berkeley, Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to name a few, dealt exclusively with Academics. But Rahul Gandhi invite to Berkeley is indicative of changed  goal post of such fine institution of Academic excellence. ‘No-name’ politicians have also found themselves on the list of guest speakers. While it is the exclusive prerogative of the university to invite whoever it wants but when viewed in the intellectual context, Rahul Gandhi invite leaves lot of questions unanswered. I watched the ‘interview/interaction’ at Berkeley on TV for a little while, only because I had better and more constructive things to do than to listen to Mr Rahul Gandhi. As an Indian I know him as the son of Mr Rajiv Gandhi, our former PM, who was thrust with the post of PM because ND Tewari, Pranab Mukherjee, Sharad Pawar, Arjun Singh etc did not have adequate political grounding as Mr Rajiv Gandhi sitting in co-pilot seat. That is it.

I was a little perplexed when the anchor repeatedly mentioned him as an Indian politician. I think the anchor was reluctant to address him as a ‘Dynast’ politician. In fact Rahul Gandhi’s answer to the question of ‘Prevalence of Dynastic Politics’ in India was brilliant. He called Mukesh Ambani and Abhishek Bachhan as dynasts. Mr Gandhi, while speaking extempore has unique quality of putting his foot in the mouth but comparing himself with Mukesh Ambani and Abhishek Bachhan on the issue of being a dynast took the proverbial ‘cake’. Both Mukesh Ambani and Abhishek Bachhan have made their fortunes by literally sweating, hard work, devotion and competence and they are professionals in their respective fields.

But I am glad and delighted as an Indian for one thing. We sitting in India are reluctant to raise, challenge and/or question the issue of ‘Dynastic Politics’ in our country but the issue has been raised across seven seas and merits a review. Pt Nehru, our first ‘chosen not elected’ Prime Minister of the country can be termed as the chief architect of dynastic politics. In those euphoric times an ordinary Indian never even bothered to think about the disastrous consequences that the nation would face for generations due to ‘Dynasties’ not well bred politician governing the country.

 Dynasties do not GOVERN, they RULE.

Indian Express of 17th September carries an interesting article on the front page titled ‘Dynasties are a facet of political injustice’ as stated by Supreme Court Justice Chelameswar.  Incidentally Justice Chelameswar was the only clear thinking justice, who held the appointment of Judges by the collegium system as a blot on judiciary. Rest of his  self serving colleagues believed that they were God’s gift to mankind and only they and their kind were competent to appoint judges and they successfully abrogated the NJAC.

Getting back to dynastic politics; Justice Chelameswar was speaking at the valedictory session at GLS auditorium, Ahmedabad on the topic ‘The Preamble Pledge of Social, Political and Economic Justice; Are they out of order?’ Justice Chelameswar said and I quote:-

“—as we have abolished monarchy but how far we have secured political justice, in the sense that all people of this country can aspire to and effectively participate in democratic electoral process is a matter of which we all are aware.” Unquote.

He went on to highlight the role money plays in the electoral process and candidly added that ‘role of money in the electoral process is against the political justice envisaged in the preamble of constitution’.

Talking about dynastic succession, Justice Chelameswar said ‘—somebody in the family becomes the member of legislative body…..his wife, children line up to occupy the space….. this is political injustice’.

The paper did not carry the entire text of his speech but I am nearly certain that the learned Justice stopped short of offering the solution to eradicate the menace of dynastic succession in spite of the fact that ‘POLITICAL’ justice finds a mention in the first line of the preamble of our constitution. Because if he had, the paper would have carried that part in bold headlines.

As an ordinary Indian I have also thought over dynastic politics practiced shamelessly by all political parties of the country. When I see the Lalus, the Mundes, the Gandhis, the Dixits and scores of other politicians, who induct their kins in STATE ASSEMBLIES/PARLIAMENT, a shameful exposition of power. Actually there is a very simple solution. Our state assemblies and parliament elect a total of 4,721 representatives. Surely in India of 1.25 billion, we have 4,721 families from which one individual  each can become a member of state assemblies and parliament. Dynastic politics would be eradicated.

To amplify the proposal; At any time ONLY ONE MEMBER FROM A FAMILY CAN BECOME A MLA or MP. We would thus allow representation from 4,721 families of India. Let me clarify; I am not against 2nd or 3rd generation entering politics. I am merely advocating that 2nd generation and so on can enter the fray only after previous generation has vacated.

But there is a basic flaw in my proposal. Politicians will never allow such amendments to the constitution but that is not my worry because most of them would never have opened the Indian constitution and would not even be aware of the preamble, the first line of which explicitly states ‘POLITICAL JUSTICE’ apart from SOCIAL and ECONOMIC for which they have conveniently rigged up the RESERVATION clause. My worry is the ‘NINE BENCH SUPREME COURT JUDGES LED BY THE CHIEF JUSTICE’, who will throw such ‘obnoxious’ proposal out of the nearest window on the pretext of protecting FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS as enshrined in our constitution. Till date I have never heard a judge of the highest court talking about FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES contained in Article 51A with the same vigour and commitment, as can be evinced/interpreted from the constitution.

Clause (b) of Article 51(A) states:-

“To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle and freedom”.

Is practicing, advocating and supporting dynastic politics part of ‘noble ideals’? An illiterate woman is appointed as Chief Minister because the husband Chief Minister was imprisoned for corruption. An MP father dies in a road accident; lo and behold the daughter takes over the mantle. Mother PM is assassinated and the son from cockpit moves into PM’s house. How very obnoxious but true!

Merely identifying and/or defining the problem is not good enough, although an essential first step. We have to explore options and find way to eliminate the scourge of dynastic politics from the nation. Let me be candid; even Justice Chelameswar will oppose my proposal in spite of being against dynastic politics.

Article 142 of the constitution empowers the Supreme Court to pass orders, which are in larger national interests of the country. The contents of the Article 142 are reproduced below:-

“The supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing COMPLETE JUSTICE in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by parliament and until provision in that behalf is so made in such manner as the President may by order prescribe.”

Provisions of Article 142 imposing such restrictions in no way is detrimental to contents of Article 14 of the constitution dealing with RIGHT TO EQUALITY, wherein it clearly states that  CONCEPT OF EQUALITY cannot be pressed to commit another wrong. Having husband, wife, sons and daughters as elected representatives, all at the same time is wrong. Even ‘PASSING THE BATON’  to another family member on demise defies principles of natural justice to society at large.

To the members of the highest court in the country; you can repeal NJAC because it did not suit you. So can you pass the rule that ONLY ONE MEMBER FROM EACH FAMILY CAN BECOME AN ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE AT A TIME. Repealing of NJAC affected/benefitted a miniscule number of people in judiciary. Ending dynastic politics tradition will benefit 1.25 billion Indians. The ball is in your court.

Animal kingdom does not practice dynastic rule. The strongest (read most competent) takes over the reigns. ‘BATON’ is not automatically passed on to next family member standing.

My inquisitiveness did not allow me to stop here. I was genuinely interested to find out as to how Rahul Gandhi landed at Berkeley. Lo and Behold; Rahul Gandhi was invited to Berkeley at the behest of canvassing done by Sam Pitroda, Shashi Tharoor, Milind Deora, VK Khosla and  Ram Sriram.  First three names are all too familiar to us. VK Khosla is a billionaire, venture capitalist and associated with Sun Microsystem. Ram Sriram, too is billionaire and associated with Google. Without doubt Rahul Gandhi’s CV will now read as a invitee guest speaker at Berkeley. Politico-economic dimension as contained in preamble being put into practice to promote dynastic politics in India. POST CARD, a western media page contains a full page article with photographs of all these ‘political investors’ on Rahul Gandhi’s invite to Berkeley, USA.

US invariably interests me for two reasons. Firstly their avowed belief in the paradox “Those who are not with us are against us”.  Secondly, USA even today is practitioner of racism. An outrageous example of racism in USA came to fore during a reception to honour the great athlete Jesse Owens in 1936 at New York after winning four gold medals at Berlin Olympics. When Jesse Owens arrived at the venue, he was not allowed entry from the main entrance by the ‘white’ guard because ‘Blacks’ were permitted to use only the side entrance. Koo Klux Clan, the white supremacy practitioners still thrive. A little digression from Berkeley took me to looking at Indian Prime Minister’s tenure (Rahul Gandhi aspires to be one) and corresponding US President. Table below gives facts for information only. Draw your own conclusion.

Indo-US Relations after Indian Independence

Before attempting to quantify and analyse the roller coaster ride of Indo-US relations during the past 70 years, a look at the Indian PM’s tenure with corresponding US president is considered absolutely essential. Table below gives the details. Information in this format is not available on internet.

PMsvsPresidents

Same data viewed in the context of party wise tenure will appear as given below:-

                                                         Congress

Democrats                                                                                 Republicans

23y 01m                                                                                     30y 10m

Total:  53 Years 11 Months

                                                            BJP

Democrats                                                                                  Republicans

5y 4m                                                                                           4y

Total:  9 years 4 months

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