Pataliputra to Patna – The oldest epicentre of Indian politics

Since the early days of the Aryan Civilization, Pataliputra or the modern day Patna has been a key political centre. Although rulers have changed since the time of Maurya dynasty, the power struggles continue to this date with no permanent friends or no permanent enemies. The tussles between various parties take a new form with each passing year and each term of the assembly as the current assembly is headed towards elections around the month of November.

What was once the capital of Nanda dynasty was won over by the Chandragupta Maurya under the clever strategies of Chanakya. It also became the capital of the Gupta dynasty which is considered as the golden age of India by many historians. As India moved into the Colonial Era, Bihar was the centre to many key political events such as Battle of Buxar and Champaran struggle of the Indigo farmers. Politicians from Bihar, such as J.P.Narayan, played key roles in fighting against the Emergency rule of 1975-77. During this period, he started an underground movement to counter the curbed civil liberties during the Emergency. The Janata Party was founded under his guidance and went on to win the general elections in 1977 after the Emergency was revoked.

In the most recent context, a key political event happened when Janata Dal (United) broke its 17 year relationship with Bharatiya Janata Party before the General Elections of 2014 which led to various new political trends in Bihar. Following the split, JD (U) contested the General Elections but were reduced to minority position against the BJP-LJP alliance. Following this, turmoil ensued when the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned and Jitan Ram Manjhi became the new Chief Minister. JD(U) won the trust vote when the foe-turned-friend Rashtriya Janata Dal supported them. However, when Nitish Kumar wanted to return in February 2015, Jitan Ram Manjhi refused to step down which resulted in his resignation as another trust vote was demanded. He was later expelled from JD(U). Eventually, he floated his new political party, Hindustan Awam Morcha (HAM).

As the incumbent government is distributing more social benefits to influence the vital votebanks of the backward castes in the state, key opposition in the state, BJP, is also modifying election strategy to cater to the backward castes. With the JD (U) split from BJP, alliances have drastically changed. Currently, JD(U), Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party are under a single alliance with Nitish Kumar having started the campaign with the Har Ghar Dastak slogan. The NDA now consists primarily of Bharatiya Janata Party, Lok Janashakti Party led by Ram Vilas Paswan, Hindustan Awam Morcha led by Jitan Ram Manjhi. However, the NDA is yet to announce a CM contender. One year since the General Elections, BJP is no longer seen as a strong candidate in the state elections. The party is plagued by internal rife and does not have a CM candidate as well. The Janata Parivar alliance of JD(U), RJD, Samajwadi Party is emerging strong as Modi wave has not had much impact since the last year. Old rivals joining forces to fight BJP, bad results in Delhi, infighting are problems that continue to weigh down BJP and NDA. As the Vyapam scam continues to unravel in Madhya Pradesh which implicates all levels of BJP government in the state, the bad winds could flow east and affect the outcome in Bihar as well.

The test of 250 seats in Bihar is a landmark election for all the parties in Bihar as it is a key to their political futures and a test for newly formed critical alliances. Although there are no clear favourites in the race as of now, there seems to be an upper hand and a first mover advantage for the incumbents. With almost 4 months to go, there is scope for a lot of major change but the contest would be an interesting one for politicians, political observers and the people of Bihar.

Your valuable suggestions and feedback are most welcome. Please provide your comments here or mail us at

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

Hindi- Cheeni Bhai Bhai

Love thy neighbour is a commandment that has been a traditional moot point for India since the time of Independence in 1947. India has had strained relations with its primary neighbours namely Pakistan and China and any improvements in relations has never enjoyed a sure footing and is fraught with complications. However, in a major attempt to revamp relations, Indian government is working on improving its relations with China steadily.

Historically, India and China have co-existed peacefully for almost 2000 years. Trade flourished between the two countries and The Silk Route was considered one of the most important trade routes in the world. There were major cultural exchanges including the spread of Buddhism from India to China. There have been accounts of Chinese travellers as early as fifth century AD such Fa-Hien who visited India during the Gupta period.

In a more modern day setting, when India became a republic in 1950, India signed diplomatic relations with People’s Republic of China. However, relations became tricky soon with Indian involvement in Tibet which China controlled forcibly by 1950. In order to appease China, India government assured that it had no political or territorial ambition in the region. the then Indian government was trying to build a highly Pan-Asia foreign policy post the second world war. In 1954, then Indian PM Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru signed the Panchshil treaty on Tibet based on Five principles of Peaceful Co-existence and was many considered only to be a soft measure with China. Eventually, in the late 1950s, the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetean people sought sanctuary in India at Dharamshala and refugees fled from Tibet to India.

Relations between the two countries soured with Indian claims in Aksai Chin region and China disputing the McMohan line in India’s north-eastern border. The tensions resulted in full-scale war in October of 1962 in which India lost territories in the North-east and Ladakh region prior to unilateral ceasefire almost a month later. Things took a further nosedive with increasing support of Pakistan by China and by 1965 Pakistan went to war with India backed by PRC and even roads connecting Pakistan and China were built on Indian territories and backed rebels in North-eastern region of India. Eventually, Sri Lanka intervened and both countries agreed to settle based on the proposals from Colombo. Diplomatic relations were at their lowest although not suspended in the 1970s with PRC indirectly supporting Pakistan in 1971 war with India which resulted in liberation of Bangladesh

In 1977, after Janata Dal government came to power, things began to look up as the Moraji Desai government made efforts to improve relations and Dr.Atal Behari Vajpayee made an important visit to Beijing as a part of the same. 1980s saw a few sporadic tensions along the Arunachal Pradesh border but overall situation improved and 1990s marked a solid upward trend but hit a roadblock with the 1998 Nuclear tests by India and China’s support towards Pakistan in 1999 Kargil war but at the same time moved towards resolving the conflict as well.

2000s marked a new era with bilateral visits by then Indian President K.R.Narayanan’s China visit in 2000 and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit in 2005 that resulted in Sino-Indian trade pacts, cooperation in hi-tech industries. China had initially supported India’s bid for a permanent seat in UN Security Council but returned to a neutral position soon after. Wen Jiabao later visited India again in 2010 and agreed for cooperation during the BRICS summit in 2011. However, tensions escalated over Arunachal Pradesh which is recognized by both countries as part of their respective territory. Eventually, the relations saw an upswing when Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited India in 2014 in which agreements were signed which saw a $20 billion investment over five years.

Most recently, Indian Prime Minister Modi visited China and met with Premier Xi Jinping. The visit included meeting with key leaders in China and bilateral agreements were signed between the two nations to improve trade relations. There were several proposals made on the border definition and conduct that has long bothered both nations without any significant resolution. The visit received a lot of international attention owing to the long running border dispute and increasing trade deficit between the two countries. Since both countries are major players in the politics of Asia, cordial relationship between the two is the key to stability in the region. With improving Indo-US relations, China might be getting irked with India. As tensions escalate in the South China Sea with US beginning to get involved as China demonstrates its increasing military power, India might be faced with a critical decision of siding with one of the countries. As no one knows the response to such a situation until a full scale conflict, it will be a waiting game to see if India takes a side or returns to its long standing and historical policy of non-alignment. Either response would be a landmark decision in its own way as that would lead to a very different phase in relationship with China and US as well.

Your valuable suggestions and feedback are most welcome. Please provide your comments here or mail us at

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

All the world is family

India has always lived by the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, translated as “The world is my family.” True that spirit, India became the go to nation for major evacuation from the strife ridden Yemen and more recently, India has provided full support to Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake that ravaged Nepal.

As the civil war broke out in Yemen, India responded with air-sea evacuation operations named Operation Raahat, in which 3 Indian Navy ships, 3 IAF and 2 Air India aircrafts participated, evacuated 5600 individuals including people from other countries apart from Indian nationals. A total of 23 countries sought help from India which included the US, Sri Lanka, France and Britain. Although it was not one the biggest humanitarian and disaster relief missions conducted like those during invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the manner in which it was conducted and how countries including United States of America depended on the Indian mission to save its nationals, is something that speaks volumes of Indian diplomacy and response to all countries at the time of need.

In Yemen, India performed on its turn to giving back when it rescued nationals from countries like France, United States of America and Britain for their financial support in the past. In a rare show of collaboration between India and Pakistan rescued nationals of both nations in their evacuation operations. In the final tally, India rescued close to 1000 foreign nationals belonging to 41 countries. By the time India finished Operation Raahat, US had closed its embassy in Yemen and moved its diplomats and military personnel but didn’t not start any operations to rescue its citizens and sought help from India to rescue them. Meanwhile, India moved its Embassy to a different location from the capital of Sana’a post completion of the rescue operations.

More recently, as the massive earthquake hit Nepal, India rose to the occasion to help Nepal given its proximity, resources and disaster management capabilities. Operation Maitri, was yet another opportunity for India to lay aside its differences and work with China in rescuing survivors and carrying out extensive relief operations. India’s efforts to rescue its citizens stranded in Nepal has found unlikely commendation from the Chinese defence agencies as well. Yet again, India chose to employ the civilian and military aircraft for the rescue efforts which has consistently worked well in the past. Given its capabilities in search and rescue operations, India ramped up operations within the first 72 hours after the disaster struck which is critical in rescue.

The Prime Minister has been personally involved with the efforts in Nepal and has been holding daily review meetings on the status of the operation . The government has ensured continuous transmission of information and has been holding daily media briefings as well. Operation Maitri was also a chance for India to set an example in neighbour relations. India and Nepal have always enjoyed cordial relations and as the need arose, India responded fully and swiftly. Other than the humanitarian aspect, it was a strategic success for India to demonstrate to the world about its mission to do whatever was needed in the face of a major crisis.

In a mission fraught with lack of time and resources, India’s success that was noticed around the world and not just in Asia. India has demonstrated that it has the potential to emergeas a key provider of humanitarian and disaster relief in most scenarios. India proved that it has expanded its military capabilities and rescue operation capabilities and could emerge as an expert in such missions. The success of Operation Raahat and subsequently that of Operation Maitri shows how India has grown from strength to strength since its operations during the Kuwait war to Yemen and now Nepal. By responding to so many other nation’s plea for help in the Yemen Civil War, India also scored victories against nations with whom it continues to share a somewhat evolving relationship. By responding to Nepal even before an official request for help came, India scored a victory in the hearts and minds of people. This foreign policy win can help India in increasing its influence beyond the sub-continent into the world stage. Timing is of vital importance and this timely response by India could become a key driver in the present and in the future as India looks to emerge as a global player in everything from economy to security. India just showed that it doesn’t consider all the world is a stage, it believes that all world is family.

Your valuable suggestions and feedback are most welcome. Please provide your comments here or mail us at

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

AAPka kya hoga?

AAP can easily be termed as one of the most successful crowd-funded start-ups ever. The political party that started out from the massively popular India Against Corruption movement went on to become the poster boy of the common man in India. They gained substantial ground in the Delhi Elections held in December 2013, formed the government and resigned in 49 days. They suffered setbacks in the General Elections in 2014 and eventually swept the Delhi Elections once again in 2015.

Taking the Delhi win as a cue to make amends for their past mistakes, AAP seems set to fulfil claims made during the election campaign. But, not all is well in the party which was always mired in internal issues, defection and controversies. In the past, the party has emerged stronger from the issues it faced. However, this time, such a possibility appears to be highly diminished.

In the past, Shazia Ilmi and Kiran Bedi left the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Their defections didn’t create a major impact against AAP. One could even argue that it benefitted AAP at the time of Delhi Elections in 2015. Recently, the ouster of founding members Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav is turning out to be a much bigger headache for AAP and the warring factions within the party are threatening its very stability. They have been removed from the key National Executive team of 21 members. In an ironic twist, the party, which claims to promote democracy and Swaraj, sacked Admiral Ramdass, the internal lokpal. The internal lokpal or the disciplinary committee has been reconstituted by a 3 member team led by Dinesh Waghela with Asish Khetan and Pankaj Gupta, all Kejriwal loyalists.

The two leaders, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav have been accused of anti-party activities and with their removal from the key panel, the path to suspension and/or expulsion has been cleared. Both leaders are claiming to have pushed for higher transparency within the party but were voted out of the National Executive by 247-8 votes signalling the end of the nearly a month long infighting with Arvind Kejriwal. The AAP released the official video of Kejriwal’s speech at the National Council meeting where he spoke about the alleged anti-party activities and cheating by the accused leaders. Adding to the flurry of party exits, famous activist Medha Patkar also resigned as a primary member of the Aam Aadmi Party citing the ongoing internal turbulence at Delhi as the reason.

The speech by Arvind Kejriwal can be viewed at

At a time where key decisions are about to be made by the party, including the Delhi government formation and execution, such exits and infighting are only adding to doubts cast on the party. In the past, the party came across as impulsive when the government they formed at Delhi resigned in 49 days. With internal issues plaguing it now, the party is yet to implement any changes it promised in its election manifesto in Delhi. Abraham Lincoln once said that the test of fire makes the finest of steel. AAP most certainly is facing major trials which could make or break the party. It still remains to be seen how AAP comes out of this and if it will set a new trend in Indian politics.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

Down the Memory Lane… Ever Evolving Relationship

It is always important to see both views before commenting on an issue. Having lived in India and currently being in the US, it gives a good view of how both countries react to one another while being in both these countries. With ever transitioning relationship between India and US, this post is dedicated to watching news about the other country in both India and US.
Like any relationship in the world, U.S and India have had their own share of peaks and troughs in the relationship that has lasted well over 60 years. Let us take a look at the ride these powerful democracies shared with a lasting impact on the world history. As both countries look to improve their relationships further, this trip down the memory lane is our attempt to look at how far we have come and the peaks that we still need to scale.
1. US and India were largely unaffected by each other until the World War 2 when US began to support the Indian freedom struggle in the early 1940s and stopped the pressure on UK only when Winston Churchill threatened to resign.
2. Upon Indian Independence and new found freedom, India’s first Prime Minister, Pt. Nehru’s trip to US in 1948 was a diplomatic gaffe and strained the relations with his semi-Russian leanings and his adverse outlook towards capitalism .
3. However, since 1950, US has given India millions in aid and gifts and in 1959, Dwight Eisenhower became the first US president to visit India.
4. With more countries taking sides in the Cold War, India chose to employ the Non-Alignment Policy without a clear favour towards the US or the erstwhile USSR which greatly irked US.
5. In the 1962, Indo-Sino war, US supported India and almost sent fighter jets for India’s help in order to check the growing Chinese social influence and the planes turned just before entering the Indian airspace.
6. In a marked U-turn, US supported Pakistan in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and this war eventually resulted in the independence of Bangladesh or the then East Pakistan.
7. In 1978, Jimmy Carter, the then President of United States, visited India and held bilateral talks and reviewed the situation in South-East Asia. However, the bilateral coordination did not continue as Carter’s successors continued to ignore India for almost 20 years after that.
8. The 1979 invasion of Afghanistan calmed tensions between US and India as further Russian aggression could cause geo-political instability which in turn would have affected the US.
9. In 1998, as India conducted yet another round of nuclear testing, US tried to impose sanctions and trade restrictions but with dot com peak and strong economy, US measure failed to achieve the intended outcomes.
10. In the year 2000, things began looking upward with the visit of the then US President Bill Clinton when he spent 5 days in India and mere 5 hours in Pakistan and lifted previous sanctions and stopped pressurizing the Indian government to sign the infamous Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
11. Things improved further when the 123 agreement was signed in 2006 which led to bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries.
12. 2008 saw the successful signing of the Civilian Nuclear Pact by the then U.S President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
13. With successive Prime Minsters Dr. Manmohan Singh’s US visit in 2013 and Narendra Modi’s visit in 2014 followed by US President Barack Obama’s Indian visit where he was the Chief Guest for the 2015 Republic Day parade, Indo-US relationships are at an all time high and hopefully the relationship continues the same and remains fruitful

Overall, there have been a lot of crests and troughs spread throughout. The original hiatus was broken with the visit of Bill Clinton and became the key turning point and the subsequent years continue to see an ever improving relationship between the two countries. As the major democratic states in the world economy, a good mutual relationship is vital to both powers as well as to world trade and stability. With newer reforms to enhance bilateral ties, improving immigration laws, a new road lies ahead which will eventually become a part of history as a fruitful and rewarding relationship for both countries.
Your valuable suggestions and feedback are most welcome. Please provide your comments here or mail us at

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

The Battle of Seventy Chairs

Dilli shahar. Legend has it that it was inhabited three thousand years before Christ although it became the capital of modern India only about a hundred years ago in 1911. An inscription from the era of Emperor Ashoka (273-235 BC) was found in 1966 near Srinivaspuri, which means “the place where God resides.” It’s close to where I went for math tuition. Today, 11 million people live in the city making it the second most populous in India. These people are divided into 70 Vidhan Sabha constituencies. A few hundred people and three major parties will aspire to rule Delhi for the next five years, although the last government only lasted 49 days. That is less than the duration of ten fully played test cricket matches. Less than a day per member of the Vidhan Sabha.

The Delhi junta will go in to cast their votes on the 7th of February. Its a Saturday, my favorite day. The Delhi winter will be on its way out and I can imagine a day of mild sunshine with the subtle promise of spring. Polls are showing that people are likely to choose between the BJP and the AAP with the Congress lagging far behind. In the previous elections in December 2013, the Congress lost 35 of its 43 incumbent seats. An 81% decrease. The last time I saw an 81% decrease was when my friend had to repeat class XI.

Campaign strategy has been interesting. The AAP has pursued an aggressive campaign led by party convener Arvind Kejriwal both on the ground and social media with an agenda consisting of corruption in the power sector, resettlement of displaced colonies and a dialogue on health and education. No mention of Lokpal. The BJP seems ambivalent about wanting to ride the Modi wave in Delhi. In a dramatic tweak in strategy, they have brought Kiran Bedi into the fray as their candidate for the Chief Minister position. Kiran Bedi has exalted the “leadership qualities” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in her move to join the party. In another exciting election development, Shazia Ilmi who had previously defected from the AAP following their abysmal showing in the Lok Sabha elections has joined the BJP proclaiming that “it is time to go beyond identity based politics.” AAP member Vinod Kumar Binny who had become disgruntled with the party earlier has also moved to the BJP along with former Congress party minister Krishna Tirath. On another note, composer Anand Raaj Anand has also joined the BJP. Remember the song Maahi Ve with Malaika Arora rocking the poles? That was him.

To counter those acquisitions by the BJP, there is movement the other way into the AAP. For example, Ved Prakash who is contesting the elections in Bawana on an AAP ticket, was earlier a member of the BJP. Other examples include S.K Bagga (Krishna Nagar) from the Congress, Kartar Singh (Chattarpur) from the BJP and Sharad Chauhan (Narela) from the BSP. The AAP is fielding a candidate in every single constituency. The Congress party has released 49 names and the BJP is yet to release any.

The stage is set for a showdown in Delhi. A win for the BJP will give them unprecedented authority in the country and a win for the AAP will create a counterpoint to the Narendra Modi government at the center. A win for the Congress will create history of a different sort by putting most pollsters out of business. Exciting times lie ahead.

Saif Ali
Team Netapedia

The New Outward Outlook

Love thy neighbour might not be a possibility that India might be blessed with as yet but the strong emphasis on trying to fix the issues could be the foundation of foreign policy of the new government. The feelers were seen during the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi which saw the attendance of heads of state and the Prime Ministers of the SAARC nations of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka although the presence of the Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif drew flak from the political parties of Jammu and Kashmir while the presence of the Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapaksa led to protests from politicians from Tamil Nadu due to the ongoing disputes of these states primarily with our international neighbours.

It went on to become a diplomatic conference under the umbrella of the swearing-in ceremony and the then new PM conducted bilateral talks with the most critical neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. PM Narendra Modi met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the day after the swearing in ceremony and the meetings included discussion regarding cross-border infiltrations, Kashmir issue among others. He also held a similar meeting with the Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapaksa where the talks covered the ongoing Sri Lankan Tamils issue. Modi chose to send a strong political message of Asia centricity and geo-political importance by making his first overseas visit as Indian PM to Bhutan.

Post his Bhutan visit, he attended the BRICS summit held at Fortaleza, Brazil. The groundwork for the formation of the USD 100 billion New Development Bank was laid down in the summit. Although, the Modi government did not win the bid to make New Delhi the headquarters for the same, the bank’s first president will be from India. The move is seen as a challenge to the highly western dominated IMF and World Bank. It also seeks to reduce the dependence of the emergent economies of the BRICS nations on the US dollar and the financial policies of US. The BRICS nations also held a summit with the UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) leaders as well.

Going further, calling onto his old friend, his first major diplomatic visit was with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. In his trademark style, he addressed students at Taimei School, Tokyo which he followed with the establishment of the Special Strategic Global Partnership with Japan resulting in the signing of several key agreements and treaties and securing substantial investments in the Monorail project in terms of finance and technology, the pledging of $10 billion investment by SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant, in Indian IT and telecom space.

Following the same, Modi’s much talked about visit to United States of America garnered world-wide attention than ever before. The timing of the visit coincided perfectly with the success of the Mars Orbiter Mangalaayan mission which literally put India on the global Science and Technology radar which is one of the key points of Indo-US relations. It was also a landmark event because of US’s continued policy of rejecting a visa for Modi in the past citing humanitarian reasons. Yet another example of how even superpowers are susceptible to go back on their stance as and when times change. With Brand and Team Modi working to promote Brand India as the manufacturing and business destination appealing to the sizeable Indian-American, Non-resident Indian population in US, the visit was a strategic success. It was also the first time he addressed the United Nations General Assembly creating a strong case for India and its efforts in combating terrorism and territorial disputes, inclusion of India in the permanent membership of the UN Security Council among other points. He met with several major political figures in the US and also interacted with various businesses as he addressed the U.S-India Business Council. The groundwork laid then paid off as US President Barack Obama has been confirmed as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day parade of 2015.

More recently, his visit to Australia was hailed all over as it is the first time an Indian Prime Minister had visited Australia in 28 years. He was also one of the leaders in attendance at the G-20 summit at Brisbane while he also signed important agreements on dealing with narcotics, trafficking in addition to MOUs for improving bilateral ties. He also addressed the Indian diaspora in Sydney much to the same effect as that at Madison Garden Square, New York City, although the content in itself was somewhat similar.
Overall, the current foreign policy looks to be spreading in all directions from New Delhi. It is about connecting with the non-traditional countries and a sincere attempt to fix and formulate a structured framework of foreign policy. Most of it is a strategic marketing campaign to promote India as a multifaceted destination in terms of trade, tourism, investment while foraying into fixing relationships with neighbours which have been a traditional drain on our resources and energies since the days of Independence. The doubled efforts to fix the relationship with our neighbours while trying to enhance India’s visibility as a global destination will pay off only with time as the trust and respect required will come only with time and space.

We would love to hear more from you about India’s foreign policy and what it holds for us in the future.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

Mahabharata relevance in Maharashtra…

The age old saying in Mahabharata states that there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics. From Mahabharata to Maharashtra, it continues to remain contemporary as the state assembly elections and the prior and subsequent events since then have become a case study on the same. The battleground saw the breakdown of the 25 year old relationship between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena while the ties between Indian National Congress and Nationalist Congress Party snapped almost around the same day. The split ensued a four way vote distribution as the state went to elections with BJP securing the maximum number of seats of 122 eventually out of the total 288.

Shiv Sena went on to finish second with 63 seats and with the anti-incumbency trend continuing Congress and NCP finished at third and fourth largest positions with 42 and 41 seats respectively. The results saw yet another round of coalition and berth sharing talks but failed to yield any significant outcomes. Additionally, the elections were fraught with regional divisiveness including the demand for a separate state of Vidarbha.

It is also interesting to note that while BJP’s ally for years, Shiv Sena is trying to play hard on alliance with BJP, the NCP has gone on to give outside support to BJP. Consequently, Shiv Sena, has occupied the opposition benches with BJP resolutely refusing to cave in to the Sena’s demands. During the swearing-in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis, which was held at Wankhede Stadium with PM Narendra Modi also being present, Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena made a last minute appearance though on a personal invitation from BJP chief Amit Shah, while the other Sena leaders chose to boycott the same owing to the talks failing. However, that was seen by many as possibility of the coalition being restored as well. The other Thackeray scion, Raj Thackeray and his party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also failed to make a mark in the just concluded elections by winning just one seat.

The very choice of Devendra Fadnavis is seen as an indicator of the possibility of the creation of the state of Vidarbha. Vidarbha continues to be a major political and emotional touchpoint as the western Maharashtra region continues to be a region of low economic growth, high farmer suicides and extreme poverty. Many in the political fraternity believe that creating a separate state comprising that region with Nagpur as its capital could possibly develop the region. Devendra Fadnavis himself hails from the Nagpur South West constituency and is the second youngest person to have ever occupied the office of Chief Minister of Maharashtra and is the first BJP CM from the state. Due to the absence of clear majority in the assembly, the BJP government was put through a vote of confidence which it went on to win narrowly on 12th November thereby making it eligible to govern the state. Initially, the BJP had the support of 135 MLAs including other allies such the MNS and independents with NCP choosing to abstain from the vote of confidence. Eventually, the speaker Haribhau Bagde chose to obtain a voice vote of confidence rather than the traditional voting and soon the BJP was declared the winner by the speaker with the NCP choosing to vote for the government while Shiv Sena and Congress going against the government. Choice of voice vote as a medium for trust vote was not accepted by the opposition and many in the political class. Post vote, the CM and the other ministers addressed a joint session of both the houses. This led to a series of protests by the Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs who were agitated by the controversial trust vote. The subsequent inappropriate behaviour led to the suspension of 5 MLAs of Congress party.

With no further traction seen in the Sena-BJP talks at this point and Congress looking at the possibility of heading the opposition, the Shiv Sena decided to stake its claim to the position of leader of opposition in the 288 member house nominating the Thane MLA Eknath Shinde for the same. The outside support given to the current government by the NCP in a very shrewd political move as it saw its own poll fortunes dwindle while its old ally, the Congress was decimated due to the anti-incumbency wave. The move itself is seen by many as NCP’s way to stay relevant and afloat with the changing political scene in the state. In the strictest sense, the two largest parties being on opposite sides is common in most political establishments but it is not often that they happened to be allies until 2 months back. Uddhav Thackeray could have been the kingmaker but has considerably lost his advantage with all cards of all parties on the table especially with the NCP giving the outside support to the current government. Any substantial dent may no longer be possible but changes could still happen that might change the current scenario should there be further alliances or U-turns. How the old friend now turned foe by being in the opposition, is going to really turn out, only time will tell.

Maharashtra was often seen as a cut and dry higher ground when it came to its elections and alliances but the just concluded elections showed tectonic shifts in the very nature of its politics. Despite the vote of confidence and a seeming sense of stability, at its very core is a sense of volatility that is neither fully understood or repaired by any of the major political players in the state of Maharashtra and the whole episode is making Veda Vyasa more contemporary than ever before. We would love to hear about your feedback on the blog and Maharashtra Elections of 2014.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia


In the extremely high profile visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the USA, the personal highlight for many Indians across the world seemed to be the speech at Madison Square Garden. In a departure from the Team Netapedia tradition, this edition of the blog is presented as a personal view of yet another Indian who just moved to the USA.

The visit has been scheduled for a while now and is a great example of how even a strong and powerful nation such as USA has to reverse its decision. In this case, more specifically, granting a US visa to PM Modi. The timing of the visit coincided with many important events primarily the success of the Mangalayaan mission and one of the most important Indian festival of Navaratri. It was a series of proud moments for Indians as we saw our country’s standing go up in a virtually high fliers club. Personally, I had to control myself from gloating when I heard local students discuss the Mars orbiter. ISRO made not only India proud but became the latest decision changer to all those Non-resident Indians whose one feet continues to remain in India and are experiencing their own variants of to be or not to be in America.

As a new graduate student in a new country, all of us were dealing with cultural shocks and an intensive study load. With very less to look forward to apart from checking facebook for those who were enjoying Navaratri in India, Modi’s speech served as a reminder of not only my current purpose but also of the greater picture I need to keep in mind. Although I missed the live version of the speech, watching the recorded version did make me feel I was at Madison Garden Square and not really in a small city located diagonally opposite, 2,400 miles away from New York City.

The most striking thing I felt while listening to the speech was the perfect combination of content and delivery. Not only was the content designed to touch the cord with the Indians in America but the speech itself was delivered with the right mix of soberness and melodrama which was the real reason of the impact it had. Coming from IT background made me cheer as well just the way all those who watched the speech live. He had the attention right at the start with the little anecdote. Despite everything Indians have achieved in US, one continues to need a reassurance and who better than the PM himself to say ‘good job people.’ As a rookie graduate student questioning the decision to come to foreign country in the hope of better jobs and career ahead, it did calm me briefly into believing it will all be fine.

Being a part of the 65% Indian population under 35, did scare me about the cusp our country stands on in employment and skill development. However, his strong pitch for asking the NRIs and NRIs-in-making such as me and most of my friends at graduate school, is a hope and a plea to give back to the country which made us good enough to come and compete successfully in a foreign land. Like a master businessman selling his strengths, he pointed to the high points and anecdotes pertaining to the general elections, changes in FDI norms to persuade and reach out to more people on improving manufacturing in India. It was designed and delivered not just to inspire but also to attract investment. His references and citations about the cost effectiveness of Mangalayaan points subtly hinted at India as a possible cost effective investment destination.

By highlighting and encouraging the use of portals such as MyGov, he appealed to the increasingly technology savvy Indians all across the world who could give their suggestions no matter which ever country they currently reside in. He went on to project the atmosphere of hope and clamour for change back home. In talking about the Clean Ganga Initiative, he touches upon the perils that await us if climate change and environment is ignored. He appealed further to NRIs and Indian-American citizens by providing solutions for the visa issues related to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

Overall, he knew his audience well not just in terms of their emotional levels but also their intellectual and investment capabilities. Given the mood of Indians in America due to Mangalayaan success and the Navaratri festival, the timing of the visit and the speech were perfectly leveraged to deliver maximum impact to the audience. I count myself lucky that I had the whole day to follow the news on general elections results day. It was heartening to know that my friends and relatives here in America showed the same enthusiasm and were up at midnight tracking the news as well. Given the number of Indians at workplaces here, it was the top conversation at water coolers here as well. What he did at Madison Square garden was to connect to both sets of audience with the hope that someday we all come together and make the India of our dreams.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia

Tryst with destiny and trust in the future

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”As India completes 68 years of Independence, the relevance of Pt. Nehru’s speech as India’s first Prime Minister is at an all time high.

From a new nation to one of the fastest growing economies in the world, we have indeed come a long way but we are only half done. Let us take a look into the some of the most important changes that have happened since then.

Some of the earliest changes that took place after 1947 were the ascension of the princely states of Junagadh, Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir and the currently Indian states of Goa and union territory Pondicherry, to name a few. Greater challenges awaited us in the form of the wars of 1962 Indo-China war and 1971 Indo-Pakistan war which eventually led to the creation of Bangladesh. On other global frontiers, India also made its mark by becoming a self-sufficient nuclear power in 1974. We also could fuel the sustenance of our population with the Green Revolution and White Revolution (Operation Flood) of the early 1970s. Interestingly, as the nation was becoming self sufficient on one hand, the people were getting stifled in their own land. The period of Emergency saw the squandering of the hard won freedom of the Indian people but fortunately it was restored in 4 years. The economy continued to be shackled with high fiscal deficit, license raj and low investor confidence and eventually culminated in the economic crisis of 1991.

All these things together seemed to be the rock bottom which soon became the solid foundation of India’s growth story. 1991 was the year that started it all with the liberalisation of economy and opening up of Indian markets for the global trade. To this day, India remains a top destination emerging market in Asia and we continue to benefit from the foresight of the 1991 reforms.We went on to conduct a yet another successful nuclear test in 1998, soon after the golden jubilee of Indian independence. We were successful in the Kargil war of 1999 and the tradition of “Ye dilmaange more” continues to this day. The economy boomed until the global slowdown and while we continue to waver at times, it has not been something that we could not control. We continue to have the luxury of hope of seeing India become the next superpower.

Any state comes with an analysis of the past and goals for the future. With the right mix of structured efforts and sure goals, India will not only be independent but also emancipated. As our Prime Minister pointed out in his extempore speech at Red Fort, we need to re-adjust our focus in line with the newer challenges we face. We need to fix the flaws across the board in order for the machinery to function. A tiny cog could make all the difference that this country has been hoping for since the last 68 years. The vision our PM or Pradhan Sevak has for our great nation is indeed ambitious but who is to say how much can be achieved in what duration. With our rich history dating back to the first settlements by humans, it is time we combined our ancient wisdom with our present knowledge and develop a blend to fulfil all the dreams and aspirations of our uniquely diverse country.

Many departures from tradition happened this Independence day such as the absence of bulletproof glass around the podium and the PM interacting with the school children present at the Red Fort. With a leader who wants to be closer to the masses in the literal sense, we are yet again infused with our own brand of stimulus of hope for our country, our motherland. We will continue to march down the road of progress with hope in our hearts and fire in our souls, for hope is indeed the best thing we have. And as Robert Frost so wisely put it, we have miles to go before we sleep.

Srinidhi Govindarajan
Team Netapedia