Arvind Kejriwal; Engineering India's Feudal Polity from Peoples Movement to Democracy
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Arvind Kejriwal; He graduated in mechanical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) ,Kharagpur and after serving as revenue department civil servant took to activism against corruption and ills of the political system .He entered politics after having failed to change the system from the outside. He is someone who was trained in the discipline of engineering and could have ended as a top civil servant , but felt impelled in some ways like Mahatma Gandhi and is following along similar lines of non-violent disobedience ie Satyagraha
Manohar Parrikar, the new defence minister in PM Modi's cabinet is an IIT metallurgical engineering graduate, but basically he is a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activist and Pracharak ie preacher, who graduated in the discipline of engineering, but basically remained a Hindutva politics creature.
Examples of trained engineers from political families.
Jayant Sinha, new minister of state , an IIT graduate with a business management degree from Harvard with decades in the corporate world , is an example from political dynasties. His father Jaswant Sinha, a civil servant, after retirement joined politics and was a minister in BJP government.
Examples of former political leaders who were engineers are KC Pant, son of India's home minister Govind Balabh Pant. So was Ajit Singh, a computer engineer trained in US who spent nearly 2 decades abroad before returning to India and inheriting the political Gaddi, i.e. political legacy of his peasant leader father Ch Charan Singh , with a ready-made political machine and became a minster in Delhi . Ajit Singh's son was also a member of Parliament. Both lost in last elections.
The pre and post Independence leaders believed politics as a service to the nation but almost all have become rulers like the British and the Moghuls
Ruling Trinity of Engineers in Turkey
When I was first posted to Ankara in 1969, Suleyman Demirel , a civil engineer was the Prime Minister of Turkey. In end 1969 I had gone with the new Indian ambassador for his call on Demirel . I mentioned that I was also an engineering graduate. He laughed and said," What are we doing here ? I murmured ." " Sir , you are doing quite well ".
When I was posted back after 20 years in 1992, Demirel was again the Prime Minister. Of course, he was forced to resign in 1971 at the behest of the Turkish military. But like a spheroid, , he is quite well built and rotund , he kept coming back and fighting for democracy in Turkey . Later on he was elected president of Turkey, the second civilian to adorn the post ,because after 1960 the military coup d'état , a retired military Chief stepped into the presidency .
I had the best of the equation with Demirel, and accompanied him to India on his 1995 visit, in preference to MEA wish which very keen to have the recently elected Prime Minister of Turkey Ms .Tansu Chiller , with a doctorate in economics from a US university .She was the first woman prime minister in Turkey much to the disgust of patriarchal Turkish attitude . I told her that she was the second Turkish woman ruler in history , after Razia Begum of India's slave dynasty period. Male chauvinism ousted both Razia Begum and Chiller .
In 1970 ,when Demirel was the Prime Minister, Turgut Ozal, also an engineer headed the state planning department .Later Ozal joined politics and became prime minster in 1980 and president in 1988. As per protocol ,after presentation of letters of credence in 1992 , at our first meeting along with Turkish foreign minister , which lasted for 45 min instead of normal 20 min, as soon as he glanced at my bio-data, he exclaimed ",You know, I am also an engineer". I then recalled that I had first met him when he had come for dinner at the residence 1971. I was also presented to him in 1985 when as prime minister ,he visited Delhi at a reception by the Turkish Ambassador whom I had known from my first 1969-73 posting. I was then CMD , IDPL .
Ozal and Demirel were very patient and courageous men in diluting the influence of the military in Turkish politics . Although Ozal was picked up by Demirel, the former outmatched the latter after the return of democracy in 1980 .As Prime Minister ,Ozal took on the moribund state sector driven economy by the boot straps by handing over to young Turkish technocrats from abroad to implement private sector like capitalism which had not yet morphed into neo-liberal capitalism ,now a creeping dark plague over the world with its corrupt, poisonous and deadening impact on masses all over the world.
Ozal first broke with the long established practice of having a retired military chief as the Pres of the republic .He offered himself and got elected, although he confessed later wondering if there would be a knock on his door sometime in the night. I consider Turgut Ozal as the third most important leader in the history of the Turkish Republic after Kemal Ataturk and his deputy and successor Ismet Inonu. Ozal also took many steps even unilateral to promote bilateral relations with India. Both he and Rajeev Gandhi ,being modern in outlook, got on famously.
The third member of this trinity of engineers in Turkish politics is Hoca Nacemettin Erbakan, also an engineer .He became Prime Minister of a coalition government for some months in 1997, but was asked to resign by the Turkish Armed Forces accusing his government of Islamisation and threatening the secular fabric of the Republic. They were not wrong. Turkey is now in the grip of Islamist and dictatorial president Recep Erdogan with serious consequences for Turkey, internally and externally.
All three of them had studied at the same engineering Institute in Istanbul and were almost contemporaries of each other. In fact Erbakan had tried for a ticket for 1969 elections, but Demirel had refused it .Erbakan, then founded his own pro – Islamist National Order Party .It did well in 1973 elections and he became a coalition partner in secular Peoples Republican party established by Ataturk .Erbakan utilized his position to infiltrate his Islamist follows in key positions in ministries like education, health, etc in 1973 and in later coalition governments.
While Erbakan did not have a full term as Prime Minister, his prodigies, Recep Erdogan and Abdulla Gul, who after the former's party was closed, founded the now ruling Justice and Development party (AKP). Till August this year Erdogan was the Prime Minister after his party won the elections in November 2002 and replaced the sober and more balanced other founder Abdulla Gul as the President of Turkey. Strongly authoritarian and Islamist, Erdogan is leading Turkey into a mess.
I mentioned these examples from Turkey where I spent over 10 years to make the case that engineers can and should join politics and they can make good politicians and administrators.
As electrical engineering graduate from Banaras, during my interview with UPSC in 1961, Sardar KM Pannikar was grilling the interviewees, especially those who wanted to join the Indian Foreign Service.First expectedly; he asked me why I wanted to be a civil servant. This was easy question to reply. I will do a better job in the government of India as secretary in Dept of industry, irrigation, power and other technical ministries. Then he continued, "But Of course, your first choice is Indian diplomatic service." I replied that as a diplomat I can be useful in the purchase of railways and other industrial equipment. He said,"Yes, but we send delegations to do the job. " "Never mind ,in between the delegation's visit. I could be useful in carrying out the work. Quite apparently the board in general was satisfied with my replies to Pannikar grilling and other questions and gave me a very good score. Knowledge of science, engineering and technology proved quite useful on many occasions in my diplomatic career, say in Paris while liasing work relating to space and nuclear energy cooperation.
Until the demise of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was also external affairs minister, apart from the top ministry officials, he himself used to have a chat with the new trainees. While it was probably not strictly correct some of the UPSC selected officers for the diplomatic service were advised to go to Indian admin service. IFS was the most prized service, specially because of stay and travel to foreign countries .After a stay abroad even young officers with 5/6 years service would bring along brand new spanking Mercedes cars, much to the jealousy of IAS officers, who finally, made sure that everyone was brought down.
Being the first engineering graduates to qualify for IFS, never having met a diplomat, and I was quite uneasy at the prospect of Pandit Nehru looking at my qualifications and proclaiming that I should go and build powerhouses and dams .Somehow I had the impression that both Lord Mountbatten and Indonesian Pres Sukarno were also trained engineers. However, after Pandit Ji had asked my predecessor, number one on the list, why he wanted to join Foreign Service, before he could look down at my qualifications, I posed a question to him about the 1960 US Cuba debacle .So Panditji , went on for quite a few minutes about what the Americans were up to .Before he could look down upon my qualification I posed another question and thus escaped being reprimanded as I presumed.
Ever since all engineering graduates have been allowed to compete for Indian civil services and offer their own subjects the number of engineering graduates, who make into civil services has risen up to more than majority. In my days only electrical, mechanical and civil engineering graduates could compete and had to prepare subjects like history, geography , international relations and compete with top students in these subjects.
It is the general impression that engineering and medical graduates, even MBAs who form the majority of civil servants in, from all assessment, are doing a fine job. To begin with, best of the students because of middle-class parents desire for them to have a profession with the possibilities of employment, from the age of eight or 10, they make their children work hard and slog .Many go to coaching institutes to get into IIT and later other institutes to prepare for civil services. I did no such thing and prepared on my own, having learnt from my student days in Banaras how to pass examinations.
It is normal and good that engineering graduates who undergo a disciplined training and logical analyses , have started entering the profession of politics. During my career quite often those who studied at the Delhi colleges like St Stephens ,I used to describe them as finishing schools, so that after coming out of , they could become Boxwallahs and market tooth pastes ,Dalda and other consumer products. As is well known boys from some of these colleges were automatically picked up for marketing by private sector at that time.
It is a interesting development that engineering graduates have started joining the profession of politics .Jairam Ramesh is an example but he is actually not a politician from the grassroots, but a technician who was found useful and made a member of the party .However, the example of Goa Chief Minister Parrikar , who is an IIT graduate was CM of Goa has been given the defence portfolio is noteworthy. Let us see his performance. It cannot be worse than Antony's.
However, the person to be noted and admired and who has been maligned by some has leadership qualities ie Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT graduate, who after getting into Indian revenue services decided to devote his time and energies to reform the decaying mediaeval polity of India . I have maintained that after the shine of British rule of law in post Independence era of the Indian polity, by mid-1960s on the basis of universal suffrage and first past the post, while it has about empowerment of other backward powers and Dalits, it is created new class of caste Brahmins, who like the Americans believe in the exceptionalism and entitlement .In a petition to the Supreme Court ,OBCs had given statistics how after India's independence, Brahmins had slowly replaced the Kayasthas in top civil service jobs as secretaries to the government of India. Now in OBC and Dalits we have a caste of neo- Brahmins. Kayasthas are seudo –Brahmins .
The Brahmins have done their best to maintain themselves in power in political parties and civil services after independence. The Congress party was basically one of the Brahmins who gave some Cabinet seats to Muslims whom they pretended to protect and Dalits who were empowered by Mahatma Gandhi .They have formed their own parties, along with OBCs but Muslims by and large remain dis-enfranchised from the power . Available Muslim posts are monopolized by Ashraffs, those who claim to have come to India from Arabia, Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan. As many reports have suggested the non-Ashraf Muslims ie converts from OBCs and Dalits remain underpowered and in misery... The vanity of Kshatriyas and Rajputs has been exploited by Brahmins and others and they have ended up as Hanuman and Sugrivs of the ruling caste and Mafia. Rajputs are neo-Dalits. No lobby ,nothing .
When Sanjay Gandhi brought in to Congress some Rajputs leaders like VP Singh ,Arjun Singh Solanki and others, the self-styled leader of Brahmins Tripathy expressed his opposition saying that feudal Rajputs had served the British, forgetting - what about many ICS .Kauls, Haksars , and others like Jhas from the ICS had served the British Raj and bagged key positions soon after independence ..In actual fact a very good Brahmin friend told me that Sanjay had brought Rajputs, so that their stick wielders would ensure that Congress voters from Muslim and Dalit castes be defended from the stock holders of OBCs who after the abolition of the zamindari had become powerful in the countryside.
Let us revert back to Kejriwal. He certainly has all the makings of a great national leader. He has shown amazing drive, inspite of diabetes and weak chest and throat .He must now carry on the onerous task of leading a movement into a political party which would play an important role in cleaning up and saving democracy in this country.
As for India's media whores in print and TV channels, most owned by corporate houses or with the establishment , the less said the better. There only molding opinion on behalf of earlier a corrupt Congress regime and now a muscular Hindutva regime under Modi , a former preacher/ pracharak, who is good at sermonizing and is a great orator.
However, I had a feeling that Kejriwal and Aap party will get majority in Delhi elections .Tactically Kejriwal has admitted that it was wrong to have resigned the Chief Minister ship of Delhi and tried to get elected in 400 parliamentary constituencies. He has been called Bagoda, a run away ,this is basically an invention of Modi, his crude spokesmen on TV Channels and India's not so elegant media houses and its inhabitants, a bit like call girls, who go from one rich person to another powerful person, who can provide them expensive upkeep and money. They sing praises and give pleasure to their employers. Free media is dead , almost everywhere.
With the constitution of Delhi Assembly and is govt's power, as it is now, it would have been impossible for Kejriwal to do anything worthwhile. You can see how the Lieutenant Governor like a weather vane, an appointee of Congress and closely related to Mukesh Ambani changed colors when BJP came into power that the Centre. If Kejriwal had not resigned, he would have spent all his energies without being able to achieve anything. Without a very clear will of the people with a hostile Lieutenant Governor, Hanuman like loyal home Minister Rajnath Singh who delayed the elections in Delhi so that BJP were not embarrassed if Aap party won before the elections in Haryana, Maharashtra and punched the Superman image created around Narendra Modi with Rs one million suit.
It should be clearly recognised that Aap party would have been struggling in Delhi .But after having the courage to participate in general elections for the Parliament, Kejriwal gave a good fight to Modi in Banaras and Aap won 4 parliamentary seats in Punjab. The whole country knows about the existence of Aap party and at least 400 rudimentary offices of Aap party were functioning and may still be functioning in India. At least the nucleus of those who support Aap party for a corruption free with a Gandhi like leadership has come into existence.
K.Gajendra Singh .10 feb., 2015.Mayur Vihar, Delhi