Thursday, July 24, 2008

Inaugural Speech by Chetan Bhagat for the new batch at the Symbiosis BBA program 2008

Courtesy - Priyank Shukla
Good Morning everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated. The first day in college is one of them. When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates - there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party – several months in advance – just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake.

I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost. So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp's flame. The first aspect is nurturing - to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.

To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn't any external measure - a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house.

Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement.

But it isn't the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won't be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday?

They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive. Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature's design. Are you? Goals will help you do that.

I must add, don't just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.

There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes - Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school. Where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark - don't take life seriously. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. The teacher said - don't be serious, be sincere. This quote has defined my work ever since. Whether its my writing, my job, my relationships or any of my goals. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. There is heaps of praise, there is intense criticism. If I take it all seriously, how will I write? Or rather, how will I live? Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up? It's ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.

I've told you three things - reasonable goals, balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. However, there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. These must be guarded against. These are disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loneliness of purpose.

Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don't go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. You will feel miserable. You will want to quit, like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades – how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you.

But it's life. If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember - if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that's where you want to be.

Disappointment's cousin is frustration, the second storm. Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. This is especially relevant in India. From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don't know if you chose the right goal. After books, I set the goal of writing for Bollywood, as I thought they needed writers. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years to get close to a release.

Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person. How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved – movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly, seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result – at least I was learning how to write scripts , having a side plan – I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life - friends, food, travel can help you overcome it. Remember, nothing is to be taken seriously. Frustration is a sign somewhere, you took it too seriously.

Unfairness - this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, pedigree find it easier to make it – not just in Bollywood, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities in India, so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than you.

In fact, to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty darn lucky by Indian standards. Let's be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don't. I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. However, I don't get literary praise. It's ok. I don't look like Aishwarya Rai, but I have two boys who I think are more beautiful than her. It's ok. Don't let unfairness kill your spark.

Finally, the last point that can kill your spark is isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique. When you are little, all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman. As you grow older to college, you still are a lot like your friends. But ten years later and you realize you are unique. What you want, what you believe in, what makes you feel, may be different from even the people closest to you. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. . And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

There you go. I've told you the four thunderstorms - disappointment, frustration, unfairness and isolation. You cannot avoid them, as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die.

I welcome you again to the most wonderful years of your life. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college. But I also hope that ten years later as well, you eyes will shine the same way as they do today. That you will Keep the Spark alive, not only through college, but through the next 2,500 weekends. And I hope not just you, but my whole country will keep that spark alive, as we really need it now more than any moment in history. And there is something cool about saying - I come from the land of a billion sparks.

Keep the Spark

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Indian politicians need management lessons

India is the land of the three most efficient managers the world has ever produced. The award for "Best Manager" surely goes to Krishna, well Lord Krishna to be more specific, whose management principles based on four different strokes - Sam, Daam, Dand and Bhed - for different people is still taught in all business schools even today. The way he was able to manipulate situations in his favor is something that any top business tycoon would die to learn and emulate for the best possible results. His people management skills are beyond any question. The way he convinced a reluctant Arjun to fight the battle of Kurukshetra is worth studying.

The second position for management surely goes to Chanakya and the third to none other than Mahatma Gandhi for managing the highest ever number of people. Both Chanakya and Mahatma Gandhi's principles of management were based on Sam, Daam, Dand and Bhed. The right stroke when used for the right people can have miraculous result. But at the same time the incorrect stroke can cause disaster.The Indian politics is full of incorrect strokes.

When a father motivates a little kid to drink a bottle of milk with the promise of a chocolate he is actually using "Daam" or reward for managing his little kid. This type of management works very well for immature people. When the same kid grows up a bit the same father has to rebuke and scold in order to keep him under control. Then the father is using "Dand" or punishment as a management tactic. When the kid grows up to a young man the aged father discusses his family business with the same kid and takes important decisions together. The father is then using "Sam" or equality in management. The Britishers used the divide and rule or the "Bhed" tactic to manage (or rather mismanage) Indians. Anyone can find out that the father can't apply Sam on the small kid or Dand on his grown up young son. But at the same time he has to use Dand many times to grow the right sense of discipline in his child. Rewarding and punishment at the right time in the right proportion is very essential for an efficient management.

In Indian politics what we see is just Daam and Bhed. There's no space for Sam and Dand. The entire horse trading of MPs is the wrong use of Daam. Not punishing the Left for their irrational behavior is also an instance of not using Dand when it's of utmost importance. The classic example of mishandling the Nuclear Deal is an example of failure to use Sam. It's well known that the BJP had actually sowed the seeds of the nuclear deal. But the Congress didn't want to give any credit to the BJP and wanted to usurp all the credits themselves. That made the BJP antagonized to the entire episode. Had the Congress given the proper credits to BJP publicly and kept them in loop for all their discussions then the later won't have had any scope to antagonize the deal. Even now BJP is never saying that they are opposing the UPA on the nuclear deal. Even in his speech during the debate before the Trust Vote on 22nd July leader of opposition Shri L K Advani made it very clear that BJP is opposing other issues like price hike, inflation, bad conditions of farmers etc. Very aptly BJP utilized the scenario of opposition to the nuclear deal to their favor to create pressure on Congress. The recent crisis won't have arisen at all had the Congress applied Sam or equality in management. Lastly there's innumerable cases of using Bhed. The entire politics of appeasement of Muslims is the blatant use of divide-and-rule tactics. Not only the Hindu-Muslim bhed, people use Dalit-Brahmin, Dalit-OBC, Creamy-non Creamy OBC, Yadavs-non Yadavs and all other forms or bheds or divisions to their advantage.

So overall the entire political class need thorough lessons in management, if at all they are interested to manage the country in an efficient and ethical manner.

Shri L K Advani's response to Dr. Manmohan Singh's speech on 22nd July in Parliament

This is interesting. Yesterday Dr. Manmohan Singh had published a speech in his website targeting Shri L K Advani's and today here is later's response. The good part is that now-a-days all the transcripts are available online immediately and the people of India can have a direct look into who is saying what. I think these are indeed worth reading, irrespective of the political affiliations of anyone.


Slightly over two decades ago, a stinking corruption scandal at the highest level of the Government, first unearthed by the foreign media and subsequently investigated by several courageous journalists in the Indian media, changed the political landscape in the country. Such was the public outrage created by the revelations of huge kickbacks in the purchase of Bofors guns from Sweden that the late Shri Rajiv Gandhi, who had won a four-fifth majority for the Congress party in the Lok Sabha in 1984, was swept out of power in the parliamentary elections in 1989.

The country witnessed an even more shocking bribery scandal yesterday when the Congress-led UPA Government secured a completely illegitimate victory in the trust vote by manufacturing a slender majority in the House. Three BJP MPs — Shri Ashok Argal and Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste from Madhya Pradesh and Shri Mahavir Baghora from Rajasthan — exposed, with tell-tale evidence, of how top leaders of the Congress and Samajwadi Party conspired together to secure cross-voting and abstention of non-UPA MPs by paying them crores of rupees.

A close look at the final tally in the House shows that the Government would have certainly lost the confidence motion in the absence of cross-voting and abstentions by MPs belonging to several non-UPA parties.

So shameless were activities and public pronouncements of the top functionaries of the two parties in the run-up to the trust vote that the entire country started suspecting that the Government was up to some mischief. Indeed, in my speech in Parliament on 21 July, I had specifically referred to the corrupt means being employed by a Government which, in the name of promising nuclear power, was resorting to "horse power" to save itself. Honourable Members from several other opposition parties also accused the Government of indulging in the worst kind of horse-trading to convert its minority into majority.

The Prime Minister had asked in a tone of injured innocence: "Where is the proof?" After the incontrovertible proof that our three MPs produced in front of the Speaker, the Prime Minister has no moral right to continue in office. His is a tainted victory. After having devalued the office of the Prime Minister by allowing the misuse of several democratic institutions for highly questionable ends — which includes misuse of the CBI and the Law Ministry in the Bofors case —, Dr. Manmohan Singh now stands exposed as one who blessed the desecration of the Temple of Democracy.

I am deeply saddened by the fact that several of our own MPs became a party to the murder of democracy. The BJP has decided to expel them with immediate effect.

The BJP profusely congratulates our brave three MPs who not only resisted the temptation of crores of rupees offered by the Congress-SP combine to abstain from the vote, but chose to expose this scandal in an effective manner.

I would also like to congratulate several other MPs, belonging to both the BJP and other political parties, for defying the threats, blackmailing tactics and allurements coming from persons in very high quarters in the Government and the Congress-SP combine. They have stood by the high standards of parliamentary behavior expected from every political party.

The cash-for-votes scandal has raised serious questions about the journalistic ethic followed by the TV news channel which recorded it. The right thing for the channel to have done is to show it and let the people draw their own conclusion. Indeed, at the meeting party leaders at the Speaker's Chamber yesterday, several opposition leaders, including Shri Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP, had demanded that the tape be shown to all MPs before the trust vote was taken. After listening to the account given by our three MPs, the BJP is left with no doubt that, had the channel broadcast the tape, the Government would have been in the dock before the trust vote was taken.

Soon after our three MPs exposed the scandal inside the House, the TV channel had announced, at around 4.30 pm yesterday, that it had handed over the tape to the Speaker. We have now come to know that the tape had not been delivered to the Speaker's office till 1.00 pm today. This raises great apprehensions in everyone's mind about the possibility of doctoring of the tape.

The BJP demands that the Speaker immediately convene a meeting of the leaders of all parties, show the tape to them, and institute a time-bound inquiry. The outcome of this inquiry must be made known before Parliament convenes for the Monsoon Session in August.

The BJP has decided to launch a nationwide campaign to make the people aware of the illegitimacy of the UPA Government and its unsuitability to continue in office after exposure of the cash-for-votes scandal. The campaign, which will begin from Sunday (27 July), will also highlight the UPA Government's saga of failures and betrayals – above all, its failure to control skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, to ameliorate the plight of farmers, and to effectively fight the menace of terrorism.

Somnath Chatterjee - The Lotus among the comrades

Yesterday I'd written about the filth in Indian parliament and today I'm thrilled to see a Lotus blooming in that filth. Despite the relatively cleaner (lesser criminal credentials, lesser scams and corruption charges and almost not a single case of horse trading) background of the Left, there's no doubt that they have filled the Indian politics with the maximum filth with their hypocritical ideologies and total nonsense principles. Let me not remind everyone that they'd opposed the Quit India Movement and supported the Emergency. They had burnt effigies of Rabindranath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and many other luminaries of Bengal renaissance in Bengal a few decades back stating that these personalities are representative of the Burjwa Class, the term plagiarized by the Left people from some French word referring to the rich people. They still hang pictures of a person like Stalin, who is no lesser evil than Hitler, in their party offices. There are zillion other filth that can be written about them. But amidst all the filth we do see a personality like Somnath Chatterjee who defies his party whips and decides to be a torch bearer of India's constitution. He is like a Pankaj, a lotus, that thrives in the filth, 'pank'. His decision to not step down from the post of speaker is an exemplary evidence of selflessness, nonpartisanism, and integrity in today's Indian politics of greed, opportunism and horse trading. The post of speaker is above any party. The role of the speaker is like a headmaster in a school. What he has done, even at the cost of being expelled from his party, is a rarity in today's politics. Everyone in Indian politics should take a lesson from him.
Hail Somnath!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PM's reply to the debate on the Motion of Confidence in the Lok Sabha

This is worth reading. Something like this should have been published from PM's office long time back when the opposition parties were criticizing the Nuclear Deal with all baseless allegations. I think this is the only document from government's side which explains the benefits of the deal in such explicit manner for common people.


22nd July, 2008, New Delhi.

The Leader of Opposition, Shri L.K. Advani has chosen to use all manner of abusive objectives to describe my performance. He has described me as the weakest Prime Minister, a nikamma PM, and of having devalued the office of PM. To fulfill his ambitions, he has made at least three attempts to topple our government. But on each occasion his astrologers have misled him. This pattern, I am sure, will be repeated today. At his ripe old age, I do not expect Shri Advani to change his thinking. But for his sake and India's sake, I urge him at least to change his astrologers so that he gets more accurate predictions of things to come.

As for Shri Advani's various charges, I do not wish to waste the time of the House in rebutting them. All I can say is that before leveling charges of incompetence on others, Shri Advani should do some introspection. Can our nation forgive a Home Minister who slept when the terrorists were knocking at the doors of our Parliament? Can our nation forgive a person who single handedly provided the inspiration for the destruction of the Babri Masjid with all the terrible consequences that followed? To atone for his sins, he suddenly decided to visit Pakistan and there he discovered new virtues in Mr. Jinnah. Alas, his own party and his mentors in the RSS disowned him on this issue. Can our nation approve the conduct of a Home Minister who was sleeping while Gujarat was burning leading to the loss of thousands of innocent lives? Our friends in the Left Front should ponder over the company they are forced to keep because of miscalculations by their General Secretary.

As for my conduct, it is for this august House and the people of India to judge. All I can say is that in all these years that I have been in office, whether as Finance Minister or Prime Minister, I have felt it as a sacred obligation to use the levers of power as a societal trust to be used for transforming our economy and polity, so that we can get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of our people. This is a long and arduous journey. But every step taken in this direction can make a difference. And that is what we have sought to do in the last four years. How far we have succeeded is something I leave to the judgement of the people of India.

When I look at the composition of the opportunistic group opposed to us, it is clear to me that the clash today is between two alternative visions of India's future. The one vision represented by the UPA and our allies seeks to project India as a self confident and united nation moving forward to gain its rightful place in the comity of nations, making full use of the opportunities offered by a globalised world, operating on the frontiers of modern science and technology and using modern science and technology as important instruments of national economic and social development. The opposite vision is of a motley crowd opposed to us who have come together to share the spoils of office to promote their sectional, sectarian and parochial interests. Our Left colleagues should tell us whether Shri L.K. Advani is acceptable to them as a Prime Ministerial candidate. Shri L.K. Advani should enlighten us if he will step aside as Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition in favour of the choice of UNPA. They should take the country into confidence on this important issue.

I have already stated in my opening remarks that the House has been dragged into this debate unnecessarily. I wish our attention had not been diverted from some priority areas of national concern. These priorities are :

(i) Tackling the imported inflation caused by steep increase in oil prices. Our effort is to control inflation without hurting the rate of growth and employment.

(ii) To revitalize agriculture. We have decisively reversed the declining trend of investment and resource flow in agriculture. The Finance Minister has dealt with the measures we have taken in this regard. We have achieved a record foodgrain production of 231 million tones. But we need to redouble our efforts to improve agricultural productivity.

(iii) To improve the effectiveness of our flagship pro poor programmes such as National Rural Employment Programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Nation-wide Mid day meal programme, Bharat Nirman to improve the quality of rural infrastructure of roads, electricity, safe drinking water, sanitation, irrigation, National Rural Health Mission and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. These programmes are yielding solid results. But a great deal more needs to be done to improve the quality of implementation.

(iv) We have initiated a major thrust in expanding higher education. The objective is to expand the gross enrolment ratio in higher education from 11.6 per cent to 15 per cent by the end of the 11th Plan and to 21% by the end of 12th Plan. To meet these goals, we have an ambitious programme which seeks to create 30 new universities, of which 14 will be world class, 8 new IITs, 7 new IIMs, 20 new IIITs, 5 new IISERs, 2 Schools of planning and Architecture, 10 NITs, 373 new degree colleges and 1000 new polytechnics. And these are not just plans. Three new IISERs are already operational and the remaining two will become operational from the 2008-09 academic session. Two SPAs will be starting this year. Six of the new IITs start their classes this year. The establishment of the new universities is at an advanced stage of planning.

(v) A nation wide Skill Development Programme and the enactment of the Right to Education Act,

(vi) Approval by Parliament of the new Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy and enactment of legislation to provide social security benefits to workers in the unorganized sector.

(vii) The new 15 Point Programme for Minorities, the effective implementation of empowerment programmes for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, paying particular emphasis on implementation of Land Rights for the tribals.

(viii) Equally important is the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act to impart utmost transparency to processes of governance. The Administrative Reforms Commission has made valuable suggestions to streamline the functioning of our public administration.

(ix) To deal firmly with terrorist elements, left wing extremism and communal elements that are attempting to undermine the security and stability of the country. We have been and will continue to vigorously pursue investigations in the major terrorist incidents that have taken place. Charge-sheets have been filed in almost all the cases. Our intelligence agencies and security forces are doing an excellent job in very difficult circumstances. They need our full support. We will take all possible steps to streamline their functioning and strengthen their effectiveness.

Considerable work has been done in all these areas but debates like the one we are having detract our attention from attending to these essential programmes and remaining items on our agenda. All the same, we will redouble our efforts to attend to these areas of priority concerns.

I say in all sincerity that this session and debate was unnecessary because I have said on several occasions that our nuclear agreement after being endorsed by the IAEA and the Nuclear Suppliers Group would be submitted to this august House for expressing its view. All I had asked our Left colleagues was : please allow us to go through the negotiating process and I will come to Parliament before operationalising the nuclear agreement. This simple courtesy which is essential for orderly functioning of any Government worth the name, particularly with regard to the conduct of foreign policy, they were not willing to grant me. They wanted a veto over every single step of negotiations which is not acceptable. They wanted me to behave as their bonded slave. The nuclear agreement may not have been mentioned in the Common Minimum Programme. However, there was an explicit mention of the need to develop closer relations with the USA but without sacrificing our independent foreign policy. The Congress Election Manifesto had explicitly referred to the need for strategic engagement with the USA and other great powers such as Russia.

In 1991, while presenting the Budget for 1991-92, as Finance Minister, I had stated : No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. I had then suggested to this august House that the emergence of India as a major global power was an idea whose time had come.

Carrying forward the process started by Shri Rajiv Gandhi of preparing India for the 21st century, I outlined a far reaching programme of economic reform whose fruits are now visible to every objective person. Both the Left and the BJP had then opposed the reform. Both had said we had mortgaged the economy to America and that we would bring back the East India Company. Subsequently both these parties have had a hand at running the Government. None of these parties have reversed the direction of economic policy laid down by the Congress Party in 1991. The moral of the story is that political parties should be judged not by what they say while in opposition but by what they do when entrusted with the responsibilities of power.

I am convinced that despite their opportunistic opposition to the nuclear agreement, history will compliment the UPA Government for having taken another giant step forward to lead India to become a major power centre of the evolving global economy. Jawaharlal Nehru's vision of using atomic energy as a major instrument of development will become a living reality.

What is the nuclear agreement about? It is all about widening our development options, promoting energy security in a manner which will not hurt our precious environment and which will not contribute to pollution and global warming.

India needs to grow at the rate of at least ten per cent per annum to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of our people. A basic requirement for achieving this order of growth is the availability of energy, particularly electricity. We need increasing quantities of electricity to support our agriculture, industry and to give comfort to our householders. The generation of electricity has to grow at an annual rate of 8 to 10 per cent.

Now, hydro-carbons are one source of generating power and for meeting our energy requirements. But our production of hydro-carbons both of oil and gas is far short of our growing requirements. We are heavily dependent on imports. We all know the uncertainty of supplies and of prices of imported hydro-carbons.

We have to diversify our sources of energy supply.

We have large reserves of coal but even these are inadequate to meet all our needs by 2050. But more use of coal will have an adverse impact on pollution and climate. We can develop hydro-power and we must. But many of these projects hurt the environment and displace large number of people. We must develop renewable sources of energy particularly solar energy. But we must also make full use of atomic energy which is a clean environment friendly source of energy. All over the world, there is growing realization of the importance of atomic energy to meet the challenge of energy security and climate change.

India's atomic scientists and technologists are world class. They have developed nuclear energy capacities despite heavy odds. But there are handicaps which have adversely affected our atomic energy programme. First of all, we have inadequate production of uranium. Second, the quality of our uranium resources is not comparable to those of other producers.Third, after the Pokharan nuclear test of 1974 and 1998 the outside world has imposed embargo on trade with India in nuclear materials, nuclear equipment and nuclear technology. As a result, our nuclear energy programme has suffered. Some twenty years ago, the Atomic Energy Commission had laid down a target of 10000 MW of electricity generation by the end of the twentieth century. Today, in 2008 our capacity is about 4000 MW and due to shortage of uranium many of these plants are operating at much below their capacity.

The nuclear agreement that we wish to negotiate will end India's nuclear isolation, nuclear apartheid and enable us to take advantage of international trade in nuclear materials, technologies and equipment. It will open up new opportunities for trade in dual use high technologies opening up new pathways to accelerate industrialization of our country. Given the excellent quality of our nuclear scientists and technologists, I have reasons to believe that in a reasonably short period of time, India would emerge as an important exporter of nuclear technologies, and equipment for civilian purposes.

When I say this I am reminded of the visionary leadership of Shri Rajiv Gandhi who was a strong champion of computerization and use of information technologies for nation building. At that time, many people laughed at this idea. Today, information technology and software is a sun-rise industry with an annual turnover soon approaching 50 billion US dollars. I venture to think that our atomic energy industry will play a similar role in the transformation of India's economy.

The essence of the matter is that the agreements that we negotiate with USA, Russia, France and other nuclear countries will enable us to enter into international trade for civilian use without any interference with our strategic nuclear programme. The strategic programme will continue to be developed at an autonomous pace determined solely by our own security perceptions. We have not and we will not accept any outside interference or monitoring or supervision of our strategic programme. Our strategic autonomy will never be compromised. We are willing to look at possible amendments to our Atomic Energy Act to reinforce our solemn commitment that our strategic autonomy will never be compromised.

I confirm that there is nothing in these agreements which prevents us from further nuclear tests if warranted by our national security concerns. All that we are committed to is a voluntary moratorium on further testing. Thus the nuclear agreements will not in any way affect our strategic autonomy. The cooperation that the international community is now willing to extend to us for trade in nuclear materials, technologies and equipment for civilian use will be available to us without signing the NPT or the CTBT.

This I believe is a measure of the respect that the world at large has for India, its people and their capabilities and our prospects to emerge as a major engine of growth for the world economy. I have often said that today there are no international constraints on India's development. The world marvels at our ability to seek our social and economic salvation in the framework of a functioning democracy committed to the rule of law and respect for fundamental human freedoms. The world wants India to succeed. The obstacles we face are at home, particularly in our processes of domestic governance.

I wish to remind the House that in 1998 when the Pokharan II tests were undertaken, the Group of Eight leading developed countries had passed a harsh resolution condemning India and called upon India to sign the NPT and CTBT. Today, at the Hokkaido meeting of the G-8 held recently in Japan, the Chairman's summary has welcomed cooperation in civilian nuclear energy between India and the international community. This is a measure of the sea change in the perceptions of the international community our trading with India for civilian nuclear energy purposes that has come about in less than ten years.

Our critics falsely accuse us, that in signing these agreements, we have surrendered the independence of foreign policy and made it subservient to US interests. In this context, I wish to point out that the cooperation in civil nuclear matters that we seek is not confined to the USA. Change in the NSG guidelines would be a passport to trade with 45 members of the Nuclear Supplier Group which includes Russia, France, and many other countries.

We appreciate the fact that the US has taken the lead in promoting cooperation with India for nuclear energy for civilian use. Without US initiative, India's case for approval by the IAEA or the Nuclear Suppliers Group would not have moved forward.

But this does not mean that there is any explicit or implicit constraint on India to pursue an independent foreign policy determined by our own perceptions of our enlightened national interest. Some people are spreading the rumours that there are some secret or hidden agreements over and above the documents made public. I wish to state categorically that there are no secret or hidden documents other than the 123 agreement, the Separation Plan and the draft of the safeguard agreement with the IAEA. It has also been alleged that the Hyde Act will affect India's ability to pursue an independent foreign policy. The Hyde Act does exist and it provides the US administration the authorization to enter into civil nuclear cooperation with India without insistence on full scope safeguards and without signing of the NPT. There are some prescriptive clauses but they cannot and they will not be allowed to affect in any way the conduct of our foreign policy. Our commitment is to what has been agreed in the 123 Agreement. There is nothing in this Agreement which will affect our strategic autonomy or our ability to pursue an independent foreign policy. I state categorically that our foreign policy, will at all times be determined by our own assessment of our national interest. This has been true in the past and will be true in future regarding our relations with big powers as well as with our neighbours in West Asia, notably Iran, Iraq, Palestine and the Gulf countries.

We have differed with the USA on their intervention in Iraq. I had explicitly stated at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC in July 2005 that intervention in Iraq was a big mistake. With regard to Iran, our advice has been in favour of moderation and we would like that the issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme which have emerged should be resolved through dialogue and discussions in the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

I should also inform the House that our relations with the Arab world are very good. Two years ago, His Majesty, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was the Chief Guest at our Republic Day. More recently, we have played host to the President of Iran, President of Syria, the King of Jordan, the Emir of Qatar and the Emir of Kuwait. With all these countries we have historic civilisational and cultural links which we are keen to further develop to our mutual benefit. Today, we have strategic relationship with all major powers including USA, Russia, France, UK, Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa. We are Forging new partnerships with countries of East Asia, South East Asia and Africa.


The Management and governance of the world's largest, most diverse and most vibrant democracy is the greatest challenge any person can be entrusted with, in this world. It has been my good fortune that I was entrusted with this challenge over four years ago. I thank with all sincerity the Chairperson of the UPA, the leaders of the Constituent Parties of the UPA and every member of my Party for the faith and trust they reposed in me. I once again recall with gratitude the guidance and support I have received from Shri Jyoti Basu and Sardar Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

I have often said that I am a politician by accident. I have held many diverse responsibilities. I have been a teacher, I have been an official of the Government of India, I have been a member of this greatest of Parliaments, but I have never forgotten my life as a young boy in a distant village.

Every day that I have been Prime Minister of India I have tried to remember that the first ten years of my life were spent in a village with no drinking water supply, no electricity, no hospital, no roads and nothing that we today associate with modern living. I had to walk miles to school, I had to study in the dim light of a kerosene oil lamp. This nation gave me the opportunity to ensure that such would not be the life of our children in the foreseeable future.

Sir, my conscience is clear that on every day that I have occupied this high office, I have tried to fulfill the dream of that young boy from that distant village.

The greatness of democracy is that we are all birds of passage! We are here today, gone tomorrow! But in the brief time that the people of India entrust us with this responsibility, it is our duty to be honest and sincere in the discharge of these responsibilities. As it is said in our sacred texts, we are responsible for our actions and we must act without coveting the rewards of such action. Whatever I have done in this high office I have done so with a clear conscience and the best interests of my country and our people at heart. I have no other claims to make.

Latest pot boiler: Indian Parliament

It's quite some time that I have written something in my blog. Actually I was waiting for something interesting to write. The recent developments in Indian politics for the past few days was providing me enough fodder to write something. Then today's incident in the Parliament was so interesting that I was compelled to take up my pen again.
Let me keep all statistics aside. Just the turn of events were enough for even the most apolitical person to be interested in politics. I believe all the proceedings in parliament are recorded meticulously. I'm sure any aspiring director, looking for a 'hatke' thriller with all elements of sex, love, passion, betrayal, violence, vengeance, loyalty and all other possible ingredients that guarantee the box office success of any movie, should study all these proceedings properly to come up with a nice plot. Lately there have been enough of thrillers showing a brother sleeping with his brother's wife, wife getting her husband killed in order to help her ex-boyfriend, sister seducing her sister's husband and finally provoking to have sex on a rainy night, every other person in an office having sex with with office mates at an office mate's flat and many more interesting and, at times, unbelievable plots. I think more interesting things happen in our very own parliament. Off course the sex part might be implicit at times, but all other aspects are quite explicit. The only difference is that in the movies there's still a hero and a villain in most cases. The hero is more often than not shown as the virtuous one. But in the parliament it's really hard to get a hero. It's a story of all villains. We don't have a choice to elect a hero against a villain. We've the option to just choose the lesser devil, or the shit that stinks less or the dog that barks less. If by mistake there appears a hero, he is never brought in front of the electorate perhaps because his peers might think that the electorates, like man eaters, might get the taste of human blood and henceforth always look for men, rather than goats and sheep.That's why Dr. Manmohan Singh has never been allowed to contest a Lok Sabha election. We never got a chance to elect a clean, educated, upright politician.
Today's climax before the trust vote was just beyond anyone's imagination. Even if it turns out that the BJP had orchestrated the entire episode of three of their MPs being offered three crores by Congress and Samajwaadi Party top notches for abstaining from voting, still the turn of events can surely make Hitchcock embarrassed. It's known to all that each major party at state or center has been resorting to 'horse trading' since ever. Very few come to limelight but there's no denying the fact that this is as prevelant as the cops taking bribes. Only few cases, like Narasimha Rao's case of bribing Shibu Shoren in nineties for support, hog the headlines. But never the episode had a climax like today when three BJP MPs, who themselves are not Yudhisthirs in their own space, displayed one crore of rupees, allegedly given as advance payment for abstaining from voting, in the parliament. There's no reason to believe that these three MPs wanted to uphold their integrity and hence brought the entire episode to public. It's highly possible that they might have got better 'offers' from BJP to do so. Gone are the days when we were the only people who used to get multiple offers from various companies and use one against the other to crak better 'deals'. Shibu Soren had offers from both BJP and Congress. These three MPs would surely have multiple offers.
The dynamics that play the final act is a matter of suspense. Like it is really a suspense who actually wrote the script that Dr. Manmohan Singh couldn't read in the parliament and finally uploaded at his website. Anyone who has been following him for the past 17 years (since he became the finance minister in Narasimha Rao's government in early nineties) know very well that he would be the last person to write this -
The Leader of Opposition, Shri L.K. Advani has chosen to use all manner of abusive objectives to describe my performance. He has described me as the weakest Prime Minister, a nikamma PM, and of having devalued the office of PM. To fulfill his ambitions, he has made at least three attempts to topple our government. But on each occasion his astrologers have misled him. This pattern, I am sure, will be repeated today. At his ripe old age, I do not expect Shri Advani to change his thinking. But for his sake and India's sake, I urge him at least to change his astrologers so that he gets more accurate predictions of things to come.
Dr. Manmohan Singh has been the best example of "If you're bad, why can't I be good". His restraint in his speeches and reaction to critics have been exemplary. But still finally we saw this very unexpected thing. This is as unusual as Johny Walker talking in Amitabh's voice!!
The role of Left is really very amusing. They are like cancerous growth on India's body. The problem is that they are not big enough viruses to attack the heart or brain so that anyone would die, but they are irritating enough to attack areas like throats, breasts etc which even when operated have some embarrassing marks. The Left are not a significant entity that can kill India and that has been proved beyond doubt today when even after their withdrawal Dr. Manmohan Singh is still going ahead with the Nuclear Deal. But they are indeed very irritating - something like those insects that fill your lamp shades around Diwali and you've to clean them every year. The Left can provide enough comic relief from time to time. Today's incident should have taught a good lesson to all the comrades. In most Hindi movies you always have some small-time rowdies and thugs who play as nth level local agents to the big don. These people are off course not the Gabbars or Shakals, not even the Shakti Kapoors of the day. They are like Keshto Mukherjee playing a don's role after 100 pegs of scotch. The Left are like that..... not much to worry about, but enough to laugh out loud.
Then there are the vamps - the Mayawatis, Jayalalitas, Meneka Gandhis, Mamta Banerjees and Sushma Swarajs. Each one is unique in their own apporach. Sushma Swaraj doesn't want sexy stuff in TVs, Mamta Banerjee is good at blocking roads at the peak hours in office days in South Calcutta and playing kabaddi-kabaddi with Vajpayee, Jayalalitha allegedly has the biggest collection of shoes and perhaps one of the most influencial ladies in the world who officially has a girlfriend, Meneka Gandhi is concerned more about the death of animals than humans and Mayawati aspires to become the first Prime Minister in India who would prefer to talk to the President of United States in Hindi!! Well, I totally forgot about the Congress' High Command, without whose diktat no one in Congress even winks!! Wow, isn't that a wide range of characters for writing an interesting story?
But the striking thing is that despite all these, our country continues to grow at a rate of 8% per annum. That's a miracle. Just think if our politicians were educated and sophisticated then what all we could have done.That's another suspense. You never know. Perhaps the skill and expertise that the work force of India has developed owes everything to this non functional politicians. Had they been good we all won't have worked so hard for our country......
Vande Mataram!!