Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Elections: Lessons learned

The recently concluded General Elections have created a history in itself with a lot of firsts thrown in, in its way - the decisive mandate after three decades, the high voters turnout, the high percentage of young voters, etc are some of the pleasant things, apart from the mandate itself. Let us see what are the main lessons learned in this election.

Voters are wise

The minds of the Indian public, the jana gana mana, are among the priciest resources of India. Even with the low literacy rates and absence of a good living for many, still, we're a wise nation, argumentative too.

"We can't be fooled, nor taken for a ride by anyone. We know what's right and what's wrong. There's no reason to put thoughts in our minds. Wisdom prevails and we know what is what."

This means that they know what's secular and what's communal, what's development and what's not what's a scam and what's not etc etc. This election has reinforced beyond doubt the importance of the wisdom of Indian voters. They chose wisely.

Campaigning should be in favor of something, not against something

Congress, along with a large number of people who claim to be the torch bearers of secularism, have been extremely vocal about the communal credentials of the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate. Most of their campaigns was not as much about Congress as it was against Modi. They tried to frighten the people with dire consequences if Modi came to power, telling horror stories about riots and communal violence. The election results proved beyond doubt that the Indian electorate gave a damn to all these. They have rubbished all the claims made my Congress and the secular band wagon. So it's time to scrap this entire discussion of secularism.

People want to hear positive things, not negative. If you want them to vote for you, tell them what you've done and what you'll do for them, not what bad someone else have done or will do to them. BJP had lost the 2009 election, perhaps because of its negative campaigning against Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin. Then also, the campaign was more negative than positive. Congress did exactly the same mistake this time. Strikingly different was BJP's campaign this time. They talked more about the development than the scams of the Congress. Had it talked only about the scams, I'm sure they won't have got this result. Show positiveness - that's the mantra.

Strong and decisive leadership is the need of the hour

There's no doubt that this has been Modi's election. He has run it like a Presidential election where people actually voted for him, rather than BJP. This is a key lesson. People have realized that a strong and decisive leader can make a lot of difference. The total absence of anyone pitched against Modi made his work simpler.

Questions may be asked, if that's the case, then how did Congress win the last two elections? They won the 2004 elections, because, the mass had failed to see the development BJP was talking about and Congress provided an alternative. Vajpayee's decisiveness and strength were in question. Then in 2009, the people didn't see in Advani any remarkable quality which would make him stand apart for the rest. On top of that, the campaign was very much negative. So in 2009, Congress actually didn't win, they were just not removed from power. But in 2014, they were literally decimated due to the lack of a strong and decisive leader.

Communication, communication and communication

Effective communication is the key to success, both in corporate world and politics. The way BJP had reached out to the people of India is indeed a lesson for the corporates too. "Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkaar", the message was very clear. Promises were made, but the key message was always unambiguous, that they have to elect the strong and decisive Modi as their Prime Minister.

On the other hand the message sent out by Congress was very confusing. People were aware of the scams. So when the Congress promos talked about developments, people were indeed skeptical. Had there been a strong leader, people would have had hopes that perhaps this new leader would do things differently.

Also, the various ways the BJP reached out to its people were just unmatched for. Apart from rallies, there were constant promos in media, electronic, print and television/radio, always with the crystal clear message.


Somewhat related to communication, but it's also a key thing which played a significant role. The entire campaign was planned in the lines of promoting a consumer product.

Modi was branded as a strong and decisive leader who would deliver wonders. Every communication carried the same message again and again, harping on the brand Modi repeatedly, till it was etched in the minds of the people. Like Thumps Up - Tastes the thunder, ICICI - Khayal Aap ka, LIC - Life ke saath bhi, life ke baad bhi, Kingfisher - King of good times, Kerala - God's own country, Ab ki baar Modi Sarkaar became the tag line of the campaign. Modi's scripted speeches, his mannerisms, the way he talked, the way be dressed - everything was meticulously planned and everything collectively played a role in creating the brand Modi, someone on which people could rely, someone who would deliver what he has promised, someone who could be trusted.

So much was the impact of Ab ki baar Modi sarkaar, that even small kids who know nothing of politics and Modi started chanting the same. I'm sure most kids were happy when he finally won. That's the impact of branding.

There's no alternative for hard work
Any success, at the end, can't come only with branding. People actually saw the hard work Modi has put during the entire campaign. He attended the most rallies, traveled the maximum distance to reach out to as many people as possible. People saw his dedication, his passion. A leader is always expected to be passionate. With all the hard work and passion, Modi fitted well into the image of a leader.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Media Blurbs about The Ekkos Clan

"A promising debut in the growing realm of modern Indian fiction" - Jug Suraiya 

"An Indian thriller inspired by Dan Brown & Harrison Ford!... fast-paced thriller, replete with murder and miraculous escapes" - The Telegraph 

"If you are a history buff and a thriller aficionado, then [it] might just be the book for you" - The Hindu 

"A tale of the Indian civilization and culture... takes you on a roller coaster ride" - The New Indian Express 

"An interesting read for an afternoon... One feisty woman's partition story" - Bangalore Mirror 

"Should be read for its sheer aspiration and the intelligent handling of historical material" - The Sunday Guardian 

"Is essentially a mystery novel, but is grounded in a substantial base of research and exploration into our past" -

Friday, May 9, 2014

Myths & Truths Behind The Ekkos Clan

The Ekkos Clan is essentially a mystery novel, where there are a lot of riddles in the form of Kubha’s stories, each leading to some prehistoric event or anecdote, all of which together tell a tale of our civilization, our culture. It deals with fanaticism in the garb of an extremist nationalism, something that gave rise to Nazism. It deals with the identity of India and the Indian civilization. It deals with the gradual evolution of hierarchies in a society and many more.
The Ekkos Clan is a work of fiction. Along with all the other elements that create a story – the characters, the turn of events, the mystery, the climax and above all the love and passion – history also plays a very important role in it. The Ekkos Clan tries to bring into life the history of an obscure age, the history that has been very controversial ever since its importance was first realized, the history that has been interpreted and misinterpreted multiple times to fit into a preconceived idea of the scholar, historian, linguist or even a dictator and a number of nationalists.
As this history has barely left behind any discernable mark it’s best left to the imaginations of the future generations, to recreate and reconstruct it in bits and pieces. But a reconstruction always has some degree of creativity in it. It takes the color of the prism through which the creator recreates it. It never looks bare and ruthless as reality. It always looks pleasant and wonderful like a poem, like a piece of art, like music. A detective, or rather someone really very boring, can always uncover the layers of creativity and dig out the bare history and find it silly. The Ekkos Clan may not be for these detectives. It’s for those who can let free their imaginations, go a few thousand years back into antiquity and realize the thrill and amazement of the poet who had composed the first ever poetry of the mankind, feel the excitement of someone who had made the first chariot, understand the inspiration that had driven a group of people to cross thousands of miles just to see new lands, make new friends and learn new things. The history is not about the wars they fought or battles they won. It’s about their culture, their language and the way of their lives that evolved gradually over thousands of years and finally comprised almost half the world. It’s the saga of a group of adventurous and wonderful people who lived on this earth more than five thousand years ago. They believed that “to see is to learn”. For them vision was akin to vidya, knowledge, wisdom. They had just one word, weid, for vision, wisdom and knowledge. Their yearning for seeing and learning severed them from their original homeland, their urheimat, and took them to unknown lands which eventually became their new homes. They never looked back. They kept on travelling for thousands of years. No one knows what finally made them stop their journey. Did they reach their final destination? Did they attain that knowledge, that vidya, for which they had travelled thousands of miles for thousands of years? Or did they get weary of their long trail? Or did they really stop their journey? Can’t it be that they are still travelling but, no one knows of it?
This is where the history opens up for imagination. This is the premise of The Ekkos Clan. This is where we can liberate the string of reasoning and let the kite of imagination fly high, but the latai, to which is wrapped the kite’s string, should be held strong on the ground. The Ekkos Clan is meant to let loose the imaginations but not the history. Like the latai, the history, should be held strong on its ground. Myths & Truths Behind The Ekkos Clan is an endeavor to provide the historical ground of The Ekkos Clan. The strings of imaginations are left to the readers.
The history we’re talking about is the history of the Indo-Europeans, the history of the Aryans and the history of their trail from their Urheimat to India. It’s the history how the original word weid, which meant “to know” and “to see” evolved into Sanskrit veda and vidya meaning knowledge, Greek oida meaning “to know”, Latin video and viso meaning “to see”, German wissen meaning “to know” and English wise, wisdom and vision.
Kubha’s stories, which form the basis of all the mysteries in The Ekkos Clan, are all about the Aryan Trail and the Rig Veda. Myths & Truths Behind The Ekkos Clan is meant to provide the historical background behind each of Kubha’s stories, some of which is provided in The Ekkos Clan too in bits and pieces. But, as mentioned in the beginning, the historical background we’re talking about is not meant purely for any academic purpose, but for a leisurely reading rather, trying to bridge the gap between the fiction and the facts on which it’s built.
I’ve relied heavily on the papers written by Michael Witzel of Harvard University, for most of the historical background. I’m indebted to him for the correspondence he exchanged with me and the time he spared to browse through some of the chapters.

As many of the topics are very controversial and still not accepted unanimously by everyone, academician and layman included, one particular line of thought has been presented all throughout, may be often in a partisan manner which fits into the thought process of The Ekkos Clan. I have followed the school of thought espoused by Witzel et al.

Praises for The Ekkos Clan

A promising debut in the growing realm of modern Indian fiction.’ – Jug Suraiya

For a debut novel The Ekkos Clan is quite promising, with echoes of Dan Brown in the storytelling. Kratu Sen, an engineer in Stanford, suddenly realises that the stories he and his sister have grown up listening to — about their grandmother Kubha — are not as simple as they sound. Meeting Afsar, a linguist palaeontologist, encourages Kratu to decode the “chhele bholanor golpo” (tales told to pacify children). He discovers that the names of the characters and places have a striking similarity with the Rig Veda and the Aryans. Could the stories preserved for centuries have a greater significance? …The Ekkos Clan is like any fast-paced thriller, replete with murder and miraculous escapes.’ – The Telegraph

If you are a history buff and a thriller aficionado, then The Ekkos Clan by Sudipto Das might just be the book for you. Ancient Indian history, linguistic palaeontology, mathematics and interesting insights on music are held together by a gripping mystery in Sudipto’s debut novel.’ – The Hindu

‘Historical fiction, The Ekkos Clan combines the struggle for survival with Kubha's determination to safeguard her lineage in turbulent times… [It] is a folktale packaged for the contemporary reader.’Bangalore Mirror

A tale of the Indian civilization and culture, The ekkos Clan written by debutant author Sudipto Das takes you on a roller coaster ride, telling the mystery behind the Aryan race as well as delving into the origin of stories behind mankind’s greatest book, the Rig Veda… The author brings out India’s amalgamation of so many cultures, languages, races... Exploring multiple generations of a family, the book follows a pattern where one gets to read about linguistics, history, archaeology, music, engineering and philosophy moving from chapter to chapter.’ – The New Indian Express

For a novel whose setting stretches from the Partition-affected villages of Noakhali, Bngladesh to Arkaim in the Southern Urals, The Ekkos Clan is a daring novel. The scope of the narrative is magnanimous and deftly handled... Involving elements of ancient history, mathematics, music, orality and linguistics, author Sudipto Das has weaved a cinematic tale of migration, revenge, and how the everyday preserves history in unique ways, unceremoniously occupying our locale… The Ekkos Clan should be read for its sheer aspiration and the intelligent handling of historical material.’ – The Sunday Guardian

Written by debutant author Sudipto Das, The Ekkos Clan is essentially a mystery novel, but is grounded in a substantial base of research and exploration into our past. This journey was not made with the aid of tangible historical remains and proofs, which diminish once you try to step further after going back a few millennia, but instead, a more living, breathing form of residue from our ancient past is combed through: language…[The] Application of linguistic palaeontology amidst a mystery novel marked with glimpses of mythology and historical narrative is unique in an Indian setting, and places both the author and the novel at a space currently occupied by a very few.’ –Newsyaps