10-step Agenda to Develop your University into a Research Hotspot

My article PDF   This article appeared in September 2018 BITES (www.bites.org.in) News Letter.


Ten things India needs to do in J&K

“Life is not about solving problems, rather it is about facing problems with righteous action”

  1. Release a statement on Government of India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir to the world which denies any locus standi to Pakistan or Kashmiri Muslims, but goes by accession agreement and follow-on steps that were taken with all other princely states. State clearly that only disputed part is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. State that Plebiscite is overreach by UN and only thing pending is return of raided territories by Pakistan.

Note: In reality, J&K issue wrongly ended up being a dispute between 2 parties at UN, it should have been a single matter of aggression by Pakistan on India. From Wikipedia account on Girija Shankar Bajapai, who represented India at the UN on J&K Issue.

“American diplomat Mr Vincent Sheean has mentioned in his book “Nehru – The Years of Power” that it was a technical error on part of the team headed by Mr Girija Bajpai which filed India’s appeal to the UN Pakistan’s invasion in Kashmir which led to the issue being considered a dispute rather than an act of aggression by Pakistan. The appeal should have been made under Chapter 7 of the UN charter rather than Chapter 6.[15]

  1. Withdraw MFN status to Pakistan and suspend diplomatic ties with Pakistan the way Saudi Arabia did with Qatar or Iran.

“It is always the right time to do the right thing”

— Martin Luther King

  1. Do away with article 370 and establish the supremacy of Parliament of India on Jammu and Kashmir like any other state. Do away with any special status for any other state.
  2. Do away with article 35A. Do away with any such articles for any other state of India such as Himachal. Emphatically state that all of India belongs to all Indians and all Indians to belong to all of India.
  3. Redraw the boundaries of assembly constituencies as per current populatuon so that artificial limit on number of constituencies in Jammu(to give hegemony to Kashmir region) is removed.
  4. Have 20% minimum voting as a criteria to recognize that a person has won the election. Make it easy to vote through voting by digital means with security and privacy safeguards.
  5. Make Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory for 10 years with Central Government. Appoint a leader who can provide imaginative leadership to the Union Territory who can completely change the narrative and ground situation. Build an internal security force that has locals as well as outsiders which can handle internal security without the help of the army.
  6. There should be nation-wide law that leads to severe punishment for stone-pelting at security forces and destruction of public property. The parents of juveniles and those who motivate them should be held accountable. Fines can be levied on parents (10,000-20,000) and on parents.
  7. Fine should be levied on organizations (Lacs to Crores) which call Hartals and Bandhs by accounting for cost to the economy, private/public property, life and liberty of people.
  8. Ban public funeral processions of those who support violence against the state or indulge in terrorism.
  9. Sanitize villages and localities which support terrorism and sedition. Those who support terrorism should lose right to residence, property and citizenship. Citizenship should be privilege and not right. Exile people who whip up separatist sentiments from the state, now union territory.
  10. Cancel registration of all institutions whether they are NGOs or political parties or media organizations which directly or indirectly support sedition. Issue advisory on TSM(Terror Supporting Media)  houses and journalists that soft-pedal terrorism and who consistently take anti-India position that their accounts should not be taken at face value.


20 point program for India

  1. Make India Hindu Dharmic Democratic Republic
    1.  Allow practice of non-Dharmic religions but not propagation
    2. Right to return to Hinduism
    3. Ban on conversions
    4. Ban on Cow-slaughter
    5. Promote ancient know-how Vedas to Yoga
    6. Promote secular know-how in Science, Technology from Indian Sources
    7. History of Indian civilization from Ireland to Iran to Indonesia
    8. Lead a movement to revive pre-Islamic and pre-Christian religions, cultures and traditions world over.
    9. Form Organization of Dharmic countries.
    10. Think of an alternative national language rich in Sanskrit or Simple Sanskrit,
  2. Hindu Model of Development, Governance and Statecraft using modern ideas, Arhashastra, Mahabharata, China and what worked in India for centuries before British and Gandhi/Nehru.Empowered communities and decentalization are some themes.
  3. Agriculture make it taxable and tax be pooled to provide interest free loans in a recurring fashion. Use same model as Capital Gains either pay tax or give money as debt to Government.
  4. Protect people from losing jobs for expression on social media.
  5. Make education sector and health education sector taxable, use taxes to provide interest free loans.Use same model as Capital Gains either pay tax or give money as debt to Government.
  6. Introduce personal bankruptcy laws
  7. Introduce right to dignity financial support for old-aged and unemployed to maintain some standards based on their credentials.
  8. Stop all kinds of violence and injustice through expansion of vicarious liability laws
  9. Citizenship as a privilege and not a right
  10. Bring back planning at ecosystem level – agriculture
  11. Managed Services/Facility as Mantra
  12. Refocus on Honesty, liberty and justice.
  13. Ethics and excellence
  14. Intolernace as virtue and be innovation driven.
  15. Fairness as Value
  16. Change the paradigm from solving problems to facing problems with righteous action. Let life be an unending boxing match with spurts of escalations, but let us not hold back the punches.
  17. Empowered communities and institutions
  18. Right to response
  19. Right to justice at work.  RTI and RTR for all organizations
  20. Lead in 5 new areas with Global Market – Space, Nuclear, Defence, Custom Manufacturing and Pharma
  21. Be a role model for other countries in: Civic Infrastructure, Digital+Fintech, use of tech(digital, social, mobile) in Governance,  Higher Education+Training+Skills, Organic+Environment Friendly+Solar+water
  22. Align everything to be Market-oriented economy.
  23. Education for knowledge preservation and research.

Fifteen Steps India should take on Jammu and Kashmir

  1. Release a statement on Government of India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir to the world which denies any locus standi to Pakistan or Kashmiri Muslims, but goes by accession agreement and follow-on steps that were taken with all other princely states. State clearly that only disputed part is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. State that Plebiscite is overreach by UN and only thing pending is return of raided territories by Pakistan. Convince other nations to reflect the correct map of India.
  2. One of the major issue India faces is the anti-India stance of agencies such as Associated Press and Reuters as well as nearly all of Western media in print as well as TV. Even though Western Governments appeciate India’s concerns on terrorism, western media has a totally hostile at best neutral stance on Kashmir issue. They call terrorists as fighters, ultras, rebels and militants but seldom as terrorists. On top of that they care two hoots about exceptional accommodation of minorities ans general approach where no group of people or region dominates others. They have either no information or refuse to acknowledge religious cleanssing of Hindus. They fail to see that behind the facade of self-determination, the agenda is to create yet another Islamic state through violence. Unfortunately Indian media carry the versions of Reuters as is. Some channels like NDTV put the problem in reverse. Whereas due to excessive violence armed forces are forced to use pellet guns or do any exceptional manouveres. The scenario is projected as if action of armed forces is the trigger and violence is the result when reality is exactly opposite.GEven when India pats itself on its back for secularism, as far as Western media is concerned it is just a Hindu country. The same media changes its tune when it comes to rights of Muslim minorities or protection of Churches in rest of India. They hardly acknowledge destruction of hundreds of temples in Kashmir valley nor do they have any sympathy for simular actions in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. Government of India needs to issue advisory on media houses that soft-pedal terrorism and who consistently take anti-India position that their accounts should not be taken at face value.  Government of India should also taken any counter action as per law starting with pursuation going all the way to penal action.
  3. Do away with article 370 and establish the supremacy of Parliament of India on Jammu and Kashmir like any other state. Do away with any special status for any other state. The terms of article 370 are not only against India but they treat Jammu and Ladakh unfairly vis-a-vis Kashmir valley.
  4. Do away with article 35A. Do away with any such articles for any other state of India such as Himachal. Emphatically state that all of India belongs to all Indians and all Indians to belong to all of India.
  5. Move towards 4-tier democracy and distribution of power Center, State, District/City, Panchayat/Ward, with lot of focus on districts. Let districts be the harbingers of growth and let power devolve to districts.
  6. Make Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory for 10 years with Central Government, District Councils and Panchayats as instruments of democracy. Completely sanitize the administration of sympathizers of separatism. Unfortunately unlike Punjab where we had Congress CM who even gave up his life for unity of India, CMs in J&K act contrary to national agenda. At one level they act as proxy to separatists and at another level they keep pushing for talks with Pakistan even when they can do more by stopping support to terrorism within. They first say talk to people instead of using security forces, and when Government shows willingness to talk, they say talk to separatists, then they say talk to Pakistan – basically it is a merry-go-round where they block all kinds of progress.
  7. There should be nation-wide law that leads to severe punishment for stone-pelting security forces and destruction of public property. The parents of juveniles and those who motivate them should be held accountable. Bandhs – good, bad or state-sponsored should be banned. Only peaceful protests and advocacy should be allowed.
  8. Build an internal security force that has locals as well as outsiders which can handle internal security without the help of the army.
  9. Sanitize villages and localities which support terrorism. Those who support terrorism should lose right to residence and property.
  10. Cancel registration of all institutions whether they are NGOs or political parties which directly or indirectly support sedition.
  11. Supporting sedition and/or terrorism should result in loss of citizenship. Exile people who whip up separatist sentiments from the state, now union territory.
  12. Withdraw MFN status to Pakistan and suspend diplomatic ties with Pakistan the way Saudi Arabia did with Qatar or Iran.
  13. Declare Pakistan as terrorist state.
  14. Have a nation-wide “Right to Return” law to enable all those who had to leave Hinduism on fair or foul circumstances. Promote return to Hinduism for converted Pandits in particular and Hindus at large. Hindus have suffered because whenevre converted Hindus wished to come back they were refused by their brethern.A law is also required to restore temples that were destroyed due to invasions and to protect Hinduism from conversion. Similar laws should protect native tribal cultures.
  15. Appoint a leader who can provide imaginative leadership to the Union Territory who can completely change the narrative and ground situation. Whoever comes in the way should not be allowed to stay in the state.

In general whenever the enemy has a tactical victory, it should lead to strategic loss, by making the goal many times harder to achieve.

New India called Bha(a)rath

Is India Union of States?

Viewing India as union of states or provinces has fed into rationale for partition and sedition and has caused untold misery. In addition, it has led to parochial mind-set which undermines unity of nation and ill-treatment of sections of people local or otherwise. It did not make sense as nation pre-existed the states/provinces/kingdoms by millennia. India is not union of states. Rather India is the state. The states are nothing but administrative provinces. The idea of linguistic states is all the more troubling.Languages do not define people, as people have moved from place to place and adopted new languages. It has pitted languages against one another. People rather choose English than any one of Indian languages as official language. Commonality of languages is sought to be undermined. Vocal minorities force their veto on the nation. All languages should be respected. People should take pride in learning more Indian languages, instead of being dogmatic and parochial about languages.

In any case our much-acclaimed federal system has not delivered spectacularly. They have failed to develop districts by passing down power. Most states have skewed development and it is districts which have cultural coherence. The states that are vocal about imposition from center hardly hesitate to impose on districts and dominate sub-regions. Most of development has been top-down undermining decentralization and community initiative which made large empires viable as early as 300 BC.

What is India then?

We have lot of conflicts because people are not clear about this. Is India a piece of land? Is India defined by religion or ethnicity? India is a civilizational tree which has branched out far and wide. Afghanistan, Balochistan to all of current India and Bangladesh had Hindu history. Iran is Aryan civilization. The sociologists who studied Indian villages have opined that while each village is self-contained to some degree, the villages are far too interconnected with other districts, states at time far and away. Hinduism as well as other native religions have formed a common binding thread for the whole nation.  We at times suddenly discover the commonality of practices and beliefs say between Tamilnadu and Bengal or Kerala and Gujarat. In fact Indian religions spread all the way to Indonesia and if we go to Vedic pre-vedic period it spans to Ireland on the west. Ireland-Iran-India-Indonesia had common religious beliefs.

Can India be only called Bha(a)rath?

If Ceylon can become Sri Lanka and Burma Myanmar, why India can’t be known by one name i.e. Bharath? Bharath has a physical definition. It is a country surrounded by 3 seas and it is a land to the south of Himalayas. This is defined in Vishnu Purana. Bharath is like tree with branches in the form of states, districts, towns, territories and villages. It is a seamless nation.

What does Bha(a)rath stand for?

Bharath is due to king Bharath – who represented nobility and scholarship – a king who became Rishi – to whom several verses of Veda are attributed. So Bharath is about Dharma and a shared value system – it is not about DNA nor about diversity. It is about respect for this collective tradition and culture. Anybody who relates to this value system naturally belongs. Soul of Bharath is the commitment to Dharma that enables society to progress with some inherent order where all approach life with a sense of duty and emphasis on correct action. Bharath is not defined by looks, language, diversity or cultural artefacts. It is defined by a set of values that are in sync with our civilization. So, respect for local tradition, values and culture with openness to evolve them with time is an important enabler for Bharath. We need to get the notion of Dharma back in our national discourse. We need to lay down list of values Bharath should celebrate. Some candidates are fairness, honesty, hard work and hope. These values go along with respect to environment and respect to all living forms. We need to bring back focus on simplicity, Saadhana (perseverance with determination, patience and discipline) and Tapasya (constant contemplation about higher things in life).

What happens to Secularism?

Whenever there is a talk about doing away with secular tag, pat comes the comment that India will become Hindu Pakistan. Those who say that choose to ignore thousands of years of history of Hindu Kingdoms. Kautilya’s Arthashastra even today provides a template for good governance. Kautilya in his treatise Arthashastra elaborated the traits of the King of a well governed state thus: “in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases himself, he does not consider good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as good”.

What is wrong with the status quo?

  1. Understating India’s Past:People ask why every advance originates in the West and not in India. Even when Indians contribute they do more when they work in USA, UK or Europe. India was a thought-leader since Vedic times. Recognized and respected highly even by Chinese civilization. Now we have a colonial mind-set. We have to be two steps behind UK or USA. By underplaying Bharath, we have acquired collective amnesia of past achievements of India in ancient and medieval times. We have an opportunity to promote a unified Indic medium of education and refocus on our culture, languages, traditions as well as reacquire ability to decipher the know-how embedded in our own scriptures and literary sources. There should be a single curricular framework nation-wide with no differential treatment of English and Indic mediums without rural/urban divide.
  2. Interest of Hindus: The interest of Hindus seems to be mortgaged to look good to others. Otherwise how can one explain lawyers falling over each other for illegal Rohingya migrants, but not even lifting a finger about rights of Kashmiri Pandits or Hindus refugees from Pakistan. Nobody talks about plight of Hindus in Islamic countries in neighborhood. These countries have seen sustained reduction in their population, attacks on temples, kidnappings and forced conversions. If we all are essentially same people, why cannot all the member countries in the SAARC adopt secularism? Only with shared value systems we can find way forward. Why India alone is singled out? Even within India attacks on Hindus and Hinduism continue to happen. Islamization is conquering district after district in West Bengal pushing Hindus out. Traditional Indian culture had made protection of cows and brahmins mainstay of Kings. Modern India celebrates slaughter of cows and forced migration of brahmins through constant discrimination. The successive Congress Governments gave carte blanche to missionaries to convert large sections of Hindus all over India. They overlooked illegal migration as well as conversion to Islam on some pretext or other. Hinduism being a non-missionary religion became an easy target. India since 10th Century AD or even earlier got attacked physically as well as culturally. The latter has left a deeper wound resulting in partition of India and attempts to set up Islamic state in Kashmir etc. India has been victim of conversions and destruction of religion – body and soul. India should pass a law to retrieve all structures which were built by destroying temples, whatever form they may be now and another law to retrospectively ban all conversions out of Hinduism/Native Religions/Cultures.  Finally, we should protect our interest and not asymmetric situation where Hinduism gets targeted by predatory religions whether it is Islam or Christianity. To keep it simple, slaughter of all kinds of cattle should be banned.
  3. Vote-bank Politics and Fractious Polity: Our democracy seems to begin and end with election. All the policies seem to target vote banks even when they are unsustainable.  The idea has been to make people dependent and rob them of initiative. Instead the focus should be providing access to facilities and opportunities. Real democracy starts after the election.  We need Government to be citizen-centric. Today people’s opinions are seldom sought in crafting the development agenda. The projects are started without any consultation with citizens. The priorities are skewed to suit the beneficiaries of contract kickback model or middlemen. Current polity and society have become very fractious. We have successfully pitted communities against one another. The quotas have become dog-fights. The unity of Hindus and nation is undermined through these quota-wars.  There is constant clamour to label communities as non-Hindu to get minority status. Where minorities actually suffer and don’t even have right to life, they hardly get protection such as Kashmir valley or villages in Bengal. In addition, we have a divide between India and Bharath. Elitist India that constantly looks outside is at odds with Bhaarth where tradition is to look within. India unfortunately conveys the notion of a soft state. New India should overcome that.
  4. Distortions in the Constitution: We need to remove all the distortions in our constitution. Anything that is at odds with the principle of treating all manners of people alike needs to go. There should be absolutely no labeling of communities as minority and majority. All communities should have equal rights to set up institutions for education or worship. In addition, article 370, article 35A, personal laws and any kind of special exemptions should go. All of India should belong to all Indians, where everybody is free to settle anywhere without any restriction. Castes which were amorphous became codified during British times and after independence they have become instruments of governance and politics. Castes should be seen as yet another identity which maintain sub-cultures through endogamy and let castes coalesce on their own as people move around and cultures unify and converge. Instead of fighting them or exploiting them let us work with them.
  5. Dysfunctional Police-Legal System: Our police-legal system is nothing but disaster. It takes too long to get justice if at all, costs too much. In several cases accused have got death faster than closure. The judiciary has been whimsical and inconsistent and at times even corrupt. They try to do the job of the Government by neglecting their own job.
  6. Freebies, Subsidies and Dole: Over the years a culture of decadence has crept in. Giving freebies to influence voters, vote for note culture, contract-kickback model, etc. Numerous schemes such as PDS, MGNREGA should be rationalized and involvement of Government should be minimal.  We have to move out of artificial and administered prices to economic prices by increasing competition and coopeartion. India probably has the worst roads among countries with similar GDP.24*7 power is still a luxury and Government is yet to be citizen centric.
  7.  Forgotten Middle Classes and Common Man: Successive Governments also pampered the poor and humoured the rich. India ranks the fifth in the world on NPAs. State Government after State Government doles out freebies and subsidiedss to all and sundry for wide-ranging goods and services.This has led to society forget the middle-class values of honesty where any debt is seen as sacred obligation to pay back. It is only one class of people who get taxed and penalized, while others get away. We need a new value system that promote fairness. Neither mindless socialism nor aggressive play of markets has helped India. The policies should be fair to all. We need to use our communities as strength and have policies that ask from contribution from all classes of people. Today we either put undue burden on the state, expecting it to do everything or let the market through businesses do the function. This has caused a split in the middle in sector after sector. You either have a choice of Corporate Hospital which you cannot afford or Government Hospital that is ill-equipped. Nether the market forces through fair competition makes health-care affordable nor welfare state is capable enough. We need the middle path.

What should we change?

  1. Change Legal  System: We should reengineer processes of Governance and law to make then simple and lean with focus on productivity, quality and innovation. We have borrowed constitution and legal systems, after that we have let lot of distortions come in and allowed decadence to set in. The Government bows down to pressure groups and vote banks. But common man is at the mercy of God. Whether it is Government, businesses or other agencies all of them are strong against the weak and weak against the strong.  Mahatma Gandhi propounded the concept of “Su-raj”. As per him “Good governance” has the following eight attributes, which link it to its Citizens: 1) Accountable 2) Transparent 3) Responsive 4) Equitable and inclusive 5) Effective & Efficient 6) Follows the rule of law 7) Participatory and 8) Consensus oriented. If the Government lives up-to ideals propounded by him, we may not need anything else. Replace current legal system with one that is simpler and leaner, where the focus is on effective outcomes. Free up the system from colonial practices and come up with what works in India. Let law not be an end in itself.Replace constitution with one that is aligned with our own ethos which is far simpler and direct without much caveats and confusion.
  2. Protect and promote Hinduism: Any system of education or preaching which teaches hatred of Hindus and disrespect or indifference to nation should be stopped. All conversions out of Dharmic religion should be banned even retrospectively if needed. India should champion promotion and propagation of Dharmic Religion basically promoting native religions, traditions and cultures which were outplaced by predatory religions. In that sense India should find common cause with Jews who suffered a lot since last two millennia. There should be primacy to native traditions, religions and cultures. That means protection of native religions, tribal cultures and practices and even among the converted adoption of local cultures, names and civilizational values should be encouraged and external influence should be minimal. They should feel the pain of compatriots instead of relishing it and relating to the pain of people in other countries when they don’t care about Hindus in India. Things like Haj subsidy which increases the distance between Indian should be stropped. Adoption of regressive practices should be highly discouraged. Our laws should be based on civil code that is rooted in local ethos and values and not that of Sharia or West. Bharath should take a leading role in preserving, protecting and promoting Dharmic religions, native religions, cultures that got displaced by Christianity and Islam. We should be open and proactive in encouraging people to adopt Dharmic Religions. We should facilitate those who want to revert. We should block further outflow by banning conversions out of Dharmic religions on any pretext. This should be seen as a correction for last 1500 years of onslaught and seven decades of wrong policy after independence. Cattle slaughter should be banned nation-wide. To make the economics viable, organic farming should be embraced big time.
  3. Unity First  Approach : All the five pillars of democracy have let down people as well as nation. To promote their misplaced ideals, they have given short-shrift to India’s interest and interest of Hindus. Under these circumstances India needs genuine unity much more. We have patted ourselves on the back about diversity for too long, let us stand for the unity of the nation. Hinduism gets attacked for caste system and idol worship. As if west did not have slavery and racism. Even middle eastern countries are still wedded to medieval value systems. When nobody knows the truth how is worshiping non-idol makes it better? How single God becomes the better truth or only truth?
  4. Teach Our History Right & come up with unified Indic Curriculum: History of India has been taught very selectively. Even as far as freedom struggle goes contribution of Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA, INA trial by British which in turn led to Naval Mutiny that forced to leave British is not taught at all. History should be taught about the whole civilization from India to Iran. Hindu History of Afghanistan, Baluchistan should be taught as well. Also, latest state of knowledge on ancient India, topics about Aryans and now discredited theories should be taught. The role of Vijayanagara, Maratha, Chola and Ahom, so many empires should get the rightful place. The Delhi-centric chronicle of invasions should be replaced with a balanced one that includes how invasions were resisted and kind of agony these conquests caused.Teach students about advances in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math advances which were there starting from ancient India. Promote quality learning of Sanskrit to achieve this. Come up with a unified curriculum for the whole of India which promotes Indic medium on equal footing with English medium. Develop job opportunities for people who are well-versed with Indic studies or educated in Indic medium. Make the employment landscape broad-based than counting on 2-3 avenues where everybody wants to be part of.
  5. Find Alternatives to divisive quotas: Do away with divisive quotas and come up with alternate mechanisms that improve economic viability of every profession. Promote dignity of labour and use mechanization to avoid hazardous and unpleasant tasks. Make use of scholarships and improve schooling system. Make schooling broad-based to cover as many professions as possible. Focus on fundamentals and approach education with sense of purpose in building depth and differentiation. Make education complete by covering aspects of character and professionalism along with proficiency. Focus on social mobility and economic mobility. Even in education sector focus on mobility, improvement and evolution through mentoring. Deemphasize regulation and ranking.
  6. Do away with the concept of minorities: Let all communities have equal rights and ability start their own educational and religious institutions subject to certain safeguards and checks and balances. Promote education based on community goodwill and philanthropy as a counter to self-financed institutions. Open up education to companies, industry associations, corporates and Foreign entrants.
  7. Move away from Socialism:Do away with socialist underpinnings of policies where you attempt to punish the rich and sinners. The whole policy framework whether it is taxation, auctions or contracts should be based on the concept of fairness. Neither socialism nor excessive competition serves the nation in a sustainable manner. Let fairness be the guiding light.
  8. Have  a movement using Lean Sigma to boost Productivity and Competitiveness:Have a movement to boost productivity and earnings at individual, institutional and national level. Let productivity improvement and employment generation be a movement. Arrive at district based development model, where each district drives its own destiny, by collecting revenue and tapping as many local sources, seeking co-operation of all to make the district a model district with support from state, center and NITI Aayog. Let districts compete.
  9. Focus on common citizen:Focus on common citizen and take every complaint and suggestion of common man seriously using technology and appropriate work culture among officials. Corruption and negligence should be severely punished. Pass a law on right to response which includes whistle-blowers. The Government should come up with Right to Response law. The officials treat the complaints in grievance portal with disdain, at state level complaints are ignored. There may be vulnerable people even among the rich such as widows and badly treated executives even among best of the companies. Change the prevailing culture where we live with things that don’t work, don’t look good and violate laws instead of taking them seriously. Many common citizens suffer because their employers do not treat them fairly. The Government should come up with “Right to Justice at Work” that covers all section of employees not just the labour class. In many cases white collar workers including CEOs have their share of trauma. Many citizens suffer because we do not apply the concept of vicarious liability on organizations. Mobile App based cab companies to hospitals to financial institutions to schools get away when incidents happen hurting their customers.
  10. Transform Agriculture: Transform agriculture by focusing on trading and markets. Do away with complex scheme of subsides.
  11. Assertive Foreign Policy: Change foreign policy that is based on legacy positions of appeasement and India’s projection as a soft state. Demand reciprocity. It simply does not make sense for India to support Palestine when it provides a template and process to forcibly create Islamic states. Repeated articulation of faulty narrative on Jammu and Kashmir in media in India and overseas by vested interests needs to get challenged by Government of India.
  12. Manage Media and Civil Society better:Cancel licenses of NGOs such as Personal law boards that keeps India backward. Make any kind of Fatwas punishable.Any media outlet or journalist who supports terrorism or endorses terrorism by calling them as fighters where it affects India’s interest adversely should not be allowed to operate. Same things should happen to institutions like Amnesty, Human rights watch who are silent on sufferings of Hindus and attacks on security forces.
  13. Clean-up Electoral system: Free up electoral system from the influence of bribing voters through direct payments and freebies. Loan waivers should be clear no-no. Any involvement should be targeted to prevent suicides by managing risks in systemic manner. Those who take money to vote should lose their voter Ids.
  14. Look at Dharma as a unifying concept for ethics and excellence If you go by Dharma doing your job very well itself becomes part of your personal ethics. We need to promote that anywhere and everywhere.

Getting the Union Cabinet Right

“The important thing for Government is not to do things which individuals are doing already and to do them a little better or little worse; but to do those things which at present are not done at all”.

– John Maynard Keynes, 1926”

In 2014, just before the Lok Sabha Elections, there was expectation that the new Government will usher in radical change in the way Governance is done. The slogan “Minimum Government and Maximum Governance” during the campaign of PM Modi also seemed timely. There were discussions on TV channels as to the appropriate structure of Union Cabinet.  Some of the discussions are captured in http://thinkindia.in.com/. In general the thrust of recommendations was to abolish wasteful  ministries and make structure of remaining ministries lean and efficient. Some specific recommendations included having a unified energy ministry, transportation ministry and agriculture ministry,

The first union cabinet that was sworn in 2014 May was compact almost half the size of earlier cabinets. However, this did not last long, as the cabinet after few reshuffles grew to around 60 or so, with 25 Cabinet Ministers. On top of that there were questions why certain seemingly unrelated Ministries were held by the same Minister and so on. Over the last 3 years, while the contribution of the PM has been striking and some union Ministers have shone in limelight, there is still a feeling that more can be done considering the challenges the country faces.

While Government has articulated many important missions – Clean India, Startup India, make in India and Digital India, the governance and execution structure of these missions needs more work. Certain regions continue to fall behind on even some basics. Certain sectors such as education and health still need lot of work. Certain reforms related to police and ensuring safety of men, women and children remains an unfulfilled agenda. On top of that we have pressure groups on some pretext or other indulge in violence and destruction of public property.

In addition, there seems to be good enough talent pool within the country. Even within the cabinet and party, it appears the existing talent is not utilized fully.

There are certain templates which countries like USA have followed. The US President has only 15 Secretaries and is able to run a huge country. While the USA is more federal and more developed with better systems than India, there is still merit in having a focused structure with clear-cut purpose. John Maynard Keynes emphasized the Government needs to focus on what Government alone can do. Things like law and order, security, infrastructure can be deal-breakers if not taken care of.  Y V Reddy in an interview spoke about tyranny of 10% – 90% of the time we talk about FDI, Organized Sector, Corporates, though they constitute only 10% of the economy.

In summary, we need a framework to design a “good” union cabinet. We propose 5-C framework consisting of Context, Construct, Culture, Competencies and Counters.


In my earlier article published in February 2016 https://swarajyamag.com/politics/can-we-apply-strategy-lessons-from-business-world-to-politics,. I had characterized the strategic position taken by the Government as a variety based position that meets common needs of all people, in contrast with narrower positions addressing narrower groups of people and regions. This correlated well with the theme of Governance of PM Modi where he saw Development as a Mass movement. In addition, I had proposed that the Government should reinforce its strategy using needs based position in the form of a value proposition triad – consisting of “Achche Din”(Development), “Sachche Din”(Countering Corruption) and “Surakshit Din”(Countering threats), where the three dimensions of triad operate in tandem.  Further I had proposed that Government should evaluate an access based position where benefits/services are provided or concerns addressed as per individual needs instead of making decisions at community level, where undeserving may get benefits.  Even looking at sub-groups within a community can be considered as a special case of this approach.  The overall approach can be considered as targeting personal sector. Focus on personal dimension means underplaying pressure groups and vote banks. Overall a philosophy of participative Governance was proposed where individual is at the center of discourse.

Under the theme of Sachche Din, the Government has made important strides in tackling corruption and compliance issues with demonetization, tackling shell companies and benami properties as well as black money kept abroad. The Government also initiated steps to tackle NPAs and made it harder for people to game the system. Under “Surakshit Din” theme, the Government has a more robust foreign policy and has not hesitated to conduct surgical strikes as well as respond to external terror and internal terror. Under Achche Din, host of measures have been taken including deploying GST. All these are work in progress.

In addition, the Government has addressed the concerns of sub-groups (Muslim women, sub-groups of OBCs, pensioners) as well as taken special steps to connect with people over the heads of intermediaries. The dialogue is two-way. The people can report their concerns through tweets to grievance portals to mobile apps to myGov portal.

However certain issues continue to dominate head-lines – distress in agriculture, destruction of property and loss of lives due to protests, deficiencies in education, health-care, law and order and civic governance, just to name a few. More importantly when it comes to security, foreign policy and tackling corruption, Government seems to have taken a fresh approach, it has done to lesser degree in economic matters as well as in tackling long standing deficiencies. While the Government has excelled in tactics, and deserves credit for large number of improvements that touch common man, it appears that the Government is yet to take a transformational approach.

There is also a misconception that just because large number of activities are done in private sector, there is lesser need for planning. In fact, a need for a sophisticated strategic plan that operates at eco-system level is more important today than any time earlier. Just focusing on policies will not do.


Here we look at the construct of individual Ministry. We suggest that we should look at each sector/Ministry from the perspective of Conformance, Performance, Reform and Transformation.

  • Conformance is about continuity with integrity to ensure that laws of the land are respected and due diligence is done. Here the focus is on process adherence and people orientation. For example, Law Ministry has got to be high on conformance.  The conformance is as much about being responsive to people, provide them timely service and respond to calls of distress with a robust process.
  • Performance is about focus on outcomes and culture of execution and making changes in processes, people, culture and metrics to ensure that things get done on the ground in time. For example, Rail Safety has exposed certain execution issues on ground, even with progress otherwise. Health-care, education and poverty alleviation need strong boost to performance.
  • Reform is about change management, where we think we know what should change, but it needs dialogue and negotiation with stakeholders. GST is a classic case of reform which took rather too long and has still some distance to go. Police reforms is another area where there is some degree of clarity yet things have not taken off due to lack of political will and enormous co-ordination required with the State Governments.
  • Transformation is about new ways of thinking/doing not only at Government level but also at societal/eco-system level. At times, the philosophical underpinnings of Governance are dictated by our mind-set, which comes in the way of transformation. We can safely say that Agriculture is one sector crying out for transformation. The Government is heavily invested in agriculture, yet issues remain. The civic Governance is yet another area. Basically, here the way we have been doing things such as reliance on contractors and civic bodies just does not seem to work. In both these cases we really need to think through using an innovative approach. There may be more sectors such as Defense Manufacturing where country has failed say compared to our space program. The way court cases get delayed is another area where routine reforms will not do.

Same Ministry may have multiple agendas vying for attention. Railways needs to be both Performance driven as well as transformation driven (business model). Even I&B Ministry can play a transformational role by encouraging participative Governance by providing connect between people and their representatives/officials as well as extensive field-work.

For every Ministry, we should draw up a transformation, reform, performance and conformance agenda. We should characterize each Ministry as to where the highest focus should be among these four and relative order in line with the Governance agenda at a given point in time.  Each Ministry should be equipped with the right personnel and resources to drive these agendas.


Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for lunch”.  Under culture we address how the Ministries should collaborate. At times for the sake of cohesive Cabinet, some competent people get left out. Ideally cohesion and talent mix should be managed without sacrificing ether.

Each Ministry should handle as cohesive functionality as possible without excessive coupling with other ministries. Arun Shourie in his book on Governance has deplored the number of inter-ministerial interactions required to make even routine changes. Some of these things may no longer happen under a strong PM.  Yet, it is better to have a structure which can stand the test of time.

Wherever synergies exist, the Ministries should be combined to fewer Ministries. Where the work-load is very high we can have Ministerial Clusters which co-ordinate with each other, with one of the Ministers playing cluster-coordination role. We can have Energy Cluster, Transpiration Cluster, Development Cluster, Security Cluster and so on. These cater to sustained communication and co-ordination as well as joint planning. The bodies such as CCEA become decision making bodies to which these clusters present their integrated plans.

Certain Ministers either as the only role or as additional role should be identified as mission owners. The mission owners should champion missions such as Clean India, Make in India, Digital India, Startup India, Women’s safety, River rejuvenation etc. Generally, any mission covers multiple ministries.

Certain Ministers should be accountable for regional development to different regions. So, we should have a Minister focused on North, West, South, East, North-East, etc. They can also play a role to facilitate dialogue among state Governments in the region.

Once we arrive at a structure, we need to assess how it stands up to challenges facing the nation. For example, USA formed Homeland Security Ministry which combined variety of security agencies under one umbrella. Chidambaram had proposed a separate internal security Ministry. These suggestions need to be evaluated. At the same time, having separate skills Ministry, Women and Child Welfare Ministry have only had limited impact. It is also worth looking at transferring all centrally funded institutions such as IITs, IIMs and NITs to Science, Technology and Knowledge Ministry with a charter on innovation. MHRD can be a nodal Ministry with focus on employment and mass education.


It is important that every Ministry, mission, region and national objective be served by right set of people with the right mind-set and right competencies. Certain Ministries need specialist handling, such as Finance, while certain others can do well with conventional wisdom. Again, these assumptions can be turned on their head by high achievers who succeed in their own way. Generally, a Cabinet Minister should be prudent, courageous and conscientious where he/she can guide the entire cabinet in matters of national importance. Being silent when one should speak is the biggest crime here. Certain Ministries have seen wonders where Ministers have been detail oriented such as Power and Defense. In addition, the Ministers should have integrity, passion, pragmatism, political skills and ability to be forceful to different degrees based on the situation.

In general, transformational skills need the ability to appreciate/evolve new paradigms. So, a Minister who is a thinker/thought leader and preferably a passionate communicator will fit the bill here.  A transformational leader will also think of new strategies say to win in global trade.

For reforms, we need a great communicator who has good relationships with stakeholders who is pragmatic and willing to negotiate the rules of engagement.

For Performance agenda, we need leaders who are focused on execution, with “can do, will do” approach. Managing large organizations, variety of people, circumstances, crises and willingness to work from the trenches is important here.

For Conformance agenda, we need leaders who are strong on processes, policies, laws as well people-orientation. These people who can navigate complexity in meticulous manner every day so that wheels of Governance keep running smoothly. They should evolve processes to communicate with citizens and stakeholders in an ongoing basis. They need to be caring and sensitive to concerns of people. Sharing plans and reporting progress, responding to emergent situations and distress are very vital here. Conformance by no means is simple or routine. There are always situations that need to be addressed before they become crises.

Each Ministry should have appropriate talent mix among Ministers and assisting/advising bureaucracy/experts.  The Ministry should be supported by legislators and political parties. The Ministries should actively engage with them.

It is desirable that the Ministers individually and collectively are driven by sense of purpose than merely by sense of prestige, power or pelf.

There should be a culture of participative governance where all Ministers connect with people directly through variety of interfaces: Social Media to Grievance portal should assure people that somebody is out there to listen to them.  The Government should be always conscious about what is important to common people. The people expect Government to be responsive and provide timely service/information. Railway Minister has set a good example of sharing annual progress report.


Any Ministry can become engine of growth. Culture and Tourism Ministry can pay special attention to places of cultural importance and make sure that the amenities are best in class all over India. Every Ministry should have economic and social indicators that it can report/track to justify its existence and communicate its performance. The employment generated, contribution to GDP, contribution to FDI, contribution to exports, promotion of new India as brand could be themes around which metrics can be designed. The measurement framework should be evolved to compare relative performance of Ministries as well performance relative to national agenda.At national level, we need to have vision, mission, objectives and strategies well defined. In line with that metrics need to be defined and those metrics should percolate to every ministry.

Note: Revised Article is available at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/getting-union-cabinet-right-shreekanth-m-prabhu/









Strategic Plan for India

Here we propose 3 objectives India should focus on to achieve all round prosperity, say in a time-frame of 7 years.

India should aim for 3-fold increase the value of Indian currency over 7 years.

The value of currency and its purchasing power are extremely important to not only position a country in the global trade but also in determining the prosperity of its citizens. The lower value promotes exports but at the same time it limits the choice of goods that citizens can buy. There needs to be a balance here. If the currency is not pegged at the right level it is bound to lead to inequalities between those whose skills and products are tradable and those who are not.

The prosperity through global trade percolates and makes other sectors also prosperous, but that is only up-to a point. Lot of people in India choose to work abroad for the simple reason that they can earn in stronger currency. At the same time if per-capita income of India currently at USD 1500 can rise up to USD 4500, their affordability of goods can increase.  If the currency is not pegged at the right level it can lead to greater inequalities. If the currency is pegged on the lower side, most companies would look at India at most as capacity to serve global markets. This can make India overly dependent on rest of the world.

Here are the eight factors that determine the value of a currency: Rate of inflation, Interest rates, Balance of Payment situation, Government Debt, Terms of Trade, Political Stability and Performance, Recession and Speculation.  India has 6 out 8 of these under control. India should focus on reducing Government debt and radically improving the terms of trade. In some cases we import raw material and add value and in other cases we export raw materials.  We should be able to strengthen leverage over pricing in both these cases. That means the kind of products we make extract much higher price and we are able to buy what we are buying in a much more competitive manner. To reduce Government debt, the Government has to reduce its profligacy by targeting its expenditure and act as a change agent and catalyst.  The Government also has to address NPA problem of banks by re-designing the financial eco-system. The involvement of Government in all sectors including agriculture needs to be rationalized using transformative approach.   Giving ownership of public sector back to public and involving communities in areas like education and health are important.  Empowering farmers to pool funds so that sector is self-sustaining through farmers’ banks and approaching the sectors Government is heavily invested strategically is very important.

India should aim for 3-fold increase in the National Competitiveness over 7 years

Currency and competitiveness should go hand in hand. Here we can put productivity, quality and innovation as contributors to competitiveness that can make use of natural and human resources at disposal. India needs to focus on particular sectors in a strategic manner with themes that can differentiate India and make India less dependent on other countries. Some of the sectors that India can attempt to lead in are: Energy (Nuclear, Solar, Fuel Cells, Bio-mass), Environment Friendly products and solutions (Organic farming), Custom/Hand-made products and solutions (Art, craft to 3D-Printing), High Tech (all kinds of infrastructure including ports) and Defence. In other sectors India should strive for parity. In services India should further enhance its leadership by focusing on areas such as financial technology and governance.

Increase in productivity means assessing unemployment, underemployment, capability, capacity and opportunities so that we get greater returns on both human and other resources. To drive innovation and in general increase capability of people the entire education sector may need to be transformed.   This will also include deepening and broadening capability in Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Technology, Business and all kinds of services. Newer business models as well as scaling up use of managed services model are important.   Pushing for process improvement and higher quality in all walks of life needs to be pursued with vigour. The productivity operates systemically as well – how long it takes and how much it costs to transport goods from one corner of the country to the other has an impact on our competitiveness. It is also important to follow a pragmatic taxation philosophy.

India should aim for 3-fold expansion of its markets over 7 years

India is at a cusp of digital revolution. If we imaginatively use Social and Mobile technologies, we can increase ability for buyers and sellers to connect in myriad manners.  We can use technologies to boost trust and aim for India to be digitally most networked country. The access to credit can also increase if we make use of peer to peer lending. Selective use of virtual currencies and distributed ledgers can remove distortions in markets and inequalities. In many cases the Government investment does not generate proportionate activity due to leaks. All this can be changed by greater adoption of technology for transparency. Expansion of market is the right strategy for India being a large country. The diversity of innovative products and services available should be overwhelming. As the market expands India will be able to export more as well as attract more businesses and tourists. Removing hard and soft infrastructure deficit and coming up with more and more innovative India-specific products and services is important. Managing markets is very important in sectors like agriculture where farmers complain during surplus production as well deficit production. What to grow, where, when and how are to be decided in a co-ordinated manner across different regions.

The above 3 objectives dovetail with each other, higher purchasing power can boost markets.  Stronger currency and increase competitiveness is what makes a country developed country. Only with higher competitiveness one case expand markets.

Should India become a Dharmic Republic?

India has got stuck in a stalemate. Our pursuit of development goals has at best been half-hearted. Mindless populism, crony capitalism, misplaced emphasis on socialism as well as pursuit of growth at any cost has hurt India.  India is unable to come out of entrenched culture of contract-kickbacks and undocumented economy. When it comes to protecting its people, religions, customs, traditions and rule of law from internal and external enemies, India has repeatedly proved to be a soft state.  The situation is so acute that even being nuclear state India gets attacked by internal and external enemies without any respite. Our judicial system is gamed by all and sundry. We have disturbing tendencies among students, academia and media to celebrate attacks on national interest in the pursuit of their own ideas and ideals. In that sense, anchoring India using Dharma will annihilate all the confusion in everybody’s minds. In place of dilemmas we will have a clear sense of purpose.  If intellectuals and political leaders celebrate stoning of soldiers during operations against terrorists, in the name of soft touch, nothing can be greater abandonment of Dharma.

India has been acting as a seventy year old off-spring of colonial rule.  India has forgotten that it is a 6000 year old civilization that has contributed immensely to rest of the world.  Some of the most sophisticated religious, spiritual, philosophical, scientific thinking in the form of Vedas, Upanishads and Sutras owe their existence to India.  India is a mother civilization to countries all the way to Iran and sister civilization to European civilizations.  India from Harappan times and even earlier had cultural and commercial exchanges from Mesopotamian and Sumerian civilizations.  India’s cultural influence in countries in South-East Asia, Tibet, China and Japan are visible even today. India should draw upon its ancient civilization to lead the world. Just few decades back India and China was on par on many indicators.  Even geographically China is much smaller if you exclude regions like Tibet that became part of China.

Al this means there needs to be a “reset” for India which wipes the slate clean so that we rewrite our destiny afresh as per our own values and ethos that we have dearly held.  It should not be just about economic growth. India does better when it comes to family values. To have a framework that guides our actions, we need “Dharma” to oversee all our thoughts, words and actions. Unless people change, nation cannot change. When the state becomes righteous, it leads to people also becoming righteous and vice-versa.

India should become a Dharmic Republic. India should neither be ‘left’ nor ‘right’, but righteous. India should be economically, legally, culturally and morally righteous. We should derive the philosophical underpinnings for our policies, laws and actions from this righteous stance. Our strategic orientation should be aligned with Dharma only then it will be in harmony with our society.

Dharma, according to Van Buitenen, a respected Indologist, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. It is neither the act nor the result, but the natural laws that guide the act and create the result to prevent chaos in the world. It is innate characteristic that makes the being what it is. It is, claims Van Buitenen, the pursuit and execution of one’s nature and true calling, thus playing one’s role in cosmic concert. In Hinduism, it is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of cow to give milk, of sun to radiate sunshine, of river to flow.  In terms of humanity, dharma is the need for, the effect of and essence of service and interconnectedness of all life.

In a Dharmic Republic everybody judges himself/herself whether they do their own Dharma.  Businessmen are respected when they pursue profit and growth, soldiers when they pursue valour and each person as per the yard-stick of Dharma. Neither NGO have higher moral ground or media or activists. Rather nobody has higher moral ground, when each pursues his/her Dharma. What matters is how well they do their own dharma. Ironically this is in line with Adam Smith’s philosophy where when each person pursues his self-interest, a hidden hand promotes collective good. In our context each person/entity pursues his/her Dharma in all conviction.  Dharma can be pursued in one’s own way. The Gita is a gold standard that guides human action. The Gita lays down several paths based on knowledge, devotion and action. A nation can prosper only when its nationals pursue their aspirations and ambition in their chosen realm, may it be intellectual, creative, construction, political, economic, adventurous or service.

Dharma applies to even nations. If all nations pursue their legitimate self-interest it can only lead to collective good and it will not be at odds with globalization. The problem so far has been lack of enlightened approach and it may continue to be so.

A dharmic republic has no use for tags like Socialism and Secularism. Democracy becomes just a way of choosing rulers. The rulers get judged as to how they fulfil their dharma irrespective of how they were chosen. The democracy does not become alibi not to uphold righteousness nor does it become a dogma, Rather it becomes a set of moral compacts between elected and people and elected and the nation.

When India becomes Dharmic Republic everything will be under the oversight of Dharma. The state will not surrender its core responsibilities of protecting people, their culture and traditions. India as a Dharmic Republic will lead in raising its voice to protect Dharmic religions and its adherents all over the world as well as native cultures, religions and traditions. In addition, it will raise its voice for those who see their identity subsumed and attacked such as Baluchistan and Tibet.

India as a Dharmic Republic will be a credible and authentic nation which has no difficulty to face up to reality and has no hesitation to state what is in its interest and pursue it vigorously. India will not be on defensive on anything. India will no longer be a pacifist state which is a prisoner of positions and boundaries it has drawn and limited itself. India will no longer be the good boy who gets bullied by internal and external enemies. India as a Dharmic Republic will stand up for what is righteous. India as a Dharmic Republic will pursue its legitimate interests with passion and intensity.

India as a Dharmic republic will set its own standards. It will not hold back just because UK failed doing something and will not rush to do something because USA did it nor will allow India to be a playground for activists to experiment their ideas and ideals that are not rooted in our society.

India as a Dharmic Republic will draw upon our intellectual heritage built over thousands of years. It will have no hesitation to teach the scriptures, epics, scientific discoveries, mathematical advances attributed to India in our schools.  There will be no attempt to draw false parallels with other religions. India will promote Gita as gold standard to guide behaviour of human beings, businesses, institutions and nations in their own way.

India as a Dharmic Republic will not prevaricate.

India as a Dharmic Republic will be progressive and continue to evolve. It will contextualize all the learning of the past to the present. India will question all the practices with an open mind. India will be liberal in its values as we connect with the highest set of values connected with core tenets rather than cultural practices which have no contemporary relevance today.

India as a Dharmic Republic will have no hesitation to acknowledge any identity including caste. People should be free to celebrate whatever identities they can identify with including caste. The core principle of Dharmic Republic is that every profession or group of people have pride of place in their society. The economic, political and social mobility of all professions and classes of people naturally becomes the goal of Dharmic Republic.

The caste which may stand for a specific profession or group of professions or communities belonging to a geography gets confused with Varna  which finds mention in Hindu scriptures. Varna is about certain qualities and high level classification of society as priestly class, warriors, traders, producing or serving class. Similar stratification is common even with other Indo-European civilization where some hav three classes – priests, warriors and producing classes.  Certain grouping based on profession  is also widely prevalent across all religions and geographies. Again tribal identities are common across the world.

The caste should be acknowledged not only in Hindus but also in those converted to track relative prosperity and economic mobility. Broadly we should move away from caste being a construct of governance, instead come up with mobility criteria such as giving preference in college education to the first generation getting educated, the same way first generation getting a Government job and so on. Then we should work towards improving the economic and social mobility of all professions by increasing their median incomes through opportunities for greater value addition and market access.

As Dharmic republic, India will protect Dharmic religions from conversions and vigorously promote adoption of Dharmic religions all over the world. In addition it will protect native culture, beliefs and traditions across all cultures, regions and religions.

In Dharmic Republic our judicial system gets reinterpreted as per our traditions. India survived for thousands of years by defining a core set of beliefs and by giving complete flexibility to local communities to practice their own customs and traditions. We need to do it again where we define those core areas where state will intervene. The core set of beliefs should be based on humanitarian considerations, societal welfare and national interest. In all other areas individuals and communities are free to live their lives as per their own choice.  It will be Dharma of judiciary in conjunction with state to give justice. Everything else becomes secondary.

Dharma should also help us guide our thinking when it comes to addressing challenges that face us.  Should we just do away with inequality by oppressive taxation? Should we just distribute money to people when they don’t ‘earn’ it? What should be our priorities as a nation, Government and people? Why the same sections are getting richer, same roads get repaired and why do all parties gravitate to one promising vote bank or other leaving common people high and dry? Should our growth or welfare goals ride on loans that are not to be returned?  Should we not address all human aspirations from self-esteem to security? Should we not have all people live a life of dignity as individuals? Should we not establish rule of law with a balance of compassion and conviction?

As we draw upon our own innate wisdom, we will start looking for new models and paradigms to solve our problems. Both growth-oriented Capitalism and distribution oriented socialism have failed in India. We should see how economy be optimally redirected so that incentives are aligned in a righteous manner. Even with current size of economy through structural changes and right philosophy towards development, we can  have the best possible economic, social, political and strategic indicators. John Nash in one of his articles deplored how Governments let their currencies depreciate year after year to bail-out loans and spend more, indirectly making people poorer. Just by eliminating waste, doing away exemptions, eliminating subsidies and providing social benefits in a more imaginative manner, managing investments better and diverting resources to where there is greater return, focusing on strategic sectors,, exploiting India’s strengths in digital and social technologies and by sheer transformation of Governance by making it lean and less prone to corruption, we may get even up-to 30% improvements in indicators. Sectors prone to undocumented transactions should be reformed and even individuals should be allowed to amortize costs of transactions like businesses and everybody should be asked to state income band they belong to even when they claim they don’t have taxable income.

India should be renamed Dharmic Republic of Hindustan, acknowledging primacy to Hindus which is their right. Hinduism is very important to define India; we are united by the fact that we have shared Hindu present or Hindu past. It is only right that Hindus/Hinduism and  all Dharmic religions or broader Hinduism(including Jain, Buddhists, Sikh and Parsis) as well as native customs /cultures/traditions are protected and promoted in India.  Hinduism has synthesized practices and customs from among all tribes as well as sects and assimilated them in the larger body of collective belief. Even religion practiced by Parsis is very close to Vedic religion. Calling out India as Hindustan may be uncomfortable to some of us, but in reality all nations are either de facto or de jure give primacy to one religion or other. Even Communists promoted atheism.

India also has an opportunity to lead an organization of dharmic countries by roping in nations that are outside OIC and Christian block and may be any country that respects ancient traditions, religions and culture.


Sakhā and Sakhī

One of the works in Sanskrit for “friend” is सखा (masculine).  The root word is actually सखि the literal meaning of which is “one who is viewed equally by others” and is derived as shown here.

In the masculine, it is declined as सखा, सखायौ, सखायः , and the vocative singular form is (हे) सखे ।  In fact the grammatical declensions of this word are so different from those of other masculine words ending in इ (such as अग्नि or हरि) that Pāṇini had to create several rules just for this word.  The word itself is very ancient and in use even today.  The Ṛgveda contains at least a couple of hundred occurrences of various forms of this word, such as:

विष्णॊः॒ कर्मा॑णि पश्यत॒ यतो॑ व्र॒तानि॑ पस्प॒शे । इन्द्र॑स्य॒ युज्यः॒ सखा॑ ॥ (ऋ० १.२२.१९)

Behold (पश्यत) the deeds (कर्माणि) of Viṣṇu (विष्णोः), the friend (सखा) and companion (युज्यः) of Indra (इन्द्रस्य) – the deeds by which (यतः) he touches (पस्पशे) all undertakings (व्रतानि)!

तं त्वा॑ व॒यं वि॑श्ववा॒रा शा॑स्महे पुरुहूत । सखे॑ वसो जरि॒तृभ्यः॑ ॥ (ऋ० १.३०.१०)

(To Indra) O friend (सखे), beloved of all (विश्ववार), invoked by many (पुरुहूत) the treasure (वसो), we (वयं)  pray (आ शास्महे) to you (तं त्वा) for (being graceful towards) the singers (जरितृभ्यः).

In the feminine, however, this word becomes सखी and Pāṇini gives it without derivation by the rule सख्यशिश्वीति भाषायाम् (४।१।६२) – the words सखी (female companion) and अशिश्वी (a woman without offspring) are given without derivation as used in common parlance (भाषायाम्).

Pāṇini uses the term भाषा to refer to the language that was spoken at his time, as opposed to the language of the Veda, which he generally indicates by the term छन्दस् ।  In this particular case, the word for female companion that was in use was सखी whereas in the Veda it was सखा ।  This is evidenced by the following statement from the  Āśvalāyana Gṛhya Sūtra 1.7.19 (part of the description of the Vedic wedding ritual) – सखा सप्तपदी भव – “be my companion at the seventh step”, where the groom address the bride as सखा ।

The vocative for the word सखी (feminine) is सखि ।  Here is an example from the Gītagovinda of Jayadeva:

नृत्यति युवतिजनेन समं सखि विरहिजनस्य दुरन्ते – (Rādhā says) O friend (सखि), he (Hari) dances (नृत्यति) with the damsels (युवतिजनेन समं), to the distress of those separated from their lovers (विरहिजनस्य दुरन्ते)!