Reclaim the citizen from the consumer

Law making often lags behind technology, and this loophole in regulation is exploited by neoliberal actors to convert citizens into consumers. Celebration of the gig economy is often premature. Ask the delivery boy for the e commerce ‘App’ economy, who begs for a bottle of water to drink in the 40 degree Delhi heat. The cabbies for Uber and OLA often do not follow the unpredictable Google Maps, and still prefer to ask the corner shop owner for directions. 

The band aid tech industry titans do not get the context. Well, valuations matter more.

The Allure of Strong Leadership 

Small voices in the larger development discourse with growth as the only language, get drowned out where Modi is the only strong alternative in a fragmented opposition with the imagination of a stagnant socialist past. Modi is everything in sync with the hidden Hindu nationalist sentiment, a proactive 24×7 politician with no family nepotism. Strong signalling of Demonetisation worked even if dozens died in queues. Strong man syndrome is very attractive. BMKJ

Sustainability Science needs to reclaim the narrative

The topics covered in the media regarding the subsets of environmental domain is rather limited. Climate Change is political; macro and sexy. Sanitation gets traction especially in the Indian press, although the infra work needs a lot more focus, any media outreach is good. Contaminated Soil and Groundwater gets the least attention. Environmental regulation, urbanisation and quality of life are so intertwined. Hard science is embedded in an institutional context, and needs enabling mechanisms for maximum traction. Too little scientists write, and science writers are journalists, and policy advocacy needs money, with purse strings with government agencies all over. Trump regime is almost abolishing the EPA, the fountainhead of environmental regulation globally, does not help the environmental cause. Environmental science is foundational to livability. More Science and less rhetoric please.

We do not have seminal works such as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring any more. Medical Humanities has eloquent narrators such as Atul Gawande and Siddhartha Mukherjee, both academic doctors of acclaim who engage with public health policy with their quality researched books. Scientists are losing the idea wars.

Conversations with Cabbies: the Delhi DeMo Edition

Conversation with an OLA driver, 26/03 at 12:30pm on the way to Gurgaon from Kailash Colony, Delhi 
D: Are you paying by PayTM? 
M: No ji, by OLA Pay 
D (having a dejected twitch while driving, as seen by a reflection in the mirror) : Ok, some pay in cash and some by OLA Pay
M: what is the problem? When do you get paid to your account? 
This started since November 8th (2016), I have been paying through e wallets as cash is not available in all ATM’s 
D: Sir, cash is available, well far better than earlier; we get paid only after a week. We have difficulty in paying our fuel bills. 
M: This step towards digital money was taken towards combating black money, so that our transactions are accounted for. 
D: Not everyone has OLA money or PayTM and the normal people do not have black money, we are just living our lives. 
Silence ensued till I reached my destination 
Today PM said using Digital payments helps in building India in Mann Ki Baat. Small voices, in the digital story.

Silencing reality 

The sophistication of the jargon such as shared mobility and the driver as a partner in the shared/gig economy as spouted by the Ola founder, cannot mask that these folks are susceptible to price adjustments, no sick leave, zilch support otherwise. The narrative of disruption often silences the social fissures catalysed by neoliberal capitalism. 
The language of Dalal Street is nauseating.

Start Ups need to follow the law

A start up founder down south did not pay his vendor, was arrested. The hooplah about his arrest connected to business environment is absurd. Defaulters of all ilk, would have to follow the law and its long arm. I have not been paid for my consulting services by founders who think they are humankind’s gift to India. Honestly, people do not need your homestays nor your tents. Fancy communication and TED Talks do not cut ice. Pay up Dudes.

Digital meets Political Economy 

Aadhar, MNREGA and Food Security Bill was rubbished initially by the Modi Regime. At the moment they have been absorbed in the pro poor move. I welcome the move as it is inclusive. 
Politics still operates the calculus of old school welfare. Aadhar is truly the fundamentals of Digital India. Bio politics meets Political Economy, with surveillance underwritten as the ‘new’ normal. Achche Din is Kavach and Bhim as such as Clean India.

Recording ‘History’ on Social Media 

How History is recorded on Social Media, with amazing status messages, tweets and blogs as parallel running commentary shaping the contours of discourse. These thoughts are rants, erudite retorts and simply an affirmative soundboard. The Election Season is one major example such active civic engagement. Influencers on social media shape the direction of debate, but there is a disconnect between real democracy on the ground and I do not mean the seminar set. 
Where are these thoughts in the landscape of the past? Are these the unwritten histories, as we do not know where the data lands up. The graveyard of the cache.

Yogi, Ram Rajya and a ‘Political Hindu’ Paradigm 

The Yogi’s appointment as CM is a shock doctrine application of a leader which staunch Hindutva credentials. Such a decision would be unthinkable even in 2014. This is keeping in mind the elections in Gujarat, MP and Chattisgarh as these are the fortresses to win again. A certain Hindutva politics is mainstream in these states, which border UP and each other. If Demonetisation was shattering, it was certainly ominous of the times to come. JNU, HCU and Ramjas are blips on a radar. 2019 and beyond shall see bigger reforms. The design of which we saw on November 8th @ 8pm and today with Yogi. 

These are interesting times for a majoritarian politics with a ‘growth agenda’ . Modiji has redefined politics. I see an alienation among voters in the Deep South though, particularly Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian heartlands. The new AIADMK will lease space to the BJP, if Rajni Saar comes on board with Tamil Nadu’s very religious ethic. Kerala with the largest number of shakhas, is another growth area. 

The spaces of resistance will have taken on a subversive, stealthy mode online as surveillance under the national security imperative will increase. India will have an aggressive foreign policy with defence getting a much needed push, started under Parrikar. The fish curry though lured him away. 
Mamata di will face the heat as Bengal is the final frontier with 42 seats. I am sure Amit Bhai, along with Babul Da is working on it. 
The game for 2019 is on. It will be fought on BJP’s terms.