Monday, October 31, 2016

Why ain't anyone talking of Governance and the Small Shareholder in the Tata-Mistry saga

Photo Courtesy +ABPLIVE 

Article first published in +ABPLIVE (Click here)

The Cyrus Mistry saga has been done to death. Normally, fatigue would have set in among both the media and the public. As someone remarked, it does not even have any gossip value like, say, the sacking of the chairman of a liquor company. But the aftershocks of the sacking are still continuing.

Though the epicentre of this quake was Bombay House, the headquarters of Tata Sons, it has shaken entire corporate India and the tremors were also felt in the capital’s corridors of power, especially the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministry and, some suspect, even the PMO. Per public perception, the Tatas were considered the gold standard among Indian business conglomerates. Now some fundamental questions have been raised about corporate governance in India.

First, on a positive note, it establishes the supremacy of the board. But, at the same time it also makes it loud and clear that in the final analysis the promoters are the ones who call the shots.

Having conducted a silent board room coup the Tata PR machinery went on an overdrive. In a rather intriguing move, they had a slew of top gun lawyers defend their action on television with a series of “exclusive” interviews rather than waiting their turn in court. This was probably triggered by rumours of Cyrus Mistry contemplating legal action (given that Mistry’s father-in-law Iqbal Chagla, son of the famous MC Chagla, is a renowned and respected legal luminary) which also explains the rush to file caveats in courts. But, it was a rather curious way of addressing stakeholder concerns — especially the stock market where the Tata stocks tanked.

In contrast, Mistry’s reactions were both restrained and dignified. Other than what is being popularly called his “letter bomb” (it is not known for certain who leaked the contents) he has not made any public utterances. In fact, his office went out of its way to scotch rumours of potential legal action.

Returning to the root, none can deny the Board’s prerogative to sack or appoint a Chairman. The rest is surround sound. Mistry certainly knows this and it would be surprising if he chooses to pursue a protracted legal tussle that will be a drain on resources and time. He wanted to have his side of the story to be known and has more than achieved that objective through his letter that mysteriously found its way into the public domain. Notwithstanding their self-righteous fulminations, it has clearly put the Tatas on the back foot with a lot of explaining to do and simultaneously put the onus on the Government, tax and regulatory authorities to investigate the charges.

The real battle, however, lies in the Board Room. It should not be forgotten that at the end of the day Mistry represented the interests of Shapoorji-Pallonji who hold 18.6 per cent of Tata Sons’ shareholding. The Trusts, no matter how powerful they are, cannot steam roll over the interests of minority shareholders.

In many off-line conversations it has been remarked that one of the cardinal sins of Mistry was not keeping the Tata Trusts informed of his moves on divestments and acquisitions. A fundamental question that one has not heard being asked is about the legal propriety of sharing “price sensitive” information with majority shareholders. If the Trusts are expected to be kept informed, what about the public shareholders of the concerned companies who are directly affected by these decisions? This is where the ‘Corporate Veil’ has been sharply pierced. It remains to be seen what view Shapoorji-Pallonji takes on similar situations in the Tata Sons board going forward.

At one level it will test the corporate governance framework in the country, in which the role of independent directors will also come under a spotlight. The obligation of the board is not limited to just the promoters and shareholders, but also the larger universe of external stakeholders. It is for this unrepresented constituency the independent directors are expected to act as conscience keepers. But how far the average director is either inclined or equipped to discharge such responsibilities is a matter of debate.

Till the time of writing Mistry has not been dislodged from his position in the Tata flagship companies which were either affected by his decisions or might be impacted by the contingent liabilities that he has highlighted in his letter. Will the ordinary shareholders who had elected Mistry as the Chairman of their companies go along without a whimper if the respective Boards recommend his early separation? If the Tatas try to bulldoze their way through, it will be another travesty of corporate democracy.

It will be interesting to see if after all this corporate paper shredding, what kind of external talent the Tatas are able to attract to replace Mistry. Many are betting that they will have to settle for an “insider-outsider” like TCS’s N Chandrasekaran. If there is even a grain of truth in Mistry’s allegations, the task of his successor is already cut out. It will be a miracle if he/she is able to achieve the turnaround painlessly.

Meanwhile, the coming weeks will be a test of credibility between Cyrus Mistry and Ratan Tata. If one were to treat the initial stock market reaction as an ‘Opinion Poll’, the Tatas have reasons to worry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Curious Case of Bombay House

Picture from Internet
Article first published in +DailyO India Today

When Ratan Tata talked of “intolerance” rising in the country — at the Founder’s Day function of a public school — he was certainly not referring to what was brewing in the corporate empire that he presided over till a few years ago.

Even in hindsight — it could not have been a diversionary tactic. As the media went on an overdrive trying to interpret the political import of a generally apolitical Tata’s statement and was busy reporting the feud in the ruling political family of Uttar Pradesh , the young chairman of Tata Sons, appointed less than five years back with much fanfare, was removed unceremoniously in a bloodless boardroom coup.

Cyrus Mistry can enjoy quiet meals in dhabas with his chauffeur without the paparazzi chasing him.
Not much is known — or will probably come to light in a hurry — as to what might have preceded such a momentous decision by one of India’s largest (and arguably, the most well known, internationally) business conglomerate, though theories and conjectures are bound to surface.

However, from a lay external observer’s view, the following come across as interesting:

- The move obviously took Cyrus Mistry by surprise just as it apparently caught corporate India and the financial press unawares.
- If there were performance issues , they would have come to the table at board meetings and in a highly porous corporate culture of this country, there would certainly have been a whiff in the air;
- Over the years, despite having started on a tentative note, Ratan Tata had acquired a larger-than-life image and he not only remained the public face of the group, his personality undoubtedly held sway in the Tata empire not just because of his surname;
- While the internal Directors would have easily fallen in line with the group’s thinking, it would have required some very compelling reasons to convince the eminent external directors on the board;
- All things said, Mistry was the nominee of the largest shareholder of the Group (Shapoorji-Pallonji). For the Independent Directors to endorse such an extreme action, there must have been some overriding “ethical” (not necessarily integrity but “governance” related such as “conflict of interest”) considerations; it would be unfair to assume they would have gone along with the majority view.
- In a somewhat intriguing move, it seems Ratan Tata wrote to the Prime Minister apprising him of the Board’s decision. Whether the change of guard in a major corporate house merits such an intimation can be a matter of debate;
- Any shareholder tussle would normally be thrashed out first at a different fora before coming up to the Board — which is normally the place for stakeholders’ dispute resolution;
- Surely, the Tatas would have been alive to the possibilities of legal fall-out, especially with Mistry’s father-in-law being one of the very eminent jurists of India — Iqbal Chagla, son of the legendary MC Chagla. Not surprisingly, there is already talk of Mistry approaching the Bombay High Court for relief;

That brings us to a new development in Corporate India — when aggrieved senior executives are increasingly taking their former employers to court. This can be attributed to a number of factors.
First, high-stake CXO appointments are now stitched with elaborate legal contracts with severance conditions explicitly spelt out. With multi-million paycheques, head honchos are easily able to pay for expensive legal help that their poor predecessors could not afford. In an increasingly litigious society, law firms too are much more willing to take briefs against potential corporate clients.

Mistry’s appointment was prefaced with a much publicised “global search” by an international head-hunting firm stretching over two years. Finally, when Mistry — the scion of the largest shareholder — was brought in from the cold, many felt it was an elaborate charade. Now, that again a “hunt” has been insituted — one wonders what surprise it will throw up this time.

Finally, leadership transition in professional organisations is as prone to withdrawal afflictions as indeed it is in family-owned enterprises. And, it does not help to have a charismatic predecessor keeping a benevolent eye over one’s shoulders.

No matter how the drama plays out in the coming weeks — Mistry can enjoy quiet meals in dhabas with his chauffeur without the paparazzi chasing him.

But, the question people are asking is whether this was Tata Sons’ Samajwadi Party moment — and who is the Amar Singh in Bombay House?

Friday, October 21, 2016


PTI Pic Courtesy +ABPLIVE 

Article first published in +ABPLIVE Click here to read

The lay voter in Uttar Pradesh is flummoxed by the recent developments in the Samajwadi Party. The Yadav Parivar drama has all the elements of a feudal fight and struggle for control in a family-owned enterprise.

First, they are at a loss to figure out where it will all end. Will a settlement and truce be worked out in the larger interest of the family after a good deal of brinkmanship? Or are the cracks too deep to be repaired in a hurry?

While some subscribe to the theory of an elaborate drama (or “Nura Kushti”) being played out in several acts, others are speculating on possible scenarios of Akhilesh Yadav breaking free and returning with the support of the Congress or aligning with the BJP.

Second, what will be the political fallout of these differences? Will a chunk of the Samajwadi Party’s traditional Muslim vote-bank move away to the BSP to give Mayawati an edge?

With the strong possibility of a February election being announced immediately after Diwali, these are questions dominating chai and paan shop conversations in Lucknow.

Simple arithmetic would tend to indicate any division in the Muslim votes will go to the BJP’s advantage. Adding to that the spike in nationalist sentiments after the “surgical strikes” and the soft revival of Ayodhya, one is able to explain the BJP’s improved score in the latest opinion polls.
But electoral reality is seldom so straightforward and in Uttar Pradesh the triggers of mood swing can be many between now and February to change the equations. Far too much is at stake for any party to allow another a walk-over.

In all this the most interesting phenomenon is the evolution of AkhileshYadav as a leader in his own right coming out of his father’s shadow. When Akhilesh was anointed Chief Minister five years ago, people thought it to be another dynastic succession. But pretty soon Mulayam Songh Yadav made it clear that he was nowhere close to retiring to “Vanaprastha” or playing the role of Bhishma.
At the same time, Akhilesh asserted his mind to show that he was no proxy or puppet of his father. Almost from the word go the dynamic tension between father and son surfaced for all to see. There were occasional flashpoint in the equation which were contained even if they continued to simmer underneath.

Akhilesh started on a slightly disappointing note. He was unable to at once live up to the promise he had shown as an educated young politician of the next generation. There was a visible slide in law and order and development did not take off as expected. People feared a return to the old unruly Samajwadi era. Then came the setback of the 2014 Lok Sabha election and signs of anti-incumbency began to show.

Akhilesh was smart to pick up the signals early and in 2015 he shifted gear to speed up visible progress with his “Ummeed-o ki Pradesh” campaign. It would appear that he took the challenge manfully.

Successive by-elections showed the sheen had began to wear off the BJP and being a divided house they were yet to get the act together in Uttar Pradesh. He, therefore, began to prepare for a return on a positive mandate based on performance and delivery.

However, the hard-core and the pragmatic elements were not so convinced about Akhilesh’s strategy. In a way, it was a “no win” situation for them. If Akhilesh came out on top on the sheer strength of his self-built charisma, it would mean further marginalisation of the old guard. If he lost, that might put them in the wilderness for a long time to come.

With the almost certain polarisation of the Hindu votes in favour of the BJP (along with some Shia and OBC support) Mulayam could not afford to splinter his core base of Muslims and Yadavs. That would be an irrecoverable loss. Besides, both the manpower and the resources to fight the election are still controlled by the veterans like Shivpal Yadav. So, there is no way he can afford to alienate them.

The choice before Akhilesh is stark: Whether to accept his earlier position of being the “face” of the Samajwadi Party and continue in a relation of uneasy calm with the patriarch and the uncle. If he settles for that the threat of the younger Yuvraj being propped up to dethrone him will continue to haunt him.

The alternative is the bold and honourable option of setting out on his own and consolidating his personal political equity for the longer run, even if it means biding his time in the opposition for one term. He has age on his side to take that route. It would be a pity, both for Uttar Pradesh and Indian politics, if he does not.

Tags: #akhilesh yadav #BJP #Congress #mulayam singh yadav s#amajwadi party #shivpal yadav #uttar pradesh

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

All that is wrong with modern Durga Puja in Bengal


Photo Courtesy +ABPLIVE 
Article first published in +ABPLIVE Click here to read

Durga Puja in Kolkata depresses me. I am probably an odd Bengali, but for me present day Puja celebrations reflect much that is wrong with the State.

As children we used to look forward to the Pujas which were a right blend of festivity and solemnity. Today, it is a circus. But, it is not nostalgia alone that makes me sad.

Not that Bengalis, contrary to popular perception, are an overly religious lot, but mega “Theme Pujas”, as they are now called, have wiped out all traces of piety and spirituality from the celebrations.

As corporates jostle with awards, the para Pujas compete with one another on opulence and scale. There lies the rub.

Earlier a few big Barowari Pujas were linked with some local councillor, MLA or the odd goon (like Phata Keshto’s Kali Puja). Today Ministers freely flaunt their association on large billboards, thus setting in motion a battle of one-upmanship: “my Puja is bigger than yours”.

So far so good, as we Bengalis say. But, where does this money, running into crores of rupees that some of the top puja committees are known to spend, come from?

With the busting of chit funds, the traditional sources of funds have dried up and one no longer sees the old familiar names of sponsors. Now the milch cows are the ubiquitous ‘promoters and developers’ who cannot possibly operate without the blessings of the local ‘bosses’.

Alas, liquidating old ancestral homes is the last resort of the ‘bhadralok’ Bengalis with unemployed or under-employed children (unless they have already left the State in search of jobs) with dwindling resource. As the old gentry gets pushed away to the suburbs, leaving prime localities, trading communities, earlier living in chawl-like tenements in Burrabazar, move into the new high-rises that are coming up on their properties.

However, these new residents, who are not particularly interested in traditional Puja, are known to be more generous with their chanda (paying as per a separate ‘rate card’ as it were), thus contributing to the pomp and glitz of the pandals. Ordinary Bengalis today have to depend on commercial interests to underwrite their most important socio-religious festival.

Some years ago I did try some ‘pandal hopping’ or ‘thakur dekha’, to use the local phrase. While the Pujas had grown in affluence, the surroundings around them were pathetic. Nothing has changed in the last 40 years. There are the same make-shift food stalls selling rolls, chow-mien or other items that, in my view, should carry a statutory notice “Jaundice guaranteed, Typhoid optional” — such are the appalling standards of hygiene.

There are no public conveniences or hardly any provisions for emergency services. The entire city takes a mofussil look or that of a massive village fair where the masses descend to blow away their year’s savings (sometimes dipping into the domestic chest kept for rainy days, borrowing money or even selling family jewels in some cases) to buy five days of enjoyment for the family.

Durga Puja has been reduced to a form of escapism for the common Bengalis who have little left to celebrate or look forward to in life. I suspect the politicians know this and, therefore, play up the carnival spirit.

There is a specious logic about redistribution of wealth (which itself is highly questionable) as there is no real wealth creation happening in West Bengal. Similarly, one hears of how the Pujas are a boon to the artists and craftsmen of the State. There may be some truth in that, but that is nullified when one reads about the abject condition of artisans in Kumartuli, many of whom survive on orders from outside Bengal and overseas.

The celebrated Bengali writer Sankar had written some years back that the real planning for Durga Puja actually happens in the commercial centres in other parts of the country, where they gear up for the Puja business in Bengal. One could add Bombay to the list as one sees advertisements of leading brands with photo-shopped images of leading stars and models in Bengali attire.

Similarly, tourist destinations popular with Bengali budget travellers, like Nainital, Himachal Pradesh, Puri, Goa and now Kerala, Madhya Pradesh etc, gear up for their ‘Bengali Season’ between Dussehra and Diwali. Yesteryear’s film actors from Bollywood, well past their sell by dates, look forward to paid junkets to Kolkata for inaugurating Pujas for an appearance fee to add to the glamour quotient.

For me the true celebrations will be when there is Economic Resurgence, which may also see a new cultural renaissance for the State and a real intrinsic rather than just artistic evolution of Durga Puja. Till then I have no mind to settle for chalk in place of cheese.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

PV Narasimha Rao - PM of Destiny

Just finished reading Sanjaya Baru’s new book — on 1991 and P V Narasimha Rao. (Article first published in +Medium click here to read)

In an increasingly polarised (and biased) world of journalism — Baru is from a fast vanishing tribe, who are able to keep facts separate from opinions and loyalties. He is one of the remaining few — who believe in research and corroboration through reading and interviews and do not pass off anecdotal evidence (read gossip) as “inside knowledge”.

Being an economic journalist and a seasoned political observer — Baru was particularly well placed to write this book that is as much about Narasimha Rao as it is regarding the economic watershed in India’s post-independence history. 1991 could have been a turning point for Indian politics as well had the Dynasty not struck back with vengeance — reducing PVNR from a man of destiny to a footnote in history.

It is divine retribution, perhaps, that after 25 years — there is a reassessment of his contribution restoring in small measure his rightful place as one who has significantly steered the country onto a new trajectory despite odds.

I have already tweeted a lot of snippets from the book as I was reading it. It is a serious chronicle of a very important period that may not interest a lay reader looking for juicy tidbits of the PVNR years. Therefore, it may not become a best-seller like his previous book The Accidental Prime Minister — which had a lot of ‘masala’ as it were. But, this is serious stuff for the archives.

Finally — the question that I was left with when I put down the book — was a counter-factual one: Where would India have been today — if it did not have the Nehru — Gandhi Dynasty ruling it (directly or via proxy) for the better part of 70 years ? My simplistic conjecture in hindsight are as follows:

If Patel or someone other than Nehru had become the first Prime Minister — it is most likely he would have still followed the Soviet model of Planned Development with a dominance of Public Sector, while paying lip service to the concept of Mixed Economy. But, where they would have most likely differed is on Nehru’s policy on Kashmir and China and probably not made the same mistakes.

Besides, we would have seen stricter enforcement of both economic legislation as well as general law and order in the country — arguably with lesser corruption. Most importantly — as PM they would have been the “first among equals” and not created a cult like Nehru — to lay the seeds of four generations of Dynastic Rule to follow.

One common thread in Baru’s recent works — are two Congress Prime Ministers, who achieved whatever they did despite the Gandhi family (specifically Sonia Gandhi)’s shadow.

There is little reason to believe — if Lal Bahadur Shastri could take Pakistan head-on in 1965 — someone else in his place would not have acted similar to what Indira Gandhi did in 1971. Also, probably, there would not have been the Emergency of 1975.

Going by Baru’s account — the country would have been better off economically if guided by professional economists and not suffered from the compromises of populist policies for the survival of a single family.

Finally, just to please the Left Libs on my time-line, it might have prevented the Hindutva backlash and, therefore, the rise of a Narendra Modi.

#SanjayaBaru #PVNarasimhaRao #SoniaGandhi #NarendraModi

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Is trust over-rated at the workplace ?

Trust begins with one's own self

Pic from Net

Article first published in +Medium Click here

Trust as a function of leadership — is a current flavour of the season. It is not really a new concept or discovery. But, as in life so in organisations ideas keep coming back. There is, probably, a larger existential reason for it. Over time – values wither to a point of being dysfunctional – that is when nature’s own correction mechanism sets in to restore balance.
Corporate culture was never selfless. Dog eat dog is an old adage. Far from eschewing canine meat in favour of healthier alternatives — the pressures of quarterly results and investors breathing hot air through the ducts of the Boardroom have made organisations more ruthless. Consequently. – professional shelf-lives are shrinking putting ambitious youngsters on an overdrive. In an age of fitness mania – the proverbial rat-race has changed into a sprint up the stairs of a high-rise. In their frenetic rush to reach the sky – there is little time to cultivate deeper personal values for most. Andy Grove of Intel wrote “only the paranoid survive”. Doubt if by that he meant personal paranoia and insecurity — which frequently manifest among today’s C-suite executives.
The result of course is not difficult to predict – fast burn-outs, messed up personal lives and relationships, psycho-somatic ailments and personality disorders. The bottle, sedatives and in some cases substance of abuse (read drugs) are just an arm’s length away. Along the way it wrecks havoc in organisations and families.

So, where does trust come in all this ?

Pic from Net
Was chatting with an old friend and once colleague — who is hanging up his boots from active corporate life after fairly long and illustrious career — that took him quite close to the corner office but not inside one. Since this was a day after his farewell he was in a somewhat reflective mood. In the past 30 years our professional paths had crossed a few times and we did travel together as co-farers on the some stretched of the lonely road. Therefore, we had several data-points to exchange.
We talked of leaders we both admired and even those we did not — despite, in some cases, their truly outstanding successes. We also discussed colleagues — some who had moved ahead and others who were left behind or remained stuck. He shared a few recent snippets — that left me a trifle disturbed as it briefly shattered the image I had of some people. That led me to ponder over worlds like trust, betrayal, loyalty and gratitude.

Here are a few jottings in no particular order of importance:

  1. Trust is what everyone expects from people but not many are able to place it on others;
  2. Both developing trust and feeling the need to trust (others) comes with age and (life) experience; As we grow older — the illusions of invincibility get toned down and we become aware not just of our limitations but also — albeit at a sub conscious level — mortality. But, those with higher Emotional Intelligence tend to mature faster and realise that these softer human values are the true and enduring differentiators of leadership.
  3. Like most human traits — trust is part nature and part nurture. It is important to strike a balance between the two. Sometimes nature has to be corrected or compensated by nurture;
  4. Don’t be naive; But, don’t be cynical either. And, certainly don’t become bitter if let down or betrayed by someone you trusted;
  5. Do not expect anything in return from trusting people; Most importantly do not look for loyalty from people you trust. People are loyal to their needs and not to individuals;
  6. The rewards of trust does not come by way of gratitude or even accomplishment — but through internal growth that takes one to the next level of self-actualisation;
  7. Not everyone can bear the burden of gratitude; Being grateful requires genuine strength of character — to accept one’s own vulnerability and weakness which is not easy;
  8. Remember the number of times others have trusted you unilaterally; how that made you feel and how it shaped your attitude towards them; How often did you go back to thank them?
  9. Trust is not weakness it is means strength; It is about taking risks, making mistakes and preparedness to accept failure (for trusting the wrong person); That is the hall mark of true leaders — that sets apart the stars in a crowd of wannabes and losers.
  10. Never look back — if you trust someone and he/she has delivered say ‘thank you’ and move on.; if they have failed to deliver despite best efforts — say thank you all the more and if they have betrayed or let you down — buy them a drink as in the process made you wiser and a better human being;

Finally, trust is all about us. Before trusting others we must learn to love and trust our own self. Once we are able to do that — the rest becomes easy. Does not matter if those you once trusted think you are hallucinating — because the joke will then be on them.

#Trust #Leadership #Gratitude #Coaching #Psychology

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Uri and after


Picture Courtesy +ABPLIVE via AFP

Article first published in +ABPLIVE (Click here)

It has been ten days since the Uri Attacks and much water – and thankfully not blood – has flown down the Indus since then. The Prime Minister made a telling speech in Kozhikode and Sushma Swaraj, arguably one of the most articulate and effective External Affairs Minister India has had in recent times, was nuanced yet firm in her statement at the United Nations General Assembly.

Love him or hate him, if there is one thing politicians can learn from Narendra Modi it is how to chose his own time and place for response without getting bullied into premature reactions. If Manmohan Singh’s silences were called deafening, in contrast Modi’s deferred responses are calibrated for impact.

Discussing war room strategies and counter-terrorism options in television studios may be good for TRP, but that is not where or how the national security agenda is decided. In fact, intelligently used, public debates can be useful decoys for diverting public attention from real work that happens behind closed doors. It also helps in dissipating public angst, jingoistic rants and motivated criticism while the Government gets on with its job.

Only the uninitiated or those motivated to mislead would peddle the thought that the Government is blind to its own lapses and will not be subjecting itself (which includes the military and intelligence establishments) to critical scrutiny after such a major setback. Indeed, there is bound to be a major reappraisal of policy. But, it would be fanciful to expect public consultation on its security and intelligence report card.

Thus after a week more or less everyone realises that declaring ‘war’ with a politically unstable and militarily irresponsible nuclear neighbour cannot be the first course of action. While covert retaliation may be considered, on the surface diplomatic isolation and raising the international ante against the terror credentials of Pakistan are, perhaps, the most pragmatic way forward.

Prime Minister Modi threw the symbolic gauntlet of “war against poverty” to Pakistan at his party’s Kozhikode conclave. Though it may have sounded like glib rhetoric to change the discourse, there was a deeper political thought beneath the Modi’s fervent plea.

By all accounts after a bountiful monsoon and massive infrastructural spends ready on a platter the economy is poised for take off. This is precisely the moment when many detractors within and outside the country will try to derail the Government’s agenda. Frittering away an opportunity of a lifetime that could potentially place India at the high table of world commerce by a military adventure is not a trap that anyone can expect Modi to fall for.

Much is written and talked about India’s over-estimation of its own clout in the global geo-political arena. If we are being taken more seriously than before by the international powers it is largely because of our growing importance in world trade. Who will understand that better than a Gujarati?

Comparisons are drawn with how America’s resident Jewish population influences its policy towards Israel. It will be some time before Indian expatriates start wielding similar sway in the US Congress but that NRIs are a rising force is there for everyone to see. Therefore, it is not without reason that Modi has been wooing them so assiduously since becoming Prime Minister.

War would have been a tempting choice for Modi if he were in the last leg of office. The world over (including in India) military offensive has been used by many leaders with waning popularity or insecure standing to consolidate their position. But Modi should have no such insecurities and, therefore, can stay the course with confidence.

That a reference to Balochistan in the Prime Minister’s Independence Day address could rattle the world, including his opponents at home, goes to show how policies are beginning to make a difference.

Many would try to spoil the party as India inches slowly but surely towards its golden hour. Some would do it deliberately and others (who have little understanding of economics and go around making populist promises of loan waiver within 24 hours of coming to power) naively.

At the end of the day even Kashmiris understand which side of their bread is buttered. That is why it is all the more important not to get distracted from the larger economic and political agenda while biding our time to pay the enemy back with compounded interest but, perhaps, in a different currency — US Dollars or Chinese Yuan, not Indian Rupees.

Tags: #army  #IndianArmy #kozhikode #Pakistan #sushma swaraj #Uri attack