Ms Niharika Mandhana, India Ink Blogger at the New York Times used a clever method to advise Shri Rahul Gandhi as soon as he assumed charge as the Vice President of the Indian National Congress (The NYT, January 25, 2013).
She chose a few from the image making industry and Shri Ramachandra Guha who has opinion on anything and everything and occasionally on topics he is not conversant with. She reproduced their opinions and suggestions.
My approach was more original. I offered my advice through the readers’ comments of the NYT.
Am I competent to advise him? Yes I thought. I belonged to his father’s generation. I saw how young people rose in politics.
I had observed some budding politicians closely. Two of them Shri A K Antony and Shri Vayalar Ravi , presently Cabinet Ministers, were very popular. Former was my junior and the latter, my classmate in Maharajas College Ernakulam. Ravi’s mother was an MLA. Rahul can check with them of the part they played in the ” Orana Samaram(One anna agitation)”, an agitation of students in Ernakulam colleges against an increase in boat fare.
Knowing my proclivity to making speeches, my father extracted a promise from me that I shall never enter into any political activity. The noisy atmosphere in the college during the beginning of the year was enough to unnerve any parent with a middle class background. So I decided to study well and go for work soon after my post graduation.
I spent 50 years of my life specializing in ensuring safety in nuclear technology and radiation applications. I had very brief encounters with some outstanding political leaders. I briefed the ministers of science and technology attached to the Prime Minister’s office during 1987-2004 while I was the secretary of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. They were sharp, intelligent and extremely courteous. Referring to more details may not be proper.
Coming back to my advice to Rahul. First point first;
On October 11, 2013 I tweeted:
” Rahul, either you grow a beard or be clean shaven; be consistent; it matters. Your indifference will hurt you. The latest outburst did not! ”
My generation believed that bearded persons are rebels. Why should you take the risk? It may be disturbing, at least to some, to see an erratic behaviour.
“Rahul may not be media savvy…….. Rahul need not listen to free advice, fair or foul. He can prove himself by being spontaneous and sincere.” I wrote in my comments published in the New York Times.
His latest action against possibly the most unpopular ordinance revealed that unknown to him he is following my advice! He was spontaneous, sincere and impatient .I have seen Shri Rajiv Gandhi closely only on one occasion. At one stage he lost his cool. May be I shall write about it on another occasion
“There is renewed awareness among the electorate. Young persons … will have a tough time to get wider acceptability. It applies to any political party.” I added in my NYT comments
I assured Rahul that his connection with Nehru family need not be a burden. He has himself articulated the advantage he received because of his lineage. “He must assemble a good team of young progressive workers around him. This team must be able to break with the past. Slowly and steadily.” I suggested
“Emergence of youth is visible in every political party. They may find it hard to survive the machinations of seasoned old politicians.” I cautioned.
Survive they must:. to provide India what its constitution ordained
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;