Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Zakaria and Bandra

Those were the days of ‘Cow and Calf ’; well before the ‘Hand’ became official symbol of Indian National congress. In election time, paper posters of Indira Gandhi with slogans of Garibi Hatao would get plastered on the yellow walls of Government servant’s colony in Bandra East. Name of Zakaria often would figure in those election campaigns. Only later I learnt the connection between Ahmed, Rafiq and Fareed Zakaria. Ahmed was nephew of Mr Rafiq Zakaria – learned and articulate person. While canvassing for his nephew, I remember him telling my father ‘There is no point in canvassing middle class dominated Kalanagar - MIG area – You would never vote for congress!”. It was the fact. Most of the bourgeois population of Bandra had turned into an anti-establishment and often voted for opposition Jan Sangh, Socialist party, or later Shiv Sena. I do not know much about the contribution of Ahmed Zakaria or other Shiv Sena Corporators who did not even attempt to make make a good road and drainage even in front of Balasaheb Thakare’s house. One corporator even went to coin a new protest march called’ chaddi morcha’ – a protest wearing underwears while protesting infront of Dilip Kumar's house.

Ahmed Zakaria left his legacy by having his section of Kherwadi named after him and his son being municipal corporator from Bandra. Mr Rafiq Zakaria penned some nice thoughts through articles and books revolving around Islam. I have not read any of his books but his articles ‘What Indian Muslims should do?’ , ‘What’s Muslim about Kalam?’ did impress me with his writing skills.

These days, when I read Fareed Zakaria’s views in the Newsweek International, I remember name Ahmed and Rafiq Zakaria from Bandra election days. Fareed may not have contested any elections but his writing does carry essence of Indian democratic ethos while presenting his ideas about US politics. Y’day I saw him posing a question to various premiers of Britain, South Korea and Mexico while coordinating a debate at Davos during economic summit. His question was ‘In mid 90’s when Asia was in crisis, western countries with the help of IMF instructed Asian countries to do three things. 1. Don’t bail out sick and inefficient banks. 2. Increase the interest rate. 3. Cut the flab of the Govt and stop Govt expenditure. Now when the turn of the western countries being in the same situation, they are doing the exact opposite. They are bailing behemoth banks that have become sick by their inefficient operations.They are bringing down the interest rates and in some cases even to zero. Govt is on spending spree expenditure ostensibly to stimulate economy. So what is correct and appropriate? Advice then given by the western countries or what is practiced now by the western countries? The question would have put most westerners in quandary. However, politicians possess slithery skin. They smartly evaded the answer by deftly shifting trajectory of the question to another issue. Fareed too did not pursue it further.

Whatever I have seen of Fareed on TV has impressed me much more than his writings. I do hope to see him more on his program of Fareed Zakaria GPS CNN.

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