Thursday, November 26, 2015

The aglet era

Not many people wear shoes with laces any more.

"Oh Desi Babu! You haven't written a post in almost a year, you are too lazy to tie your own shoelaces, and you have the gall to talk about shoes with missing laces?!".

You might say that, if you have been missing my posts.  But you still have to admit the fact that people are slowly forgetting the use of those long stringy thingies called shoelaces.  Most shoes are slip-ons nowadays, and even formal shoes are made with fake laces attached.

In that context, a few weeks ago, a long forgotten word suddenly came to my mind -- the aglet. If you have seen a shoelace, the aglet is a small metal band at its end. While the long shoelace is what keeps the shoe in place, the aglet is what holds the shoelace together. Had there been no aglet, the strands making up the shoelace would go their separate ways.

Ok, ok, enough about shoelaces and aglets. I haven't written for almost a year because I have been busy. Aren't we all? Big events happened while I was gone, including the fact that India got a brand-new majority government, which was hang-gliding in the seventh heaven until a few days ago, when elections happened in Bihar. And as someone, who was born in that state, I have always been interested in what the Biharis are up to. And it seems that the Biharis were recently up to something big, which has resulted in an electoral defeat for India's ruling party, the BJP, in spite of the fact that they pulled out all the stops.

But honestly, how did Mr. Amit Shah's BJP lose Bihar, after he called in the cavalry? With the big horses.

Many will tell you that the BJP was not able to differentiate "right wing"  development (aka jobs) from "left wing" development (aka electricity, roads and water). Many will tell you that the right wing caste equations (upper castes tying up with lower castes) got overwhelmed by the left wing caste equations (the middle castes staying put in terms of their voting preferences). And many will tell you that the right wing tried its best to polarize the voters, which could have worked, but it didn't.

I will tell you that it was the aglet. And that it signals the beginning of the aglet era in Indian politics.

Those of you who have watched "The West Wing" know how the white house runs on the predictions of polls and pundits. How the president is running a continuous campaign while he is in the white house. And how people, who can hold together the various threads of the senate, the congress and key public issues,  into a format that the president can run his agenda by, are the people who run the country.

For the lack of a better word, I will call such holders of threads, the aglets.

In India, we have largely been unaware of such people, and even if they have made significant contributions to famous campaigns, they have largely been ignored when credits have been handed out. Such an aglet -- Mr. Prashant Kishor -- played an important role in winning  the national elections for Mr. Modi. After the victory, he was largely ignored. So, he decided to take his business to the other side, which had so many threads, that it was ready to turn into a fluffy little ball. Instead, he put the strands together, and held them tightly, like the aglet. And when this shoe fell, man, did it hurt.

So, what does this bode for Indian politics?

In my opinion, we have come very close to the way a western style democracy is run. Pollsters, pundits and professional campaign managers, will play an extremely important role in India's future elections. Mr. Modi was the first leader to make use of social media to convey his message to the masses -- expect many more leaders to follow suit in the coming days. Over the next two years, several key states will go to the polls. And it is my prediction that we will see several aglets holding the threads, and perhaps keys, to those elections. In all, perhaps, it is good news for India, where opinions of people will count when policy is shaped, and governments will not be closed to public opinion, once they have been elected for five years.

The era of the aglets is here!

A few weeks ago, I was talking to an old Bihari gentleman who was "let down" greatly by his own people and their recent election. I told him that I write a blog and was considering writing a post about the elections.

"Don't do that!" exclaimed the gentleman, sounding exasperated.  "Those people do not deserve anything to be written about them."

"Sir, then what do you recommend I write about? I haven't written anything on my blog for almost a year." I asked. Looking down as if he was contemplating on the question, and staring intently at his shoes, he finally opened his mouth.

"Write about shoelaces my friend --  if you must."


  1. Good to see you back!
    Keep Writing, Desi Babu!

  2. Thanks Anubhuti, please keep visiting.


  3. String holders - like always, thought provoking post, Desi Babu...

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome info! I am looking forward to see more posts by you! Visit: Shoelaces Express