Election 2014

Missing cricket matches is hot topic as Himachal votes tomorrow

Just like everywhere else, corruption rather than poor infrastructure is driving the campaign agenda in both Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s decision last week to appropriate the slogan of a soldier killed in Kargil may have fuelled the daily controversy machine for one cycle, but it also reminded national audiences that there are elections still to be held beyond the Cow Belt.

The hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand both go to the polls on May 7, but you wouldn’t know it from surveying the press. The reason is simple: Himachal brings you just four Members of Parliament and Uttarakhand five Lok Sabha. Even combined, the two states don’t have enough political heft to dislodge even Haryana (with 10 seats), which means they are irrelevant to overall electoral calculations.

But this doesn’t mean elections there are missing the tension of races elsewhere. Himachal, for example, has managed to get a politician into trouble because he denied them two cricket matches.

BJP MP Anurag Thakur happens to also be a joint secretary in the Board of Control for Cricket in India, which has allowed him to turn even the T20 league into political ammunition. Thakur revealed that the BCCI had approached the Himachal Congress-run government to host between two and five IPL matches at its stadium in Dharamsala. When the files reached the state authorities, which would have to sanction appropriate security for the matches, they sat on them for so long that the BCCI had to look elsewhere.

To Thakur — who is contesting from Hamirpur in Himachal — this matters not just because the residents of his state would be missing out on some sport. It would also mean a substantial financial loss. “The shifting of matches has led to a revenue loss of Rs 500 crore to the state exchequer,” Thakur told IANS.

In neighbouring Uttarakhand, the hot topic also appears to be missing money, not with the cricket but with the country’s other major obsession: religion. Here the Congress party has levelled allegations that between Rs 500-Rs 600 crore in government funds allocated for the 2010 Kumbh Mela, when the BJP was in charge, has simply disappeared.

These corruption allegations are propelling the campaign led by the state’s chief minister, Harish Rawat, of the Congress, who has managed to put into play a state that seemed prime to hand the BJP a clean sweep of its five seats. Rawat only became chief minister in February, after the previous Congress CM’s name had been so tarnished by corruption allegations that he had to be replaced.

Rawat has spearheaded the fight in the Haridwar constituency, where his wife Renuka Rawat is up against another former chief minister, the BJP’s Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who was at the helm during the Kumbh Mela. Without the taint of graft affecting him, Rawat has found it easy to aim the corruption-allegation gun at his rivals.

Since it is the flavour of this election season, it’s not surprising to see corruption top the election-campaign charts in both of the states. Yet politicians in both the hill states appear to be studiously avoiding issues that are more specific to them.

The aftermath of Uttarakhand’s disastrous deluge last June should have turned environmental issues and distress migration into central plot points. Yet the main campaigns have barely touched on the slow pace of the rehabilitation projects, the flood damage caused as a result of hydel projects or the massive migration of people from the hills down to the plains.

And in Himachal, the need for a genuine conversation on policy matters can’t be better demonstrated than by the willingness of entire sections of the electorate apparently willing to boycott the polls just to raise their grievances.

All the panchayats along one 20-km stretch of broken road in Bilaspur district have threatened to refrain from voting altogether unless there is a promise that the section will be fixed. In Sion, in Sirmaur district, residents of local villages came together because they were “angry with the fact that even 67 years after Independence they were yet to get better roads, schools and health care facilities". As a result the entire village has declared that it will not be voting.

But the most interesting outcome in either of these states might come in the way of something that is set to happen after elections. Already convinced that it is coming to power — or seeking to put word out of its confidence — the BJP has made indications that it might meddle with Uttarakhand’s government.

The state was created by the BJP under former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, yet all five of its seats went to the Congress the last time around. The assembly is also run by the Congress — but probably not for long. Murmurs from the Modi-run BJP have suggested the party might look to turn some of the seven MLAs from the Progressive Democratic Front, which has so far used its numbers to ensure that the Congress runs the government despite winning just 32 seats in a 70-member assembly. If this happens, the party would essentially be toppling the state government and turning Uttarakhand into a saffron state.

Since similar wafer-thin majorities are in play in Bihar and Jharkhand, even just the suggestion that this might be the BJP’s approach starting in Uttarakhand only reiterates how hill state politics might end up mattering nationally, even if their seat numbers don’t.

 
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.