The Anchor: Asif Syed on 5 Things that are getting hotter in New Delhi

05 Jul,2012

By Asif Syed


1. Manmohan Singh – Will the sardar become asardar?

For a while now, many observers of the Delhi durbar have felt that the real Prime Minister wasn’t Manmohan Singh, (no, not Sonia Gandhi, she’s the super PM) but Pranab Mukherjee. Whether it was with government work, party work, troubleshooting for the UPA sarkar or heading 13 Groups of Ministers that deliberate on government policy, Pranab was the man. The joke is that the PM (Manmohan) spoke so little is because the real PM (Pranab) didn’t let him.


Now with Pranab on his way to becoming President of our republic, many ministers in the Union Cabinet have found some additional breathing space, but none so much as Manmohan Singh. So much so that the very day he took over the Finance Ministry, the sardar ordered the government to go looking its lost “animal spirits!”


So will the sardar become asardar or will the real number 2 – P Chidambaram, who was second only to Pranab in the GoM count with 12 in his kitty – muscle in and fill in the vacuum.


2. The Summer of 2012

The venerable Times of India has reported that Delhi has had the hottest summer in the past 33 years with the average temperature frizzing the mercury to an average of 41.25 degrees. Interestingly, and what is probably a sign of the times, the data for this investigative story was sourced not from the Metrological Department of India but from the website of the National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) in the United States.


Unlike Bombay and (ahem) some other parts of the developed world that have uninterrupted power supply, Delhi seems to have introduced the new concept of uninterrupted power cuts. Add to this the severe water shortage – basically no water at all from the MCD – and one gets situation where residents who are out on the streets to protest the lack of bijli get into a scuffle with each other over tankers delivering water.


Of course, Lutyens Delhi, home to national level politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen has no bijli or paani problems. The air conditioners in the MPs homes are humming and sprinklers keep their lawns achingly green.


There is fervent hope that the monsoon rains will bring some respite but they too seem to be avoiding Delhi and are stalled somewhere over central India. Maybe the ToI can talk to the NCDC about what to do…


3. The most modern thing in Delhi

Not all is bad in Delhi and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is the best thing going on the ground, below the ground and above the ground. It has changed the face of Delhi for the better like nothing else and with every phase of expansion it is bringing the spread out city of Delhi and the other parts of the National Capital Region closer to each other. It is the one thing that works in the city of a thousand hindrances and works very well.


With two phases completed and almost 200 km of track laid and services running, the DMRC has commenced Phase III which it aims to complete by 2015 and Phase IV by 2021. By then the Metro will have more than 400 km of track and will reach every corner of the megapolis. It is already one of the most advanced metros in the world and soon will also be one of the largest. (check out this map –


Like Vicky the eponymous sperm philanthropist of the move Vicky Donor says to his nani, “Dill mein sirf do cheezein modern hain, ek hai metro aur ek tu.” I can’t vouch for the old lady, but he is bang on with the metro.


4. News Capital

For a city where the large majority of the people have at best only a passing acquaintance with the English language (or as they say in Delhi – bus sirf hi/hello hai), it is home to more English language newspapers, magazines and television news channels than any city in India.


At last count there are more than 15 mainstream general and business daily newspapers being published from the city in English. The Millennium Post was the latest of the blocks and a couple more are reportedly in the pipeline. At this rate we run the risk of soon having more English newspapers than readers who read English.


Throw in Hindi and other language publications and Delhi is probably host to the largest print news industry, with more print journalists than any city in the world. And in no other city can one find such a large number of journalists that speak, report and write in such a range of Indian languages.


Sucking in all the content produced everyday and spitting it out in a physical form is a robust contract printing industry that is centred largely in neighbouring Noida. The printing industry there probably has the distinction of having not just the largest number of printing presses of all shapes and sizes of any city but of also printing newspapers not just in English in Hindi but also a number of other languages. For example, Vibha Printers (in NOIDA obviously) print newspapers in six languages.


Never mind the lack of revenue, let alone profits, the news business inIndiais growing faster than ever before.


5. Rahul Gandhi – naram but still garam

As ever, Rahul Gandhi remains the hottest politician in India and with talks of an impending Cabinet reshuffle he is hotter property than ever.


There is now talk about him finally finding a seat in the Cabinet as the Deputy Prime Minister, no less. The logic goes that this will be a suitable post for him to make his entry into the government as it won’t be decried as nepotism at its most obvious and it will still be a prominent enough to position him as the next leader of the party and the government. Party pundits feel the results of the next general election in 2014 will be determined by the ‘Youth Vote’ and who is better to capitalise on this demographic dividend than the youthful Rahul Gandhi.


His middle-of-the-road pragmatism and firm resolve to stay away from the politics of caste and religion give him a universal appeal. And that, the thinking goes, will lead to a windfall of young urban and rural votes for the Congress and its allies.


Though it would be wise to recall the ‘Rahul Effect’ in recent elections. Beginning with Bihar and followed by Pondicherry and most recently Uttar Pradesh, the last three assembly elections where he has played a significant role, it has become clear that Rahul’s presence alone does not bring in electoral results for the Congress party.


However, the party, and specially dye-in-the-wool Congressmen, can’t stop gushing about him like schoolgirls with a crush on Ranbir Kapoor.


Asif Syed is Editor and Publisher of Current and He toggles between New Delhi, Mumbai and Buenos Aires


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One response to “The Anchor: Asif Syed on 5 Things that are getting hotter in New Delhi”

  1. Tiba Cho says:

    Love it!!! Super recap on all things political(including the climate) in delhi. Your part 2 should include if the men are getting any hotter in delhi? Women of course are but cant say the same about dalhi men. What about the social circuit? Even politically are any of those khadi kurtas and dhoti clad politicians getting any hotter? Whats with only ughly men in politics? Would love a part 2 on all things social and all things contemporary as well.