Feb 162011
 

It’s been a long time since I pondered upon the state of affair in India. Scams and scammers, available by plenty. Corrupt governance, rising cost of living, failing PSU(and I am not talking about Air India. Today I read it in the news that BSNL is on brink of exhausting it’s cash reserves by the end of the year, and will be a total lossmaking company owned by the Indian government.), constant threat to the security and high handed, blackmailing politics, has led the people to write off India as an unsuccessful country. I had hopes in it. I had hopes in the current government. The statement of the prime minister made me sad. He said that since there was a lack of clear majority for any single party to form the government, they had to make sacrifices. After all, he said, we can’t have elections every six months. The ill effects of these “sacrifices” are quite visible and open at this moment.

This country has termites at it’s core. Literally!! There is corruption everywhere. To fill the coffers of a select few, the basic rights of a human being are being taken away. Just few examples(and this list can go on and on) to prove how India is rotting deep within.

The Hill View

Our office has just recently moved to a new location in navi Mumbai, and the location has quite a good scenic beauty. We have a lake on the front, and hills(which turn green on the our back. The Dow chemicals plant  on the side looks good, especially since it had shut down. Our pantry faces the hills and we have enjoyed the beauty for quite some time now.

Now, a sudden change in the scenery has been itching into my eyes since a few weeks. The hill is being replace by air. Stone quarries have come up on the foot of the hills, and large portion of it has been excavated in very short time. The section has turned to gray, the colour of stone. At the pace the work is carried out, I am am afraid that by next year, there will be a plateau instead of the hill.

Photo0788

Photo0790              Photo0791

Is there no impact in environment due o this large scale excavation?Are there any environmental clearances obtained before starting to destroy a hill!! As a colleague explained, the officials deal with the traders of the stone. Up to a certain height, the hill belongs to the government, and above that, the hill is sold for digging. If that is true, we will have no hills in Mumbai, in about 50-100 years(considering that India itself, as a country, exists at that time).

If this kind of excavations happen all over India, then combined with the Pakistani and Chinese incursions, we will have a new world map.

12345

Pakistan and china will have bigger territories to dictate upon, and sri lanka will be without a neighbor.

The Lake View

The lake is one beauty in front of our office. I make it a point to view out of the window once in a day to view the calm lake and relax my mind. It’s quite helpful, believe me. Especially since all the noise of the traffic is not heard from our fourth floor.

The picture shows the Thane-Belapur road, which is the lifeline of the industrial belt in this area. An earth moves can be seen digging out the road shoulder. This is not the first time that this work is being carried out. The road had already been dug about a month back. The second picture will show clear signs(not tell-tale signs, but clear signs) of the previous operation. Forget about paving it back to it’s original state, the dug up area has net even been leveled out. This is not a one off example. This happens all over Mumbai, and I guess, all over India(I am not sure if I can include Gujarat). Roads are dug up, then filled back after the work(usually laying down pipes) is completed. Then someone remembers something, and they are dug up again, this time, either damaging one pipe, or the underground phone lines, which too pass exactly through the same area. No one in the municipal corporation seem to know where the underground cables are laid, and this results in broken communication system. And no one seems to bother at all to lay down tar on the damaged section of the road. This happens all the time and people have got used to it. In a busy Mumbai life, no one seems to take notice. And the corrupt go on a free rampage.

Photo0784                    Photo0786

My Beautiful Vasai

Many times in this blog I have posted about how beautiful my place of birth and current residence is, and how it is being robbed of its natural beauty and space by a nexus comprising some ministers, members in the government, and few local goons.  And the development authority has chipped in with their contribution in destroying the environment.

trees

This was the structure of the area where I live. The circles(irregular shaped), on both sides of the road(parallel lines) are trees, not stones. There were trees all along the road from Bolinj village to our green belt. Suddenly one night, and emergency operation was done and next day morning we find this!!

no trees

This was done to facilitate the road widening project by the MMRDA(Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority). All it has managed to do is destroy a part of the beautiful green belt. That part, which was kind of a welcome gate to the villages. Now we have wide road from one end of Bolinj to Agashi, and other end of Bolinj to virar. Sad part is that Boling itself is a bottleneck. The widening project is hindered here due to lots of houses right near the road(as shown by small boxes inside the big box).  Whatever road is available for vehicles is occupied by the traffic nuisance, the auto rickshaw. And the authorities are unable to bring them under control.

And today I read that thousands of more trees are to be “relocates” to widen more roads in our region. I think we should kiss mother earth goodbye, till we have some time.

Aug 152010
 

What is India?

  • A nation with cities where Pizza reach faster than police or ambulance.
  • A nation where you get car loan at 8% but education loan at 12%.
  • A nation where the staple diet of people, rice, costs rs. 40 for the cheapest quality, but SIM card is free.
  • A nation where people worship goddess Durga but kill their girl child.
  • A nation where an olympic shooter gets gold and the government announces rs. 1 crore as a reward for a once in a life time achievement. Another shooter dies fighting terrorist, saving thousands of lives while doing so and the government declares the standard “rate” for his life, rs. 1 lakh.

This is my Incredible Independent India.

(Source : SMS)

Aug 132010
 

Times News Network, reports in its 13th August Mumbai edition of the Times of India that, HC slams state for neglecting PAPs rehabilitation saying that ‘Maoists are born due to govt’s apathy’. I couldn’t find the link to its online edition, but you can check it out on page 13.

It’s kind of good to hear that someone at the top was able to find out the actual reason and make it public. Of course, it’s not always that all Maoists are the neglected lot. Most of the leaders try and gain personal benefits in the name of justice to the affected. But the uneducated, poor people who are really affected, take their words, because there is no one from the side of the government to help them at that moment. These people are the people that the Mumbai high court is talking about.These are the people who turn to unnecessary violence under the influence of few leaders. These are the people who die fighting for their rights.

Just hoping that this message is conveyed properly to the government.

Aug 122010
 

This might be a bit off taste for a respectable human being. But I feel it necessary.

Thuuuuuu!! Spat the person walking in front of me on the railway platform. If you are residing in developed and clean countries this is something unheard of. But in my country, there are rules governing the civic habits, which are rarely followed. Garbage on the street is a common site in big cities, where garbage management is a problem due to lack of workforce, or may be the lack of the force to work. But spitting is one habit which gets to my nerves, leave me just short of exploding. Just short.

I am reminded of an incident my brother recounted few years back. He, along with some relatives were travelling in jeep. A younger cousin was seated on the front seat. At one point, they smelled a foul stench, something like a dead animal rotting. Everyone covered their noses. But this cousin went a step ahead and spat out of the window, as is a normal “tradition” followed by most of the Indians. And the jeep was travelling at high speed. Naturally, some part of the spit landed on an uncle who was sitting at the back window. So this uncle wondered aloud, “how the hell was his spit going to reduce the stench. All it did was flew back inside and smeared me.”

How is spitting, really supposed to help in anyway in such situations. We in India come across lots of decomposing garbage everyday. And we are sure to come across people who spit at the garbage as they go by. People spit on road. They spit on platforms. They spit in the trains below the seat. They even try to colour the body of the trains by spitting out chewed tobacco. They spit everywhere except in the wash basins in public places.

There are fines against such acts. But the police prefer bribes to fines in such cases. As such is the case, it becomes very difficult to control the dirty act in public places. It feels just “YUCK!!” when you see someone spit near you, or even when you hear it. But where is the end to this.

In places like Singapore, I hear that even if you are not caught at that moment, CCTV cameras will capture your act and you will be fined later on. In such countries, Indians behave civilized. But on their homeland, no one can control them. They are the owners of all the public properties.

A good way to stop this would be giving powers in the hand of public in some way, so that this acts are controlled at the very moment. At present, a normal person who feels this as dirty cannot utter a word against people who mess up in public spaces. But for a long run, proper civic education might help in controlling this habit. But then, is also self conscience that should act for such people.

In the meantime I continue to take detours from the path of the spit of a person walking in front.

Aug 122010
 

Deepwater Horizon happens. The implications to the environment are huge. The Mexican gulf is polluted. The coastal regions depending on fishing and tourism, are the hardest hit. Oil continues to float on the gulf waters and will continue to affect the marine environment. BP will loose billions in settlement, and it has to rethink its business models if it wants to come back to the top. The world and the media, is projecting this case, so that justice is delivered to the affected.

MSC Chitra happens. Its just another ship that’s listing heavily in the navigation channels of the Mumbai port, after an accident with MV Khalija. The containers from the ship have tumbled overboard, and oil is gushing out from one of its fuel tanks. The containers contains, amongst other items, pesticides, and no one knows whether the containers in water contain it. The attitude of the port authorities and disaster response team(if there is any in the Mumbai port) towards this incident, is lax, if not negligent. It takes two days for the gravity of the situation to sink in. But by than, containers have reached far away coastal villages. People in this regions are running around, salvaging whatever they find in the containers. 500 kg samples of fish are found to be polluted. The fishing activity in this region has been banned, resulting in loss of livelihood to thousands of fishing families living in this area Meanwhile, the authorities find that the port is not equipped to handle the situation well. The port continues to be closed for ship movement in and out. The railways and transport systems are loosing in crores due to unavailability of cargo to transport. Fears loom large that the city will be short of oil and gas, for its power plants and vehicles, if cargo movement if not restored. Basically, MSC Chitra, lying in the navigation channel, has threatened to shut down Mumbai.

Deepwater Horizon incident is a major one. But does that mean that the Mumbai incident is not so damaging to Mumbai? Then why this relaxed attitude. Is it because oil spill in Indian waters is taken for granted? Initial reports said that the authorities were using dispersants to reduce the oil sheen. But few people know how it works. Dispersants do nothing to convert harmful oils, full of those catalysts, in to something that is environment friendly. It just makes it heavy enough to settle to the bottom of the sea. Yes! Even after the application of dispersants, the oil exists at the bottom, which is no quite as deep near the coast. During my shipboard training and tenure, we have been taught that these kind of dispersants are to be used only after go ahead from the concerned port authority. And they will rarely give the go ahead. So why does the Mumbai port consider dispersant as the first choice instead of swinging into action some containment plan. Is it because we compare it with deepwater horizon spewing out millions of barrels of oil from the sea bottom?

Go to any coast in India with a port nearby. There is always a layer of oil washed ashore during high tide. This oil is nothing but the waste oil that is discharged from he ships trading in Indian waters, even after lots of regulations in place by the international convention for prevention of marine pollution(MARPOL). The authorities turn blind eye to this oil discharges, and the shipping companies go scot-free. With our attitude, we are heading towards complete destruction of our vast shoreline and the ecosystem around it.

Jul 232010
 

It is a welcome move to order a stay on the transactions carried out between CIDCO and Avinash Bhosale. The Times of India’s exposure in their leading newsmedia, lead to this intervention from the maharashtra government. The Times view say that though the decision is a welcome development to this case, they hope that this is a genuine move and not a cosmetic attempt to deflect attention.

Well, TOI, wake up!! By now you should lean that the government takes action only when these type of cases are highlighted through the media. If they really think that there should be an enquiry, then the case has to be pursued and highlighted continuously. If the media settles down on such cases, the government feels at ease and dumps the cases, because they can’t afford to expose themselves!!

The TOI starts its news with the first statement as, ‘acting upon the scam first eposed by the TOI…..’ I don’t say that it’s just the TOI using such beginners for a ‘expose’ news article. Every news group does the same. They expose, they print that action was initiated due to their expose, then they sleep. It feels like a battle won, but they forget to wage a war.

The voice of the common man goes unheard these days. Its the responsibility of the media to act in such situations. For proper functioning of governence, there are many element required to function smoothly. But main elements are, the ruling party, which runs hand in gloves with the scammers, the opposition, which is divided amongst themselves and falling apart, the common man, which goes unheard. So its the media which has to wake up and show their importance in running the country.

Jul 222010
 

The collision between two trains at Sainthia station was a very bad episode, which took lives of many innocent people and injured many more. But what is more disturbing is the blame game that ensued.

First, it was the railway minister herself, claiming it to be some kind of conspiracy. Then there were many more theories blaming either the signal system, or the station employees, or the signal man. And now, its the turn of the drivers and the guard, dead or living. Dead more so, than living.

When will Indians learn to keep their mouth shut, if the time is not right? Why do we, unqualified people for this kind of analysis and investigation job, jump to conclusions? Why not instead wait for the investigations to complete and then demand the dispension of justice in a right manner?

You know what my theory behind this mysterious accident it? Maoists hijacked the train at red signal, and killed the driver and the co driver in some way which will not be revealed easily. Then they started the train, and jumped off it while it was picking up speed. That can explain why the brakes were not applied even as it was speeding to ram into the other train. Far-fetched, but possible, isn’t it? But then why should I not go forward and put up this theory? Well, we still have a living guard, who can shed some light maybe.

But all said, how long will this investigation take? Will it take few more accidents of such nature to get to some conclusion as to what is causing them? Also, do we really have the necessary forensic expertise to solve such mysteries? All these questions will go unanswered, so will the question of what caused the accident. The blame will be put on the driver, and the matter will cool down very soon.

I feel sad to remind the very recent accident in aviation industry, when a plane crashed at New Mangalore airport, killing almost all the passengers. The very first reaction by the authorities was to blame the pilot, even before the black box was recovered. The investigating officials were red faced when their preliminary report, after about a month of the accident, marked the site and the runway of the accident, different from the actual location. What can we expect from such investigation teams?

Its easier to blame the dead, because they are not coming back for their self defense.

Jul 072010
 

“Come on man!! It’s the last day of our college!!! We will be on our separate ways hereafter. Who knows where life will take us? Its for fate to decide. We may not meet for quite some time after today. So why don’t you have just a glass of beer with us? We know Ravi, that you are not into drinking. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be in to it for life. Its just one glass that we ask you to share with us? Grow up man!!”

“Ok, ok. Stop persuading me. I will raise just one glass with you. But remember, I won’t go for another glass. This is just for our friendship. Also, make sure that if I pass out or something, just take me to your house, not mine.”

“Hahaha!! We are not asking you to empty a pint. Its just a glass. You will be fine. We all will be. Waiter!! Two kingfisher premium please.”

************************

“What will you have Ravi?”

“A quarter of Smirnoff Vodka.”

“Oh! So you are a fan of Smirnoff?”

“Well it soothes my mind. Makes me forget all my sufferings and sorrows.”

“You have a good job at this IT giant. With your own house in a very high class locality, an expensive car, a loving wife and two kids, I don’t understand what’s eating up your mind.”

“Hey man!! Stop the lecture. I was just fooling with you. Its just that I like to get high, and smirnoff doesn’t stink. So my wife won’t know. What about you? What’s your brand?”

“I normally go for a glass of beer. But since there is no one else to share the remaining, I think I can try a shot of smirnoff. Actually I never intoxicated, until after college. Once I was persuaded by my friends during our farewell. It started from there. I hope I will be able to handle the vodka.”

“No worries man. Its just a glass. You know what? I have the exact same introduction to alcohol. But now I am used to it. At 30 years of age, a man should have some form of enjoyment in life.”

************************

“Brought him in about half an hour ago, sir.”

“What’s his name? And what are the charges?”

“His driving license says ‘ Ravi Kumar’. He is charged with reckless drunken driving, disobeying traffic rules, damage to public property, non cooperation with police, causing danger to human life. This guy almost killed a women who was crossing the street. Had it not been for the signal post to which he collided, the women would have been lying under the wheels of his mercedes. He seems to be slosh with alcohol. I found two bottles of Black Label in his car. These rich, rotten people behave as if they own the world and the law.”

“Keep him in the custody tonight. Fill up the FIR and present yourself and the lady as the witness. I hope you have the readings of the speed gun. Also send his urine and blood samples for test. Lets see how much pumped up this rich kid is. And if he doesn’t have liquor license, charge him with possession of liquor in excess quantities.”

“Yes sir. I have even procured the CCTV grab from the nearby shop, which recorded the incident.”

(Ravi Shouting)

“OFFICER!! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS!! I WILL SUE YOU!! WAIT TILL I GET MY LAWYER".

“Be quite you fool. You have done enough damage to yourself and others.”

************************

“You have been reporting late to duty lately. Most of the projects allocated to you are incomplete. People complain of you being slosh and stinking of whiskey. We are on the verge of loosing an important client because of your behavior with their representative, few days back. You cannot be sent to offshore assignments because you have to report to the police station every week. You remain shabby in your clothing and your ways. Do you expect the management to glorify your “achievements” and promote you? YOU ARE FIRED!!”

“Sir, I promise to you this won’t happen again. I had been a fool. Please give me just one chance? I will change my behavior. I will stop drinking. I will be a new man. Please sir.”

“If you repent your act, its good. If you want to change, its good. You want to start a new life? I wouldn’t want more from you. But the doors of this firm are closed for you for the final time. Whatever penance you decide for yourself, take your own time to carry it out. I can just wish you all the best for your future.”

***********************

“Sir, the person in the overturned mercedes on the expressway, is charred to death, beyond recognition. We have sent his dentures to match with the records. Video footage shows that car was running at excessive speeds and went out of control before flipping over. It caught fire due to petrol leaking from the tank. Registration number indicates that this car belongs to one mr. Ravi Kumar. I wouldn’t be surprised if this person in the car was mr. Ravi Kumar, because he had been booked by the city police few months back for reckless drunken driving. We have found an empty bottle of Black Label near him in the car, indicating that he might be drinking at the moment this accident took place.”

************************

Ravi, the star in the eyes of his parents. Ravi, the partner to his wife and the guardian of his children. Ravi, considered to be very intelligent ever since his childhood. What happened to Ravi? Life was not supposed to take a U-turn for him. How did this happen? Was it the fault of his friends who persuaded him to drink that glass? Was it the fault of his parents, who might not have taken him into confidence about the vice, that drinking alcohol is. Was it the fault of his wife who failed to notice that he came home drunk frequently? Was it the fault of his boss who did not give him the final chance to change himself?

No.The blame was fully on Ravi, and that “Just one glass” which he drank.

Jun 282010
 

I am one of the first person to board the maharashtra state transport bus, and in between chitchats with my friend, I look around and observer the interior of the bus. Seats in green, torn at places, do not promise a comfortable ride. Small sliding windows, some jammed in place others cracked, are designed more to block the wind. The bus is very old with nothing worth mentioning except, maybe, the long service it has rendered. Well………Almost nothing. Because as I look on the frame separating two windows, I see something written in marathi. Along with the seat numbers of the respective seats, I could read the designations of the persons to whom these seats were reserved. Of course, in cities, these reservations are rarely followed, except in case of ladies and old people.

The first few seats are reserved for the members of the parliament and the village panchayat head and other “dignitaries”. Then there are seats reserved for various ranks in the government. Around the middle of the bus, I could see seats reserved for women, and though I couldn’t make out on the seats at the very rear, I was sure they were reserved. May be the last, long bench seat, was kept unreserved for anyone to occupy.

Reservations!! How deeply are they rooted into our system!!! I was unaware of this fact until I left my school. Then I found that there was something called as reservations for people without resources, and I didn’t fall in any of those categories. Of course I later found out that people who had joined on reserved seats, rode flashy bikes, and gave treats to friends in fancy restaurants throughout their college life.

During the times of kings in our country, in the pre-colonial era, the society was divided in to different casts. Some, called the Brahmins, were considered the best of us lots, had reserved rights everywhere, and were immune to law. Others were warriors and merchants and were some levels below the upper class. The lowest class was of the shudra, or the untouchables, who didn’t have much rights, weren’t allowed in the society, and were altogether a neglected lot. To do away with this caste system, the leaders of free India, after the British times, framed the constitution, and in a bid to uplift the downtrodden, brought reservations in the system. The people belonging to particular lower castes, were given priority to jobs at government offices, public institutions and also for education. Lots of leeway was given to them in the matter of their selection, so that they could be benefited from this scheme of reservations. All was well, theoretically. In reality the situation was quite different. Very few of the lower class population got any benefit out of it. Actually this scheme were never much advertised to the needy. Their condition remained pathetic as ever. In the mean time, our politicians, judging the huge vote bank this reservation system could generate, passed bills after bills, including lots of other castes and categories. The people, who were covered by this categories, immediately grabbed the chance with both hands and established themselves in their place. More and more people kept on asking for reservation based on caste, language, religion etc. and many were granted. Finally, by the time the government woke up to the ill effects of this system, it was too late, because any change(read reduction) in reservation could topple the government.

****************

The reservation system should have been introduces with some foresight to its ill effects. It should have been time bound. Say for example, how many generations does it take for upliftment of a community? If a particular generation is given some benefits to improve their living conditions, then that generation would we capable enough to support the next generation, which could do much better in terms of finances when it grows older. At this point, the third generations should not be allowed to avail any benefits. This kind of system would have forced the first and second generation to work towards the betterment of their future generation. But, since this benefits are never taken away, all the generations have taken it for granted, and have tried least for their upliftment. Secondly, lots of castes and communities have been included in the reservation system. There is no consideration to the financial status of the people benefiting from it. How can any facility be reserved for a person who is black or white or brown or who speaks a particular language and follows a particular religion? What is the base for this system? Why isn’t the scheme of reservations based solely on the basis of the financial condition of the person benefiting from it? Isn’t that the right criteria for upliftment of an individual in this world ruled by money? If a person is rich enough to support himself and his family, then why not give him his basic right, which everyone else gets, and leave him to “maintain” himself? Why pamper a rich person, and waste the resources of our country?

The scheme of reservations was brought about to wipe out the gap between different castes. How can the caste system be abolished, if we create categories in terms of reservations? It has added to the divide amongst the people, by favoring some and neglecting others. And those neglected, bid their time and ensure that they get special treatment in some other way.The divide between Brahmins and shudras isn’t of any value any more. The divide between the rich and the poor has evolved which needs to be addressed.

Above all this, the government is mulling the women’s reservation bill. This bill will help bring out more involvement by women in active politics. That’s a pretty messed up thought. What do we expect from the advocates of this bill. Will the go in to interior of the villages and train women in to politics, so that they participate in to the political matters actively? That’s not what I think. Women’s reservation bill will further aggravate the dynasty rule problem faced by India at this moment. A women, who is interested in making a career in politics, should start from scratch, proving herself to the voters if she has to win. The seat should not be dished out to any particular candidate, male or female, without proving themselves. We do not want any more Rabri Devis ruling us.

****************

Where does reservations take us? I belong to general category, and though I do not regret that I am not on the better side of this affair, it would have been good if I would at least get my worth. I know few people who have abused this scheme of reservations, since they fall under reserved category. A close friend of mine scored very less marks, but got admission to a very reputed college. He was later barred from appearing for the exams for three years due to some malpractice that he followed in the examination.

I even know at least one person who did not avail of this reservation just for the sake of availing it. This friend of mine scored very low marks in physics, chemistry and biology, the three main subjects considered during medical entrance. He could have easily got admission in to a very reputed college, even with this poor marks due to his reserved status. But he opted out of it. He said that medical education was not his cup of tea, and he was better off studying something that he can manage to complete.

There are lots of schemes for the welfare of the people, but it all depends on the implementation of these schemes in proper way. The way in which the reservations scheme is abused, there is no end to it, and we might just end up leaving nothing for the people who are worth their value. The politicians will keep on abusing this scheme to generate more votes. The reserved category people abuse to better their already well to do lives. But we still have millions of beggars on the roads. We still have uneducated folks, who have never seen a 100 rupee currency note throughout their life. We still have people who do not know that life exists outside their domain.

And I will not be surprised if the people in the open category are finally found fighting for some reservations for themselves.

%d bloggers like this: