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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Jun 192010
 

We all in India know how the private transport operators hold us to ransom, time and again, to increase their fares. The most recent incident being that of autorickshaw(hereafter referred to as auto) drivers in mumbai threatening to go on strike, if base fares are not increased from rs. 9 to rs. 15. This is been in the backdrop of the governments decision to hike the CNG prices by rs. 6. I, along with many other commuters, feel that this demand is very steep, even though I do not require to use their service often. Lets analyse the situation.

1.  It a commonly known fact that CNG, as against petrol, is a very efficient and clean fuel. The government has pushed for this fuel owing to its low cost and cleaner exhaust. The cost of running a vehicle, especially a transport vehicle, is very less on CNG as compared to petrol and diesel. Even then the base fares for auto drivers running on CNG are same as those running on petrol. An increase in CNG price translates to very few paisa additional running cost per kilometer.

2.  While I was discussing this topic with my brother, he informed me about a particular conversation he had with an auto driver. As per the figures that the driver gave out, the returns on running an auto on petrol were about 125 rs. per litre of petrol(petrol costs rs. 50 in Mumbai). Compared to that the returns on running an auto on CNG are rs. 175 on an average per kg of CNG(CNG costs rs. 25 per kg). So clearly there are huge margins in operating an auto on CNG. But the auto driver revealed that one of their “leaders” was pushing for this hike, even though others were against. Infact, one member of the union has suggested that the base fares, instead of being increased, be reduced to rs. 6, so that more commuters would be attracted to auto. But the member was silenced then and there, reminding of his state of origin(this proves how deeply this state divide is rooted even in the “united” union).  Though I cannot vouch for the statements made by the auto driver, I feel these calculations are quite accurate.

3. While discussing this issue, the subject of transport in singapore came up, and my brother informed me that the government has levied heavy taxes on private vehicles, so that the commuters opt for MRT(mass rapid transit) or public buses. I would suggest that the India government goes ahead and agrees with the demands of the auto union. But they should also control the number of autos plying on the roads. Also the government should do something to the number of autos stationary at their designated stands, which normally are located just outside the suburban railways. A control in their population can very easily make some road for public buses which the commuters will prefer to autos, due to less cost and easy availibility.

4. Let me recite the problems we had at our place with transportation. We had a very good state transport bus service plying in our area, which is around 5 km from suburban train station. But around 10 years back, people started getting restless waiting for a bus, which started getting delayed time and again. Many times there were incidents of buses being cancelled due to one reason or the other and people got fed up. Then one by one, commuters started to opt for the auto service, which was rare initially. But seeing the growing demand in our area, more and more auto service was given to us. The fares were kept exactly same as the bus fares, and people, with a blind on their eyes, were attracted to it. Within few years, the buses has very few patrons, and ultimately many services were stopped, citing non feasibility. Our social leaders, went just short of kneeling in front of the commuters, in request to continue using buses. But ultimately, all the buses to our routes were stopped. Now was the chance for auto drivers to get their wishes. First of all the fares were increased for day journey, with and additional charge for night drive. Drivers started taking 5 passengers( three on the back seat, and two on both sides of the driver) to start the journey. Then came the six seater autos, which we call Dum Dum, which ran on diesel. The drivers wouldn’t start if the auto was not filled with 10 passangers(8 in the seats meant for 6 and 2 on the left of the driver). People with broader bottoms, and even pregnant ladies were made to sit in very small and uncomfortable seats. There was no use complaining, else the driver would ask the commuter to get down, and make seat for some one who would not complain. All this while, the RTO chose to turn blinds eye to these broken rules, with a wet hand for the traffic police stationed near the junctions. Finally again after years of struggle by our social activists, the buses, though limited in number, have started plying in our area. Men, who had opted for motor bikes, due to harrasement at the hands of auto drivers, have stopped using this costly transport and chose the red and yellow bus, provided by the government of maharashtra. We expect higher number of commuters this monsoon.

Though this story diverted me from the original point, I feel that its important for commuters to use public transport, hence I narrated it. All in all, the fare hike demand is irrational. A question to the union leaders. If you demand for a hike in fares, when fuel prices are hiked, do you reduce the fares when the fuel prices go down? I don’t know. I didn’t see the fares going down, when the petrol prices went down from the high of rs. 51 per lire to rs. 46 per litre.

Jun 052010
 

Woke up this morning to read the news flashed by the (good/bad)times of India that the NCP chief Sharad Pawar had been distanced by friends and foes alike. Though he has negated his involvement in the IPL bid, the reports by the times of India claiming his involvement in the bid, through a company owned by him, is damaging enough for him to be left alone.

But will the veteran politican be bowled out by this delivery? It’s for time to tell. For me, I believe that this person is capable of coming clean out of every situation. If politics is a board of chess, Sharad Pawar is not the queen on it. He is the person who handles the queen, king, rook, knight, bishop and pawn. And he has managed to win by his moves, each time.

So, even if the media, who will stop pursuing this case in short time, has managed to enforce a check in this game, lets find who the checkmate will be.

Jun 042010
 

Events after events are going by in the world of sports. We had that controversy filled IPL, then the T20 world cup. The Roland Garros is on at the moment. And up next is the much awaited FIFA 2010. The enthusiasm around the world is highest during the soccer world cup. Every one is getting busy preparing for the event at this moment. But long before the even will start, the books are open around the world and bets are being accepted. Few people play by heart and bid on their hot favourite, and others play by mind to maximise the chances of winning.

I would be glad to bet on someone for the first time in my life. But I am in India, where gambling is illegal, except on horse racing, at few casinos and the online lotteries run by few states. The only bet I am allowed to take is by travelling in a suburban train compartment, and I have managed to come out alive till now.

Anyway, why is it not legallised in India? I do not understand the logic behind it, if the government is unable to curb all the illegal betting that goes on during the sporting events. I was recently told that the bets are accepted even on the propability of the rains in India, illegally. Stock market, which many consider as a gamble is legal in India. But betting on sporting events isn’t.

India has an estimated $60 billion turnover per year through betting channels. This proves how inefficient our governance is in curbing it. So why not legalise it. First of all the government would surely do well with additional revenue that will be generated through legal betting. Secondly the bookies will be under government scanner, reducing the chances of matches being fixed. Black money will have restricted access into circulation. Of course, illegal betting will still flourish as the bookies have lots of tricks(and powerful men) under their sleeves, but the common man will prefer legal channels, reducing the load on them. Lots of new jobs will be created for the man at the betting hubs and kiosks( and I do not intend sarcasm in that statement).

So if the government of India legalises betting, they manage to reduce the fiscal deficit, they curb illegal practices in sporting events, they create employment, they put some bottle neck to the flow of blackmoney.

And Nilesh Gonsalves here gets to bet on one of his favourite FIFA worldcup teams.

May 222010
 

It was one of the worst days for Indian aviation. The news of the Mangalore plane crash left us all shocked at the office. I wouldn’t like to give hyperlink to the details of this news, cause you might have heard/seen it on media.

But as I reached home in the evening, I was shocked much more to see the media, building up the accident for their benefit. I saw a video conferencing being arranged on a particular channel, where in the host seemed to have got in to a heated argument with an official on the matter of safety at the airports. The anchors were even even daring enough to guess the reasons for this accidents, where as I feel, no one has any technical knowledge. I even saw a tv anchor flying a miniature sized plane on a picture of a runway, depicting the incident.

My humble request to these channels is to stop all this nonsense as there are people have near and dear ones who might be watchin it on tv. How sick will your presentation look to them? You are fighting over the safety of building the airport at such unsafe place, but did you ever cover this faulty project when it was underway?

The plane has a blackbox which records all the voyage data including few last conversations. It will take few days, may be months, to analyse the data and find what went wrong. Will the tv channels give enough coverage at that time, and try to bring the guilty to justice. Or will it be wrapped up in the coverage of another celebrity wedding, because the plane crash will no longer be a high profile case for them.

If we remember, justice is yet to be delivered to the union carbide victims, but how many media channels are interested in highlighting the case, is known to all. It seems that the media waits for the things to happen, so that they have something to cover.

And Mr. Patel, forget your political stunt of resigning on moral ground. Is there any justification for resignation?

Jan 232010
 

I found this particular article in the Times of India page 10 in todays print edition quite amusing. I wouldn’t differ if some of you found it to be just informative. But my analysis; here it is.

The Presidents

Rajendra Prasad
(1884-1963)

Term of Office | January 26, 1950 to May 13, 1962

First President of independent India. A freedom fighter, Rajendra Prasad was the only president to serve two terms in office.

Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan
(1888-1975)

Term of Office | May 13, 1962 to May 13, 1967

A prominent philosopher, writer, a Knight of the Realm who held the position of vicechancellor of Andhra University and Banaras Hindu University. He was also made a Knight of the Golden Army of Angels by Pope Paul VI.

Zakir Husain (1897-1969)

Term of Office | May 3, 1967 to May 3, 1969

He was vice-chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna. Husain died before his term of office ended.

Shri Varahagiri Venkata Giri
(1894-1980)

Term of Office | May 3, 1969 to July 20, 1969 and August 24, 1969 to August 24, 1974

The only person to have the distinction of serving as both acting president and President of India. V V Giri was
   a recipient Bharat Ratna, and his previous positions included minister of labour and high commissioner to Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
(1905-1977)

Term of Office | August 24, 1974 to February 11, 1977

A veteran politician, he held various cabinet posts including food & agriculture, education, industrial development, etc. He died in 1977 before his term ended, and was the second president to have died in office.

Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (1913-1996)

Term of Office | July 25, 1977 to July 25, 1982

N S Reddy was the first CM of Andhra Pradesh. He was the only MP from Janata Party to get elected from Andhra. He was unanimously elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha on March 26, 1977 and relinquished this office on July 13, 1977 to become the 6th President of India.

Giani Zail Singh
(1916-1994)

Term of Office | July 25, 1982 to July 25, 1987

Zail Singh served as Punjab CM and later as Union home minister in the Indira Gandhi government.

R Venkataraman
(1910-2009)

Term of Office | July 25, 1987 to July 25, 1992

A former freedom fighter, he first served as minister of finance and industry and later as minister of defence.

Shankar Dayal Sharma
(1918-1999)

Term of Office | July 25, 1992 to July 25, 1997

Sharma had been chief minister of MP, and then Union minister for communications. He also served as the governor of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra. As vice-president, broke down in the Rajya Sabha while witnessing an ugly row by the members.

K R Narayanan (1920-2005)

Term of Office | July 25, 1997 to July 25, 2002

India’s first Dalit president. Served as India’s ambassador to Thailand, Turkey, China and the US. Regarded as an independent president who set several precedents and enlarged the scope of the highest constitutional office.

A P J Abdul Kalam
(born 1931)

Term of Office | July 25, 2002 to July 25, 2007

Eminent scientist and visionary who played a leading role in the development of India’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes. Kalam also received the Bharat Ratna and has authored 4 books.

And the Precedent..

Pratibha Patil
(born 1934)

Term of Office | July 25, 2007 –

Patil is the first woman to become the President of India. She was also the first woman Governor of Rajasthan. In 2009, Patil followed Kalam’s precedent and flew in a fighter aircraft.

It can be seen that all the previous presidents had some sort of qualification under their belt. Some were former ministers, governors, scientists, writers, freedom fighters etc.

But a precedent has been set by selecting a president based on conveniences of the ruling party. Without any bigger qualification to promote(enlighten me if I am not well informed), except for the will to fly in a fighter plane, it seems that the cause of women’s rights and the protection of a particular community(read marathi), has been the judging factor. A precedence of this sort at such a high level in the governance doesn’t go down well.

(Data sourced from The Times of India)

Jan 132010
 

And the recommended name for this award is home minister Mr. R.R. Patil!! After a brave ride into naxal infested(the use of this word is not an indication of any disrespect towards naxalites, but an indication of my poor vocabulary), and aquiring some information on the living conditions of the villagers, who would be a more worthy candidate? And the gesture of sipping tea, with the neglected folks is worth mentioning.

Now for the more important part. R.R. Patil said (a month back), he went (yesterday), and now its time he changes something. As he said that what he saw there and what he had been told back in mantralaya and assembly is different, now its in is hands to find out why he was misinformed, and what he can do about it. That the living conditions of the people in the interiors, far away from the reach of development, are well below standards, is not a hidden fact. But the doubting Thomas needed to see Jesus in flesh to believe. And he saw. So now, what can be done about it?

So now that you have taken a huge risk Mr. Minister, the recommendation of the award by us being a bonus for your efforts, its time that you make good use of the information(which was difficult for RAW to get) and bring about some change.

Else it will be considered as just another “chooti baat in baadhi country”(small events in big country), the words that were put in to your mouth by our very own media

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