Friday, 2 October 2009


Although have been absent from (writing) blogs for quite a while something clicked while watching the movie "Gandhi" on Sony Pix. Certain things which like

1. The roads that we have today are still the same as it was during his time .. Dusty and potholed

2. Villages are still the same .. offlimit ... hard to reach .. haven't changed even with our own country (wo)men ruling us

3. The rulers .. they are looking similar to what we had at that time ..

4. Media still reports only what it wants (asked) to report.

5. Women are still carrying water on their head from far.

During my school days i had read a story "Namak Ka Daroga" by Premchand. This was in Hindi and part of our course, The story was set in pre-independence days to highlight the prevalent corruption we had in government. How a Daroga catches a very rich man smuggling salt. Very soon almost everyone from courts to his seniors get into an overdrive to save the rich guy. Finally the Daroga gets dumped. Contrast this with what we see today. I am pretty sure the outcome would still be the same. The honest Daroga will still get dumped.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The first month: Renting a house

Now that I have spent almost a month after returning and have almost secured a house on rent (This was a big achievement for me in last one month). This was certainly an achievement after seeing almost 25-30 houses of all types. Although I consider myself very experienced in searching a house on rent ( have done it in most of the metros except Chennai ) still I received some very very useful tips by a friend of mine who accompanied me on many of my house hunting 'expeditions'. Most of these are tested with real situations.

1. Never say that you have returned back to India from outside. If asked mention some Indian city from where you are getting re-located. Most importantly do have a phone number from that city where anyone can call and inquire for you. Explain the person who might have to answer the call about you that they should never mention anything about outside India. Otherwise any such mention will just make either the deposit or the rent or both double.

2. When asked, quote the lowest possible budget for rent to the brokers. This will make them explain you that it’s very very difficult to get a decent house in that budget in that locality and also very important is to allow them to advice you to consider some other localities. Once they have talked at length about other options ask them to look something in your budget in the area that you initially asked. Do not assure that your budget can go up .. give him hope by saying that please show me the house first.

3. The broker will ask if you are ok with a fully furnished house at a higher rent. Remember fully furnished houses are not very common in India and also mostly available in a very up-scale end of the market. This is yet another question to gauge your 'haisiyat'.

4. To the house owners or to the brokers maintain your 'deen-heen-awastha' . Bargain .. Make a poker face and quote the half of the rent that the owner has asked. Be ready to be thrown out or for situations where owners turning impolite to you.

5. Never fail to 're-visit' the same house from where you were thrown out two days back. Inquire owner’s health .. weather .. but do not talk about the house again.

6. Mention your company as you will be asked but never mention what you do there. Keep mentioning lowest end of the ladder to everyone without mentioning your salary or your designation. Now for salary part, its tricky as after mentioning that the owner might pity you (most of the time he would be earning far more than you with what would seem to be no-work for him at all) or in certain cases might discourage you from renting his/her house and can advice you some cheaper options that he knows.

7. Always maintain a poker face and even if you like the house try to find faults. Beat it down.

8. Count rooms carefully.

9. Don't get into Vastu stories. This one comes from a similar house hunting experience we had in Bangalore. Where we went to see a house(Flat) in BTM layout near that Bannerghata road. This guy showed us three rooms and he counted them as well. Then we realized that the third room looks a bit small.. also one of the friend remembered that he didn't notice any 'balcony' as it was on third floor so we inquired the owner .. pet came the reply .. actually saar according to vastu the 'balcony' was not good for house so we closed it and converted that into a room. So is it a four room flat ... no saar the third room was the 'balcony' we converted it into room so that you can have complete peace of mind... aayio and 2k extra as rent for your peace of mind ..

10. Discuss and ask again and again .. as after lot of questioning one owner mentioned that he might require one of the rooms for few days in a month as his mother is old and is on some type of medicine and she is staying in some other place and visits to see the doctor. just couldn't ask why can't his mother stay with him/his family.

11. No matter what the owner will always slip-in something into the contract to keep you un-comfortable and then blame it on the lawyer who wrote that. But then they would not like you to propose another lawyer.

12. Most of them would not be very keen to give you rent receipts and would slip in very innocent looking lines .. I do not like keeping papers so you can e-transfer it into my mom/wife's account so that even you will have a record in your bank statement. They would not like you to ask so who owns the house its you or your wife/mom. If you own the house then how can I pay rent to your wife and then how should I show my e-transfers to income tax department as they still like to get papers as proof of rent.

13. No one wants to discuss the pending electricity bills. It will be dealt with sweeping statements like yes yes we are very very prompt with all our bills.

14. Check the loos carefully. During my expeditions saw a house which had one washroom with both types of commodes, which the broker mentioned as .. saar two proper commodes English as well as Indian ... but forgot to mention that they are co-located as if you get bored reading news on the English one then put the paper on that and then move to the Indian one without changing the room or anyone knowing outside.

15. Never get lured by any mention of society or club. They are common tools to justify the price. Swimming pool is even bigger wastage as no-one would be changing the waters regularly and remember a great man once said 'a Gentleman is one who comes out of bath to pee' but then there are very few gentlemen.

16. You might have to appear for interviews to check if you are suitable to stay in that society or not. In one house the owner had gone out and had left the task to find a renter to his brother who was staying in the same apartment. That guy showed me the house and then started reeling off the rules of the society. Then he mentioned that I will have to appear for an interview in front of society members and then they will decide if I am suitable enough to stay or not. I wondered if he really wanted to rent that house (as the money would go to his brother ) or just happy to report back to his bro that he is not able to find a 'suitable-match' for the house.

17. Never discuss politics with owner or the broker.

18. The biggest NO. Never look (normal indian stare) at the lady (wife/sister/daughter or anyone ) in the house even if she is really beautiful. If you get the house you will get more chances so don't try to maximize your benefits in the first meeting itself. Never ever try to impress ladies while you are searching a house. There are execptions to this rule but they are too few to take a chance.

19. Show respect for father-in-laws. As there are chances that the house that you want might have been 'gifted' to him by his father-in-law.

20. Check the surroundings. As for one house the broker said .. saar very beautiful view from balcony saar .. you will see lake with good greenery saar ... now what he didn't say that the lake was actually a pond and people who do not have a comfort of a walled area for bath will be taking bath there throughout the day and also your laundary-wala would be washing your cloths in front of your eyes. It might be appealing if you want to do research on bathing habit of people.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

On a break!!

Sometime back had decided to return back to India before it gets too late .. so will be away from blogs while i make the journey back home and settle myself back into the daily life of 'home'.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The tough achievers

One of the most positive stories that I have read in recent times. From India-Today. Highly recommended. Hats off to their perseverance and dedication.

Even though the number of seats has gone up multiple folds and the question papers have changed and people cry of dilution in the brand but I would bet that still only those go through the toughest exam who really deserve it. And the seats and number of IITs should have increased long time back.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a Taxi driver in Kolkata. as we(me and my wife) jumped into one of those big Ambassador taxies in Kolkata i was greeted with one of the 'whom-I-thought-was-very-talkative' taxi drivers.

He was around 45-50 and had lot of question for me like what do we do, after that what have I studied, a bit surprising was when he asked my branch. Then he asked if I am happy with my job and would I recommend others similar job as mine... I was very amused with all these questions and his keen interest in keeping the conversation going So I asked him on how he is very conversant with all this.

His answer was 'mera ladka bhi engineering me hai (my son is doing engineering)

I was impressed.. then asked him where is he .. wo sir IIT kanpur me hai (he is studying at IIT Kanpur).

I was at the edge of my seat leaning on the front seat .. ohh kis branch me hai (whats is branch) .. wo electrical me hai (he is in electrical) .. wow .. means must be under 200AIR.

Then rest of our discussion focused on me asking him how his son studied. Where did he do the schooling.. and all that .. and most of the answers where 'wo padhta tha aur hum to bas help karte the' and with us now rather than a Taxi driver there a was proud father who can keep talking for hours about his son and his achievements.

By the time we reached our destination we were really feeling very very happy and were proud to meet him.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

For respecting individual rights!!

A bit of contradictions. Recently French President Mr. Sarkozy's remarks on Burqa. Quoted from TOI article
"We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity," he said. "That is not the idea that the French republic has of women's dignity."
Another one exact opposite to this remark was made by President Obama in his speech in Cairo. Again quoting form the full text of speech in Guardian
"That is why the US government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it."
Interestingly all this sounds from a different world when we have in India debates on Western vs Indian cloths. But then most of us restrict ourselves to comparing only Western vs sarees.

A very good article by TOI on the same subject.

"In a world where sexual-crime is rampant, the burqa denotes comfort, security and allows a woman her dignity, they say. "

"Denying that the burqa has any oppressive value to it, they say modern burqas are quite fashionable, with gems and jewels embroidered on them. Fancy ones can be priced as much as Rs 50,000, and these aren't the bridal ones."

Edited to add: just a thought in my mind. Do maulavis approve of Valentine Day or if Bajrang Dal has a company from the other side of spectrum?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Anybody can be a father ... but it takes somebody to be a DAD!!

Among the lot of junk mails that daily clutters my mailbox one really caught my eye. Now this one was from the Indian phone company whose services i use for my international calls.

The subject line said "Anybody can be a Father...but it takes somebody to be a DAD!"

Apparently we even have a Father's Day now and the mail was a failed attempt to sell me something for my dad for Father’s Day. On a footnote looks like we will need to redefine our relationship as I have never wished Father’s day to him and I suspect he remains as ignorant as he is on these special days.

For me the most catchy part remained the subject line which was not making any sense to me .. "Anybody can be a father ... but it takes somebody to be a DAD"

Who is a father and who is a DAD?

And what happens to those Appa, Babuji, Pitaji variety? Where do they fall in? But then marketers probably think that it will take sometime before they are ready to target that segment. As usual they would be laggards.

In and out of our workplace we get loads of jargons ... very often you hear someone saying "we need a paradigm shift" .. or "we need to pull right value drivers/levers" ... or even better combining multiple of them like "we need to organize ourselves to bring innovation and be in a position to pull right value drivers" .. a more simpler but often used is "we need to think out-of-box on this one"

To me these sentences never sounded English and very often i do not resist the temptation of stopping the speakers and asking them meaning of these sentences. Very often i find an annoyed look or even more 'un'-english answer.

But then again for me such meetings remain fun as they provide loads of laughter once you are out of those meetings .. paradigm shift .. huh!! .. value drivers .. wow!!

It was the same puzzled moment for me through that mail. My first reaction was to write a mail back to them asking them the difference between father and a dad .. but somehow i didn't ..

Looks like your 'DADness' would be lot low if you do not get lot of gifts from your sonny/daughters .. unless the juniors spend loads of money on buying gifts fathers can not claim to be dads ... and ofcourse they need to be marked for father’s day.

I think Doors had the same thought when they wrote that line in their song 'The End' .. “Father, yes son, I want to kill you” .. I guess their father was not enough DAD!

AP:crimes against women & PCC

Immediately i thought of calling the PCC (Pink Chaddi Campaigns) brigade. For uninitiated more info on PCC here & here

Mangalore happened. Someone arranged for a TV crew at a pub and started beating up women. We discovered that we have a group called Sree Ram Sene(SRS) and all 'forward' women devised a 'fool'-proof plan and ran a PCC. Media called for shame shame for SRS. Minister shouted Taliban. Some other shouted for reports from State Govt. Media again shouted how the reports are needed.

PCC was a success. Blogs were running pink. We showed our affinity to pink. The 'beautiful people' were talking pink and declared how SRS need to be 'pinked' and put behind the bars so that we can freely walk into the pubs.

Switch to AP. lets quote from Article
"Sri Laxmi, Lakshmi Sujatha, Ayesha Meera, Bhargavi, Swapnika and now, Sameera. Brutal and savage attacks on women are happening in the State in quick succession. The reasons might differ but in most cases, women are victimised by the lovelorn or the greedy."
The war cry: Bring on the PCC. Lets teach these attackers a lesson.

Hang on!! how about answering these questions first to see if PCC really applies in this case or not,
  • Do we really need to pay attention to these as have they stopped any women from going to pub.
  • Isn't that state ruled by a good government who are pillers of secularism.
  • How can we dub these attacks as Talibanization .. naah.. Mangalore was as they attacked women in pub that too they had arranged a camera before attacking them so that we can see them and then 'pink' them.
  • These attackers are not even arranging for a camera before they attack. how can we ascertain their crimes.
  • Lets find out if these attackers shout 'that ugly H' word or not. How can we do a PCC if they are just attacking and not shouting that ugly word.
  • Looks like they are just petty criminals as they do not even shout 'H' word.
  • Has SRS reached AP? you do not know? then how can we run PCC? Let SRS reach AP. Let them own up responsibility for any/few of these attacks then we will run PCC.
I am still searching for answers. Till then you can read on further quoted from the main article and prey that SRS owns some of them so that we can send the saviors for women in AP as well
"As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics published in 2007-08, AP is `a highly unsafe state for women.’ The State topped the list of crimes against women with 24,783 cases, accounting for 13 per cent of the total incidents in 2007. Of these, 3,316 cases were sexual harassment cases putting AP on top of other states.

The State has also accounted for about 83 per cent (about 1,000 cases) of the total cases against indecent representation of women. Among 35 cities with a population of more than one million, Hyderabad recorded 1,755 cases next to New Delhi which registered highest cases of crimes against women - 4,134 cases.

About 13,000 cases on human rights violation against women are still pending in Andhra Pradesh."
I am planning to call up some of my friends in AP to check if any of these are remotely associated with attacks in pubs or near the pubs.

[I have no intension for 'jibe' as these are serious crimes but could not resist the contrast]

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Who was Ram?

This is a bit off topic and there are many people who believe that he is GOD (including my parents and all my close relatives) or an incarnation of Vishnu might not like it. For me I am not too sure who he is (was).

A recent chilled out Saturday evening discussion with a friend sparked this, which also brought out some of the books that I had read when I was a school going kid. Do I really believe in Ram? I am not sure. What I do know is that I do not believe that there was no one like that. Was a he a GOD or was he someone like Lord Buddha or Lord Mahavir who were real but were so ahead of their time and had such a lasting impact on history that we have to believe them to be GOD.

Long time back when I was just a school going kid I had read a book written by Bhagwan Singh "Apne Apne Ram”. And after that discussion I did a simple Google search to find about that book or if I can find it on net to read it again. Google does not throw a big light on that apart from confirming that there is indeed such book and one of the sites says that I can buy it for INR 250. Also this book is offered in some Hindi Literature course in some University.

While it’s been really a long time back but I still remember reading also discussing that book with my parents.

What Bhagwan Singh has written is a novel, which positions the story of Ram in contemporary context and makes you believe that most of the things attributed to the story of Ram could have happened.

Through the eyes of Bhagwan Singh you can easily identify some of the places that are associated with Ram. Like who could be king of Gods (Indra). Why is that story of Agastya asking Vindhya not to grow any further and crossed it and stayed south of it. Who was Ravan and why he behaved the way he behaved. This was one of the most engrossing books on story of Ram that I had read at that time and it was almost as if I read a true story without any doubt on existence of anyone of the characters.

Then after some time Narendra Kohli(A trivia: he has studied in the same school as me) came along and I got a chance to lay my hands on some of his books. Wiki says that Narendra Kohli is

"widely acclaimed as the most prominent Hindi language author of modern times[citation needed][1]. [2] Leader of cultural renissance in Hindi literature in modern times [2], he is credited with reinventing the ancient form of epic writing in modern prose. [3]. His contribution to Hindi literature is often compared to the legendary writer Premchand[3],"

He had written his story of Ram in multiple parts each defining one big part of his life as well as showcasing he achievements and his struggle. To me Narendra Kohli's Ram appeared to be a person who is trying to break the barriers existed in the society at that time, trying to unifying the country and a person who is pragmatic enough to negotiate deals with different kings, inventor and innovator of arms, someone who is trying to build an equal society for everyone. Again yet another narration which makes you believe the existence and tries to explain many things which seems impossible for normal human beings. In this narration again Ram through his deeds and character brings confidence into public and slowly gains that aura where he can be compared with GOD.

While these two stories had good impact on me and somewhere made me think of Ram as a person who was so ahead of his time that he almost appeared like a GOD. We are yet to get to that part of history and history experts are yet to get enough evidences when they can say with certainty if Ram was indeed a historical person (which I think he was) with amazing abilities and not a very very beautiful creation of Valmiki.

Some of the people I know, while on a trip to Rameshwaram made it a point to go to that part of the sea side which is supposed to be that bridge, although seems like it was not easily accessible. One of the pages from official SriLanka tourism site tries to explain their story.

[This is purely based on my thinking]

Monday, 8 June 2009

Why Woman Reservation Bill is bad ..very very bad!!

There is a buzz going around on Woman Reservation bill which was first muted in 1999 and had seen dramatic events whenever it was placed on LS. Key would be once passed this bill would ‘reserve’ 180 odd (33%) of the seats for women in Lok Shabha and similarly 33% in state Vidhan Shabhas as well.

While there is a need to get more women in apex decision making bodies of governance but I feel this ‘back door entry system’ would do more harm to the country.

Vinod has already written how rather than empowering common women it will empower Gharana’s and could make those 180 seats almost exclusive for political families and out of bound for common folks.

Another key aspect we need to take into account is the roles played by the institutions were we plan to have Women reservation.

Over the years with liberal dose of criminals and dynasties, decision making capabilities of Parliament has reduced. There are far more walkouts and slogan shouting rather than healthy debates on policy decisions. If we reserve 33% (or rather de-reserve 33% seats from men as few have started calling it) there is a real chance of these women rather than being true representatives of public would be ceremonial heads of their families.

So if a criminal is barred from contesting his wife/daughter/mother would be contest from reserved seats.

All the seats which get marked for women lets say in 2014 will see wives of current sitting MPs contest the elections.

What is the objective of the bill? Is it to empower women? I guess yes.. is this the best way of doing it?

If we make reservations in highest decision making institutions of our country will that enhance the decision making capacity of these institutions? Why do we have a parliament and such a rigorous election process for entering into parliament? Isn’t that to provide policy directions to the whole country? Are we by reserving seats for special groups enhancing or reducing its efficiency?

Before we start taking sides as pro- or anti-women empowerment (or anti feminists) imagine the situation or who will be entering into parliament in near future?

Does everyone really believe that this reservation will allow Meera Sanyal and likes of her to enter into Parliament? I am pretty sure they have not reached to the position where they are through reservation but through their hard work and because they are the best in their chosen field.

We have a woman President and now a woman speaker even without any such reservation. They are there not because they are women. Our biggest state is ruled by a woman and she has reached there through her hard work not through some reservation. Our capital is ruled by another lady and people are voting her back to power everytime she had asked for vote. I do not find anyone discriminating against them because they are women.

Do we need women like them or do we need more WAGs of political families?

I would like to bet that after the Bill WAGs of political families & criminals will have better chance of entering the Parliament than likes of Meera Sanyal, atleast in next couple of decades.

Do we really need to cripple our Parliament further (after dynasties and criminals) when we badly need to send best of the breed so that they can take best possible decisions irrespective of their sex, caste or religion?

Empowerment needs to happen at the lowest level in schools, colleges, by not denying them education, by not discriminating against them in jobs.

For Parliament we need people who are already empowered & are proven leaders not people who will get empowered by entering there.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

26/11 & inquiry commission

I started reading this news as yet another typical news and yet another demand by the opposition. Looked like Govt and opposition are back to their normal service of demands & denials and accusations & counters.

What really got me a bit nervous was the reply given by the Home Minister. Quoting from the article

Demand "Leader of Opposition L K Advani of the BJP on Friday asked the government to share with Parliament the dossier of 26/11 evidence given to Pakistan and also called for setting up an inquiry commission - a demand the government rejected."

Reply "However, home minister P Chidambaram ruled out setting up any probe commission and said the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had not set up any commission after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in December 1999."

This reply sounds fussy: 1999 was bad and the Govt response was not really glowing either. But what is bad is using that as a reference.

Does that mean that if the Govt in 1999 faltered in its response to a particular situation the Govt in 2009 must do the same? And then claim that you didn’t do it either when you were there.

How about learning from the past mistakes? While I feel that HM was so far right in not sharing the details with Parliament because of the sensitivity of the issue. But now situation has changed as Pak has gone ahead and freed the person whom India thought was the chief planner of 26/11. I think now making the evidences public in Parliament is better. After all US have it. Pak has it. It’s only Indian Parliament which does not have it.

Pak has improved its position, with US aids, it has got out of the hole it was in immediately after 26/11 and now probably will not do anything to bring the culprits in 26/11 to book Govt would be better of having a public debate as it would increase their credibility and also allow them to make any mid-course correction into the response. I do not see this position of no-dialogue-till-a-concrete-action continuing for long as very soon US would be pushing India to sit across the table with Pak as they need Pak forces to concentrate in Af and would like India to slow down on its offensive.

India needs to device a new plan as the dossier hasn’t worked and what better way of doing it than starting with an honest public debate rather than pointing to old omissions that others have done.

Friday, 5 June 2009

On Bihar and Train burnings

Recently some trains were burnt in Bihar over a decision by railways to stop the train halts created during Lalu’s time and Bihar is back is news. The first thought is to blame the people for the ruckus and mindless destruction ... but then i find it amusing that a Govt which is just starting with the ministers taken oath just few days back would take a decision to revert back all the halts (around 350 of them) in such a hurry .. Even if we assume that Lalu abused the system to create so many halts thus slowing the trains, but logically he created them to go back to people and tell them that 'see i have created them for you’ means a section of people must be happy with those stops. So it wasn't unhelpful or can not be said with full certainty that those stops were not needed. To me the question should be for what type or for which trains those halts are needed and can there be different set of trains like intercity provided rather than just stopping all the halts?

There were train burnings in Bihar even when MNS was making its own laws in Mumbai. The Govt at centre as well as in Maha were not really doing anything to curb MNS. All of us who have stayed in Mumbai would really know that it could have been a much better city without so many of migrants and that too from lower strata, who do all the low end jobs but bring no investments. They mostly thrive on the existing infra of the city without adding, but than is killing and bashing up people really a solution. Isn't that something similar is happening now in Australia, and we all are crying (I think again the Govt is not doing anything, but this time its only the Central, Maha govt can take it easy as this time they are not required to do anything).

I believe the chain is just starting for Bihar. It had a good run of last few years, with large number of ministers from state and a CM with good intention running the state.

Politically there was a belief that JD(U) could be a good ally for Cong if the need arises so Cong was soft on it, with generally remaining friendly to the needs of Bihar, except for cases like package for Koshi or NHDP which is still stuck for Bihar and the re-drawing of tender and contract rules were really bad for Bihar (and for UP as well).

I believe that there was softness in Media (especially English) towards Bihar as the ridicule seemed to be absent and there seemed to be a plan to portray Nitish in a different light. Remember the screaming questions in hosted debates which were repeatedly asked to JD(U) representatives and others as well. 'Nitish is a winner and won't he like to be with the winner' or debate around 'secular credentials of Nitish'.

I think it would be shunned away now and somehow the ridicule would be back. You would find passing references by 'beautiful people' like 'Bihar will never change' and other places would be compared with Bihar after every killing or training burning incident... 'are we looking at Biharikaran of ... '

PS: Few years back at a skiing centre in Alps there was an Indian guy who claimed to be staying in Belgium for last 10 years and had almost every colour painted on his hair remarked ‘ohh so you are a Bhaiya’ when I told him that I come from Bihar. That left me and my friends who all happened to be from south of India grinning at the thought that everyone seemed to know what Bihar has become famous for, even in Belgium people seemed to know..:-)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The End … by Doors

Can you picture what we’ll be,
So limitless and free?
Desperately in need
Of some stranger’s hand
In a desperate land …

Monday, 25 May 2009

Latest from The Wall Street Journal

Quoting from this article
Without saying so, the U.S. will have to be an intermediary. With Indians, American officials insist the Mumbai attacks woke Pakistani leaders up to the true threat of extremism -- in particular Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister who controls the Punjab. India still distrusts him for past ties to Islamists. President Asif Ali Zardari may be politically weak, but the U.S. points out that India won't get a friendlier Pakistani leader.
Further on
Team Obama wants India to draw down along the frontier to give Pakistan's military cover to shift forces westward against the Taliban. Back have come lectures from Indians about Pakistan's superior force strength on the border. India won't take orders from Washington lightly.

"New Delhi and Islamabad could be encouraged to reopen a back channel to discuss Kashmir and "comprehensive peace." None of this will be easy. But the solution to the Obama administration's so-called "AfPak" problem runs through India."
To me this sounded different to what India's publically stated position is ..

Monday, 18 May 2009

So who are the losers!!

A ramdom list and reflection of my thoughts or lack of it

Urban middle class (UMC): This could be longish again as I try to explain my points. As few people have pointed out that Cong has won seats in most of the urban areas and many have equated that urban middle class has supported Cong and it’s a shift. A possible reason of that could be MMS’s image as reformer which connected well with middle class when he was an FM in PVR govt. But why do I put say urban Middle class in loser category

I believe Fiscal policies and high deficits affect UMC more than any other class. This is the group which is most affected by the any changes into the interest rates and liquidity in the markets. With loan weavers and other bloats we have a very high fiscal deficit (something similar to what we had before 1991) which means the govt is the biggest borrower in the market and leaving very less money for ‘aam aadmi’ to borrow. Thus the total value for money is not going to go down anytime soon would have a direct impact on aspirations of UMC.

Well documented price rise. Again with large deficit and high interest rate govt has a limited scope to make a dent here

If this victory in election can be termed as vindication of the policies that govt was following lets say on Reservations, IIT/IIMs are done now. Which one is next target to propagate social justice? Squeezing of jobs for UMC. Although with Arjun Singh not likely to be in ministry again this one would be interesting to see as I believe MMS and other key people were in principle against the caste based reservation in higher institutions

Infrastructure: last five years were anything but frantic activity on infrastructure build up. We the transport minister expected to retain the portfolio we would see the same pace (or lack of it) although some of the places have benefited check the statewise allocation and their status for NHDP III/IV and you will have your answer.

Communists: now this one is a given, I thought more than the nuclear deal (Cong never talked about it in its election campaign) they lost it because they behaved in Nandigarm, Singur which really showed their ugly face. The killings in Nandirgarm and subsequent refusal to do any course correction made them pay heavy. In Kerala I think numerous run-ins with Church could have had its effect. Now communists will have to worry on keeping their existing flock together rather than expanding. A smaller fallout of this would be they would be missed in LS debates and I always feel this bunch of people are more well prepared for discussions that happens on policy matters.

Modi: Brand Modi was on a roll and irrespective of the overall outcome a collective win in Gujarat-Rajasthan-and-Maha might have propelled him to centre stage faster and he would have become the tallest in BJP after LKA. But now it will require some correction in his brand to get on to centre stage. Media would come after him even harder and a not so good showing for BJP outside Guj just ensured that ghosts of 2002 will continue to haunt him. A win in areas where he was in-charge would have dented some of the voices against him but my guess is he will remain to confined to Guj for quite sometime now.

I think Modi would like to get to the centre stage only when the court cases for 2002 reach to a conclusion either way and his opponents are better off keeping 2002 alive in some form or the other or it might become something like 1984 .. say sorry and move on.

Mayawati: a clear dent in her ambition. She has shown the impatience for the PM chair during the Nuke deal debates in LS. But now with Cong making a severe dent in her upper caste (is it not divisive to talk about caste??) vote bank and her explanation of bad showing in elections means Muslims are still not voting for her party. She would now be worried on keeping her existing votes together. By the way I think BSP is the largest party in India even bigger than Cong and BJP purely from the number of seats that they fought in this election. A smaller fallout is she might not remain a gung-ho supporter of breaking up of UP in smaller states (which makes administrative sense and could be good for that region)

Samajwadi Party: Not because their numbers have been reduced but because they will not be able to play any role in Govt formation. It would take some serious effort from Mulayam to keep this party together and alive as they are not in power in UP and not relevant in Centre.

Laloo & Paswan: First Paswan he has a unique record he has won elections with the margins that has got him into the record books and has remained in central ministry despite different parties ruling at the centre. But he has lost his own seat and LJP failed to win anything. It would take lot of perseverance for him to make himself relevant again. Now on Laloo he has done wonders for Railways and I believe a tie up with cong in Bihar (which he refused and now says was a mistake) would not have made any difference in the final seat tally from Bihar but would have saved a ministry for him. Now with effectively five years out from centre and another atleast seven years (I do not see his party making any real progress in next Bihar assembly election as well) of without power even in Bihar would look like end game for Laloo. But he has very often proved everyone wrong so I would not bet on it.

Grameen Vikas: I thought Raghuvansh Prasad Singh was one of the best ministers not only in the govt but could be counted among the best in other ministries as well. He made serious effort in a ministry which was considered very un-glamorous and gave the country its first social security act in the form of NREGS. The act in itself is brilliant although the execution is a bit problematic with lot of corruption creeping in. This act did wonders for Cong but surely Raghuvansh babu is not going to be part of ministry in new govt and I don’t see someone else working with the same vigor in Grameen Vikas has he has worked.

Srilankan Tamils: Now that the election is over no one in India is going to make similar noices for them. They will now have to wait till TN elections before they again start getting sympathetic voices from India.

Mumbai: the vote share that MNS has received would only mean that they are going to get emboldened in their approach. Mumbai is the only looser with MNS going try to maximize its benefits and with Maha elections round the corner the decibel levels are only going to go up.

There are some others as well like Sharad Power .. it could be end of his PM ambitions as well.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

So who is the winner!!

They are not in any specific order.

India the country: in this uncertain times of recession and financial meltdown one thing that you can settle is a very stable govt. A govt who is not held ransom to whims and wishs of few MP parties totally disconnected with the national issues. So with a clear mandate we have fixed one big problem now what remains is tackling the recession and financial meltdown. Although some of the local problems like bloated sovereign account is the creation of the same govt which is voted back to power. But I still think its still better to have this govt with clear mandate on its side than any other absurd combination. So India as a country is clear winner.

MMS: I think even he would not have pretensions that his name or charm could be converted into seats but that’s precisely what has happened. People have silently voted for MMS and I believe this time he should be running the country MMS as the economist not MMS as the ‘nominated’ PM.

RG: He is certainly a winner as some of his instincts proved right, like decision to go alone in UP and clearly the wining factor is higher in seats visited by him. It simply means he would taken far more seriously outside of Cong as well and BJP knows that the person who would run Cong in future in a sauvé urbane person who can stick to his decisions and even while talking to the oft repeated issues will appear graceful.

Cong: A clear winner, people projected by Cong came as a urbane and has a aura of sobriety around them although at times Cong did appear as if not knowing what they are talking about or they tried to talk in different languages. But clearly everyone liked the sedateness that MMS showed.

BJP: now on this one many people will not agree with me and might turn a bit longish as I try to explain my point. This setback I see a winning moment for BJP. If you look clearly there is a marked difference between the way BJP runs its state election campaign and the way they have run their last two national elections. State elections they focus on their strong points which runs on developments and the clear stress on ‘Go-Local’ but I felt the last two national elections BJP ran on what its idea of India is not on what India as a reality is.

I really thought as a first timer into govt they did very well on most of the parameters including infra, fiscal, foreign policy between 1998 -2004 but they lost 2004 as they ran the campaign on what their idea of India is (a supremely confident of its own ability and ‘shinning’ India) but the reality was in picking correct alliances at local levels (think of it what if they had continued with DMK as alliance in TN in 2004) and india as country is still taking its tentative steps towards being a confident young nation so 2004 election campaign was a premature idea.

Again they had a chance to replicate their success in state elections which they kept on winning one after another till Sheila halted them in Delhi (I am discounting Rajasthan as it was lost more due to infighting than someone really defeating them) but then again they ran 2009 national election as a very presidential style and probably didn’t focus as much on local issues. They kept on discounting third-front (which was right ) but did not realize that most of the third front losses would be cornered by Cong as BJP is simply not in position to exploit the losses made by third front (check the states were third front had a presence).

They can no longer escape from the addressing tough questions like why (middle-class) icons or public figures have stopped joining them. I believe this election setback for BJP came at the right time as it will allow them to focus more on ground realities, move away from bringing premature ideas and will allow them to shed lot of unwanted baggage and I hope what would come out would still be a right-wing nationalist party but without the religious rhetoric as i believe they still have the most comprehensive vision for India as a nation barring the religious rhetoric.

VG: He won a seat for himself and made a name for himself but it would take sometime for BJP to count the aggregate losses made by those CDs.

Nitish: More than winning Bihar handsomely for me he is a winner as despite the continuous media chant he kept thinking from his head and in the end he came out as a statesman. I believe if Nitish continues with what he is doing and desist from becoming an ally of Cong he would be a serious contender for the top job in future.

Mr Patnaik: He took a risk and was rewarded handsomely. I believe it will prepare him to take some of the hard policy decisions which he needs to take.

[there could some more .. but let me count the loosers in my next post]

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

My incoherent thinking on recent happenings

  1. Australian Tennis team refuses to play in Devis Cup matches in India.
  2. According to some papers Taleban has entered in Kashmir.
  3. G20 summit many countries including China pledges to pump more money to IMF.
  4. Few senior Indian diplomats visiting SriLanka to discuss the LTTE situation.
  5. SriLanka refuses Visa to the Swedish Foreign Minister.

To me they all appear connected and show our in-ability as a nation to take hard decisions or think big.

Australian team can refuse to play in India citing shifting of IPL to SA. They have a reason that if IPL has been moved out from India it was for some logic. Their cricket team has been refusing to tour Pak for quite sometime. Kudos to South Africa which can hold IPL even though they too are going through their own General Elections. Remember sometime back our Foreign Minister going to Australia. Some of the reports suggested this visit was after Aussies refused to supply India some of the minerals which could be supposedly used for Nukes.

Taleban enters Kashmir and our Army chief says that Pakistan is still providing helping hand to Terrorists. Recollect what was our response to 26/11? A big set of papers and hue cry in front of media that we have stopped all the dialogues with Pak (which we did indeed) till they stop aiding terrorists. So how is that they come again?

All the developed countries are pumping money into IMF & Worldbank type of organizations so that these institutions can put more money for loans to developing world and others. China is not in the list of countries who will receive loan but is in the list of donors who pledged more money to these institutions. So who will receive it, many countries including Pakistan, and who else, India ofcourse the world’s fifth largest economy.

For much of 60s-70s- 80s we were always clubbed with Pakistan with many can hardly distinguish any difference between an Indian and Pakistani (very often the same ‘derogatory’ term will be for both the citizens) in 90s with some real politic and hard nosed economic decisions we started pulling away from the likes of Pakistan and started imagining ourselves in the league of China.

Yet China was always acknowledged as a power and is a permanent member of security council. India briefly flirted with and tried to make a strong case for a permanent membership but it has died down in the changed world after 9/11.

So where are we now. Back to blaming Pakistan and almost like school goers ‘if you do not give me my pencil I will not talk to you’ and when few more enter into Kashmir ‘I will still not talk to you if you take my rubber also’.

Now Srilanka is decisively winning a war which it is fighting for more than 2 decades. To dodge our internal political bickering which has become spicier due to the elections we send some of our top notch diplomats to Srilanka. But what is their brief? Is it to stop the war? Or is it to allow trapped civilians to get to a safer place? Or do they have a solution which could be favourable to the Srilankan Govt?

Does India has any leverage on Srilanka? It was in 80s when we can send our army to support them but since then our neglect has made them drift towards Pakistan and China and today they source most of their arms from these two countries and hardly depend on India for anything. (even the quick-ness with which Srilanka responded in sending their cricket team to Pak after India refused to send Indian team that to after 26/11 shows how govt in Srilanka could be thinking).

When was the last time our PM/President or some very senior govt official visited Srilanka. When was the last time we invited Srilankan President/PM to india and accorded them state guests status? Why would we expect Srilanka to listen to us? Our refusal to identify a very good friend has give a big foothold to China in Indian Ocean. Practically also it is very hard for India to back or even seen to be backing LTTE as most of their funding remain dubious. Also LTTE has never claimed any friendship with us and is directly accused in killing our former PM. A practical decision would have allowed us to back Srilankan war against LTTE and get back some of warmth in the relationship. Also it does not help that on the same 'Ram' who is questioned in India, Srilanka is trying to identify places attached to 'Ram' and develop them as a tourist attraction.

And think of it Srilanka not allowing visa to a very prominent minister. Remember the stream of visitors we had after 26/11 and everyone urged us to remain calm but no one said for how long?

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Someone is not telling the whole story!!

RG says, Quoted from India-today Article

Launching a scathing attack on the BJP's prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, Gandhi said: "Why did Advani not remember to bring back the alleged black money for even once during the five years of the BJP-led NDA rule and why was he raising this during (the) elections."

This statement is contrary to some of the details that everyone else is talking about. Is it that he has not kept pace with changes or he has not seen the latest reports?

It seems Government of Germany had succeeded in obtaining names of persons who had stashed money in the LGT Bank in Lichtenstein sometime last year which actually started this.

Quoting from a Business world article

To appreciate the implications of this[G20 communiqué], it is important to know the background. Swiss banks are obliged by law to extend a very high degree of bank-client confidentiality to all their clients, both Swiss and foreign. Any banker who reveals details of his clients’ affairs to unauthorized third parties is committing a criminal offense in Switzerland.

But this bank-client confidentiality has never been 100% absolute, and Swiss legislation makes absolutely clear what it protects and what it does not protect. It poses, for example, no obstacle whatsoever to a criminal investigation.

One characteristic of Swiss law is that it distinguishes between tax evasion and tax fraud. Submitting an incomplete tax return, for example, would be tax evasion and is handled through administrative measures, including severe fines if necessary.

So, despite some foreign media reports, tax evasion is not legal in Switzerland; it merely is not a criminal offense. Anyone found to be illegally evading his tax obligations in Switzerland faces severe financial penalties.

The international implication is that Switzerland has traditionally offered international assistance in criminal tax cases that have elements of fraud, but not of evasion. By agreeing to adopt the standard on the exchange of information set out in Article 26 of the OECD’s Model Tax Convention, Switzerland will now extend administrative assistance to cover all tax offenses, including tax evasion.

Also this is a recent change and more so due to recession that rest of the world has started putting pressure on Tax havens for information.

Swiss banking giant UBS agreed last month to pay $780 million and turn over once-secret records to settle a case brought by the U.S. Justice Department. (By Alessandro Della Bella -- Associated Press)

As recent as couple of weeks back G20 Summit has taken up to cause to and have mentioned the tax havens in their communiqué. Even MMS was past of that summit and Cong says that G20 was not the right forum to raise this issue.

In an article in The New Indian Express Arun Shourie has thrown up some more details on this. Click on the link to read this further

Friday, 17 April 2009

Why is our PM not contesting elections!!

First the disclaimer: Just by asking this question does not mean that I am on the ‘right-side’ and hence you can go ahead and give me another big one on how violent they are .. how they make hate speeches and how other side is lesser evil and thus needs to be supported. Sorry I fear the folks putting ‘lesser evil argument’ equally. I am just trying to provide you with twisted arguments & collection of articles with my affinity of asking wrong questions.

PM just had a surgery at the start of the year and have not fully recovered any election will be a big toll on his health

Quoting from the same link.

"I just had a bypass heart surgery and recovery will take some time," he told mediapesons in reply to a question if he felt confident to contest the Lok Sabha elections in the context of his being projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Party.

"I don't think I am in a position right now to jump in the election fray," Dr Singh recalled numerous instances when the Rajya Sabha members had continued as Prime Minister.

"Indira Gandhi started her Prime Ministerial career from the Rajya Sabha and so was Mr H D Deve Gowda and Mr I K Gujral. The Constitution is clear on the issue. So long as it remains unaltered, Mr Advani should not make such remarks," the PM said.

But then PM has gone ahead and started the poll campaign in Kerala and Maharashra

PM was also scheduled to do an election rally in Assam which was cancelled finally due to bad weather.

How here is the thing – the same PM who is not fit enough to contest for his own election is fit enough to travel around the country and take part in election rallies.

Surely he could have opted for a seat in Delhi which could have allowed him to be in Delhi and contest an election as well.

Deve Gowda and Mr I K Gujral did not stay long enough on their posts but I think Indira Gandhi contasted and won elections soon after becoming PM. I think even PVNR was not a member of the house when he become PM but he soon fought the elections to become one.

I am pretty sure there was ‘a logic’ when Indira Gandhi opted to resign from Rajya Sabha and decided to fight elections. But we do not have the same logic applied here.

Rajya Sabha by definition is representatives of states who are not directly elected by Indian public and a Govt can survive even if does not have a majority in Rajya Sabha.

But the same Govt can not survive if it does not have a simple majority in Lok Sabha as that was thought as the representative of ‘common public’.

So going by that logic probably it was appropriate for PM to be a member of Lok Sabha.

Our PM had good chance to fight an election this time. This could also have dis-allowed the opposition to beat him with such ‘trivial things’.

But then still he is not contesting: Could it be fear of not winning his own seat? Cong could have found a safe heaven for him. He could have contested from Amethi which is always known as a very safe seat for Cong even when Satish Sharma was contesting.

But then still he is not contesting:
Now here is my speculation “could it be as we all suspect that this time MMS will not be around for all the five years and could ‘relinquish’ his post for a much younger leader”.

As he has openly stated that ‘the’ young leader has all the qualities to be the PM

Also again from my twisted mind a PM MMS as a member of lok sabha ‘relinquishing’ his post would be harder to explain that a PM MMS as a member of Rajya Sabha.

Also his term in Rajya Sabha would come for renewal in next couple of years which could be a good time to hand over the baton.

As that would fit well with other un-stated views that it would take 2-3 years to have an effective organization in key states of UP & Bihar and then the ‘young leader’s’ work would be visible on ground. Listen to the clamor of voices saying how he would be a good PM and is already ready to be the PM and then back tracking them. I would think this is a well thought plan to keep MMS well within the limits.

Third one: With so many fragmentations into this election and with so many PM candidates there could be an assessment that this might turn out to be a repeat of 1996 elections. So its ideal keep MMS in the loop but from Rajya Sabha only while prepare the ground for the ‘chosen one’. Remember the delays we had in Cong naming its PM candidate. Could it be due to the fact that they were still carrying out some of these assessments and reached to a conclusion that this time its too crowded to pitch for ‘younger lot’ so they decided to continue the status quo. Certainly few of this time’s PM candidates would not be pitching again in next elections whenever that happens.

Edited to add: Just listening to a debate on TV where one of the debaters says that PM decided to be combetive and start responding to comments made against him after he was declared as a PM candidate. What beats me is that why it took so long to declare something which should have been there from the first day itself as he is a sitting PM and his party says that he has performed so well, so why was this delay in stating what i thought was the 'obvious'.

Friday, 3 April 2009

NGO Money!!

My experience of working with NGOs was absolutely great but a recent article by IIM Prof R Vaidyanathan in DNA on the funding of NGO is an interesting read. You can find the original link here.

Some of the details from the article

“We also find that in the last three years, the amount received has shown a phenomenal increase and it was 56% more in 2006-2007 than in the previous year.”

Another interesting fact according to the article ‘relatively’ well of states receive more money than relatively poorer states. Is it due to the better awareness in ‘relatively’ well-off states like
“Tamil Nadu (Rs 2,244 crore), followed by Delhi (Rs 2,187 crore), Andhra Pradesh (Rs 1,211 crore) and Maharashtra (Rs 1,195 crore).”

Further quotes on their nature of spending

“The interesting information is regarding the purpose of the donations (see Table-2). Establishment expenses top the list, followed by relief and rehabilitation, rural development, child welfare and construction and maintenance of schools and colleges."

"Establishment expenses consist of buying land, buildings, jeeps, setting up fancy offices, mobiles, laptops, expensive cameras, salaries, consultancy fees, honorarium, and importantly, foreign travel etc, which make up 35-70% of the expenses. This goes against the grain of service motto where the ultimate recipient is supposed to get the maximum.

By definition, NGO activity is voluntary and hence one expects that the overheads of the organisations are lean. In financial parlance, the fixed cost is expected to be relatively small.”

A case of large sum of money ‘opaquely’ going un-accounted in the name of establishment cost?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Indian Languages ..

Economist has done a report on languages (click on the link to see the original report),

To quote from that report "out of the 6,700 of the world's identified languages, nearly 2,500 are deemed at risk according to UNESCO, the UN's cultural body"

The chart here shows that close to 180 languages in India are either 'unsafe', 'endangered' or 'highly endangered' ..

[This chart shown here is taken from the same Economist article]

Doesn't come as a surprise as most of us hardly converse in the language/dialect our parents/previous generation use to speak. Some of us even ridicule people speaking those languages/dialect. Remember the last time when you rolled your eyes when you heard some one in Banarsi 'ka ho bhaiya paan khaiho ka' or someone from Kanpur yelling at you ‘bahuuuu mauj aarahi hai’

something different!!!

One of the most funny pieces I have read recently … great creativity .. check this link out ..

Residents violently protest against plans to erect Goundamani statue in Beverly Hills.

Quoting the part which i liked most
“Hey, I know that guy! He's the one who always kicks the other guy and calls him names! He's okay – I don't see a problem with a statue of him! It'll be fun!” said Governor Arnold Schwarzzzzzzzzenegger, surprising everyone by actually recognizing Goundamani. “Hahahaha – what's that thing he says? Wait . . I got it . . . Dai Kaattu Panni! Hahahaha!”, he signed off, marking possibly the first time that those words were uttered by someone with a thick east-european accent.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


A politically charged discussion between two friends who probably come from two different sides of spectrum ....

Comment why PM says a particular community has first right to country resources … why not equal right for all the communities ... i am sure personally you too would not like your children to feel second rated in place of their birth..

Response Supposing this were true, would you vote for someone who justifies violence using this as an excuse? I call this creating a brotherhood of victimhood. I assure you I have never felt we were made to feel in anyway ‘second rated’ in our own country. This type of hate politics combined with violence against every minority is what brought some of our politicians to power, and I fear unless we firmly stop them we will see more of this.

Comment You can see what MMS has said here. The whole content of the speech .. (we can go into what he meant what he didn't .. or how innocent it was) and here and here

Response I went through the links and I agree this is divisive politics, he must have known or should have known what he was talking about. All reservation except reservations meant for economically backward cause bitterness and hate amongst people ( though I support reservation for first generation learners amongst dalits). At a time when we are already going through such communal divides, this could only mean vote-politics.

Comment there has never been any justification of violence and i guess there will never be

Response I agree(that's true even for enticing for violence).. You mean making hate speeches etc?

Comment What breeds ugly behaviour is when we force ourselves to take notice of only certain issues like we go banana when a pub is attacked As for 'Going banana when a PUB was attacked'

Response that was an example of blatant breaking of law and order and using culture (!) to justify it. Trying to undermine it did BJP a lot of harm, BJP HAD A CHANCE TO WIN OVER 45% VOTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES in India by strongly condemning that shocking attack instead they spoke of saving our culture(!). I know their are many who might think it is okay to honor kill or beat up a women for drinking/being too free/wearing jeans/ going out alone etc but then they are born in the wrong country. This was a horrendous act, and needed all that and even more attention than it got. Please do not try to trivialize it.

Comment but remain silent when girls denied education ..i do not see any justification of choosing crimes or comparing which one is lesser ...

Response And this one should have got attention too, but not (like you mentioned in your last comment) because the victims belonged to another community. Are you trying to say BJP cares about the welfare of all communities? Or that BJP supports progress of women ? Why didn't they condemn the PUB attack? (btw they did condemn the attack for whatever it is worth) Or they will only support the progress of those women who are willing to be 'traditional and compliant' - one of my biggest grouse against BJP is their narrow minded attitude towards women, their narrow mindedness, and attempts at controlling how women must behave, who they must marry (like they mustn't marry outside their community)- THEY FORGET WE ARE ALL EQUAL - when a party is so blatantly - so openly discriminating against anyone who will find it difficult to protest (including women)- when they have never done a thing to deny this (Have they?) how does one understand that they are genuinely concerned about the education of girls? Did they do something to help here? Like open more schools just for girls? I have seen the switching from skirts to salwar kurtas in schools after BJP came to power - and that is very symbolic of the kind of affect they have on already rampant gender discrimination. No such rules anywhere for boys who continue to wear trousers and shorts. Is this Indian culture? Or BJP culture? Stuck between the bad and the worst possible, I will choose the bad any day.

Comment : its funny isn't it ... as long as you criticize Pub attacks and Varuns you are liberal.. the moment you question why the girls in UP can be pushed to the side of 'un-education' you get to told how bad BJP is .. and the kind of things it has done and then as a afterthought yes btw we should pay attention to that issue as well .. isn't that funny .. you will trust that BJP is behind all the attacks on pubs even though we can not conclusively prove that BJP indeed is behind those attacks .. and how BJP is not interested in even education of girls .. but then how do you explain that in this instance the govt at all levels (state & centre) was not in BJP hands and they didn't do anything .. but then still we can shift it on BJP and walk away ..

for your information check this link
and let me assure you all of them do teach girls .. i will welcome if you know otherwise

we do not care if people attached to 84 can become ministers but then we must believe the worst thing that has ever happened to india is RSS .. anyone who raises 84 or talks something differently than the accepted norms must be an RSS or BJP person .. but thats not true ...

Response : I Understand ..................................... (unsaid: but i will never tell these facts to any one else)

Disclaimer: All these are just personal views and do not support or deride any thinking

Saturday, 28 March 2009

IPL part 2

Quoting from this week's India Today's cover story on IPL

"Home Minister P. Chidambaram could not have put it better—“IPL is a shrewd combination of sport and business. There is no reason to add politics to this combination.’’ There was no way politics could have been kept out either.A majority of states were willing to take responsibility for providing security at their own risk. Chidambaram says that only three states and one Union territory— Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Chandigarh—got back with their official response. What he forgot to mention was that they were the only ones to respond to the third reworked schedule. Most of the other states—barring Maharashtra and Delhi—had sent letters expressing their willingness to hold the matches with some changes in the schedule. All the changes had been made by the IPL in the last schedule it submitted to the Government. They were made to come up with a re-worked schedule thrice but received no clear response from the Government."

Read the complete story here

Friday, 27 March 2009

A different walk!!

Of late really getting into some long debates on blog-world ..

Since IHM decided to post part of my comments and respond to them i thought it could be good if i post all of my comments as it is out here.

Happy to see you taking a keen interest on this. I would be happier if you can do a post on realities of Pilibhit .. its far removed from our metro's and its something totally different than what our English media is trying to make us believe.

But even then Varun must be punished as he has added a great deal to the rising intolerance in our country. But then he said something very very good (even baddies say some good things at times) .. that he is a hindu and not apologetic about it ..

You are right that this will not help getting a an equality for women but a strong opposition of the recent decree against girl’s education in UP by a particular community could have ensured that 2-3 lac girls do not remain uneducated .. thus greater chance of achieving better live for them .. and helping the equality thing as well.

You might also be interested in doing a search on a meeting done by Cong in Punjab in a Mosque where the leaders welcomed a decree against BJP .. i think even that is communal .. or when SP leaders visit mosques only to ensure their votes ..

Check how PDP is demanding to change the name of Anantnag to Islamabad. Agreed it used to be called Islamabad in past but with the same token can’t some idiots justify the demolition of Babri.

Their was an attack on Mangalore Church banana plantation.. and the guys who did that had a great explanation for doing that.

Search something on whats happening between Panas & Kandhs and how Kanths have cornered all the recourses in kandhmal even they are only 16% of the population.

Between 1991 to 2001 govt records of Kandhmal shows that their were two conversions (Orisa has a law to report all conversions to class 1 Magistrate and it was enacted in 60s well before BJP came into pic) but then the census shows that the christen population has raised 6 folds or move to Murshidabad and see how the districts demography has changed so drastically or how the same commies say that BJD is a secular party.

Ask a question that movie called FIRAQ which was ready since last Sept is released only now.

Or when a prominent political leader from south questions the credentials of Ram .. isn’t that trying to entice bad blood .. or demean a set of followers … can he question others with the same ease?

Varun is part of this system and probably he tried to benefit from the raising intolerance that has come into our society but then I think our habit of chickening out from debating larger issues without bias is doing a far greater damage or by remaining apologetic about ourselves.

End of it you can say that I am chickening out from debating what Varun said .. :)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Original Reformer!!

In 1991 our budget deficit was at around 12% with dwindling forex reserves. In stepped a silent Prime Minister(He spoke least number of times in Lok Sabha for any PM who has completed the full term of five years) and a bold reformer as Finance Minister who was given a mandate to reform. The reformer started the chain (although some would argue that it was Yashwant Sinha who took the first step but could not do anything as he lacked the political backing) the silent PM watched, clapped and kept the reformer untouched from any political bickering.

Thus we opened our market, allowed FDI and slowing we started integrating our economy with rest of the world. Taxes were streamlined and we started discussing what role Govt should play in setting up of industries or investing public money to create companies (thus started talking of disinvestment). Although he tried but could not create the needed environment for more ‘controversial’ reforms in labour laws. First three years were good for reforms. But then came a bit of lull as the party started loosing elections.

Then came new Govt and another reformer as FM who was one of the best qualified for the job. He was bold enough to push tax reforms (streamlining them further), push disinvestments and he did present the dream budget.

We had another change of guards at the top and then we had couple of guys (one after another) manning our Finance Ministry with a full fledged Disinvestment Minister as well. They tried to push further economic reforms, streamline taxes, tried to create an environment for more FDI in different sectors, more modernized labour and land laws.

All along since the start of process of opening up we had Govts from different political camps but there were certain underlying themes and understanding as every successive Govt tried to reduce our fiscal and revenue deficit, tried to pull Govt money out of sectors were it should not be, tried push easier monitory policies, reduce the unplanned expenditure of Govt, of lowering the interest rates. We even put a mechanism to limit our fiscal and revenue deficit and defined a time frame to reduce it to a manageable level,

It seemed we are out of the old says of high un-sustainable deficit and high inflation / high interest rate period.

Then politically even something better happened. The erstwhile reformer was now the Prime Minister and the man who last presented the dream budget was our Finance Minister again. Together they took the country to new heights of growth and our GDP growth started touching 9% mark.

Everything looked ‘happening’. The income of average Indian was growing very fast infact some reports say that it has actually doubled in first seven years of new century.

We even inacted a law for Financial responsibility. Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, with terminal goals in 2009-10 of a revenue deficit/GDP ratio of 0.0% and fiscal deficit of 3%.

But then somewhere down the line it seems the Govt gave quiet burial to economic reforms.

Slowly but surely high interest/high inflation regime came back (albeit it was more of a global phenomena rather than any Indian doing).

Disinvestment was dropped from any Govt jargon. Tax complications, Labour laws and land laws almost remained as it is without any serious push to modernize them. Some of ‘shinning’ sectors which were the success stories of era of economic reforms like real estate became over heated.

Then in last one year everything started unravel. Although the budget estimates for 2008-09 promised a revenue deficit of 0.5% and a fiscal deficit of 2.5% which were in line with our FRBM act. But then there are too many big ‘off-budget’ items (accounting for almost 3-4% of the GDP) like loans waivers to farmers many of whom were loan defaulters (although they in the first place were given a loan which they never had means of paying it back), sixth pay commission and the flag ship program of rural employment (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)).

This is coupled with a year of low growth which has an impact on tax revenues. Govt also announced stimulus packages for industry.

It started showing on Government’s statement of accounts as well as it showed it contains the seeds of a larger fiscal mess, gross market borrowings for the current fiscal year 2008-09 has balooned to Rs 3,06,000 cr ( to put the numbers in perspective its Rs 838 cr daily every 7 days of the week), which is multiple times of the original estimated Rs 1,33,300 cr.

Compare this with previous (NDA) government which had left behind a deficit of only 4.8 per cent of the GDP at Rs 1,32,103 cr while the current Government’s interim budget has a deficit of 6 per cent of the GDP at Rs 3,26,515 cr.

All this combined would push the deficit levels to 8-9% (combine with with deficit of states which could account for another 3%) and we have deficit level of 11-12% which is similar to levels of 1991.

As fallout, which we experience in our daily life, all this deficit (and borrowing by Govt) is pushing (or keeping) the interest rates at a high level (mostly in double digits or high single digits). Govt borrows from the market (by issuing short term and long term government securities (bonds and gilts) and with this high demand of money, the interest rate paid on bonds (and gilts) will remain high, which in simple term would means that Govt is a far more attractive borrower for banks than common man (or industries). So the loans for us (and industries) will still remain very costly thus impacting our ability to invest for example to buy a house or invest in something productive.

For other effects (which we hardly notice), India’s attractiveness as investment destination is directly linked to its fiscal health. Not directly but the fiscal health determines the sovereign rating and the rating impacts the investments. With the fiscal health going down inflow of foreign investment and currency bound to be lower. Throw in the global slowdown into this and you get a far more complicated picture.

So we are probably back to square one with new Govt will have to take some urgent measures to put the things back in order. Perhaps we need yet another Reformer who can match the ‘magical wand’ of our original reformer.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Story of an Aircraft Carrier

Just as approaching weekend and I am trying to catch on to the news today seems to be a day of shocks. Just before demoting the office previous Govt had signed a deal with Russia for an Aircraft Carrier(AC). This was an old ‘war horse’ of Russian Navy to be refurbished and delivered to India.

This is the same AC which was probably left grounded after catching a fire while it was still in active duty. At the time of signing the deal in 2004 it was signed at $900 mn (Certain articles say that it was signed at $1.5 mn including everything)

Curiously this ship was launched in 1982 and commissioned in 1987 (That’s when it made its longest journey) and then in 1992 it was put for repairs (probably never completed testimony to turmoil that Russia went through during that phase)

Then as it can only happen in Govt dealings first came the news that it can not be delivered on time then came that it can not be delivered at agreed cost.

So there were frantic negotiations and some article is papers carried that negotiations did go to the highest level. The deal was done again at an increased cost of $2.2 bn. This was even after ‘India adopted a tough posture’ on dilly dallying by Russia. It was said that Initially they had asked for an cost escalation of $2bn.

In between the Director General of the shipyard that is fitting the ship, retired probably contributing to further delays

Now comes the news that Russia is demanding another $700 mn thus making the total cost as around $3bn.

India also has program to build its own indigenous Aircraft Carrier which it started in 2003 (co-incidentally this too was started by previous Govt in 2003 but then they decided to purchase one probably to fillin for the time that ours will take to build duely accounting for the time over runs which is so common in our indigenous programs).

Conceived well over a decade ago, the IAC project has been dogged by several technical problems even after the government finally sanctioned Rs 3,261 crore for it in January 2003

A price tag of $3bn which India will probably end up paying for acquiring the Russian Ship roughly amounts to around 14000-15000 Cr Rupees which could be good enough for almost four indigenous ACs (even if we amount for cost over runs that is bound to happen our own ships would still be cheaper and not as old as this 20 year old junk might turn out to be).

I wish the left were still part of the Govt. Probably they could have used some of their 'influence' in settling the deal of the AC without more turns & dips .. :)

Disclaimer: This is typically constructed based on news paper reports. I do not claim any authenticity of the any of the details mentioned here


While many of us are quibbling over PCC or no PCC down south another shocker comes along(check this link to read). If they are indeed true then they are shocking crimes against women.

None of the religious orders seem to be free from its share of Rasputins. Even seemingly educated individuals with convent-educated background are not totally immune to it.

To leave you with a really bad taste let me ask this, why it seems to me that the channels who were so keen on reporting everything on Mangalore not really keen on picking this up (sorry for being cynical).

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Will NIA be any different from CBI ..

As I read this news related to a reply by The Home Minister in Lok Shabha, to a common person like me it appears that NIA is probably going to be same as CBI

Just as a co-incidence NIA is also under central Home Ministry (as CBI)

Even as he reiterated that NIA would take up terror cases referred to it by the state governments and only exercise its suo motu powers under exceptional circumstances

NIA will work on cases referred to it by State Govt (as CBI .. gradually it may become a tool to cool off the political hot potato’s in the state as it usually happens in the cases referred to CBI)

To a query whether Naxal attacks would be investigated by NIA as well, Mr Chidambaram said it may not be so with most extremism-related cases as the agency was expected to take over only the gravest offences.

So one of the biggest slow death crimes faced by big part of our country will still remain out of the ambits of any central agency and will still get entrusted to state Police & CIDs who hardly have resources or equipments to tackle such organized crimes. They will continue to be treated as local problems rather than getting a unified view.

What probably no one is keen to put in public domain is what was identified as missing link in so many existing agencies that actually necessitated formation of another agency.

Other countries have created unified commands and better mechanism to decipher the information received from so many different links and put them in use.

Probably we can put on bets that in its current Avatar it will turn out to be yet another something very similar to CBI.

Afterthought: it will probably turn out to be another place to reward 'chosen' officers as i fear in the name of secrecy the NIA budget will remain unaccountable (out of the preview of general audits .. albeit small amount of 10 cr as allocated in this year's budget compared to what we have for RAW which runs into 1000 crs) and by definition NIA (as suggested by our HM) remains a reactive agency. I thought one of the key things came out from Mumbai attack was that we need 'pro-active' monitoring and decoding all the information coming out from various sources.. So probably its creation was again just to shift public focus and make them feel as if Govt is doing something.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The color is Pink!!

After reading about the pink chaddi campaign just out of curiosity I did a google on pink and what it means.

Some of the results were eye opener for me.

Till around 1930 pink was used to be associated with boys and blue was with girls. Somewhere around that time it was reversed.

The NAZIs in their concentration camps used a pink triangle to identify homosexuals.

Wiki says that “Pinko is a derogatory term for a person regarded as sympathetic to Communism, though not necessarily a Communist Party member.’

Again a link in wiki on political colours is interesting read

Reading through the wiki on political colours there are some interesting observations

Pink was supposed to be a mixture of Red and white.

Red is traditional colour of socialism and even communism; see Red flag.”

White has been linked to pacifism (as in the surrender flag)”.
“…. Historically, it was associated with support for absolutist monarchists …”

At another place a website selling gems advices that
“pink is the color of universal love. Pink is a quiet color. Lovers of beauty favor pink. A pink carnation means "I will never forget you".”
Put some pink in your life when you want:
calm feelings
to neutralize disorder
acceptance, contentment

also “Pink is the sweet side of red.” “While red stirs up passion and action, studies have shown that large amounts of pink can create physical weakness in people.” Although I doubt authenticity of any such studies.

In the current situation Pink is very very important for lot of people.

For Mutalik it means far bigger fame and name than he thought would come to his way when Mangalore happened (he must be blessing the chaddi campaigners).

For chaddi campaigners a nice way to sway (or divide) opinion in urban class and put majority of people in a classic dilemma .. people who does not sympathize with Mutalik but are also not keen to go to their nearest pub (to assert their right or expression to freedom).

Many others who do not like the way this whole issue is portrayed as fight for woman rights vs oppressive society as probably it’s a simple law-n-order issue which is blown out of proportion for various vested interests.

Many Indian villagers (specially women) would be bemused (if they ever hear this whole thing) as they are still not in a stage to associate any of the main characters associated with this
Pubs: hardly have any … they have different maniac in the name of ‘desi’
Ram sene : probably they would be happy that now their ‘addicted’ family members or husbands might stop visiting nearest ‘adda’
Pink: they are still trying to meet their demands of basic clothing to be worried with different colours and its combination.

News channels .. surely this whole thing makes a great news and also makes easier discussion point rather than discussing heavy duty stuff like terror or current economic situations .. which requires qualified(and informative) debate.

The Govt: as the media and opinion makers(10000+ who have joined the campain and those who have not joined by have a (for or against) opinion do play a wider role of shaping opinions) are pre-occupied by this seemingly 'big debate' so the Govt can breath easy as this has taken the attention away from their response(or lack of it) on Mumbai 26/11. Surely they can take it easy till the next blast happens and it again comes back to centre stage.

Cong: they can again raise the issue as how bad those people are and if they come to power they will ban pubs (thus a ban on your expression of freedom). remember its an election year.

For me Pink still signifies ‘pink slips’ which I am very much afraid off !!

Disclaimers: some of the google searches may or may not appear in your search (if you really do them).

Friday, 6 February 2009

Pub Bharo!!!

I read two different news in last few days and curiously Government has two totally different positions on them.

I guess its not even 100 years back when our prominent leaders asked fellow country men & women to ‘Jail bharo aandolan’. The ‘Jail bharo’ was for the independence of our country.

In last sixty years of independence we have made tremendous progress.

... of course all of us are educated…
... of course have access to ‘best in the world’ health system…
... of course can lead our life the way we want to …
... of course can go, work and settle in any part of our country as we wish…
... of course can follow any religion (or decide not to) as we wish ….
... of course can vote without any fear and prejudice …
... of course can marry anyone we want to…
... of course have access to ‘best in class’ roads to all corners of our country …
... of course all our country men and women have means for a basic livelihood …
... of course we all have 24 hours un-interupted electricity and of course they are coming out of mainly nuclear power plants (kalavati is certainly is very happy) …
... of course we have not heard of any farmer suicide for as long as one can remember ...

But then still most of us are shying away from pubs .. that really has annoyed one of our ministers (who is touted as the 'only' shining light by some) and she had to call for ‘pub bharo aandolan’ as this is the last act which will surely elevate us to a status of developed world.

...of course in last sixty years we have successfully got rid of the ‘deprived world’ tag but yet to cover the distance to the nearest pubs to really stamp our credentials as a ‘developed world’...

What is amazing is that same minister (or the same govt) has no official or un-official response to this news

... of course for developed world pubs are more important and who cares for trivial other things!!!