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Monday, August 22, 2011

Popcorn Happiness

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I know the 'Chotu' at tea stall,
Saw him from a distance,
Selling tricolor, in the rally.
I know about his slums,
Behind Mall.

I no longer live in the town,
I was born.
But I know they face,
four hours of power cut, everyday.
So, I wear a pair of rugged jeans,
Brand new, but torn.

I was ambitious, so I left.
Lack of resources, so I left.
What I left, never left me.
But after the the right I took, I think,
Nothing was left.

From Letters to emails to sms and tweets.
I religiously acquired all the apps.
Partying this weekend, so pardon me this time.
But I know the names of all the scams.

On my way to make it big.
Someday!
Yes, I do enjoy.
My Popcorn Happiness,
So, what's wrong?

----
Nitin

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Economics of Corruption !!

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Let us try to understand the dynamics of the market of Corruption. Why I chose economics over psychology or sociology or the politics because I think Like all other markets, Corruption involves transaction between two person, two parties, two agencies, the Buyer and the Seller! Let us try to examine the situation from the perspective of both the sides, so as to understand the Economics of corruption.

First of all, we must appreciate that Corruption is not confined to government officers and politicians only. We are not concerned about the scale of corruption, but corruption per say is not restricted to any segment or section of society.With this unbiased view, let us try to define the Buyers & Sellers for the sake of clarity.

The Buyers - we the people who seek goods and services from government and private individuals, agencies, corporations.

The Sellers - AGAIN, we the people who sell goods and services while working in private and government agencies, corporations, departments etc.

The Buyers Expectations

Pretty simple, to get things done (obtain goods or use services) as early as possible at the lowest possible price.

Let us break this seemingly simple sentence down into 3 parts and elaborate upon each part -

B.1) To get things done (obtain goods or use services)-

A. Things which can be easily transacted without breaking existing laws of the land. E.g. A 'normal' Postage stamp, PAN card, Bus ticket

B. Things which cant be transacted without breaking existing laws. E.g Narcotic drugs

C. Things which are still not covered/adequately under any existing laws/rules. E.g famous 2G, Land, Mines etc.

The bottom line is everybody wants to get things done. Some have time and patience hence they do it themselves, some dont, so they pay Agents. Few genuinely don't know the Things they want falls under which category (A,B,C), while few others intentionally play around with the ambiguity. So,it is important to have clear cut laws so as to avoid any interpretation related confusions, remove the 'Things' form category C asap.

By Simplifying The Procedures, the buyers/people will be motivated to remain in category A. By drastically Improving the Supply of fundamental 'Things' such as Water, Health-care, Education, Sanitation, micro- Loans/financing, Corruption can be reduced drastically. The problem is Government make the people believe that the cost associated with improving the Supply is very high, without telling them about the cumulative Losses and opportunity cost.

E.g the cost of Mumbai rains - cost of repairing/ renewing the damaged roads-sewerage vis-a-vis the cost of manhours/days lost, lives lost, damage to public and private properties etc.

B.2) As early as possible-

A. Time is a constraint for Buyer and he will loose, if things are not expedited ( and happen within 'stipulated time frame'). So, he tends to pay the bribe for expedition. In some cases, this Bribe can be Legalized as 'Expedition Fee', such as 'Tatkal' railway tickets, Speed Post, Tatkal Passport etc.

B. Time is a constraint for Buyer but he will loose only if things don't happen within 'stipulated time frame'. E.g - Pension, Gas/Electricity connection, Availability of subsidized urea/seeds, Ration cards, Hearing in the courts. Most of these are essential services and the Seller/Service providers know this fact and intentionally/unintentionally try to delay things. So care must be taken to identify and segregate the intentional and unintentional delays.

C. Time is not a constraint for Buyer. E.g- small IT refunds, voter ID card

So, it is important to define the 'Stipulated time', clearly. Private sector is used to providing goods and services in a time bound manner, so its high time that public sector learns this trait too.

Usually the Time Constraint can be reduced by using Internet Technology ( thus avoiding any chances of discretionary powers to decide who came first in the que). However poor internet penetration is still an issue, which can be and is being resolved though unknowingly by the private sector in an unplanned way.

B.3) At the lowest possible price -

A. By paying the 'stipulated price',the buyer is benefiting. E.g Train ticket.
B. The Buyer cant pay the 'stipulated price', i.e he will run into losses, if he does. E.g Poor migrated taxi driver, mixing Kerosene with Petrol, Hawker selling goods on road side

C. The Buyer can pay the 'stipulated price', but he wants to maximize his profits. E.g. Traffic rule violation fine, late fee etc.

So, the Buyer should have incentive to remain in category A above, however there will always be people in category C. This can be tackled in two drastically different manners, one by reducing the stipulated price, so that the incentives for paying bribe reduces such as low cost postal stamps, bus or general class train tickets. AND by increasing the stipulated price, so that the instances of violation, deviations reduces in individual's self interest, e.g high fine for traffic violation, high penalties for small instances of crime.

Cases in category C needs to be looked into more holistic manner with a reasonable Socialistic approach. Such as reducing the migration to cities by creating better life and employment opportunities in towns and villages, thus reducing the no. of unemployed, frustrated, misguided individuals in towns and cities and thus reducing crimes and associated corruption. By rehabilitating ALL street hawkers, road side sellers to a permanent market place, many direct and indirect crimes and associated corruption will reduce drastically. Easier said then done, but unfortunately there are no short cuts to this.


The Sellers Offerings

S.1.) The Exclusivity (in Public Sector) - the Seller knows that he has exclusive rights to sell some/all goods and services in that particular area. E.g Ration shop, Water Supply department etc.

The UID project will reduce exclusivity and hence will force Seller to behave professionally, thus reducing
corruption significantly. Providing more and more services online will also reduce the human intervention
and the human discretion, thus reducing opportunities to indulge in corrupt practices.

S.2) Competitive Scenario - if the Seller knows that the Buyer has a choice, he will try to maximize his Sale Price, which convinces Buyer to Buy the Goods and Services from him and not from his competitors. E.g Private Banks, Road and Airport operators have improved the quality of the infrastructure and quality of services offered.

Scenarios applicable in both S.1 and S.2 situation-

A) The Seller can provide goods and services easily, meeting ALL the expectations of Buyers.

B) The Seller is undergoing constraints (financial, time, resource) and hence wont be able meet expectations of ALL the Buyers. Hence will use his discretionary powers on which Buyers to Serve.

Under such situation, there's no option but to improve the Supply, either temporarily or permanently, else will lead to massive black marketing, hoarding. Such a situation arises due to poor anticipation (intentional or unintentional) of demand.

C) The Seller ( organization and/or individuals) feel that they don't get (salary, incentives, appreciation) what they deserve as compared to comparable others ( friends, colleagues, relatives) in private sector. So hence to meet expectations of their families, they compensate for by indulging in corrupt practices.

This is one of the un-addressed issues. While MPs have increased their salaries significantly by passing the laws, but the wages/salaries of those working at very basic level/entry to middle level in Police, Municipal corporation, Police, Water, Electricity dept has not changed much in past decade. Attracting and retaining talented people and keeping them motivated in Public Sector, is a much neglected aspect and a lot needs to be done about this.

In addition to remuneration, Recognition and Appreciation for good work is also critical. Somehow I don't like the idea of categorizing bureaucrats and elected representatives as Public Servants and thus expecting each and every one of them solely as social workers with no personal plans, vested interests etc. 100 years ago, this terminology was acceptable, but now Millions of people are working in public sector to earn their livelihood, out of personal interests, as a full time job and hence they are allowed to serve the interest of their families in the best possible manner like any Private Sector Servant !!

D) The Seller is not Accountable for Results, Performance (organization or individuals), growth or is not held accountable (by Buyer or by higher management), hence he/she is not keen on working too hard OR even working at all.

Lokpal Bills if drafted carefully, will address this issue of accountability and transparency.

In our day to day life, we will encounter situations which will arise due to a combination of The Buyers Expectations and the Sellers Offerings HENCE it's impractical/illogical to assume that one law, one bill, one person, one week, can change EVERYTHING BUT it's also impractical/illogical to assume that one law, one bill, one person, one week cant change ANYTHING !

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Story of Magnifying Glass !

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Magnifying Glass is usually used to read the fine prints. A classic and one of the most simplest of the gadgets, in use for centuries. For thousands of year, this magnifying glass was typically found in the house of the inquisitive and smart folks. Rarely in my house, because I was happy reading fiction, printed in bold.


Since the magnifying glass was not easily available, the I was not be able to read the books given to me by some mischievous boys, since the books were completely written in fine print. And so I was never read and tried to comprehend what the heck was written in that book. But life moved on and I never felt any pressing need to enlighten myself. And that's exactly what the mischievous boy wanted. He gave me the book, because he was obliged to, but he also made sure that I don't read it. To make sure that I don't read the book beyond couple of pages (In case I ever decided to read, by chance) the mischievous boy gave the book an insanely boring title and loaded first couple of pages with jargon. So rarely me or any of my friends dared to read beyond couple of pages. Surprisingly whoever read the book joined the gang of mischievous boys.

The mischievous boy was smart, very smart indeed. He managed to trick me for thousands of years. He never taught me how to read the book which he intentionally published in fine print, one version after another. He never gave me the magnifying glass. Once in a while, he casually requested me to read the book, but I was busy enjoying fiction. In parallel he gave me several other easy to read, far more entertaining books, with vivid images, eye catching titles and colours.

One fine day, I discovered the magnifying glass in the backyard of mischievous kid. Since I never cared to learn the actual use of magnifying glass, I started playing with it. After played for few hours I threw it in the dark corner. This was the same corner where I piled those books given by the mischievous boy. Accidentally it caught my eyes and I realized that I can read that fine print. It was all very clear now. Slowly I could read and understand what was written. With some really crucial help, I was able to comprehend the jargon as well. As I kept on reading, my fears started to surface, about what was written in those books. But I kept on reading more, with some help again, my fears started disappearing. Bingo !


I realized I was duped by the mischievous boy all those centuries. But then after reading some more books, I realized my mistake. I never cared to ask the mischievous boy about all those books he gave me. My life was going reasonably smoothly all these years barring few compromises, I never cared enough to read those books. Pretty soon, I shared my magnifying glass with my friends. I told them, what I learned from those books. And slowly the idea caught fire and rest we know is a history and it is still being written. But we need to be careful and should not repeat the mistake which mischievous boy committed. I remember watching the mischievous kid when he used the magnifying glass to gather the power of sun but ended up burning his own house!

The Beginning !!

Cast
Mischievous boys - Politicians, the Powerful ones
I - You, the common ones
The Books - Constitution, Laws, knowledge
AND
The Magnifying Glass - Internet, Media

Special Thanks
Crucial Help - Anna Hazare, Aruna Roy, Medha Patekar, Arvind Kejriwal and several other 1000s of selfless individuals who helped the me, the you and the society




Monday, August 15, 2011

Jan Lok Pal, India Against Corruption, Fast Unto Death and Democracy

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I am sure the government never had a look at the ranking of India on Corruption Perception Index, otherwise they would have done something about it before India Against Corruption movement caught public sentiment!

Why despite of investing in so many schemes on employment, education and poverty eradication, not much has changed in past 20-60 years! How come nobody ever questioned the Ex-Prime Minister of India Mr. Rajiv Gandhi when he openly stated that ' Out of 100 paise of aid, only 15 paise reached the needy' ! This statement was once again endorsed by his son recently. How can the people sitting on the helm of power and authority say this AND do nothing about it for decades !!

Unfortunately I was wasted my time by watching this useless debate on NDTV I think the debate was badly anchored, what people were supposed discuss was not known and as always this debate must have added to the confusion of the masses even more, who are perplexed about various issues facing the nation. Anyways, I was able to gather some of the general qualms, queries and concerns have about the India Against Corruption Movement. To summarize some of those -

1. Gandhi ji used to fast for self cleansing and for the welfare of the society at large and Anna Hazare's fast cant be compared with Gandhiji fast !
2. Parliament is the supreme authority to pass bills, so why protests, dharna, hunger strikes .
3. Government is already doing so much about Corruption. So many ministers have been sent to jail in recent past, so dont challenge the credibility of the UPA government.
4.The bill is already presented to the Supreme Authority, the Parliament, so why fast ? By fasting unto death, team IAC and Anna is actually blackmailing the government, which is wrong, and why a deadline?
5. Who's team Anna? Whatever team IAC and Anna are doing is a gimmick, a farce and media child and is getting undue attention!
6. Far many more issues, many more people are doing fasts and have done fast, why has media not covered them properly?
7. Jan Lok Pal will not solve the problem of corruption, its rampant in day to day life, so why blame only politicians when the common man is corrupt from head to toe.

Sorry, but its going to be lengthy, so weak hearted may jump to the last paragraph.

1. Gandhi ji used to fast for self cleansing and for the welfare of the society at large and Anna Hazare's fast cant be compared with Gandhiji fast !

Team IAC and Anna said that Gandhi ji used to fight for what for their right and for what is fair and correct and that's exactly what they are doing- fighting for their rights, fighting for what they believe is correct and fair. I think the NDTV debate wasted precious time of the viewers by going into the technicalities, by discussing the time, date and venues for fast done by Gandhi ji pre-independence. The times are different, the context are different, the people for and against Gandhi ji were different, so I think its completely irrelevant to present debate to waste any more time and energy in comparing Gandhi ji with Anna Hajare.

2. Parliament is the supreme authority to pass bills, so why protests, dharna, hunger strikes !The bill is already presented to the Supreme Authority, the Parliament, so why fast ?

Without being an authority on Parliamentary affairs and Constitution, one can find so many loop holes, so many lacunas in the way parliament functions, laws written and enacted. So let's not get into that. The summary is - Constitution has been amended 100s of time in the past and constitution and parliament is not sacrosanct.

3. Government is already doing so much about Corruption. So many ministers have been sent to jail in recent past, so dont challenge the credibility of the UPA government. The bill is already presented to the Supreme Authority, the Parliament, so why fast ?

Not even once in the history of UPA/ Congress government they have attempted to analyze the reasons behind corruption, tried to find out the faults in the legal framework, constitution, judiciary and execution agencies and taken any bold steps to curb corruption. So please don't tell us about your (UPAs) intentions. If Supreme Court and Media has not broiled those issues, perhaps you would have been sleeping ever over CWG, 2G issues (which you anyway did for so many years, otherwise these scams wouldn't have taken place, right?). Everybody knows the role of Dr.Swamy and Supreme Court in ensuring proper investigations are done in 2G scam, everybody read about and hear the Radio tapes, so unfortunately Mr.UPA government you were not left with any choice but to do something, however nobody has been convicted yet and we dont think that justice will be done, the lost money will be recovered in 2G or CWG scam from the politicians and bureaucrats who's Swiss accounts benefited from these and many more scams.

Remember few weeks back when Baba Ramdev sat in fast on the issue of Black Money, government assured action, what's happening on that front ? Please dont tell us that everybody in your government was busy with Janlokpal Bill or perhaps in preparing strategies to make sure that IAC team dont get time to work on the bill!

4.By fasting unto death, team IAC and Anna is actually blackmailing the government, which is wrong, and why a deadline !

Because we are normal human beings, our common sense tells us that if we sow seeds of Neem tree, we cant expect the Mangoes ! The bill which you (UPA) has presented in the parliament is completely bullshit, spineless, hopeless bill. So how can we expect a strong anti-corruption agency as an outcome. For comparison between Janlokpal Bill (proposed by team IAC and Anna) and Lokpal (rather Jokepal) Bill as proposed by government, please review these article of Outlook or Times of India. You will realize how lame and useless Lokpal, government is proposing in the parliament. By excluding 95% of Politicians and bureaucrats, any common will tell you that, such a Lokpal will not achieve anything.

Now specifically about Why Fast !

Team IAC and Anna wrote several letters to PM, MPs, Sonia Gandhi before April 2011 requesting for meeting to discuss about Lokpal bill. NOBODY responded or showed any concern about team IAC and Anna Hazare. They were confident that many people have fasted in the past and lot of them have unfortunately died, so nobody can achieve anything by protesting against government. Unfortunately, after putting so much of drama by UPA government, they agreed to listen. The bill is pending for more than 40 years, so many people have filed petitions, wrote letters, requested governments to pass the bill, but nothing has been done. So how can members of society convey their demands to the government. The political parties don't even keep the promises they make during election campaign. Under constitution of India, no grievance redress al mechanism is in place, the government is not obliged to respond to the letters from ordinary citizens of this country then what can people do, so that they can be heard ! Outside the context of this debate, but everybody agrees that the Election process we have in this country, the so called democracy are all flawed and no political party is doing anything about it. So, Mr.Government the people will protest, shout slogans, write, fast and will do whatever they can to register their protests and you will have to listen to them.

Mr.Government you are so used to being lazy that perhaps you are not even aware that we the middle class face deadlines everyday, everywhere, there's a deadline to pay taxes, deadline to apply for Gas connection, deadline in the office, deadline from the client, so please get used to what rest of the India is undergoing. You will have to work within a deadline, it was not the case till now, but we the people of India have changed the rules. So please obey deadlines, else you will be fired.

5. Who's team Anna? Whatever team IAC and Anna are doing is a gimmick, a farce and media child and is getting undue attention!

Its really sad to know that people start alleging team IAC without knowing their background. They have not emerged overnight from nowhere !!

Basic Google search about Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan will give you details about their background and credentials. So I really feel ashamed of the people coming of national television or writing blogs about these people without even doing a very basic research.

So those who know them and read about them will understand that these people have been working in the field for years, fighting against corruption relentlessly. They do not crave for media attention and no power can corrupt them. Many other people working behind the scenes in team IAC are similarly infected, so please beware!

The movement got media attention, because government was not doing anything about corruption. Scams in every possible department have taken place in past 20 years, so what more should people wait for ? Of the 100s of scams, involving 1000s of billions of $, not even 100 people have been convicted and punished and NOTHING has been done to recover the money lost due to corruption.

6. Far many more issues, many more people are doing fasts and have done fast, why has media not covered them properly?

So you (UPA government) wants media to tell you on daily basis what you are supposed to do ? Agree, there are many more issues, but you are not doing anything about anything. So we the people will have to take the matters in our hand and start addressing one issue at a time. It's sad the most of the other issues have not caught the eye of media and common man as this movement has. This goes onto prove that how much common man is frustrated and media is providing the suitable platform this time.

Dont worry, we are at it and will make sure to solve all the problems which your Congress led government has created in past 50 years.

7. Jan Lok Pal will not solve the problem of corruption, its rampant in day to day life, so why blame only politicians when the common man is corrupt from head to toe.

The pseudo intellectuals and psychologists and sociologists will cite corruption as a deep rooted problem, in our blood, the indifference of the Indian masses at large and the corrupt activities in which people involved on day to day basis. All such arguments blames the common man and so all the super duper corrupt people (mostly those who have not been convicted or are charged under any case) points finger on everybody.

How can one give same punishment to a pickpocket and a terrorist! How can one argue that because someone killed someone in an accident, he will go on to become a serial killer?
So, we urgently need a strong, educated, powerful and independent agency to tackle corruption at all levels ! So how the hell can they say that the Rs.50 corruption done by a common man to get his birth certificate is same as Rs.5000 cr scam by Kalmadi or Madhu Koda !

What options does common man have? How can the government expect the common man to give a Petition, file RTI for each and every activity right from the illegal hotel, liquor shop license, delayed gas connection by HP/BP distributor, polluted drinking water and petrol mixed with kerosene, for the birth, the marriage and the death certificate, the post-mortem report of the only son so as to claim insurance, in the fodder, in the local stadiums, street light, damaged road and bridges and almost everything imaginable under the sun ! A 10th pass technician working in Middle East learns to obey the laws of the land and a highly qualified Westerner learns to bribe when in India to get things done ! Which means Indians are capable of following laws as well and perhaps better than westerners or easterners Provided We Have the Laws in place, the enforcement agencies and the judiciary in place !

I think you (UPA government) has not even read the draft of Jan Lokpal bill as presented by team IAC, members of civil society. Please understand that the if government goes by the civil society version of Janlok Pal, the day to day corruption common man is facing pertaining to traffic police, ration card, gas connection, electricity etc will be tackled as well. The present state of affairs is because public servants, bureaucrats, government officials and politicians are not afraid of the existing law and order, police, CBI and judiciary. All these agencies have been made complicated and are ultimately made to report to politicians, most of the time ignorant and uneducated.

So, we urgently need a strong, educated, powerful and independent agency to tackle corruption at all levels !



Recession- Is the World Falling Apart - Part 2 !!

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An Unexpected Part 2 !! I hope it does not turns into a trilogy !!

Back in December 2008, I wondered and mused whatever is happening to global economy, but the political and financial leaders are not taking the necessary, bold, corrective steps in time. Unfortunately the world leaders kept on salvaging the old stalwarts of Wall Streets, left, right and centre, perhaps that was the only option left. Unfortunately not many people are punished for committing financial crimes of by over leveraging in a hope to make quick buck and multiply the effect of that quick buck several times.

Low interest rates in developed world for decades and the compulsion of printing T Notes and Bonds and Currency, especially in the United States caused the Public and Private debt to grow into a monster, beyond control of almost anybody!

A temporary blip happened in the market sentiment in later half of 2010 and once again gold, crude, stock prices started going up, baring Real Estate! In ability of EU to create jobs, high spending habits of the people and the government led to massive accumulation of enormous public and private debt, utlimately causing the economies of whole countries such as Greece, Spain and Portugal to collapse. Now the fears are that of collapse of Euro, because the comparatively better off economies of Germany and France cant bear the burden of Italy, Spain, Portugal for a very long duration.

If Euro did collapse in coming months, years it will once again ensure the Numero Uno position of USD ( it is even now, but at least Euro had some chance) and another failed attempt (earlier being Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan). What an irony once again ! Couple of years ago OPEC was contemplating of switching from USD to Euro and now we are wondering whether Euro will be dead alive in 2012 !!

An amazing war, conspiracy, symbiotic and parasitic relation is developing between the current and future no.1 country (on the basis of GDP). In order to compensate for reducing wages and unemployment, US still wants cheap Chinese imports of day to day items and perhaps luxury items as well ( habit! dont change overnight), despite what so ever anti-dumping laws, hue and cry in the public ! China's love affair for Exports ensures that it keeps accumulating USD from USA and from several other regions from all over the world. And with surplus USD in their kitty and a possible fall of Euro, they are left with nothing but investing in US bonds every now and then. So by printing more Currency on one hand US is receiving wrath of OPEC and on another of China, but the irony is both (all) of them cant do anything about it!

Sudden demise of Euro can increase the demand of USD and can strengthen the $ thus reassuring China and OPEC! So while fall of Euro will be really unfortunate, it can bring windfall profits to somebody else in seemingly unrelated relation!

So being poor and underdeveloped for decades finally started paying India in unexpected manner! We are resilient to global shocks and crisis, because we have far too many internal problems to solve. Fortunately, we have lots of gold and silver reserves hidden deep inside but in safe custody of our Lazy Gods for centuries!

So to summarize, I would like to repeat and age old adage especially in rural India -' Sab kuch Bhagwan bharose hai' ( Everything depends on the mercy of gods!), finally worked really well for us, in a way which even our Bhagwan would have never imagined thousands of years ago :) !!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Youth. At any cost !

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A burning desire to succeed,
Sometimes at any cost!
Against Limited supply,
Of resources and inspiration, and,
Love of family and few friends.

Learnt to learn, grow,
Shine and outshine,
Achieved seemingly impossible,
Earned and remained happy,
Sometimes at any cost!

We are open, liberal,
Perhaps hypercritical.
We do pay our taxes,
Don't litter on much on streets,
Drive our new bikes, and
friend's car occasionally.
In a hurry to reach our destination,
Sometimes at any cost !

Whenever we faltered,
We stood up, sought advice,
Fought, made our own way.
Call centres, IT, Culinary Arts or Fashion,
Yes, no great innovation,
But some of us managed to thrive,
Sometimes at any cost !

We are thankful, indebted for the privilege,
Of being born in free India.
Yes, we know many issues,
Still unresolved.
Yes, be assured will be solved,
Perhaps slowly, but,
At any cost!

-----
Nitin



---------
Frankly, I started writing a prose and soon decided to convert it in a poem instead. Writing a poem after a long time, after having written some really long articles in the recent past :)

A Happy Independence Day to all, hope this year will be an year of action, beyond watching old patriotic movies and listening to old songs !






Sunday, August 07, 2011

Anmol Water

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Scott Harrison - charity: water from Big Omaha on Vimeo.


Amazing story of Scott Harrison and his inspiring journey. His speech touches hearts and souls because its honest and he really knows what he is saying and he genuinely cares about what he is doing. Simple sentences, no blabber about all that is wrong in Africa, India and other developing and under developed nations, plain simple, practical and powerful solution to one of the most dreaded problem of modern times.

It is so heartening and refreshing and inspiring to hear such people who are real, bubbling with confidence, enthusiasm and optimism and yet subtle, real and feel very much human.

Life started in here billions of years ago and fast forward to present and still over a billion people don't have access to the most fundamental necessity -Water. Unfortunately the governments in developing countries somehow don't focus on most fundamental issues such as food, water, electricity, health facilities and hygiene and sanitation. And so, slowly over a period of time, people start adjusting with situation, some fight with it, some surrender, a few win and few other loose their lives during this battle. As Scott very correctly says that these people don't have time for micro-finance or education, because they are wasting their precious time and efforts to obtain water.

However I feel that a holistic approach will be much better and that should be undertaken by local authorities, government perhaps using the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) model. Unfortunately all the fundamental problems ( Education, Poverty, Livelihood (food, water, electricity), Health, Hygiene and Sanitation) forms a vicious circle and all of these issues must be addressed if possible at the same time so as to ensure that communities, regions and countries can get rid of such circumstances, slowly and steadily and can feel happy to be born as human!

Several non profits have decided to take on and solve this problem so that in years to come, safe drinking water is accessible to everybody all across the world.

Focused on solving the issues pertaining to lack of access to safe drinking water for over two decades now.

With focus on some of the key areas such as poverty, hunger, disaster relief, micro enterprise. Runs several programs to make drinking water available to rural communities.

Another notable non profit in operation for over a decade

The battle is on and stalwarts like Scott will make it happen. As he mentions its about you, me and everybody, our stories, our believes, our action, so lets do our bit, feel happy and most importantly make someone happy who has almost no idea about what does it mean !!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Why PM Must Resign, NOW!!

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With all due respect Dr. Manmohan Singh, you have lost all respect whatsoever you gained due to your stature as reformist/economist. As a Prime Minister of this country for past 7 years, I am really sorry to say this but, you have not done your job as Prime Minister of India. You had several opportunities to act wisely, prudently but never did, ever once. Unfortunately you never fought any public election in past 10 years, so I cant blame the people of this country for having elected a wrong man.

Please watch these videos or read this article and analyse the address to prominent Editors by our PM earlier this year. While PM wants to take credit for growth, not falling Indian economy despite global recession but he forgets that not much credit goes to government for all this. Indeed we could have done much better if the government would have taken strong, innovative and timely actions. The PM appeals to media to not to focus overtly on negative news, but has not given many reasons to celebrate either. 5 months after this speech, all other things which PM spoke about, which were looking comparatively ok (security, more scams) at that time went wrong.

In the UPA agenda Mr.PM, you have highlighted Inclusive growth as your main focus. Lets look at what we have achieved as on this aspect -
- As per estimates, almost 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in past 10 years (of which 7 years belong to you, now dont come and argue that during your 7 year tenure as PM only, 60% of these suicides took place, while 40% took place during 3 years of BJP, so you are better on suicides/year statistics. We know your background, but unfortunately we are human being and cant give you credit for lesser no. of suicides/year or YoY decline by 2% in suicide rates etc, please)

Your government simply chose to avoid reading reports such as these which was published way back in 2006. Nothing substantial was done to ensure crop failures do not happen due to lack of water supply. Even worse, nothing was done to ensure that poor farmers witnessing crop failures, do not fall prey to loan sharks in rural areas. Providing technical education and counselling are distant dreams to expect from this government, but not enough was done to disburse funds, forgive loans and take measures to prevent suicides.

To make matters worse, or perhaps to divert attention of public, you left everything for private sector to make money out of this situation. Fortunately/unfortunately companies like SKS microfinance, Basix and several other public sector and private for profit Institutes, NGOs, NBFCs started operating at the bottom of the pyramid without much guidelines, rules and regulations.

What happened next, absolute lack of governance, bureaucracy, greed and lust for money prompted people to make money out of poor people. Scams after scams kept on bursting in 2010 and 2011. Microfinance industry which has done good job in our neighbourhood in Bangaldesh and Africa, became a new hotspot for scams, due to complete absence of policy framework.

I hope you do get some time to read newspapers, or watch TV channels to know what your Cabinet Ministers are upto, because I am pretty sure you do not have the courage and conviction to question any/all of your ministers and stop them from doing wrong, beyond tolerance. On one hand people were dying of hunger all these years and on other Food Grain was wasted not just one year but every year after tear.



Despite so many crop failures, natural calamities affecting farmers, Nothing has been done to develop supply chain and storage network to transfer foodgrains from areas which has abundance to areas which were facing acute shortage. I think your ministers in agriculture, planning are completely unaware of the fact that India unfortunately tops the World hunger chart.

I am sure you and your good offices will give reason, that its all attributed to bad monsoon, a conspiracy by opposition along with god Indra to ensure low rainfalls in Congress ruled states! But dear Sir, unfortunately the simple data is available all over the internet which anybody can read. To make matters worse, we witnessed unprecedented food inflation in past 2 years. 64 years after independence ( 50 years of Congress led government) and we still dont have a plan B against Drought !!


I hope you and the PMO office has access to internet and knows how to click hyperlinks. But I doubt, so let me put the link easily over here -


Please click on the link below and see for yourself the scams over and above the recent 2G, Adarsh, Common Wealth, Bellary Mines your government has nourished over the years. Your office will come out with lame excuses such as NDA government made Mr. Kalmadi head of CWG committee, but what the hell was your government in Centre and State was doing for 6 years after that. Why you waited for things to go completely out of control and bring national shame!

Its a shame on you and your whole cabinet to not react to a comment like - Delhi is crime capital of India! I am pretty sure your Congress spokesperson will attribute crimes in Delhi to BJP government in power some 15 years ago or to people migrating from all states on daily basis.

After unfortunate "recent" terror attacks on Mumbai, our honourable Home Minister denied any Intelligence Failure ! You are right Mr. Home Minister, because ' we are all sitting ducks' over here ! And you dont have to tell me this, I am sure our intelligence was clueless about these attacks. I am also pretty confident that one fine day you and your ministers will say that - its not possible to monitor people coming from across the borders, weapons coming from across the borders etc etc.

When being asked, why no Security cameras were installed in public places after 2008 Mumbai attacks, Our CM of Maharashtra Mr. Chavan said that ' money is not a problem, people are just afraid to take decisions ! I think he meant that it takes time to finalize deals, identify routes to launder money, because private sector in India has been installing security devices day in and out and with all those resources, we can always hire couple of international consultants to device a strategy and execute it as well ! We still remember Mr. PM that your party accepted the resignation of Mr. V. Deshmukh due to his inabilities to combat terrorism and ensure public safety. I think that was the only concrete step you would have taken, mainly because or pressure from media and opposition. He name was appearing in the recently bursted Adarsh Housing scam, but wait a minute. After accepting his resignation as CM of Maharashtra, you made him - Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth Science, probably because no other coalition partner demanded this position and though you were aware that he not worth much, but you gave upon his requests, perhaps because of some reasons which public is still unware of.

Last year, we saw your Minister of Human resource taking some populist measures to bring education reforms in India. While many more IITs, IIMs and Medical colleges were opened in past 3-4 years, no planning or strategy is in place to ensure Quality input and Quality output. Once again everything is left on fate. Nothing seems to be happening to ensure quality education is available at grass-root level or at advance/higher education levels.

We can understand that honourable minister was busy in past 6 months in planning and executing strategies to sabotage India Against Corruption movement and make sure that powerful Janlokpal bill is not introduced in the parliament, which will ensure that another spineless entity will be created over years, which will do nothing substantial except adding to the expenditures, committees and futile reports which nobody will bother to read.

In first place government is not doing anything to Prevent Corruption, secondly nothing has been done so far to Punish the culprits and recover the lost money and thirdly government is doing its best to make sure that a strong Jan Lokpal as proposed by IAS team is even presented in the parliament !!

Those who are already bored of reading my procrastination do watch these 2 videos to understand what Janlokpal Bill is all about.

In any other smaller (in size) democracies, the PM, the ruling party would have been thrown out several times by now for any one of the several issues, failures mentioned above. And what we have, we have all the above mentioned issues and the list keeps growing every month, week and day and yet nobody is doing anything about it.

My biggest concern - Leadership or the absence of it!! We can easily read from the gestures of Congress party leaders that Dr.Singh will not be the favourite choice the next time. He and the entire Congress party knows that he's just a stop gap arrangement, a dummy, a remote control car with low batteries. Very rare attempts were made in past 7 years by Congress party leaders to bolster the image of Dr. Singh, by giving very strong or supportive statements in public or by running PRO campaigns on TV, Internet highlighting his vast experience and intellect (for which I still respect him). I think this has to do with the fact that he himself has done very little to gain respect of his fellow party leaders in public! Unfortunately many bad events happened in the life of our nation in past 7 years, but we barely heard his concerns, his plan of action, his views etc etc. He perhaps is an excellent bureaucrat, a great economist and thinker as well, but as a leader, as a Prime Minister of this country he has failed the nation time and again.

Congress and even BJP for that matter and perhaps no political party has a leader who can at least be projected as a PM candidate, who will be widely accepted across the states, who will be having a deep understanding of not just economics but of this country, the lives a common man lives!! So, we have a huge void, a vacuum, an empty seat to run the affairs of this country. Now the presence of Mr.Singh gives Congress and even opposition parties a chance to dig and prepare fake election agendas. It has given Rahul Gandhi a space of 7 years and perhaps 10 years to prepare, to project himself as able, adept politician who might be elected by so called consensus within Congress next time around and not because of genealogy!!

But this nation cant wait for years and years altogether! The void actually existed for years, has been hidden behind Dr.Singh and things cant be like this! The presence of Dr.Singh prevents Congress, opposition and the nation as a whole from doing an introspection, searching for leaders ! Mr. Singh represents a lost opportunity and I strongly believe that if he wants this nation to thrive, if wants to be remembered as a person, as a Prime Minister who did something for this country, he must accept his inabilities, his failures and must step down IMMEDIATELY !!

Will his resignation solve the problems !! Perhaps not !! Will it make matters worse? Perhaps will !! Will it bring political instability and will bring the stock markets crashing down, perhaps will !! But unless we have a mass movement against what is happening, unless the nation comes out and support Anna Hazare, unless the anger of youth turns from an undercurrent to a large scale, nation wiFont sizede movement, nothing will happen either. The Political and Corporate Mafia has grown so strong and so powerful that unless something drastic happens things wont improve much and resignation of Dr. Singh with an honest address to the nation can become the Tipping Point.


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Image source- Reuters



Monday, August 01, 2011

Anna Hazares message to the Nation for 15th and 16th August.

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My Dear Fellow Indians,

A decisive battle against corruption has begun. We are not against any political party. We want systemic reforms. We want a corruption-free India. After all, what are the people asking for – a strong anti-corruption law which provides for honest and time-bound investigations and trials that result in jail for the guilty, confiscation of embezzled money and their dismissal from service? Are we asking too much? For two months, we were talking to the government. Government seems unwilling to take even small steps against corruption. Government appears insincere. We have met all prominent political leaders. We have tried everything. What do we do now? When I announced my indefinite fast from 16th August, the government threatened that they would crush us the way they crushed Baba Ramdev's peaceful agitation. Friends, this is a historic opportunity. We can't afford to lose it. We are determined to fight to the end. If they arrest us, we will peacefully offer ourselves. If they use batons and bullets, we will happily lay down our lives but will not leave the place. We will not retaliate. It will be a completely non-violent movement. “If you fast on 16th August, you will be crushed” – this is what they are saying. “We will impose section 144 on Jantar Mantar” – this is what they are thinking. But I say that if every citizen in this country takes off from his work from 16th August, comes on the streets in front of his house, at the crossing, with a tricolor in his hands shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and raising slogans against corruption, they will fall short of batons and bullets. The government may arrest one Anna Hazare but how will they arrest 120 crore Anna Hazares? They may impose section 144 at one Jantar Mantar but will they impose section 144 on the whole country? And let me tell you – the police and army is with us. At traffic signals, policemen stop us, express their support and wish us well; at Raj Ghat, the policemen donated generously for the movement! So, will you take off from your work from 16 August? Will you descend on the streets with me? This year, the country will wait for 16th rather than 15th August. In solidarity,
thanks

Anna Hazare
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“WHY GOVERNMENT'S LOKPAL IS DANGEROUS???”

Government's Lokpal is targeted against those who raise their voice against corruption rather than to punish the corrupt!

The government's Lokpal bill covers only about 0.5% of public servants, yet it brings under its ambit virtually every citizen's group and organization, registered or unregistered, meant to serve the social sector. This raises a pertinent question -- whom is the Lokpal really targeted at? There are more than 1.25 crore central and state government employees. Out of this merely 65,000 Group A Central Government employees would be covered in the government bill leaving out all the lower officers and staff. This effectively means that there is no remedy against corruption that a common person faces daily in police, roads, industry, licensing, transport, roadways, municipality, rations, health services, education, pension, provident funds, Panchayat, forest department, irrigation department, etc. On the other hand, Lokpal would have jurisdiction over ALL NGOs, trusts, societies like Resident Welfare Associations(RWAs), big or small, whether registered or unregistered, whether they receive government funding or not, up to the village level! For instance, consider a group of citizens that unearths corruption of the Sarpanch and Block Development officer (BDO) in a village. The government's Lokpal can't take any action against the Sarpanch or BDO but it CAN lock up the group of HONEST active CITIZENS. Each and every association, like Resident Welfare Associations, Market Associations, even your neighborhood committees that organize festivals like Durga Puja, Ramlila, etc. would be under the purview of Lokpal. While there is no disagreement that the rot of corruption is also afflicting many societies, associations and NGOs, there already exists a plethora of laws like the Trust Act, Societies Act, FCRA, etc. to monitor them. Lokpal was originally intended for checking corruption in public servants. Regardless, if it is being extended to all associations of civil society, then why shouldn't it also cover all companies, businesses, political parties, and media houses?

Government's Lokpal Provides Greater Protection to Corrupt!

Provisions in the government's Lokpal Bill heavily favour corrupt public servants. Under this bill, a public servant accused of corruption is allowed to turn around and file a lawsuit against the complainant accusing him of filing a frivolous complaint. The government will provide a free advocate to the accused to help prove the citizen was wrong, while the citizen has to fend for himself. If the complaint proves to be frivolous, the minimum sentence FOR THE CITIZEN is TWO YEARS. But if the corruption charges are proved, the minimum sentence for the public servant is just SIX MONTHS!
Will then any citizen dare raise a voice against corruption?

PLEASE FORWARD TO ALL YOU FRIENDS.