Monday, December 31, 2012

Strange Times

We are passing through odd times. We welcome deficits and abhor surplus. Fiscal cliff which is a combination of tax increases and spending cuts thereby leading to reduction in fiscal deficit is considered as an evil whereas allout efforts are made to jack up expenditure. Economists have their own reasons to argue why more is less and less is more.

It required a horrific assault on a hapless 23-year old girl to remind the nation that safety of women is a non-negotiable feature of any decent society. It is not surprising that an authoritarian state like China laughs at India's degenerate democracy which protects the indecent and cavils at the gracious.

May the new year change the times and bring decency back into our life. Would 2013 oblige?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The nation mourns

When a national political leader dies, the government declares a period of national mourning. This is a formality. Only on very rare occasions citizens really feel the loss. But today (29th December) was different. Entire nation spontaneously and silently mourned the passing away of the paramedic girl from U.P. who had been brutally assaulted in Delhi. A pall of gloom has enveloped the whole nation.

Response of the political class to this unfortunate series of incidents has been shockingly disappointing. The son of our President made his barbaric mindset transparent by his ludicrous comment. The government used its brutal police force to silence the protestors. Metro railway stations in the capital were shut down in a disgraceful manner. Even on 29th December at a time when the citizenry is keen to express its total solidarity with the cause of women, the shameless government has thought it fit to close the metro stations. It is a signal admission of government's incapacity to feel the public pulse and its ever-present readiness to abdicate its responsibilty.

It is pathetic that government's failures have been many. That a brutal assault on a woman can occur in a bus in Delhi was irrefutable testimony to administration's recklessness and dereliction of duty. Shifting of the girl to Singapore proved the sinistrality of the government beyond doubt. Her condition, according to many doctors, was such that even the slightest stress arising from the journey to Singapore would prove fatal. Why did the government take this inexplicable risk? Was the guilty government pathetically trying to prove its solidarity with the girl by making a show of caring for her? Has this misstep resulted in her death? No one can be sure.

29th December should every year be observed as the 'Day for protection of women's dignity'.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tactless Government

Concerned youth is reacting spontaneously to obvious lack of safety for women in our country. The government as usual was clueless on magnitude of student protests. Police forces tried to contain the agitation by adopting unjustifiable use of brute force. The medieval mindset of the powers-that-be came out clearly in their utterances.

The Delhi Police Commissioner was being interviewed by a group of girls in a programme telecast on Headlines Today. The Commissioner's words of wisdom included the revelation that women must take responsibility for their own safety! When a girl was curious to know what was government's responsibility in ensuring that women do not get raped, the CP outsmarted his own usual self declaring that men also find their pockets picked! The girl was unhesitatingly appalled by the Commissioner's total insensitivity.

The Home Minister once again proved that it is not required of him to know his job as long as he is in the good books of Soniaji. He went on praising the leadership qualities of the Congress President (incidentally another CP). Mr.Shinde made it clear that he cannot be expected to meet agitators. His argument was, "Would the home minister of India come out to talk to every group that protested? Would he have to face down protests by the Congress, the BJP or (hold your breath) the Maoists? If tomorrow a hundred tribals are killed in Chhattisgarh or Gadhchiroli, would the government have to go there?"

We are thankful to the Home Minister for clarifying that he is the minister for Gandhis' Home and not for the nation.

The taciturn prime minister condescended to address the nation eight days after the brutal incident. As the father of three daughters, he had no hesitation in sharing the concern of students. He has done his duty. Do not expect any action from him. Theek Hai? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gandhis and the Parliament

Many people wonder why the exemplary leaders of the Congress party, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi do not speak in the parliament. The Gandhis revere the parliament as a place of worship. They know that we are not supposed to talk inside a temple.

Some people wonder whether the Gandhis, during the rarest of the rare occasions when they are present in the Lok Sabha, understand what is going on. Again we need to understand what happens in a place of worship, whether it be a temple or a mosque or a church. Proceedings are in Sanskrit, Arabic or Latin. Most of us do not comprehend what is addressed to the Almighty. Similarly, the happenings in the parliament are Greek and Latin to the Gandhis.

How is Rahul Gandhi grooming himself to take charge as prime minister of the country? Witness what he did in the run-up to elections in Gujarat. He was the last Congress leader to visit and get out of Gujarat. As the captain-in-the-making, he was the last to leave the sinking ship in the state.

Let us not judge the Gandhis by our mundane standards. One may ask why Panditji was an active participant in legislative proceedings. Well, he was an atheist and therefore did not know how to conduct himself in a temple where he had never been.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

According to a PTI report, Ratan Tata has made a candid assessment of uncooperative attitude of Indian government towards industrialists. The report is available here:

While nobody can disagree with what Tata has said, he has unfortunately chosen to contest his own views. A statement issued by Tata Sons claims, "Mr. Tata has always supported the Prime Minister even when there was mass criticism of him, and the last thing he would wish to do is to be a critic of the Prime Minister, as has been reported."

Tata would not subscribe to the view that the Prime Minister is infallible. Tata should have realised before speaking out the truth that media would carry his views far and wide. People like Ratan Tata are expected to stand by their conviction.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Cat vs Bear

The Economist in its edition dt.1st December hypothesises that the next prime minister of India will be either the catlike Chidambaram or the bearlike Narendra Modi. The magazine argues that PC's stars are on the ascendant, the only handicap being that Sonia Gandhi does not trust him totally. The article surprisingly does not refer to the much talked-about friendship between Chidambaram's son and Sonia's son-in-law.

The controversial article is given Here.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Possible impact of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

Arvind Kejriwal, the promoter of AAP, has decided that his party will contest elections without allying with corrupt elements. This effectively means that AAP will not tie up with any existing party. It will be an interesting scenario the shape of which is hard to guess.

However it is reasonable to believe that AAP will not have adequate financial muscle to see its way through in more than a few constituencies. At best, it may play spoilsport and enable one corrupt candidate to widen his victory margin over a less corrupt candidate.

Why do we say so? Suppose a contest is essentially between two parties as of now. The voters know that both parties are dishonest and corrupt. Public perception will also be that one of the two candidates (or parties) is less corrupt than the other. Say the perception is X is less corrupt than Y. Before AAP enters the fray, the exceptional voters who attach a lot of importance to political honesty would have voted for X. Only such voters will shift their allegiance to AAP. The inevitable consequence will be that the more corrupt party will romp home with comfortable majority.

It may be an irony. But politics and irony are close cousins.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

President's controversial meeting

Pranab Mukherjee was in Chennai on 30th November on an official visit. He also met a leader of a political party, DMK, at the latter's residence. Kanimozhi, an MP against whom CBI has filed criminal cases was also present during the private meeting.

We do not know what made the President meet Karunanidhi. Was it to thank him once again for making him the President? Did the President speak to him on behalf of the Congress party?

Whatever might have been the reason for this politically incorrect meeting, the President will do well to remember that our Constitution requires and our citizens expect that he keep a respectable distance from politicians of all hues. There is no need for him to prove again and again that he is beholden to his electors.


In the case of public sector institutions, we may paraphrase Murphy's Law to say, "If the service provided is not already at the lowest level, it will deteriorate fast until it reaches the nadir".

Speedpost services provided by the postal department used to be very user-friendly. Till recently, one could send posts till 7 p.m. in many post offices and till 5 p.m. even on holidays. Speedpost was competing effectively against private couriers.

All that has changed now. Such services are now closed at 3.30 p.m. on week days. Very few post offices will provide these services on holidays, and that too for fewer hours.

Similar deterioration is happening in public sector banks also. Branches which used to open at 8.30 a.m. are now changing to 10 a.m. Branches which were open on Sundays are having a rethink.

The motto is clear. Wherever possible, serve less.