Think Rational

February 22, 2009

Our Democracy: A perspective

Filed under: Current Affairs,Rational thinking — thinkrational @ 6:47 pm
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Today, as we all proudly say our country is one of the biggest democracies in the world. We are second to none when it comes to boasting about our country, democracy, the freedom we all enjoy and so on. The list is endless. However, ask anybody about the condition of our democracy, and the only answer we get is a deep sigh!. Everyone knows that the most prominent ills of our democracy like the rampant corruption, dishonesty, voter enticement etc makes one think where all this is leading us.

We all should not forget that this system is “of the people, for the people, by the people”. So, in theory it is just as good as the people who elect it. So, when we point fingers on all the ills, in some ways we are pointing fingers at ourselves. All those who are members of the so called system are at the end of the day, just one of us. So, probably there is something lacking within us.

A democracy is an evolving entity. No amount of enforcement and policing can fix it. At the end it is the people who will bring about a change in the system. Until then the churning will continue. It is only when we are fed up with the corruption, fed up with the bribes we get for our votes we stand to revolt. All the well functioning democracies of the world that we see today like the USA or other western countries are still evolving even after hundreds of years of experimenting and reforming their system. If you go back in history say 10-150 years, we can see the same ills even in those system that we so hate here!. After so much churning, today they are where they are and going by that example our 60 year old democracy is still very much in its infancy!

Having grown all my adult life trying to understand and cope with our system, recently I had a chance to visit the oldest democracy in the world that is the USA . Invariably I was very curious to find out the good and the bad in their system. After almost 300 years of refining, I was really impressed by the system that is working so smoothly there. It is very surprising for them see the heavy deployment of troops here for the elections or the daily dose of corruptions that they hear. It was very difficult for me to explain why we have phased elections out here or the seizure of sarees, liquor etc during elections.

One thing I have observed was that for effective functioning of the system, there are few very basic ingredients such as deterrent rules/laws, effective implementation, honesty and personal responsibility.  Not that there are no ills in that system. But how those ills are tackled should be an example. I was very surprised to see that a city official was imprisoned for 24 years in prison for taking a bribe of $3000 and the sentence was pronounced within 3 months of the crime. How many officials and politicians have seen in our country goto prison for corruption in the last 60 years? I don’t remember even one case!

Secondly, the system is designed in such a way that for the common folks, it is so easy to get their things done without any hindrance. Be it getting some certificates or a driver license, it is a no nonsense approach that caught my eyes. My friend happened to sell his car while I was there and I was very curious to see the whole process work!. First of all there are clear cut instructions that need to done for transferring the registration? As a first step, he had to get the vehicle inspection and emission test. Just drive to a designated test area, show your documents and you get the report in 10 min. Secondly, go to the DMV(Dept of Motor Vehicle) equivalent to our RTO here, show the necessary documents and the whole thing is done in 20 minutes straight. No hassle, no going round the tables nothing. Just one counter, one person.  Everything is so straight forward that there is no scope for any confusion at any point. Corruption – Forget it.

That’s not to say that there is no corruption here. Like everywhere else there is some degree of corruption here. However that is probably at the higher level. Common people are not affected. Also the retributions are really great. Nobody is spared if caught and punishment is swift. That really gives a sense of everybody is one when it comes to implementation of the law. Lastly, one thing that impressed me a lot was the personal integrity of the people here. Since my friend had recently had got very high speed internet, I joked to his son that now he can download music and movies much faster from the internet. Pat came the reply: How can I download when I have not purchased the CD. Isn’t that wrong. I was dumb founded. I simply had no answer for that. I was just wondering how many of us back home will think in that lines.

The experience I had in US made me think of the infancy that we are still in here. To cap that all, recently I had a very good chance to compare the system here with the experience I just had in US!

I wanted to sell my 7 year old Hero Honda and I wanted to find out how easy it is or difficult to go through that. So, after I found a suitable buyer, the next step was to transfer the registration. I wanted to do this without paying single rupee as bribe. Not that I can’t but I wanted to find out Can I?

So as a first step, I had to get a NOC from the Shimoga RTO since I still had the registration from that office. It is a 5 hour drive from Mangalore and I went to the local office in Shimoga. When I enquired about getting NOC, the concerned clerk first learnt that I was from out of station. Then he started by saying that getting an NOC is a very cumbersome task and that he had to get signatures from 3 officials. His time estimate was 4-5 days to get that done. He was very aware that I did not have a luxury of waiting 3-4 days at Shimoga. His intension was to get some bribe for getting the job done the same day. As determined as I was not to give any money, I asked is there any way to get NOC the same day and his reply was an emphatic “NO” and that it would cost something to get things done the same day. Remember, all that is required is that they find my file, get it signed by 3 officers (who were all in the office that day). When I was convinced that I cannot get NOC that day without paying the bribe, I had to invoke my friendship to a very prominent personality ( as much as I hated to do that, I had no other way). Walla! Believe it or not, I had my NOC within 10 min. The very clerk who was so dillydallying to the file was in hyperactive once he heard me invoking my friendship. What it demonstrates is that the system can deliver very efficiently if there is a will! Think of the hardship of the poor village folks who neither have the time to wait nor know somebody to invoke when required!

Having obtained my NOC, I came back to my city and the next job was to get the registration transferred to the buyer. Again I was determined to get this done without paying bribe. I was told that was next to impossible. Just as I entered my local RTO, I was greeted by scores of so called brokers. I think they are the unofficial representatives of the officials inside!. When I just enquired with one of the broker, he said it would take a month if I alone. He can get it done the same day but I would have to cough up Rs 1000.

When I entered in, I first checked with a clerk who was supposed to give out information. Again his response was not clear and it was clear that he wanted me to take the broker route. So I decided to directly talk to the RTO and so I did. I asked him about what is involved in getting my registration transferred. He said that I have a pay a fees of Rs 35, submit an application along with RTC documents, safety inspection report and the Rs 35 fee receipt. Armed with this information, I paid the fees and again went to the clerk with all the documents. Again, the clerk was very evasive and said that it might take 4-5 days for the application to be processed. When I asked for the reason, he said that it would take that much time to get everybody’s (3 official’s) signature! I am still not sure why they need so many officers to sign that! I asked the clerk about the officials whose signature was required and their room numbers. Next I myself took all the papers to each of these officials and took their signature myself and at last I had my registration transferred the same day without paying any bribe. Albeit, it took 3 hours for me to get everything done and one more thing: that is the right amount of time they have to take to get the registration done.

Now, how many of us have that kind of patience and even the time for doing it ourselves standing in the queue? Most of us will take the easy way out: that is hiring a broker paying 1000 when the actual fee was 35! That makes even the clerks to channel people to these brokers. As long as there is bribe givers, there will be bribe takers!!

I think the change should start with us. If we arm ourselves with the information and then spend time getting things done the right way, the system will start working the way it should work!  No short cuts. Just follow the rules. Initially, it might be difficult. There will be lot of people resisting it. However, when we demand service, they will turn around. After all remember we pay their salaries and they are there to do our work!  Let’s all demand that service but in the right way, no short cuts, no jumping lines. Only then at least our next generation can witness the service they deserve!

September 28, 2008

Who ruled us before Independence?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thinkrational @ 4:24 pm
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It is a known fact that India received its Independence on  August’15 1947.  It was a collective movement under able leaders with a single goal that achieved the results that we all cherish so much. India collectively heaved a sigh of relief on that day, with countless teary eyes looking towards the unfurled tricolor with adoration.

It was indeed a struggle of a generation that landed us the independence from the British who initially set foot on India as traders, exploited the pettiness within us to rule us.

But the one question I am not able to fully understand is: did the British rule us or did we help the British to rule us?

At the height of the British Rule, there were approximately 200,000 white men and women in India. Then the question is whether it is possible for just 200000 men and women to rule a country of 300 million people? It is estimated that India’s population at the time of Independence was 30 crores.

Logically speaking it is simply not possible to do that. As we all know the British police and the military in India was mainly comprised of our people. It was our people who while taking orders from the British authorities were conducting atrocities on the freedom fighters to please their bosses. It was not a white man who hanged Bhagat Singh, it was not the white men who mercilessly beat the freedom fighters which caused the death of  Lalalajput Rai,  it was not the white men who arrested Gandhiji and other leaders and the list goes on.

Offcource It was the Britishers who ordered or set rule, but by and large it was our people implementing those rules on us to please their bosses.  Under these circumstances, any country would have done the same thing. It just becomes so easy for an invading country to impose its rule when the local people are ready to act against their own people.

Right from the beginning, the British took advantage of the enemity the princely states had within themselves to divide and conquer. Once that was accomplished, they recruited Indian youths into their police and army to rule Indians?  It sounds surprising but that is the fact.

During the 1857 uprising, a section of the British army comprising of the Indians revolted against the British for supplying bullets laced with beef fat.  But the fact is the Indians had joined that army to help British!!! Had all the Indians in that army and in the police force  turned against the British that day, the British rule would have ended in 1857 itself. Instead other Indians in the same army helped to crush the revolt and so the saga of the British rule extended for another century.

Even at the height of the freedom struggle, why didn’t the Indian population in the British armed force turn against their British masters?  Why did they still followed orders from their masters? Why did they still fire on Indians struggling for their own country’s freedom?

I know that the British would have been chased out of Indian long before 1947 had it not received the help from us Indians in crushing us the Indians.  It sounds very perplexing and confusing but that is the Truth.

We Indians helped the British to Rule us with an Iron Hand using US!!!!!!

Think about this and write to US about your thoughts.

August 12, 2008

First Gold for India

Filed under: Current Affairs,Rational thinking — thinkrational @ 3:39 pm
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Abhnav Bindra made India proud yesterday in Beijing Olympics. He landed the first individual gold medal for India in its independent history. It is really a laudable feat which needs to be appreciated. In his own words, hopefully this opens the doors for other Olympics sports in India.

As is evident, it is not really the dearth of talent but the lack of proper facility and training that is is haunting Indian athletes. The Government should come out with a national sports policy to identify and groom talent in a  professional manner and provide world class infrastructure so that Indian athletes can shine and bring more gold medals in the global arena.

These days a country’s performance in all the fields is used as a measure of its development. Be it economy, military or even in sports, it is imperative for a rising power to project its capacity in a manner that gets noticed world over. At least this objective should proper our govt to act in this regard.

Once again we all need to congratulate Abhinav  for this historic feat and hope that this leads the way for many more gold medals to India.

You can watch  Abhniav gold medal feat at this link: http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/share.html?videoid=SHOH-BJ-SD28-081108-115502

August 9, 2008

India and Olympics

Filed under: Current Affairs,Rational thinking — thinkrational @ 3:36 pm
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Its Olympics season and all the countries small and big are in the medal hunt. we have already seen even very small countries finding an entry in the medals tally. The big countries are already planning  on how to top the medal chart.  However we Indians have already started looking the other way. Our shooters have been eliminated in the prelims itself and others in the fray don’t elicit much hope either.

It looks like we have already demonstrated the lack of talent in India when we have fielded a small contingent of just 42 members compared to 620 of China.  Even in Athens Olympics, China had fielded 420 athletes.  This is really a national shame for a country of more than one billion people.

It was duly noted during the parade in yesterday’s opening ceremony. When Indian contingent made its entry, the commentator noted that having comparable population to China, India has a relatively primitive sports infrastructure. that is evident from the very fact that since 1984 when China made an entry into Olympics, it has won a total of 284 medals compared to India’s just 3. This very fact should silence all such intellectuals who often tend to compare and boast of India’s success against China. In my view I don’t think India can even dream of what China has achieved, let alone surpassing them.

Why does India put up such a pathetic show in every Olympics?  It definitely cannot be the physical capability because even Chinese are similar in body build. It cannot be the resources because definitely has the scientific know-how and the necessary resources that is required. Then the question is people’s will and commitment to achieve such goals. I think that is where we lack the capacity and the will to perform.

In China as well as other nations, achieving success in Olympics is considered a matter of national pride. The government considers it of national importance and takes to itself the task of identifying and training talents at a  very young age and trains them with a single aim of winning gold. In china this is so serious that children as young as 8 years are sent to the national training center where they are trained in diving, gymnastics, swimming etc.  The preparations for the next Olympics start the very next day after the current Olympics. It is that kind of commitment that yields results in the games.

Contrast that with the conditions here. Immediately after the games, every media outlet and govt officials talk about improving the conditions and training so that at least in the next games we fare well.  However all such things subside and everybody again wake up only after another failure in the Olympics. I remember our union sports minister lamenting about the poor performance of Indian athletes  after Athens Olympics. But what changes have been done to better Indian performance in Beijing Olympics?  I don’t think anybody has any answer to that because as it stands nothing has changed. The early exit of our athletes is already an indication of whats in store for us even in this games.

Year after year our govt allocates substantial amount of money towards sports. But what happens to those funds, no one knows. As always, that ends up in the officials/politicians pockets. The Indian Olympics Association is another corrupt institution. Even though there is sufficient finds, no one is held responsible for the poor performance of the athletes in the games.

Even selection of candidates for the games is mired with corruption and favouritism. Just look at the Olympics trials of US and China. Even an internationally acclaimed athlete should prove himself to find a berth in the national team that represents the country in the games. Here, the trials are just an eye wash and it looks like candidates are selected even without the necessary talent. For them money and a foreign tour is dearer than the national pride.

When the situation is at such a sorry state, how can anybody expect a descent show in the games. It is such a sorry sight to see a country of more than a billion people celebrating for just one bronze medal in the games , when a country with just 1/100 the population gets a tally of 15 medals including 4 gold!

Unless the govt of the day wakes up and makes it a national mission and takes upon itself the responsibility to prepare our athletes for the games purely based on the talent, I don’t see any major changes in India’s medal tally.

It looks like this time we might not even win a single medal. What a sorry state for a country of One Billion? We should really be ashamed.

And then there is talk to India hosting Olympics in 2020! Do anybody think we have it in our-self to match what China displayed yesterday to the world seeing our current state of affairs?  Truly speaking, India definitely has the capacity and the talent to put up something as spectacular as the one we witnessed. What is lacking is the commitment and the seriousness on our part to accomplish a task of such a nature.

I truly hope that at least now everybody will raise above petty politics to achieve success in 2012 Olympics Games.

July 31, 2008

PM’s reaction after attacks

These days it has become a norm for politicians and people in power to give big condolence statements after terrorist attacks but do nothing to prevent them in future. Just like every other attack, the incident is allowed to gradually fade from public memory. There is no real urgency displayed by the government to go after the culprits, prevent such attacks as is evident from the recent past. Probably the Govt thinks that India has a population of 1 billion and a few people lost here and there will not make any significant dent. What else can we think of such lackluster attitude from our government.

Probably it is because of such laid back attitude of our government,  any attack in India hardly causes a blip in the world media. Compare the reaction of the world media and the public for the London bombings to that of the recent blasts in Ahmadabad or Hyderabad or in Jaipur etc.  Simply, there is just no comparison and I think the govt should take the blame for that. When we ourselves don’t care for such things, how can we expect others to care about it?

Lets look at the reaction of our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh after such attacks.

After Ahmadabad July’26 2008 50 dead

“I have come to express our solidarity with the people of Gujarat in their hour of crisis. I commend the people of Gujarat for the resilience they have shown,” he said.

“These terrorist acts are aimed at destroying our social fabric, undermining communal harmony and demoralizing our people. As the people of Gujarat have shown so admirably, these efforts will not succeed.”  “We will rise to the challenge and I am confident we will be able to defeat these forces. “

No one arrested till date.

Jaipur Blast May’13 2008 60 dead

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deplored the attack on innocent victims, his office said, assuring assistance to Rajasthan and the victims’ families.

No one arrested till date

UP blasts in Varanasi, Lucknow Nov’24 2007

Some routine comments released by PMO.

They could not find the culprits till date

Hyderabad blast May’18 2007 16 killed

The Prime Minister also condemned the blast and urged members of all communities to maintain peace and communal harmony,” PM’s Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru said in a statement.
He said the Prime Minister has conveyed his condolences to the relatives of the victims.

They could not find the culprits till date
March 07-2006 Varanasi blast 20 dead
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the blasts and appealed for calm.

They could not find the culprits till date

Mumbai blasts July’16 2006 207 killed

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised this wounded city for its strength Wednesday, vowing that “no one can make India kneel,” while a senior investigator said the Mumbai train attacks that killed at least 200 people could be linked to a Kashmiri militant group. Singh highlighted the achievements of this city of 16 million, which staggered back to life despite attacks on the commuter train network Tuesday that killed at least 200 people and wounded more than 700. “Your resilience and resolve will triumph over the evil designs of the merchants of death and destruction,” Singh said in a televised speech. “Let me say again, no one can make India kneel. No one can come in the path of our progress.”

They could not find the culprits till date

New Delhi Blast OCT 29’2005 55 killed
October 29, 2005

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has condemned the serial blasts in Delhi. He was informed about them upon his arrival at Kolkata from Agartala. In a message, he said: “The target is clearly the innocent citizens. Efforts to spread chaos and disturb peace will not be allowed to succeed at any cost. The Government is determined to defeat nefarious designs of terrorist elements. The perpetrators of these heinous acts will be dealt with firmly. The security agencies are already working in this regard. All sections of society are required to remain calm and extend fullest co-operation to them.”

Dr. Singh expressed deep shock and grief over the loss of lives and grievous injuries caused to innocent civilians in these bomb blasts. He expressed heart-felt condolences to the next of kin of those killed in the blasts.

They could not find the culprits till date.

Do you see the similarities in all these statements?  Probably they have something allready typed up to read out after such incidents!

Instead of just giving such statements and complaining that we had already told the state govt, wouldn’t it be good if the govt actually does something to prevent these dastardly acts?

July 27, 2008

How to prevent terrorist attacks?

We all have been seeing the barbaric acts being unfolded in Bangalore and Ahemadabad in the last few days. Even though these are the most recent attacks, there have been a series of attacks in different cities in the last few years all over India. As always, there is public furore after such attacks, politicians come up with the same monologue about not giving into such people etc etc… However everything is back to square once the incidents fades away from the public memory and things goes into a deep hibernation to be risen only after another attack.  Also, it has become a common practice to blame the sitting govt, the police and the intelligence agencies for the attacks.

so, it is so shocking that even after 20 years of fighting this menace, India still lacks a concrete formula to prevent such attacks. we have all seen the efficiency with which the agencies have thwarted attacks in US after 9/11.  Is it possible to achieve such kind of success in India?

1. Effective Intelligence: Indian context is very unique what with a very floating population in our urban areas. In such a scenario, human intelligence becomes a very vital tool in deciphering the different designs of these outfits. These days intelligence agencies are busy catering to their political masters rather than chasing the terrorists. A country with an effective intelligence agencies can achieve more than just preventing attacks. Secondly, deciphering the information also becomes very vital in this context. An efficient setup to analyze and act on such information is very vital for the prevention of such designs.

2. Political Mindset: In India,  somehow the politicians think that they are the one who should all the work. You see these ministers visiting the attack site with all their followers. What good will come out of those visits only they should answer. They should understand that their role is to facilitate those who are expert in that area to work with out any interference and provide with all the necessary infrastructure and backup. Recently one news paper even complained that the concerned minister is not taking a tour of the attack sites in Bangalore and that he is spending time in his office!! One has wonder as to the motive of such papers. It is a well known fact that the police force in India has been forced to kneel down to its political masters in every aspect of its functioning. We have seen lightening results where the police force has been given a free hand to investigate. However in most cases, the political set up tries to manipulate the investigation to suit its political needs which is very unfortunate.  A paradigm shift in thinking of the political class is the need of the hour to prevent these attacks in future.

3. Effective police force: In the post 911 scenario, police force all over the world have been modernised to meet today’s challenges. However, it is such a pity to see police in India still clinging to their British era 303 rifles most of which will not even work. How can these policemen guard the public or themselves against the AK 47 wielding terrorists? For some reason the state Govt’s in India just doesn’t show that kind of an urgency that is exhibited elsewhere in the world in meeting upto the challenges of the present day.  Recently during Akshardham attack in Gujarat, it was so pity to see that the whole rescue operation had to wait until the NSG troops arrived from Delhi. If that is the scenario, one cannot expect any timely intervention or action by the police force to prevent any terrorist attacks. Every state has to raise its own “Anti Terrorist Squad”, fully trained and equipped to handle any scenario.

4. Enact Necessary Laws: In the post 911 era, while most countries raced to set up necessary legal framework to backup their security agencies to effectively carry out operation, India on the other hand repealed such a law.  These are extraordinary situation that we are witnessing today and the laws drafted 30-40 years ago might not fully assist the agencies to carry out the tasks demanded  by the current situation. However contrary to this, the current India Govt thinks that an age old law is still enough to handle the situations. All the agencies are unanimous in their opinion. They don’t have the necessary legal back to take actions that are demanded by the emerging situations of the day. The true dimensions will become clear only when we see the situations devoid of any politics. If it the assumption of the Govt that any anti terror law will hurt the minorities, well that is one big blunder a govt can do to its citizens.

5. Effective Monitoring: Extra ordinary situations demand extra ordinary solutions. In UK, the city of London is monitored round the clock by thousand of cameras placed at strategic locations. These cameras might not prevent an attack but will give definite clues about the perpetrators. We have witnessed this during the train bombings in London few years back. We know that all major cities in the world are embarrassing this method. I think even in India, the govt should follow this method in all the major cities. Yes, there might be cry from organizations about civil liberties, but the people understand that this is a small price to pay when compared to the cost of not doing anything.

6. Public Awareness: The authorities should take steps to spread general awareness among the public to thwart any design of the terrorists. Being aware of the general surrounds is important for every individual. All suspicious items should be promptly reported to the authorities. It was shocking to see people investigating the bomb by themselves  in Bangalore before calling the authorities. One man said that after seeing the unknown item, he rolled it couple of times and saw some wires coming out. It was a live bomb and that man could have lost his life. This is very much similar to those people who went to the beach to catch fish when water receded during 2004 Sunami! What a pity!

Finally, I think everybody has their own responsibility in preventing the beastly acts that we have witnessed this last weekend in Bangalore and Ahemadabad.  As long as we don’t realise this responsibility, incidents like these will keep happening and we continue to suffer. I hope at least this time the Govt and the public wake and realise that the people who lost their lives, did not loose it in vain. Lets give some meaning to their sacrifice and resolve to prevent such acts with all our might!.

Please write to us about your thoughts on this issue.

July 5, 2008

Should Govt compensate for personal mistakes?

Today in karnataka, there are lot of people who expect Govt to pay compensation for every tragedy that befalls the public not of the Govt’s making.

Some of the instances where Govt dispersed compensation are:

1. Govt paid Rs 1 lakh for all the people who died consuming “Kalla Batti” or hooch.

2. Govt paid compensation for farmers who committed suicide because of loans.

3. Demand for compensation in the name of support price when there is a bumper crop. Again demand for compensation when there is no crop! etc, etc…

It looks like there is no uniformity in the compensation that is doled out nor there is any specific guideline under which it is decided.

This is a topic that needs to be debated at length since the govt pays these compensation from the tax money it collects from the public.

Lets consider the issue of compensating those who lost their life drinking hooch.  Doesn’t this constitute abetting crime? When people clearly know that drinking hooch is illegal and dangerous, how wise is it for the govt to compensate them from our tax money? 

Farmers commit suicide every year for various reasons.  Recently, it has come to light that even when people die of natural causes, there were attempts to label it as suicide related to fertilizer and claim compensation.  I think such compensations breeds greed and it is unfortunate that people take advantage of a sensitive situation.

Instead, the Govt should formulate guidelines for compensation clearly stating the conditions that qualify for Govt compensations and most importantly, it should stick to those guidelines.  Wasting tax payers money to gain political mileage should not be the end game nor should it become a means for some people to exploit the situation.

These days we see farmers demanding govt help for each and every thing. They depend on govt for fertilizers, compensation when the crop fails and again compensation when there is bumper crop. Dosen’t it reflect the problem in the system?  Farmers demand loans from the banks which they never repay. There is no accountability or the commitment for loan repay.  Recently, the govt  waived off loans of farmers upto Rs 25k. Will this really help? Apart from spending 1,400 crores by the state govt and 72,000 crores by the central govt, I don’t think this solved any problem on the ground. All these farmers will again demand  fresh loans from the already bankrupt banks.

Recently, a farmer committed suicide when ICICI bank sent him notices for defaulting on his loan of 6 lakhs. There was such a huge protest by pro farmers group and finally ICICI had to settle with his family. Reportedly, the bank gave his family 10 lakhs. Isn’t this black mail? Why was the farmer not educated of the pitfalls of a huge loan by the very same pro farmer leaders? Also, it will be a big issue if any bank refuses to give loan.  In my view, this is nothing but looting the banking system.

I feel the govt should formulate proper procedures to educate farmers about all the issues related to farming in today’s global context. Yes, there are lot of risks involved in farming which the poor farmer is ill equipped to face. Govt instead of doling out free money should try to educate the same in better farming techniques, insure the crop so that the farmer is insulated from the vagaries of the climate and possibly purchase the crop well ahead to prevent price drops. Also, the govt should encourage private companies to get involved with the state’s farming community for the betterment of the society as a whole.

Hopefully the new GOVT lead by Mr B.S Yaddyurappa will actively work in solving this vexed recurring problem.

June 29, 2008

Technology in Governance

Filed under: Current Affairs,Rational thinking — thinkrational @ 8:06 pm
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In this age of Internet and emails, it is interesting to know the extent to which these technologies are used in the day-to-day governance of the state.  In the private corporate world, these technologies have become a necessity rather than an option.

Over the years some of the  Chief Ministers branded as tech savvy like Chandrababu naidu and S.M Krishna projected temselves as  CEO’s  of their states. However despite the hype, today we see that not many departments are using these on a daily basis.

Yes, in Karnataka there have been some very good initiatives in bringing technology to the masses and also have earned global recognitions like the Bhoomi project which digitised almost 200 million property records of the farmers in the state. The initiative was a huge relief to the farmers who can get the records they need directly from the Kiosks rather than waiting the Govt offices and paying bribes. However, there are still lot of areas which beg for technological upgradation which affect the masses daily.

For the starters, how tech savvy are our representatives? As we all know, the state govt issued Acer Laptops to all the members of the state legislature last year in celebration of the golden jubilee of the state. However, how many of them are actually using the same for the purpose it was originally intended for?   However a very small minority of the leaders have come to realise that the internet can be an effective tool in bridging the gap between the Govt and the populace.  In this regard, the initiative of our current Home Minister Dr. V S Acharya is really laudable. His blog http://drvsacharya.blogspot.com is a right move in the right direction. 

The government of the day as well as its departments do have a web presence. The official website is http://www.karnataka.gov.in/ . However, the site is not interactive as it should be.  It has the same old Govt look which needs to change. Also, emails can be a very effective tool when it comes to communication. Also, in this age of going-green, that would definitely cut both the time and the cost associated with the day-to-day communication. None of our leaders as well as the officers in the govt publish their emails. The only way to contact them is either by phone or by letter  which has been the norm for the last 50 years.  A corporate-like setup to the government will definitely go a long way in improving the efficiency and reliability of the govt.

Technology  can play a very important role in curbing the rampant corruption plaguing today’s govt.  This stems from the fact that the whole setup  is designed to facilitate the same. There is accountability at any level. Computerisation can eliminate the unnecessary delay and the harassment of the people by the officials. A computer trail will make it very difficult to defends the unreasonable delays associated with the govt services. Also, the govt should install required time taken for different services in all the offices. As a result, people can now expect the result in a time bound manner.

Another area where technology can bring about a radical change is the pubic distribution system.  The decades old system that  is currently operational is mired with rampant corruption and pilferage. Only a small percentage of the subsidised goods reach the needs. Most of them are diverted to the black market. Computerization of the whole system could save the govt crores of rupees annually and also the needy can be well served.  There are talks of introducing smart cards with biometric data of the families. This can be of great help. Also, computerization of all the beneficiaries and the transaction would allow effective management of the same and reduce the corruption involved in this business.

This is just one area. Just imagine the scope of the technology should the GOVT decide to implement in all its areas?

We would like to hear from you about this issue. Please pen your comments or email us at thinkrational@gmail.com

 

June 24, 2008

Destroying Public Property

So many times we see public property being destroyed in the name of protest. In fact, burning govt offices, buses has become a norm in every so called protest. We have seen this happen even in the recent episodes of farmer protests.

Somehow the populace has come to an understanding that the only way to teach a lesson to the government is by pelting stone at KSRTC and BMTC buses and burning them as well. What brought them to this conclusion is only anybody’s guess. How can burning buses help any cause they are protesting for?

These people just don’t seem to understand that they are hurting themselves by such actions. Usually it the local buses that bear the brunt of such protests. The likely consequence is that there will be shortage of buses plying in that route from the next day. It is so ironic that the same people will then start cursing the GOVT for not providing the service.  The resources spent on repairing/replacing could have well spent on adding additional service.

Somehow, the general feeling of ownership is not imbibed into the population. People do not seem to understand that anything Govt owns is indirectly paid by them in the form of different taxes. Offcourse,  most people do not pay taxes which is a totally different issue that needs to debated. Until such ownership feeling is developed,  such behavior will continue to prevail.

Another issue is, there is no credible deterrence against such acts. How many times have we read about  people being sent to jail for burning a bus or pelting stones on Govt vehicles?  In the absence of such deterrence, there is a general feeling that anything done in the name of protests will be allowed to fade off or the matter is closed once the incidents fades off the public memory. Nobody knows what happened to all those arrested during Dr. Rajkumar’s funeral procession or many such incidents. There are also news that police had made arrests after the recent violence in hubli-dharwad and haveri. But there is no official word about the status.

We also see statements by some of the politicians to take back cases against farmers who were protesting for fertilizers. Doesn’t that mean that such politicians directly abet destructive behavior during such protests? Is it really good for the development of the society? What message do we give out by such statements to the general populace?

Government should strongly come out against such acts of violence both by educating the public against such acts as well as taking strong measures like enacting laws, making arrests and making sure that those arrested are sent to jail in a timely manner. If for example a person is sent jail for a year for torching a bus, then that would definitely make people think about indulging in such acts.

There are ample opportunities to set right the wrong notions in the society. The only lacking factor is the “WILL” both from the part of GOVT and the society!!!! It will be very interesting to see how the GOVT headed by  CM B.S yaddyurapp and the new Home Minister Dr. V.S Acharya  handle such cases. Also, in this age if RTI, why is the media not highlighting the issue by finding out the status of the previous cases?

Please tell us what you think about this issue.

 

 

June 21, 2008

Shortage of fertilizer in Karnataka

These days we are bombarded with the issue of “Fertilizer Shortage”  in karnataka. All around we see the media (both print andvisual) as well as numerous blogs writing articles upon articles highlighting government’s  failure in solving this vexed issue.  Both the state’s CM B.S Yaddyurappa and the Home Minister Dr. V. S Acharya have been accused of firing on the farmers and the opposition parties have also called for their resignation . Lately, we are also seeing highly visual suicides by the farmers again linking it to the fertilizer shortage.

However,  no where we see any concerted effort by the media to rationally analyze the whole episode. It looks like every body just gets carried away by the current hysteria, in most cases being generated by the vexed interests.

Lets look into this issue for once keeping aside everything we have seen and read all these days.

First of all, fertilizer in our country is a highly subsidised commodity just like some other items like cooking gas, oil etc. The central government grants subsidies to the chemical industry for producing the required fertilizers that are then distributed to the states.  Individual states then distribute this in the grass root level.

Usually in the month of March and April respective state governments submit their estimated fertilizer requirement to the central government and stock the same before the onset of monsoon rains in June. Since Karnataka being under president’s rule during that period, it should have been the responsibility of the Governor’s administration (say Central Govt) to estimate and stock the required amount of the fertilizers in May. But that never happened. The other contributing factor might be that the agriculture dept employees were drafted for election duty by the EC. As a result as againt an opening stock of 58,516 tons of fertilizer on Apr’2007, the available stock on Apr’2008 was a mere 3412 tons. Added to that, the monsoon rains which usually start around mid June, started 2 weeks early.

This was the scenario when the new BJP government took oath on May’30.  CM Yaddyurappa met PM Manmohan Singh on June 2nd and conveyed him the situation regarding the fertilizer situation and was assured of all the help in time. Since the CM had decided not take any administrative decisions (possible because of the bad experience the last time around)  concentrated his efforts on gaining vote of confidence which he won a week later on June 06, cabinet ministers were sworn in on June’08 and portfolio allocated on June’10.

The reason for mentioning this fact is that we all need to have a clear picture of the events that unfurled in the early days of this govt. Usually they say that every new Govt will have an honeymoon period of 6 months to an year. That’s when we can actually start judging the performance of the government based on the policies implemented,  the developmental works undertaken etc.

However, on June’11 we saw the disturbance in Hubli-Dharwad and that was attributed to farmers protesting shortage of fertilizers. 3 buses were burnt, shops were stoned, public properties were damaged.  Police resorted to lathi charge to quell the disturbance.

The next day, in haveri, it was reported that farmers were again agitating demanding fertilizers and the police fired on the agitating farmers. All the opposition parties, news outlet and the print media painted the govt with recklessly firing on Innocent farmers.

Lets looks at this for a moment. First of all, since the fertilizers were not supplied from the central Govt, the state govt would have been in no position to supply fertilizers. Now blaming the shortage on a 2 week old state govt  might not be a correct thing to do and the same cannot be said about the previous administration.

Secondly, since when we as a society started approving destruction of public properties as a legitimate form of protest? That line of thinking would definitely lead to chaos in the society. Also, stoning police does no good to anybody. We all should understand that even they are normal persons with family. When cornered, every living being will try to protect itself against the aggressor by all means. Even in this case, we have seen that the law enforcement officers severely out-numbered  by the raging stone pelting so called farmers, used all the traditional means of crowd control.  The phrase “so called farmers” is used because usually in these situation, it is the anti social elements that take advantage of the situation. We have seen the same happen during Dr RajKumar’s funeral procession.  The situation went out of control when people surrounded a KSRP bus with very few constables and started pelting stones. We all should put ourselves in that situation for a moment and think what we might have done. Probably one of the constable fearing for his life must have started shooting resulting in the death of a farmer. Hopefully the judicial enquiry might throw more light on the whole episode.

It is very easy to blame a person or an entity for a particular incident. It is true that the Home ministry is responsible for the law and order situation in the state. However the local administration is directly in charge of such situation. Blaming Home Minister Dr Acharya might be ill advised because he had assumed the charge of the ministry just a couple of days back and I don’t think we can judge somebody’s ability even without giving time to perform.

All opposition parties are blaming the govt for the episode.  A strong apposition is a must for the proper functioning of a democracy. However, even opposition parties like the Congress should introspect their acts while they were in power. There were incidents of firing on farmers when both the principal opposition parties were in power. Everybody should find out the actions being taken back then.

Even the media should introspect its reporting ethics. Some of the news outlets have been towing the opposition line during this incident which is not healthy. Instead, they have to do some honest analysis of the events and persent it to the people. We all know the tipid response of the media when President Bush went to War. Only a couple of years later did the media realise its mistakes.

Even today, we see news about farmers committing suicide.  However there are news that these are being done with an intention of getting govt compensation. Again patience is advocated in reporting such incidents. It is heartening to see at least some of the media outlets are talking and implementing self restraint that is a very healthy development.

As per the latest information, the Central Govt has released only 62,400 tons of the fertilizer as against the promised qty of 1.4 lakh tons by June’20. It is interesting to see how the state govt and the opposition parties will handle the situation arising from this shortage.  The need of the hour is to collectively approach the federal authorities instead of blaming each other.

One sad development that we have seen is that none of the so called farmer leaders nor the opposition leaders have denounced the destructive nature of the protest. In fact some of the statements were supportive of such actions which is very unfortunate.

We hope that this article will give you some more information/ insight about this issue. Now it is left to the individual reader to think rationally and build upon his/her opinion.

We would love to hear your thoughts about this blog and the issues that we highlight. You can leave a comment  or write to us at myrationalthought@gmail.com

 

 

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