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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What should I have done?

Last wednesday I was standing at the back gate of my hostel waiting for one of my friend to return from the tea shop. In the meanwhile, I saw a middle aged man (nearly 35) coming to me. As soon as I saw him, I understood that he is coming for some help from me (don't know how). As expected by me, he came to me and asked me whether I understand Tamil. I answered in No. Then he said no problem I know English too.

Then he started narrating me a story that he had come to Chennai from Coimbatore. He was called for an interview. After the interview as soon as he got into a bus someone pickpocketed his wallet and that he is left with no money. He asked me for some money so that he could go back to his home. At once I thought to give him money, but then I thought for a while whether he is speaking truth or it's a tactic by him to get free money. I said that I too don't have money and I need to go to ATM to withdraw some money. He just said ok and left. I kept looking at him till he was invisible and kept thinking that should I have given him the money?

Really, it's very difficult to differentiate between honest people and liars. Why didn't Gandhi give us a talisman for this too?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Brett Lee Wants Sponsorship

I was amazed when I looked at the shoes of Brett Lee in one of his match. No No... It was neither too good nor torn. It had a sticker on it labelled "Sponsor Needed". The paucity of sponsors for a player like him is quite surprising. Even his way of advertising for himself is interesting.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Tamilnadu Chief Ministers have been so generous to the voters who helped them to get back power. Today, I came to know the reason behind a few rusted Dish TV Antennas in rural part of TamilNadu during my SEB field visit last year.

I read in the newspaper today that Mr. Karunanidhi had promised people to give them colour TVs if he comes to power. Guess what! He didn't breach the voters and colour TVs worth Rs. 4,000 Crore were ordered and delivered. Actually he had two benefits. One that he was seen as a politician who stood to what he promised and the other one was that it would help increasing the TRP of his television channel SUN TV. That's what we say "Ek teer, do nisaane".

Going along with the traditions of the state, Amma too had promised that she would provide students of class XIth and XIIth with a laptop. Now, 14 Lakh laptops would be ordered to keep her promise. I was thinking of the company who would get this huge order. They would be lucky enough to get the single largest hardware order ever in the history of India's e-inclusion programme. The order could be anywhere between 150 Crore to 350 Crore (huge enough to change the P&L figures for the company for this Financial Year).

There were some other promises too made by Amma during her election campaign which she announced to start soon after she was sworn in as the Chief-Minister of the state. Such as free rice, subsidised other cereals to the poor.

What I think is that just a formal declaration of these freebies won't help. Improvement in the PDS system is what India needs. There have so many welfare programmes running all across India. But, without proper watchdogs, they have been just a tool in the hands of officials handling those programmes as a means of increasing their personal wealth.

Hoping of some steps in this direction too.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Should bribery be Legalized?

On the website of the Finance Ministry, the chief Economic Advisor to the Indian Government Mr. Kaushik Basu has recommended to legalize paying bribery (in case of Harassment Bribery*) in India in order to fight corruption. At the first go it may seem absurd to even think of legalizing an immoral act to tackle corruption. But, a deeper thought must have gone through in Mr. Basu's mind before putting up the recommendation.

One of the explanations may be that people easily tend to pay bribe in order to get their work done. It happens to even those who don't want to pay bribe but have to. If they complaint about the bribery before getting their work done then their work won't get done. And they can't complaint about it after paying as it is illegal in India to pay or accept bribe. So, the solution provided by Mr. Basu is that if someone doesn't wish to pay bribe, they first get their work done by paying bribe. After that they can complaint against the person who accepted bribe for the work. This legal construct would dissuade government officials to accept bribe as they would think twice before accepting it.

In India, rules are such that a boy who attempts suicide, a father who pays dowry and a journalist who carries out a sting operation is also liable to be punished. I think these rules are an arm for those who asks for bribe or dowry, as they know the bribe or dowry giver won't complaint against them as they too are criminals in the eyes of law. Hence, such a law would be very helpful in combating corruption.

Looking at it from a different angle, won't it make easy for big corporate houses who most often bribe government officials to get their work done? Even for a common man, bribing would be easy as they would have a panacea in their hand. So, before implementing the rule certain Ifs and Buts must be taken into consideration. Then only it would help fighting corruption otherwise we only would have to suffer.

*(Harassment Bribery is defined as those cases of bribery in which people don't intend to pay bribe, but they have to, in order to get what they are legally entitled to. For example- If an income tax refund is held back from the taxpayer and he has to bribe the officials in order to get it.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

OBL - An Obituary

Osama Bin Laden (herein after to be referred as OBL - surely in order to not repeat blunder of confusion between Osama & Obama :-P) is finally dead according to the US officials.

Early Life of OBL

In 1979, at the age of 22, bin Laden joined the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. He subsequently became the chief financier of an organisation, which evolved into al Qaeda (which translates to 'The Base'). In 1989, after the Soviets pulled out, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia to work for his family construction firm. He was forced to leave Saudi Arabia in 1991, when the government revoked his citizenship for indulging in "anti-government" activities. He took refuge in Sudan.
In 1996,
Under pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, Sudan expelled OBL. He moved with his 10 children and three wives to Afghanistan and declared a jihad, or holy war, against the U.S. and its allies.
In 1998, truck bombs triggered by al Qaeda in U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people.
Week later, the U.S. Embassy in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam was bombed.
In the biggest terror attack on U.S. soil, the twin towers of the World Trade Center were razed to the ground on September 11, 2001 by al Qaeda suicide squad.

Final Destination

He used to live for the last five years imprisoned behind the barbed wire in Abbottabad (just 50 Kms away from Islamabad) spending long hours in front of his computer without an Internet connection (to protect himself from the reach of tech savvy US Military). He relied on just one person for his communication to the outer world, popularly known as the "Courier" and his brother who carried his Thumb Drives in & out. Living with the name as Arshad Khan, OBL lived with his three wives (so unlucky, just three) and few children completely behind the walls. One interesting incident that if some Sahid Afridi hit ball from a nearby playground over the 12-foot concrete walls, the Khan family wouldn't let anyone enter the compound. They would give the boy R.50 to buy a new one (they could have given the ball instead, but they thought it may be some US spy ball which may reveal their secret).

Even in his exile, OBL used to record voice messages to be edited, subtitles added, his images added and broadcasted by the Al-Qaeda which was sent via his Courier boy or his brother.

The role of Pakistan had been suspicious throughout the operation. It would have been impossible without their involvement that OBL would have been living their for the last ten years. Even military operation by US would have been impossible without Pakistan's support.

After Death (AD)

Look at the happy faces of US people, now they feel relieved that no 110 storey building would fall over them while working in office.

Back in Afghan land, another man was worried,Omar Bin Laden, (the Nth son of OBL's Mth wife), who left his father with his siblings in 2001 from Afghanistan as he never liked the work his father did, has rightly accused Obama for unlawfully killing his father who was without arms at his home at Abbottabad. According to him, OBL should have been arrested and made to go through trial in the court of law for truth to be revealed in front of the whole world (God knows what truth he was talking about).

Another incident which seems interesting after OBL's death is the announcement of US officials for US citizens abroad to be alert and cautious of traveling outside their home and to avoid large gatherings. Terror...even after death I would say.

One news that caught all eyes after his death was the fall in the price of oil below $113. Amazed by the reach of his affect on even commodities like oil. (Hope food inflation in India too falls)

India too joined to discuss the role of Pakistan in providing shelter to the terrorists (thanks OBL for revealing the world about Pak's double face and giving India a chance to say something against them). Hope it progresses in the positive manner in the coming future.

After all,as far as I am concerned, justice has been done to all those who suffered because of the terrorist activities carried out under the leadership of OBL, be it Indians, Americans or British. Now, Mission al-Zawahiri to be accomplished.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is India really a land of "HUNGRY" people?

According to a recent report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India has been ranked below China and even Pakistan in the hunger index. The index, released today , rated 84 countries on the basis of three leading indicators -prevalence of child malnutrition, rate of child mortality, and the proportion of people who are calorie deficient. China is at the 9th place while Pak being on 52nd. Not only that, it also tells that 42% of the world's underweight children live in India. These figures are contrasting to the fact that India now is the second fastest growing economy in the world.

Almost 47% of Indian children under 5 years of age are underweight.This high percentage matches with that of the nations like Nepal, Srilanka, Bangladesh and even African countries.These are really alarming numbers and need to be addressed more seriously by the government and the common people.

The primary reasons according to me are (I) The population (II) The level of education and awareness (III) The state of women (IV) Gender bias (V) Poverty (VI) Infectious diseases.

The huge population of course plays a vital role in this regard.Population is a subject of which the perception varies with the viewpoint of the observer. To the demographer it is an exercise in statistics, to the politician a matter of votes, to the economist it is dissipation of wealth, to the bureaucrat a problem of feeding, clothing, educating and housing the masses and to the industrialist a source of labour. As we have limited resources and a large number of people to exploit that , not everyone gets equal and required amount of calories intake. This leads to some (actually most) of them undernourished. Such undernourished parents give birth to children who are underweight.

The literacy rate of India is just 68% (even after 63 years of independence). This is when a literate in India is one who knows how to write his/her name!!! Education plays a very important role in the state in which a family member will be, specially their children. People are not educated and hence not aware about the developments in the world around them which leads to negligence towards certain basic things, one of them being proper care and facilities to the children .

The head of a family is the mother (at least for the internal matters of the home). If she is well educated or at least, aware about the proper methods to take care of their children from the time of their birth, the present situation can be tackled effectively. But, today we don't see such condition in every part of the country. Due to a tradition of following the set customs and traditions tend them to ignore proper care for their and their children's health.

Gender bias here refers to the state where a male is given more preference than a female in our Indian society. Generally, we consider a woman to be more responsible (and it is true too) than a male. But, that freedom is not given to the women in our society which creates a lacunae in the health care of the family and ultimately leads to underweight children.

Poverty in India is widespread over all the states. As of 2010, more than 37% of India’s population of 1.35 billion still lives below the poverty line. More than 22% of the entire rural population and 15% of the urban population of India exists in this difficult physical and financial predicament. Rural Indians depend on unpredictable agriculture incomes, while urban Indians rely on jobs that are, at best, scarce. Most families in the villages, far away from the cities are deprived of basic facilities because of lack means and money. They are not capable of getting two meals a day. We have families in some part of the country who live for 3-4 days on just water. When they have nothing other than water to survive how will they take care of their children.

Lack of awareness about the basic health care facilities available also adds to the cause of so many undernourished children in India. Sometimes of a disease leaves its effect for a long time, which leaves its effect for along. There have been several such diseases which have and still continuing to effect the children of India.

These all reasons, cause and its effects must be taken care off so that our economical growth must go hand in hand with a growth in all other fields. Hoping for the best in the coming future.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Indian soldiers.

Yesterday, I read somewhere about the death of a British Lieutenant Colonel in Afghanistan. I came to know that some of them carry a video camera on the top of their head to record the proceedings of the war. It was because of this camera that the killing of that Colonel was recorded and was made public afterwards. It showed that he was hiding himself somewhere. He tried to contact some other soldier through his radio, but couldn't find good signal. So, he had to come out from the hiding place. Doing this he was seen by the Taliban and was shot.One of his artery was severely damaged.

Other soldiers, when they saw it, called for help. They asked for a helicopter to take the Colonel to the hospital. Due to some unknown reasons the helicopter took almost an hour to reach the place.He was then immediately taken to the nearest hospital. But, even three hours of intensive medical treatment by the doctors couldn't save him.

The story doesn't end here. Questions were raised by the media and the public for the lack of facilities which ultimately led to the Colonel's demise. Even the Prime Minister had to answer the public. Though the explanations by the Army and the PM were not satisfactory, the whole incident reveals the fact that the death of one Colonel can be such big event in Britain.

I was trying to relate the same situation in India. Think of a news on the fifth page of a national daily which shows a picture where an old lady is crying in front of a dead body wrapped in a white cloth. This has been a common sight so we tend to ignore it. But don't we have the responsibility to think about them and pray for their soul. After all they have given up their life so that we could live in peace. They are not given such facilities which the soldiers of other countries get. They can't even think that a helicopter will come to rescue them in need. The situation in which the soldier has died would never be made public. Even it gets public, an Indian can't question the Army or the PM for the death of a soldier anywhere. We must be proud of our soldiers who don't think of themselves when are on duty of saving the live of the people of India.
We don't see such feelings in the soldiers of other countries even when they are given so much facilities.

When I think of the Police forces of India then also I tend to feel that they are being neglected. I have read that they are given just Rs. 300 for their dress in an year for the last 20 or 30 years. We can imagine when some of them are paid Rs 4000 as salary how they can manage the difference for their dress from their income. There have instances where a police had to wake up at 3 in the morning to go for duty in an election because they had just 1 bathroom to share among 17 policemen. Then they had to do their duty for the whole day without them being given time for the lunch as that constituency came under the list of sensitive constituencies. There are several other instance like this where the people who care for us are neglected.

We must pay attention towards them otherwise they too will loose their commitment and ultimately we would have to suffer. At least we must do it for ourselves.