Sunday, April 10, 2011

Visit to Meerut and Agra : An eye opener to a corrupt environment

I have made many visits to this area but one such visit to Meerut and Agra made me realize the brutal reality of corruption that exists in India. Both these towns are next door to New Delhi and are backed up with bountiful agriculture, numerous medium and small Industries. Both cities have an access to tourism revenue. One with Taj Mahal and other with the proximity to Haridwar and Rishikesh.

There is a stretch of road after Hapur town built on toll basis. However, I was in for rude shock when my car driver paid Rs 10 as cash to the man managing the extreme gate instead of paying the official fee of Rs 15. His argument was 'it saves time standing the queue plus saves the money '. 'Does he take all the money he collects?’ I questioned. 'No way, this loot goes to all the way to his boss and shared across the organization '. 'But how would Ms. Mayawati - UP CM get the revenue? My naïve question must have surprised my driver. 'Are Bhaisaab. The person has already paid the money in order to get the posting! '. I was speechless.

The argument of ' India to be developed country by 2020, sounded as hollow as the slogan of 'Garibi Hatao' in 1971. Loni is another next-door town to New Delhi. Just go past the Vazirabad and you enter brick laid housing complex. This housing complex was built on agricultural land. Someone bought this land, made plots and sold it to individual owners who by their own imagination built the houses. So far so good, but this entrepreneur either did not bother to liaise with Govt. Agencies or he did not find it important enough to have road, water and electricity. Result is – natural roads that are hardened by wet rains and sunshine, no water pipe line. Electricity poles did arrive after few years but there is no meter installed at any house. BSES - private electric supply company just collect flat monthly rate from every house irrespective of their consumption. ‘Wow!! That means I can put all ac in every room’. The house owner just chuckled on this stupid question emanating from my imbecile mind.

I quickly framed another question ' but there must be power cut like in Delhi, How often the power trip?’

He again smiled ' Bhai Saab, that's difficult question, it would be easier to answer how often power comes? We would be lucky if it comes at all, but whenever it comes, our battery of inverter swing into action. We must conserve every minute of electricity. Air conditioner is out of question, fan in one room is luxury. Forget about power guzzlers like washing machine, fridge, microwave and TV’.

His statement made sense when I looked at all these modern gadgets neatly covered in embroidered clothes. They look spanking clean and new.

‘Our first priority is pump that sucks water from our bore well. Once, we fill up the overhead tank, our mission is accomplished ' He explained and I readily agreed. Ice cubes, satellite TV channels, laptop made no sense in Loni.

If this is the plight of next-door township to Delhi, what could be the situation in the interior towns of UP?

After paying bribe to the toll gate collector, my Tavera cruised on smooth tar road heading towards Meerut. Sudden screeching of brakes made my briefcase jump from the seat. Just in nick of time, motorcyclist had managed to swerve away avoiding an ugly collision. Single lane traffic with loaded trucks meant my car driver would overtake trucks and back in his lane well before the incoming vehicle would bang. My thought went back to that motor cyclist who narrowly missed a hit from our car.

‘What if he were to fall? We would have had to wait for police to arrive’?

‘ Hey No, nobody stops when hit by car. Fault is always with the big vehicle. We need not take him to hospital. Chances of survival of him are slim anyway.

I was aghast. Next day, while coming back from Agra, I saw a man lying around at roadside surrounded by some villagers. The car must have gone ahead hitting him.

In two day of travel to Meerut and Agra, I realized distance that between life and death could barely be few meters. Visiting Meerut, Agra and Loni was like drenching every part of my body and soul by corrupt environment. I kept asking the question. Would nuclear reactors solve power problems UP and Bihar? Or would it go the same way as Hapur – Meerut toll free road?


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Anna Hazare and Lok Pal Bill

Who is Anna Hazare? : An ex-army man stay in a village Ralegaon Siddhi in Ahamad Nagar district, Maharashtra . He was awarded Padma Bhushan and is a known figure for his social activities. He is supporting a cause, the amendment of a law to curb corruption in India.Last time when Anna sat on fast - 6 corrupt ministers in Maharashtra had to resign, 400 corrupt officers were dismissed from job , 2002 - Maharashtra RTI Act was passed, 2006 - Central Government withdrew its proposal to amend Central RTI Act. He is advocating for The Lok Pal Bill that will form an autonomous authority who will make politicians (ministers), beurocrats (IAS/IPS) accountable for their deeds.

In 1972, the bill was proposed by then Law minister Mr. Shanti Bhushan. Since then it has been neglected by the politicians A LokPal will be appointed at the centre. He will have an autonomous charge, say like the Election Commission of India. In each and every state, Lokayukta will be appointed. The job is to bring all alleged party to trial in case of corruptions within 1 year. Within 2 years, the guilty will be punished. Not like, Bofors scam or Bhopal Gas Tragedy case, that has been going for last 25 years without any result.

Salient features of Lokpal

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up

2. Like Supreme Court and Election Commission, they will be completely independent of the governments. No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.

3. Cases against corrupt people will not linger on for years anymore: Investigations in any case will have to be completed in one year. Trial should be completed in next one year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.

4. The loss that a corrupt person caused to the government will be recovered at the time of conviction.

5. How will it help a common citizen: If any work of any citizen is not done in prescribed time in any government office, Lokpal will impose financial penalty on guilty officers, which will be given as compensation to the complainant.

6. So, you could approach Lokpal if your ration card or passport or voter card is not being made or if police is not registering your case or any other work is not being done in prescribed time. Lokpal will have to get it done in a month’s time. You could also report any case of corruption to Lokpal like ration being siphoned off, poor quality roads been constructed or panchayat funds being siphoned off. Lokpal will have to complete its investigations in a year, trial will be over in next one year and the guilty will go to jail within two years.

7. But won’t the government appoint corrupt and weak people as Lokpal members? That won’t be possible because its members will be selected by judges, citizens and constitutional authorities and not by politicians, through a completely transparent and participatory process.

8. What if some officer in Lokpal becomes corrupt? The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months.

9. What will happen to existing anti-corruption agencies? CVC, departmental vigilance and anti-corruption branch of CBI will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Gudi padwa greetings

This was our first attempt to mount Gudi. Efforts started in procuring resources in wakad bazar. Poor couple sitting in the hot sun with stack of bamboo sticks, a lady on four bicycle wheel cart - that sold garlands of solidified sugar cakes that was most popular among Wakad Flies, picking up cloth was easy- choice was one of jaree or bright plain cloth, I opted for vermilion. Flowers garland was easy to get but difficult was to get neem leaves. We weren't sure of getting a jar that would fit on the top of stick. But somehow, the only one we had did work. I had no inclination of achieving any spiritual nirava through this Gudi but was happy that Akshta could relate to this important festival that is hardly gets celebrated outside India. Plus a satisfaction of stimulating trade of hardworking entrepreneurs who really struggle to live a decent life.

Now came the issue to installation and commissioning. Google as usual came to my rescue: Why empty inverted Jar ? : Empty your ego, take an inverted look within, hold yourself up to the vast sky of divinity and may your soul remain outdoors, away from the trappings of this world.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Passion and Desire.

One of my colleague put a word 'Desire' in the same context of 'Passion'. It was obvious their coexistance within the same frame of reference was incongruent but my curious mind made me delve more deeper in knowing both subtle and obvious differences in these two words. And I learnt few approach to explain the difference between Passion and Desire.

Passion is more being related whereas desire is ego related, both stir us up, passion unifies, desire exploits! ."Desire" is believed to be about the personal wants, and "Passion" is thought to be about trans-personal wants. Passion is to feel deeply about something. I feel deeply about my writing... my artwork... that's my passion. Desire is to want something deeply. Passion - any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate. Desire - to wish or long for; crave; want. DESIRE – is to want something while PASSION – the refusal to live without something.

Passion vesrsus Desire by Mary Gersten says Finding your passion is about more than just fulfilling your cravings or desires. There is a difference between passion and desire. Passion that comes from your natural tendencies, or what can be called "purpose," is not dependent on your circumstances. You can tell the difference between the two because of how you feel when you do the activity. Doing activities inline with your passion that comes from purpose will make you feel energized, alive and make you want to continue the activity even more. You can lose track of time, become obsessed and maybe even have to give yourself time limits on how much you engage in the activity. You are like an addict. On the other hand, doing activities that fulfill desires that are circumstantial can make you feel satisfied and content. The more you do the activity, the more satisfied you become and less interested in continuing the activity. One example of this is the love of babies or small children. Someone whose passion is to be around them might want to run a daycare center or be school teacher, whereas, someone who wants to be a parent will feel that deep desire fulfilled by birth or adoption. Your true passion is like a soul-mate activity. It is the thing that makes you feel alive when you do it. Recognizing your passion that comes from purpose, or your natural tendencies, can often happen if you think about what you would want to do if you had all of your needs and desires met. If you had all of the money in the world, finished traveling and had all of your wishes and desires fulfilled, what would you want to do with your time? Some people say they have a dream or passion about something at which they are not very good. Just look at the American Idol tryouts. Everyone thinks they are the best. But they often have not taken any time to learn or train to be the best. They have a desire but not a real passion. People who find their true passion often want to be good at what they love. Wanting to learn more and putting forth the effort to do so is a natural part of pursuing your passion. This is why passion is such a crucial part of success. It is like a natural river of drive and energy you can ride toward your goal of success. One way to ride that river is to find a way to be successful with the passion itself. If you love to paint, learn to be the best you can be and find a way to make money painting. You would have a better chance of finding success than if you love painting and you become a waiter. Another way to ride that river is to find a way for success in one area to allow you to engage in your passion. If you love to travel, but cannot find a way to make money from it, find another way to make money and then use it to travel. Either way, finding your passion is the best and strongest motivation to find success. Any successful person you meet can tell you in a heartbeat what their passion is and how that helped them find success. Find your passion, and let your passion drive you to success.

So much anout Passion and Desire. But how about 'Passionate desire' !

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Would India go through ?

What an innings by Mahela Jaywardhane. Perfect combination of talent, temparament and tactical play.

275 is competitive score and as I write Sehwag is gone for zero. Yet, i would bak for India. In Bensen & Hedges world series in mid 80's, against Pakistan - Indian was 10 for 3 with Imran Khan destroying top three batsmen and yet India won the match. Let us hope if Sachin plays innings of his lifetime.

Murg Malai Kabab

This was my second visit to chingari - an open air Indian dining at Le Meridian in Pune. , This restaurant is on terrace top. Being next to Pune station, frequent train horn is a constant dampener in otherwise quiet surroundings. Last time, I had enjoyed vegetable Kabab. This time, Akshta feasted on Murg Malai Kabab. Vah Re Vah website gives recipie for this. But I need to source meat tenderiser.

Friday, April 01, 2011

M for ?

M for Mirupur : India beat Bangla Desh M for Motera : India beat Australia M for Mohali : India beat Pakistan M for Mumbai : India beat Sri Lanka ?? India won against Pakistan .

An enjoyable match yet in many respects intriguing. Pakistan had all the chances but it seem they were determined to let hosts take the cake. When I look at this match, I find some moments that could have changed the outcome :

When Dhoni Came to bat, Afridi still persisted with defensive field. It appeared Afridi was happy was convinced that India cant be bowled out in 50 overs. He didnt keep spinners and Dhoni's edge went past keeper not just once but twice. Dhoni was opposite that of Afridi, everytime new Pakistan batsman came to crease, he would employ first and leg slip and even have an audacity to pull thir man inside to tempt batsman to go for cut.

Misbah wanted to emulate Javed Miandad or Inzaman but somewhere he lost a plot by losing partners. When Afridi came and hit few fours gap had come to 20 runs between runs and bowls. One over in power play could have sealed that gap. This pair was dangerous and could have caused the damage.

Man of the match should have been Riaz than Sachin. Riaz single handdedly changed the course of the game , In case od Sachin Pakistan fielders made him change the game.

Here is a cute one : Afridi- hum sachin ko kisi haal me 100 runs nahi banane denge, Misbah- magar hum kaise rokenge,wo to gajab ke form me hai, Afridi- hum under 100 all out ho jayenge.!!!