Monday, 19 August 2013

A Greek Tragedy In India

What is the difference between a mistake and a crime?

A mistake is when your office, hoodwinks you to sell spectrum at throwaway prices. A crime is when you know a mistake has been committed and compound it by removing the evidence (read the coalgate files). A mistake can be condoned by an apology, but a crime must call for a befitting punishment.

 For UPA, spectrum allocation can be called a mistake (a crime by an ally), but coalgate is surely an offence and the jury of the public shall announce the verdict within 200 days, when they cast a vote during the next general elections.

The Prime Minister would be feeling like the hero of a greek tragedy (like Oedipus and Antigone). All his actions that he did as a Finance Minister, and which made him famous are being undone by his own inaction. He pulled India from the brink of bankruptcy, by the steps that increased the dollar inflows and the investor confidence into the economy.

On the other hand, the government’s inaction has led the rupee into a comatose state. When India achieved independence, a rupee was worth a dollar. Today after 66 years, a dollar is worth 63 rupees. The poetic justice does not end here. In fact, the statistics on the table are chilling. The current fiscal deficit is close to $175 billion and counting. The RBI has about 7 months of foreign exchange to cover our imports, after which we may have to go to the IMF with a begging bowl.

The government has alibis but no solutions. In fact, it is selling dreams by making outrageous plans like food security bill. Somebody has to explain (Raghuram Rajan can be a good choice) that food security cannot come by making beggars out of hard working men.

The dreams of future have to be paid in the hard cash of reality. The poor, for whom UPA made schemes like MGNREGA, are at the receiving end of inflation. They may not understand current account deficit (CAD), but surely understand that the prices of goods are just not going down. The prices are up when there is a drought, but even a good current monsoon cannot make the prices go south. That is precisely their translation of the government’s economic record.

History suggests that change and economic lapse have a symbiotic relationship. Leon Trotsky suggested that people do not change governments, and consequently their lives, when they found an alternative; they did so when they were fed up. It is a season of revolutions across the world; I hope if there is one in India, it is one that is bought by a ballot and not by the bullet.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Policing the Dolls

It must be difficult being women, because it involves dealing with men.

Men, who the self-appointed judges of morality think are driven to criminal acts like rape, by skimpily dressed mannequins. Men, who get corrupted, by watching a silly act on Comedy Central , which again involves (guess what) mannequins.

The politicians of India took some much necessary actions last week, to reduce crimes committed against women. A corporator from Mumbai, got a resolution passed, which banned the public display of mannequins wearing lingerie. She was overtaken by an overzealous Information and Broadcasting Ministry(I&B), which banned Comedy Central for 10 day for showing offensive acts on the television.

I have doubts regarding both the actions. The resolution against mannequins says, that they cannot be displayed in public, but in private(read inside the shops). In effect, the perverts can get their curiosity amplified by just going inside the shops, and then committing crimes coming out of it. So much for the quick thinking of the BMC, that I now expect the crime rates to suddenly come down in Mumbai, thanks to the momentous decision.

On the Comedy Central issue, I must say that this is a David vs. Goliath fight. If anything should be controlled, it is the depiction of women in the Bollywood. But, the I&B would not take on the Bollywood, because it knows, that it is the underdog in the fight. I agree that the jokes were in bad taste, but banning it is an over-reaction to the issue.

The often touted reason these politicians give, to justify such bizarre actions include, protection of the fine sensibilities of the ‘Mothers and Sisters’ of India. Why can they just say Women? And why according to them are all women clubbed in the ‘Mothers/Sister’ category?  Perhaps, it is very difficult for these people to understand, that Women have a life to live, which does not get affected by such non-issues.

Last year, BMC sanctioned Rs.75 lakhs for construction of Women’s only public toilets in Mumbai, and all the funds were left unutilized. Can our leaders, who seem to be so worried about a serious issue, not get the point, that Women are vulnerable to sexual attacks, when they are relieving themselves in public, in the absence of basic amenities?

The mannequins have nothing to do with the criminal acts beast perpetrate against women. It is the belief that these criminals have, that nothing will ever happen to them, which gives them the confidence to commit such acts. The politicians have debated a lot about the quantity of punishments that should be meted out for crimes of sexual nature. But they must understand, it is not the quantity, but the certainty of punishments, that will act as a deterrent to the delinquents.

The mannequins do not have an IQ. I hope the political classes act in a way that show they do.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Human Rights for Inhuman Attrocities??

India has a population of 1.5 billion, which at any given point of time is mired into a thousand controversies. Another one was added on Saturday, when one of the perpetrators on the attack of the Indian Parliament, Afzal Guru was sent to the gallows.

This blog is in response to Arundhati Roy’s article in the Hindu, where she presents a case that Guru’s execution was a blatant disregard for human rights and he was in fact, incorrectly charged based on mere circumstantial evidences.

I, neither possess the flair of words, nor her wide reach of a supine audience. But, as an ordinary Indian, am amazed to ask, why intellectuals like her, come up to the defence of lumpen elements every time they are punished by the rule of law.

It seems, a section of metropolitan intellectuals seem to be fascinated by left wing rebels (read, the naxalites), terrorists(Afzal Guru in this case), brigands(Remember Veerappan) and all such anti-social elements. These anti-social elements have attracted admiring comments from such intellectuals living in posh cities(with perhaps an occasional visit to a dharna/protest), away from the actual realities. Because they live such a bourgeois lifestyle, in a country that is poor and which they claim to represent, they perhaps assuage their guilt by speaking on behalf of these elements.

The only incorrect thing, in the hanging of Afzal Guru was the way in which his family was not informed. But so were the families of martyrs, who died defending the parliament about their imminent death. Did the terrorist speed post them (as the Government did), asking them to bid final farewells to the brave men, before attacking the parliament?

The easiest thing to do in India these days is to hurt sentiments. A prior intimation could have lead to serious law and order situation in the Kashmir valley and in other parts of the country. It could also have lead to a bizarre Tamilnadu like situation, where the assembly passed a resolution asking the death sentences of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination plotters be changed to life imprisonments, after the president had rejected their mercy petition. Perhaps, the veil of secrecy was the necessary course of action.

Another argument that Ms. Roy made, that the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, which she then tried to demolish in her article. My understanding was that she was a writer and not a criminal lawyer, who could deconstruct and find holes into the judgement of the learned judiciary. Even a cursory reading of the evidence would have indicated to her, that though it was circumstantial, it proved without doubt that Guru was a close aide in the making of this macabre attack.

I have been pondering over a question for years now. Why do these intellectuals never speak when a police officer is killed in the ravines of naxal infected areas? Where did the high ground of human rights go, when 2 of our jawans were mercilessly beheaded by Pakistani army/terrorists (depending on your beliefs)? There was a brutal attack on CRPF men in Dantewada , around 2 years back, when these brave men were ambushed and then mercilessly shot. Did these people not have human rights, or perhaps, in your (and your ilk) eyes, these men are children of a lesser god?

In an earlier article in outlook, Ms. Roy had referred to naxalites as Gandhians with guns.  Such vanity of pseudo-intellectuals is damaging and misleading.  The ordinary Indian may not be an arm-chair intellectual, but he intelligent to understand the truth behind the canards and myths that get presented before him.