Saturday, June 27, 2009

Week that was - Ajay Banga and his pay package

Last week most newspapers flashed Ajay Banga taking over as new Chief of operations for Mastercard. Indian reporters, editors found it to be a front page item and also highlighted his pay package. Which amounts to aroung Rs. 10 crore (100 million) per year with 70 crore signing bonus and a severance package of around 20 crore. Mr. Banga comes with a strong pedigree. His elder brother is also in the apex body that manages Unilever. No doubt Mr. Banga is earning every penny of his salary on his own merit. Congratulations! he deserves it.

However, should we not be more discreet about this achievement? India is still a very poor country. Even at this time, people go hungry, children are malnoursihed and we are not able to give basic right of education, drinking water and healthcare to our population, let alone wealth. Under this scenario, is it fair to highlight someones pay package with so much relish. Is it not obscene in todays environment?

Critics may say individual is entitled to earn whatever they deserve. We also should not mix up governmental and societal failure to elevate general public socioeconomically, with salaries of top MNC assets like Mr. Banga and others.
This also brings to the more broad issue. How much money do we really need to live comfortably with all the gadgets / comforts / priveleges that are there in the world on offer?

I am not a communisht or socialist. I do not want curb on individuals growth in corporate, government or private spehere. But I would urge moderation. I would also urge let paypackages remain in private domain, do not splash it in public life. We would probably do a disservice to highly competent individuals like Mr. Banga this way. This takes away attention from their ability into their salary.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Encounter with Delhi Police and Lalgarh

This week is to be rememberd for failure in dealing with authority effectively.I walked into Vasant Kunj Police station, second time in two weeks to submit form to verify antecedents of my driver Harish. On the first occassion, my form was rejected because of lack of proof of residence document. This time I went prepared with school leaving certificate of Harish as proof. One of the officers remembered me, and adviced his colleague / boss to double check address proof. Second officer, looked at me from top to bottom, and adviced me to sit down. Although there was no arrangement. One bench was arranged to face the officer on the other end when seated. May be this was his way to show who was the boss there. The officer declared the proof was not good enough. Why? I asked frustrated. He explained, education being a fundamental right, anybody can get education anywhere in India. So this may not be good enough. I asked but who will go to remote Garhwal himalayas to get his high school education from Calcutta, Mumbai or Chennai or from any other part of India for that matter? Could police have not found out from school something about the student?
Officer appeared unconvinced of these possibilities and rejected my application. His colleage adviced sympathetically that I should fire the driver. I came out frustrated second time with a gnawing feeling that I was taken for a ride by another police officer. Was this a ploy to get a bribe or simple unwillingness to work? God only knows. So much for people friendly Delhi Police.
Outside the police station, I asked my driver to get a document signed by his local headman from village. He promised to do the needful meanwhile a month will pass. May be I shall be successful the third time.
I was told the police party visits the village and demands bribe to the tune of Rs.2000 as a result most people are reluctant to give the proper address. What is the use of rules and processes, if people behind are not good. Crime can never be solved with corrupt policemen that leave rich and powerful in exchange of favor and torment poor, helpless and those who want to follow rules.
Along the same line, Lalgarh in West Bengal is in the news. Many believe it all started when police started harassing innocent women and children in the pretext of catching Maoist. This after a failed attempt at Chief minister. Ofcourse, one cannot ignore the failed administration in West Bengal. After 30 years of uninterrupted rule, there is incredibly poor infrastructure, lack of healthcare, hunger in people friendly left front run state of West Bengal. Now if people protest in frustration, they are revolting. What about our government and its machineries - police, bureaucracy and so on.
God save us. I think we stink at the core as human beings and that is why we treat poor, and underprivileged so poorly. There must be a way out. I do not know what and how.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Harish joins

Post Ramprasad, starts Harish era. Harish a young man from Garhwal hills is in charge of my wheels. At least for now. In the enthusiasm of youth and newness of appointment, Harish seems to be eager and excited. At least, it was in the past week. He has already invited me to visit his home in Pauri Garhwal.
My colleagues were surprised at his princely salary of Rs. 8000 per month plus overtime. i thought I was paying less, but I was accused of jacking up the existing rate and disturbing the status quo. Is Harish happy, only time will tell. I doubt if he is or will be. Though his workload is abysmally low. Approximately 2 hours on an average day. Rest of the time he just sits and wait. Sometimes he has to pick us up from airport or railway station. He also has to drive or pickup my family from their place of work and ferry them back. I also do not call him on weekends routinely, unless absoloutely needed. Is he happy, god and Harish only knows.
What about my money and Ramprasad? I guess it is water under the bridge. Please anyone advice what are my choices? I also have another loss to tell you about. May be next time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ramprasad quits

Last week has been interesting to say mildly. Ramprasad after messing with a fellow drivers mobile phone, confided in a colleague about his temporary insanity and his guilt. He also declared his intention of not coming back to work. This, while keeping me in the dark and inspite of a long chat at my home and his promise to come back.
With Ramprasad, went down my fity thousand rupees that he took as loan in the pretext of building a house and marrying his daughter off. I am at a loss for action. Ramprasad has kept his phone switched off. His wife is adament abouther husband's innocence. Ramprasad is immune to advice. Everyday, other drivers come up with new stories of Ramprasad's antics.
What are my choices? Can I go to police? I am not sure police is worried about lesser mortal like me and petty criminal like Ramprasad. Is it worth tracking Ramprasad down and recover my money? I have neither time, nor money or muscle? Meddling with Ramprasad may become a law and order issue. Bigger problem is should I not help a needy person in good faith? Is it worth living like a sinic? But how much can I lose? There has to be a balance and a way out of this confusion.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My driver Ramprasad

Ramprasad is a good driver. He came to drive my car when I was not well few years before. Since then he has been with us. Not a very talkative type unless in right mood or company. However, he confided in me that he has six kids. Some have gotten married others are going to school or trying their hands on vocations.

Ramprasad is a frugal and hardworking person. Recently he borrowed money to build a tenement on a piece of land in Delhi - UP border. He also borrowed money to marry his daughter off. Ramprasad promised repay the loan in installment from his salary. Inorder to save money Ramprasad shifted his residence to his new home. He was commuting daily nearly 30 km one way in his bicycle. Somedays starting as early as 3 am in the morning.

Last week Ramprasad was accused of stealing a fellow drivers mobile phone at office. To add more spice to the story, his fellow driver was driving organisation heads car - technically a VVIP among fellow drivers. To complicate matter Ramprasad disappeared.. As master of Ramprasad's life and bread I had to accept the onus and pay penalty. Many adviced me to get rid of him.

My dilemma is do we not sometime lose our sanity and engage in antisocial actvity? Can we judge a person for one small lapse where our leaders in every field are sucking the pool for common people dry? Can we condone one and punish other. May be he has erred, but he still is a good person. I am confused.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Society of hellraisers

In my last post I had argued that we should let the law and order machinery take care of issues in Australia. Oflate several news articles as well as independent observers have also advocates similar approach. As a person who has spent some time outside my native place, I can advice that it is extremely important to mingle with local population without forgetting one's root. Otherwise one may always feel as an outsider in his or her adopted land. Afterall, it was your own choice to migrate as it is your duty to assimilate.

Coming to the issue of so much hue and cry, I am somewhat confused why are we so consumed by something happening far far away. Why do we not put similar energy to happenings within our country. Certainly, India is diverse enough and it has many burning issues that need our attention and heated debate. In the similar token, why do we get so worked up when someone else talks about our problems.

Is it because we are young and dewy eyed and cannot conatin our excitement at something that we do not like? Is it our new found awareness and confidence based on our economy that we can change world and world has to listen? Or this is purely TRP driven manufactured debates to attract viewership.

Whatever may be the driver, I feel the rest fo the world looks at us as a soceity of hellraisers with an ostrich like attitude towards our own follies. May god bless us all.