Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dirty Toilets : Bring Systemic Change

IAS officer, Mr. Praveen Kumar, in Faridabad town in Delhi NCR region set an example by cleaning toilet in a school with his own hands. This is an exemplary piece of work by a government administrator, who is leading from the front in cleaning drive. Any amount of praise you heap on Mr. Kumar is not enough in an hierarchical, status conscious, insensitive society of ours. Here toilet cleaning is reserved for the lowest of the low.

In India, public toilets are mostly unusable. These are poorly managed and extremely filthy. Mahatma Gandhi attempted to inculcate practice of toilet cleaning among inmates of his ashrama. He felt this will be the first bondage one has to overcome in their path to salvation. However, rest of the country is where it is. Instead of keeping access to clean toilets in the domain of occassional feat of extraordinary and sensitive administrative officers, we should bring in systemeic change.

We need to make toilet cleaning more attractive. Pay sanitary workers more. Equip them with proper gear like coveralls, gloves etc. Use technology like vaccuum cleaners instead of bare hands. Privatise cleaning business to bring in more accountability. Why not give franchise to Sulav International for managing toilets in schools, more so in girls schools.


1. http://bit.ly/iucQXh

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Does End Justify Means

Farmers in greater NOIDA, UP, are clashing violently with Police. This has been captured on television camera footage. End result was loss of life for two PAC (People Armed Constabulary)jawans. District magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, NOIDA, under whose jurisdiction villages Bhatta-Parsaul falls was also injured. Police also engaged in violence. Two villagers died in police firing. Police beat up villagers, ransacked homes, broke furnitures, damaged house hold goods. Some claimed women were molested also. Television cameras clearly captured that villages were on fire.

Farmers had sold their land to UP government. Government acquired land to build expressway. Farmers had sold their land and got compensation. However, when property builders came in and bought the land from government, they started selling at much higher price. This had angered farmers and they felt cheated. Farmers demanded more money at par with market rate existing in more developed NOIDA.

It is a debatable point if farmers became greedy because land was selling at much higher price by builders. Farmers demang for higher price for their land is genuine. Farmers should also demand jobs because they are giving up their livlihood. It is also possible farmers had not managed their money and in all liklihood spent / wasted their land money. As they are running out of money they became greedy and desperate for more. In this situation, farmers might have been instigated by people with political ambition. All of these explanations may be correct and should be looked into. May be when farmers sell their land they should be taught how to manage their money on a long term basis.

But broader point being politicisation of issues by parties that landed in droves in Bhatta – Parsaul villages. Only ostensible reason was to get milege in upcoming UP elections. All parties condemned government and police violence. Mr. Rahul Gandhi went to the extent of declaring mass murder and rape by PAC in the villages. Every party practiced double standards. Congress and Rahul Gandhi were silent when similar agitation happened in Jaitapur to setup nuclear reactors.

But BJP is no different. BJP always complained of Maosit killing of police in Naxalite infested areas. How come BJP did not utter a single word on violence unleashed by villagers on PAC jawans? BJP government in Chattishgarh slapped sedition charge on Dr. Binayak Sen. Dr. Sen spent at least two years in jail. Tribals are fighting for their land and livlihood. How is their violence different from farmers violence in greater NOIDA?

If one looks at television footages, one can see one PAC jawan being runover by car. One jawan was being beaten mercilessly by villagers. No party, including BJP, condemned this violence by farmers. Please enact law to ensure farmers get their due. Farmers should be the first beneficiary of developemnt that comes out of their livlihood. But does this justify violence? Similarly, does this justify silence of major political parties like Congress and BJP on violence unleashed by farmers? I do not think double standard is fair. All parties are fishing in troubled water with an eye on UP election. But end does not always justify means.

http://www.zeenews.com/video/showvideo11442.html?sms_ss=email&at_xt=4dd72c2f9505271c%2C0
http://aajtak.intoday.in/index.php?option=com_video&task=view&id=55876&secid=128

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Clever Enemy is Better than a Foolish Friend

Never has this saying become more appropriate than when Mr. G was adviced to claim murder in Bhatta – Parsaul villages in greater NOIDA area of UP. Mr. G actually gathered a lot of support and sympathy when he started highlighting injustice meted out to villagers by UP government and strong builder lobby. Land was purchased for pittance from farmers by UP government to build expressway. This land was given to property builders to build formula 1 racing track, luxury housing etc at much higher price. Farmers protested violently, no doubt under instigation by politicians, held two government employees hostage and injured a district magistrate. Government fought back with all might and beat up villagers.
In this back drop came young Mr. Rahul Gandhi. He listened and articulated villagers plight an atrocity of government's might. But it became suspicious when Mr. Gandhi started screaming murder. He claimed to have discovered human remains in pile of ashes. UP government was forced to initiate enquiry. In the end, Mr. Gandhi came out with an egg on his face as no evidence of human remain was detected, no villager was reported missing, and no woman corroborated reported rape story.
Why did otherwise sincere and honest Mr. Gandhi said what he said. My suspicion is he was adviced by none other than Mr. Digvijay Singh. Ever eager to pounce on half chances, to make amends for Bhushan CD episode and ultimately to please Mr. Rahul Gandhi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi , Mr. Singh gambled. However, this may not be Mr. Digvijay Singh’s summer. He managed to embarrass Mr. Rahul Gandhi and damage his credibility. That is why the adage goes "a clever enemy is better than a foolish friend”.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do not Send Politicians to Raj Bhavan

Machinations of Mr.H. R. Bhardwaj
Recently, governor of Karnataka honorable Mr. H. R. Bhardwaj had recommended dismissal of duly elected government of Karnataka. As per earlier events, 11 MLAs had rebelled against Mr. Yeddyurappa. Mr. Yeddyurappa had these MLAs disqualified with speakers help and got himself a majority in the assembly floor test. Recently, supreme court had declared that the original disqualification was not correct. However, according to court as well as admission of MLA themselves, the members remained in Mr. Yeddyurappa's fold. Mr. Bhardwaj had been trying to destabilise this government for some time using members of congress party as well as Mr. Krishnaswamy. He pounced on the opportunity to remove first BJP government in the south India.
There is very little to choose between greedy Yeddyurappa and scheming H. R. Bhardwaj. Personally unctuous smile of Mr. Yeddyurappa sends revulsion down my spine. But, how much my dislike is for Mr. Yeddyurappa, it is clear that in democracy, one having the number is the king. Mr. Yeddyurappa has the MLAs on his side. Even if Mr. Bhardwaj is convinced of corrupt practices of Mr. Yeddyurappa, he has no option but let Mr. Yeddyurappa have a floor test to prove his majority in the assembly. Then question is why does Mr. Bhardwaj does what he does? Simplest thing that comes to mind is Mr. Bhardwaj is a politician. He cannot stay away from the blood and gore of real life politics. Sanctified atmosphere of Raj Bhawan is too clean for him. Actually he is trying to please his political masters so that he can get a ticket for next election. The clear message from this episode and many others like this is, do not lower dignity of Raj Bhawan by rewarding politicians with governors post. Once a governor, one should be out of active politics.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thirty four year misrule in West Bengal

A commentary on state of affairs in West Bengal has appeared in Telegraph (The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Bengal | GraveyardBengal
www.telegraphindia.com)following TMC tidal wave that dislodged 34 year long left front rule.

The commentary highlights sorry state of Bengal in every front. I think 34 years is too long a time for a party to stay in power. It creates a sense of invincibility and complacency. That is what exactly happened to left in West Bengal. I also think as long as people are poor they latch on to system that fight to get freebies (not in a derogatory sense) for people. Partiies get vote in return. But society is not stagnant. So when have nots have something, they do not want to share it anymore with less fortunate. At that time these people move away from leftist - socialist system. So in a way for left to keep winning, it is their interest to keep people poor. State of West Bengal is a clear example. There is a sense of entitement without actually working for it. Left is responsible for creating it. Industry after industry has closed. Academic institutions in shambles. A leftist system wants everyone to think alike. This society can hardly produce a Tagore or Einstein because there is no respect or encouragement for individual brilliance or free thinking.

Indian Democracy and Anna Movement

In the attached article (http://bit.ly/iPenAr)Mr. Shekhar Gupta has questioned necessity of Anna movement given that India has a democratic setup. I am proud of Indian democracy, I think our system is not accountable to its constituents. Anna movement was asking for a lokpal so that rulers can be probed. Mr. Raja did not resign or go to jail on his own. Congress government at the centre was indifferent at best, and hand in glove at worst. It was parliament boycott by opposition parties that forced Raja to resign. Supreme court pushed CBI to file chargesheet for Raja to go to jail. Same happened with Kalmadi. Delhi government simply refused to accept CAG report on infrastructure mismanagement. Massive amount spent on infrastructure development for CWG. Already roads are crumbling. The list goes on. Opposition ruled states are no better. In this scenario what are the alternatives with common people. We would definitely like to change the government. Bureaucracy is not accountable electoral process. Without resorting to violence, Anna Hazare went to nonviolent fast. How is this subverting Indian democracy and democratic systems. We want a system that is sensitive and accountable. We want a system where guilty can be charged, judged and punished, if found guilty, within a reasonable time frame, not after 20 years of crime. Also, to get justice we do not have to wait for change of government. Because without systems next government will behave in the same way.