April 19, 2011
A recipe for disaster and more corruption
If the extra-constitutional authority called the National Advisory Council has its way, you will only be allowed to serve one dish at any social gathering you organize.
Apparently, this is to control the food wastage in India, since India's hunger situation is rated as "alarming" on the 2010 Global Hunger Index.
The food wastage is a definite issue, but it's stupid to assume that millions of Indians go hungry only because other folks splurge on food during social gatherings like birthdays, weddings, religious rituals, etc. The assumption totally ignores the reality that the food storage & delivery system is so pathetic that food grains rot in godowns, or in transit.
The NAC discussion comes at a great time. Last week, Amit Varma wrote "Corruption is inevitable in India because the government has too much power".
Any mechanism to restrict food intake at social gatherings would just be one more avenue for the government to get unnecessarily involved in our personal lives and increase the scope for bribery to get around the rules.
Do the members of the NAC even realize that a social gathering creates opportunities for so many individuals & groups? Grocery, vegetables, meat and fruit vendors get good business. Cooks are in demand. People are needed to keep the cooking & eating environment clean, and to serve the food. Logistics & transport companies get involved. The food also invariably finds its way to needy & under-privileged people.
If ever this becomes a law, I will break the law.
Labels: food, india, national advisory council, wastage
April 13, 2011
Beware of governments inviting you for talks
It may seem like the Indian government has gone out of its way to accommodate the demands of Anna Hazare & co. related to the Jan Lokpal bill.
Did the government really have a choice? It had previously kowtowed to demands for Telangana, reservations for Gujjars, Jats. So we'd have actually been surprised if the government had reacted to Anna Hazare's fast with a show of brutality.
Yet, neither Telangana, nor reservations for Gujjars or Jats, are anywhere near reality as of now. Anna Hazare & co. have probably become yet another entry in the list of groups that have been hoodwinked into a never-ending dialogue.
Did Anna Hazare & co. actually have any choice other than going on a protest? It's tempting to argue that they should work within the system, and seek to enforce change by being part of the political system (i.e. get elected to assemblies / parliament). Those who get elected are invariably tainted, either directly or indirectly, whether it is through tempting voters through hard cash or through completely meaningless manifestos.
But when the system needs a cleansing, it can only be done from outside.
Labels: anna hazare, government, jan lokpal bill, lokpal
April 05, 2011
Not with my money - Part 2
A couple of years ago, I protested against the campaign to use public funds to get back MK Gandhi's belongings that were about to be auctioned off.
I really love watching cricket, and anyone who knows me can confirm that. I was elated about the World Cup win, and especially the manner in which it was achieved. When Ravi Shastri bellowed into the microphone that the BCCI was announcing cash awards for the players, support staff and the selectors, I felt happy that those who had contributed to the win were being rewarded by their "employer", or whoever they were contracted to. If the Sahara Group had announced a huge cash prize, they would have had to explain to their shareholders anyway.
I have a real problem though when state governments (so far, the union government is silent) bend over backwards to announce cash awards, grants of housing plots, etc. That is my money.
If the government is so keen on being seen as promoter of sport, why shouldn't there be a "National Sporting Achievements Fund" like the "Prime Minister's Relief Fund"? All individuals and groups who are interested in felicitating individuals and teams who excel in various sports can send in their contributions via cheque. As and when there is an individual or team achievement that merits an award, a portion of the fund is used as a reward.
Why can't the money be pooled in and used to construct good quality playgrounds where the a 10 year old, who has just been majorly inspired by the win, can go and play?
As governments get into the realm of competitive largesse, you have to roll on the floor laughing when the Karnataka government, in a moment of extreme philanthrophy, announces residential plots for all the players. This, when not a single member of the squad is from Karnataka, and the only remote connection that the players have with Karnataka cricket is that Zaheer & Virat will be turning out for Royal Challengers, Bangalore in the 2011 edition of the IPL.
Labels: 2011 world cup, competitive, competitive largesse, cricket, largesse, not with my money, symbolism
July 16, 2010
Boycott the Delhi Commonwealth Games
Every news item I read about the Commonwealth Games, scheduled to be held in New Delhi between 3 and 14 October this year, increases my conviction that the event is just a forum for one man, Suresh Kalmadi, to project his power, charisma and organizational ability.
Other than that, there does not seem to be any reason for the existence of the event. On the face of it, that should alone be sufficient reason for everyone to boycott the Commonwealth Games.
But that's not all. The man has made quite a few demands in the last week or so.
Purely based on his requests, it seems very obvious that he is totally unconvinced about the commercial viability of his product.
That's why he resorts to these gimmicks. If he was really convinced that the stadia would be ready, the crowds would come to watch at the venues, the quality of the events at the games as well as the telecasts would be of a very high standard, he wouldn't be asking for all this.
This reminds me of the (still existing in some forms) restricted release
of non-Kannada movies
in Karnataka that started in 2004.
Labels: boycott, commonwealth games, delhi, kalmadi, public money
June 08, 2010
Breaking news: Supreme Court to deliver Bhopal gas disaster judgment in 2084
Yesterday, a local court in Bhopal convicted the 7 accused in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, sent them to jail for 2 years and later gave them bail.
In response to a question at a press briefing on whether there was a formal extradition request for Warren Anderson (the then CEO of Union Carbide), the USA's Department of State said
Well, as you say, Goyal, this tragedy happened 26 years ago, and it was a terrible tragedy, one of the worst industrial accidents in human history, and we certainly hope that the verdict brings some closure to the families of the victims of this tragedy.
But just as we were talking about earlier, last week, we had a strategic dialogue with India. Our countries are closely connected. Our economies are increasingly closely connected. So I certainly would hope that this particular case does not inhibit – or the continuing expansion of economic, cultural, and political ties between our two countries. And I have – we fully expect that this will not be the case.
In other words, we don't give a damn about what you want.
This then presented a wonderful opportunity for the Indian media to go berserk, pointing out 'double standards' by the USA government
when it came to the British Petroleum oil spill and the Bhopal gas tragedy.
So, while British Petroleum
will be forced to pay up billions of dollars
in penalties for the damage caused to the environment & businesses, victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy would get something like Rs. 50,000 each
in addition to the pleasure of living with the after-effects of the gas poisoning.
Yet, they're missing a major point.
The US is stalling or denying requests for Warren Anderson's extradition because it wants to protect it's citizen from criminal proceedings in a different jurisdiction.
, India's governments settled for a compensation of USD 470 million, around 14% of the original claim of USD 3.3 billion. Warren Anderson was let off on bail, and there's no chance he's going to enjoy a holiday at Agra (except in disguise perhaps). It is unknown how many palms (belonging to politicians, investigators, policemen & bureaucrats) were greased.
India's legal system watered down the charges from culpable homicide to criminal negligence. It seems like 'Tort law' is a foreign concept for the Indian judicial system.
It took over a quarter-of-a-century to deliver a verdict, in a local court at that! There's no doubt that both parties will appeal.
I expect that the appeal will reach the Supreme Court by 2050, and a final judgment will be delivered close to midnight on 2 December 2084, commemorating the centenary of the disaster.
When our governments and courts can't protect our citizens, why should we complain if other governments stand up for their citizens, regardless of whether the accused is at fault or not?
Labels: accident, bhopal, farce, india, judgement, legal, supreme court
June 01, 2010
National outrage over Queen Elizabeth skipping New Delhi Commonwealth Games
Why is the media working itself up into a lather over Queen Elizabeth not turning up for the Commonwealth Games?
We shouldn't even be having such an event in the first place. All evidence points to white elephants left for future generations to pay for. We're probably still paying for 1982.
Heck, we don't even need a grouping called the Commonwealth! If you take a look at the list of member countries, by and large, it is a seriously inconsequential list!
Labels: commonwealth games, delhi, elizabeth, queen, sports
May 05, 2010
Why Mohammad Ajmal Amir should be sentenced to 'saza-e-maut'
Mohd. Ajmal Amir (aka Kasab) was found guilty of waging war against India and his sentence will be delivered tomorrow.
The prosecution has argued for the death penalty while the defence has claimed that he was a pawn in the larger scheme of things.
I have no specific views for or against the death penalty, but in this specific instance, India is much better off if he is sentenced to death (section 302 of the IPC) and the sentence carried out in a timely manner.
Imagine if he got life imprisonment and he escaped to Pakistan. Even worse, if there was another terror attack / hostage crisis and the demand was that 'Kasab' should be released in exchange for the hostages.
I don't have too much evidence in terms of previous hostage crises in India, but the 2 instances that come to mind, Rubaiya Sayeed and IC 814, don't inspire any sort of confidence.
In passing, if only the Mumbai suburban railway strike had happened on 26 November 2008!
Labels: death penalty, mumbai terrorism 200811, terrorism