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Archive for the ‘india frustrates’ Category

There have been various and different reactions to the Anna Hazare episode. The profile of those reacting is very predictable. I must say that the India experience is very different, if one has a job or is self-employed. When you have a job, the employer absorbs the harassment and extortion, the public system thrusts on the establishment and come what may, your monthly pay cheque is paid out. That is why, many who do not relate to the Anna Hazare fast are mostly in a job rather than self employed. Since the system does not touch them often they believe all is hunky dory.

When I had a job with a MNC until 2005, my encounters with the system were minimal. It was either the occasional traffic policeman or income tax authorities. The MNCs have made life comfortable for themselves and their employees by engaging the services of so-called “consultants”. The business model of these consultants is straight forward, for a fee, they will negotiate and facilitate government interaction. Most of the fees is paid out as bribes to government officials and the rest for themselves. Please note, corrupt government officials do not accept cheques, they only accept cash.

Lets us consider the situation one is self employed. On a daily basis, as you struggle to build a business, is when you experience the bite of the sharks. Depending on the business you have, officials from 10 to 30 different departments, will threaten the business with some kind of action for a frivolous violation the rules which only they know. The government never publishes the rules or ensure they have a subjective hook in the process. A greeting sent via sms on Diwali day by a businessman to his friends and fellow businessmen on Diwali day, honestly reflects how the state squeezes its own entrepreneurs.

The Diwali SMS greeting goes as, ” Daily Prayer :- O GOD, Give us Strength and Capacity to pay, Income Tax, VAT, Service Tax, Excise Duty, Octroi, TDS, ESI, FBT, Property Tax, Stamp Duty, Water Tax, Professional Tax, Road Tax, Educational Cess, Congestion Levy and many more. Besides don’t forget, Gunda Hafta, Bribes, Donations, Chanda, Beggars etc. We have some time and money left after that we will do some business… Cheers to the booming Indian Economy.”

The law in India is beneficial to those who control it or have the financial power to deal with it. For the Aam Aadmi that wants to make it in life it is very difficult. The struggle starts early morning to get enough water for the day, to educate one’s children and healthcare when someone in the family falls seriously sick.

The reactions to Anna Hazare have been very bipolar, some say this is the start of the movement, others say that he is blackmailing the government. I can assure you the latter belong to a category that sit in air-conditioned offices, get their pay checks deposited unconditionally at the end of the month. The former are the ones who are trying to run their business or make ends meet on a daily basis. For the latter to relate to the former is like kissing through glass.

For those who don’t get it, this movement is about a platform where civil society gets representation to give inputs, negotiate and formulate bills not hijack it. If you still don’t get it, leave your cushy job, get self-employed and try to make ends meet and then lets talk. An opportunity to kiss some real lips for sure.!

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When I moved back in 2003, India was a country that held a lot of promise. A promise to be the next IT global super power, a military super power, a economy that in a couple of decades will be the second largest economy. On budget day 2011, Pranab Mukherjee quoted that India will overtake China by 2050. The India story is often overhyped: India this, India that, India will become this and India will become that, claims that have lot of noise well laced with deception. Many and I for one believed this story. A story that has more rhetoric than substance, more potential than reality, more deception than honesty. Question remains, at this juncture what is the real future of this country. What is really needed is a solid foundation that unleashes a bright future.

It all starts at the top, where we have a very weird situation. A honest Prime Minister who leads the most corrupt government. If you take a moment and think, this is really absurd absurd! Have you ever heard of an honest leader with dishonest followers ? Or a honest CEO with dishonest employees. This is the kind of garbage that is generated daily and consumed. Very few challenge the status quo, half of Indian poor and illiterate struggling for the next meal, a middle class struggling to make ends meet, the rich relishing their real estate gains. Even I was ranting and raving but it caught up with me one day when I started questioning myself ? should I really participate in this raving and ranting, am i doing justice to myself and others ?

If one starts peeling the onion, the well lit India story starts to fade. FDI has fallen significantly last year and rightly so. Some of my friends who run global hedge funds have indicated that Indian allocations have fallen down. Many Indian companies have started investing abroad. Indian capital is fleeing Indian shores instead of global capital entering Indian shores. It is illegal Indian money that finds a way into India and illegal money supports illegal activities.

I am not saying all is lost because i still believe there are good and honest people in India. I still go back to Pratyush SInha, former CVC head’s observation that 20% of this country is utterly honest. This 20% is not a small number of people, that is 240 million honest people who should be encouraged and empowered. I was told by the son of a senior army officer that even if the person appointed to the Indian army canteen ( supplies everything from food, durables and liquor to army personnel) is honest, he will be removed by implicating false charge on him. However if he is dishonest he will be duly encouraged, to collect bribes and distribute. This is just one example and if this is the case, can you imagine a country that promotes corrupt people to positions of power ever make progress.

India is full of noise: rhetoric, false claims, rosy stories and deception. If you want anything done in India you have to first find competent and honest people. Honest because they will tell you the true story with no agenda, who will keep the interest of the country first, company second and themselves last.

I am convinced this 9% growth means nothing. If competent honest people are not protected and promoted, the India story will continue to deceive the world. For if money is lost nothing is lost but if character is lost everything is lost.

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Why has the focus turned to scams and corruption. Rising prices over the last few years has started to pinch the middle class and the poor are suffering even more. Basics like food, education, housing and health care are becoming more expensive day by day. One of the root causes of this trend is corruption. Corruption is basically the siphoning of public money into the hands of a few.

Taxes collected by the government that rightly belongs to the people, is flowing into the hands of politicians, their cronies, bureaucrats and government servants. Today the bribes that government officials demand is a multiple of the basic fee. For eg: A driver’s license may cost Rs 400 but the bribe to get one maybe Rs 1000. The babu-neta nexus has become so obnoxious that their attention is consumed by the next big project or PPP initiative, they care a hoot about the common man or their concerns. Joginder Singh former director of the CBI has claimed that nearly Rs 10,000 crores is collected in bribes everyday. This money that is coercively collected by representatives of the government needs to go into the government exchequer or to the people. If we really want to address corruption recommend the following.

– Discontinue rs 500 and rs 1000 denomination notes from circulation. RBI needs to demonstrate its autonomy just like the supreme court is driving the 2G and CWG cases.

– Make taking bribes a non-bailable charge.

– Rapid passage and implementation of the Lokpal bill.

– Every public service offered by the government should be published with a service level that specifies time to deliver the service. Every application should be tracked from application to rejection or completion.

– Revamp the judicial system that every case is settled in a time bound manner. Encourage out of court settlements through people courts.

– Video clips of raja eating an omlette in tihar jail, standing in line to be counted, demolition of adarsh should be telecast across all channels. (I would have personally preferred whip lashes in public, but we don’t have the guts for that)

If you believe otherwise please let me know. Your inputs on harsher or more creative steps are welcome.

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Over the last couple of weeks I have witnessed the pre and post happening of the Ayodhya verdict. What irritated me most was the inconsistent behaviour of the left of centre media, many of whom belong to the JNU and St Stephen’s brigade. What I also realized is that the integration and progress of India is being held back by secularists and implementation of secularism. There are a host of issues that have actually held India back since independence. I will address two of them namely population control and implementation of the law.

Population Control: India’s population at independence was 350 million. In 63 years we have tripled in size. If we had  500 million people less, our per capita income today would have been twice what it is. One of the reasons the Congress party with the exception of Sanjay Gandhi completely ignored this issue, very well knowing  that population  will be one of the biggest impediments to the future of India. If India had implemented the 2 child policy right at independence the population of India,  would not have been more that 500 million today. Why did the Congress party not implement the 2 child policy ? They were always concerned that the Muslims and conservative Christians would push back and feel victimized. Clearly religion was given priority over the state and the state is in a mess.  Today, the soil  is severely depleted to provide enough food, water resources are under stress and  air quality is bordering dangerous levels in most cities. The struggle to provide for the 750 million below the poverty line will be one that will take several generations to resolve.

Implementation of the Law: The recent case of Afzal Guru’s sentence by the Supreme Court to hang until death is being treated as a joke. He has appealed for pardon to the President of India and it is well-known that the ruling party is just sitting on the death sentence. The home minister claims that only one file can be processed per month. So, for a billion people only 12 pardon appeals can be processed annually by the home ministry and President’s office.  China in contrast has 30,000 executions annually, I am not in support of large-scale executions, however I do believe by statistic there will be a certain number of heinous criminals for a billion people who need to be eliminated periodically by capital punishment.  This tells a lot about the inefficient legal system and how it is being manipulated because the criminal is from the minority community. It is because of these actions that the majority get perturbed, and the good in the minority, have to continue to justify their good.  Again a very good example where the interest of the state is sacrificed for a few.

Of course the JNU brigade will argue very differently. The above two issues will guarantee that India continues to be a 3rd world country, where we will struggle to educate, feed and secure the 750 million very poor Indians, 500 million of which could have been avoided in the very first place. The specific point I would like to emphasize is, we have to put the interest of state above everything else, the interests of a billion people over a few.

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The last five days of Parliament have been in a deadlock with the opposition parties crying foul over rising prices.  The BJP sees this as an opportunity to sack or embarrass the government, the left wants a roll back in petrol prices. The visionary PM keeps saying that prices will come down in a few months, the cricket minister who also is in charge of agriculture wants a good monsoon for prices to fall down. There are many reasons why prices are rising, cost of petrol is only one of them. There are two main types of people in this country they are the manipulators and generators.

Unfortunately India has more manipulators than generators in positions of power and broad influence. The people who generate for the economy for eg: are teachers, farmers, engineers and doctors and all the services required to make these efficient. It could be a domestic help in the house of a woman doctor, who enables her to maximize her service to people by taking care of the house and domestic chores. Who are the manipulators ? We have them all around you and believe me don’t spare them if you get a chance.  Let me give some examples and by the way, if you look around they will be very rich, no intellectual background, will not be able to hold a conversation on any topic and generally very boring guys with not much to contribute.

Real Estate Developers: Most of these “so called developers” bought or grabbed land cheap, paid corrupt government officials to convert the land for development. They are rich, not because they deliver value but a commodity which is made scarce intentionally with full cooperation of netas and babus. All the bribes from government officials is again channelized into buying more land ,a favourite for parking black money.  All politicians without prejudice use land in the direction of development as a major source for generating money to win elections.

Government servants: Please note that I have not used the word servant for domestic help but this class of people are true servants. They serve the government by extorting  the common people or aam admi.  It is sad that when the government needs all the money to control deficit, provide education and healthcare, these humble servants extract bribes that are now not a percentage of the government fee but in many cases a multiple of it. The Home Minister needs all the help to fight the naxals but he ensures all his staff make large sums of money by harassing the common man. Then he and we, all wonder why the naxals are getting public sympathy and support. Instead of being eyes and ears for the intelligence service in the streets, they have smart eyes, long hands and sticky fingers to extract money. I was told this morning, one of the main revenue earners for the home ministry are those who die in road accidents. If somebody dies in a late night accident the post-mortem team will put alcohol into the cut dead body and report alcohol. Then harass  the dead man’s family to settle for a large amount to give a positive report.

Government Brokers: They are everywhere. They own some of the best and most of the houses in Delhi’s Golf Links or Aurangzeb road. Without doubt I will say it is our hard-earned money. All they do is that they broker large procurements by the government, army or PSUs and take a cut of it. There are many ways this is played which I will leave for another day.

I can go on and on but basically lot of resources are getting wasted in large governments and large corruptions. Lot of revenue that should be going into the exchequer goes into the hands of brokers, government servants and politicians. The brokers are couriers for explaining the rules of the game, collecting the money and distributing it appropriately from top to bottom.

Is the opposition serious about rising prices ? then just blaming price of Petrol is not the way to go. We need less government, better collections via transparency, less corruption, subsidies or support reaching the person directly and in full.

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In India there is no acknowledgment or premium for honesty. The rich don’t want to address it because it only helps them maintain the gap between rich and poor. The middle class are too busy making ends meet. The young, the worst of the lot, believe it is cool to be apolitical. They have inherited freedom and a democracy for free. They  are very easily impressed with Rahul Gandhi riding a train or visiting a famished lady by helicopter in the interiors of India. Most politicians and leaders are ready to sell the country for a price.

We as a country and society have to restore the respect for good and simple people, we can make the wrong and powerful illegitimate. The wrong doer must have everything — money, power and name, but should not have respect which should be reserved only for the good. The best way of fighting wrong doers is to respect good people — the simple teacher, the honest shop keeper and good men and women.

What no one figures is that at the heart of all our problems lies Corruption. If India can even tame this monster, forget slaying it, many of these problems will simply disappear. (via Pritish Nandy in Times of India) >>>

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“Change is Needed”,  Shrikant Patil in a conversation with Entrepreneur Magazine. Read the full conversation  >>>>

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