Thursday, September 30, 2010

Real 3 Idiots …

More than anything else, I want to thank the Allahabad HC for helping us identify in crystal clear terms the real 3 idiots in India. Well in case wondering how and who are they read on…

They are
1. Burkha Datt of NDTV
2. Arnab Goswami of Times NOW
3. Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN

Watching them struggle to report on a verdict that went against their “pseudo secular” credentials was really comic. Even after, several hours enlightening stances articulated by several legal luminaries the shock on their faces is pathetic. After watching them, I am of the firm view that such biased presentation should be investigated by industry watchdogs and if necessary, such channels should be banned altogether.

Consider this, there was shock and awe for the idiots, the line-up of “experts” they had prepped had all come expecting that the verdict will go against Hindus how they should appeal for “peace and harmony” all were cases of scripts that went horribly wrong. Instead of reacting maturely they and their “experts” cast aspersions in the court and judges, call it as “Panchayati”, “Astonishing” and “Court exceeded its mandate”. Of course, with occasional jibes and punch-lines liberally mentioning “will BJP stop politicizing this at least now ?”. Never calling the Italian Maatha for her opinion on this, whether her party will abide by the court verdict, will not attempt to politicize the issue by doing another “Shao Bhano legislation” ?

I have had my reservations about Indian courts in general and particularly about contempt of court privileges for our judges, what I saw was a really fit case for courts to slam these reports by the channels and lock them up for a really long time.

Thanks to Rohit Sharma for the 3 idiots theme, triggered by one of his comments…

Monday, September 27, 2010

Time to do away with contempt of court privileges for judges…. ?

There is a section of law, pertaining to contempt of court which actually means contempt for the due judicial process. Judges of all categories of courts have used this ultimate weapon to threaten errant officers/citizens who do not obey the court’s directives to obey them; all to ensure that due justice is delivered. However, in recent times courts are increasingly using this privilege as a shield against public scrutiny of its affairs.

Recently, Mr. Shanti Bushan who was law minister under Morarji Desai, submitted list of around 10 corrupt judges to the CJI openly daring him to debate the issue and even jail Mr. Bushan for “contempt of court”. Our CJI is not reacting well to that issue, he of course is in a dilemma. Whether to find out the details about the corrupt judges or ignore the issue and swipe the whole thing under the carpet, which is what the court historically has done. Take the case of Justice Dinakaran, the CJI removed him from Karnataka but at the same time, deemed him as acceptable to Sikkim High court. Perhaps, the level of corruption in Sikkim HC is already high, so Dinakaran will fit in perfect is the judgment here ? Curious minds are at a loss to understand why the SC is behaving this way?

Right from issue of judges declaring their assets before they assume the office to when they retire, on each issue the SC has constantly resisted all attempts at sane public disclosure. While at the same time preaching probity in public office, electoral process etc. in one ruling after another. The SC from this angle has consistently has “had the cake and eaten it too”.

Increasingly, at variance form their role of judging legality of the laws, the courts had moved into the realm of policy making and even law making, several instances of this are all over the places to make this very disturbing. E.g. the 15% quota for all India seats is the creation of SC, similarly several decisions as to how an election for speaker should happen in UP, as well as several vote of confidence measures etc., the courts have time and again intervened and created policy/rules/law. The recent ordering of Sharad Pawar to distribute the grains to the poor, however well-intentioned it might be, is just plain wrong -- in the grand scheme of separation of powers envisioned in the constitution.

Even in matters regarding selection of judges the collegium is behaving like a country club, with a we have told you so attitude that flies in the face of its own judgments handed down decrying the government’s discretionary and arbitrary processes in various selections/promotions.

It is high time, the judges started living under their own pronouncements. They can start with by giving up contempt of court privileges, or limiting them to ensuring due process and enforcement of laws. E.g. if a judgment is not enforced then by all means throw the bastards behind bars. When somebody points a needle of corruption/suspicion, then win them over with details and data – don’t fall into the gimmick of contempt of court. Similarly, when media reports on a case which is sub-judice then don’t hide behind the contempt of court law, banning all discussions. Maybe the court knows a thing or two about fallibility of judges that we do not….

This disease of arrogance and a resultant arrogation of power is epidemic in other arms of the government too. E.g. the EC bans all exit polls, if I make a good faith decision, in the interest of a stable government to vote for a party that is leading in exit polls or prior phases, why should the EC be concerned ? Colonials, did all this as they didn't trust our intelligence, our brown Sahebs in Indian Arrogant Service are intent on bettering them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I want us to fail as a nation

I want us to fail as a nation once …

Before you all start flaming me back, let me give more details. I think that a major disaster that happens during common wealth games will have beneficial effects for the longer term. Succeeding in hosting them will cause immense harm to the nation in terms of good governance. With us stepping up economically (despite the government mind you) it would be a disaster if that were to become reality.

Consider this, there has been monumental corruption in the commonwealth games effort. It has degenerated into CongressWealth Games effort. Despite proof staring at them from all angles and literally in every phase of the project there is total silence from the PM, SPM and Yuvarajaa. There is a very calculated stance at (according to the NDTV brigade a very intellectual one) apportioning the blame on the government and not on the folks actually in government !

Corruption in village building, CPWD is responsible, bridge collapses Delhi government engineers and builder are responsible. A toilet paper roll is bought for Rs. 3640, treadmils that cost Rs. 1.5 laks to buy outright are rented for a month for 10 lakhs. A proposal for cleanup is submitted with 1000 laborers at Rs.100/day, it is rejected and a contract is given out for 200 laborers at Rs.800/day. Mr. Kalmadi actually comes on TV and says that media is unfairly blaming him for all the corruption and that he is responsible for Rs. 108 crore only ! Shocking, is this what this country deserves or coming to ?

Through this all, the media has singularly failed to ask the question “OK who is actually responsible for this ?”, they will not as it will directly lead to their paymasters, which is the congress party. To a lay man like me it is obvious that congress is preparing an election war chest for elections in Bengal and Bihar next year.

That is the reason; I feel that the games should fail with a major disaster. So far all we have showcased is our incompetence and corruption. If history, is any indication the only proactive planning that our government would have done is to prepare which officers of the government should get flat allotment from the CongressWealth games village! I am sure, they will leave no stone unturned to do a very good job here… If these games were to fail, then perhaps, there will be media scrutiny as to who is responsible and hopefully, people will get educated and choose someone who can better govern than the bunch of morons.

If they succeed even with hiccups, then the focus will be on how we pulled everything through and instead of follow-up on the monumental corruption of Rs.28000 crore event, the media will sing praises on organizers and at that time, I am sure that Italian Maatha and the Yuvaraja will show up in front of cameras.

That would be a disaster indeed for the nation, I for one am deeply concerned.

PS: When I was young, I always used to wonder why Italian Mafia was in control in sicily and how governments used to collapse in Italy, it had 50 governments in the first 40 years, how a totally corrupt person like Sylvia Berlusconi despite all the scandals and convictions still gets the spotlight. Now I understand that perfectly, we are also heading towards becoming another Italy, we already have an Italian SPM too…

PS2: SPM == Super Prime Minister == Sonia Antonio Maino != Gandhi ever, period.

PS3: It really scares me that I share this desire with Mani Shankar Aiyar...

Friday, September 17, 2010

How come your heart is not bleeding for Mr. Vijay Kumar, Mr. Manmohan Singh ?

Recently, a documentary filmmaker from India, Vijay Kumar, was detained by immigration authorities in the US, as he had some jihadi material and a pair of steel handle knuckles with him. Mr. Kumar is a documentary filmmaker making films on Jihadi terrorism; he gives lectures on the dangers of how a Jihadi mindset is cultivated in youngsters etc. So the material he had with him was purely “coursework”. Now, on his way back he is now detained in Canada on the same charges? We will come to the unfairness of his case prosecution later, what is glaring is the help he got from Indian consular staff-Which is absolutely nothing, with a very informative statement which said “his dietary needs are being met”. Kudos to the Hindu association of NA, which stood by his side and helped him through all this.

Now, contrast this with the arrest and detention of Dr. Mohammed Haneef who was living in Australia, who procured the SIM which was in contact with the terrorists who caused the blast in Glasgow airport in 2007. Chat history of his conversation with his brother which clearly proved that he had prior knowledge of the blast and even had come encouraging words. You should have been in India, to appreciate the media circus around this terrorist sympathizer. Manmohan Singh appeared on TV, eloquently announcing (well as eloquent as he can get) that his heart goes out to the mother of the Dr. Haneef, true the Indian government left no stone unturned in getting him back.

Why this silence this time ? Such acts make me laugh at when Yuvaraja of congress talks about how they have an inclusive agenda for all Indians… Are Hindus Part of that inclusive growth ? I am not so sure, real secularists like me are really upset…. Of course, NDTV is happy…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Leave the IITs alone....

This is an open letter to Mr. Kapil Sibal. I am sure that the best way of reaching a person, who is a media darling and constantly obsessed with sound bites, is through the media only. At least, I hope that you will now you will take your job seriously and instead of vested agendas will take a wholesome approach to education. It is high time you stopped being the minister for IIT entrance exam reform and focused on all things. Before we go further, I want you to answer the following questions:
1. Do we have the right capacity in all geographical regions for primary education of children?
2. Now, do we have the same in high-school and secondary education?
3. The higher education capacity (college) is an abysmal 11% are you even aware of this?
4. Does your government have a priority list of additional subjects and do you have a plan for rolling them out?
5. Are we equipping the socially backward classes with enough skills to take advantage of the reservation programmes from the government?

Based on your high and mighty media projections, I am not so sure whether you have even thought about these. Well, we all know that focusing on these and getting strategies published, consensus built and committed is a tough job. Of course, this will not get you air time in the NDTV brigade. So rightly (in your opinion that is) it doesn’t deserve urgency.

We have reservations and rightly so, in some sense, for weaker and oppressed sections of the society. Are we equipping the people from these sections to take advantage of them? Are rural students as well equipped as their counterparts with choices and awareness about education? These are serious questions that you need to answer and firm up policies. Like it or not, you have the potential to change or destroy the young minds, I would urge utmost caution and diligence in the way go about it. Presently, though you seem to be obsessing about “reforming” IIT entrance exams only. It is high time you got off that high horse and focused on a total approach starting with primary education.

Look at rural India and the urban poor, do they have right schools? Leave out colleges, which are abysmal even in urban areas and even in big cities. Even with large sections of the society not having opportunities, still our higher education capacity is abysmal, with graduates who get out of even some engineering and medical colleges functional illiterates. That really is the status of education today. Mr. Sibal, I hate to break the news to you. If at all, there are a set of institutions where its graduates are functional literates, it is the IITs and guess what you are up to, obsessing with ways to “reform” them. Excuse me, but to a lay man like me, for whatever their flaws they seem to be doing way better than most and why are you hell bent on destroying them?

All your ideas seem to be what were in vogue in the west, particularly in the USA, perhaps during your Harvard days as well. All the proposals like aptitude test,well rounded approach judgment and doing away with the need for microscopic judgment (marks) and go with broader classification (grades). Even in the west, there is increasing focus on academic standards with several countries/states introducing common board exams to judge how students are doing when judged against a common bar. Countries like China/Japan/Korea/Singapore all have made giant strides leapfrogging by building an honest and transparent education infrastructure and a rigorous evaluation system, in some ways lot tougher than what a typical youngster goes through in India. It is a shame that for some unknown vested personal interest, you seem to be hell bent on adopting the ways that are practiced in the USA. Your government, can show its loyalty to USA with nuclear agreement, but please spare us your efforts on the education front. I wonder as to what is obvious to a lay man like me is amiss in the thoughts in an intelligent (I still have my hopes) man like you.

Start with education capacity, focus on starting primary and secondary school in every village or cluster. Don’t be a control freak and trying this as a purely central government driven effort which results in only a focus on English/Hindi based medium of instruction and leaves the majority of India which studies in other mediums of instruction. Partner with the state governments in establishing such schools. Achieve commonality in subjects like Math, Science, and Economics etc. Acknowledge that heroes and significant folks in history geography exist outside of Delhi too. E.g. how many of your students who are studying CBSE history can answer who is “Andhra Kesari”. Whereas each one of the students in TN can answer who is “Chacha” and call it out as Nehru. Do you get the point at least now? In history and languages defer to the state boards. Agree on a common exam and conduct it simultaneously in all regions and languages. Each student irrespective whether they are urban or rural, or from North/South/East/West should feel integrated. It is precisely a feeling that CBSE exists only for Delhiites is causing angst in a large section of the population and state governments. There are saner voices as education ministers in various states, listen to them.

Please Mr. Sibal, leave out the IITs for now. Ensure corruption free and common education and evaluation criteria at various levels, I would recommend common board exams from 8th standard onwards. Normalize results when appropriate. E.g. leave it to the TN government to manage the Tamil language criteria and evaluation and similarly defer to other states. Acknowledge the diversity of cultures and education systems in India, you seem to be recognizing Madrasas as the only unique things that need preservation, trust me every state board in India deserves the same. Get the priorities right, e.g. why CBSE deems sex education as something that is of a higher priority than e.g. basic law, is a question that needs to be answered. Bottom-line, please educate yourself first on the diversity of education in India, maybe then you will have a better shot at going about your job. There are several exams like AIEEE and AIMedicalTest etc. which provide ample opportunities for you to learn from them and course correct. At least, compared to your predecessor you are not corrupt, hence my decision to appeal to you…

Last, try this if you really do a good job, there is no need to worry about what NDTV thinks about you, wouldn’t that be perfect? At the moment though, you seem to have only one agenda which to a lay man looks like the following: “IITs are elitist, their selection process is corrupt, they are in serious need of reform”, if this is true about them and considering that they are the best in producing folks that are sought after all over the world, god help India !!! Thankfully, we all know that is not the truth….

Sincerely yours,

Baskar Kothandaraman

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paying for the wrong assassination...

We all know that Nathuram Godse assassinated Gandhi in 1948 that mistake of his has the cost the nation plenty. I am of the opinion that Godse committed a horrible mistake and we all are paying for that mistake even today. A look at UPA government of today firms up my belief that it is high time that I made everyone aware of the mistake Godse committed. That of assassinating Gandhi instead of Nehru !!!

Yes, catch your breath. India would have been lot better off if Nehru had been assassinated, before pseudo secularists are up in arms listen to this…

1. He wanted the Congress Party dis-banded, he felt that it will take undue advantage of the fact that it has fought for India’s independence
2. He strongly advocated against religious conversions, was particularly acerbic in his comments proselytization calling out that will mean no peace in the world.
3. He was for true secularism, with equal respect for all religions.
4. He had genuine concern for the poor and Dalits, not just lip-service.

In a nutshell, he would have been tremendously inconvenient for the Congress party of then and more so, now.

1. “I want to be known as the last English PM of India”
2. “I wouldn’t mind being called a dog, but would be damned if someone called me a Hindu”
3. He initiated government control over all Hindu religious endowments and set about “reforming” the religion. At the same time consciously nurturing vote banks and total unfettered freedom to minority religions.
4. His Dynasty – need I say more.
5. He followed a government led model of development, where in public sector was thought to be the only way out for everything.
6. He took what was the second largest foreign exchange reserve in the world (yes India had it in 1947) and wasted it away.
7. His act of appearing a gentleman and taking issues to United Nations is still costing us plenty. (Thank god we had Patel to restore sanity in certain issues)
8. Even after 63 years, we are nowhere near the task of dismantling his initiatives. It will come to a closure, when planning commission is closed !!!

If you look at what the UPA is doing today your blood will boil… A murder accused appointed as President, A IAS official who is accussed in a scam in Kerala is a Central Vigilance commissioner, Supreme court judges rewarded immediately in judgments against Gujarat government. The level of depth to which Maatha Sonia has corrupted all arms of the civil society is unbelievable. Even in parliament, blatant machinations to ensure that foreign companies don’t share any liability for the nuclear mishaps is another case in point. Yes, the present PM is a proxy for Nehru dynasty. How many more years we have to endure this…..

I really wish that Godse had the right target in 1948…..

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pseudo charity and Giving Campaign

This blog got triggered by a conversation I had with a recent returnee from the US, who upon joining promptly wanted to know ”when does the giving campaign start and end in India”. I was taken aback by his question, which prompted some self-evaluation and introspection as to “Hmm.. How come we don’t have an annual giving campaign in India (in the society)” followed by “Do we really need one”.

Yes, do we really need a giving campaign in India? This question needs serious thought and self-evaluation in all of us.

First question I pondered was why does the USA which has an extensive Social security program need a giving campaign? The answer is in alignment with the overall expectations of the American Society, which is to enjoy rights without responsibilities… Children have a right to parentage, but not the responsibility to take care of their parents in time of need. In India, even lower middle class families are anchored by elders, no matter the bitterness of life in general, they do get taken care of often under tremendous financial and emotional burden by the working class. So typically, the working class in India takes of the generation above and the one below. If these were systemic then why else would you need a giving campaign?

With the IT industry, and wannabe IT folks, mushrooming it is now very fashionable for corporate employees to go through a guilt trip of “Ok what do I have to do for the poor?” It will invariably lead to discovery that children aren’t being educated enough or right. Followed by a determination or resolution that “I want to change the system”. Well, don’t hold your breath. Usually, such initiatives end up with the following:

1. A day with colleagues, to meet with the children (who can barely read even at grade 6) to inspire them about the opportunities in the industry.
2. A day to paint their classroom.
3. Collect old clothes, supplies etc. distribute them
4. This one is the icing on the cake. “A mobile library, full of books” which will go to school periodically so that the children can learn. Trust me this is the most useless of things you could do. These children can barely read their text books, let along sparking their curiosity with more complex books in English language !!

Sadly, such initiatives are mistaken for worthwhile efforts and worse, people even gain mindshare for this. I have few tips for the so called charitable folks.

a. Identify teachers who spark curiosity in the minds of the people, pay them extra money to teach these children in a school.
b. Ensure that you pay people to follow-up with these children after school, to ensure that they study.
c. Get them to understand the concepts in their native tongue, work in parallel in educating them about English as a language or a tool for communication. Once they begin to think then transliteration is easy.

Most of the so called charitable schools, particularly those that are started with a conversion agenda, give an illusion of education but leave the students just as ill equipped to grab the opportunities as they were on the day joined the school.

In this topic, hats off to my wife, who has gathered around twenty children and has been patiently working with them for 5+ years now, getting them to understand the subjects and English as a language. Some of the kids have done really well. So much so, that he conversion factory immediately grants them a “double promotion” and sets them for a grand failure… Well, our society has its own way of punishing those that do well too…

So my appeal is,

a. Don’t get into this so called “charitable initiatives” just as a check mark that your kids need in terms of social service for their admission to schools in the USA
b. Don’t organize needless interaction with students to inspire them.
c. Trust me -- by painting their classrooms they will not gain any knowledge. If you can, teach them, make learning subjects simpler for them. Explain things in their own language.
d. Educate them about the opportunities in higher education/employment through several government initiatives/reservation. Equip them to leverage them, so that they are setup for success in life.
e. Charity is not a photo-op, nothing could be more insulting for these children…