Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tiger Shroff appointed Congress vice president...

Thoroughly shocking the political establishment and in a move widely hailed by NDTV as a game changer the congress president today announced that Tiger Shroff will be appointed as a new vice president of the century old party. This led to a protest “Shok Sabha” organized by Renuka Chowdhry and Ambika Soni who appealed to Sonia Gandhi with tears rolling down their cheeks “not to appoint a non-family” member for any position of importance in the party.. “MadamG they thundered, do you recall what happened when Sitaram Kesari was there…”.

Former CM and now a rootless wonder, PigVijaySingh in a hurriedly called press conference at Azamgarh declared, how he had spoken to Tiger Shroff when he was three years old onwards and latest after his movie “Hero Panti” thoroughly bombed at the boxoffice. He said that he consoled a crying and upset Tiger on the phone…

The CWC member who didn’t want to be identified spoke to NDTV’s group Editor, “Burqa Dud”, through an intermediary Mira Radia, said “What to do, RahulG turned out to be a total waste. Now, with both SoniaG and RahulG tied up on National Herald case and answering NatwarSingh and others who are writing books, we desperately needed a leader who is youthful and from the family. Alas, we were totally devastated when Priyanka VadraG issued a statement that she is not coming to politics. Rehan Vadra, even by our low standards of obedience to the family, is young, come on even we have some dignity…”. When asked why Tiger Shroff, they proudly claimed “Have you seen the picture of Tiger with Priyanka side by side in the media? Man, it was a god sent opportunity for us.. Of course, it was a secular God and not a communal one….”. 

With the sense of relief immense relief the congressmen said that "Now RahulG can finalize his plans to have a child, keeping the future leadership of congress in mind, once his kid is 10 years old, we can think about a leadership change. Till then, with his movie career already dead where else can tiger shroff go ?...."

When we contacted Tiger Shroff, he seemed upbeat about his prospects, even for the elections which are scheduled within a few days in Bihar and shortly in Maharashtra.. When asked how can he be so sure, he quipped “Come on, how can you do worse than RahulG ?”……

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In a Stunning move government simplifies the UPSC CSAT to just a few questions, in all languages

In a masterstroke, the government totally junked existing proposals and expert committees and instead went with 7 employees from government service itself to reform the UPSC examinations.
This "panel of experts" (secretary, under secretary, their peons, section officer, clerk, pwd engineer) assembled at 9am in UPSC HQ and by 9:01am came up with detailed proposal including a permanent question paper that can be translated and conducted in all languages.

They were particularly proud of the fact that even those that have never even set foot inside schools can crack it and actually had an equal shot at success !! They said that "Irrespective of your educational qualifications, if you had set foot inside a government office to get even a simple application form you would have learnt all that is necessary to crack this paper !!".

Details: from now onwards UPSC exams will just ask the following questions to all prospective aspirants...

1. Can you be rude to the public ?
2. Can you guard all the procedures to get things done from government as a Military Secret ?
3. Can you ask for that all important "one more residence proof" even after a million others have been provided ?
4. Can you knit more than 100 sweaters in a year at work ?
5. Can you drink a cup of tea/coffee for more than hour and a small tiffin box lunch for more than 3 hours ?
6. Do you "Inflation index" bribes every three months ?
7. Are you aware of the exact bribes you need to pay to get selected/promoted ?

For promotion into IAS cadre, they unanimously concluded that proficiency in "How rude and inaccessible one is to the public will be the singular criteria for selection and promotion".

After this was announced at 9:01, the agitationists immediately ended their protest at 9:02am with their leader "Coaching Yadav" saying in a press conference "That is it, why your UPSC exam needs to be anything more than this escapes me !! Any candidate who answers Yes to these already has that "innate talent" to work in our government and public sector undertakings isn't it ? People should be allowed to take this exam in all Indian languages... This will really ease the pressure on folks who want to join government service".

The IAS (Indian Arrogant Service) officers association at 9:03 released a press note saying 'We cautiously welcome this move, the dangers of allowing more non-children of existing IAS officers has to be studied carefully and acted upon down the line.....".

SP/BSP/JD(u) released a joint statement saying that their parties will stop attending the lok sabha as the only issue important to the people of their states has been dealt with...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Time to privatise trains...

Railways, is a perfect example of what will happen when you focus only on lowest common denominator, you will end up with a society/club of LCDs alone....

"Be lucky that we got you alright, no matter how late, who else occupies your reserved space, how shitty the food is etc..." was the guiding mantra and no wonder we ended up with just another government department.. Instead of a corporation that wants to improve. No profits to invest back in infrastructure is the singular reason for this mess.

Expect, lot of noise in the media tonight as to how the common man is ignored. As if the common man doesn't want timely, safe and secure journey... If that costs money so be it.... For the first time in 67 years, the focus is on increasing the average speed of the journey... E.g. the charminar Express from hyd to chennai is actually 5 minutes slower now than when it was started decades ago, with steam engines.. !! That my friends, is how railways has been run...

Glad that Air India is headed towards bankruptcy... Similarly, government should operate only tracks/stations get out of this business of running trains, which has resulted only in fiefdoms. Let private parties compete with trains/fares/services... Let us see...

Why can't a palace on wheels run from Hyderabad to Chennai/Delhi/Wherever, if people are willing to pay and parties in interested in running it on existing tracks with their own trains, why should the government be in the way ? This is exactly how aviation is run.. Roads are managed...But them I am being logical, which is not the way Indian Governments have functioned all along... Isn't it ?

In 1993 when I was travelling with my wife in A/C chair car in Vaigai Express from Madurai to Chennai, we were the only two passengers with paid tickets, everyone else was in "Pass", with railway employees cornering it all... Things have slightly improved but not enough....

In 2010, I had written the following about railway budgets, it is still true... today. Hoping that things will change in the next 5 years... Hell, we waited for 67 years, why not 5 more... ?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A wishlist for education sector...

Dear Ms. Smrithi Irani,

I have never been glad to get an HRD minister like you, having been an observer of your intellect in dealing with Media and criticisms. Your reaction to the controversy your educational qualification, has only enhanced my faith in you. Yet, I want to give my thoughts on the priorities you should focus on. They are broken into Primary education, High School, Vocational & Higher education. I hope that you will listen to these and put in place longer term plans …

  1. Primary Education: We have an odd situation where in children are neglected in early stages of education, leading a mushrooming of very high priced and inaccessible schools for the masses in this crucial phase of a child’s development. This has to be the utmost priority for you to fix. I would start with government schools (co-educational) that are only primary up to class 6. There is no need to provide Kinder Garden education, which in reality are nothing more than Crèches for working parents in India. I would use the anganwadi services to take care of that need. Every village in India needs at least one such primary school, with teachers recruited locally (from the village itself first, if not in the neighbouring villages etc. bottom-line we need people who have a stake in the wellbeing of the community there itself. Right now teachers recruited based on huge entrance exams and selection tests etc. and the city bred have a total monopoly on them, they rarely go to assigned schools and when they do bide their time awaiting a “transfer”. A single teacher for each subject is all that is required in terms of strength as they can deal with classes 1-6 in one go.  I would recommend an all-female teacher recruitment for this crucial phase in child’s development. It will also empower rural women, when that happens overall wellbeing and levels of literacy etc. will all go up ! 
  2.  Middle & High Schools: For every primary school - Middle schools which teach upto class 10 have to be in the same capacity nearby. After which distinct schools which operate in Junior college model with just 11/12 need to be created for clustered villages. Appropriate pay scales, commensurate with qualification need to be established so being an educator becomes a viable economic option for those who want to teach. In fact, I would introduce a standarded qualifying exam for B.Ed graduates and then with that qualification recruit folks who already live as close to the schools as possible for all these. 
  3.  Vocational education: We have a situation, where in we obsessively increase capacity in Engineering but a quality plumber/carpenter/electrician is very difficult to find. I would suggest an audacious goal of building a polytechnic where in people can join after 10th and get a two year course with a diploma in skill set disciplines. Not the present on which offers half baked mechanical/electrical/civil etc…. That way, folks will be employable. E.g. in a community of weavers, why can’t the curriculum be textiles… ? Be flexible, allow for disciplines in alignment with the local’s traditional skillsets and talent. Have an audacious goal of 100,000 such institutes which leverage local talent and industry that exists… In addition to universal electrician, plumber etc. 
  4.  Higher education: We are at the stage were our industry is failing in R&D even if you pervert that definition to mean “Read & Duplicate”, shed arrogance. Say I want basic under graduate facilities in each district in traditional engineering. The government should have a goal of a medical/engineering/Arts/Science college in each of the districts with capacity commensurate with an appropriate need based ratio per the population. Similarly each State should get an IIT/AIIMS/Law facility in one go. Have an aggressive goal of completing the infrastructure (buildings, recruitments in three years) and then start them with full capacity. You can factor in existing infrastructure in states and invest in where there is a shortfall. There are lot of foreign universities who with their brand name are looking to enter the “education business” some of them are also genuine established ones in higher education and research. To separate the grain from the chaff I would suggest a policy where in you allow the foreign universities to establish only PG institutions. That way we augment crucial needed sector as well.

Please don’t get into a trap like your predecessors, who were obsessing about IIT reform and mimicking the western education. Realize our innate strengths, with our scarce resources we need to be prudent also there is also inefficiency in ensuring outcome as well through social obligations like reservation etc. realize them and be pragmatic. I would keep one JEEMain exam, in all official language of India, work out a common syllabus for Science/Math/Biology with all the states with common evaluation for these. Do away with separate entrance exams by anybody period ! CBSE needs to be re-purposed as an arbiter ensuring this consistency and not an independent power center in itself, arrogating some special position in the scheme of things! Similarly, class 10/11/12 have to be a common board exam, conducted in each language. Most importantly respect the states and other language mediums as well.

The union governments so far, have been arrogant and have never taken the states in a partnership, I hope you will dispense with that attitude in Toto…

Here is hoping,

Baskar Kothandaraman

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The AAP Honeymoon Tamasha...

The NDTV brigade in total connivance with congress are propping up AAP with coverage the likes of which are never before seen for a corporation government in India. I am sorry, without being full fledged state with critical functions like law and order and even infrastructure for the large part, this government is akin to Hyderabad Municipal corporation government. But somehow, by finishing a distant second to BJP, this party has supposedly captured all of India and we are all set for good times... This is the portrayal of the media and even some well intentioned educated folks are falling for this.

The leadership of the AAP owe their orgins to the extremely left leaning NAC of the Italian. If you look at their economic ideology that alone should be enough to stop anyone dead on their tracks and revisit the decision to support. They are so far left of the Congress that the Italian will appear like some right wing nut when it comes to economic policies.

  • Their promises and deception: Their whole campaign was based on the premise that “We are the only clean ones on the planet, practice completely unbiased politics focused on the common man”. After we get a clean mandate, we will fix everything, prosecute all the corrupt by dusting up all corruption complaints against all, we will give free water, eliminate corruption in electricity distribution and halve the rates to take some famous examples... Let us look at them one by one. First, the basic premise that we practice clean politics and will not take the support of anyone, was demolished when they took congress’ support (the one the called the most corrupt ever in their campaigns).
  • Clean Politics: During election itself Kejriwal fell at the feet of a maulana who is a fatwa king and has issued 5 lakh bounty for the killing of Taslima. Guess what, he is a maulana in UP, why would Kejriwal fall at his feet for Delhi elections ? This is the same vote bank politics of congress, that he declared that he will not do. Now after elections, realizing his AAP has formed an exclusive task force to win the trust (== vote) of muslims.. Is this cleanliness in politics ?
  • Water supply: The promise was for 700L/day free supply to all. Now, the implementation comes in. They suddenly decided that 660L water per day will remain unbilled, but if you exceed that even by a litre over a month then you will have to pay for it all. This was cleverly done as most of delhi’s metered users consume way above this limit !!! But, this is projected as “Promise delivered” by the lapdogs in the NDTV brigade.
  • Electricity Rates reduction by half: Right now, in states with relatively corruption free distribution of power like gujarat and Chattisgarh (mind you chattisgarh with its vast natural resources produces some of the cheapest electricity in India) the purchasing rate of electricity itself is well above the half rate that these folks promised, so how do you deliver on that promise, well introduce the budget subsidy. A throwback to the license raj, even after 60 years we still haven’t gotten the cooking gas subsidy rightly delivered and this will only add to that profligacy. Hey, “Promise delivered”.
  • Prosecute Shelia Dixit: Haven’t we heard the messiah himself say that once he is in power, in days she would be in jail, how he has hundreds of files detailing her corruption, when asked by opposition for that, he actually responds if you have evidence then hand it over to me, I will act. Shouldn’t he just get a CD of AAP’s speeches and manifesto you would think that should suffice isn’t it ? Yet, without asking all this you guessed it “Promise delivered”.
  • Will prosecute all the corrupt: Well, instead of dusting off all complaints of corruption, which he himself claimed in the campaign that hundreds of thousands were pending, he now has setup a corruption hotline, asking people to gather and provide evidence and he will help them do it... If you watched the media all the problems were solved by it, and probably you are all left with the impression that this is for the first time this has happened in India.. Do you know Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Goa, Sikkim and even Karnataka have had this for decades ?

Please folks, sit down and think rationally, as to what is the bigger threat to India’s unity/integrity/governance. The near unanimous answer for that should be the Italian, whose party’s shameless religious appeasement, ruinous state controlled economic policies, indulging terrorists through go soft tactics on terror and now outright loot of the nation.

We have already seen the alternative, Vajpayee who ran a bigger coalition, put in place and got approval for building and modernizing 50+ airports, tripled the highway capacity in the nation and ensured strategies for growth, which the upa shamelessly mis-appropriated in the first 5 years and we all know what they were doing in the first 5 years under the stewardship of MMS and the Italian.

If you still decide to vote for AAP, it is your democratic right, but please insist that they live up to the principles that they themselves campaigned for.

Remember, a broom by itself doesn’t do anything it is the hand that actually directs it to clean. This AAP broom is now firmly in the Italian’s hand.... At least, free it folks...

We may never get this opportunity to get rid of congress again, so vote carefully that is my appeal to all..