Sunday, July 31, 2011

That's all, Your Honour! : July 24-30

Here's a Quiz question to the reader. Do you know who Dharam Singh is? Let's now proceed to discuss this :)

Some old posts on this blog will give you a detailed background on the "nataka" in Karnataka. There are just way too many crises surrounding this government that it is just difficult to summarize them all in a short post. Basically, Yedyurappa government had to endure a couple of revolts from within the party; then had to endure a very very partisan governor; and then had to endure allegations of unfair allocation of land to yedyurappa's sons; and now finally the Lokayukta report on illegal mining in the state. The latest crisis that led to Yedyurappa's resignation is the report submitted by the Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice Santosh Hegde.

As is always the case, portions of the report were leaked to the "national" media. And quite conveniently, these leaked portions were about how the Lokayukta has "indicted" BJP's first CM in a South Indian state. The actual report was released about a week later, but during the entire week, the english TV media went gaga over how BJP can claim moral high ground over corruption when it doesn't act on it's own CM on corruption charges; on how the party can go along defending the indefensible blah blah. The BJP said that they will only comment after reading the report. The Congress (and the english TV media) predictably called for Yeddyurappa's resignation.

The Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde also went on almost all TV channels - confirming that he has named the CM in his report. He also mentioned that there are a lot of other politicians named too. Fellow blogger Naveen, has captured and discussed these actions of Santosh Hegde in a detailed manner here - so no need to further discuss on how Santosh Hegde was all over TV.

The need for a better debate

Chief Minister Yedyurappa finally submitted his resignation today.

So far, an unassuming reader/viewer would assume that the illegal mining, massive corruption, and incompetent governance has been the trend in Karnataka since Yedyurappa took over. What most of the news channels won't concentrate on (mind you, they will mention it but not harp on it) is this - the Lokayukta report also names about 500 officials, ministers past and present, and pegs the loss from 2006 as Rs. 16,000 crore. The Lokayukta report mentions that iron ore mined is transported illegally through trucks. These fake permits for the trucks originate in Andhra Pradesh and not in Karnataka. Anybody talking about illegal mining in Karnataka without mentioning the valuable role played by Congress CM, YSR is either naive or has an agenda.

Current External Affairs minister of India, S.M.Krishna granted 36 licenses when he was the CM. Guess what, the Karnataka High Court quashed all those licenses. Yes, all of them. (thanks to fellow blogger Kiran K.S. for digging this info). (Update on August 1) --- Fellow tweeter avinashbhat alerted me to this important piece of info - SM Krishna denotified 11,000 acres of forest land for mining!

Rediff correspondent Vicky Nanjappa details here, the whole mining process. He tells us how a license is obtained. Congress Chief Minister Dharam Singh recommended 43 licenses and 33 were granted by the central government (UPA). Later, H.D.Kumaraswamy (s/o humble farmer and ex-PM, H.D.Deve Gowda) recommended 47 and 22 were granted (by UPA). During President's rule in the state (which means the state was controlled by the UPA government at the center) 14 licenses were granted. Yedyurappa recommended 22 and 2 (yes, just two) licenses were granted.

A systemic method, that encouraged the prevailing illegality was introduced and cemented by successive governments in Karnataka. Politicians from all parties have been involved neck-deep in this massive mining scam - but just how fair is it that we persecute the last man at the helm for not stopping something that has been introduced by his predecessors, for decades! Here are a few questions that I think are relevant, and are not being debated at all.

  • When will our debate turn to discuss the reforms needed?
  • Have you come across a single debate that discussed what can be done to curb this illegal activity?
  • So now that Yeddyurappa has resigned, all is well?
  • What about the ministers named? Will they be inducted into the new BJP cabinet? There is no problem with that?
  • What about Dharam Singh, under whose regime the maximum number of licenses were recommended and granted?
  • What about S.M.Krishna (who is now our External Affairs Minister)?
  • What about H.D.Kumaraswamy? If in the future, he wins elections, will he be allowed to be sworn in as CM?
  • What about the 500 odd officers named? Will they be allowed to continue in service?
  • What about the UPA government that granted all these mining licenses?
  • What about the conniving AP government?
  • Why this fetish to just change the Chief Minister and pretend that all is well from now on?

Now english media will go on patting itself on its back saying that it effected this change. Opposition parties will pat themselves on their backs too. BJP is now as confused as it can get. By sending Rajnath Singh as one of the observers, the party has taken another step backwards. UPA government will claim victory over corruption (yes, they will do it and english TV media will tom-tom it too). And when the next scam breaks, we will again banally debate "Are we a corrupt society?".

Quite frankly, the english TV media is doing a lot of damage by carrying out totally loud and un-informed debates. Sadly, they are just in no mood to learn. And BJP is equally responsible for not insisting on a informed, timely debate (not just on this issue). Wonder when the party will wake up to see the damage that's being caused. They might have gained in Karnataka, but surely have given away way too much scoring points for the "All politicians are bad" brigade. And this brigade will win 2014 for UPA, if the trend continues.

Since UPA is anyway sleeping, the opposition must give a call for better public discourse on reforms need. Otherwise, it is just a matter of time before we banally discuss "Are we a corrupt society" again. That's all, your honour!

Friday, July 29, 2011

An evening with Arun Shourie

"Good evening sir, my name is Shourie" .

"Sir, you and I have lot of similarities.We share the same name. You are a writer, I also like writing and write articles".

"You are a journalist, I am also a journalist. You worked for Times of India, I also work for Times of India. I write for them as my school correspondent"

"So sir, my question to you is - Being a journalist and writer, why did you decide to come into politics?"

The above question was posed to Arun Shourie, last evening at Hyderabad, by a ~10yr school going kid!! It was really surprising to see such nice articulation coming from such a young boy, and Arun Shourie was genuinely happy too :). He praised the boy for his articulation, and quipped " I am sure you will become a much better journalist if you write for Indian Express than Times of India" (entire audience burst into laughter here!).

Arun Shourie then told us that he got a call from the then BJP President Kushabao Thakre and was told that Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi thought that it would be a good idea to send him to Rajya Sabha - so would he be interested. Arun Shourie quipped, since I was unemployed as I was for a long part of life, I said ok :). Immediately, the moderator asked "Has there been an exit?".

Arun Shourie stammered a bit, said pretty much yeah. Like he has been saying for the past few days, after Atalji's exit, there has not been much to look forward to. He told the audience that some leader in BJP said "They were Atalji's imports. They went with him. For them, it might have been a witty remark but to us, it is a badge of honour". And therein lies our tragedy I feel.

The tremendous decline in the levels of policy and public discourse during the past couple of years is testimony enough to the huge loss we have encountered because of these "imports" leaving.It is our misfortune that we had to lose people like Arun Shourie who always bought in the much needed sanity, dignity and content into our discourses and debates. Just one example - take a look at how neatly he decimates Raja's and Manmohan Singh's defense of the 2G scam. He has done this before - on this same topic - but our TV media will forget it and ask him the same banal questions again and again!

Last evening, he was signing his latest book "Does He know a mother's heart?" in Hyderabad. To me, it is plain impossible to even imagine how a person who has endured (and is enduring) so many crises in life can achieve so much and inspire millions across the country. One lady even asked him to tell us about how he felt when he first knew and all along. He said they were ofcourse shocked but there was so many needs of the child to attend to, we accepted it very quickly. I am yet to read the book, but from what I have read and from what I have heard last evening, the book does not just talk about the suffering of just Arun Shourie's wife and their child, but digs into what explanations do the scriptures and saints give for suffering.

In his speech, Arun Shourie gave us multiple examples of different faiths and persons (like the most revered, Mahatma Gandhi).that give very insufficient explanations to suffering. You will be amazed at the kind of research he has done, reading all those scriptures, questioning many things, explaining why he questions so - like I said, it is impossible to imagine how and when he finds the time to enlighten people like me with tremendous knowledge (not just last evening, his other books on "Eminent Historians", Ambedkar, Reservations, Governance etc - all loaded with vast information and little rhetoric).

One more good thing about last evening was that there was no media - so no banal questions! Audience asked good questions and Arun Shourie answered them well too (as expected!).

I had a chance to talk to him for a few seconds, when he was signing the book. Told him that I bring with me wishes of a lot of people from the online community who hope that, amidst all that you have gone through, he will find solace in the fact that his works have inspired millions of people. He smiled :). Also told him, we miss an informed discourse and hope that we will come back to good old times. He again smiled :).

If this post sounded to you like a fanboy writing, then it is bang on target! I have no inhibitions to accept that fact. I consider it my good fortune that I have been able to watch him from close, speak to him for a few seconds and that I now proudly own a signed book of his! If his life does not inspire, then whose life will?

The final "gnight" !!

Editor-in-Chief of CNN-IBN, Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted this last night:

"tempted tonight to say final gnight on twitter. too much bile and dare i say ignorance,packed into 140 characters! gnight"

Let's come to the bile part later. Let's talk about ignorance first. To cite an example, we don't have to dig back way too much into the past. Just about an hour before he sent the above tweet, he had this to say:

"it is to credit of anna and co they forced govt to come up with lokpal bill after 42 years. cant they wait a few more months?"

Unassmuing followers would now think that the draft Lokpal bill prepared by this awesome UPA government is the first one after 42 years. Even before going to Wikipedia, I can quote from memory that Atal Behari Vajpayee introduced the bill in Parliament 2 times, and ManMohan Singh introduced it twice already! Now let's go to wikipedia. No no, let's go to CNN-IBN website only. Here.

"The first legislative attempt at Lokpal in India fell after the bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in Rajya Sabha. Subsequently, Lokpal bills were introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008."

I am tempted to end the article saying, "I rest my case" but I don't want to.

Because he also said this last night -

whether on twitter or in tv studios, we are becoming a noisy society, not a knowledgeable one. sad.

Since no one making the "noises" here exactly owns twitter, I guess it is fair enough to turn our attention to TV studios and people who run them. Just one question - what exactly has been done to make the TV studio less noisy and more knowledgeable?

Finally, this tweet (last evening only) -

when we expose kalmadi, raja, ashok chavan etc, we're on right track. when bsy and reddys exposed, we're biased!! amusing.

Since it was not IBN that first exposed Raja, Kalmadi "etc", it is fair enough to presume that Rajdeep is talking about the entire media when he says "we". So here are some questions (or bile) - When Kalmadi was exposed, many informed bloggers and tweeters (the bile throwers) questioned why Sheila Dixit is being let off lightly from the media focus. When BSY and Reddy brothers were exposed, the same informed bloggers and tweeters (the bile throwers) questioned how fair is it to isolate YSR/Cong government in AP from the mining scam. Where is the bias picture coming in here?

If you (as in media, not just you Rajdeep) have a problem with a particular tweeter or a blogger, what on earth is stopping you (as in media, not you Rajdeep) from directly debating with that person? For example, this blog and many others have documented instances of your (this time it is you Rajdeep) own Senior Editor spewing venom on tweeters who have been decent in criticism. When you (as in media, not you Rajdeep) have lakhs of followers, how fair is it for you (as in media, not you Rajdeep) expect there be NO criticism at all. Who gave you (as in the media, not you Rajdeep) the exclusive right to brand the entire blogging/tweeting community as "bile" , "mob", "nuts" etc etc? Your crass generalization of any topic, mood, and question has lowered the level of public discourse and here we are - witnessing this spectacle of the pot calling the kettle black.

There are abusers. Hell, a nobody like me gets abused on twitter, at times! If I were to follow your (media, not you Rajdeep) path, I should have raised a hue and cry, screamed victimhood and garnered some sympathy. There is so much information flow out here. There are many many people who are decent, lend dignity to debate and question incisively. If that bothers you (as in media, not you Rajdeep), it only speaks volumes about your openess to debate. And don't get into rhetoric again - give specific examples of accusations you (as in media, not you Rajdeep) make. Banal tweets such as "thanks", "that's so sweet" is no interaction. There is immense scope for meaningful interaction online - it is sad that none of the English TV media community chose to utilise it for betterment.

Dear English TV media anchors and their fanbots - If you choose to run away from meaningful debate citing a few abusers - the loss is yours. Not ours.

PS: Please don't use the words "ignorant". Doesn't suit you (as in media, not you Rajdeep)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mr. Fai and the Indian Media ...

"As someone who has spent the last sixteen years reporting kashmir...."

The second part of that tweet has not been reproduced above because it is not relevant to our discussion now. This was tweeted by NDTV Group Editor, Barkha Dutt, last year during the violence in Jammu and Kashmir. She made every attempt to enlighten us about her long drawn experience in Kashmir. Ok, now let's come to the present.

Kashmiri American Council, with the tagline (Freedom for all, Freedom for Kashmir) is a US based organisation. Basically it is a "think-tank" that organises seminars, meetings, etc to try and influence the US position on Kashmir. From their tagline, it is pretty much evident what their ideology is. In a shocking development, the FBI arrested the Director of Kashmiri American Council, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Fai because it was revealed that all along, this KAC has been funded by, lo and behold, the ISI !! This Pioneer report quotes the US attorney as saying that ISI funded Mr. Fai to even contribute funds to elected officials, organise high profile conference, seminars etc. And amongst those who have been invited (and have attended too) are multiple Indian "left-liberals".

Before we are accused of hyping up a non-person and non-story, here's what Praveen Swami, the foremost expert on security issues in India has to say about Mr. Fai - "For decades, Dr. Fai was the most visible face of Kashmiri secessionism in the West: presiding over a succession of high-profile conferences for which delegates were flown in from across the world and flying from one world capital to the next rallying support for his cause."

Now, for someone like Barkha who has been covering Kashmir for the "last sixteen years" (well, seventeen this year), shouldn't this story be one of the highest priority to report? The "most visible face of Kashmiri secessionism" in the West getting arrested doesn't even warrant a tweet from her? Prominent amongst those who enjoyed Fai's hospitality is Dileep Padgaonkar. Dileep Padgaonkar is the one of the three interlocutors appointed by GoI to discuss the J&K problem. Now, how do we trust if Mr. Dileep is not influenced by KAC's position? Another prominent person whose trips were funded is Rajinder Sachar. Remember the Sachar committee report? I am only citing two names here (some other names in this report here), which are enough to ring alarm bells and yet NDTV does NOT percieve this to be newsworthy enough? Should we not be grilling these "eminent personalities" on the details of their discussions? Should they not come out and openly declare the nature of their association with this ISI funded initiative? Even if they did not know this earlier, isn't this a good enough reason to come out fully in the open?

Before you pounce on us saying English TV media did cover the arrest - the debate here is about the amount of coverage. Hillary Clinton's visit, British PM's reply to parliament, Cash for votes, illegal mining in Karnataka (yes, believe it or not, news channels still have breaking news on that!), the yet-to-begin Lord's test (with images of Sachin Tendulkar's son bowling to Suresh Raina) - these occupied most the coverage. Fai's arrest was buried somewhere amongst these. Only TIMES NOW had a full fledged discussion last night (and unfortunately I couldn't get to watch it).

Fai's arrest also brings into focus the multiple "Track-2" diplomacy "efforts" that take place, from time to time. And again, most of the invitees from both sides of the border are either retired officials or current journalists. Who pays for them? What topics are discussed at these "track-2" meetings? Why don't all those who attend write about these meetings? What are the conclusions reached? Who decides on the way forward? And if at all any decisions are taken, or any messages are passed - who goes and gives it to the government? How can we be now sure that these efforts are not funded by nefarious elements? Why do journalists shy away (no, actually when I asked them the above questions, most of them never bothered to reply also) from putting all these out in the open? What qualifications do they have to run "diplomacy" between the two countries?

Fai's arrest happened some 36 hours ago. The Pioneer and Times of India were the only ones to report and front page it yesterday. Others like The Hindu front paged it today. About the TV channels - well, we discussed them above :) . Why is the Indian media so reluctant to discuss this and the above asked questions in detail? Is it because there is a conflict of interest? Is it because those who fund their junkets disapprove of threadbare discussions that will paint them in bad light? Or is it because they are so incompetent to get their priorities so wrong? Either way, most of these channels stand exposed, yet again, of their double standards.

PS: Special thanks to fellow tweeter "CodedVirus" for pulling out that old tweet (he has this superb knack of finding them in minutes :) ).

PS2: Shameless plug: If you are interested in the second part of that tweet and all that happened during the summer of 2010 - some blogs here that detail them :) . Don't miss this one - gives the number of people dead day-wise breakup

Sunday, July 17, 2011

That's all, Your Honour! : July 10-16

1. On the evening of July 13th, terrorists blasted three bombs in Mumbai (again in crowded areas). So far 21 innocent civilians have been killed and more than 150 have been injured. This is the third such blast in the crowded Zaveri Bazar (earlier ones were in 1993 and 2003). Initial investigation is leading to doubts that the IEDs were used in these blasts. Also it is being analysed that Bangladeshi immigrants might have been employed to place these bombs. The Home Minister has told us that this is the first blast in Mumbai since 31 months and therefore it is evidence that security scenario has improved a lot. English TV media went gaga over how calm and composed the Maharashtra CM post these blasts. Later, in an interview to NDTV, the CM cites red tape as the main reason for not being able to procrure equipment to the police. And instead of questioning how as CM he is not able to get over this red-tape, NDTV again called him frank blah blah. The Prime Minister has told us that "we will do everything to prevent the terror attacks". Rahul Gandhi has told us that "99% of terror attacks have been prevented". Perhaps he should talk to the 21 families who have lost their near ones. Or maybe to the 150 injured - and explain to them how 99% of attacks were prevented. Sonia Gandhi, ofcourse hasn't spoken anything.

2. Sadly, this has been a week of tragedies. There has been a train derailment in UP. 35 passengers were killed and more than 100 were injured. And on the same day, in Assam, a local militant group triggered a blast in a train injuring more than 100 passengers. At this point of time, the Prime Minister was the Railway Minister too and asked the Minister of State for Railways to go and visit the Assam site. The MoS refused, saying he is not the railway minister!!! And ofcourse, our Prime Minister was as helpless as ever.

3. There was a central cabinet reshuffle this week. As always, all hype and little substance in this reshuffle. Significant changes include relieving Veerappa Moily from law portfolio and making Jairam Ramesh as the Cabinet minister for Rural affairs. Analysts are confused if this is a promotion (given that they think Jairam will use his experience as a drafting member of NREGA of NAC in UPA 1.0, and will ensure most of Rural India will vote back UPA in 3.0) or if this is a demotion from his hyped stint in Environment ministry. Ohh wait, there is one more thing people are happy - Jayanthi Natrajan is a minister now, so we won't have endure her on TV talk shows :D That's all, your honour!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

That's all, Your Honour! : July 3-9

A very quick update this week.

1. The Supreme Court this week ordered the Chattisgarh and Central governments to disarm all the Special Police Officers (SPOs). The government trains the tribal youth in naxal prevalent areas in arms, and empowers them to fight the naxals. The SPOs, more famously known as Salwa Judum, have been around since 2005. The Supreme Court objected to their "employment" saying this violates many a constitutional principles and also it is dangerous to empower 5th class pass outs as police officers.

2. After his role in granting license to Aircel came under the scanner, Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran has resigned from the Cabinet. He is the second minister from DMK to resign over telecom issues. The Congress has so far been successfull in making this look like a DMK exclusive scam, but it looks like the day is not far away when bigwigs from the Congress will get implicated too. A recent PIL filed against Kapil Sibal has already accused him of favouring Reliance Comm to the tune of ~645 crores. Kapil Sibal has described the PIL as "malicious" :D

3. Last week, we talked about the enormous amount of treasure that was found in the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala. This week, english TV channels were abuzz with discussions on where this "money" should go. When asked where the "money" is, no one bothered to reply. English TV channels also did not reply on why one would want to sell rare treasures from previous centuries? If that is the case, then perhaps we should start auctioning all the stuff in our museums too, your honour!

అదన్నమాట! - జూలై 3-9

రాష్ట్రం లో మళ్ళి అనిశ్చితి మొదలు అయ్యింది. వంద మంది ఎమ్యెల్యేలు రాజీనామాలు చేసారు. ఇందులో పన్నెండు మంది మంత్రులు కూడా ఉన్నారు. ఊహించినట్టే, కాంగ్రెస్స్ హై కమాండ్ పెద్దగా స్పందించలేదు. పన్నెండు మంది మాత్రులు రాజీనామాలు ఇచ్చినా పెద్దగా రాష్ట్రం కి వచ్చే నష్టం ఏమి లేదు అని కొంత మంది పెద్దలు సెలవు ఇచ్చారు కూడా. వంద మంది ఎమ్యెల్యేలు తప్పుకున్నా సరే, ఎటువంటి సమస్య లేదు అంట.

పాలన మళ్ళి స్తంభించింది. కాని ప్రబుత్వ పెద్దల మాటలు వింటే, అసలు ఎటు వంటి సమస్య లేదు అనే అనిపిస్తది. ఎట్టకేలకు పిచ్చోళ్ళు అయ్యేది ప్రజలే కదా అండి మరి!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The halt in governance...

One of the primary and most important responsibility of a Home Minister (at Central and State) is maintanance of law and order. It effectively means that the entire police force reports to the Home Minister. The Home Minister guides the police force during critical law and order situations.

Yesterday, 81 MLAs from Telangana region, belonging to both the Congress and TDP have resigned for the Telangana cause. Amongst them are 11 ministers. Amongst those 11 ministers is the Home Minister of the state, Smt. Sabita Indra Reddy !! So now she resigned as an MLA but not as a minister, but then morality demands that you don't continue as a minister after resigning as MLA, otherwise what big cause are you fighting for?

On the other hand, you took an oath saying you will preserve law and order. And now you are part of the group that has precipitated the situation and emboldened Telangana Joint Action Committee (T-JAC) to call for a 48 hour bandh. Given the past violence during such bandhs, this 48 hour bandh is a critical law and order problem - so which sides do your loyalty lie Madam Home Minister? Will the police force now report to you on their plan of action? Will you guide them to enforce law strictly or will you ask them to go lightly on those who will break the law? Does the police force have enough clarity in what to do and enough trust in reporting back to you? Are these not important questions that should bother citizens and law makers alike (it should bother the media too, but ...) ? Will you take responsibility for the ensuing chaos?

11 ministers out of a cabinet of 38 have resigned as MLAs (breaking news is that a 12th guy resigned too). If news reports are to be believed, they will not be discharging their duties One more minister is the president of the state congress too - so all his time will go into overcoming this crisis. So we have 12 non-functional ministers now (. Am pretty sure atleast half of the other 26 ministers will be busy discussing this political situation :D. If this is not called stagnation (or maybe should we call it, a halt) in governance, then what is?

81 MLAs in an Assembly of 294 have resigned. State Panchayat Raj Minister, Mr. K. Jana Reddy (who incidentally was the Home Minister in YSR1.0 government from 2004-2009) enlightens us that this is not a crisis. Really, Mr. Jana? If this is not a crisis, then what is??

Andhra Pradesh has been plagued by such stagnant governance since the December 2009 agitation. We do not know how long the latest crisis will last. Could be days, could be weeks. Leave political uncertainty, the uncertainty in governance is so glaring that it has ceased to surprise us anymore. The stagnation started with the death of YSR, compounded by his son Jagan's belligerent stance, multiplied because of the Telangana agitation and has consistently only grown ever since. A change in the Chief Minister didn't help (all we see is huge posters of this guy telling us what all he "achieved"). A new state Congress president was appointed and it was celebrated as if the 11th incarnation of god happened! With these changes, a power struggle between the CM and the new chief ensued (the new chief even held review meetings with ministers and officials!) - the end result is more stagnation (halt)!

In the initial phases of this agitation, the alarming regularity with which bandhs were called was frustrating. After a couple of them, most of us started defying them and moved on. However, these bandhs are now intermittent. Each time a bandh call is given, first there is mad rush at petrol bunks, throwing traffic management haywire!

Second and most importantly - schools and colleges are closed. For every bandh call, for every single rumour of a disturbance in the city, schools and colleges are closed. And no single political leader is even worried about how these kids will cope up on lost time. Last year, engineering colleges lost about a month because of these agitations (even exams were postponed), but guess what this one month was not compensated in the final semester! This is just one example of the results of no governance in the state.

A compliant media, both at the state and centre, has confined itself to reporting and hyping up parts of the agitation. This blogger has himself been in one of the shops that were attacked, back then. This blog piece details how the media created some unbelievable hype and led to supreme chaos. The way violence was projected as movement was nauseating to say the least. No one seems to be bothered about this facet either.

Week over week, we see ministers closeted with MLAs and loud mouthed MPs, discussing and plotting "future course of action". No minister, I repeat, no minister ever addressed the press on "future course of action" pertaining to his ministry with such regularity. No one, literally no one wants to discuss the fall-out of this stagnation (halt) in governance. Assuming that this "crisis" will be resolved, what is the guarantee that those ministers will work with commitment desired? What is the guarantee that a similar crisis will not "erupt" again?

And the lesser we talk about the steps taken to resolve this stagnation(halt), the better. The one person responsible for this entire chaos - Sonia Gandhi ( read here, why she alone is responsible) , has not uttered a single word till now. Apparently, the Prime Minister has called for an urgent meeting of the Cabinet Committee of Political Affairs last night. CCPA consists of the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister + Moily, Antony, Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, and Dayanidhi Maran. Not one face from the state on whose political future the debate is happening!

Monday, July 4, 2011

The purpose of fun is learning...

No no, the title is not my invention. Please look below.

Ladies and Gentlemen, introducing to you, "Kausalya Global School" that will guarantee that your child will have a 150+ IQ at the age of ...... 4 - that's right 4 years! Not in four years, it is by 4 years.

"An average 4 year child in our school would identify flags of 100 countries, read a book, do math, have musical intelligence, and be physically superb. In short, an IQ of 150 or more"

And how do they plan to do this? See below -

A "Nobel prize winning concept" it seems!!!!

Also, don't worry if your kid in another school or stuff like that. Because this "global school" runs a "Brain Building Program" after school hours.

And what does this program achieve? See below -

100 vital skills in 16 weeks starting July 8th !!

I am even at a loss of words to describe this madness. A 4 year old with a IQ of 150+ will do exactly what?? After learning all that stuff, what else will be left for him to learn for the next 3-4 years? Ohh wait, let's not bother discussing, because "Fun should have a purpose & the purpose is learning".

Sunday, July 3, 2011

That's all, Your Honour! : June 26 - July 2

1. This week, after a Supreme Court ordered audit, government authorities have started to do an inventory of the assets in Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala. Take a guess at the value so far - a whopping Rs.90,000 crore/- and still counting! There are six chambers, A to F, that have to be opened. So far, 4 have been opened and we have assets worth Rs. 90,000 crore! (it is not a typo - Ninety Thousand Rupees)! Pure gold statues, coconut gold shells studded with stones like ruby, emeralds and many more, historical coins, and much much more. Some people are saying Rs.90,000 crore is just market value, if you add the historical value, the amount can go up much higher. If one temple in India has so much assets, just imagine how much money and other assets would have been looted from our country during the Mughal plunder and British raj. Sigh!

2. The Lokpal (or as fellow blogger realitycheckindia has coined, Jokepal :D) drama continues this week too. The team members of Anna Hazare went about meeting leaders of all political parties, and tried to enlist their support. They didn't even bother to go about explaining their draft version earlier to any political party! What is worse is the government's response - it has called for a all party meeting only after all it's calculations backfired massively. Civil society members not wanting to discuss with political parties may have been understandable, but what explains the government's ridiculous stand in not contacting any other party while drafting the bill with "civil society" members? And the government doesn't stop there. It stoops down further. Law Minister, Veerappa Moily enlightens us with this - "The civil society group has only tried to hijack the Congress agenda". hahahahahahahahahaha.... I can't stop laughing, I think even you cannot stop laughing!! hahahahahahaha..

3. The Prime Minister of our country spoke to five print editors this week. As expected he lectured on what needs to be done, but didn't utter a word on why it was not done till now. Nor did the editors ask that question. This blogpost discusses it in more detail. However, what we came to know today is that the Prime Minister lied yet again, in the course of this interview. He said former Sports Minister's objection to the CWG were only ideological and he did not have an idea about the functioning of Suresh Kalmadi. Media released letters written to the Prime Minister, in which specific complaints were made on Suresh Kalmadi, spending etc etc. Another lie of "honest" and "decent" Prime Minister nailed. That's all, Your Honour!

అదన్నమాట! : జూన్ 26 - జూలై 2

ఈ మధ్య నాటకీయత కరువు అయ్యింది అని భావించిన తెలంగాణా కాంగ్రెస్స్ నేతలు, కొత్త నాటకం కి తెర తీసారు. అందరు కలిసి రాజీనామా చేస్తారు అంట రేపు. అధిష్టానం మీద ఒత్తిడి తీసుకురావడానికి అంట. తోక్కేం కాదు. ఈ రాజీనామా ని ఎలాగ అంగీకరించారు. ఇంకెందుకు చేసి? దీనికి తోడు ఘులం నబి ఆజాద్ గారు ఏదో సెలవు ఇచ్చారు .... ఇది జాతీయ సమస్య అంట. ఒక రాష్ట్రం ని విభజించాలి అంటే చాల విషయాలు గ్రహించాలి అంట. మేరి ఈ తెలివి అసలు నిర్ణయం తీసుకునప్పుడు ఏమి అయ్యిందో మరి? అసలు సోనియా గాంధి గారి ఎక్కడ ఉన్నారు అండి?? ఎవరు అడగరే ?

Friday, July 1, 2011

The man "in command" ...

"Second, we must ensure that infrastructure does well, is well-managed, its reform is a priority concern."

The above line sounds like it is coming from a retired Nobel Laureate addressing some obscure audience on how reforms can be carried out in India. Or maybe from some "think tank" guy/girl trying to pass of as an expert in what India needs best. Or maybe from Sagarika Ghose :D.

But the answer is none of the above. That sagely and enlightening line was thrown towards us by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Now, if you are thinking that Dr. Manmohan Singh has been newly appointed as PM and is articulating his vision - you are mistaken again. He has been India's Prime Minister for 7 full years (and counting) and when asked why reforms are not taking place at a pace that is satisfactory, that is what we got as an answer.

The long winded answer to Q.13 in this interaction he had with 5 print editors is a must read. He tells us that we need a law - doesn't tell us why he couldn't bring in that law. He doesn't tell us why roads (which come under infrastructure) under the Golden Quadrilateral project are running at such a slow pace. He tells us that there is a need to set up "working groups" to understand how education and health services can be improved - doesn't tell us why he couldn't merely set-up those working groups either (especially given his tendency to set-up a GoM for any issue). Then he talks about making a beginning in FDI and retail areas - that's right - he is exploring options on how to "make a beginning" 7 full years after he was given the mandate to make them. Again - he doesn't explain why he didn't make the beginning so far.

Why do we need a Prime Minister, if we just have to maintain status quo? Isn't a Cabinet Secretary enough for that? Why do we need a Prime Minister, who doesn't feel the need to interact with his citizens often and when he does - just cribs about how he has a vision but will not do anything about it?

That interview had more gems. He enlightens us that it is easier for agencies like CAG, and opposition parties to criticize decision "post-facto" because they are not aware of the environment under which such decisions are taken. He tells that these people now have facts that were not available to government at that time. Again, he never tells what the facts he didn't have at his disposal were. What exactly was the urgent need to push through the spectrum sale without having enough facts at his disposal? He won't answer that question either. This article in The Hindu is a good read, and exposes his lies based on this "post-facto" statement very nicely.

While again defending his silence over the 2G scam while it was happening, he tells us he is not an expert in telecommunication. However, what we do know is that he is a expert economist (remember that Resume of his that went around in chain mails in 2004)? And so since we are being ruled (sorry, administered) by an expert economist, we'd expect he will throw some light on why our salaried class has to shell out so much money because of high inflation. What does he do - he tells us "Inflation is a global problem" (Answer to Q.44). And he cites the Chinese inflation rate too, as if it is a relief for us.

And then there is this bugging issue of Pranab Mukherjee's office. The Home Minister was kept out of the loop. The Prime Minister also confirmed this - "this was on a need-to-know basis". Yet, not a single article of outrage in the media. Not a single edit exposing this deep mis-trust the PM and the FM have on the HM. We are to just believe that this issue was a "bogus" one as told earlier by the FM.

Finally - how can he have an interview and not blame the BJP for the ills that he is facing? It won't be complete. So he tells us (as an answer to Q.19 regarding 2G scam) that "there is a cabinet decision of 2003". Folks - did you know, there was NO cabinet decision in 2007 when spectrum was auctioned? Did you know that this Prime Minister agreed that Cabinet does not have to take a decision on this, based on pressure from DMK? And he has the gall to talk about cabinet decisions! And when questioned about Commonwealth games (Q.40), he ends his answer with "The agreement to have CWG was signed in the year 2003 when the previous government was in power". Ofcourse, he won't tell us that the corruption scandals related to CWG had nothing to do with the agreement. And on the reforms question (Q.13), he cites the Goods and Services tax and tells us that BJP is politicising it.

Amidst so much, do you want to take a guess at some of the headlines in TV channels - "I am in command - PM".