Friday, July 29, 2011

Dr.Aeyesha Khan & issues in Gujarat

On 28th July, I attended this lecture by Dr Aeyesha Khan, Sr.Assistant Editor - Indian Express -Ahmedabad.Lecture was organised by CSS, Center for Social Studies - Surat
During her lecture, she came out with following " concerns" about Gujarat, arising out of the agitation against land acquisition by farmers in Mahuva - Saurashtra
1. Land acquisition move by Gujarat government for a cement plant by Nirma group near Mahuva in Saurashtra is being opposed by the local farmers.This movement is being led by local BJP MLA and is supported by BKS [ Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, inspired by RSS], Khedut Samaj, [ affiliated to Congress party],Congress party, Chunibhai Vaidya [ 90 year old Gandhian from Ahmedabad], Sanat Mehta [ 80 year old socialist from Vadodara] and many others
Inspite of such all round support,
why such movement has failed to trigger a pan Gujarat movement/agitations against land acquisition in general and against BJP govt led by Narendra Modi in particular?
2.Why media has failed to give adequate coverage to this movement?
3.Why PATELS have not joined this movement?
4. Why farmers from other parts of Gujarat whose lands are being acquired, are not coming together to form a joint front against such moves [ she sited examples from Umbergaon,Dahej, Hazira,Bhavnagar etc]
5.Why urban Gujarati middle class is a silent spectator to the plights of small farmers?
6.If anti land acquisition movement in Singur could overthrow a government in West Bengal,why can't such pan Gujarat movement think of overthrowing present BJP government in 2012 on such an issue?
7.Why Narendra Modi/BJP were not sacking their Mahuva MLA for agitiating against his own government?

As I was not given much time to reply to many of her "concerns",I have listed my replies here on this blog.
1.Very few Gujarati farmers, solely depend on farms for lively hoods.They have dairy co operatives to support incomes.Some family members will be having jobs/small businesses to support farm incomes.Agriculture,businesses and industries are closely woven in the fabric of Gujarati community.Every one appreciates the need for land for industry etc.Every one is fully aware of the " valuations" that it brings to the area.
No where in Gujarat, the government has forcibly grabbed any one's land.Movements are sparked generally, when there is undue show of force by the state or a sense of wide spread injustice among large sections of society.
2.She informed that " Gujarat Samachar" , an influential daily from Ahmedabad had completely blanked this event.She stated though that " Divya Bhaskar", another pan Gujarat daily had extensivey covered the agitation, so did her own news paper.I added that local dailies in Surat like " Gujrat Mitra" had reported extensively on this agitation.
Her concern of " lack of media attention" appeared to be restricted to Gujarat Samachar.
3.Why Patels, an influential landed gentry in Gujarat have not joined the movement? Patels did join the freedom movement in very large numbers, led by Sardar Patel! Patels or any other people will support/join a movement if it is just and affects very large number of people.Sporadic cases of injustices can not spark a state wide movement.Especially when the State is perceived as working effectively and honestly.
4.Why farmers from other parts of the state, whose lands are being acquired are not coming together for a state wide movement? This is answered in [3] above.
5.Why urban middle class is a silent spectator to this plight of farmers? Urban middle class in Gujarat [ and in many other states] has been part of the process of building a consensus around the idea that India needs to move quickly from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy.India needs to suck out surplus labour from rural area so that [i] Wages in rural sectors go up [ii] Farm sector takes to mechanisation,thus improving farm productivity [iii] Industrial sectors get adequate man power for labour intensive manufacturing hubs, that create wealth ,which in turn can alleviate poverty.
Since 1991, this model has been accepted as an alternative model to the Statist model of the socialists, that was in vogue from 1947 o 1991. Land acquisition process, if fair and transparent will not spark a movement [ or a revolution!] because majority of the people are agreed on aforesaid issue.
6.If an anti land acquisition movement in WB could overthrow a government in WB, why can't such a movement in Gujarat overthrow Narendra Modi in the elections, scheduled in 2012?
This is THE ISSUE ! You want to build a people's movement around the agenda to overthrow a man who is being repeatedly elected by the majority of voters.People are aware of such [hidden] agenda and hence are not joing in such movements.They of course will join, if they too think that Narendra Modi should be voted out.At present that is not the case.But that is the case at present for the UPA II in Delhi! reason why large number of people [ including Patels!] are joing the several movements across the country against this corrupt and incompetent government.
7. Why Narendra Modi or BJP were not sacking this MLA from their own party for leading this agitation against his own government?
Simple.Narendra Modi and BJP may be thinking that the man is right ! rather than arguing, quarreling or going to media, they may be trying to find a solution, acceptable to all in this issue.
It appeared that the lady belongs to that section of the media which some how wants to FIX Narendra Modi.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dadasaheb Phalke

Yesterday, I saw this movie " Harishchandrachi Factory", on UTV.based on life and works of late Dadasheb Phalke, pioneer of Indian Film Industry.Movie is in Marathi, and has been much acclaimed in India and abroad.
After struggling for many years to make films, eventually, Dadasaheb succeded in making his first movie, titled " Harishchandra Taramati".His successes prompted his film contacts in England to invite him to England.On his visit, his aforesaid film was screened in a theater , after which Dadasaheb, was personally introduced by his British friends to the audience, which gave him a standing ovation.After this, he was offered work of film making in England by his British friends , promising handsome money.It is shown in the film, that Dadasaheb, very politely refused this offer, stating that, he would like to continue making films in India on Indians, as this will help him establish this new industry in India.
That was nearly 90 years ago.A man decided that money and other comforts of life were less important than pioneering a nascent industry.Results.India in 2010 became the largest producer of films in the world,directly employing 30lakh people.
In memory of this pioneer, government honoures a distinguished film personality every year for his/her contribution to the film industry with DADA SAHEB PHALKE AWARD.
Award is generally given to persons who have put in several decades in the film industry, with very substantial contribution in the growth of industry.
See list of awardees at

Thursday, July 21, 2011


As a young man in the sixties, for the first time I heard about ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS.Late Mr Morarji Desai had submitted to the government, the voluminous report [ first of its kind?] on Administrative Reforms.That was 50 years ago.Since then, we have produced tons of written materials on the ways of governing or "administering" ourselves.Results are there for all to see.
Administration, is Anushashan as per Bhishma Pitamaha in Mahabharata, which has a full chapter devoted to this aspect of the state craft, known as Anushashan parva.So, we Indians have been at this since last 5000 years.We should have the best administration in the world.We have got the worse, if not the worst.What can we do?
" That government is the best, which governs the least" That was Mahatma Gandhi.
Modern nation states or ancient empires were founded on two basic principles.
1.Security, 2. Revenues to provide for this security.
So the rulers need to have,
[a] Security apperatus that protects the geographical boundaries and protects the people.In modern context,this will mean external security [ standing army, espionage, strategies, & diplomatic corps]
[b] Internal security systems that maintains law & order, prevents crimes through effective jurisprudence & judicial processes and protects individual liberties
[c] Revenue collection system to provide for [a] & [b] above.
In our last central budget [ of Rs 12 Lakh crores] 1.7 L crores were provided for armed forces and about 25,000 cr were provided for internal security]
This works out to less than 20% of the total budget and does not include the budgeted amounts for policing by various states of our union.
Besides above two basic aspects, modern state is also responsible for following additional aspects of public life.
[d] Establishing,operating & maintaining nation wide infrastructure of roads,raiways, ports, air ports,power plants,their transmission & distribution systems, irrigation systems,communication systems,warehousing etc.
[e] Systems for education, training and effective deployment of our human resources
[f] Systems for primary health care.
[g] Systems for preventing disasters, both, natural and man made and mitigating their effects, upon failures to prevent them.
In the present context, we, as people need to ask the state, and its administration,how are they DELIVERING on aforesaid basic issues? They number only seven.
Refer to the central budget figures [ 2011]of Rs 12 Lakh crores above.If we add yearly budgets of all the states, this figure will be around Rs 30 Lakh crores.So out of these 30L crores, how much is being spent on above 7 aspects?
We know for sure, that the state has failed us [ the people] on all those basic aspects of governance or administration inspite of having about Rs 30 Lakh crores as the revenue collected from all of us.Why ?
Reasons are as follows
1. Electoral politics.This forces an honest political activist to become a morone , whose sole purpose is to get elected to a body and then STAY elected to this or that body for his/her life.This prevents fresh talents from emerging at grass root levels
2. Dyanstic politics.This started with late Motilal Nehru.It is part of all political parties now, except probably communist parties.This too has dried up emergence of fresh talent in all parties .Only cronies try to get in to a political party.Sole purpose of dynasts in all parties is to retain and strengthen their positions in all parties through their cronies.
3.Corruption.No need to elaborate.
4.Expansion of the government since 1950.We have 1 crore men and women as our public servants now.At the center,in the states, in local self government bodies, in PSU's.They are everywhere.Do they join governments to serve the public? Out of 30 lakh crores mentioned above, the governments OFFICIALLY spend about 70% OFFICIALLY on themselves.This is due to the pay commissions that they appoint every few years to REVISE their pays and pensions.Last one was the SIXTH in line.Next one is due any time.After spending so much of public money on themselves, do they perform as true public servants? If not, why should we have them?
That is the issue.In the short run, we should tell these governments to reduce their size and thus their expenditure on themselves.In the short run, people will have to learn to live without their governments! Can we do this? Why, we are already doing this.We don't have this government when we need it most! In the short run, we should tell them to do following.
1. Reduce your size.Reduce your expenditure on your selves
2.Suspend, sack, punish corrupt and non performers
3.Work 24/7.All departments.For you have not worked for even 100 days in a year, all these years.Work to clear all 3.5 crore court cases.Work to clear all pending projects.Work to clear all pending files.
4.Work to reduce waste.
[a]We have 1.5lakh MW as our installed capacity for power generation.On any given day, we need less than 1.2L MW.Yet, we have power shortage and power cuts.Why?
Ensure [atleast] 95 % operating efficiencies for ALL plants.40% of the power that we generate don't reach the users.It is lost en route! This is highest in the world.Bring this down to 15 % within a year.It is possible.
[b] 55% of the food grains in PDS are siphoned off in the open markets.Same with kerosene.Employees of the FCI [ Food Corporation Of India] are one of the highest paid guys in the government.Every year, they manage to waste lakhs of tons of food grains procured for the poor.We are the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the world.We waste 40 % of these for lack of cold storages, proper warehousing and logistics of moving them to the consumers.
These are just 2 examples.This does not include the waste of TIME!
People whom we elect and whom we pay, work more to waste the time and national resources.
5. Shake off extra fat.Over 60 years, we have given ALL the responsibilities of managing our affairs to our public servants and politicians.They manage our hotels, airlines, hospitals,road networks,shiping lines,mines,markets,schools, colleges.... you name it. And we have a government department for that.Time to reduce the government functions to aforesaid seven.
Out of these last four [d,e,f&g] can be done better through PPP[ Public Private Partnerships], where government provides funds, while private parties operate/manage the affairs.This is the way to eliminate delays, corruption and attain SPEED.Learn and out source all non strategic activities to reduce armies of clerks.Eliminate institution of peons.Public servants can't have their own private servants!.
6.Reform internal security systems [ refer my previous blog],implement reforms for armed forces
7.Political reforms
[a] Fix number of terms for all electoral offices from Sarpanch to PM and President.It should be two terms as in the USA
[b] Election funding through Election Commission, subject to political parties submitting audited accounts, every year.
[c] CBI,CVC,RAW,CAG,TRAI,[ and LOKAYUKTA !],.... all such bodies should be made truly autonomous and made accountable to the Parliament and not to any ministry or any minister.
[d] Political parties should be asked to publish their membership rolls periodically.This is to ensure that there is continous infusion of new blood.
[e] Right to recall.This should be part of electoral reforms.People should have the right to recall a corrupt or non performaing representative.
[f] 100 % registration of all eligible voters.Cash incentives at the polling booth for reporting and voting[ how about Rs 25/- per each voter? That will pay for his transport,will cost 1750 cr for 100 % voting]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fighting Terror

On 13.7.11, we had one more terror attack.In Mumbai.Since 1993, more than 500 innocents have been killed in Mumbai alone.
With every such attack, following events take place within a span of fortnight.
1.Frenzy in the print & electronic media - 48 hours
2.VIP visits at terror sites - 3 days
3.VIP's declaring their resolve to fight this menace and advising populace to maintain calm- 3 days
4.Investigating agencies start leaking several "leads" to media - one week
5.Police starts rounding up " suspects"- one week
6.News paper editiorials,articles & TVchannels discuss various " failures".Experts give opinions on things that should be or should not be done.- one week
7.Politics takes over.Blame games at their pick - 10 days
8.Only print media reports the progress.On inside pages.- TV channels report progress through tickers - 10 days
9.Weeklies, Fortnightlies bring out special editions or publish this as " cover story"-15 days
10.Memory lapse occurs among people,media,politicians and senior police echelons.Only the poor " case handlers" are left holding the baby.- 15 days.
11.Ordinary citizens await next terror strike.- from a fortnight onwards.

We can not prevent ALL terror attacks.Thus spake Rahul Gandhi.He is right.But the present government headed by his party could and should do atleast following.It is not rocket science.

1.Suspend concerned senior police and intelligence officials.
2.Set the precedent for concerned State Home Minister to put in resignation
3. Advise central home ministry to publish first status report on the attack in 30 days.To be followed with series of monthly status reports till the guilty are caught and punished, for all the terror attacks since march 1993.Punish those who fail to do so.
4.Declare that NIA [ National Investigating Agency] is a FEDERAL INVESTIGATING AGENCY,is autonomous and is empowered to investigate all cases of terror attacks across the country.
5.5.5 lakh police posts are lying vacant.Don't fill them up as " crash" programme.Develop 3 years training programme for a new cadres of " Intelligence officers".Reserve minimum 1lakh posts for this cadre.Recruit 1 lakh graduates, screening them for fitness and attitude.Reserve 15 % for minorities.Tell them that they are being taken in as trainees [ at a fixed stipend] for 3 years.Tell them that they will be absorbed as " Intelligence officers" after training and they will RETIRE as Intelligence officials only.They will never wear uniforms or display weapons.This is needed , as policemen in uniforms are not ready to shed them for a facelss[ and thank less] existence as lowly " spies". Problem with ground level intelligence gathering is this unwillingness of a cop to be a spy.Let him not be.
6Train, assess, apprise in 12 stages during 3 years.Keep removing bottom 10 % every year.This way at the end of 2 yrs, you will have 80000 trained personnel.Ready to be posted at sensitive police stations.Train,assess,apprise in 3 stages during this last year of " Hands on" training.Remove bottom 10%.Now you will have 70,000 trained personnel, who need to be absorbed in new cadres, created for them.Promotions and increaments should be linked to performances, with proviso for punishment.They should be placed in higher scales,since they will take the risks of being punished.Repeat this exercise after 3 years, based on the needs and success of the project.
7.Remaining vacant posts [ 4.5 lakhs] too should be filled in less than year.They too should be taken in as 3 years trainees, with proviso for removing bottom 10%.They should be trained for law & order and crime control for one year at academies and then placed for 2 years [ for Hands on Training] at police stations.They too should face periodic assessments, apprisals and removals during this two year long training period.Their absorption too should be conditional to performace.If successful, this project should be repeated to recruit additional policemen based on needs.
8.Senior level positions in NIA should be filled with officers from other cadres, who are PERMANENTLY transferred to NIA.No deputations please.Eventually NIA will be fully manned by its own cadres recruited, as stated above.
9.Appoinment of NSA [ National Security Adviser] should be through Parliament, like CVC.NSA should be drawn from the armed forces and not from IAS.Presently his role appears to be to aid the PMO in Foreign relations.That should be changed to Internal security.He too will have to resign in case of a major terror attack.
10.Heads of NIA,RAW,Millitary Intelligence should report to NSA, who is responsible [ and accountable] for both external & internal security.This NSA will set up a cell comprising of officers from relevant agencies.This cell will coordinate for all intelligence related functions.
11.All states should have their,own ATS, ready to assist police in case of terror attacks.Their role will always be reactive.They should be trained accordingly.For quick and effective response.
12.We are yet to hang any one for an act of terror.Afzal Guru awaits the noose.Kasab, caught red handed on 26.11.2008 continues to enjoy our hospitality.No one since 1993 has been punished.Arrests, trials, prosecution and punishments need to be on fast track.Status reports to be published periodically by the home ministry, mentioned above, must give status of every trial, with reasons for delays.
13.Time to launch nation wide initiative of " policing by people".Police stations across all cities must reach out to the citizens in their areas, recruit volunteers [ ex servicemen,retired public servants,retired professionals, housewives, private security personnel...], provide basic training and deploy them for inputs in their localities.This way police will have atleast a million extra hands at no extra costs.This can be done in less than a year.
14.Media should follow their own code of conduct that includes compulsory reporting of the state of investigations and trials for each terror attacks.Print media should have a page titled " fight against terror", where terror related issues are reported every day.
15.PM should immediately call an all party meet, evolve and declare a code of conduct for all politicians wrt to fight on terror.

None of the aforesaid points involve huge expenditure, save police recruitment.Which in any case is overdue.These are issues related to effective governance.[ read my next blog for issues of governance].Can this government do this?