Fish Marketing in Parliament

Often I wonder at the Indian parliamentary sessions, “Is this the parliament or fish market?” There is complete pandemonium and unparliamentarily words used. Both treasury and opposition members bother not to attend the session when they are not speaking. This is common cutting across the parties. Most of the members do not know the bills tabled for discussion. Their situation is reduced to the level of ordinary man on the street. Those who watch the proceedings in the parliament pity the status of MPs. When there is no time to discuss the important issues and constituency matters, speaker gets nervous. In that time of cold-feet there are too many changes in the chairperson of the house. Speaker slips away when the situation goes out of his control or he gets bored of the session. The speaker invites deputy speaker who after few minutes passes the chair to another. It goes on and on.

The Times of India (24.12.2008, p.1) reports that the parliament had met for only 32 days this year and the expectation that it should meet for a minimum of 100 days was not going to be fulfilled by a long margin. In the past, Lok Sabha had met for as many as 151 days in 1956 but just 98 and 109 days in the 1976 and 1985, respectively. In 1999, it had met for 51 days.

Eight bills were passed in a matter of 17 minutes. The speaker passes by saying that the ayes ayes have it without taking a look at the house. It has become customary for the speaker to push the bill and get out of the house for the day. The speaker’s job has become a nursery school teacher. Like stick in hand and regular shouting at the children in class, speaker exhausts all his energy in the parliament. At least in the school, children learn something positive and go home. In parliament there is no improvement.

In the last session of the parliament, the critical South Asian University Bill was passed without any debate. Similarly the criminal procedure code amendment and Lakshadweep election contestants’ bill were introduced and passed in the same speed.

The reasons for this gloomy parliamentary culture are many. First it is the overall social culture which is reflected in the parliament. There is an increase in intolerance. Very people can lend their ears more than open their mouths. Result of this no tolerance culture is seen in the parliament also. It can be connected to the high riding consumer economy. Second, those who were elected to the parliament were not trained adequately. Due to this untrained people even seasoned parliamentarians are changing their nature. It was uncommon to see long serving parliamentarians going for physical tit for tat in the past. But today there is an unequal matching of disruption of the parliament by showing their physical and shouting prowess. Three, criminalization of the public sphere and politics has casted the parliament in a wrong shadow. According to the Public Affairs Centre, Bangalore, 23.2% of those elected to parliament are criminals. They carry serious charges like murder, extortion, rape and abductions.

One cannot change the parliament without changing the society. In the past Parliament contributed to the positive changes in the society. That was when the constructively thinking parliamentarians and tolerant human beings were inside the house. This is the instant result expecting generation. Not only they need immediate gains but the new culture is wrongly influencing the disciplined people. Principle is dead; any means mobility is thriving. In this situation a long term social surgery is needed. It is an egg comes first or chicken comes first situation. The right track moving socio-political leaders should introspect and act at the earliest to save the August institution.

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Silly to speak of war

tanksOnce again the war clouds are gathering around Indo-Pak border. 2002 situation seems to be back again. After the attack on Parliament in December 2001, Indian troops were massively mobilized and parked in the border areas with Pakistan. Although there were no major firing and killing, mere mobilization of troops sent shivers across several spines. Forgetting the dark episodes of Kargil war, Parliament attack and several other explicit Pakistan sent terrorist acts, Indian government exercised patience. Without wasting much time, peace process was put in place. But for the past 6 years after the threat of war a lot of progress has happened in the peace building between the two countries. The increasing attacks in India by Pakistan grown terrorists bring the whisper of war again.  

 

There is frustration in the power corridors of India over the inaction by the Pakistani government against the list of terrorists it handed over. Over 120 countries envoys of India were called to New Delhi by the external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjhee for possible international intervention. In this hour of helplessness it is natural for India to speak of war against Pakistan. According to the popular opinion, least Indian government can do is to perform surgical strikes in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) which is the breeding ground of anti-Indian forces. Most of the Indians are not against full-scale war but for surgical strikes. This is nothing but short-sightedness.

 

Not just PoK is nurturing anti Indian attackers but the global terror network aided by the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan government has penetrated deep into several parts of the country. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari there is a wide network of Pakistan abetted sleeper cells. Silently they have established fast operating bomb makers and gun firing squads. The latest discovery of anti-India operation is a tunnel from Pakistan to India in the desert region of Rajasthan. This tunnel in Baramer is used to smuggle drugs and counterfeit currencies. The plot to disable India is not the handiwork of one country or one group. I sincerely suspect the involvement of multi nations and many groups in this grave design against India.

 

After failing in the four direct wars with India, Pakistan operates clandestinely against its neighbor. By sending heroin, virus infected animals and fake currencies, by defacing important websites, by instigating insider trading, by organizing speculations for the Indian economy downfall and many other non terrorist damages. All these indirect external threats can be countered by a country which has given responsibility to uproot it. But many people involved in this anti-India battle are bought over cheap bargain and bribes. Combining with the internal weakness is the collaboration of external enemies.  

 

The international politics work in a different way. It is subtle and strong. When the Indian government sends strong war message, the Pakistani rulers smilingly say that “We have China with us for anytime support”. This statement coming from none other than the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousaf R Gilani should alert the Indian government that it is not a straight battle between the two.

 

I am opposed to even the talk of war for many reasons. It is a well-known fact that Pakistan is involved in anti-India activities. This history is the history of two countries since independence. Sixty years old animosities cannot be eliminated with few peace measures or some bombardments. The onus squarely lies on India. Firstly it should strengthen its calmness and peace of mind. The battle is against many hidden enemies. It can unplug the enemy power-points only with a long-term vision and strategies. Second, local and global intelligence should be gathered and acted upon. Three, sensible people in the governance should build a strong coalition against indirect warriors silently. Four, sanitizing the armed forces, intelligence, power corridors from corruption. Fifth, putting the Civil Defence Force (CDF) on the ground action rather than paper presence.

 

The friendship between the two countries and its people must continue. Any amount of damage inflicted by Pakistan directly or indirectly should be swallowed bitterly. To answer it India should follow the above mentioned five steps. It is a long and sleepless fight to give good night sleep to the generations to come. This can happen only if the Indian government players and public understand its strength and weakness. The ground situation is that India is surrounded by open stateless terrorists supported by hidden national enemies. Are we ready for this sustained war through strong mind to put an end to killing spree forever?

Corporate contradictions

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Millions of job cuts, mad rush for bail outs and sad declaration of bust outs are common today in the corporate world. In the last one year, United States corporate companies have slashed 24 lakh jobs. Chinese companies are packing off their workers and sending them back to their home villages. Sensing the trouble from laid workers, Chinese government is sending army to the rural hinterlands to closely watch the job lost youth. More than 6 lakh jobs were lost in the textile sector alone in India. Jet Airways came close to sending thousands of its crew members home without giving advance notice. Thanks to the arm-twisting of political parties, the pink slips were withdrawn overnight. Reliance Industries is planning to layoff its 6000 senior executives countrywide.

 

 In the first sign of economic crisis, jobs are taken away. The young, hardworking and aspiring people are first thrown out. They are in the company for few months and proving their worth. Before they gain the total confidence of the top management, recession plays the killer role. Without any concern and consideration, new entrants are sacked. First, they are not exposed enough to seek legal remedy. Second, they have extra patience and no knowledge to revolt against the management. Three, the freshers may not have enough collectivity and resources to refuse the termination orders.

 

An impassionate analysis into the current crisis reveals that there are multiple contradictions in the corporate governance. On the one hand, the corporate companies are running panic to government to bailout from the financial crisis. From American International Group Inc (the insurance giant) to Lehman Brothers to Fraddie Mac to General Motors to India’s King Fisher all the companies still live in lavish lifestyles. The corporate honchos in these companies have not scaled down their living standards. They still saty in the same billion dollar paid villas, fly in the personal jets and throw company money in millions for pure personal pleasure.

 

$150 billion bailed out American International Group Inc has seven planes in its kitty. Citigroup Inc, Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of America Corp JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley received $120 billion as bailout package from the United States government. Yet their executives fly in their corporate jets which suck $20,000 for fuel per month.

 

According to the Associate Press analysis, US banks which were bailed out by the government last year awarded $1.6 billion as salaries, bonuses and perks in the recession affected period.

 

Mukesh Ambani gifted his wife Rs.250 crores worth private jet for her birthday. To outsmart his brother, Anil Ambani gave Rs.450 Italitan made yacht to his wife Tina on her birthday. If these corporate heroes were concerned about their employees welfare the first step they should have taken is prune their expenditure and perks to the top executives rather than showing door to the hardworking young people.

 

There is a silver-lining in this dark corporate cloud. Tatas are different. Keeping up their tradition of employees care, Ratan Tata steps forward and takes care of his employees first. Even he burns his finger and pocket but safeguards his employees. May be that is the reason behind the heavy attachment of Tata employees to their companies. Karamvir Kang, the manager of Hotel Taj Mahal in Mumbai performed his hotel duty despite his wife and children were charred to death. The mental wherewithal of Taj Hotel employees shown during and after the 26/11 firing demonstrates the extraordinary Tata spirit. He had shown the same spirit during the Singur crisis. One of the first demands he put to the Government of West Bengal was employees safety.

 

We need more Tatas for India and the world. The corporate governance should have ethics as the baseline. Any effort to forego business ethics and social responsibility will boomerang on them sooner or later. The much touted CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility should not be a mere publicity stunt. Without delivering employer responsibility they cannot be socially responsible.

Multi-layered harmony needed

At the moment, there is restlessness, turbulence and agitation in every sphere of the global society. Economic crisis is considered to be the trigger villain of the social shambles. But a careful look at the current crisis will point out the long term accumulation of multiple instigators. From the lack of inner peace in a substantial number of human beings around the world to enveloping trouble in the external environment, there is a visible disconnect. The individuals who make up the society were misguided and hooked to the false fortress of quick growth. They were forced to feel that there is no tomorrow to enjoy and everything must be exhausted at the very moment of life. One of the popular quotes in the global circuit today captures this mood of the masses aptly, “eat the desert first. There may be not time to eat everything”. What is needed urgently at this hour of grave global crisis is the harmony in every layer.

To create a conducive atmosphere for peace in the world first of all we need to sanitize hearts and minds of maximum number of the world people. The universal harmony starts with personal peace. If the efforts to cool down agitated minds were maximized and operated with full force we may not have landed in such a deserted situation. Nevertheless it is not too late to act. The first step to restore the social peace is to calm down individuals. Spiritual gurus, peaceniks and even enlightened politicians can embark on this journey.

The consumer economy has unfortunately seduced every section of the society into greedy consumption process. Beyond the need the consumption level has shoot up to the sky high. Even the traditional social healers like spiritual gurus have unfortunately become the victims of consumer culture. They have also been captured into the hypnotic spell of consumerism. From religious leaders to judicial heads every important person in the society has been tightly tied to the high consumer chain. What they earn legally is not enough to pay for the temptations of hi-fi consumer society. To earn the extra legal money corruption is the only available option. When corruption creeps into the minds of those who matters most and who are suppose to safeguard the society then there is a red signal for the joyride of the entire society. To me this has become the single most factors in creating and sustaining the present problems. It would not be an exaggeration to call ‘Blind consumerism is the mother of all present problems’.

There is none to listen to the grievances of common people. Everywhere money speaks, truth and justice gets silenced. A poor young boy who was swindled by his college management despite securing very high marks without losing hope goes to the police for assistance. They demand heavy bribe from him. He refuses to pay and goes to the court for justice. The judge takes bribe from the accused and collaborates with the police to foist drug smuggling case against the applicant. A sincere youth who had full faith in the law and justice of the modern systems lost his hope forever after he was thrown behind the cruel bars. He comes out of the jail as a criminal. Instead of correcting the criminals as good citizens, our system converts good citizens into criminals.

In another case, a young girl goes to the law enforcing authorities about unsolicited sexual advances harassment by her boss at work. Tragically she got gang raped by the policemen in the station where she had gone to complaint. If the fence itself eats the grass whom to be blamed? Who can trust? Who can believe in the law and order mentioned in the paper? It is high time to sanitize the whole society.

To me redeeming the world citizens from the high speed consumer culture will be the precursor to universal harmony. With money, money everywhere syndrome, ethics is lost, humanity is killed and future direction is blinded. Human beings by themselves would not walk in the right direction. They need sign boards. It should not be one sign board in wilderness. There needs to be regular direction guidance in the lonely journey. When the bold and bright signboards are present there is less difficulty for the life travelers to reach the destination. It is time to install signboards for the smooth movement of the society.

Who will start? Many of those who are shouting singly should come together leaving petty personal egos for the sake of humanity. From the east, from the west, from the north and from the south, everyone who is fighting for generating the right social order should join hands to create the harmony in every layer of the society. It can be a grand federation. If that is not possible, there can be local level co ordinations. Those who take up this mission ought to be devoid of cutthroat desires. The present situation pushes people to follow hook or crook method. Those who can withstand and finally thwart the seductive consumerism can be part of this social sanitizing mission. Those who talk harmony and peace needs to be stronger than those who roam with guns and bombs.

Any amount of provocation should not allow the peaceniks to drop their mission and take guns in response. The terrorist elements and vested interests cleverly provoke friendly atmosphere to collapse and hatred to take the centre stage. This is evident from the Indo-Pak relations. Whenever there is a terrorist attack the first victim is the peace process. It is understandable from the Indian government points of view that double play of Pakistan agonizes it limitlessly. To answer, India wants to fire missiles across the border. Will this be the terror arresting solution? There will be once again freezing of commercial and cultural contacts. People to people relations, government to government relations will be pushed backwards. The painfully built process should be not sacrificed by the provocative attacks of terrorists emanated across the border.

It may be true that the terrorists who attacked hotels and railway stations in Mumbai in the month of November 2008 came from Pakistan. But reacting with arms and ammunitions will damage the two nations peace for one more decade. The fragile peace process should be sustained at any cost. The onus lies squarely on the Indian government which is known for high democratic credentials. The land of Buddha, Ashoka and Gandhi need to rise again and withstand the terror slaps again and again given by the terrorists. Instead of airing hurt sentiments, it should engage with Pakistan more vigorous manner and take all those in the power corridors of the neighbhour on board. There is no other way to create long-term peace in the subcontinent.

If the immediate concern is south Asian peace the rest of the world is not insulated from violence. Every corner is affected by one crisis or the other. Along with terrorism, economic crisis is threatening to shatter the fabric of the global society. Loss of any human life to any problem is equally dangerous. According to the recent statistics provided by the National Crime Bureau, “India loses 34 lives per hundred victims to suicide deaths. Only 7 people per hundred are killed in terrorist violence”. One needs to plug the loopholes in every corner of the society. This is common to every country. In the United States 24 lakh people have lost their employment last year alone. There is total restlessness in their minds. After 1930s the churches in America are witnessing record attendance. In Chicago there is 50% rise in the church attendance. Religious managers are finding difficult to cope up with the crisis.

In summary I present the modus operandi for creating multi layered harmony in the global society.

1. Catch hold of young and old, men and women who have steel strong mentality
2. All those who come under this global harmony creation mission should have duty, discipline and devotion as their basic traits
3. They have universal harmony in mind without petty consumer desires
4. The group is a collection of individuals which is keen about their duties rather than agitating for their rights without performing the former.
5. They spread out to all corners with a message to sooth the rough edges of people’s lives
6. Be a listener rather than a speaker all the time
7. Fuse modern technology in spreading the message of universal harmony
8. Right knowledge of religion to counter the false propaganda by few extremism who spread wrong message to recruit terrorists
9. Dance and music can be smoothies for the violence infected minds
10. Sports and creative engagements can divert the agitated people towards the right track
11. Narrow national interests and any form of parochialism ought to be abandoned
12. Starting with the message of harmony the group will go on to solve the problems of people. Long time talk with no help to mitigate the sufferers lives will not bear any good fruits in the long run
13. It is a long, consistent and persistent battle. Those who get in should not expect instant results and fame.
14. Crucial to protect the messengers of harmony from any form of stimulation, temptation and instigation. Purity of mind is essential for the success of mission
15. Those who crave for power, position and penny should be filtered out in the induction stage

This is not the world’s first and last attempt to create global harmony. Millions of people and thousands of movements have cropped in the past. They have sacrificed everything for world peace. The above mentioned duty charter is a leaf out of those who struggled in the past and it is the straight lesson learnt from the previous mistakes. If this charter of points is implemented there is less scope for the derailing of dream to create a clam world order where there is a win-win situation rather than the present zero-sum game.
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Mumbai – A city of miseries

tajHavoc caused by rain, violence webbed by mad politics, bomb blasts in trains, gun battles in hotels, terrorist attacks in temples – disasters created by nature and men continue to devastate Mumbaikars. The public sphere which is supposed to put things in proper shape is totally deshaped. Everyone tries to score political points. There is no differentiation of tragedies. Even in the bomb blast spots, politicians and media drive their own agenda rather than addressing the grievances of the victims.

Whenever the monsoon strikes Mumbai and the rain puts the people in trouble, there is a sign of helplessness. The city gets paralysed totally. What are the business magnets and Bollywood stars doing? In case the government is not doing enough the bigwigs should come forward to build their city to the comfort of common men and women. Those who have money can fly in helicopter and land their own terrace. But what about those poor people without basic means for survival? They are the good catchments during elections. How many times this monsoon menance is troubling the people? Every time the politicians and business class promise to mend the fences and make the city fit. But that remains as the paper promise. Till the rain strikes again everyone forgets. The option for the common people is to change the bad ones in power. The alternative is worst. The choice is between the devil and the deep sea. In between the people of Mumbai suffer infinitely and undergo nightmare every day of their lives.

Adding fire to the fuel is regional chauvinism spearheaded by a mad man calling himself as politician. His uncle did the same trick four decades ago and captured power. This encourages him to test the same formula again and puts the people of Mumbai to untold misery. No government wants to touch him fearing backlash. Can we call them in spineless power holders? Both the state and central governments play cat and mouse game over the arrest and release of MNS chief. The activists get emboldedened because of the power of the politics which can get them out of jail. This lawlessness and no fear strengthen the regional chauvinists and put the city is trouble forever.

More sadly, Mumbai is the frequent target of terrorists. Its value as the commercial heartbeat of India encourages terrorists to bomb often. They don’t differentiate between children and women, elderly and sick people. Without discriminating people, without seeing their religion, region, caste, creed, terrorists kill innocent lives. In the last twenty years Mumbai lost 20,000 lives to violence created by men. There is another 20,000 killed by the fury of nature.

The city Mayor seems to be dead. The local administration is the puppet in the hands of state and central politics. Without a bit of vision to protect the city and its people, the Mumbai corporation members are sleeping. Whenever there is a tragedy happens in any city, we can find its Mayor talking. In Mumbai, none from the corporation comes forward to console people. There is a decentralization of power despite name sake local administration. The local administrators are engrossed in power politics and waiting to bid their chance for assembly elections.

The multiple wounds created by many players totally destroy the cosmopolitan beauty of Mumbai. Once it was known for the broadminded spirit of its citizens, cool life with hard work as its trademark. Today Mumbai is pitied as the city of miseries. Many irresponsible people are manning the city and bringing down the glory of the golden past city. Till a group of people or an individual comes out to safeguard the charm of Mumbai it will continue to consume bomb blasts, gun battles, monsoon troubles, regional chauvinism and petty politics.