Daily News Cycle

It is easy to miss the forest for the trees. Reading the newspapers daily is a bit like that. So much noise, so little signal. Especially in the past few days with the political events that have been taking place.

The focus has to be on India’s development. Very little of what we are seeing nowadays is taking us in that direction. That is the unfortunate part. And many of us get caught in the maelstorm of the news that comes through and the instant discussion that takes place on who is right and who is wrong, and the implications.

The reality is that public memory is very short – 90 days, as someone once put it. Street protests and satyagraha did not get India’s freedom (contrary to the history we learn), and neither will it get black money back, a Jan Lok Pal Bill or end corruption. As a friend puts it, all it will do is increase sales of candles.

5 thoughts on “Daily News Cycle

  1. Then what will make a difference? perhaps we don’t know and therefore we need to move ahead, whatever we think will make a difference. And therefore I strongly disagree with your view, Rajesh. and therefore I am in favour of protest in whatever form. Yes, ideally it should be based on ”Truth and Non violence”. we donot have to reinvent the wheel. Mahatma Gandhi has already proved that. Now is the time to go beyond. That the enemy is no outsider now. It is inside and to take it further, it is inside of each one of us. India is not out there. Terrorists are not out there. Its deep inside us, in our thought, words and deeds. sometimes visible and sometimes not. The challenge is to distinguish that and fight it out there.
    When Baba Ramdev has said that he is forgiving PM and Govt. I can see his struggle, evolution and victory on his enemy within.

    Let us also fight it out within more vigourously than we fight out with external factors.

  2. There is much happening, if Anna is the glacial, then Baba is the volcano, and the truth as always lies in between.

    Let us credit Rajesh with some foresight, what he has been talking about a few months back, has become front page news.

    Corruption is just one of the issues that invoke people’s dissatisfaction, the more urgent need is action, action of some sort.

    Increasing salaries and comfortable income patterns do mean that people are looking outward themselves, it is therefore natural that people are developing a civic sense. After all it is now that they can afford to. Economic good times are usually bad for bad governments.

    There was a time earlier when this did happen, when the trading middle class did wake up to its civic responsibilities, but the BJP hijacked it that time with its narrow, inward looking, communal agendas, hopefully this time it will not be so.

    A nation on the move demands much more than inward looking patriotism, it needs to feel that it has things to do, that there are things being done. It is spring cleaning time.

    It is clear that people are looking for change, and they are looking for a voice. it is also clear that while voices have risen, they have not proved satisfying. or optimal.

    Imagine a land led by men like Baba Ramdev and you can see what I mean. We could as well have traveled back into time and history. Jayalalitha and Mayavati tend to look less insufferable.

    It may be better that the politicians play heed to it, or be overthrown, either through the ballot, or through force as the hot headed baba is threatening to. India is looking for leadership, the leadership vacuum is being increasingly felt.

    The very basis of democracy lies in politicians making intelligent and forward looking legislation, and only such legislation can help prevent unnecessary revolutions.

    The Congress government should understand that this is the least that is required of them, in their anxiety not to disturb the status quo and the slow but sure rise of India’s economic power, they are guilty of not grabbing opportunities that if seized now can translate to long term impact.

    They need to be and can be accused of timidity in the face of great opportunities. As to why this is so is as much a puzzle as any. And frustrating to those who see what can be done….

    One of the first things that this government can do is to remake its ministry, and bring in young youthful faces who can and will do something really revolutionary.

    Now that things are getting put of hand, a few emergency measures will do much to reassure people that action is being taken. How much it will save them in the next election remains to be seen.

    As Tagore asked for, the nation is awake, and this awakening is far different from the ones that preceded it. To seize the day is what is required.

    Politicians should understand that people are hungry for action, and that this anti corruption drive is merely the tip of the iceberg, the conch blower for a revolution.

    Let us wake before further damage is done to the democratic fabric. Let us wake before mad men hijack the national agenda. Let us wake and do something when it can be done. Nay, when it demands to be done.

  3. Rajesh gets it almost right this time, development is the key. Let me put something contrarian here, that is bound to sound like Midnight Madness.

    Let us deliberate an opinion that corruption and development always go hand in hand. That corruption is a good barometer of the state of the economy. The more corrupt people there are, and the higher the scale of corruption, the better shape the country’s economy is.

    There should be money before one can throw it away. And somebody should make it before he can throw it.

    If you make money legally you are bound to stash it, in Swiss Banks too, and for future generations. However if the money is illegal, then beyond a limit the money has to flow back into the economy. The trickle down theory works best in an economy where the laws make it impossible for anyone to stash it.

    I remember the first Jayalalitha government when she was in rip roaring form; there was such a corruption fiesta going on in Tamilnadu that present day Karnatake looks almost saintly in comparison.

    It is my guess that Madam made enough to last till her reincarnation, which, assuming that she starts off reincarnating as a worm, if not a bacteria, is surely a long time coming.

    She was booted out in the next election, thanks to her million odd pairs of footwear, however the man on the street soon began to miss her style of governance. The daily laborer, the handy man all missed her badly.

    To understand, one has to know that not only did she steal, her minsters did, her bureaucrats did, well I did call it a fiesta…

    To this fiesta add the trickle down theory and the fact that illegal money is difficult to be stashed away. It is therefore spent, and in grand fashion.

    No wonder then that the laborer who asked for hundred got two hundred from a man willing to spend.

    The end result was that the common man became almost middle class in his taste and his acquisitions, he enjoyed liberties that the trickle down money was giving him. He was enjoying life to the fullest, much like the formerly starving laborers from Orissa and Bihar do in construction crazy Bangalore and Gurgaon.

    When Karunanidhi came in as Jaya’s then replacement, he curtailed this freewheeling economy for which he was soon being cursed on the streets. That the rains failed that year only added to his scarecrow image. He did learn from that.

    In a curious twist of fate now it is Jayalalitha who has come to clean the stables…they gods they make fun of us mortals.

    You cannot blame the man on the street for his oblique opinion. Their complaint was not that these people were corrupt, but that compared to Karuna, Jayalalitha not only made, but also spent. The money trickled down faster, which was good news for the bottom end of the economy.

    On the other hand, the people’s anger with the Marans and their cohorts is that their circle of corruption is limited, they form incestuous cliques.

    What irks them more is that these guys are stingy, unwilling to spend except on bedding nubile young actresses in the name of making movies.

    IMHO, stingy the Marans may be but they spend with much more foresight. Land prices all over TamilNadu have shot up thanks to their frenetic buying. A neighbor I knew who was sitting on a piece of land which was particularly worthless saw its price rise 300 percent. Now who am I to deny him his good fortune?

    TamilNadu is also recently home to swanking malls and boutiques which have come up in the last five years. And oh yeah, did we not make Enthiran or Robo, which even made Hollywood sit up and take notice.

    But for the five thousand odd crores Maran made, how do you think that this would have been possible. There are a million new services in TamilNadu, all funded by dirty money, money that cannot be accounted for.

    I am with Deng, let some people get rich first. The more illegally, the better…That way if they make it they gotta spend it…

    You find that funny? Let us look at the other side now, after all the hullabaloo for 2G, we had an auction for 3G. End result, 3G remains and is expected to remain unaffordably costly for quite some time.

    The government made money, it traded short term gains for long term losses. 3G will remain costly till the companies get back the money they have paid for.

    You and I are going to pay more than the five thousand that Maran made. I wouldn’t have bothered even if he had made ten thousand, but had managed to keep 3G cheap.

    The companies that paid those premium prices at auction time are not going to reduce prices until they make their money, however money cannot be made until the use of 3G becomes widespread. The auction gave us a helicopter ride into 3G desert.

    Expect 3G to remain costly for quite some time. So what, you ask, let us stick to 2G. Let us remain backward too!

    I do not want to detail it, but cheap 3G is as important or more important and would have been more beneficial than the national highway.

    We would have been at the forefront of another telecom revolution and the goodness that derives from it. We could have been world leaders sooner than we could have imagined.

    Instead we had an auction, an idea that the right thinking Marans would have socked on the jaw.

    To see the result of what an auction can do to public services you only need to visit a temple where the stalls are auctioned annually. Not only does a banana cost double, it is of worser quality.

    Reason, the man who has overpaid to gain the stall is more eager to get his money back than provide quality service. Who suffers?

    This pedestrian example is valid for 3G too. Good policy?

    In making money today, the government has squandered the returns of tomorrow. If the next Google and the next Microsoft has to rise from India, the auction policy has just thrown a spanner in the works. More Maran’s, I say!

    For a piffly five thousand crores we have lost the right to remake this nation! In auctioning 3G we have killed the goose that could have laid a million eggs, much more than the pissly millions the bums have made.

    Nothing wrong in calling for More Rasa’s or Maran’s. Or if you find that hateful, change that to More Mahajan’s.

    Given the choice between a Maran, Mahajan and an auction, I would choose the former.The long term costs are much lower. The long term benefits are much better.

    I will sign off with an example…

    The last time around the DMK made a few piffling crores as kickback while laying flyovers in Chennai. Result, Chennai today does not have as much horrible traffic jams as Bangalore or other cities.

    This time around they shifted base to Coimbatore. Result, last time I was there, I see that the roads have become better, even world class.

    The same can be said of the various panchayats where work was energetically done and kickbacks eagerly taken. The kickback became an energizer for local authorities and local politicians to take up more work.

    There will be nepotism, there will be other ills, but there is development, and in my opinion, instead of stasis, even this kind of development is better, and the paybacks in the long term better.

    Even as you think that this is crazy, I can see you nodding your head. Well, caught you Faustus!