Tag Archives: Shrikant Shelat

Where Mind Is Without Fear


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake

~ Ravindranath Tagore.

I sometimes stop running aimlessly and resort to such inspiring poetries and question myself if I have lived up to the expectations of our founding fathers, teachers, thinks and philosophers. Immensely pained by yet another scam, the Coal scam, hitting India, and almost half of the nation blindly following the government for their petty selfish short term reasons, I stand helpless. I hate to criticize for I just sit here looking at what is happening. Even as I write, I just came across a new scam in making about Delhi Airport. This nothing but makes me burn from within.

Here we talk about our great country, great culture and her glorious heritage, our immensely proud past and the legendary heroes, and every morning all that falls on these ears is miserable story of selfish capitalism and abuse of democracy. All I hear is people fighting in the name of caste, regions, religions, states, language. All I hear is the government indulging in super humongous scams. There are absolutely no morals and ethics in my country. It is not just the politicians, it is also the people. No one is bothered about the country. It is all about my life, my bank account.

Where are the words of Ravindranath Tagore and likes ? Do we even remember the Bhagwad Gita and Krishna? Lately, the government has banned cartoons in the school text books. The weak leaders are unable to stand against these forces which want to sensationalize matters like cartoon..! The rupee is crumbling, and the anti-social elements stash black money in their swiss bank accounts. Where is the accountability ? The Prime Minister too unfortunately, seems to be a puppet. Chiefs of the states have so much pride for their positions. Where are we headed ?

Is it even possible to start afresh ? How many people will be taken to task, when every one of us is a culprit ? I have tears in my eyes as I write this, today, I am not proud to be an Indian.

What type of leaders do we really want ? Part 2


Continued from the Part 1

Let us try to bring about an analysis of leadership in the country and in turn we discuss the problems and it’s associated solution of my opinion.

In an organization I worked for long enough to understand the processes and the philosophy behind it, I learnt that the goal, the project deliverable, is important, and should be achieved in time for late delivery 1. Does not serve the purpose, 2. Is a hinderance to the goal itself. Our country has enough judiciary system examples, a list long enough to not re- iterate.

The team Hazare is doing something similar. In my opinion, a body to fight corruption at bureaucratic and state level should be the most important for a common man. Merely going by the numbers, the police, the customs and the sales are the most corrupt department in the country. Not far behind is the rural development, where the common man is most affected. A focus and consensus should be arrived at for these four departments at both state and bureaucratic level. Instead of childishly playing a back and forth game, and not moving ahead. This where negotiations come into picture. There sure is an immature approach.

Again the problem with the people following the India Against Corruption team is they are following them are frustrated and emotionally driven.  Although it does not mean I am not emotionally driven for like me, everyone ( almost ) feels the dire need of reforms. The only difference is I am not enjoying the back and forth ping pong game any more for even as I write, stashes of INRs and USDs and Euros are being cornered somewhere on a tax haven.

Thus the question is, does the team Hazare too have leaders ? I would have to argue so much for the team Hazare, for atleast they are on my side, but Rahul Gandhi, who is a likely PM candidate thanks to family politics in the Indian political system. What is interesting is the results by the Center of Advanced Studies for India (CASI) at uPenn which are startling. 100% of the second gen MPs, who are under 35, in the parliament today are heriditary politicians. The second cadre MPs are mainly inducted from Royal Families, RSS, Student and Trade Union and Film and Cricket.

Even the 33% women reservation isn’t spared. 70% of ladies in the Parliament are wives, daughters, widows of prominent politicians. A list of statistical key points are available however, coming back to the leadership question, with the scenario just described, the leadership is either being imposed on the the country or the citizens still choose based on the popularity of the existing leaders is still an unanswered question.  Although the credentials of the some young MPs are phenomenal some are questionable too.

While young and radical may be answer to some problems generally revolving around the image of the country and her security, passionate and experienced is an answer to the most deep rooted problems of the country. Casteism, Regionalism, Religionalism, Corruption and other internal “cultural” problems need insignt and passion which is where, once again, the common man’s democratic voting rights come into play. Thus, are we choosing the right leaders ?

Source of the data:
Family Politics
Center for the Advanced Studies of India
and a dear friend, Harsh Mishra

p.s. Continued.

What type of leaders do we really want ? Part 1


In lieu of political reforms being on the agenda or at least the wish to have them on the agenda, the question remains, what type of leaders do we want? On one hand, about 500 km away from Delhi, a man stands tall against the rising dragon, who is arguably the only man on the planet to have dared to do so for 50 years, and we have some 300 movies old superstar, on the other.

I have never doubted the idea of democracy. Nor have I doubted the top cadre political leaders in the national level parties. But I have my strong doubts for the second cadre political leaders and the psyche of the society we live in, who obviously under democracy have right to choose their leader.

In my opinion, the well being of the nation lies in the understanding of citizens about the leadership and their passion for the country which has an ability to bring about a revolution if the change is inevitable. A society only requires to feel the need of revolution, for without the need of revolution, none will be successful.  Today, India “needs” revolution, a Polical, Electoral, Judicial, Bureaucratic revolution.

We are undoubtedly passing through such a phase today, where a gandhian old man led organization is trying to cleanse the system bringing about a radical change. What is more interesting is that the spiritual leaders also have started to play their part. It makes me very proud today that the social system in India which the youth only some time back, and a lot of them even now, discarded have a very important role to play. If taken a closer look, one may be able to understand the real need of spiritual leaders.

But coming back to the question on the table, what type of leaders do we want? Unfortunately our role models have moved from leaders to stars. ( I love the word star for no explainable reason, more than celebrities, may be I never got a star when my teacher checked my assignment during L.kg or S.kg) I see a lot more likes on the Facebook page of SRK, Sachin or Rahul Gandhi than the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi or CJI Kapadia. Do we seek leaders based on their popularity ? How about politicos with exceptional ideas and will to change the face of the system ? What about the spiritual leaders who bring along such huge following, who have ability and vision for both society and nation?

Sadly the all political leaders are associated with greed, corruption, power games and dirt. To some extent it sure is true, but one cannot demean the ones who are genuinely trying to bring about reforms and trying to survive in the rotten system. It thus becomes a role of citizens to ensure they get due credits. It thus becomes important that with the empowered comman man following then, it becomes inevitable for media to provide them the reach they deserve. With due respects to Sachin, SRK and likes, the media gives attention thanks to TRPs, otherwise, maestro’s like Ustad Bismillah Khan had to die in poverty while King of Pop’s death too was commercialized.

It is thus important to have a paradigm shift for the types of leaders we seek. Not because, we seek better leaders, but for better country. India dont need stars right now. Needs great leaders. She has leaders, we make them great ! So, what type of leaders do we really want ?

p.s Now that I have put forth this across, please take a look at the youtube videos on Dr. J.P. Narayan.

Where is the news ?


 

Yet again, unable to curb the urge to write even when the priority list contains critical tasks that need attention but this needed to be out of my mind to even concentrate on Final exam scheduled tomorrow.

So now that the he-who-must-not-be-named has been assassinated (1. I love this word somehow, 2. hopefully he really is.) as the world media has been boasting through the day (and night in Indian time zone) it is important to bring your attention to  a more important topic, the Royal British Wedding and Kate Middleton’s beautiful white gown which she got it hand stitched from the royal tailor. Uh… No, that is not what I want to talk about, neither Indian Premier League, nor Donald Trump joke or Lokpal committee.

Brit’s ruled my country for over 200 years, so being a part of Kate and William’s wedding’s TRP was out of question, though heartiest congratulations to the newly weds. I never followed the deceased spiritual guru Satya Sai Baba thus a I only mourn for the friends who followed him and are sad and also achieve Cricketing Nirvana this year after India won the 2011 ICC World Cup, which meant IPL was out of question.

Last night, almost the whole night, Indian news channels only “talked” of Osama, Pakistan’s role, US’s achievement, Indian agencies warnings. Few days back it was the Royal Wedding, what the honeymoon plans were and previously they only spiritual guru’s successors while all this was around not to forget IPL matches.

This isn’t merely Indian media, a whole lot of world media was on the similar lines. Where are the news ? In an event the news agencies start giving biased judgments about the incident, the basic principle of journalism is violated. Where is the principle, news, as it is ? Mixing views with news does not make sense to me. The Arunachal Pradesh CM goes missing, and there is hardly a coverage in the media. The anti-corruption movement is still on pan-India, while the media is busy covering conspiracy theories of Osama’s death. Discussing getting Dawood Ibrahim the way US got Osama, does not seem to be a smart thing to talk on the television.

Journalistic freedom surely does not mean to “impose” biased views on the citizens passively. Some may argue, about the views being imposed, but without a doubt, they are influential. Media in Pakistan draws completely different picture of any event related to terrorism and there is a completely different idea that is put forth with media in the US or EU.

How come the journalist population not on the same page ? Does this not prove a clear violation by providing biased views ? While if these are views, where is the news ?

जानता हैं मेरा बाप कौन हैं?


This blog is going to be as small as a tweet and I will try my best to stretch it. In fact I already did by these two sentences. Now it had been strenuous week so far, and tremendous achievement, I maintain, that the Lokpal bill is out there, to be made into an act this monsoon session. As a result, and I am very proud of it, the citizen empowerment is ensured and the common man will become mighty !

With all these on my mind, and my Business Statistics class assignments that I am yet to finish, I hit the bed, tired. To my best of knowledge, I was asleep immediately. However, what I clearly remember this. I was driving on the street and a policeman stops me, asks for my license, registration, PUC, insurance and everything he could think of. Still contemplating what did he stop me for, but did not proceed with that thought chain.

I got out of my car, I looked into his eyes, with anger, ego and how-dare-you-stop-me attitude, I asked him, “जानता हैं मेरा बाप कौन हैं?” (read: do you know who my father is ? – a common phrase used in India to threaten anyone, when one’s father is a powerful man)

With slight fear in his eyes, but trying to maintain his position, asked me back in the same rude tone, “कौन हैं बे ?” (read: who is it ?)

Now this a winner. I said, “Common man”, “आम आदमी”.

Case closed.

Anna’s Satyagrah


 

It was disappointing to learn that some of the intellectuals of the nation called the attempt of Anna Hazare’s satyagrah erroneous and a blackmail. Perceptions can be funny I always thought, but could it have been painful, I never thought. Let us look at it with an unbiased view and qualitatively judge if the actions of the citizens last week were justified.

A system where, for 62 years, a substantial population lives below poverty line and the ambitious 5 year plans by various governments conveniently fail or fail to achieve its intentions to the fullest. Yet the citizens are expected to be patient in the name of democracy and law.

A system where, only in 2010 4 major scams come out to public and government denies it flatly and bows down only when the probe is deep enough to prove or there is a strong pressure from stakeholders including media. The question is where is accountability, where is integrity, for merely to save the face, the government denies it.

A system where,  public healthcare is dire straits, public education system is namesake and food distribution system is going to dogs and the common man is yet to achieve his powers for the votes are being bought for cash.

A system, where the leadership exploits the caste differentiation and generates vote banks to achieve its short term goals ignoring the growth and development, without a doubt is questionable.

When the governance fails, and leaders looks away from their duty, when the judicial system is questionable and the control systems in the nation are weak to not answer to the nation, when the head of the nation is mum over the problems of the citizens, the common man has to stand up. Such a system is unsustainable and will only lead to failed state of the nation.

A question of blackmail in the name of democracy is definitely a joke, for it is the democracy that is abused so much that parties like ShivSena and MNS are still allowed to be a part of government. It is a joke when the some events are termed to be the right of a citizen because of democracy yet, events like these, where Anna Hazare’s citizen movement when termed undemocratic, are questioned.

It is important to understand, that citizens have right to bring about a change in the governance when things go beyond threshold. It is unarguable that no one is bigger than the constitution, but it is also important to know that a nation and her citizens, collectively are bigger than any one else and unless the common man is not put above everything else, the country will be termed as a failed state.

Lokpal and after


It was Day 4 and the old man Hazare was still going strong as I began to write this piece. Embarrassed by the fact that what the youth should be doing, the old man had to do. I have no excuse for not playing my part completely. Nevertheless, I have always expressed my concerns about the psyche of the youth in contemporary India. Even with the anti-corruption fever sweeping the nation, I am disappointed to see Lakme Fashion Week getting media coverage. I do not blame media, for the root cause is not media, it is the viewership ; TRP.

However, it is not because I wish to crib about the nature of society today, that I have chosen to write. It is because, I intend to provide an approach what should the next step be. I have not a doubt that the Jan Lokpal bill will become a law for the UPA government is at the back foot and has no option but to agree to the demands of the citizens. How much ever the ministers argue about the provisions in the constitution or its power, no government can survive the wrath of the citizen empowerment. It was RTI first, then an unsuccessfully unorganized attempt of students against reservations and now Jan Lokpal bill, the government has always felt the heat of the outburst.

I happened to go through the Government suggested Lokpal bill as well as what Anna Hazare and the core team suggested. Coming back to the systematic approach citizens must employ in order to complement the Lokpal bill.

The Lokpal bill, if passes in the monsoon session, will have a lot of power to enforce transparency and fair transactions between not only civil society and public servants but also between corporations and the ministry. All said and done, the Lokpal will do his job, but, would it be effective on its own ? My judgment is no. In fact, not a governing body can ever be effective to its fullest potential unless the citizens are a part of its function. It can only be effective, if we play our part.

Now, that the government has accepted the demands, making an unquestionable victory for the flags of the citizen’s army, the real task begins now. In my opinion it is just a battle won, the war is still on. A lot of claims and appeals have been made to citizens by numerous others to “support” and “fast” and “come together”, however, none say, how, in an organized manner. This is an attempt to put forth an organized approach to support the Lokpal in true sense.

The following are the few cases considered and approaches one should employ to overcome the situations:

Case 1: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for any official purpose and is asked for a bribe or is presumed that a bribe has to be paid to get the work done.

Approach: Deny to pay any amount. To be firm and stand by the principle of being absolutely incorrupt is the greatest support you can give to the Lokpal. Having done this, next step is to blow the whistle. The Lokpal has a strong clause for whistle blower which really interests me. Note the name and the department of the public servant and write the letter to the Lokpal ( Vigilance department or Anti Corruption Bureau). It will not be a surprise that the same public servant will act similarly with any other citizen who will deal with him for any official purpose. This will lead to multiple complaints against the same man. The Lokpal will be forced to act against the public servant.

Case 2: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for breaking any law and asked for a bribe to get out of it.

Approach: This is a real test. It is important for every citizen to ensure that they do not break any law. In case one fails to abide by the laws, the penalty must be paid. The role of whistle blower is very important here. Any citizen who notices such an event where someone fails to abide by the laws and any public servant accepts bribe to let the person, who brakes the law, get away should notify the Lokpal. The use of RTI can be very important here. Thanks to Anna Hazare, the RTI is a very powerful tool and can be used to identify the loop holes in governance.

Case 3: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant for any official purpose because there is a medical emergency/death.

Approach: In this case, the citizens has to take a call. If possible avoid indulging in any corrupt activities. It is evident that Lokpal does not “yet” have any provision for any emergency solution to this issue, but in my opinion this Lokpal bill is merely a start and we have a long way to go. Having said this, I believe these events like medical emergency should be considered as an outliers for most the situations will be covered in Case 1 and Case 2.

Case 4: In an event a citizen has an encounter with a public servant who is a higher official in the government who encourages one to indulge into corrupt activities.

Approach: Yet again, still by to your principles. It is important that one do not indulge into corrupt activities for it is a loss to the country. All these years, I have noticed that Indians are  most patriotic when cricket is involved. I am a management student and even while I write, I can come up with so many ways, legal ways, to earn money. I am sure being astute business class that India has, everyone can come up with many such ways. However, if the public servant is a hindrance, a strong step should be taken. The media will have a important role to play here. In these cases, one can safely say that there shouldn’t be any emergency and project should be delayed. The Lokpal too will have a very important role to play too. The bill says the probe will give its report in 6 months. It should be a wise step to delay the project for 6 months.

Case 5: In an event the corporation has an encounter with the ministers who encourages the corporation to indulge into corrupt activities.

Approach: It is a brave attempt to write about this section of corruption. The role of whistle blower and the whistle blower protection clause which Lokpal is inclined to readdress should be an important aspect. Including WikiLeaks should be a far-sighted vision too. With the media prying for the news, it would be unwise to think they would be interested in the matter. Once out in public, the Lokpal will be forced to take an plunge into the event. This can be exemplary. The role of Lokpal will be justified completely.

Case 6: In an event the ministers indulge in cash-for-votes or gifts-for-votes.

Approach: India is still a country with 22% of its population below poverty line and it is evident that the ministers employ dirty tricks to win elections owing to the mentioned figure. In such cases, the best way is to a) Accept the cash. b) Vote for the leader you wish is a “better” choice. c) The whole village should write individual letters to EC and CVC. Such mass complaints will, without a doubt, lead to expulsion of the minister from the election in the area. It will also taint the party and ensure clean minister next time.

Even as I write, I feel disturbed that the corruption has rotten the state of affairs in India to an extent that we have begun to question even some of the greatest of events in the country. A great nation, with a past with super-human achievements has now become a manifestation of rottenness. Nevertheless, the things are changing. The bubble has burst. With growing support to the old man Anna Hazare, the anti-corruption wave has swept the country. But it is not enough, for if you seek to see your nation clean, come out and make dirty your hands.

I also believe there are come clean politicians in the government and have great visionary ideas for the nation, but the light bearers of anti democracy do not allow them to work towards their goal. I have no doubts that the power of citizens should not be undermined for what happened in during Gandhi, Bose, Singh and Azad, can be repeated very easily. It is important that the government too does not take the common man (and woman) lightly for the masses are now moving from being uneducated to highly qualified individuals.

Be vigilant, Be brave, Stop Corruption. Love your country, beyond cricket.

Note: The approaches suggested may have flaws or may be  are not fool proof but are ethically viable approaches. I am open to discussions, debates and questions. This article does not mean I am anti-government or am rebellious, but prefer a clean governance.

I am confident that the Lokpal will bring a remarkable difference in the governance of the nation and citizens will get a chance to live under a clean system.