Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Waka Waka..When is the time for India?

The world cup soccer fever is on! 32 countries from across the globe is vying for the top honour in football.It indeed is a spectacular event displaying stamina and skill.But in India,this sport is still restricted to few pockets like Kerala,Punjab,Goa and West Bengal.
Cricket is sometimes described as the game having 22 players on the field and 22000 idiots watching them play.With some people realizing that this game is a cash cow,the reach has spread wide and far through television.The game has been further commercialized with the invent of the Twenty T20.

Let us look at some surprising facts.India has a total population of around 118 crore.The total population of the 32 countries playing in the World Cup football is around 180crore.If you remove 3 countries ( namely USA,Brazil and Mexico),the combined population of the 29 nations would be the same as that of India.
Still India does not have a team worthy enough to play the worldcup? Forget that,it does not have a team to feature in the top 100 FIFA rankings.

As proud Indians,we would take pride in the fact that we are No1 in test rankings and No 3 in One day rankings.But what we should consider is that Cricket is played as a serious sport in around 20 countries,while Football is played in over 100 countries.
A consolation factor would be that Baichung Bhutia has played for a club in England and Chetri is now in UK.Airtel is coming up with a football academy and clubs like Man U and Arsenal are looking at developing players from India.I do hope that the top political brass ( for those who are not aware,Union Ministers are at the helm of AIFF,BCCI,IOA just to name a few) take some steps to see that sports do develop in this country.I hope against hope that in my lifetime I can see India getting over a dozen medals at Olympics and participating in one World Cup Football final round ,not to mention the Cricket team lifting the World Cup at 2011!!Till then let the ball keep rolling..

Mobility to Immobility

Mobile phone is one of the most important inventions of the recent past.And with more innovation being added to this small gadget ( you can listen to FM radio,read Ebooks,browse the net,control your TV,record your favorite TV program),no wonder this is becoming an important part of your life.But seriously thinking about it,isnt it more of a bane than a boon?Forget the difficulties like getting calls at odd times and places,lets check a few frequent issues.

I used to remember around 20 phone numbers at one point of time,but now the only number I can remember is that of my home.( I dont even remember my own mobile number at times).Isnt it making us short memoried people?
But the most serious thing that I have noticed off late.People being glued to their headsets..recently I read a newspaper article where a lady was run over by a train.Apparently she was so busy on the phone that she didnt hear the engine sound of the train that mowed her down.Accidents caused by drivers who are speaking on mobile or glued to their headsets are becoming very common.Today morning I saw a person crossing the road with music blaring out of his headset.( Yeah I could hear the song from his mobile).This gentleman was so coolly oblivious to the traffic that a bus which was speeding down the road had to brake hard,but inspite of a lot of honking,this guy just didnt hear !!! I do see a few guys who forget to get down at their stops because they are so drowned in the conversation they are havivng on the mobile. is a cool gadget..lets use it coolly..else you will soon RIP.

Air India is only Gas!

Air India or Indian Airlines or the newly branded Indian is the national airlines of India.But the experience of flying on one of its airlines is an nightmare that one would want to forget.

One of the most embarassing experiences was when I travelled from Delhi to Ahmedabad to attend my friend's marriage.Two weeks prior to departure,I got a call from the airlines saying that my flight ( ETD 6.45 from Delhi) was delayed and the new ETD stands at 7.30pm.On being asked why,I was told the airline had a technical snag ( wow..they knew about it a fortnight ago?).A week prior to departure,I was informed that the new ETD is 8.00pm.The reason being late arrival of incoming efficient that the airlines knew this a week in advance.But alas..the flight didnt have any technical snag as predicted.But it was late in arriving.On the D day,the flight arrived at 10pm and departed at 10.45 pm.It was not a good experience to be among the last 20 odd people to be at the airport before the airport closed operations for the day.
And not to mention that IA operates from Terminal 1A,which boasts of little amenities.And how could I forget..i missed the whole point of the journey.I reached Ahmedabad at midnight and by the time I reached the venue,the sangeet was over.

Then my recent journey from the Bangalore airport.The airline staff took 20 mins to spot my booking in the system.It did givev me a scare as to what was the issue.Little did she tell me that the flight was delayed.It was printed on the boarding card though.And while I was patiently waiting near the boarding gate,I was surprised suddenly to see that the boarding was changed to reflect that of a jet airlines flight.While Jet was courteous enough to announce the change in boarding gate,Air India choose to remain mum.The flight was delayed by more than an hour,but no announcements and no personnel was available near the boarding gate to provide clarifications.The bus that transported you to the aircraft was pathetic..torn seats and stinking bus.The Air India bus at Chennai airport seems to be the only non airconditioned vehicle operating there.One door which does not close was tied using a plastic strap ( used to secure baggages).Poorly trained staff,who consider salaries their birth rights but in no mood to help passengers are an added pain.The frown on their face when asked for a bottle of water or anything else is enough to put you off.

Merger or De Merger,whether the government pumps in money or not,Indian is not going to prosper.Agreed that Indian ( being the government run airlines) enjoys privileges like prime routes prime time etc.But it does have the good fortune to have the highest number of employees per airline.In fact if you see an Indian flight landing or taking off,you will be surprised to see people crowding around like a swarm of bees.Without pruning this unproductive workforce,without enforcing discipline in terms of flight taking off on time,without improving the courtesy of its staff,AIr India would just be a bag of gas.When JRD Tata handed over the airlines to the government to make it the national carrier,little would have he known that one day people will say just that to this airlines.TATA!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Quotable Quotes

The things that come to those that wait may be the things left by those who got there first !!
It's always been and always will be the same in the world: The horse does the work and the coachman is tipped....
That money talks, I'll not deny, I heard it once: It said, "Goodbye."
There's a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It's called marriage
Nobody teaches volcanoes to erupt, tsunamis to arise, hurricanes to sway around and no one teaches how to choose a wife! Natural disasters just happen !

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to Nail the Naxals?

24 jawans killed in Naxal attack in Silda!
Naxals break truce..kills Cop!
Naxals hijack train!

These are a few of the headlines that hit the newspaper in recent times.

Home Minister says that Naxalism is a major internal threat and the Prime Minister repeats the same in some conference.The chief Ministers of the affected states as well as MHA ( Ministry of Home Affairs) promises strong action against the Naxals.But what is the solution?Is an out and out armed attack the solution? ( Like the Sri Lankan government attacking the LTTE?)Or is it peace talks that is the solution?

I think neither will work.And here is why?
Let me talk about something different for a moment.

The Finance Minister might have quoted Gandhiji to say "Just as the universe is contained in the self, so is India contained in the villages".

The government routinely announces big budget programmes to uplift the rural poor and provide them with infrastructure,but they remain promises on paper.The  nine flagship schemes and Bharat Nirman programme alone have a total outlay in excess of Rs 1,40,000 crore.But still one is encouraged to doubt  whether it will really change the condition of India’s poor. This  thought emanates from the country’s mediocre record in the implementation of various development programmes at the ground level, where a concoction of inefficient government machinery, corruption, and asymmetric information problem has been rendering development programmes ineffective over the years. The harsh reality is that India does not possess appropriate systems of governance or practices in public service delivery that can efficiently reach out to the poor and ensure distributive justice.

The young prince Mr Rahul Gandhi’s observation that while 10 paise of every rupee spent for the poor had reached its target during his father’s time, today the same amount reaches the intended beneficiary only when the government spends Rs 10. Therefore, the leakage is 99 per cent. If we go by his formula, a mere Rs 1, 400 crore, or one per cent of the total, will be the actual benefit accruing to the targeted population from flagship schemes and Bharat Nirman.

Let us for a moment wonder who the beneficiaries of the programmes are.It is the famous Below Poverty Line ( BPL). Distribution of BPL cards itself has come to epitomise corruption as most well-to-do families in the rural areas possess BPL cards.The failure to select the right beneficiaries, or an adverse selection in economic terms, is rampant at the panchayat level and leads to the exclusion of deserving beneficiaries from the purview of development schemes.The Networks in rural areas comprising local elites, officials and elected representatives that manage information on different programmes ensure that development schemes do not deliver to the targeted beneficiaries.

The much practized method of announcing and allocating more funds for rural programmes at national level without closing the gaps downstream results in the programmes being a mere eyewash as they leave nothing for the intended beneficiaries.

The Government should have ensured that effective monitoring and distribution mechanisms are in place before undertaking to increase developmental funding .The near complete failure of development schemes in achieving targets is in fact a pointer to the level of alienation of the real stakeholders from governance and policy making in India, which inherently follows a top-down model.Historically, policymaking has remained the exclusive domain of a few informed and powerful citizens. It is a matter of concern that policies and programmes, both at the Centre and States, are designed and implemented without adequate consultation with, or participation of, the real stakeholders from rural areas such as the poor, small farmers and women.Even existing avenues like Gram Sabha, a platform where the villagers can raise their needs and the Governments can disseminate information on development schemes, are unutilised.

If the development schemes have to deliver for the poor in India, the Government has to tackle the systemic problems by introducing efficient participatory methods of designing and implementation of schemes and distribution of public funds. Hence, it is imperative to democratise development programmes by ushering in higher levels of accountability. the need is to put in place an exclusive mechanism to conduct concomitant review of the development schemes and programmes while they are being implemented

The objective should be to put in place a concrete mechanism to cleanse the system off its current deficiencies, emulating the work of the Election Commission of India in the past two decades. Unless something similar or better is in place, the poor of this country is going to realise repeatedly that the promised bounties are nothing but chimera.The UID programme headed by Mr Nandan Nilekani could be one step in this direction.But with a country with such a huge population and a pool of talent,I wonder why the government cannot speed up the process,rather than wait a long 5 years to achieve the results ( might be the government's age old fascination with the 5 year old programme).

Now coming back to the topic.Who are the naxals?The Government would dub them an anti national,anti system element that is aimed at creating disturbances in the country.Or the media might call them brutal assassins who massacre innocent men,women and children,destroying valuable public property.But is it the truth?
I read an interview about an Naxal leader of West Bengal.He is an well educated youngster who believed in the state and the government mechanism.Until he was frustrated by the negligence of the government in providing basic amenities to the people.And people who peacefully protested the lack of development were greeted with the high handedness of the police.Innocent people were killed,women folks raped and killed,children were orphaned..all in the name of protecting law and order.A friend of mine who recently went to Chattisgarh told me about the life in such places.No roads,no water,no fact no development.

Once the Government ensures that the development of the rural areas happen and there is a thriving economy,the Naxal problem will automatically be wiped off.It is only through economic measures that this problem can be solved once and for all.And this will not just solve the issue of Naxalism.It will in turn fuel the economy,the economic growth of the nation and make it a superpower.Also this will ensure that fewer people migrate to the cities thus reducing the pressure on the already stretched urban infrastructure.In effect,this will impact the overall growth of the nation.

More police personnel and more atrocities on the naxals can only worsen the situation.Hope sense prevails on those concerned in the higher ups sooner than later.

(With generous inputs from the article of Mr Pramod Dev independent researcher based in new delhi.)

The Fight is now in the Flight

Recently I was travelling by air from New Delhi Airport,in one of the airlines that promises to offer you business class service at economy prices.Little do you know that at the counter,they ask if you want to upgrade to Business class for an additional fee.As usual,the flight was delayed by 90 minutes,but the crew were happy to announce a complimentary drink at the counter ( pls note,complimentary drink refers to Tea or Coffee only).

While wiling away my time at the airport,I saw a big ad of another airline in the local newspaper.I couldnt help laughing at that ad.

Why wouldnt I?The airlines boasts of itself as the best on time performance.I travelled by that flight 5 times in last 2 months and it was never on time.( Ok maybe that everytime i flew,the airline had a its "why me syndrome").

Then comes the bigger joke.For them,every passenger is a millionaire!I would say thats why they have the higher rates on the same routes :)

They also asks about someone who flew that airline this winter..Ask me..because I flew that airline this winter.I couldnt get a taxi to reach the airport due to the fog.But I thought why hurry,the flight would be delayed.To my utter surprise,the customer care told me that the flight is on time..that too at 6.30 am in the morning in the foggy foggy delhi weather.After a desperate struggle I reached the airport on time and was surprised that the flight is actually on time.My respect for the airline reached the skies.After the boarding complete announcement,the captain said that visibility is 125 metres and as per norms it should be 150 ms.He was confident that we would be airborne in 20 mins and promised an update shortly.The time was 6.45 am and anyone in delhi knows that fog thickens with time.And the captain did get back to us ..after a long 3 hours.His message" I am happy that visibility improved and we will be airborne in 30 mins".Phew...I was caught in the flight for long 3 hours when I could have avoided a struggle to reach the airport on such a weather condition.

I wouldnt blame this airline for making such tall claims.I am sure that any passenger in India who flies any airline ( low cost,business whatever) can vouch that our flights never take off on time.Every airline claims themself to be the best.But what makes me furious is how blatantly this airlines make such false claims?

I have now decided to bet on technology.No No..dont mistake me that I will use technology to find which airlines is best.I would rather use a video conference or a mobile phone ( wherever possible) than undertake an ordeal such as this.

Let them fight for air supremacy.I am happy to be grounded!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sorry we are not the land of Mahatma Gandhi Alone.

Its been a year.One bloody year after the terrorist attack at Mumbai left over 170 killed and hundreds injured.The nation salutes our heroes Vijay Salaskar,Hemant Karkare,Ashok Kamte,Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and all the others who laid down their lives for our nation.Your sacrifice wont go in vain.The Spirit of India will live on

As we mourn the dead and salute our valiant soldiers who fought for the sovereignity of our nation,its time to look ahead and declare to the world that such acts of cowardice wont dent our confidence.So went on the TV Commentary.Anchors tried hard to give a different tone to their voice.

All this looked like a mockery to me.Kasab still alive.Already ate up 31 crores of hard earned tax payers money.He gets a different lawyer every few months.Honourable Home Minister keeps issuing last and final warnings to our beloved neighbour asking them to stop attacking us and to take action against terrorists.Our distinguished politicians are worried that our beloved American Uncle Mr Obama didnt publicly ask our neighbour to stop acts of violence.Counterfeit notes gets circulated at will.
Defence minister says 2000 militants are waiting to sneak into India.If he knows the details,why not take action to eliminate them?The police commissioner allegedly doesnt know where his colleagues where on that night.Another top police official says his own men let him down.

Shame on us.We,who aim to be a superpower in 2025 cant take action now to protect our nation?While America goes and attacks every country,even if someone raises a finger against their citizen,we after suffering huge human casualty,run to America..Bush Mama,Obama mama,please help us..this pakistan is blasting bombs in our country.When will we grow up? When will we stop suffering in silence?

With due respect to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,who fought the path of non violence to get our nation freedom from the British,I have to say that we are not the land of Mahatma Gandhi alone.Gandhiji might have said,if someone slaps you on one cheek,show the other.But dont we forget that we are the land who produced Subhash Chandra Bose,Bhagat Singh,Sardar Vallabhai Patel ,Jhansi Rani ..just to name a few.Its time we stop tolerating this nonsense of our politicians.Its time we stop pushing problems below the carpet.Its high time we deal with problems with an Iron Fist.

Salutes to the Martyrs.And for the dead,may their souls Rest in Peace.Long Live your memories.Salutes to my country.
Jai Hind