Posts Tagged ‘India’


No better day than this for a few thoughts on the state of the nation and where we are headed. Sixty-one years after India became a Republic it’s on the brink of disarray. There is no government worth its name. Politicians, hoodlums and so-called Maoists are generally running crooked parallel governments everywhere in the country. We have a prime minister who seems to suffer from a form of paralysis and who no one listens to anyway. Are we on our way to becoming, what some industry captains have referred to as a banana republic?

The finance minister says it would be ‘difficult’ to reveal the names of corrupt Indians who have Swiss bank accounts. Why, are they friends of his, or is he protecting someone? We also hear the Prime Minister saying that it’s next to impossible to check the influx of black money. Is that because politicians and ministers in his cabinet are the biggest culprits? A journalist friend tells me about a well-known and extremely corrupt cabinet minister who has done the next best thing – he’s bought a bank somewhere abroad, so he can stash away his loot!

Here’s an interesting nugget I picked up off a site about Indian black money in Swiss banks.

India—- $1456 billion
Russia—$ 470 billion
UK——$390 billion
Ukraine–$100 billion
China—-$ 96 billion

Mind-boggling? According to this website, the amount is enough to put Rs 50,000 in the hand of every Indian and still have enough left to pay off all foreign debt and account for the annual budget!

So the gap is widening and the anger and frustration building between the have and have not. When you drive past any of the crowded intersections in the city have you noticed a huge group of people milling around or standing in a queue? This is India’s daily wage worker waiting for his employer of the day. He gets paid a paltry 20 or 30 rupees (or is that too much?) for putting in twelve hours of work in a day, so he can feed his wife and kids.

Why does he have a wife and kids when he can’t even afford to feed himself? Because he got married in the village at a young age and then suddenly the village is too poor to support even his meagre needs. So he migrates to the city with the hope that it will rescue him from the poverty he faces. Only here, he is still leading a hand-to-mouth existence because the 30-odd bucks he makes won’t even buy him a kg of onions. And while the nameless daily wager struggles to make ends meet, there are people making money through illegal means like there’s no tomorrow.

Is this what our leaders have conditioned us to do these past 61 years? I once asked a few youngsters from a small town in UP this question: Why do you want to become an IAS officer? The answers: ‘I want to make money‘ and ‘I’ll get a huge amount of dowry‘. Do you wonder who they are emulating and can you blame them?

I am supposed to get a substantial refund on my Tax Returns for the past two years from the income tax department. My tax consultant advises me to pay the 10 per cent in cash to the I-T officer, if I want my refund. And don’t bother complaining. According to the rule, if any Income-tax officer is found to have delayed submission of refund cheques it can be deducted from his annual increment. But does it bother too many of them? Incidentally, the status of tax returns can now be checked online and once online, the I-T dept must submit the cheque to the bank. So I go online to check the status which says, “Your assessing officer has not sent the refund cheque to the banker.” Why hasn’t my cheque been sent to my banker when it is ready and they have my account number? Take a good guess.

Yesterday, an honest assistant collector was set ablaze in Manmad because he tried to take on the oil mafia. Will the culprits be punished? Who controls the oil mafia? Your guess is as good as mine. This is the India we live in after 61 years. Happy Republic Day, is it?

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Sometime in the late 1980s the owner of the paper I worked with, said something that has stuck in my head ever since. His managers were showing him the new office we would soon be moving into. The building belonged to him and the interiors were being done up to accommodate a newspaper office.

One of the managers, while showing him the panelling, electrical fittings and wiring, complained that the contractor was making money. The owner asked whether the contractor was doing sub-standard work and was told that it wasn’t the case. His reply: If he’s doing a good job, let him take his cut! What he actually said was, “Itne bade samudra se agar koi do lota paani nikkal le, to kya farak pdta hai.”

I guess the Commonwealth Games or for that matter any international event, always faces similar issues. Don’t get me wrong. I am neither endorsing the Commonwealth Games nor the corruption scandals that are being unearthed every day. To get screwed for almost Rs 35,000-50,000 crore (if a news magazine is to be believed) by corrupt officials and politicians, for organising an event of no consequence, is a colossal wastage of public money and a matter for the CBI and chartered accountants – post the event.

In normal circumstances any sports event that is organised anywhere in the world is done with the intention of making money. Unfortunately in India, with the exception of cricket, any event staged is done more to promote certain individuals or sports bodies rather than making money or promoting talent.

The other issue (again this is my personal view) is the man himself – Indian Olympic Association Chief, Suresh Kalmadi. He evokes extreme views. There are some who swear by his organisational abilities and there are others who believe he rides roughshod over dissent and has little patience for people who don’t see eye to eye with him. He comes across as abrasive, bordering on the rude. A lot of people (read politicians) don’t like to be dismissed in a manner Kalmadi usually reserves for people who, he believes, are interfering with his ‘mission’ – be it the BRTS, the Commonwealth Youth Games or now the Commonwealth Games itself.

The man obviously sees for himself a bigger role in the scheme of things – like becoming the IOC chief sometime in the future. And there’s no better platform than the Commonwealth Games to make that point. Then there is also the fact that Kalmadi is a Congressman, so there is no dearth of people of all hues and political affiliations taking pot shots at him. Criticism from the media or sportspersons is understandable to a certain extent, but when it comes from politicians – some of who have no connection to sport – it does make one wonder whether there’s more to it than meets the eye.

But having said all this, now that we are into this neck deep, let’s get on with the Games. It would be a terrible loss of face for the country if it were to be called off now. We can calculate the costs; deal with all the corruption, nepotism, politicking and mudslinging later. Whether the system is competent enough to deal with it, is an issue the people need to debate and force the government’s hand if they find investigations being sidetracked. But that is our problem and not that of the rest of the world. Why should we wash our dirty linen in public? What are we telling the world? That we are a country of pimps, freeloaders, shady businessmen, crooked politicians and greedy officials who are in it together to screw the country.

Personally, I think those issues can wait, till we get this damn thing over with.


I know this issue is going to upset a few of my Kashmiri friends, but this is something I’ve felt strongly about.

Point # 1: Why, every few years, do we undertake this entire charade about talks with Pakistan when we have no intention of handing over Kashmir or even talking about it? It seems a good way to waste public money and tell the world that we are doing something, when in reality we have no intention of doing anything at all. More important is the fact that the Pakistanis have no intention of talking peace with us and only wish to discuss Kashmir, because the existence of their political set up and the Army depends on it. Let go off Kashmir and they have no issue. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg story.

Point # 2: Do you care about Kashmir or what happens to it? Frankly, I don’t. Kashmir is today a gangrenous wound that continues to fester and because of which the country is bleeding massively. We have poured in crores of rupees into the State for the past 60 years. Our soldiers along with civilians die there every day. So, there are mistakes by the security forces too. What would you expect if you had to live with the fear that each day could be your last? You would get a jumpy too if you didn’t really know whether something that’s sticking out from under the shawl of the homegrown terrorist is a stick or an AK 56.

And what do the people from the State, who hate India, do? They set off bomb blasts and hold rallies in which they wave Pakistani flags and condemn the “Indian occupation of their State.” See what’s been happening there for the past few days…strikes, shutdown, terror strikes. Do we need all this? In my book they are a bunch of ingrates who should be left to fend for themselves. It’s time India too adopted the “you’re either with us or against us” policy against the Kashmiri who wants freedom from India. I have no sympathy for the Kashmiri who turns a gun against the soldier of the Indian Army or a civilian.

It’s a bit like my feelings for Bihar. I was born there, but I have very little sympathy for the people of that State – at least for those who still live there. They can blame the corrupt bureaucracy and even more corrupt political system, but why didn’t they do anything about it? And this is not something that’s been happening in the last decade or two. It has been this way since Independence. I should know… my father was a part of the political system there once upon a time. And he had the same opinion.

But, coming back to Kashmir, they live off India, they feed off India, and then they vilify India. So why not put the money to better use elsewhere? And screw all the sentimental crap about it being a heaven on earth. Right now, Kashmir is anything but heaven and will remain that way till kingdom come, unless one of the two things happen – we let go off Kashmir or Pakistan ceases to exist. I know which solution a lot of Indians would prefer, but I don’t see that happening.

And once we can administer some strong medicine to the gangrenous wound called Kashmir let’s turn our attention to the irritant called PoK. Call me a warmonger, but after the latest threat by the terror groups telling sportspersons not to travel to India for any of the events planned, I think it’s time to give it back with interest. I am no hawk, or someone in khakhi shorts waving a saffron flag, but I do think the time for talk and social niceties is over.

I believe we’ve turned the other cheek long enough, tolerated the violence, the bomb blasts, the Ajmal Kasabs and Lakhvis of this world long enough too. Let’s give them a taste of their own medicine. So what will happen? Collateral damage, more bomb blasts, more deaths on this side? So be it. If they can set off blasts in India and send in terror groups into Kashmir, why can’t we hit them, where it hurts the most? Can this government look beyond vote-bank politics for a change. And can they also stop this charade about talks? I don’t think anyone’s interested anymore…