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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Times Now Debates

The hotly contested "Times Now" debates find more than adequate viewership. The subjects are relevant to the times and the entire debating session is also well handled. The choice of speakers also does not leave more to be desired.

While the content is good and appreciable, what really stands out as a jarring note is the acrimony between the speakers. With daggers drawn out, the speakers attack each other as if they belong not to different parties but to different gangs whose only wish is to eliminate their rival.

It is a big change from the days of Jawahar and Patel, when mutual respect for the opposition was at the core of the working of the parliament. Even during Indira days, Atal compared her to Durga, when Bangladesh was liberated.

Gone are those days. We now have the likes of Tiwari whose pedestrian ways has considerably lowered the image as well as the dignity of politicians and political institutions. We have so called eminent people on the panel who opppose for the sake of opposition, who have no morals or character and who are more a bunch of chamaleons than responsible politicians of a democratic nation.

Perhaps the Anna Hazare crusade may result in the creation of a better nation and a saner political environment. It appears that the nation is in for good times now!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rajtantra Vs Prajatantra

In this era of Anna, it is necessary that the crucial difference between Rajtantra & Prajatantra is clearly understood. Britishers introduced "Rajtantra" primarily because they had to rule over our nation. When the British left in 1947, a new set of our home grown rulers took over and continued with the tantra of the British. Rajtantra was primarily created for the citizens of one nation to rule over another nation. Designed with a ruler and slave mentality in mind, rajtantra was not the ideal tool for governance of a free nation.

So we have an anomaly. We have "Prajatantra" in force but the tool for implementing the same is "Rajtantra". And therefore we as a nation have been a failure. The faulty tool for governance that we have been using is responsible for the rampant corruption that has engulfed every single sector and service of our bureaucratic tantra. It is also responsible for the slow pace of development and growth.

How can a system based on mistrust be expected to provide a corruption free system is what I am unable to fathom. The ongoing "Anna" led churning in our nation will therefore not lead to any concrete result till such time we simplify the decision making and contractual mechanisms within the bureaucratic and political system of our nation.

Till then a corruption free society shall remain a utopia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The rot within!

Overcrowding in train compartments has also manifested itself in the officer cadres of the bureaucratic machinery of the railways. That we have many more officers than what we actually need has never been in doubt. And this excess of officers has created more problems than what it has solved, the promotional prospects of the officers. Is it therefore not ridiculous that merely to better the promotional prospects of the officers, we have screwed up the entire organization?

The role of the headquarters offices is also suspect. Mere provision of curbs and controls cannot be and should not be the basic purpose of any set-up. Unfortunately with the divisions handling field level operations and the policy level being (mis)handled by the Board, the headquarters offices merely end up handling the functions of a middleman or a post office. With no positive contribution to make, the team of bright (and not so bright) officers is forced to make its presence felt by continuously acting as brakes.

I am also amazed at the rampant misuse of railway staff at the residences of officers and senior supervisors. While on the one hand we regularly crib about shortage of staff in crucial categories, on the other hand we turn a blind eye or even become an active partner in the game of using crucial staff for low level household chores. How can such officers and staff who either misuse railway staff at residences or connive in the same, consider themselves honest is what I am unable to fathom.

One of my officers recently mentioned that railways has emerged as a sycophantic organization to the core. Even the lowliest of the staff appreciates that the best means of rising (if one calls it rise) in the muck is by taking good care of those above. It is unfortunate that the officer cadre goes a step further by believing in this adage and also practicing it to the hilt.

The rot is absolute, total and mammoth. How the hell can it be cleaned up shall always remain one of my worst nightmares.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Corruption crusade - a holistic view

Anna Hazare is a crusader, a crusader against corruption, the most common virus afflicting the country at present. His mission is indeed noble and has caught the fancy of the masses. That Tihar has now become home to many of the erstwhile powerful and corrupt is sufficient evidence of both the widespread corruption as well as the recent efforts of the government in tackling the same.

The moot point however is whether the proposed Lok Pal bill would be adequate to eradicate the deep rooted corruption in the nation. No doubt, it shall help by instilling fear of god in members of the sarkari tantra, but will that be enough?

The answer is “No”. Corruption cannot be eradicated without going into and then eliminating the systemic causes of the same. The root cause of corruption in the sarkari tantra is its complexity. This tantra was designed by the british to rule over untrustworthy slaves. It is unfortunate that the same old tantra is still flourishing and new complexities are being added with each passing day. How can therefore one expect trustworthiness from a tantra based on mistrust? The complexity of the tantra attained through the web of thumb impressions on files provides a shield to the financially as well as the professionally corrupt. Besides it also adds heavily to inefficiency and consequently low productivity, thereby retaining the nation forever in the developing category.

Corruption, complexity and productivity have a direct bearing on each other. The earlier it is understood by the powers that be, including the crusaders, the better it would be for all of us. Trying to tackle corruption in isolation, howsoever good the intentions may be, would not yield the desired results.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Corruption centerstage!

Anna Hazare has jolted the sarkar.

Anna Hazare has also woken up the nation.

Since the Tianaman incident in the early nineties, I always wondered whether a public uprising is indeed possible in our nation of over a billion. The recent show of public solidarity against corrupt regimes in many nations in the middle east also filled me with a deep sense of sorrow for our nation that though not governed by an autocratic regime has also not failed in setting an absolute high in corruption levels in the public domain.

Revolutions to succeed require a critical mass of incorruptible people. We are rather fortunate or maybe unfortunate that our nation of over a billion people has so far been unable to produce the critical mass.

The Anna movement is appreciable because of the purity of its purpose and also because of its ability in shunning the politicians so far. It however needs appreciation that the politician, of whatever hue and shade he may be, is a true representative of the society we live in and no purpose would therefore be served by merely castigating him, whether he belongs to the treasury or the back benches. The politician is the true face of the society and if the face is bad, so be it.

It is true that corruption has been so deeply ingrained in our society that for a common man, it is almost impossible to get anything repeat anything, done from the sarkari tantra, without the customary greasing of palms. Fortunate are the senior politicos and bureaucrats and also the super rich who are not affected by the malaise and this is a major contributory factor for corruption to flourish. People who can change the system remain unaffected by the system and therefore have no stake in changing it. The complexity of the sarkari tantra with its plethora of thumb impressions for even mundane matters is the real culprit.

We already have many checkposts in the form of CBI, CVC, Lokayukta, police and innumerable vigilance setups. How much will one more checkpoint in the form of a Lokpal help is therefore a matter of debate.

A holistic view on the entire issue of corruption is the need of the hour.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

True independence!

The 64th anniversary of Independence day is round the corner. Indians became the master of India on this day - for worse or for better, I regularly ponder in hindsight. A baby nation that did not have the capability to tie even its own diapers acquired independence to take major decisions in all matters pertaining to its growth and development.

And look where we have arrived?

A nation of scams galore, a nation where real development has touched the lives of only a miniscule percentage of its population, a nation that still ranks almost at the bottom of the human development index. A very sorry state of affairs indeed.

And yet the rulers of this nation never fail in patting their backs for the supposedly great job performed by them.

This 15th, let us truly turn patriotic for once. Let us resolve to improve matters and be prepared to pay the price for the same. This independence day let us all resolve to fight and eliminate the evils that fall in our domain, without bothering about other areas. Let us decide not to be corrupt professionally or financially and not let anyone in our domain to be corrupt. Let us resolve to work all seven days of the week irrespective of holidays and leave due.

Let us for once give more to the nation than what the nation gives us.

This call is more for the armchair bureaucrats of the nation rather than anyone else.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Thanedar certifies!

Thanedar ne achha character certificate de diya.

Yes. The division is on a new high after receiving hearty appreciation from a most unlikely source, the office of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India. The CAG in its much awaited report on the "CWG loot" released on the 5th of August, while severely castigating every department involved with the games, has found sufficient reasons for showering lavish praise on the railways for the work done in improving the New Delhi Railway Station.

After the National award conferred by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India for the excellent work done at the station, this praise has further reinforced the belief that despite the rampant sloth, all is not lost yet and sarkari agencies that appreciate good work have not yet ceased to exist.

My skeptism on sarkari matters may also reduce in due course, courtesy the objectivity of the CAG observations.

And this new high has the possibility to spur us to achieve further excellence in the various spheres of activities indulged into by the Delhi division of the Indian Railways. Insha Allah!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Change or Perish!

Deep introspection is the need of the hour.

Simultaneous beating on many fronts is what the railways is now getting everyday without exception. The recent accidents have brought the issue of safety in full public glare and the railways needs to urgently do something in this regard. The public clamor for improving punctuality is also becoming louder by the day. Rapidly rising disposable incomes are also leading to higher expectations about passenger amenities and services.

While it is true that the railways is still the most visible symbol of dynamic delivery in the nation, it is also true that its working systems and procedures are archaic and totally unfit for the twenty first century India. This is the crux of the problem, and needs to be addressed, if the railways is serious about its role as a transport service provider and also its image perception. Mere lip service to issues that we have become adept at, shall not carry the railways any further in the present rapidly changing world.

That the malaise is a symptom of a deep rooted disease borne out of our inability to change with the times is a fact that needs appreciation by the mandarins of the railway bureaucracy, the earlier the better. Merely flogging the system and indulging in drives, counseling and punishments without giving any concrete inputs has time and again proved to be counterproductive for the system. How can, in the present times, deliverance be expected from a system that has succeeded in only created fear, not pride and commitment in its constituents? Yet, our over indulgence in cosmetic and peripheral handling of the organization is borne out of a mediocre mentality that seeks solace in following the simpler and the oft trodden path that leads nowhere. Our archaic decision making and contractual mechanisms that are based on mistrust towards one and all have also been failing with predictable ease in the present times.

We need to change. Any commercial organization that has achieved the impossible by going almost bankrupt despite being in monopoly in a sellers market needs to change its processes and systems in totality.

Perhaps the time for change is now knocking at our doorsteps. Insha Allah we may respond!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Redeeming Greatness!

True democracy is one of the redeeming features of this great nation. Despite the poverty and the below par growth and the often nagging doubt about the maturity and also the ability of this nation to assimilate and practice democratic systems, the nation has time and again proved that democracy has indeed taken roots in its governance machinery. What however needs appreciation is that the governance machinery has also evolved from our society and therefore cannot be far removed from the ills that plague the society in general. This vicious circle can only be broken by a leader, a true leader for whom the nation and its citizens have been waiting expectantly.

The very fact that transition of power at the state and federal levels in this nation takes place with amazing ease, unlike most of the other developing nations is a glaring testimony to the assimilation of democratic systems in our nation. It is also true that while corruption has spread its tentacles far, wide and deep, the growing presence of the erstwhile powerful people in the holy confines of the Tihar, gives us confidence that all is not yet lost. The Anna movement also gives us hope by displaying that the people of this nation still have the capability of starting a cause based movement, not for personal gains but for the overall benefit of the country. Despite the muck and the sloth, the presence of few committed and honest individuals in our political machinery, even at the apex levels also give us a reason not to lose hope.

Till the advent of the Kalyug, Bharatvarsh was always a great nation. It still has the potential to rise and acquire an eminent place in the community of nations. What is however needed is an awakening, an awakening that shall jolt the nation out of its slumber; and the redeeming feature is that a ray of awakening has slowly started getting visible in recent times. One can only hope and pray to the almighty that the churning that has recently started, continues till the nation is thoroughly cleansed.