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Saturday, June 29, 2013

The top guy matters!

It is indeed true that any organization is only as good as its top guy. If the top guy is good, the organization prospers, if not it goes down or sinks depending upon how nincompoop the top guy really is. Yet it is the misfortune of the nation that in sarkari organizations cutting across sectors and services, the criterion for selection of the top guys is generally based on subjective parameters other than deliverance and human values.  

The examples of rampant manipulations invariably set by the railways in selection of its top guys invariably leave a bad taste in the mouth. Murky dealings, few cases of which have tumbled out of the cupboard by chance not by design, rampant manipulations by the outgoing top guy to choose an unworthy successor, the search for a pliable spine and the web of complex rules of selection, all together have brought the organization to such a pass that make me certain that by the time the haze clears, we would once again have a master manipulator occupying the corner room.

Yet in official forums the debate continues, endless debates by people who are not delivering where they are planted yet consider themselves fit to pass value judgement on all matters under the sun. The “Know all’s” outnumber the “do all’s” by a wide margin and therein lies the tragedy of organizations like the railways. The top guys in railways do not lead and are invariably with rare exceptions of-course, never a part of the team. The job of the top guy(s) remains confined to finding faults with their team for activities being undertaken by them on their own or under the direction of the top guy.

Never before in the history of the railways has one witnessed an outpouring of hate and venom cutting across departmental and zonal boundaries as in the case of the current outgoing chief executive. The previous guy also achieved the distinction of the worst ever only to be overtaken by the current guy who would go down as the first top guy in whose regime the railways achieved the twin distinction of going bankrupt and and also losing its image. The unfortunate part however remains that the future appears to be as hazy as earlier with meager hopes of a humane leadership emerging at the apex level.

Yet with hope we live on.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The wrath of the Gods!

Is it not ironic that Dev Bhoomi suffered the wrath of the gods and people, most of them devotees suffered like no human should be allowed to?

Uttarakhand the newest state of the republic went through one of the severest natural catastrophes the nation faced since it came of its own. Hundreds have died as per official figures though the number is expected to go up many times once the disaster relief and restoration efforts, hampered by the terrain and extent of damage, pick up in the right earnest. Sad it is that this catastrophe happened enroute the abode of the Lord Shiva!
Trying times for the new state and the nation, the episode would definitely go down in the annals of history as one of saddest that the nation ever faced. Our heart goes out to those who perished and those who suffered. At such times one indeed looks forward to a humanitarian touch and an efficient handling of the post disaster scenario from the authorities. Is it indeed asking for the moon?

While there is absolutely no doubt that extremely heavy rains and perhaps a cloudburst led to a massive flow of water causing this catastrophe, it is also amply clear that haphazardly mushrooming growth of housing and commercial structures, both authorized and unauthorized in the mountain state have hindered the natural flow of water down the hills. Had the pristine nature and ecology of the mountain state been preserved, the extent of damage would have been far less. This failure to preserve ecology borne out of rampant prevalence of unethical practices in the governance machinery of the nation is a sad yet true scenario.  

The rank inability on the part of the administration to efficiently deal with catastrophes, the disaster and its aftermath generally stinks. The sloth and the rot in the sarkari tantra that lies at the root of the reasons behind such catastrophes in the first place also envelops disaster relief efforts. Restoration works thereafter also leave much to be desired.

Good governance is indeed the answer to all such issues and one eagerly hopes that this sad incident would indeed push the state and its mandarins to provide the much needed good governance. During one of my recent visits to the capital city of the mountain state I was aghast at the extent of infrastructural rot and deficit besides the widely visible symptoms of a city allowed to decay. With its various hill stations also bursting at the seams, it is apparent that the pressing need to develop newer ones has perhaps failed to find acceptance and also the will of the powers that be.

The images of the abode of the Lord Shiva, the holy shrine of Kedarnath both before and after the catastrophe present a sorry picture. The area around the holy shrine that earlier buzzed with a mushrooming growth of ill conceived shanties now looks like a devastated settlement. Perhaps the incident is a way of the gods conveying their unhappiness with the way ecology was being treated in the area around and leading to their abode. Ecological balance would indeed need to be maintained, even at the cost of the so called developmental and political compulsions.

While the extensive loss of lives and damage to infrastructure and property is an irreparable loss, the need of the hour is to take steps to plan and implement a balanced growth of the entire affected belt. The surroundings of the Kedarnath shrine, the approach road and Gauri Kund, all should be developed in an organized manner in keeping with the divine environment, pristine surroundings, need for hygiene and comfort of the devotees. Perhaps the establishment of a shrine board on the lines of Vaishno Devi would mark the perfect beginning of restoration efforts.

The opportunity for a proper positioning of the shrine and the welfare of hordes of devotees should not be allowed to wither away. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

The conscience keepers whither away!

The conscience keepers either sleep or connive with the devil and the system goes haywire. This unfortunately has been happening with the nation as well as its lifeline during the last couple of years. What transpired recently in the railways was an unassailable symptom of the conscience keepers at the apex levels conniving with the devil, directly or indirectly for personal gains or out of fear.   

The problem is deadly yet has a simple solution. The conscience keepers who are fairly senior in the pecking order have to be fair and firm regardless of the consequences. Is it indeed asking for the moon?

In a Loktantra, the real power vests in the elected representatives yet the job of the conscience keeper is assigned to the permanent group, that of the bureaucrats. These servants of the republic confer a sense of permanency to the government that otherwise puts on a new cloak every five years. And therefore they have a major role to play, that of the guardians of the rules, procedures, processes and the conscience of the collective, yet the role is generally found wanting.

The various scams of the 2G, 3G, CWG, Adarsh, Coalgate and Railgate varieties to name a few would not have happened had the conscience keepers played their roles with impunity. A bureaucrat merely has to place in writing the facts of the case, the correct rule position, the ethical stand and the course of action that he feels is the best fit in the prevalent circumstances and then it is for the competent authority, at times the elected representative to take a call in tune with the noting or otherwise. It is plainly as simple as that, yet almost a rarity!

Why the conscience keepers are generally a dismal failure despite the protection afforded to them by virtue of a permanent job guaranteed by no less than the president of the republic is rather difficult to fathom?

It is fairly obvious that the sarkari tantra over a period of time has emerged as an organ primarily suited for self aggrandizement of its constituents. A budding youngster of today joins the services not inspired by lofty ideals but for the ample opportunities the service provides for accumulating wealth and flaunting power in the public domain. A servant of the public at large desirous of extortion from the system and flaunting power over people he is paid to serve! The entire concept of selfless service has perhaps been thrown out of the window in this wonderful nation of ours.

It is indeed time that the concept of selfless service is reinforced down the throats of all those who are paid to serve yet serve to be paid!

Monday, June 10, 2013

The search begins!

The nation searches for a leader.

In a Loktantra governed through Prajatantra and therefore an overall dismal failure so far, the search for a leader is once again center stage. With the ruling dispensation projecting the royal heir apparent and the opposition rooting for Modi, the guy who turned around Gujarat, the populace would once again have to make a choice between two commodities, both of which have their obvious pluses and minuses.  It however is undeniable that the Modi wave has taken the nation, almost by storm.

It is true that Modi has found favor amongst almost all the sections of the society. The rickshaw wala, the panwala and the small time grocer, all are rooting for Modi and rightly so, if he has proved to be the messiah for Gujarat, he has the potential to be one for the nation too.  The brightest ray of hope is apparently visible.

Since the last over six decades, the gullible public of this nation has been bending over backwards to place on the pedestal anyone who appears inclined to take the nation forward. Yet its hopes have regularly been belied as the nation has rapidly proceeded downhill and at the same time provided ample opportunities for loot by the cohorts of the chosen guy. Bofors, disinvestment, 2G, 3G, CWG, Chara, Coalgate, Adarsh and many others, the loot that has perpetually been on has picked up speed during the last couple of years. The gullible public in its heart of hearts sincerely wants someone at the helm who will stem the rot and take the nation forward, and that someone as things appear now is either Rahul or Modi. A progressive young heir versus a man of integrity and conviction who is steeped in deliverance. The battle is indeed going to be exacting and interesting.

It is indeed a turning time for Hindustan. The previous year witnessed the maturing of a nation, the constituents of which inspired by the clarion call against corruption started turning out on the streets of many of its major cities. For the first time ever, the average Indian moved out from the comforts of his home to the streets, heeding an undeniable call of conscience.

What is going on presently cannot be allowed to go on perpetually. The various scams are indeed a blot on the collective conscience of the nation. An operation clean up is the need of the hour and the first step in this direction has apparently been taken at Panaji yesterday.

May God pull this nation out of the morass it has brought itself to!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The final destination!

Nigambodh Ghat is indeed a great leveler and the real final destination. Its holy pyres do not differentiate between the men in power and those shorn of it, super rich and the super poor, brahmin and the shudra, male and female. A visit to its premises therefore does much to cleanse the heart and the brain of thoughts that are not in conformity with the fundamental tenets of humanity, even if only momentarily.  

“Ram naam satya hai, satya hi mukti hain” is always repeated by the men carrying the body for its last rites. The premises of the ghat also reverberate with the sounds of these words. Satya means truth and Ram is the name of the divine hindu god, yet I wonder why this saying is reserved only for the last journey? Is truth not an important and essential pillar during the journey of life itself? Why many of us who generally err on the side of falsity throughout our lives, repeat these words that underline the importance of truth only when one of our close ones leaves for his heavenly abode?

Watching a pyre in full flames is also an exhilarating experience. The final destination of each and every single one of us, the funeral pyre obliterates the very existence of people who considered the world of themselves and for whom till then death was something that happened to others. A view of the pyre has the capacity to bring down to earth even those who regard earthly pleasures as the ultimate goal of life and so it does to me. Power, position and wealth ceases to matter at that very moment and for the next couple of hours till the materialistic world takes over.

Yet life has to go on and so it does.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

The legacy of love!

Leo my son died yesterday. His death was not meant to be, yet he passed away due to a weak heart that could not take the shock of a minor operation. Well that is how life is, it hits you at your weakest spot especially when one is most vulnerable. A pure Labrador born on the summer solstice, the 21st of June, 2006 to be precise, he was not yet seven when the tragedy, the severest me and my family has faced, struck us when we least expected it.

With me born on the 22nd of December, the shortest day in the year and Leo on the 21st of June, the longest, we shared an exceptional bond, a bonding that was visible and evident to all. That however made the pain unbearable, a pain that shall take ages to subside. Suddenly life felt meaningless a feeling that I never had when even the closest of my relations left for their heavenly abode.

Perhaps it was the lesson of love that Leo gave me and my family that shall ultimately be his legacy. A pure heart and a pure soul quite unlike the humans that we come across everyday  his love was as pure as love is meant to be, yet rarely professed or experienced. He loved all those who come in contact with him irrespective of rank or position in the society and that put him on a much higher pedestal than most of us human beings.

If only the clock could be turned back, like in the time machine, the situation may be different. We  would  have allowed Leo to live with the minor ailments that he had. Yet it is not to be, hindsight  is perhaps the most exact  science ever devised.

31st of May shall always be a watershed date in my life and also the lives of Arunima, Ankur and Arushi, a turning point perhaps for  the better, even if sadder than death itself and 21st of June a day that gave hope and a new meaning to life to all of us.

May his soul rest in peace and god give us the strength.