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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

moving from turmoil to progress?

The level of unexpected turmoil in AAP has caught the nation by sheer surprise. Nobody ever expected a revolt of the level witnessed in the party that very recently won over ninety five percent of the seats polled in the Delhi assembly elections. A high majority generally confers an unbridled authority on all party supremos, and this majority was way above the high mark, yet it has brought out differences and internal fights in the open amazingly and surprisingly, that too against the founder supremo Kejriwal whose singly minded focus has brought the party to absolute power under circumstances that indicated otherwise. 

Definitely this is not a battle for supremacy for nobody can presently question or even aspire for the current supremos chair in the backdrop of the landslide victory under his tutelage. Then, is this merely a battle of ego’s that run deep within our systems cutting across political boundaries, sectors and states? Appears unlikely as ego of individuals has the tendency of being blunted by the power of whom they regard as rivals.  And keeping in view the battle against corruption that this party has always heralded, it cannot be a fight for spoils.

There is therefore definitely something else that has triggered and is also sustaining this revolt by a few but powerful founding members of the party. Perhaps only time shall reveal the truth.

Yet it is unfortunate, especially for the gullible public, who has by now gotten used to witnessing its hopes being dashed, generally by the political class.

Is there a hope left, the existing scenario makes me wonder? When the nation came of its own, over sixty seven years ago, great expectations overtook despondence in an overwhelming manner. We all expected the nation to soon occupy its rightful place in the comity of nations, but that was not to be and we continue to trod along as a forever developing nation. Perhaps the answer lies in an immature populace being given the reigns to govern itself and rhetoric in general being perceived as the solution to all ills. Unfortunately we have not come much further and development with minor exceptions ofcourse continues to be substituted generally with rhetoric and the ground reality remains far removed from promises.

Unfortunately in the absence of awareness and maturity in the masses, expectations of those governed, from those in power, continues to be low and the feudal mindset that prevails continues to fan the scenario. Perhaps the solution, like what has been witnessed in the developed world, lies in education and unless that becomes a focal area of governance inspired by commitment and integrity, the desired change would never see the light of the day.

The present dispensation at the center gives hope, yet the proof of the pudding always lies in eating and so we wait for the great change to emerge. Amen!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Madhya Pradesh - the heart and heartbeat of India

Back to where the heart is!

Tourism has again called me back in its wings. My fourth stint in the tourism sector began on the 8th of January this year with the government of Madhya Pradesh as its Commissioner and Managing Director of Tourism. Being wanted is definitely a great feeling that I have been exulting in since the day of my arrival in the beautiful state that I believe has been crafted especially for the roving tourist.

And this return, perhaps the only case of its kind ever in the country where the services of a central services officer have been requisitioned by a state government for the third time, often makes me feel like a tourism expert and at times I start acting like one. Yet I pardon myself on such mistakes that I often commit, regarding myself as a tourism expert or a management guru and sometimes as a leading exponent of smoking beauties, the steam locomotives of yesteryears.

Yet in reality I am none of the above. The nation has a plethora of experts in the tourism and management fields, experts who are many notches above me and given the chance would make a much better contribution than me. Perhaps my expertise lies in converting an idea into reality remaining within the system that is perhaps designed for acts of non-deliverance. And this penchant for delivery is not tourism centric – it has been happening in almost all areas with ease.

The faith and trust that the government of the state has reposed in me is not at all an easy head load. The pressure for deliverance is mind boggling yet the positive and friendly vibes that emanate from almost all sections of the Vallabh Bhawan have ensured that no even an iota of tension is in the air. Heavy pressure but no tension and too much on the plate is perhaps a utopian scenario in a sarkari environment.

The state is indeed not only the heart but also the heartbeat of the nation. Almost in the centre of the nation with ease of access, moderate climate, beautiful landscape, simple people and an amazing variety and richness of tourist destinations, all go to make this state the essence of the republic. The job that way is relatively simple. The richness has to be showcased, basic infrastructure put in place, craft culture and cuisine packaged and showcased, events created and packaged, private sector facilitated to put in place tourist infrastructure, information widely and efficiently disseminated and above all professionalizing the state run tourism corporation, handling which is my primary charge.

And all this would be possible. After all a beautiful state that is so well governed besides being headed by an individual who has concern for human values at the core of his heart, has to excel in the business of tourism.

I also now realize that far more important than mere showcasing that most of the leading states are indulging in, is the need to put right things at the ground level. And this is where the state of Madhya Pradesh stands out in almost all areas especially tourism where the works at the ground level have outpaced their showcasing. This has also resulted in a groundswell of support from the general public as they witnessed what they never had earlier – things changing for the better at a very rapid pace.

And this pace is now going to continue. And why not – when work becomes fun can excellence be far behind?  

Scrapping Article 66A – not enough for national rejoicing

The quashing of section 66A, the controversial cyber law by the supreme court comes as a relief to many, especially those who would not like the rich and the powerful to carry on with their indiscretions unopposed. Laying stress on the freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution, the court consigned this controversial section to the dustbin mainly on account of its vagueness and arbitrariness. The arrests and harassment in recent times of citizens who criticized the whimsical acts of powerful politicians perhaps formed the basis for this landmark judgement.

2013 and 14 perhaps marked the lowest ever point in the history of the great Indian railways with a scoundrel of the highest order occupying the corner room and treating the organization as his personal fiefdom. This scoundrel and his wife displayed conduct of the lowest order and in the process tortured and humiliated scores of railway staff. His rank indulgence in corrupt practices set new records with all his cronies remaining busy in extortions, yet with very rare exceptions, hardly any officer or staff came forward in defiance of illegal orders and practices being perpetrated at the behest of the scoundrel couple. Despite frequent mentions of his gross misconduct in passing in the national media as well as social media, he passed into oblivion unscathed with almost the entire organization, with very few exceptions watching in awe and fear without taking recourse to the national or even social media to highlight what was indeed going wrong. This group would remain silent even in the post section 66A era that the apex court has heralded.

The quashing of section 66A would definitely make a difference, even if a minor one, only to the very few who have the spine and even otherwise were carrying on with their writing against unethical conduct and practices, regardless of the inconvenience they were often put through. Now it would be almost impossible to put behind bars or harass those who are vocal enough to say through the social media what others merely digested unmindful.

The moot question is whether we as an individual, as a karinda of the government, as an organization or as a society are indeed ready to accept a different and very often the truthful viewpoint. The answer is “not yet” for we have not attained the level of maturity that most of the societies in the developed world have. Suppression of free expression of the masses, unless ofcourse they are seditious in nature or promote national disharmony or terrorism, is not the right way of governing a free democratic nation. What we indeed need to suppress are acts that are criminal in nature and/or go against the basic grain of our social structure and in that we have been a miserable failure. The massive delays in bringing to task even the perpetrators of heinous crimes like gang rapes and murders even of ex prime ministers is a serious cause of concern and the root cause behind crime, social disorder and the rampant corruption that almost all organs of governments are generally embroiled in.

The quashing of section 66A is definitely a welcome step but does not give enough reason for national rejoicing. It can at best be regarded as the first small step in the direction of setting right the governance and social systems of the country, yet it can act as a catalyst for ushering in a plethora of reforms in the governance machinery of the country.