Friday, October 21, 2011

You can't keep snakes in your backyard - India And the snakes in its Backyard - Corruption, Rowdyism, Naxalism etc

You can't keep snakes in your backyard
and expect them only to bite your neighbours.

The US secretary of State, Ms. Hillary Clinton said this while in Pakistan. The analogy seems to apply to all others as well – Nations, smaller organizations and Individuals.

And, yet many people seem to indulge in this –knowingly and unknowingly – just hoping that the snakes in their backyard will bite  the neighbours only.

For example -some people in India support Naxalites and almost everything that they do, blindly, when they are in the Opposition. But, they face the music  from Naxalites when they come to Power. It happens in India in various states – all the time.

In North Eastern states, every state seems to have such outfits with different names. And, nobody knows what the Governments do with them. In some other states, there are Political parties, who periodically indulge in violence, against some section or other of the people – and go scot free.

Every Political Party when it is in Power misuses the Police forces -  but when in Opposition, it decries the same misuse of Power by the current Ruling Party / Parties- against itself. The Ruling Parties almost always support the brutalities of the Police – and never even think of reforming the system.
How do we in India deal with demonstrations and protests? Britain too has strikes and demonstrations by its Citizens. USA also has these types of public protests – like the latest wall street Protests. How are they dealt with by the UK and US police? How many citizens were injured and how much? Very few; Very little.
One Ex-Police officer said in one TV channel some days ago – that her superiors when she was working in a state – had ordered her that her police should break the bones of the Protestors there. Of course she tactfully avoided it, she says. But, the orders for breaking of bones seems to happen many times in all such Protests in India, peaceful or not so peaceful. When are we going to reform?
There are Rowdies in every city, town and even villages. Somehow – we find, they are going scot free. Rowdy, by definition, is out to commit some crime or other – as a profession. If they are watched proactively by some type of special agency, ninety percent of crimes in India can perhaps be prevented. There does not seem to be any such arrangement in India. The Rowdies even contest elections on the ticket of this or that Political Party – and win many times. They then grow up in two professions. Rowdyism and Politics. Snakes are growing powerful.
We have stinking corruption from north to south and east to west. We have it on the Roads, in offices, Police stations, Ministries – and Temples too. The stink is suffocating the world – not merely India. But, we will all wait to defame all people fighting this stinking corruption – and then the fight will end. When there is no fighter left, there is no fight either. The Corruption remains. I don’t think the corruption has come down by one percent since the Team Anna started some sort of a fight against it. I think more and more People need to join the movement or start their own movements against corruption. And, come together at National level as a joint force. Else, the corrupt people will find all possible ways to extinguish the fight against corruption.
Swami RamDev started the fight to bring back Black money. Now, he is facing a number of investigations – and given the time that it takes in India, RamDevji will be busy with those investigations, cases etc – and Black money will be safe wherever it is.
Team Anna is entering a similar phase. Some people want to find just anything to malign them, defame them and put some cases on them. It is going on. Given that nobody born on the earth (at least in Indian environment) can claim to be 100 percent pure and sinless, you can always find some thing against any one, if you dig deep enough.
By the way, how many people in India do you think are corrupt? 10 percent? 20 percent ? Or more? What about people who have paid bribes for one purpose or other? 20 percent? 40 percent? 60 percent? I don’t know! Assuming that the Givers and takers are two different sets – with just a little overlapping – You put almost the whole of India in the dock – if you dig deep enough.
There is a story dating back over five centuries into our history. King Krishna Deva Raya of Vijaya Nagar in South – wanted to honour his HONEST and HARD WORKING CITIZENS by holding a small party for them, with sweets, snacks, milk etc. There was no coffee or tea in those days. Every thing else was available in the King’s godowns (where grains etc are stored) - except the daily requirement of milk. There were no refrigerators in those days.
So, the king ordered that all citizens of Vijaya Nagar must pour  some milk from their homes – into a huge vessel kept at the four roads Junction before the Royal Palace. Next day morning – all citizens promptly lined up before the huge vessel and complied with the King’s order. In the evening, the King and his ministers (including his famous courtier, Tenali Rama, whose idea was this), came to the Big vessel – and looked in. The Vessel was full – but with pure water. The king understood the lesson that Tenali Rama wanted to teach him – and became more vigilant and practical later. He started ensuring more honesty among his ministers, officials  and other key personnel. Vijaya Nagar did prosper a lot later during his regime and people too became really more honest later.
You can’t have dishonest Ministers and officials and expect public to be more honest than them. It simply is not possible.
The corrupt snakes are biting the public all the time. And, making them corrupt too. So, where do you start? Start at the top – at central and state Governments both. That is why a strong Lok Pal and Lok Ayukth are essential – to deal with the higher ups.
And the most corrupt officials must come under their scanner very urgently. If the bottom man is corrupt – expect that the top men too are corrupt – a lot more, not less.
It is not that there is no honesty in India. There is. For instance, almost no one doubts the integrity o our Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. Some may call him weak Prime Minister – but certainly an honest one. Likewise, there are many honest persons in various parties. The problem is, the dishonest men are heavily organized. And we do vote for them too - on some ground or other. That is the problem. Now, the honest men must come together.
Let us face some inconvenient facts. Even the most honest person also may have some small things to hide. Like Jesus said – those of you, who have not committed a single sin may throw the first stone. By that yard stick – there will be none left to fight corruption or any other evil in India. It was so in Christ’s days, as the story indicates. No one had the courage to throw the first stone. So, some small black spots  in persons who really want clean, non corrupt society in India – will be there but these should not matter for us at this pint of time.
When the Augean stables are getting cleaned – all of the small black spots will also be wiped out. We will become a much cleaner Society.
At this point of time – let us not hate the small sinners – they are all forced into it by the BIG SINNERS. The Die-Hard ones. Let us not keep these huge snakes in our backyard.
I certainly like the way – Ms. Hillary put it. It is an old saying anyway. Old wisdom. But, many of us in India too are growing different type of snakes, be it terrorism, rowdyism, corruption, or other social sins, and we are expecting them to bite only our neighbours.
Let us come out of this stupor.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011





India has guaranteed to its Citizens many valuable, Fundamental Rights through the Constitution o India.

Of these fundamental rights, the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under constitution are very important – for exercise of all other rights.
These are as follows :

       Freedom of speech and expression;
       Freedom to assemble peaceably and without arms;
       Freedom to form associations or unions;
       Freedom to move freely throughout the territory of India;
       Freedom to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India;
       Freedom to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

But, these are subject to reasonable restrictions. We have Freedom of speech and expression. But it is subject to reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

There will be a few border line cases where it is difficult to judge whether one’s exercise of freedom of expression is or is not in conflict with the sovereignty and integrity of India and the security of India. In such matters – the Government of India must take a clear stand on the imposition of restrictions – so that Public and Press know where the Buck stops. In the absence of that, freedom of expression can put the country in avoidable embarrassment. In case of known issues like Kashmir, India has taken firm Positions in International Fora like UNO and there is general consensus on such stand among most Political Parties. To my mind – general public in India, including the Press, need not be allowed to voice different opinions on such matters, in conflict with India’s known stand, where there is at least a 2/3rds majority opinion in Parliament in favour of such an international stand. 

I have all the respect for people who have differences of opinion with the Government on Kashmir. Frankly - I also have some difference of opinion with the stated stand of the Government and also with the way we are tackling the Kashmir issue. I think, the topmost priority in the Kashmir problem is – to resettle all Kashmiri Hindus back in their places and ensure their safety and freedom. The second Priority is to identify all Pakistanis residing or hiding in Kashmir and drive them out or book them all under Indian Law. The third priority is - the continuous influx of Pakistanis into Kashmir must be stopped at all Costs. Till these three priorities are effectively addressed – where is the question of holding a plebiscite in Kashmir? Can’t we see the farce in such a demand? 

My view is - the elections held and the Governments installed in Kashmir like that of National Conference are the conclusive proof of Kashmir’s right to be in India. But, the three concerns voiced above remain to be addressed – and on these three concerns public will definitely need freedom of expression – not on the international stand taken by India – with a 2/3rds majority agreement in Parliament.

I think, Government of India, through a 2/3rds majority opinion in Parliament, must come out with its clear stand – and, as the matter does involve the sovereignty and integrity of India, impose reasonable restrictions on differences of opinion on the subject. Else, such differences of opinions or demands for plebiscite can also come in respect of many other places in India in future. A stitch in time saves nine. This – is such time. It would also be healthy for the Government to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court before imposing such reasonable restrictions.

Having said that – all right thinking Indians must come out strongly against the growing violence – in words and actions – of some people and organizations in India, which is putting all the rights of others in jeopardy.

Unfortunately – more often the Governments in India at the Centre and states are dealing with non-violence with violence; but not dealing with violence at all. Whether it is putting down the violence against Biharis in Maharashtra or caste clashes in Rajasthan, or any politically inspired physical violence any where in India goes largely unpunished. 

Most of the time, the views expressed by Politicians and some NGOs are dimmed by their Political and other affiliations. For example, in respect of Gujarat, some will studiously avoid the Godhra Carnage and some will studiously avoid the aftermath. Nurturing such double standards are bound to lead to similar incidents in future also.

The crux of the matter is – there is no place for violence of words or actions in India. Such violence must be dealt with, at the first known occurrence and every known occurrence.

For instance, one Telangana Politician is shown on media having asked people – to beat up all Congress MPs and MLAs etc. He is known for such inflammatory speeches. If Government cannot tackle such incitement to violence even against its own MPs and MLAs – how will it protect individual freedoms guaranteed to general public? But, the defense of some agitationists  is - some Congress men also said things like that! If that be true – put whoever says such inflammatory and violence-inciting words behind bars forthwith and deal with them as per stated Law. Do not wait till such persons actually carry out their violent threats.

Constitution does not guarantee individual freedoms. It only lays down the freedoms to be guaranteed by the Governments in Power. It is the Government’s sole responsibility  to do that. Not of the printed Book called the Constitution. If state government does not and cannot do it for any reason – Centre has to do it. The Judiciary also needs to take suo-motu cognizance of such instances coming to its notice even through press and media. It has done in a few instances. There is no doubt. But, when it comes to Political incitement to violence – no one in India is acting.

There is another type of violence that also needs urgent attention. Violence by the Police forces. Most of the public outcry in Kashmir is against the unjustified use of force by the Kashmir Police itself. But, Police any where in India – is doing that. Look at any video footage of action by Police in any state – it is full of unnecessary violence.

Kiran Bediji has said once in a  TV Channel – that – in one state, she received some orders from her superiors – to break the legs – of some agitationists in a state. Of course, she dealt with it tactfully and avoided giving such orders to the Police under her control. I very warmly congratulate her and thank her for such imaginative action.

But, the point is – Police bosses and Political bosses are giving such orders – to break legs, bones etc – of especially peaceful agitationists. And, what happens to the people who are bet up by the Police – afterwards – is nobody’s concern. When will the Indian Police consciously strive to abide by Law themselves and adopt more intelligent, humane and less brutal methods – in tackling law and order Problems? We need many, many more Kiran Bedis in Police forces to achieve this. As earlier said – if they act in time and strive to prevent crime before it happens, India will become a much better place to live for law abiding citizens. A stitch in time – saves all further stitches and tears. 

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The Newly-appointed Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice Markandey Katju has made certain pertinent observations about the Media.

Many of his observations are valid and I do agree with his observations. But, some are gross generalizations. I do not agree with them.

First and Foremost, it is essential in India to segregate the media into two distinct varieties. The Politically polarized Media and the Neutral Media. We must clearly distinguish between them. The facilities available to the Neutral media must be much more than those available to the Politically Polarized media.

Many news Papers and TV Channels are clearly owned by Political Parties, or their leaders or their henchmen. Their money power is therefore enormous. Their Political clout too is enormous. Their views will necessarily be one sided, favouring their Political bosses and mentors. So, their presentation of even the same NEWS – will be POLES APART – compared to the neutral media. Almost each Political Party has news Papers and  TV channels.

Most of the SLANTED NEWS, Twisted News etc – come from the Polarized Media. In case of some of these news papers and TV channels – most of their news may be biased, either less or more or totally. Some news are deliberately BLACKED OUT. Some news are deliberately FOCUSED. Some news are so badly twisted – that we will feel (for an example) that some how the murderer is the victim and the murdered is the culprit. In this aspect, I am totally with Justice Katzu’s assessment.

The Neutral Media – is far, far better in this respect. But, the neutral media needs much more freedom and Protection of the state, the Judiciary etc – than is available today. They also must be given more facilities at cheaper rates. The Neutral Media has to function in a hostile, even violent atmosphere – to secure real, factual, well documented news and present them on their Media. The Political class is not their best friend and therefore – India needs to make further laws to protect the neutral media from the Political class. At the same time, more screening and scanning of the Politically Polarized Media is also essential.

Justice Katzu says - “…the tendency is to brand all Muslims in the country as terrorists and bomb throwers.” In this observation, I think, I am not with Justice Katzu. I have not seen media – whether neutral media or even the politically Polarised media –with probably a few exceptions – doing any thing like what Justice Katzu has said. 

There is no attempt by the majority of Media to present all Muslims in the country as terrorists and bomb throwers. Let us face the facts. 99% of Muslims in India are all peace loving and non-violent. If you say, it is 99.99%, I will be more than willing to say, YES.

We love an Abdul Kalam, We love an Aaamir Khan, We love a Shabanaa Azmi, We love a Dileep Kumar, We love a Rehman and so many other Indian Muslims. There are so many illustrious Indians among Muslims – and we are all proud of them. Just from memory, we can fill this whole article with names of some of these most illustrious Indian Muslims.

Except mad men, no one can call ALL MUSLIMS of our country as terrorists and bombers. Let us go one step further. Even in Pakistan, our great western neighbor, – I am sure that -  about 99% of the Muslims are just as peace loving as Indians.

But, the problem comes with the balance 1%, sir. People who come from across the border with explosives and terrorist plans, and people who are undergoing trainings in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan etc - are all Muslims with Muslim names and the media can only project them that way. That unfortunately may give the impression to some oversensitive people that media are branding all Muslims of our country as terrorists and bombers. There is no such branding. There can not be also.

Let us look at the other violent people in India. The Shri Ram Sene, The Bhagat Singh Sena and – may be a few more are also there. These people will have either Hindu Names and Sikh names. They can even take a few Photos with some Hindu or Sikh saints or politicians – who may not be aware of their background at all. And, these people show their violent colour on unsuspecting people.

For this reason - Can we brand all Hindus and Sikhs as terrorists and as violent, law less people. Definitely not. But, yes, some fools do coin terms like Hindu terrorism, right wing Hindu terrorism and so on – just to neutralize terms like Islamic terrorism which are prevalent in some Nations.

We must see the stupidity in all these terms. We must refrain from associating terrorism and violence with religion – per se. Just for a moment, let us look at Afghanistan. The non-violent, peace loving Afghanistan is battling the violent people over there. It is so very obvious. The efforts of the entire International community is to ensure that the Peace loving Afghanistan wins over the violent people there.

Terrorism or violence is Individualistic and is basically an Ego Problem of the Individual or the organization. But, terrorism must be handled firmly. Media is bound to go to the roots of the terrorists and their links in India and project all that through the media. We must not be oversensitive to it. But, if any small section of the Press and Media is actually doing what Justice Katzu has observed – branding a religion as such - they can even be banned and closed altogether. The state will be right in doing that.

Thirdly - Justice Katzu says, “The real issues are terrible economic conditions in which 80% of our people are living- poverty, unemployment, lack of housing and medical care etc.”  I am with Justice katzu in this observation. But, here also – Neutral media scores far better than the Polarized media in this aspect. The polarized Media takes an exception and presents it as the rule.

A well run state may be presented as an ill-run one and vice versa. One controversial example is Gujarat. Is there development or is it not there? Forget Politics when dealing with developmental issues. If media combines Politics and developmental issues – they present the most confusing Picture.

On this point – we can also say – one more significant slant in media. For Most English Channels – News means, news of Delhi and Bombay. It is very, very, very rare to cover news of other places. Had they covered KCR and his speeches in Telangana,  from a few years back – they could have understood and projected him in proper light. Probably, the Telangana Agitation would have taken some other turn, if the persons steering it – were properly analyzed by Media. Media is also hesitant to project News of some other Politicians and Political parties – God Knows what is the reason. Many Politicians and their innate intolerant and violent nature should have been exposed by media more vigorously. And, the state and Judiciary must protect media, especially the neutral media, in this attempt.

In a nut shell – there is no Balanced News – of all regions of India. We need that from the media.

Dr.Abdul Kalam had presented how Israeli News papers report Positive news and Negative News – in one of his writings. Positive news are front paged and bold. Negative news are some where in the interior in small corners. I am definitely impressed with what our ex president had said – and I feel, there is need for our press and electronic media also to present news in such Positive format. But, our media does the Opposite.

I have stopped reading news papers for that reason. Many spiritual and social thinkers in India also advise that one must not start his day with a news paper reading. If you feel so – read it after lunch time. Not at the start of the day. You will read of rapes, murders, thefts, decoities, Political plots and all sorts of negative news at the start of the day – in head lines – and your whole mindset becomes negative for the day.  

There are many good things happening in India too. There are many people in India doing great things for India’s development. They do not receive any attention at all in the media. There is a huge need to present this positive side of India. While on this topic – we must also say that there are many wonderful Muslims in India, who are doing great work for the country. Present them to correct the impression in the minds of some people, about media being biased against Muslims. It is necessary.

Most often, we see movie stars and Cricketers. They fill media screens for too long a time. You may not see the Prime Minister or the Principal Opposition leader for as long as you see a Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan. And, that, on a national News Channel! And what is the great News you see of them? Nothing almost.

The serials (or soaps) in some of the Media are especially disgusting. Most serials are polygamous invariably. Most serials present too many women villains – plotting their next crime in atrociously cruel manner. I don’t know what Justice Katzu thinks of them. But, I think, if a serial presents more than one woman as villain – it must be banned. I have seen some real life women behaving exactly like these soap villains. Likewise – presenting most Police officers in the cruelest fashion may actually make them so. Media must present more Police officers as upright, intelligent and law-abiding.

All in all – Justice Katzu has spurred a debate. It must be continued – and debated at length – so that some much needed reforms take place.

Media – at the end – must be acknowledged as the best protection for People – from Politicians, Rowdies, Police and any others who try to exercise undue power over them. Therefore, Media must never come under Government Control – but must have an effective self regulating mechanism – with primacy for Neutral Media.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011





It is Panchayat Elections time in Tamilnadu.  All Political Parties are fighting the Elections individually and independently – it seems.  There are also some Independent candidates – not currently affiliated to any Political Party.

There is a saying – as are the leaders, so are the people. Yathaa raja, thathaa prajaa.

So, how are the leaders? And, Who are our leaders? And what are they doing? Let us forget the central level and state level scams, land grabbings and so on – by our great leaders.

What about my municipal councilor, Panchayat President and councilors and so on ? Who are they? I don’t know.  The Great Election Commission of India – does not feel it fit to tell me, the Voter, – any thing about them.

I don’t understand why some one residing outside my ward should at all be contesting elections for selection as my Ward councilor / member. It seems meaningless. The Panchayat Raj system is  simply not that. We call it as LOCAL SELF GOVERNMENT. Let him be LOCAL – for my ward. Not from some other ward. So is the case with Panchayat President and so on.  It can be different for Assemblies and Parliament – but not for a system of Local Self Governance – at the Panchayat level. He must exclusively be Local. Not from outside.

Second – Who is he and What is he? This is the simplest information, I want. I need it to vote. Some one authentic like Election Commission should tell me – whether the contesting candidate is a murderer, thief, rapist or what else and what else not? What are the cases against him? What is his Education? What does he do for a living? Does he brew liquor, or sell marijuana – what else does he do in his life? And his immediate family members – spouse and children? Who are they? How much Income and Property does he have today – so that I will know, what is his income and Property are at the end of his tenure. Why are there no such details at all for the Voter? Am I voting for the Panchayat’s worst  Criminal and Rowdy sheeter, or, for a devoted social activist? Whom am I voting for? I must know that. The person I am voting for, will in due course, become  the Panchayat President, an MLA, a Minister, and MP – and, at any rate, a Crore-pati, for sure. And the country will go to dogs. That is – if I continue to vote for the wrong people. 

The Election Commission – especially after T.N.Seshan, has been doing a Good Job in conducting Elections. But, Sir, if I don’t have these details about the candidates in the fray – there is JUST NO POINT IN MY VOTING AT ALL. By voting for the wrong man, I may be putting the country at a Big risk.  Until and unless the Government and Election commission – tell me the important details about each Candidate – and this info must be contained on the back of every leaflet published by the candidate – my vote is putting the country at a Big Risk.

Will the Governments and the Election Commission wake up to this BASIC NECESSITY – for my exercising the sacred right of VOTE.

And, only if I have this Info about each candidate, the RIGHT TO REJECT, advocated by Anna Hazare, which I also support ardently – will make any sense.

I do want to VOTE – but more importantly, I do want to Vote for the RIGHT PERSON – irrespective of the party system.

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