Thursday, 10 July 2008
Someday we will conquer death
Someday we will learn to live our lives before death!
Someday we will live on another planet
Someday we will realize that we failed to preserve our own planet!
Someday we will end the wars
Someday we will realize that it was our ego that caused all the wars!
Someday we will see the almighty.
Someday we will realize that he was there every time we did our duty!
Someday we will have honest rulers.
Someday we will realize that we tolerated their ruthlessness!
Someday my family and friends will accept me despite my flaws
Someday I will learn to keep my commitments!
Someday I will be rich
Someday I will realize that all things are not within my reach!
Some day I will write better poems.
Some day I will realize that emotions are all that counts!
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
I first heard this concept of Rs.2 per kg of rice when I was in my intermediate. At the time it was introduced in Andhra by the charismatic NTR. My English Lecturer waxed eloquently on the virtues of this scheme for eradicating poverty. Far sighted he was, he cautioned that next year the price should be increased by atleast 20 paisa so that it does not become a burden on the exchequer. That was 20 years ago but the Rs.2 per kg rice slogan is yet to desert the landscape of Indian Politics. Orissa Government is shortly to start giving Rs.2 per kg rice to poor people.
20 years back the price of one kg good quality rice in the market was around Rs.12. There was economic sense in giving it at Rs.2 but today what sense it makes. Today good quality rice in the market is around Rs.30. Very well this rice can be given free of cost. What difference will an additional Rs.2 burden on the drowned finances of most state governments? How many more elections have to be won on the basis of this Rs.2 per kg of rice? When will this amount be raised?
The only saving grace for this Rs.2 per kg of rice drama enacted by our politicians is a national sample survey which shows that nearly 20% of the population survives on a daily income of Rs.12 (refer my blogs http://indiaregion.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/02/surviving-24-hours-at-rs-12.htm or http://balu036.blogspot.com/2008/02/surviving-24-hours-day-at-rs12.html) . Even in this case the blame squarely rests with the politicians that despite 9% growth, people have such meager incomes. People should boycott political parties which make them look like beggars instead they should ask for more income earning opportunities.
Dhoni premature to receive Khel Ratna award
Dhoni is a good cricketer who has the potentials to make it really big. But I don’t believe he has achieved enough to be awarded the “Khel Ratna” award so early in the day. Captaining India to a T20 WC victory and a series victory in an ODI series in Australia does not qualify him to be awarded the Khel Ratna. Popular public hype would suggest that he is the most deserving candidate for the award but let the proprietary of the award not be breached by hype.
Khel Ratna awards are equivalent to Bharat Ratna as far as sports are concerned. Leave alone giving Dhoni the award, he should not even be recommended now. The only cricketer to have got this award is Sachin Tendulkar. Greats like Dravid, Kumble, Ganguly, and Lakshman have not even been recommended for this award. Their achievements are a part of legend and I won’t delve into it. I don’t think Dhoni has achieved even a fraction of what they have done. For that matter, he is yet to provide number of match winning performances like say a Yuvraj, Shewag or Harbhajan. Have a look at the list of award winners of the Rajiv Khel Ratna winners and it will strike you like tsunami that Dhoni has a long way to go. If Dhoni is to be given Khel Ratna for his captaincy, how can the Bengal Tiger Saurav Ganguly be left out? He was the one who started the renaissance of Indian Cricket after it was caught in the mire of match fixing
I am confident that Dhoni will one day win this award but right now he has a lot of distance to travel. Recommending him for a Khel Ratna at a moment when he is complaining of fatigue when playing for the nation but not IPL seems a parody. The BCCI loves to ride the wave, once they can be discrete. The Government can be wise enough to shoot down BCCI proposal. Don’t trivialize the importance of awards like Khel Ratna.
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Inflation is hitting the roof. It is going to hurt very badly a person like me who has got a stable but largely immobile salary. All these years I have got used to a pseudo luxury life courtesy the stable prices. I could easily borrow (thanks to the low interest rates) to satiate my unreasonable consumer demands. In the middle of this golden consumer run, I managed to convince a bank into giving me a home loan. Now with the increasing prices and interest rates, the proverbial “hand to mouth existence” may be a dream because I may have to chew only on fingers. To keep myself afloat I have decided to adopt these novel methods to beat the inflation.
Food is the most important item of expenditure. To cut down on this expenditure I am going to pay frequent visits to every known relative and remotely connected friend’s house. My late stay in office will increase on the other days to ensure that my dinner is booked to office. Some of my colleagues have already noticed this and made chiding remarks about me. The thick skinned that I am won’t be perturbed by these economy watchers. On Sundays and weekends, I am going to visit every marriage/birthday party and even obsequies ceremony that I have been sent a card for. I will walk in empty handed with the standard slogan “I neither accept nor give gifts”.
Having taken care of the food, I will train my guns on how to optimize the prime location in which my house is located. I am seriously thinking of approaching companies to paint their logos on the outside, inside walls of my house. I don’t mind even if some company insists on renaming my house “(company name) Balu Nilayam”. Window Panes of my house can also be used for display. As far as clothing is concerned, if any company comes forward to give me their promotional t-shirts and other material, I don’t mind wearing them and standing on top of my house during prime time on the weekends.
As far as cosmetics, shaving aids etc.., is concerned, I am going to change over to the cheap local brands and write countless number of blogs on virtues of using such products. Travel would be managed by hitching rides from rank strangers or emotional blackmailing friends and relatives to drive me where I want. I am going to shop with friends and relatives not for the joy of it because at the moment of making the payment, I will pretend I have not brought my wallet and convince them into paying for me. As expected, credit cuts love and I don’t intend to cut the love they have on me by repaying, I am going to treat it as gift. To be reasonable, I am going to find a new person every time I want to shop.
I know all the above methods suggested are pretty shameless. But I am staying in a country where we have a Government that does not believing in controlling inflation but worried about implementing a N-deal. The technology has worked nowhere in the world. We have a so called Peoples Champion in the name of Left Parties who instead of finding methods to work with the Government to reduce the prices has withdrawn support on an issue that they did not originally oppose.
When the political parties can become shameless, why me remain upright? “Be a Roman when you are in Rome”. Nothing is more important than me.
Monday, 7 July 2008
There is a huge hue and cry about the impact that reality shows are having on our society. Turn back the pages, realty shows have been a part of our culture from days immemorial.
Remember how Ram won Sita. In fact fixing of realty shows is also a part of our culture. Remember how Ram intervened in the contest between Vali and Sughreev. Participant taunting is also not new to our culture, remember how Karna was insulted for reasons of birth by Dronacharya. Arjun winning Draupadi was also a part of a reality show. Pandavas losing Draupadi again was a part of the realty show or for that matter the condition that the last year has to be spent in disguise was similar to “Big Brother”. Also you could recall the great contest between Lord Subramanya and Ganesh for the divine fruit and how Lord Ganesh won it the smart way.
Our legend is full of stories on prince’s displaying their talents in a public contest to win over the princess or rescuing her from a magician after crossing various hurdles. So let’s not dub the realty shows as Western and pretend that its pitfalls as alien to our culture. The fact is that realty shows a great platform for ordinary people to display their talents. Some extraordinary talent has emerged due to the realty shows. There might be stray cases of fixing but that does not mean an absurd talent has won. There is a certain amount of drama built into it to make it viewable. The comments of the judges are a part of this drama. Participation in a reality show is not a compulsion. Chicken hearted are free not to participate and those who have the stomach can continue to win accolades.
Sunday, 6 July 2008
It is said that the footwear a person wears reveals his class. In our country, if you want to find an individual’s civic sense or lack of it, just buy him a banana on the streets. Most of them after eating the banana would end up throwing the peel behind them. If a person is truly careless, he would throw it anywhere but most of us throw it sub-consciously behind us. It is as if to suggest “I have enjoyed the banana, don’t want to skid over the peel but don’t mind the guy coming behind skidding over”. It just reflects how insensitive and selfish we are. After all discarding a banana peel into the dustbin, won’t sap us of our energy. Partly to blame is our films who with their sense of dry comedy reflect a person skidding over a banana peel as a laughing matter. It maybe a laughing matter for the onlookers but not for the victim. At times it can be life crippling or even death.
I find it nauseating to find Banana peels in the middle of a footpath. If somebody is such a lazy bum, atleast he can throw it on the corner, why right in the middle. Whenever I see such peels, I do try to clear them. I don’t mind doing this self-appointed scavenger job but to find educated persons indulging in this is irritating. Enjoy your banana and throw the peel into an open gutter atleast. First it won’t explode and most importantly, it is a bio-degradable material. As the former President APJ said we won’t indulge in such acts if we are in Singapore, we can make our country a more civic place by simple voluntary acts.
With petrol prices going up, the new fad is bio fuel. The arguments put forward are it is cheap and that is zero polluting. Bio Fuel or Crude is a Hobson’s choice and as the old saying goes “Trust a known devil rather than an unknown fairy”.
If Bio-fuel is produced from food meant for you and me, as the demand for it goes up, the prices of these commodities will go up and also there will be a severe scarcity. One of the reasons attributed for the global increase of food prices is bio-fuel. If Bio-fuel has to be produced exclusively, then the existing thin cover of forests will be further endangered. The threat that bio-fuel posses to our forest cover is unimaginable. It will lead to large scale deforestation, soil erosion, vanishing of more species, etc. Recently there have been large scale protests in Kenya against letting out 80 square miles of Tana River Delta for bio-fuel production. This delta is to be converted as a sugarcane plantation unmindful of the fact that now it is home to lions, hippos, reptiles and sustains thousands of farmers and fishermen.
One dreads the day when bio-fuel cultivation catches the fancy of the corrupt and powerful in India. Just look at a city like Bangalore, where over the past 20 years, scores of lakes have been encroached and converted into layouts. The Government for obvious reasons is keeping quite. The same would happen with bio-fuel production once its profitability is unleashed. With ruthless ease, food crop cultivating areas would be converted into non-food crop producing area; forests would be done away with to put up sugar plantations, like it is happening in Kenya and elsewhere. Bio-fuel is non-polluting but already we are facing the problem of global warming due to disappearance of forest cover. What is the point in having a non-polluting fuel when there would be fewer forest cover than the existing depleted one?
The only alternative that can work for India is the ever present solar energy. Most parts of the country have sunshine throughout the year. I would love to buy a solar cooker but it takes 2 hours to cook rice and who has that much time. The Government has to invest huge sums of money into making use of solar energy viable. Use of solar energy in certain cases should be made compulsory. For example, the Government could come out with a law wherein houses with more than 600 sqft diameter are compelled to install solar geysers. The Government should from a future date; say 2013 make it compulsory that all 2 wheelers below 100 cc should be capable of running on solar power. Solar water heaters should be made compulsory for hotels and restaurants. The street lights should be capable of running on both solar and electric power.
Bio-fuel is not for a country like India where environmental laws are broken with impunity. We are having a mining mafia which is causing sufficient environmental damage, now we don’t want a bio-fuel mafia.
We all complain that corruption is rampant in our country but in our heart it seems we all love to bribe. We feel that bribing a person is the best way to acknowledge that he/she is doing a good job. This attitude is more with people who lived their youth during the 70’s and 80’s when almost everything save breathing and producing babies was under socialist control. Even today there are some avenues where cannot we avoid paying a bribe; we have to fall in line. This blog is not about eradicating corruption but let us at least lessen the scope of corruption wherever possible.
I recently developed a desire to go abroad and hence applied for a passport. A police constable came for the customary check and with his own expectations of a few crunchy notes. He started off in the usual stern note of asking my name, etc, etc. I showed him each and every document proof he asked for. He was tiring but did not budge and started appreciating my house, the interiors, etc. I kept conversing with him and offered him a tea. After 15 to 20 minutes, he realized that his game was up, got up and left with a sigh. I did not give him even a single pie. My father-in-law (from the good old socialism days) told me it would have been wise if I had bribed him. I replied “let him dare to give an adverse report about me, I will sue him for Rs.10 crores”. As always he left me alone scratching his head. There are two things which citizens applying for passport have to realize, cops are under an obligation to send a report to the MEA within a specific limited period of time and in case, they gave an adverse report, you can always obtain details of the same under the RTI Act and later sue them in the court, if it has been done with malafide intentions. My clearance report was sent well within the required period of time. I do acknowledge there may be times when we have to bribe the cops but atleast when we have a clean track record, we need not bribe them for a passport enquiry.
The passport tussle does not end here. My passport was returned undelivered because the postman could not find the address (funny given that the number of my house is displayed in a foot long name board). New occupants of localities across the great land of Bharath for ages have bribed postman, to ensure that their letters are delivered without fail. I did not comply with this unholy ritual and the union backed postman had his revenge. I would have none of it, went to the postmaster and gave him my piece of mind in writing and oral, on what I thought about his department. Since then the postman knows my address. I did get my passport by writing to the MEA. Again some informed sources told me to adopt the conventional route but I did not budge. MEA has set procedures and unless and until you want to hoodwink the system, there is need for you to adopt the unconventional route. The Government has spent a lot of money, time and effort to streamline procedures in such departments. Let us not mess them up.
Recently I had to transfer the documents of a vehicle in my name. Mention the name RTO; our people come out with the standard expression “How much bribe I have to pay?” Yes, I do admit that it is nearly impossible to obtain a licence from the RTO without greasing palms, but there are many jobs in RTO which can be got done without paying a bribe. The above mentioned work took me all of 45 minutes and 40 rupees fees, which conventional wisdom said that can only be done by paying a bribe of around R.500.
The most disturbing bribing tendency I have seen in my life is people paying in private hospitals to nursing attendants and ayas. You don’t require paying a bribe in such places and not everybody likes/can afford to pay bribe in a hospital. Just imagine what would happen if the same hospital attendant takes up a job in a Government organization, he would demand bribe as his birthright. Let us not corrupt atmospheres which are still virgin to corruption.
Let’s give up on baksheesh. Let us understand that it was the 60’s practice of baksheesh in Government Offices which got crystallized to bribes during the heydays of socialism in 70’s and 80’. I am not claiming to be a model citizen who has never paid bribe throughout his life but I definitely avoid paying bribe when all is required is some physical effort on my part. Systems are evolving and soon most forms of bribe may be eliminated. Just don’t talk about corruption, learn how to starve the monster
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