Friday, April 10, 2009

Elections in India - A Circus or A Dance of Democracy?

The Lok Sabha elections in India will be held in April 2009. It will be interesting to see which political party wins the elections. Indian election results have always unfolded amidst high drama and anticipation, and this time around, it promises to get better. It has already got its hype what with Varun Gandhi’s “derogatory” speech, The Indian Premier League (IPL) being stashed away from India to South Africa owing to the elections, high-profile election rallies etc. For once, I wish elections would have been a low profile affair.

The other day I was going through the latest edition of The Outlook and I came across some facts and figures for these elections which dumbstruck me. 10,000 Crore Rupees, is the amount that is going to be spent for electing the 15th Lok Sabha and a new Prime Minister. 543 constituencies, 7 national parties, more than 200 regional parties and outfits are going to be a part of this election. Not only this, 71.4 Crore voters are going to cast their votes, 40 Lakh civil officials and 20 Lakh security personnel are going to be a part of this as well.

Out of the 10,000 Crore Rs, national parties are going to spend an estimated 4,350 Crore Rs, regional parties – 1,000 Crore Rs, BJP and Congress – 1,000 Crore Rs, other parties – 650 Crore Rs, Election Commission – 1,000 Crore Rs, Administration cost – 700 Crore Rs, “Cash for buying votes” – 2500 Crore Rs etc. The corporate world is supposed to be pitching in almost 50% of the entire amount. So where does all the rest of the money come from? You are right. From the pocket of the ‘Tax-Payer’ or simply put ‘The Common Man’. All this for electing a person to govern the largest democracy in the world! It’s very interesting to note here that the expenditure during the 2004 general elections was a handsome 4,500 Crore Rs.

If we compare the elections in India with those that took place in the United States of America which was ‘the most’ promoted and popular general election of all time, one would be surprised to know that the expenditure on this was 8,000 Crore Rupees. I don’t know whether it is a matter of pride or shame that we are going to spend a good 2,000 Crore Rupees more than the USA.

For me, it is really shameful that we will be spending so much money in electing politicians who might or might not be better than the current ones. Even if we do elect a very good candidate for the post of the Prime Minister (which, is a much foregone cause), I don’t think we can expect much work to be done by him/her, as they are really old. According to me, to govern and run a country like India, we need a person who is not older than 50 years of age. This, I believe will bring in a combination of experience, knowledge and a youthful energy in our system.

It’s interesting to note here that even the most developed nation in the world was overrun in the election expenses by our nation which is tagged as a developing country or more frequently called a Third World country

What’s more interesting is the fact that these ‘politicians’ who should be working for our welfare have been focusing only on the elections since the beginning of this year. Where have all the promises of making India a safer and better country gone? These people seem to have comfortably forgotten the recent terror attacks that took place across various cities of India. These politicians are seemingly very busy in their election rallies and we don’t seem to have the time to ask them ‘why aren’t they working?’ One can find at least one election rally taking place in each and every corner of India! For me, this seems like a very huge circus and I feel like laughing. Sadly, I can’t as I can see that my country is going from bad to worse. In fact, nowadays, I don’t feel any pride in saying that I am an “Indian”.

This post might seem like ‘a bashing of Indian politics’, however, I am sure that a certain level headed section of people might agree with me that the only people to lose out here are us and not these politicians.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Can India Really Compete with China

A few days ago, I came across a post titled ‘Can India Compete with China’ on the website Management Paradise. I was really surprised to see the response of people on this topic, and even more surprised to see that most of the people were giving illogical answers to the topic being discussed.

Most of the people who gave answers either do not know the real situation in India and China or they don’t want to know the truth.

I personally feel that India cannot compete with China anytime soon. I have my own reasons to believe in this. Let me highlight a couple or more of them.

1) India liberalised its economy in 1991 and China did it after 1995, and that too not entirely as it is still reeling under communism. China became a very hardcore player and started undertaking aggressive strategies to attract the world towards it. India, on the other hand, just freed the economy and sat back. The laid back attitude of the industries and people in India added to the already existing lethargy.

2) Even under communism, China continued to grow at a very amazing speed whereas India enjoyed a steady growth rate. The bureaucracy and the political environment in India is what hampered the overall growth of India.

3) In China, people either do or die. In India, we have options of doing, enjoying, resting (more than necessary) etc etc..but we don’t have the do or die attitude. Just take a look at our new 11th five year plan for the economy and most of you will understand what I am saying. Did you know that we have made money amounting to almost Rs. 19000 Crores from Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s), but have invested and lost more than Rs. 90,000 Crores in these SEZ’s by giving them tax benefits and illogical leverages.

4) Agriculture is supposed to be the backbone of the Indian Economy, but most people don’t know that the aim of the 11th five year plan(2007-2011) is to accelerate the agricultural growth to 4% of the entire GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Just 4%!! and the government still says that agriculture is the backbone of the Indian Economy.This plan also wants to a) provide primary education to at least 50% of the Indian population free of cost b) provide secondary education to at least 50% of the population at reduced rates c) develop and maintain important roads in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai etc d) provide clean water to at least 90% of the population etc. From this isn’t it quite evident that previous governments have not been able to provide even the basic amenities to Indians?

5) In India, we have only 40 vocational and technical areas in which we can get training. In China, people have access to more than 4000 vocational and technical courses!!!

6) India seems to borrow almost every ideology from China, except for communism. We borrowed the concepts of SEZ’s , proper infrastructure development , industrial licensing policy etc etc etc.. from …China!!

7) China in the past few years has become the world’s second largest economy after the United States. And where are we? Can anyone answer this?

Its amazing that many global organisations like Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Nokia etc arrived in China, even before India actually knew about these organisations! Hell, Wal-Mart and Starbucks have still not arrived in India!

I am not a person who loves to criticise India. I love my country, however, I would really like to take pride in saying that I am an “Indian”. Once we get more strict and stringent with our policies and cut down the bureaucracy in India, we can “think” of at least arriving at the stage where China is right now. However, I don’t see this happening anytime at least in the next 5 years!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

India - A Nightmare for Foreigners

India is a nightmare for foreigners and most of them would agree with me. I have seen many foreigners being harassed by locals. Yes, literally harassed! These fellows come to India with the thought of seeing a new India, where the ancient traditions gel perfectly with the new modern ideologies and thinking (well almost). What follows their actual visit to India is not less than a nightmare.

Local people of a certain city take advantage of these foreigners by overcharging them on almost everything. I for once saw a foreigner pay 125 Rupees for a bottle of mineral water, which cost only 12 Rupees. The extents to which Indians can actually take advantage of them Is really unimaginable.

Ok, so they have got loads of money in their pockets. I mean, come on, is it really their fault that theirs is a much better and stronger economy than ours? If the Indian economy would have been so strong then probably, we would have been in their places and they would have tried to sell the same bottle of mineral water at a much higher price than we do. But I am not writing this because I am jealous of their economy or anything else. I am writing this because it appalls me at the sight of Indian people taking advantage of these foreigners who visit India to have a good time.

One such instance that frequently pops up nowadays in my mind is of this Iranian girl who was my girl friends co passenger in a bus en route from Goa to Pune. My girlfriend told me about this Iranian girl and how she was having an awesome time in India. Now, we all know that Iran is a country which according to its customs and traditions has some restrictions and prohibitions on the way women dress, and behave in their country. So this girl came to Pune to enjoy two years of her life on the pretext of learning English language from Pune University.

She told my girlfriend that she was enjoying her time in India. She was doing everything in India that she could never do in her country. Right from smoking to drinking, multiple dates to wearing all kinds of clothes that she could never possibly wear in her country.

So that same evening I was having dinner at a restaurant called Malaka Spice with my girlfriend, when we spotted the same Iranian girl sitting in the same restaurant with an Indian guy. So my girlfriend went over and spoke to her and exchanged pleasantries (this has to be the most irritating trait among girls, where they giggle and laugh without any specific reason). She also came over to our table to greet me. Then she told us something that I can never forget.

Apparently after my girlfriend and this girl got down from the bus at their destination in Pune, this girl took a rickshaw to her place. The rickshaw driver told her that his friend was also in the same rickshaw and asked if it would be a problem to her. As she did not want to argue with these local rickshawwallas at 6:30 in the morning, she said no, it won’t be a problem. While the rick was driving her home, this alleged friend of the rick driver spoke continuously in local language Marathi, with the rickshaw driver and she felt that something was wrong somewhere. She saw the surroundings and did not recognize them.

She spoke to the driver in Hindi with real difficulty as she only knew some words. The driver told her that he was taking a short cut so that they could go faster. After almost 25 minutes, the driver stopped the rick in a secluded place and demanded 3000 Rs from her. Now, this poor girl was in a mess. She did not have any ‘real friends’ in Pune and she did not know what to do, as they were two hefty and sturdy guys. So she got scared and took out 500 Rs from her bag and gave it them. They noticed that she had foreign currency in her handbag and asked her to hand over the “Dollars” to them (Its funny, that people deem each and every foreign currency to be a Dollar even when they don’t exactly know what the currency is). This girl could not do anything. There wasn’t single soul around to help her. She took out whatever money she had in her handbag and gave it to them (Of course, she had much more “Dollars” in her luggage bag, which obviously was not known to the rick driver and his friend).

They took the bait and took the money she gave them. Luckily for the girl, they did not leave her there. They eventually dropped her in the locality where she lived and fled from the scene. This girl was very lucky that they did not rape or kill her after taking the money. The rick driver and his friend seemed to have got scared at that very thought. Whatever the reason, this incident had really shaken up the girl.
After listening to the story, we felt very sad for her and also for all the other foreigners who visit India. Each and every foreigner goes through such a phase in India where they are literally looted in daylight by Immoral Indians. I am an Indian and believe me; I don’t feel proud about being an Indian after all this. The fact that we can be as downtrodden as this causes immense sorrow to me.

I personally, did not want this to happen to the girl again, and I told my girlfriend to exchange phone numbers with her, in case she got into any trouble in the city. She also did not know how to contact the police. We told her that in any emergency, if she needed help from the local police, all she needed to do was to dial 100 from her cell phone or from the nearest public phone. She was very happy when we gave her this information and I think she must have felt a bit safe as well.

I don’t say that all Indians cheat foreigners. People like hawkers, shopkeepers, antique sellers, tour operators and even bus drivers take these foreigners for a ride. Indians have this fascination for white-skinned people and think that all foreigners have lots of money. Sometimes I feel pity on these foreigners and sometimes I feel pity on myself on being an “Indian”, where according to traditions, a guest should be treated as god!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

closing techniques and follow up

I have used Google and other search engines to find lots of information for my projects, reports and presentations for more than 6 years now. But sometimes, I could not find the exact thing I searched for either in Google or the other search engines. I also, used to be too lazy to even prepare a document myself and upload it on the internet so that others could use it. However, from now onwards I will start posting my presentations, documents etc on my blog, linked to either or where the actual documents will be uploaded. The first document I am uploading is a presentation on the topic 'Closing Techniques and Follow-Up. These documents have been prepared by me and as a firm believer in Open Source Tech, I urge all the people who use this document to tweak the document as required and post it again on the internet so that other people can access it.

Let me know if anyone needs any specific document and I will be glad to help.

This document can be downloaded from either Scribd or from Esnips

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chetan Bhagat - The Three Mistakes of My Life Book Review

One day, I was wasting my time doing nothing. I was bored, really bored. Then, this friend of mine, came to me and said, "Hey, Chetan Bhagat's new novel, 'The Three Mistakes of My Life' has become a bestseller! Well, I thought, I could read his book, though I was very apprehensive about it. Apprehensive. Yes, because his last novel, 'One Night At The Call Centre' was 'CRAP'. Seriously, after reading his first book, 'Five Point Someone', I was expecting much more from him. So, when I heard about his third book, I decided to read the book. It was "The First Mistake of My Life". If this was not enough, I decided to buy the book to read it. This was "The Second Mistake of My Life". Then, I finished reading the book in 4 hours. This was "The Third and The Biggest Mistake of My Life". I am not going to get back those 4 hours of my life!

The book is utter crap. Take my words for it. I have read many more crappier books, and this is one amongst the crappiest best. Thank goodness I finished the book in 4 hours. I can imagine the anger and frustration in those people, who were expecting a mind blowing novel. True, the book is mind blowing coz it really blows your mind so far that you can't even search for it. Even an amateur could have written a better book.

The book starts with Govind and then I really don't know where it heads coz it is mindless crap. I had thoroughly enjoyed reading 'Five Point Someone' but this book is worthless. Chetan Bhagat, is just capitalising on his fame and writing crappier books day by day. Normally, books are so interesting that readers are compelled to turn the pages. Here, I was compelled to turn the pages because I wanted to finish off reading the book real fast so that I could at least get some of my money's worth by not wasting too much time on it.

The book looks promising at first but then loses the track altogether and the author's style of writing is pathetic. One suggestion Mr. Bhagat. You really need to get your act together for your fourth book i.e. if you are planning to write another one, after all the bashing you got for your last two books. I would really love to read 'Five Point Someone - The Sequel'. That book was really good. Please spare the poor readers from more of this crap and write better novels. We expect this from "The biggest-selling English-language novelist in India's history"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Reservation Theory Part 2

This post is the second part of a series that I have started so that I can write down about what I feel towards reservations and the quota system. You can check out the first post of this series at 'The Reservation Theory Part 1'

Reservations tend to limit the thinking of some sections of the society as they are given ‘benefits’ which they think will work towards their betterment. What they fail to realize is the fact that they won’t arrive at a better position in life, depending only on these reservations. My colleague Kushal Sharma read my previous post and he told me “Dude, do you think the government really wants these people to come up in life? If they really do want this to happen, then why are they not making policies that will help the poor?” I thought about it and I said “Yes, dude. You really have a valid point”. I like to think and I thought deeply about this. I racked my brains and then I realized the fact that if the government or rather the political parties really wanted to help them and bring them out of the puddle, then it would have had achieved it by now. During every election phase, every new candidate promises “upliftment of the poor”. I ask, why hasn't it been done in the last 60 years? This has not been done because this is the strongest point which gets the political parties their valuable votes.

In the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, Morgan Freeman says, “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free”. Hope. This is what these people have. They hope that at least one of these electoral candidates will help them in living a better life. However, only hope can never set anyone free. You have to work towards it. Sadly, people in India rely heavily on help from outside rather than helping themselves. This is where the government comes into the picture and uses them as pawns for its benefit.

The government according to the constituency of democratic India is ‘by the people, of the people and for the people’. I understand ‘by the people’ as we make the government i.e. we vote for the candidates and then they are elected in their power. What I fail to understand is the concept of ‘of the people and for the people’. Of the people essentially means that the people of a country own the government as they are the ones who have elected it. In India it’s the other way round. The government acts like it is the creator of the people in the country. It imposes rules, regulations, policies, reservations, systems etc on the people without even bothering to think about the well being of the people. The prime reason for this is corruption. People from the highest power to the people in the lowest power are corrupted to an unimaginable level. In India, you can bribe anyone from a small time traffic cop to the, ahem.., Chief Minister, Governor or even the Prime Minister. Or else, how can you expect a person who earns (estimate) around 43k INR per month and still has enough money to support his future generations even after retirement?

In India people from the ‘ruling’ political party are amongst the richest people. Ruling. This is the exact term that is used by the bureaucrats when they have to mention political parties. The political party which is running the government is termed as the ‘Ruling’ party and the one opposing it is termed as the ‘Opposition’ party. I understand the term Opposition as it signifies that the ‘a certain political party is opposing the other one, which is essentially the political party that is running the government’. However, I fail to agree to one term. Ruling Party. How can a political party rule in a democracy? Democracy itself means ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. Then how can a political party rule the people? I would really like someone to explain this concept to me. Why do we say ‘the ruling party’ when we are the ones who actually run the country? Is this what we mean when we say ‘of the people’? If yes, then I don’t see the ‘people’ anywhere in the picture....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Reservation Theory Part 1

What is it with the government and education? I completely understand the fact that the government wants to bring quota system in every possible field. However, isn’t it very na├»ve to bring in the quota system in the field of education as well? I mean come on, whoever heard of anything like this before? People get admission in college, schools, grad colleges etc on the basis of their caste and not merit!! This has to be the most stupidest, dumbest, unworthiest (these are some of the new words created by me) thing ever done by any government on Earth!

For those of you who don’t know; a quota system is a thingy in which people get reservations in colleges, government offices, private workplaces and every other damn place. India is a country which is a mixed bag of religions. Now if this wasn’t enough, every religion is classified into different castes and sub-castes. Every sub caste is divided into even more sub castes. These sub castes are further broken down into sub –castes. Phew! For the sake of understanding things properly, the government has broadly classified this into:

Scheduled Tribes – ST’s
Scheduled Castes – SC’s
Other Backward Classes – OBC’s
Open Class or Open Category – OC

When the constitution of India was drafted, Late Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, took the pain to see to it that everything is In order in the new to-be-emerging country of India. He made the life easier of the people belonging to the poorer section of the society by making reservations for them in institutions, government offices etc. This helped them in bringing their life back on track by working, earning money, giving good education to their children and almost eradicated their poverty. People who really worked hard for their own upliftment came up in life and people who lazed their way to glory, depending on luck and destiny are still living in their good old hutments by the road sides. I am assuming, by now, most of you must have understood the idea behind reservations. If not, then please visit Wikipedia and get enlightened

India has come a long way since independence (this is what every Indian says :)). However, I fear we have not amended the constitution and its law, rules, regulations or whatever it is accordingly. We still follow the 60 year old constitution which was drafted for a new India 60 years ago. The government has failed to understand that India is a land of opportunities and we need to make changes from time to time. Change is a part of everyone’s life and change should happen for the better good. The government of India sadly still follows the rickety old constitution which is on the verge of collapsing on its own face.

Today every Tom, Dick and Harry in India knows that reservations are a thing of the past. Every person believes that very person should be considered in any post only if that person is worth it. Sadly, these reservations don’t help the cause…..