Wednesday, December 29, 2010

SriKrishna Committee Report Leaked

Hurrah! SriKrishna Committee Report has been leaked.  Here are some of the salient points:

For Separate Telangana State:
Overwhelming majority in Telangana seeks a separate state; the current ten districts of Telangana could be carved into a separate state with Hyderabad as its capital;
Pros: Enough indications suggest that this region was neglected and its people discriminated against; a separate state would address many of the concerns ailing this region.  For example, a new state of Telangana would definitely get more water and therefore bring prosperity to the region.  Could also lead to elimination of Naxal Movement because people will get a political voice in Indian democracy.
Cons: Seemandhra people may get disappointed and may burn some buses in Seemandhra region. 

For United State:
Majority in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema would like to keep the state united; the status quo could be maintained with introduction of regional board for each region – Telangana, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, and special packages could be given for neglected and backward districts.
Pros: no change required to current administration setup; will make people of Seemandhra extremely happy; Telangana people will be under superior rulers of Seemandhra region.
Cons: will make people of Telangana extremely unhappy; could lead to massive agitations and uprising in Telangana, but our outstanding Indian Army and Air Force can easily suppressing it with less than 5 lakh people dead; could lead to escalation of Naxal Movement like it happened in the aftermath of 1969.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Telangana 69: Get off your ass and fight

I wouldn’t trade this for anything else.  I am witnessing history unfold right before my eyes.  I am happy that I am not living in another country like I was few years ago, then I would be so far away from the action.  Of course I wish I was living in Telangana, instead of living in Bangalore.  Every day I get up and feel bad that I am not living in Telangana. I wish I could be here all the time, right here, right now. But then I use every opportunity I get to visit Telangana to take part in the events unfolding in Telangana. 

How could I miss this historic movement?  It is like participating in our India’s freedom struggle against British.  Imagine you were a young man during British India and you see people marching in protests.  But imagine you were too lazy, or confused, or too ignorant, or gave some stupid reason not to participate in the freedom struggle.  Would you not regret it now? I would.

I am thrilled to be part of the current agitation of Telangana.  According to me, it’s once in a lifetime opportunity.  Missing out is not an option for me.  As an American would you not be thrilled to be part of your freedom struggle against British? Would you not give everything to be part of the struggle, participate in the raids of George Washington?  As an African-American would you not be thrilled to be part of the crowd listening to Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream’ speech?  [I am not African-American, but I would give everything to be part of that crowd on that historic day when he delivered that speech in Washington DC and I am quite sure I would be in tears]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Age Corruption

In the last two years alone, we have seen ten or more major scams in India, each one outdoing the other.  The recent 2G scam is pegged at 176,000 Crores.  That’s 1,760,000,000,000 Rupees amounting to nearly 3% of our GDP.  Satyam scam was around 14,000 Crores while Common Wealth Games scam is at 70,000 Crores.   I was talking to some young people the other day and was telling them that in the early 1990s PV Narasimha Rao was embroiled in a 2 Crore scam.  They could not believe that a tiny amount of 2 Crore could actually result in a scam.    Even the much touted Bofors scam, because of which Rajiv Gandhi lost power in 1980s, was only 64 Crores.  So what happened to us as a nation in the last twenty years?  How did we go from mere 2 Crores to 176,000 Crores? 

I believe that we are witnessing a completely new set of rules being played out in the corrupt India (BTW, India proudly ranks 87th in the world on the corruption index).  And unlike what many people think, I believe it is the younger generation, not the older generation, which is setting these new rules.  It is New Age corruption, which is vastly different from the old school.  The old school’s appetite was small, and therefore was content with small money and stored it as cash stuffed in pillows or deposited it as gold in some foreign accounts.  The new age is rapacious, they want to become the world’s richest, get hold of all vital natural resources of the country, and they route the money through legal methods like IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, to convert their black money into white money.

I discuss this New Age corruption through the following three trends. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Telangana 68: Democracy in Crisis?

It took hundreds of years of human struggle and strife to bring in a type of government where a common man got his freedoms, became a citizen, and actually had a say in the politics.   Democracy is a fragile institution, which can easily slip into autocracy in times of insecurity or weakness.   It takes lot of strength to keep it going, not succumbing to easy methods of imposing military or police rule at the first sign of trouble.   Countries like China suppress people’s voices and freedom with use of force, armies and tanks, like in Tiananmen Square, killing innocents who protest.  They jail everyone who speaks of freedom on the charges of sedition. 

Back in 1969, during Telangana agitation, the government imposed a media blackout, brought troops into the region, jailed nearly 70,000 people, injured nearly 15,000 people, and killed 370 people.   Not very different from how China treats its people.  Clearly, a democracy has tendencies to become autocratic when it has to face tough questions that come out of democratic aspirations of its people.   Those are the times when the nation suffers from insecurities, of egos, of prejudices, and weaknesses. 

Andhra Pradesh government is now imposing additional 50 companies of paramilitary forces in the state, most of them in the region of Telangana, getting ready to forcibly control the people’s agitations that may arise after contents of SriKrishna Committee report are disclosed. 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Freedom from persecution

A constitutional right can be loosely defined as a freedom guaranteed by the state allowing an individual to do certain things without fear of persecution, without getting harassed or obstructed, either from the state, a group or another individuals.  One commenter on my blog writes:

…while it is right for Ms Roy to question the status of J&K in Indian union, the court is also right in allowing FIR to be lodged…it is correct to have a court hearing on it and matter be decided in a non-emotive atmosphere.

In the case of MF Husain’s episode, the High Court ruling clearly exonerated MF Husain of any wrongdoing and let him go free.  However, that did not stop various groups to continuously lodge complaints against the artists, or stop many police stations from issuing warrants for his arrest.  Basically, Indians kicked out MF Husain by hounding him with thousands of cases, generating hundreds of arrest warrants against him, depriving him of his freedoms.    He could have fought each case meticulously one after another, but then he would have wasted lot of his time and money, and ended up not doing what he wants to do – which is to paint. 

A freedom sanctioned by the state of India also includes freedom from such frivolous and unnecessary prosecution, from such arrest warrants in each and every Indian city, and from related court summons.   So that we don’t have to negotiate each freedom in a court of law, the Indian Constitution makes certain freedoms non-negotiable and gives them as rights to its citizens, in order to protect these citizens from harassment of the state or other groups or other individuals, so that these citizens can go ahead and live a free life without getting hindered and obstructed by other people. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Are you a ‘Secularist’?

There is a mail floating around which includes a presentation called ‘Pseudosecularism’ with the following questions.  Usually I avoid countering such propaganda but when sometimes you see a recurring theme in most people’s arguments it becomes necessary to address it.  This presentation has the following questions which one is supposed to answer for oneself.  I am going to answer them here. 

Are you a Secularist?

I am not sure what that means.  But if it means I believe in the principles of secularism and believe that our country, India, should adhere to the secular principles, yes, I am a secularist.  But it does not mean I am going to demonize other’s religion while praising my own, or denounce my religion while praising others.   I believe that state should be separated from religion – irrespective of whose religion it is. 

There are nearly 52 Muslim countries.  Show one Muslim country which provides Haj subsidy.

I don’t know if other Muslim countries provide Haj subsidy, but as a ‘secularist’ I oppose India giving Haj subsidy.   As a secularist, I do not agree to state providing Haj subsidy.  But it is also true that no country in the world gives government funds for construction and renovation of private Hindu temples.   Karnataka Government in India has donated crores of money to Hindu temples. 

As a secularist, I oppose Haj subsidies, and also oppose state sponsorship of Hindu Temples. As a secularist, I also oppose state sponsored cow veneration, state sponsored celebration of Hindu and Muslim festivals, state sponsored Hindu ceremonies for government offices, etc.

So, India happens to be a ‘secular’ country in theory which doesn’t necessarily practice secularism, and does all kinds of funny things to promote various religions, including Haj subsidies, and donations to temples.  So, to highlight only Haj subsidies does not do justice to the argument that India somehow treats Indian Muslims preferentially, because it treats Indian Hindus even more preferentially.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

'You hate me, I arrest you'

A young girl of 18 shouts at her mother, ‘I hate you’, and leaves for college.  During the lunch time, the police visit the girl’s college and arrest her on charges of sedition.  The fact that the mother was a government employee was good enough for the mother to file a case of sedition against her daughter.  Because IPC 124 A reads:

Whoever by words spoken brings hatred towards the Government established by law in India shall be punished with imprisonment for life.

A jilted lover who shouts, ‘I hate you’ at a woman is now booked under sedition laws of India just because that woman is a government employee.  It’s not hard to imagine such a situation now that Arundhati Roy is being slapped with various cases across India just because she has been found to harbor ‘hatred’ for this country.  We are on the verge of creating another MF Husain episode, hounding the person we do not like so much so that they would have to eventually flee the country.   Soon we will get rid of all artists and authors from this country who do not conform to the opinions of the majority.