August 30, 2010

Common Wealth Games: Playing Games with Common Man's Wealth !

Corruption has become a part of our lives, we have started accepting it as a necessity like food and shelter. The latest scam to be unearthed is the one to deal with the upcoming common wealth games, everyone has accepted that the process was corrupt, the only argument is to ascertain the amount. Speculations vary from 40,000 Crore to 100,000 Crore + , the peculiar thing is that every new scam has the ability to out do the previous one, we forgive and forget the previous hungama like it was nothing compared to the latest one.

Chetan Bhagat in his recent column in a popular newspaper aptly compared an Indian citizen to a battered wife who is expected to hide her bruises and praise her husband ( in this case the games organisers). Look at all the recent scams, The Spectrum Scam, The CWG Scam, The Arunachal PDS Scam, The Sukna Land Scam etc. the list can go on and on. We have become mute spectators to a game played with our money and where we always end up the loser's.

Another aspect to the whole CWG issue is that whether we need such a sporting extravaganza in dire times of fiscal prudence, when more than half our populace is going to the bed with an empty stomach. It is just a tamasha organised for the Middle class by the organisers which is yet another opportunity for them to steal money. In the name of the Games a major part of the capital has been dug up and disfigured which doesn't looks like to be fixed any time soon.

Lets get our priorities right why do we need such colossal events when we haven't even made an effort to develop world class athletes ( 1 or 2 medals in an Olympics from a Billion Plus cannot be considered) . Let us emulate China in this case, they had boycotted from international sporting events for decades till they developed world class athletes. And what about all our deficiencies in the development front lets get those fixed first before such circuses.

We have started accepting corruption as a structural fault like some cheap Chinese watch which will stop working, or a loaf of bread that will expire in few days. If money is involved corruption has to be there too. It is our mistake to expect otherwise, we don't expect men with integrity exist or even if they do they are a paradox in the society. From the police constable on the road to the our sacrosanct judiciary, everyone is alleged of corruption.

Even our cinema has stopped depicting straightforward heroes, the new hero is the one who is able to manipulate the system to his favour, not one who challenges it. Recently came across a Telugu Movie called " Leader" which was different from the stereotypical ones (take alook at it ).
So what will happen to the games, we will have to wait and watch. But a statement made by Mani SHankar Iyer could give you a hint of the things to come " India is the only country where you find an international airport is build for 9,000 Crores and you find the ceiling leaking" .
One thing is sure and predictable we will have bigger scams and more hullaboo, we are definitely being regularly entertained what if it is at our own cost ?

August 24, 2010

Do We Need the Civilian Nuclear Deal ?

What is the big fuss about the civil nuclear agreement and the nuclear liability bill. Do we really need this with such a huge risk of possible nuclear accidents and shortage of nuclear fuel. The sad thing is that we badly need this deal at any cost or we will be in big trouble in 2-3 decades.

In a country that is growing to be an economic super power, competing with world powers in technology and services, electricity is as important as water or the air we breath. Lets not forget about the burgeoning middle class and the farm sector dependent on pump wells. There re states in our country having 18-20 hours of power cut, or its easier to say 4-6 hours of availability.

Quick Facts
Current Power Generation - 165,000 MW
Current source of Energy- Thermal (coal) 70 %, Hydro- 15 % , Others - 15 %
Total Potential of Hydro - 145000 MW
Estimated life span of Coal Reserves - 30 years ( as per Geological survey)
Projected energy Requirement (2030-31) - 800,000 MW

We have been able to generate only 165,000 MW in the last sixty years and that too heavily depending on the thermal power plants which is running on depleting source of fuel. At this rate we will be able to generate thermal energy only for the next three decades. So the government is telling us we need the nuclear deal but what it is not telling us is the power vacuum that we are going to experience in a few decades.

In order to ensure our energy security and a shift from the undependable thermal power production we need the international technology and support in the nuclear power sector. If we start now we can have a healthy shift in our power structure by 2050 !!. That doesn't mean we have to blindly accept any clause that jeopardize our population. We do not want to experience multiple Bhopal fiasco's anymore.

Clubbed with this is our inefficiency in processing and distribution, we have an abysmal 30% pilferage of power unheard of anywhere else in the world. And to add to the mess, the opportunistic politician who promises to give free power to farmers once he wins. The logical question is How can you give something free that you do not get for free. Along with the nuclear power generation what we need more is effective power distribution and a disciplined approach to power consumption.


August 4, 2010

Pax Indica - The Resurgence of An Economic Might

It might sound like a folk lore now when we hear about India's glorious past and in particular the economic might it commanded over the world. It is believed that in early 18th century and 17th century India accounted for nearly 35% of the world GDP much more than the substantial 16% America accounts for today. Volumes have been written about our wealth and some historical travelers compared it to the legendary eldorado.

From our glorious past we were subjected to a sequence of incomparable exploitation. When our wealth, pride and glory was systematically eroded and fed to the colonial masters. The colonial rule acted as a sponge draining all our wealth from the Ganga and depositing on the banks of Thames. We had centuries of exploitative regimes which plundered us and left us in abject poverty. An imperial dominant fought wars and expanded colonies world over with our wealth.

The first four decades of our independence was subjected to a controlled regime of economic socialism, when our erstwhile rulers were drawn to the glamour of pro USSR economic models of developments. We improvised by gifting the world with the five year plan model of planned controlled development. We concentrated so much on heavy industries, big dams etc. and left out vital needs like infrastructure, inclusive growth strategies eradicating poverty, unemployment etc.

When our economy was on the verge of collapse due to trade imbalances, short lived unplanned economic endeavors, we were forced to open up our economy under the legendary stewardship of Mr. Manmohan Singh. The irony is that the socialist china had opened it's market to foreign players two decades prior to us, for them the colour of the cat was not important, only whether it catches the mouse made sense.

the last two decades of economic independence ( i would call 1991 was our economic independence from an authoritative state control) have shown wonders in our country. Unlike the other doom mongers ridiculing all things associated with new economic policy, i would call it as a big step forward. the progress that we have made in major social indicators like poverty, literacy, IMR, MMR etc have been majorly influenced by this open up.

The last 2 years have been the most glorious so far in our economic history. When the world economies tumbled like a house of play cards, we stood our ground and graciously grew at a remarkably robust 7 % averagely. When the economic superpowers were shocked with the onslaught of never ending economic crisis, we were comfortably advocating and implementing ground breaking welfare policies like NREGA, Right to food bill etc.

The British are rightly justified in discontinuing the yearly economic assistance provided to us on the ground that a country embarking on ultra modern space missions and touted as the largest consumer of weaponry no longer needs assistance. I consider this as a gesture of acceptance. on rising to the global platform of economic super powers.

To add more glory to our prominence our supremo is being respected world over for his economic acumen, his fiscal prudence and above all the grace with which he handles himself. An amusing anecdote mentions an international journalist comparing his knowledge on economics with the rest of the leaders combined at the G20 and still he would outsmart them by far. And recently when Obama mentioned that " when Manmohan sing Speaks the whole world listens" it was a moment of pride for the entire nation.

Our mighty corporate behemoths comparable in power and size to any global giants have been on a shopping spree off late. Acquiring whatever was on sale, i would call is a case of reverse imperialism. Ironically our historical exploiter the English East India Company was recently acquired by an Indian. The popular attitude among our corporates has been, "name your price we will buy it " for some time now.

Economic crisis can have such adverse affects that countries like Britain resorting to extreme acts of diplomatic sycophancy to improve bilateral relationships. What else would you call the recent visit of a British premier. I think we have to get used to this adulation, this constant recognition as a shrewd and prudent economic power house.

And finally with a new global symbol to our national currency to enter the elite club of Dollar, Pound, Euro and Yen. We have given a face to our might, a voice to our hopes and an identity to the billion dreams in our nation.


addendum: i know it was too much in favor of the brighter side of life ignoring all that is wrong in our country, next post will be dedicated to the darker side of the story.