April 20, 2006

Netas' Quotas

April 20, 2006 Posted by Vijay , 8 comments
Neta typifies what an Indian Politician stands for. The hands folded greeting that he gives to all his blind followers, who he finally cheats once his means of winning the election is done. And it is sad that even in prime boom time of India, these Netas still rule the roost. And vote bank politics it seems is back with a bang to sting again. In this context one hopes that the new party, the one with a difference, LOK PARITRAN formed by 5 former IITians creates some semblance of a change. But, when a Prime Minister as educated as our Manmohan Singh hints at reservation in private sector, one just wonders, whether a change is possible at all ?

It is true that a major part of the Indian population is Below Poverty Line. It is true that 75% of Indian population is rural. And this bare truth is what comes to the politicians' rescue whenever they have to fare well in elections. Promise the needy to deliver their needs and after that who cares who heeds ? That is the mantra followed by the politicians. Sadly, to win elections, with this high a percentage of rural populace, even Loka Paritran may have to (God Forbid) resort to such vote bank politics. And when the politicians announce a slew of reservation promises at educational institutions and then also in the private sector, the votes start swelling up. And by Jove, what a timing. Few weeks before major assembly elections in Assam,Kerala,Tamil Nadu, West Bengal is when this gets announced. And more disturbingly, the reservation in top educational institutions like the IITs happens 3-4 days before the exams itself !! And now, another reservation issue hots up, the one in private sector jobs.

What the government is inadvertently doing is 3 things :

1. Politicising prestigious educational institutions like IITs and IIMs, by
creating a divide amongst young bright students, branding one set as
backward and another as the forward.

2. A set of students who in the merit based students' eyes have come through by virtue of reservation, and not on the basis of merit. This is detrimental to the whole set of students in the institutes. Every performance is scrutinised, as to whether it is by merit or influenced politically. Do we need such divides in sacred places like educational institutions ?

3. Same is the case with the private sector job quota issue. Raise a voice,
because someone of the backward class didn't get a job, and lo and behold, the
politicians' come into the picture and make sure the job is given, even if
the candidate doesn't deserve it.

The aftermath of such a huge reservation percentage of 50% nearly, can be detrimental to the quality of education when the above said points are taken into account. IIT aspirants this year were very pessimistic about chances of making it, because, with this high a reservation coming in from next year(if it does that is) their chances of making it are very minimal. So this year the candidates chance was as good as their last, since from this year only 2 attempts can be made at cracking
the IIT JEE.

Consider this. If the reservation at the educational institutions becomes 50% and the private sector becomes, say even 33%, the chance for a general candidate to get a well paid job after graduating from a top notch institute would be 1/2 * 2/3 i.e.1 in 3 !!.So, there is only 33.33% chance that a candidate gets a well paid private sector job. What's more, one can foresee more foreign placements being taken up rather than domestic ones from these institutes, simply because, the seats in these companies would be first given to the reserved candidates and then come the general candidates. Talk about brain drain. Think of how many bright entrepreneurial minds who would not be working towards India's development because.

It is sad, because, rather than focusing on education itself, the government wants to give shortcuts for the backward classes to get a job or a seat. Even having raised such an issue, has brought forward so many viewpoints from all over India, and this can be even more disturbing, because, the awareness of a community divide creeps in amongst the common citizens. This can't help even the current crop of students pursuing education or working in big companies.

What is required is education. The proper kind which needs to uplift the backward classes so that they compete at the same level as their peers. And this kind of education needs to be given at the HSC and the SSC levels. And I believe at these levels, financing should be provided for the backward masses, to enable the best ones to fare well. And financial aid doesn't end there. It should be given to them at the graduation levels as well, where they pursue an Engineering or a Medical degree. But it should end there unless he/she wants to do a post graduation as well. Someone who isn't capable of getting a job even after that doesn't deserve it at all !! So why would you require a quota then ? Does that mean the government is not providing the kind of education required for these socially deprived, but promise them jobs even so ?

It is tough to look at the other side of the story, i.e. to look at why reservation has to be more or why it should be provided for in private sector job quota as well. Because, the government is doing something to cover up it's own wrongs. Which cannot be accepted. It is now that parties like Lok Paritran have a dilemma. To get votes, they need the huge socially backward votes. But they also stand for what modern India is, and would want to desperately shout against reservation. It will be interesting how they do a balancing act now. But one this site provides insights into why such reservations might be useful after all ! A mix of rural population in the IIMs can give tools required to improve the livelihoods of the backward classes. Also, it makes a lot of sense to see which of the backward classes truly deserves a seat, as in, the ones which are actually in need of financial aid. For if the previous generation of the candidate has availed of such benefits and is doing well enough, they shouldn't be given extra privileges. This is where I think the PAN way can be so helpful.

The PAN card or the Permanent Account Number is used to declare the Income Tax by salaried people. Through this the dependants can be tracked and one can conclude whether the candidate is well to do or not. Even here, the issue of SC/ST and OBC is so evident. It almost seems India wants a workaround for declaring a section as SC/ST/OBC rather than abolish such class divides. To abolish these quotas would be the best possible thing that could ever happen. And to enable financial aid for the poor to pursue education, an income declaration should suffice. And then getting a job is in their own hands. Quotas are definitely not the way out.

The views and thoughts expressed in this article are my own

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April 19, 2006

A Career To Remember A Passing Away To Forget

April 19, 2006 Posted by Vijay 2 comments
I have not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. All these are just my thoughts and it is with due respect to all Rajkumar fans.

Shameful, that’s the image that Bangalore projected to one of Karnataka's icon's death, that of Rajkumar's. Shameful, because the death of an idol triggered riots, and not prayers. And that it occurred even though the death was natural, which was even more bizarre to say the least. Shameful, because the IT hub of India, the city which has arguably given India the impetus for economic growth and a prominent position on the Global Map, took a beating as far as it's image was concerned. Shameful, because despite a change of guard in governance, despite an infrastructure which never even threatens to improve, Bangalore had all the time in the world to go amok over the death of an idol no less. And thus was buried, the great Rajkumar, who didn't realise, that 8 more would be escorting him to the doors of heaven in a day, which would include the security given on the way up by a policeman.

It sure is a pity that the great actor's body had to be taken around the city of Bangalore, without knowing where it would be placed for the public to pay their respects. It almost seemed like a soul which didn't know where it belonged and was wandering around. First it was the residence of the late actor itself, which was a scene of fans' grief. A crowd so large, the police authorities it so seemed were scared of taking control of the situation. For the presence of the police was nothing to write home about. And then, the procession of the body to be shifted to Palace Grounds for public viewing.Realising the strength of the late actor's fan following, the body was later shifted to the Kanteerava Stadium. All this even while angry fans were trying to catch a last glimpse of the great man. Now, that does send out a small signal of planning gone wrong, or do I have to mention it in as many words at all?

All through the procession from his residence to Palace Grounds and then the Kanteerava Stadium, thousands and thousands of fans accompanied. They just wanted to catch a glimpse of their hero, the last glimpse of the man they idolised for over 4 decades. But the mood was not all about grief it seemed. The bizarre acts that followed Rajkumar's death can never be forgotten. Grief turned to anger and fans took to the streets. Smashing windshields of cars, burning down tyres, disrupting vehicular traffic, forcing shutting down of shops. It can be understood that the fans were not allowed to catch a glimpse of the body, due to the enormity of the crowds by the police. And this made them angry. But I can vouch for a fact that, if it were a true fan, anger would have been there, but the intention being to see the last glimpse of the star, he/she would have remained calm and paid his last respects. But for the anger to turn so hostile as to go out into the streets, far away from where the body was, seems anything but absurd.

This leads us to the critical question. Why would fans want to forcefully shut down shops, burn down vehicles? Is it a mark of respect to the great Rajkumar? If that is so, this is the most disgusting way of paying homage. Bangalore was closed in down in a matter of 2 hours on the day of the death of the icon. My friend who returned from Delhi on the sad day for instance, was clueless what was happening in Bangalore. He couldn't get a single auto to get back home from the Airport. He had to finally seek the assistance of a policeman to get one. He still didn’t know what was wrong with the city. He got home only to realise that no hotels would be open to satisfy his hunger. He had to finally end up buying 2 bunches of bananas, which he would survive on for the next 2 days!

The day after the death was even more deplorable. The amount of tension that gripped Bangalore, for the natural death of an idol was anything but astonishing. Lack of security at the Kanteerava Stadium only led to more confusion and outrage among the fans. And they left no stone unturned to show it with all their vigour. Hapless policemen were brought down by huge gangs who formed within a matter of seconds and pummeled the policemen into submission. Stone throwing was the order of the day for irate fans it seemed. It was so chaotic and more saddening to see what was happening in the city you live. And it was more absurd to see the fans pelting stones rather than chanting prayers for the departed soul of Rajkumar’s. The violence in Bangalore, throughout the day near Kanteerava was disturbing to say the least.

Media too was ubiquitous in the places where the stone pelting happened. And with news channels growing everyday, anything sensational to be shown would mean more TRP ratings. One channel continued to air a 4 minute clipping of violent mob frenzy over and over for about an hour. Finally, they realised their folly of giving a false impression of widespread violence, ironically from a filmstar whose views they were seeking live. Now, is that the level of responsibility that the media has?? And is this the way to present news which more than a crore people in the country believe in? Or should I say, are made to believe in?

Bangalore crippled back to life after the burial in the evening after the death of Rajkumar. I was unsure of whether I would get my bus to Chennai that night. Autos were still few and far between. I ventured out with my luggage to the nearby Bus Stop. I asked an auto wallah to take me to the Bus Stand. I was willing to pay double more than the meter charge. And that would come to Rs. 100. Guess what the auto wallah demanded? 300!! I would rather cancel my bus ticket than take a ride in the auto of that lousy driver who was relaxing with his legs in the air in his auto. He seemed confident of raking in big moolah from atleast one other person. But I was not game for this day light (night considering it was already 8:00 in the night that time) robbery. I went away with a smile which could have had 3 parts in it. Shock, surprise, helplessness. But, lo and behold, a BMTC bus chugged along and I got in. But hey, even the buses were opportunistic it seemed. Realising the situation it took a longer route to pick up passengers in desperate need for commutation. Atleast monetarily they weren’t demanding more. I heaved a sigh of relief.

All these incidents, the lead up to the riots, leads us to the most crucial question. What went wrong? Why did all this happen? Why would fans turn violent on the day when they had to pray for the peaceful departure of their idol? Many interpretations have been given. Lack of security arrangements, planning gone haywire as to where the body was to be shifted, and so on and so forth. But this still doesn't answer my most important question of all. WHY??!! Why should fans get violent in times of grief??!! What is the reason? Why would they want ordinary people going by the wayside to suffer for a loss which is Karnataka’s? Why? Is it that, if someone dies, nobody around should move? If that was so, why did the gangs involved move around and burn up things in the first place? If there was something like a gang at all, who were they in the first place? Who is to be blamed for the unwanted and illogical loss of lives and crores of losses of business and property damage? One reason given has been the growing socio-economic divide in the city of Bangalore. The growing number of big money earners and the poor who seem to be left behind. It seemed it was an opportunity that was well utilised for those who wanted to show the strength. But who they are, is still an unanswered question. There was a cartoon in today's paper, which pictured people joining in the riots, by throwing stones and beating up policemen, without knowing why on earth they were doing it. And the next line read, "Who knows, we will come to know the reason in tomorrow's paper". Well, I am not optimistic that the "why" part would ever be known and nor will the "who" part be.

Whatever it is, what has happened has happened. And life has to move on. I am sure Rajkumar wouldn't have wanted this kind of homage. And in hindsight, none of his fans who were genuine would have wanted it either. Anti social elements are everywhere. But to force people into submission, those who are not related in anyway to the events, is inhuman and despicable to say the least. Life cannot be smooth. It never has been and never will be. But life can certainly be peaceful and calm when a state mourns the death of an idol.

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April 3, 2006

A Letter To WWF

April 03, 2006 Posted by Vijay 1 comment



Network Services and Supporter Relations,

Subject: WWF Service.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I happened to receive a renewal letter from WWF. I had donated a sum of Rs 2000 towards WWF in 2004-05 financial year. I wanted to be a part of the movement to save wildlife, and I still am. However, the undelivered promises from WWF India have left me in very bad taste.

For a donation of Rs 2000, I come under the Supporter bracket. And I am entitled to, and I quote – “WWF-India newsletters, a personalized subscriber card, car sticker, toy panda, wrist watch, and a 15% discount on WWF-India merchandise”. This is what the registration details say. But during my term as supporter for WWF India, apart from receiving outdated newsletters which numbered 2, I have received nothing else.

Here I pause to ask a few questions:

1. Why promise to deliver something which you can’t?
2. If you think the money donated can be used for so many promises, but you still don’t deliver on most of them, where does all the money go? With this kind of service, I will definitely not buy the argument that this is going towards the overall cause of saving wildlife.
3. I can’t even imagine how you could ask for a renewal even after all this? I am returning the same back to you.
4. If this is the kind of service you offer, I don’t foresee much donations coming your way, or are these for other ulterior motives?

I apologise for the harsh wordings in this letter. But I couldn’t hold back in expressing my outrage in such a noble cause as saving wildlife going astray.

All this is not to receive whatever has been entitled to me. But this is to bring to your notice that such kind of service will not go down well with true nature enthusiasts. And they are the ones who finally matter. I am not willing to accept any of the gifts I am entitled to get through my donation even if you send them now. But I would sincerely hope, pray and wish that the money set apart for this has indeed been used for the actual purpose of WWF. If not, it’s still not too late. It’s really ironic that someone outside of WWF is having to remind you of this. But the situation demanded that I brought this up.

Hope that this letter is taken in the right spirit and necessary changes are taken.
Kindly wake up to the cause, and act before it’s too late!


3rd April 2006.