Sunday, January 29, 2006 

TOI- Media Manager for Rahul Gandhi

Times of India seems to be battling all out for Rahul Gandhi as our next prime minister. Rahul Gandhi is the next best thing, says the front page of its Mumbai edition (His time starts now, 30 Jan 2006).On the inside, an entire page is dedicated to his greatness, with a story by the name of Waiting for Rahul, where the new hier of the dynasty is shown to be the solution of all problems of the Congress in the Hindi heartland, with a poll taken to support it.

Lets us take a look at the poll, and one can understand how the questions of the polls were worded in such a fashion so as to favour Rahul. The q's were: Who is a better vote getter for Congress? Will Rahul be more effective than his mother? Should he assume a greater responsibility in Congress? Can he revive the Congress in UP & Bihar?

As the comparision is all within the Congress, there is no way that the respondents could have responded in any other way. It is is well known that the concept of a second rung leadership is virtually absent in Congress. So whenever in crisis, the party returns to the Nehru-Gandhi family. As "Madam's" magic didn't work in the Bihar elections, the Congress seems to be struggling for a leader in the Hindi heartland.

It is a shame to see a newspaper waste print space over some kind of a poll which was significant only for strategy decisions for the Congress. The news report published by TOI doesn't warrant a place in any nationally significant newspaper, unless they specifically mention "Advertisement" on the report.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 

Temporary Patrioitism

I was watching Indian Idol yesterday, and that the show had gone patriotic all of a sudden reminded me that Jan 26 was approaching. They had taken the contestants to some army camp in Assam. The show they had recorded there was going to be shown on a news channel on the Republic day. All of a sudden, one could see national flags being sold at the signals and in general, every product is showing the tricolour in its advertisements. Music channels have suddenly started showing patriotic songs. Movie channels have also jumped on to the bandwagon, and war and historical movies will be on display on Republic Day.

Every year, on the advent of the two national holidays, i.e. Republic Day and Independence Day, we see a spurt in our patriotism. It is almost as if being patriotic and feeling great about our nation is reserved for these 2 days. Only on these 2 days do we remember the symbols of our nations, our glorious past, and the great leaders who fought for our freedom, and the armed forces, which have done such a great job protecting us, both from external and internal security threats.

Simultaneously, these 2 days are also meant to forget what is wrong with the current state of affairs of the nation. On these two days, we tend to forget the problems plaguing the nations, and start prophesizing a glorious future for the country, completely and conveniently ignoring the challenges facing our country.

But how many of the things mentioned about our nation (be it the national symbols, sacrifices of our leaders, or the problems and challenges) disappear after the advent of the two national festivals? Then why do we reserve all our feelings for the nation for these 2 days? What stops us from having the same mindset all throughout the year? And why forget the challenges facing us on the 2 days?

If we really wish to see our country as a super power, we must realise that the first step towards it is believing that we can be one, not just on Republic/ Independence Day, but every moment. But we also need to keep in mind the challenges facing our country, and work towards finding solutions for these problems. We need to keep in mind that real patriotism is all about being practical, and not about being jingoistic.

Anyways, Wishing every one a very Happy Republic Day

( just can'help using the tricolour )

Thursday, January 19, 2006 

The Misfortune of Hindi

Since my 10th standard, I have been an avid Hindi poetry follower. I have dabbled in Hindi poetry myself, but the results have been at best, mediocre. But my reading has been limited to reading poetry from Hindi textbooks or some poems online (in case you want to read some, click here).

I have looked for books of Hindi poetry in all the four cities (Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Bangalore) in India I have lived in, but never found one bookstore which keeps books on Hindi Poetry. Surprising, isn’t it? Considering the fact that Hindi is our national language, one should assume that Hindi Literature should be available everywhere in India. However those who are aware of the lingual politics played in the country don’t find it surprising at all.

India, being a multi lingual country (23 languages with official status), has always had well-developed literature in all its languages, sometime even in dialects of languages. After the drawing of state lines in 1960 on a linguistic basis, India has seen lot of politics played over languages. So keen were local politicians to protect the local language that they did not allow Hindi to be taught in schools. Also, Hindi could not become the business language of India, as English was already dominant in that sphere. Hence there was hardly any economic benefit in learning Hindi.

Hindi is popular only in the Northern parts of India, were a majority speak the language. Unfortunately, I have always stayed in the western/ southern part of India. Although Hindi is spoken and understood in Mumbai, where I have spent most of my life, most people interested in reading, follow either English literature or Marathi literature (Marathi is the state language).

I sometimes pity the condition of Hindi, and the scanty respect paid to it by some of my countrymen. I wish there was some way of making it more popular.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 

Another Publicity stunt by Arundhati Roy!

Once again, one finds Arundhati Roy in the news, this time for rejecting a literary award conferred upon her. The Sahitya Akademi award was conferred upon her for the year 2005, for a collection of political essays compiled in a book The Algebra of Infinite Justice. However Ms. Roy, (in a way which is very characteristic of many leftists) has refused to accept the prestigious awards, citing that she was against the government policies on matters of environmental and social concerns (…More)

After winning the Booker for her book, time and again one finds Ms. Roy forcing herself into the limelight, by throwing another tantrum. First it was locking horns with the judiciary, and expressing dissent on the decision of the Supreme Court (and going to jail for that). Arundhati remained unrepentant, crying foul over the Supreme Court decision. Now she has rejected a prestigious award from the government of India.

It is high time that Ms Roy realises that she is old news, rather than indulging in publicity stunts. Ms Roy, you have had your 15 minutes of fame, why have this trouble in fading away from limelight, and why come up with ridiculous reasons for your actions? You point to the unsustainable environmental damage when it comes to dams, but what about yourself?

Your claim to fame was your book, a collection of paper. The number of books sold must have required tons of paper, which must have lead to the cutting down of so many trees. Why did you not refuse the royalty on those books? Why did you not reject the Booker? Wasn’t your book responsible for some environmental damage? Why didn’t you raise these issues then?

The reason for your rejecting the Sahitya Akademi award is simple. It is fashionable to reject Indian government awards. The media takes it up, and voila, instant fame! Lots of writers have gracefully accepted this award, but that did not mean that these writers completely agree with the government.

It is high time that our so-called celebs realise that an award by any government is an honour by the people it represents, and rejecting that award is tantamount to insulting the people of the nation. It is imperative that irrespective of whom one is, one respects the will of the people, for in any democracy, it is the peoples will that is supreme

Sunday, January 08, 2006 

Agricultural Income should be taxed

Last budget, our Finance minister suddenly realized that India’s tax to GDP ratio was very poor. Hence he found absurd ways to correct this by introducing senseless taxes, like the withdrawal tax and fringe benefit tax (FBT). For reasons only too well known, the industry did not react positively to these taxes. Rather than attacking the core areas of tax evasion and bringing a larger population under the tax net, the FM has selected to make life more difficult for those who pay taxes.

Here, I am going to make a strong plea for the FM to bring agricultural income under the tax net. Almost 70% of Indian population derives employment from agriculture. As agricultural income is not taxed, it implies that this 70% of the population is not paying taxes. If such a large proportion of falls outside the tax net, how can one expect the tax to GDP ratio to improve? Critics may point out that contribution of agriculture to Indian GDP has declined to just 30%. But still the contribution is almost a third of the GDP. If a third of your GDP does not contribute to taxes, why complain about tax to GDP?

Not taxing agricultural income allows people to get away with unaccounted wealth. It was seen during last elections that almost all our politicians were crorepatis. But what amount did they pay as tax? Compared to their incomes, almost nothing!! All of them had shown their source of income as agriculture; hence they got away without paying taxes. It is an open secret that many individuals pass off their black money as white by exaggerating their agricultural output on their land. By taxing agricultural output, PC can ensure that he cuts off an escape route for tax evaders.

Taxing the farmer isn’t anti poor or anti farmer as most politicians would like our farmers to believe. A tax paying farmer is more politically empowered, as he is contributing to national growth, and can ask for benefits in return. And with the income tax bracket allowing no tax for an income of up to 1 lakh the poor farmer can rest assured that he will not be taxed. An additional rebate for farm produce can be extended. By introducing tax for the agricultural sector, the Finance ministry can be surer of the exact contribution of agriculture, as farm incomes will be accounted for.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 

Nuclear weapons prevent War!

While the world leaders are discussing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, I believe nuclear weapons must stay! I am no warmonger, but I believe that nuclear weapons are the reason that we have not seen a war between two major powers, that could have escalated into a third world war.

Today, we have seven nations that have declared the possession of nuclear arms, and many more are suspected of having nuclear capabilities. These Nukes have been around for more than 6 decades now, but how many times have we seen the use of Nukes after the bombardment of Hiroshima & Nagasaki? There have been no such instances. Even during the heights of Cold war did the two blocks consider a full-fledged war. More recently, even when Pakistan infringed the line of Control and entered Indian borders, the Indian government restrained itself to pushing the Pakis out of its borders and did not convert it to a full-scale war, even though both nations had nuclear weapons.

What has stopped these Nuclear powers from waging a nuclear war against the other? There are many reasons.

The most important: The Nuclear weapons themselves! Nuclear power serves as a deterrent from aggression; hence there is a mutual fear whenever two Nuclear powers consider war against each other. The human and economic cost is too high, as observed after the Japan bombings. Only a completely crazy despot with no sense of obligation towards his people would go for it.

Another reason is globalization. With the world trading with everyone else, no nation can afford to commit an act that will bring international condemnation/sanctions. Well, no nation except America. And if you have a delivery system which is capable of striking with nuclear capability in America, even the great US will leave you alone.

All in all nuclear weapons are not as bad as they are made out to be. I believe that the world is a safer place to live because we have nuclear weapons

Sunday, January 01, 2006 

Cracked the CAT!!!!

Finally, after 3 attempts at it, I have managed to crack the CAT. Got calls from IIM-C and L.Awaiting results for others! Yippeee!!!!