Sunday, April 29, 2012

Social media: not the only culprit

Though Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s associate got an injunction from the High Court, the CD, allegedly depicting him and a female lawyer in an inappropriate act surfaced in the social media- not just surfaced, as most of the media described it, it ‘went viral’.

Justice Katju condemned the irresponsible social mediaand wrote to Ms. Ambika Soni asking her ministry to take appropriate steps to restrain social media from indulging in such reprehensible acts in future.  "It is obvious that the adage 'be you ever are so high, the law is above you' does not apply to any social media," lamented Abhishek Singhvi.

Agreed. The social media uploaded the disputed CD, violated the High Court order and manifested its irresponsibility. But if the social media where control over content is in the hands of users/ viewers/readers at large is irresponsible, how did the mainstream media where a trained, ethical editorial team scrutinizes the content behave?

Monday, April 16, 2012

India will supply power to neighbours but not to its own State!

Pakistan will buy 500 MW of power from India, says an NDTV Profit news item. 500MW is the initial requirement; it can increase to 5,000 MW in the next 5 years! A team of Indian experts will discuss the terms and conditions of supply with Pakistan's Central Power Purchase Agency. Notice the speed at which this power trade is progressing-
  • In April, 2011 there were Secreatry level talks between India and Pakistan regarding power supply to Pakistan.
  • In October, 2011 the Group of Experts from both the countries considered the proposal for setting up a joint transmission infrastructure. The Hindu called it an extension of onion diplomacy!
  • Anand Sharma's Feb-12 visit to Pakistan with 150 member delegation gave further impetus to this.
  • Last week a Delhi Company offered power to Pakistan @ Rs. 7.50/ unit.
  • Though Pakistan found the price to be high, it still agreed in principle to buy.
  • World Bank will extend a loan for setting up the transmission line in six months.
Let us move on to another similar development.

NTPC to supply 250 MW to Bangladesh says an Economic Times report dated February 29, 2012. Power Purchase agreement between the countries has been inked. Transmission lines between the countries will be set up by July-13.

Now look at India's power situation. Though India is the fifth largest producer of power in the world, it also is one of the lasrgest power deficit countries. The Central Electricity Authority of India in its report of May-2011 projects a peaking shortage of 17,519 MW or 12.9% for 2011-12. While States like UP, Maharashtra, Bihar, J&K & MIzoram will have deficits in excess of 25%, Andhra, Tamilnadu, Punjab, West Bangal, etc will experience a deficit in excess of 15%. As a Mckinsey report puts it, blackouts and load shedding have artificially suppressed the demand. In other words, the demand-supply gap can be higher than that estimated by Central Electricity Auhtority.

Wikepedia's article on Electricity Sector in India puts the number of those who do not have electricity in India at 300 mill by December, 2011.

So that is the position of power situation in India. With such a delicate power balance, the UPA2 is very eager to supply electricity to Pakistan and Bangladesh! And look at the audacity of Pakistan which is a worse power shortage country whose generation has shrunk by 50% in recent years and which needs the Indian power desperately-
  • an official of the Pakistan's power ministry says that  his country needs to ascertain 'how much India is relying on electricity trade as New Delhi had abandoned the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, saying Pakistan is an unreliable partner' reports NDTV Profit! Looks like beggar can be a chooser!
  • Pakistan's 'The Nation' newspaper alleges that India built dams on Pakistani rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty, generated power and succeeded in selling the same to Pakistan!
Some 'progressive' will immediately point out that India's installed capacity is 186 GW and these 500 MW and 250 MW do not constitute even 1% of the capacity, that this has to be seen in 'context', that it will open up trade ties with Pakistan, etc.

Let's see the 'context'. Let's contrast the above enthusiasm of the Indian Government to meet Pakistan/ Bangladesh's demands with what it has done to the demand of one of its States. Tamilnadu has been reeling under power shortage due to a callous DMK Government ignoring the sector for whole of its 5 year rule. The current deficit in Tamilnadu is estimated at 4000 MW. Jayalalitha, as soon as she assumed power in May, 2011 wrote the Prime Minister to allocate 1000 MW from the Central Pool. The same UPA Government which was ever ready to export power to Pakistan and Bangladesh, allocated just 100 MW, that too after many reminders and 9 months! Even the power it purchased from Gujarat and UP could not be used because of congestion in the transmission.

Now if 750 MW is less than 1% of India's installed capacity, so is 1000 MW. Why this hurry to supply power to Pakistan and Bangladesh? Is it just that a 'progressive' 'secular' media will hail this as a path breaking foreign policy initiative of UPA Government? Is the desire to be seen as 'secular' more important than satisfying the genuine demand of a State of India? Does a State, just because it is ruled by a party which is not part of ruling coalition becomes more alien than Pakistan?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


(This is a true story of a close acquaintance. I have changed the names and professions of the characters and the location where the story took place.) 

“Leader of the opposition is summing up his party's position on the motion. He is the last speaker. After this, the Rajya Sabha members will vote on the motion……a historical motion indeed…..” The TV reporter was talking non-stop.

Poorani had been glued to the 24x7 news channel for the past one hour. Kalai Arasi, her elder daughter noticed the palpable tension in Poorani’s face. She took Poorani’s hand and gave a gentle press to signify psychological support.

The channel took a commercial break.

Poorani closed her eyes and reclined on the sofa. Tears rolled down her eyes.

March, 1980.

“Champagam Dorairajan…a Brahmin girl; married at a young age; brilliant in studies….was denied a seat in Medical College. Why? Because she was born in a Brahmin family. The communal G.O of the then Madras Government….” Poorani was arguing against reservations in the annual inter college debate.

“Exactly….she was born in a caste which had oppressed, which had kept the rest of India in its wraps for centuries…. exactly these considerations weighed with the law makers when they introduced Article 15 (4) to provide for reservation….if judges, who are far removed from masses, whose only claim is intellectual supremacy can indulge in parochial interpretation of the Constitution…..” Samudram, a student of the Madras Law College intervened and argued for reservation.

Though she was ready with Justice H R Khanna’s caution against the dangers of indiscriminate, liberal construction of the Constitution, she held back. She noticed the fire in his eyes. His hands were shaking in anger. He must have suffered humiliation. He must be a Dalit. She felt that the harsh reality in his argument far outweighed the academic perfection in hers.

He won the debate. She congratulated him.

“Did you lose the debate intentionally the other day?”  They had started meeting each other for the past one month.

“Yes and no” replied Poorani.

“What does that mean?”

“I had arguments to counter yours. But I did not put forward the same….”

“That means you lost deliberately….”

“No…even if I had put them forward, I would have lost before the force in your 

“Not at all…you are being too humble…..please tell me the truth …. Why did you lose….”He took her hand as he was talking.

“For this only….” She blushed.

His daughter was in love with a Dalit boy!

Kailasam could not stand that. Kailasam was not an orthodox Brahmin. But he was not that ‘liberal’, that ‘progressive’ as to agree for his daughter’s marriage with a Dalit boy.

Rajam rushed to him with a glass of water. Rajam’s hands trembled. She knew Poorani well. If she made up her mind once, she would not change. Did she not know that her decision would affect Janaki, her younger sister’s marriage prospects as well?

Poorani listened to their arguments patiently; politely answered all of them.

But she would not change her mind.

Samudram and Poorani married in the Registrar’s office. Kailasam and Rajam signed as reluctant witnesses.

They both started working in Adept Chambers, a leading law firm in Chennai.  

Samudram got a job as Government Pleader within a couple of years under the SC/ST quota.

“The chairman of the Rajya has adjourned the House for an hour. Thereafter the voting on the motion will take place….We promise to bring you all the action…..” shouted the TV reporter. Poorani went to the kitchen and prepared coffee for her and Kalai Arasi.

As she sipped, she plunged into the flashback again.

Janaki came and helped Poorani when she delivered the elder daughter. Frustrated with embarrassing questions from the prospective bridegrooms' side, Janaki decided to remain a spinster.

Samudram took the child to the Chief Minister who named her Kalai Arasi. For Kailasam and Rajam, Kalai Arasi was still Alamelu, the Brahmin name they had kept.

When Poorani delivered their second daughter a couple of years later, Samudram told her to quit her job.

Vaayya Samudram….vaa (Weclome, Samudram),” The Chief Minister threw his hand around Samudram’s shoulder and invited him. Poorani who had accompanied him to the party felt awkward.

The CM had thrown a party to celebrate the acquittal of his brother from a murder case the previous day. Samudram who led the prosecution team had sought his conviction and lost the case!

How could the CM welcome a prosecutor so happily who lost his government’s case!

“I am buying this bungalow,” said a jubilant Samudram while he took Poorani around the two storey building in Gandhi Nagar, Adayar the next day.

‘This bungalow would cost not less than Rs. 2 Crores. Barely 10 years into the job as Government Pleader, how did he manage to buy such a posh building?’ wondered Poorani.

Samudram’s name figured in the list of 5 new judges appointed to Madras High Court in 2002. Governor of the State and Chief Justice of Madras High Court had recommended his name.

Samudarm threw a grand party to celebrate his appointment. He invited the Chief Minister and other leading members of the ruling party which raised many eyebrows in the media.

Samudram purchased 2 acres of land in Perungudi in the name of Kalai Arasi.
The Tamilnadu Government allotted 22 acres of prime land at a throw away price to a trust run by Chief Minister’s son-in-law. A concerned NGO filed a PIL in the Madras High Court challenging the allotment.

A three member bench, of which Samudarm was one, dismissed the petition.

Samudram purchased another 5 acres of land in Sriperumpudur in his 2nd daughter’s name. A concerned Poorani tried to talk to him.

“Will you please shut up? Did I ask for your advice?” said an obviously irritated Samudram.

Where was the Samudram she had known in 1980s- the principled Samudram, the loving Samudram?

Poorani was ashamed to share her concern with her parents.

When a collegium duly constituted by the Chief Justice of India recommended his name for promotion to Supreme Court in 2008, all the hell broke.

A Civil Society group wrote to the Chief Justice and President alleging corruption on the part of Samudram and seeking his removal. Samudram countered that since he was a Dalit, he was being victimized by the higher caste Civil Society.

Very soon 62 members of the Rajya Sabha brought a motion to impeach him.

Samudram made a spirited argument in the Rajya Sabha in his defence.

“The Chairman has announced voting on the impeachment motion….members are casting their votes…..”

Poorani closed her eyes tightly. Losing the job may not affect them financially. But the ignominy of being booted out of office, that too first time in the history of the country through an impeachment motion…..

“For those viewers who joined us late, voting is in progress…. In another five minutes we will get the results…five more minutes of nail biting wait…..”

Poorani was waiting......

Friday, April 6, 2012

Yeh sab hamesha mere saath kyu hota hi!

KPN (long distance bus service in Tamilnadu) stops at a motel on the highway. I get down and rush to the urinal. After four hours of travel in A/C, the ‘pressure’ on me is unbearable. The first thing I desperately want to do is to ease myself. I find that not only all the urinals are being used but there is a queue of one or two persons for each. I carefully choose one where a young man is peeing and there is no queue. I wait. The urinal next to me becomes free and the guy on the queue moves in. The one in the corner become free-the guy waiting moves in. Another one…another one…even the second in the queue gets a chance. The guy in the urinal in front of me is still in no mood to finish!

I go to a restaurant with my wife. The place is crowded. The manager notes down my name and says he will inform me as soon as a table is free. After a couple of minutes a family of six arrives. The manager allots them a table. He understands the belligerence in my look. “It’s a table for 6, sir…you are just two…” Next week when I go to the restaurant with my family, table for two becomes free!

We move to a new house.  Our neighbor recommends a maid for us. The maid had been working in her house for years; very reliable; after finishing the work in her house, the maid can attend to us. Just two days into the job, she comes to me and requests for an advance of Rs. 3,000 ignoring my neighbor for whom she had been working for years!

I open the IRCTC site for booking a train ticket. I choose the train and date. I enter my card number. The site processes and validates. Then the system hangs. After two minutes when the site becomes operational, I go and check the booking history. My ticket is not booked. I get an SMS in my mobile. ‘Your account has been debited with Rs. 2,315. Thanks for using …………..card.”!!!!

On the rare few occasions when I manage to book my ticket through IRCTC and further rarer occasions when I manage to get a lower berth, I invariably face an old man or woman who invariably ignores the youngster in the opposite side and chooses me for requesting “Sir…would you mind exchanging your lower berth with my upper berth?”!!!

I jump a traffic signal. Many others also do. But only I get caught!

I offer the constable Rs.50. “Are you trying to bribe me? It is bigger offence,” threatens the honest constable. I end up paying Rs. 500!

I order vegetarian food in Qatar Airways at the time of booking the ticket. Still when I travel, invariably vegetarian food is in short supply and invariably ends one row before me!

My boss, who is the MD of the Group suspects something wrong in the finances of a group company. He asks me to look into it. I spend days and weeks and dig out information which points an accusing finger on the CEO of the company. My boss calls the CEO for a meeting where he asks me to present the evidence against him. I make a spirited presentation. Three months later, when my boss invites me for a party in his house, I find the CEO sharing a joke with my boss! When we take food from the table, I could sense the animosity in his eyes for me!

I write a post on what happened to me or around me- a simple, matter of fact post. I get overwhelming response. That motivates me. I decide to do a qualitatively better post. I do research. Then I write, edit and re-write what appears to me a satisfying post. Readers cold shoulder the same!

I wonder. ‘Yeh sab hamesha mere saath kyu hota hi?’

Aap ka kya kayaal hi?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Nation needs a Plumber

India needs a Chief Plumber urgently to arrest the leaks of confidential reports to Media. 

Grappled with an unprecedented surge in the leak of confidential governmental reports to media, the Cabinet Committee on Security met yesterday to find a solution. The Cabinet Secretary brought the following leaks to the attention of the members:   

  • Various documents of the army relating to Tatra deal are accessed by media.  
Cabinet reviewed the following options:
  • Officialize the leaks to media. Instead of placing the reports before the Parliament or a Committee of the Parliament, it was suggested that the reports could be directly released to media. While P Chidambaram was comfortable with this path-breaking solution, other members expressed reservation.
  • Appoint a Chief Plumber to arrest the leaks. The Chief Plumber will be accorded constitutional status like Chief Election Commissioner, the CAG, the Proposed Lokpal, etc.
The second option was accepted after a majority of the members of the Committee favored the same. Accordingly the Department of Personnel under the Home Ministry released advertisements for the post of Chief Plumber.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wanted a TV Anchor

(These faces have no relation whatsoever to this post; they have appeared here by mistake.)

‘Blah Blah 24x7’, the most watched (???), most respected (????) news channel in India today, requires not very urgently  an aggressive, laid-back, pliable, hardnosed, admit-no-mistake Anchor.

Candidates meeting the following requirements can apply (Candidates not meeting the requirements can also apply, but the Channel will not consider!):

Choose between ‘Editor-in-Chief’, ‘Managing Editor’, ‘Group Editor’, ’Political Affairs Editor.’

Reporting to
Yourself- you will be an autonomous entity not reporting to anyone; even if you are caught indulging in unethical journalistic behavior you will not be sacked because we do not know who you will be reporting to.


Some more blah…blah…blah….

The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 10 years experience in-
  • Disrupting conversations.
  • Inviting guests and snubbing them.
  • Raising voice and shouting at others during conversation.
  • Switching off the mike when someone is talking.


Key responsibilities and accountabilities
  • You should be able to innovatively misinterpret TRP data and claim leadership position for your channel.
  • You should be able to conduct opinion polls the results of which will suit your pre-determined whims. 

Achievements in past assignments
Candidates with any of the following achievements to their credit in their previous assignment will be given preference:

Personal attributes

Membership of professional bodies
You should be a life time member of Mutual Admiration Society. You should call shameless editors of newspapers to your debates in return for their publishing columns in their newspapers.