Monday, December 14, 2009

Unwanted crusades – Sensationalism in journalism, ethics in Tiger Woods case

Sensationalism is a curse in journalism. In the rush for sensationalism people often forget the boundaries and venture into the ethically forbidden territory. They will come up with new stories, some times cooked up, some times real one; but neither are in public interest.

If you look in to the pages of newspapers of last one month, more than anything you can see the big and colorful pictures of Tiger Woods. May be in these days Woods acquired more fame!!! through the recent controversies than his ability in golf court. People who are not even interested in Golf - Its not an easy game for the commoner to play due to the huge cost associated to it - now a days reading about Woods. Papers are publishing volumes on the issue. In online too there is a mountain of content about Wood's sexual life.
Newspapers are more interested in who is living in his house and how many women are associated with him. They are coming up with new numbers, often. Thanks to sensational journalism, Wood's may found new facts about his life everyday by reading newspapers.

What is the necessity for these papers to launch a crusade against Woods? or any other famous celebrities if some thing of this sort happened in their life? Often they are spending more and more pages in discussing about the actors and actress love stories and travel plans than their movies.

Are they deprived of other news? Kashmir issue is over? Israel - Palesthein problems over? Turmoil in Afghanistan is over? US, European Economies revived? NASA stopped all her operations? Food problem is Sudan and other sub- Saharan countries are over by single night? Dubai’s economy becomes stable? All of a sudden people all over the world got enough drinking water? Taliban suddenly turned in to a peace group? Japanese economy revived? Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Google, Wall Mart and other companies stopped all their operations? As far as I know nothing of this sort happened up to now. Or these are not worthy of reporting at all?

Tiger Wood is also a human being made up to flesh and blood, in his personal life there may be a lot of problems. Is there any need for these papers to report all those events? Leave it to him, he can sort it out, or if some one wants to go to court, it will be settled there. If these newspapers want to mediate this issue they are free to do so - if Woods permits, but please we readers are interested in his professional life, how he plays golf. We are giving him and his family the freedom to settle these things among themselves, as we solve our personal matters. News papers doesn’t have to do all these sort of things for making publicity.

Some years back there was an ISRO spy case. News papers run thousands of stories related to the case. They found out real!!! and strong evidences against the two scientists and two ladies, everyday there will be new stories on the print. But even after discovering all these stories, Central Beauro of Investigation (CBI) find out nothing about any spy racket. But thanks to the newspapers the victims got more punishments than they could even get from the court. After all the allegation was that they sold Indian space secrets to enemies!!!

Newspapers don’t have to publish - second by second descriptions about actors and actresses personal life, what is the morning food for US presidents dog? How many women are there in Woods life, why some actor married someone? We are not interested in these things. Instead print good articles on sports, movies, politics, business etc we will read it.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why we need permanent seat in Security Council?

We are hearing the term UN Security council ever since its inception; the so called elite council of United Nations. After World War II only the winners got admission to this council with veto power. In a simple terms a country which represents some millions of people can veto the decision jointly took by countries which represents billions of people.

[UN Security Council chamber]

Truly, one of the most undemocratic system in the world. One of the five countries can stall the any decision which not in her favor. So it is quite natural that other countries start to think about entering into UN SC with veto power. who dont want to enjoy power? 4 countries are the major candidates India, Brazil, Japan, South Africa and Brazil for the position.

For a long time these countries are trying hard to get the position. Whenever some country’s head coming to India or Indian premier went abroad the first thing we read in news papers will be that they are supporting our claim to permanent seat in UN SC. But up to now nothing happened, even after the ‘support’ from so many countries. Some supported permanent membership without veto power – some type of second class citizenship.

I don’t know why Indians are so fond of this seat. Can you remember the contributions of Security Council to the world? How many times the veto power is used to halt certain developments? And can you justify the concept of veto?

There is no doubt that the word of 120mn people should be considered in UN. But at the same time it should also be noted that everyone should have equal power here, otherwise there isn’t any use for UN. If some can took decision for others then what is the need for such an organization?

So instead trying to get veto power and permanent membership in UN SC, we should try to remove the veto power from the current members; there is no need for such a discriminatory law. There is no need for asking each and everyone for support to get us permanent membership in UN SC. Either there should not be a permanent security council or the voice of 120mn people should be echoed there. India, South Africa, Japan, Brazil and Germany should put forward a draft to democratize the UN SC and its other functions.


Telangana : One more state in Indian Union


It was said that Sardar Patel – the first home minister of Independent India – integrated more than 560+ states in to one entity and formed Indian Union – world’s largest democracy, second biggest country by population. The partial assimilation of Kashmir to Indian Union still cost numerous deaths in one of the most dangerous border ever existed in the world.

After the independence of India, Telangana remained a separate state till 1956; it then merged with Andra on linguistic lines and formed Andra Pradesh. Debate is still going on whether creating states on linguistic lines is good or not, many argued for creating states based on the flexibility in administration (Due to language criteria we ended up with many big and small states). But in a country like India which has hundreds of languages, and where people consider language as sacred as religions, I think the former is a good choice.

 The battle for Telangana is not new; numerous movements went on in 60’s and 70’s. Then in 2001 the movement was back with the creation of TRS (Telangana Rashtriya Samithi) by Chandrashekar Rao. But after the General elections he became minister in First Manmohan cabinet and the demand was put in cold storage for next five years. In the recent elections (2009 General Elections) TRS and its alliance only got two seats in Lok Sabha and mere 10 seats in State Assembly. Congress, which doesn’t even include the formation of new state in her manifesto, did exceptionally well.

Everyone may thought that the demand will be on cold storage for the near future. But it didn’t happen. Rao started his fast demanding new state, students of Thelangana region also joined in the protest. The demand for a new state reached in the root levels, it was no more in anyone’s hands. Students even send an ultimatum to the government. In the end Union government approved the demand.

But if centre is decided to create a new state, do it as soon as possible. Don’t put it in beaurocratic red tapes. Here in this case AndraPradesh state assembly have to adopt a resolution, boundaries have to be drawn, administrative networks have to be created, offices have to built, union cabinet have to approve the resolution and then the parliament have to enact the law. If this took long time then it will only result in the stagnation of the development plans in the whole state, and destroy the cordial relation between the people of Talangana other part of AP.

It also opened a Pandora’s Box of problems, the first one is regarding to the capital Hyderabad, will it be the sole capital of Talangane or another Chandigarh? One of the most important issues is the water sharing agreements of Krishna and Godavari. Will it solve quickly or become another Kaveri or Mullaperiyar? What GOI will do with the nine pending demands for new states? Finally from where the money will come for building the new state?

If the creation of new state will result in the improvement of living conditions of people in the region, the cost can be justified. I hope it will not become another treasury for politicians and beaurocracy. I hope that the students who were in the forefront of fighting for the new state will also be in the front end of nation building. The bright students have to join politics, one of the oldest professions, and eradicate the corruption and bring in efficiency to the system.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Will Copenhagen results in any meaningful treaty?

[How Long?]

"Every roads leads to Copenhagen” may not be a familiar proverb for you. But now from all parts of the world, leaders are flowing to Copenhagen to attend the conference on climate change. After the recent change in raining pattern, greenery in Thar deserts, deforestation of Chirapunchi, ever increasing count of Hurricanes and cyclones, increasing sea level and temperature there is no need to write volumes about the need of reducing green house gas emission. Already lacks of books and articles are available on the subject. Over and above who can ignore nature's articles?

So finally world is assembled in Copenhagen to fight the climate change or fight against themselves? Many developed countries want binding sanctions and some like US, Russia, China etc unilaterally declared emission cuts. Countries from Africa, India, Brazil are still arguing for a fair deal.

Actually climate change is one of the ‘rare’ subjects were everyone knows the importance - there is no question on whether it is needed or not - but still majority is not ready to implement it. Countries from pacific and other island nations like Maldives are the most concerned ones. If sea level raises more than one or two feet many of these island nations will be wiped out from the atlas of earth.

I don’t think any world leader has any doubts about the need for reduction in green house gas emissions. Everyone knows it’s the need of time. But the need for industrialization in developing nations which are emerging after centuries long sleep and internal fighting sees industrialization as their sole way for growth. There argument is also based on the points like historical responsibility. Can you compare the pollution in some sub-Saharan African countries to that of some developed countries? All these developed countries now in Copenhagen passed through the stage of Industrialization in which they emitted gases in huge volumes to the air. But these African, Latin American and many Asian countries are now slowly entering in to the league of industrialization. They are now enjoying more recognition and power which they were unable to get in the past years.They wants to wipe out their poverty and propagate growth through industrialization - of course using their natural reserves.

This is the point were all the problem emerges. If they have to cut the green house gas emissions at this point of time they will have to acquire new technologies, infact they have to pump money for it. But from where this money will come in? It will not be that much easy, the new investment will increase their manufacturing cost, which in turn will result in the decrease in profit. Will the developed countries, already immersed in the worst economic crisis, find enough funds to support these developed countries? If yes, then to what extent?

Another problem is related to the carbon credit policy. Will it turn to another golden jackpot for the companies who have powerful lobbying groups in government? What about the per capita emissions? Will it consider at the time of declaring emission targets?

The countries who already announced cuts proved that they have very good mathematicians. Is there any country which announced emission cuts that will start from the very next day? or in the next year at least? Many calculated the emission reduction in such away that it will allow them enough space to emit the desired amount of gases they want.

This is not a child's game. The world leaders who are assembled in Copenhagen are dealing with millions of people living in the island nations and coastal areas. The mass deforestation, gas emissions, pollutions in air, water, sound, light etc are already taking its cost. Rivers are drying up, thickness of ice shelves are reducing rapidly, irregular rain pattern, floods, draught ... nature is already writing the future in the black board, But humans refuses to read it... How long? When humans are trying to extract oil even from Artic pole will this Copenhagen summit ends in meaningful results?

I hope (In fact I really wish that Copenhagen will result in some thing even if the chances are law), the countries will accept real and meaningful reduction in emission instead playing well in Mathematics, and the developing countries will get enough assistance in terms of technology and capital, to move forward in the way of reducing emissions. I hope climate change summits will not become another 'Six party talks on North Korean Nuclear issue' or Indo – Sino Border talks.

Otherwise you can go and watch movies like 'Water World' and be familiar with situations, or wait until scientists find any other place in this vast universe where humans can live and later destroy the environment.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The upcoming confusion in Indian Markets

After independence ‘water’ in Indian industry flowed in many different directions. Some times it even took a ‘u’ turn and flowed all the way back and reached the square 1. Then it moved in the opposite direction. With out a chance for doubt anyone can say that Indian economy will be good study material for a bright research student on financial markets. Once a major trading hub; left behind in the industrial revolution; joining hands and heart with socialist philosophies after independence and finally - after the collapse of Soviet Union and crisis of 1991 retraced all the way back and find a new ally in market economics.

                                          [A farmer]
After the acceptance of market economy India witnessed a study growth, mainly due to the things which the western economies can’t offer - cheap labour and the so called high skilled people. Some may say that China is growing at a rate more than us. But we have to remember that China accepted market economy some two decades before us.

Water again flowed. We say the South Asian crisis, dotcom crash, Subprime crisis of 2008, Dubai financial crisis and more. India may be escaped from all these because of the less dependency in export oriented growth. And still the economy is growing.

But is this growth sustainable? Will the emerging economies rule the coming ages? Will they control the world markets? If any one asks me this question my answer will be a straight no. It can’t. If we are ready to change the deep rooted policies which is there in many people's mind, we may remain in the path of growth but will not be in the position of Spanish in the 17th and 18th century, Britain in the 19th century and US and Japan in the 20th century. In fact no one can do that again – even if it not impossible.

                                         [Mumbai - Pune express highway]

I don’t know where I read, but I feel its right. Google and other companies may be able to unseat (or already unseated) Microsoft from the all powerful position in software and IT; but they can't attain the seat of IBM in the 60's and 70’s and that Microsoft afterwards. In fact it will turn to a Boxing ring where all can come - fight - survive/go. The same thing will be applicable for the emerging economies too.

India enjoyed this position mainly due to the cheap labour available here, huge domestic economy and due to some highly motivational people. But what we usually saw in these times is after a continuous growth, cheap labour will no longer remains a cheap. As money is available along with other resources, normally people will turn to/like to become a part of band wagon called Consumer economy. There they will spend the money in imported things and many other things no problem whether it’s needed or not. In many times this will be on credits. But life in credits need more credits to go on. In order to sustain this consumerism they will go for loans. As cash surplus raises normally companies will pay them more. But in this case they are slowly but inevitably losing the tag of cheap labour.

What will happen if this is coupled with the absence of highly creative, visionary leaders/workers? Now the inevitability comes, in an equally valued set new companies will go for quality. And by this time workers from all over the world will more affordable. As Shakespeare once said “All the world’s a stage…”.

This is the point where we have to stop and start thinking; recent surveys estimated that only a low percentage of students passing out of the colleges in India are actually employable. So what happened to the rest? Is it due to some specific phenomenon happens only to the people from Kanyakumari to Kashmir or Gujrat to Assam?

No prize for guessing the answer – it’s a straight-forward no. As one my friend recently described in one of our conversation "We are Jack of all trades but master of none". Here in this educational system every student has to study almost all subjects. Over and above many want to become Engineer and Doctor due to pressure or due to the high attention(read as social status +salary) getting to that job. Did you ever think what a Doctor will do by learning advanced calculus? And what a mathematician will do after leaning the Biology? If a person is interested in management sector and working for some commercial banks how Physics and Geography (in academical sense) will come to his help during a market analysis? You may have many reasons to justify the current system. After all we are living in this system for many years and enjoyed the comfort of it. Suddenly venturing in to a new world will simply unacceptable for many.

                                          [Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust- Mumbai]

You may have many questions to ask like; a) we are progressing now, and have so and so companies who are really the world leaders in their areas. b) Our international trade increases, and many companies are venturing out to other nations to acquire new companies. c) In IT, Defence manufacturing, Generic Parma, oil we have good shares and countless others.

But can you locate a single computer microprocessor manufacturing plant in India? Can you give me the name of a company in the level of Siemens AG, Hitachi, and General Electric? How many Nobel laureates in Science sector are Indian national who are educated in Indian universities? Even after these much revenues from IT how many companies are in the scale of SAP, Microsoft, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, Google etc? How many Indian government sites are down due to virus attacks? Even after having a long coastal belt how many container trans-shipment terminals we have? Why we are still using Colombo (Yes Colombo is indeed a huge port), Salala, Singapore ports for container trans-shipment? Is there any company on the scale of Pfizer, J & J etc?

The next question really disturbing Indian Industry is - how professional we are? Whenever the production time lines didn’t met companies will simply raise the working hours. Will give some more benefits to employees and thus fix a temporary problem. How Indian companies are finding and grading their employees? Conducting internal exams? Based on seniority? They will find the Date of Birth certificate, joining date and after a through analysis they will promote a person who is more senior to the higher position –no matter what they did in between. It is sure that if a person younger than you joined in the company before you, then you will never reach the top – even if your track record is better. So it’s normal that people will start to think - what is the point of doing something great, if you will not be rewarded for that? Anyway you will get the salary!!!

Did you ever thought how a manager is promoted? In the so called professional companies, which don’t consider age as the sole limit (even if it’s a barrier) boasts about their promotional guidelines. He may be the champion of something. But ever they checked the progress he/she made in the career of people working under him? Did they make substantial improvement in (of course positive only) after joining his/her team? How much they gained under his guidance? Does he utilize their abilities effectively? Any of these companies approach third parties to evaluate their managers based on these criterias?

After some years Indian employees too will not be cheap, Mass production of Graduates in Colleges will not help the situation.

In order to attain the professional qualities and greatness and satisfaction in work, our system needs a complete change. Quick Fixes will no longer help. Change is always painful, but for the survival of India economy it’s needed.


In my home state - Kerala, people from neighboring states and from many distant parts of the country comes for work. They will do all sort of hard labour and will complete it in time. For the last many years I didn’t saw a person from Kerala digging a channel for BSNL telephone lines. And now Chinese people are coming to India and doing hard work in many parts of India. Recently I read statement of a CEO “Chinese will complete the work in 15 months, but....” I am leaving the rest for you to complete.

Yes we have to change, not a change but a complete replacement, otherwise other countries will replace us.


[Images are from Wikipedia]