Sunday, February 28, 2016

LIC – By the government for the Government

It’s not a crime to save government from a crisis or embarrassment. LIC did exactly the same for a very lengthy period. The question to be asked here is, whether it’s right to use LIC to escape from every embarrassment of otherwise failed disinvestment drives.

Look at the data; over 60% of last NTPC stake sale was subscribed by LIC. After this LIC’s stake in NTPC was increased by 3.9% to 12.98%. Same thing happened with previous stake sales as well - IDBI, IOC etc. List is long. 

LIC holds 21.22% share in Corporation Bank, 16.8% in MTNL, 14.36 in UCO Bank, 14.31% in BHEL, 14.13% in Shipping Corporation; 13.75% in Canara Bank so on and so forth.

Is this disinvestment? Government is selling shares of PSUs and another arm (read LIC) is buying most of it. How long we can live in this false perception that disinvestment is a success? This has to be changed.

This year, LIC invested 53,000 crore rupees for equity purchases compared to last year’s 39,000 crore. In 2014–15 LIC booked an all-time high profit of 24,000 Crore. I really don’t know what is happening here. If equity purchases of PSUs are so profitable then why others are not doing it in such a great scale. Can anyone enlighten me?


Water is running out…

In the future, fight may not be for gold, gas or oil but for water. Why wait for future, even now many regions of India are under severe water crisis. Farmers are committing suicide as back to back draughts wiped off their savings and placed a question in front of their life itself. What more, many interstate conflicts are about sharing water.

We can’t manufacture water like other commodities. We can conduct reverse osmosis and produce drinking water in coastal areas. But this is a costly affair and there are many parts of India which are far from any coastal area.

It is in this situation we need to look in to alarming reports coming out of Karnataka. In Kalburgi district of Karnataka, only half of the bore wells are working; i.e. 2,674 out of 5,875.

Taluk wise,
Sedam (465 out of 826),
Aland (245 out of 714),
Jewargi (714 out of 1067),
Chittapur (398 out of 590),
Chincholi (581 out of 717) and in Kalburgi only 441 out of 990 are working.

Situation is really alarming if we are not doing something now, then it may go out of hand. Double draught followed by severe water crisis can break anyone’s back. State need to act fast of protecting the remaining forests, rivers and wetlands.


Four-year-old sentenced to Death

Absurd, ridiculous, bizarre… words are not enough to describe the procedures followed by Egyptian military court in sentencing a 4-year-old kid to death for crimes he committed when he was 1-year-old. Interested to know the crimes committed by this kid? Well here it is, 4 counts of murder, 8 counts of attempted murder and vandalising government property.

As per BBC report, “The child's lawyer said his name had been added to the list of suspects by mistake - and that court officials had not passed his birth certificate to the judge to prove his age at the time of the offence”. Later in a Facebook post spokesperson “Col Samir said Ahmed Mansour Qurani Sharara, 16, should have been sentenced and not Ahmed Mansour Qurani Ali”.

This raises many questions regarding the procedures followed by Egyptian courts. Didn’t the judge even see the kid during trial? Are these judges, just rubber stamps to approve whatever military government says? It is believed that more than 40,000 people are being jailed for political activities. This is not the first time world is shocked by hearing the convictions from Egyptian courts. Two years back, two mass trials alone sentenced 1200 people to death.

This has to be changed. The backers of Egypt and UN should force the current government from running these kangaroo courts and trials.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Long live Corruption

I had an expectation that, new generation of people joining government services might not take the easy way to make money. Unfortunately, it remained as an expectation only.

On the other day, I was travelling back to home from office in a BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corp) bus. As it was late night there wasn’t any direct bus; so I had to split my journey to two. Second one was for a very short distance – minimum charge. In this leg of journey conductor didn’t give tickets; when asked, his only reply was – “It’s next stop”.

When asked about ticket checkers who may get in to the bus from next stop, he simply told – they won’t come. Well, they didn’t come. But the fact is, if conductor is not giving tickets that much money will go directly to conductor’s pocket not to BMTC books. More or less the situation is like, we are going to a hotel and having lunch, pay the amount to waiter and leave the place. However, the waiter neither generate bill nor pay the money at counter. This is not an isolated incident but a well spread practice in BMTC for minimum charge journeys.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Sweet Tamarind

Yesterday, I was standing at a juice centre after ordering ‘Orange Lime’. Accidently my eyes fell on a small packet (250g) of sweet tamarind. Out of curiosity I searched for MRP and it was 120 INR. Wow!!! 120 INR for a 250g packet of sweet tamarind!!! My memories quickly went back to childhood; there was a big sweet tamarind tree in our back yard, close to road. In its season, there used to be huge number of sweet tamarinds on it. We, and all those who walked close to tree threw stones at it and had sweet tamarinds. Fast forward to 2016 and I am seeing the same thing for 120 INR.

“Orange Lime”. I woke up from my dream and had orange lime.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reservations – Back in to lime light... Again…

After some political comments here and there reservation debate is back in to lime light. I think, it will stay there until another glamorous issue come forward. Anyway, we are not expecting to reach any solution through these non-stop debates. More or less news channels are filling 8.30 – 10.30 prime time with television debates which never had (will have) any conclusion. I often think, and to an extend I believe, we are not in the league for any meaningful debates. It’s easy for news channels to show these high decibel shouting matches as a replacement for otherwise costlier, on the site reporting and quality documentaries.

Well, let’s come back to the question. Is India’s SCs, STs are still backward? I can say a definite yes to this question If I exclude states like Kerala, which made fantastic progress in social indices.

Next question is does SCs, STs need government support? Again it’s a yes. They need strong affirmative action from government’s end, which should not be limited to grants and reservations but also to wipe out existing caste prejudices and to improve educational levels. They need support for many more years – not through words but through deeds.

Do I agree on reservations in government sector? As it is already there and it is a political suicide for any party to withdraw it, I can agree for its continuation to an extent. But certainly not in promotions.

Do I agree for reservation in private sector? Answer is a definite no. If seven decades of flawed reservation policies are not going to bring those groups forward, then it’s not going to happen if we are continuing the same policies for another two decades.

As a panellist pointed on a different topic in a regional news channel, I also believe that most of our social reforms happened during British era - no matter whether it’s the ban of Sati, laws against female infanticide, legalizing widow remarriage, age of consent against child marriage, Temple Entry Proclamations. How many such social reforms of such stature was executed by Independent India?

Leave private sector alone and focus on what we can actually do, to promote social indicators of those who were left behind due to their caste… By the way, most of new generation private sector companies hardly care to which caste you belong to.


New Year Resolutions

Do resolutions actually work? I don’t know; I believe it depends on the people who took it. On this January 1, I asked many people about their resolutions. Most of them had one or more; for some Jan 1 was like any other day.

I thought of taking a lot of resolutions on that day. But, after thinking about last years’ experience I refrained from taking any new ones. It was not that I didn’t follow any of my last year resolutions. In fact, compared to previous years I broke less resolutions last year :)

I believe it’s better to think about a day on that morning and do justice to whatever decisions we take. It’s not that we shouldn’t have any long term goals. However, it’s not necessary that we need to take it on new year day. It’s all about when we are ready to commit for an idea and to follow it through…

For all those who took resolutions, I hope that it didn’t break on the next day. For those who didn’t take resolutions you can have some whenever you are ready…