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Month: November 2011

10 minutes of heaven!

I felt a very proud Indian as I stepped into Bangalore’s ‘Namma Metro’ coach at Baiyappanhalli (starting point for East to west line).

Third Metro in the country after Kolkata and Delhi and the only one with WiFi…It took off, as if on air a good 50 feet above road level, brushing lush green canopies formed by ‘namma’ trees, punctuated annoyingly by grotesque concrete houses and rooftops. Check out this video clip, Bangalore Metro.

There will be omissions and misses as the services and commuters settle down to a symbiotic routine. Not to worry. Not to complain. This is our toe hold into salvation that has eluded Bangalore for a long time.

On this glorious day, we should forget the delay in implementation of the project as also the sloppy handling of roads, construction, traffic, jams and massive public inconvenience for a good four years.

Let us salute all the workers, engineers and team Metro staff for doing a good job. Thank you.

My ten minutes of heaven ended too abruptly having halted at MG Road and with heavy steps I walked down the stairs to the hell that awaits us on every Bangalore road.

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Genesis of corruption

I could write a world class treatise on corruption, having seen it all around me for so many years. No need, though.

I shall attempt to explain how and why corruption seeped into Indian ethos:

Scarcity of resources: More people, less opportunity. Not only hard commodities in the marketplace but services, admissions, travel tickets, practically everything.  So in a state of near panic, we jump the que, neglecting all lessons on moral education we received in school. Our political system sensed this opportunity to make money way back in the 60’s. They made sure the equation stays this way. More scarcity leads to more panic leads to heightened desire to jump the que. So bribe your way out of any situation. QED.

Excessive laws and controls: Excessive controls in post independence era created a plethora of opportunities for the bureaucracy and at a more immediate level, the babus, to fleece the common citizen. Keep the laws twisted and beyond understanding. This was practiced in every single government budget, policy and procedure. Sadly, it continues even today.

Scant respect or fear of law enforcement: Not that a common Indian is not scared of law or officials. On the contrary it is the very fear which drives people to evade taxes, fines, regulations and at a more specific level evade punishment for offences of all nature. Law enforcement machinery will show you the way. viola!

Lack of education: and as a consequence little awareness of rights and no awareness of duties. Democracy without an educated people is the basic reason why we went corrupt and enjoy being so. As of today, the educated percentage of India’s population is a pathetic 74% (less than 60% for women!). India has the world’s largest illiterate population. Add to this the deficit of quality education that’s available to lower income groups, you have a perfect recipe for disaster. At the DNA level.

Dishonest Governance: I will not comment on this one. A dishonest society will get a government to match. This alliance has continued for a long time and the society has grown immune, insensitive and resistant to change. We get what we want. Quid pro quo of sorts.

Rise of the professional (murky) politician:  Seduced by the abundance of easy sleazy money, the more aggressive members of society took to politics as a profession, right after college, rather than as an avenue for service to the nation. They misinterpreted our constitution and threw all standards of morality into a dark and dirty pit where ironically, our political system has stuck its roots and derives sustenance from.

The greatest tragedy of post independence India is that it allowed corruption to seep in, take root and find a congenial, receptive, fertile social soil.

Who knows, this might be the undoing of this once great civilization.


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Kashmir Tales -1

 

 

Kashmir-21-300x214Kashmir, our hero in these tales, is an old man. Just an old man, waiting for the day he will die. Wrinkled centuries are etched on his weathered yet handsome face. We will call him Bab, grandpa.

On this crisp November morning, he walks with determined steps, towards nowhere in particular. Close in his wake, walks his grandson. We call him Baccha, very young one. By now having walked for quite a while, Baccha was panting. Cold and tired to the bone.

“Where are you going, Bab?”

Silence.  Deep silence of the long, lonely valleys. Silence of the dead.

“Where are we going, Bab?”

“Nowhere. Just keep walking” answered grandpa after a long silence

“Then why don’t we go home?” asked innocence

“There is no home. Our home is lost. It is only fire and ruins and frozen dead.”

“Who did that to our home?” whispered innocence in a quivering, scared voice.

“Some people came from over the West Mountains and burnt down everything, killed everyone.”

“Why?”

“Because we called them in to drive our own brothers and sisters out of Kashmir. But they killed everyone in Kashmir.”

“Are we the only ones left?” little one was grey with fear

“Yes, Baccha. I have nothing to look forward to but death, and you are too fragile to survive on your own……” sighed Grandpa, his breath freezing in the chill.

He was worried, line of worry etched deep on his brow. Just like the long, lonely valleys of Kashmir.



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