My Commentary On The Beginning of Corruption

I read this article and felt tempted to write a note on it. The article was published on 17th Dec’11  in The Statesman. M Kaempchen brought about some very interesting points. Here is the url:

I have slightly different opinion on some of the points he mentioned.

Soon after a baby is born in India, a bed is given to him or her too. They are not taught to wet it, instead they are told not to. When a child cries, his parents tell him or her not to and try to pacify. That can be done in two ways – either by coercive manner or by pleasant manner. But in both of the cases, the objective is to teach the child not to cry and quarrel. When the mother or father speaks, children are not asked to interfere. These are more of common sense and have nothing to do with being protective. He is right when he says that Indian parents are more protective but that make the children risk averse – that creates less number of entrepreneurs, creates less number of bungee jumpers, creates more dependent people but definitely don’t make more corrupt human beings. A person who is late in standing on his own feet is not necessarily corrupt. He has been taught by his parents and by his school many a times on what is “right” and what is “wrong”. But preaching and practicing are two different things altogether and I find few different reasons for Indians being more susceptible to corruption.

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Beckon of Tinsel Town

I was cleaning up things before Durga Puja as is done in a typically Bengali household. I came across my copy of English exercise book. I last read it when I was in class seven. I was casually turning over the pages wondering how I learnt English and why mother still kept it in our book shelf, neatly folded. My eyes got fixated on a word – “Tinsel Town”. If you search in the Google with this word, you come to know that it refers to Hollywood. In Indian context, it would be Bollywood represented by all handsome hunks and beautiful women. Let us randomly check a few international and national celebrities – Julian Moore, Julia Roberts, Eva Mendes, Cyndi Crawford, Bar Refaeli, Brad Pitt, Keeanu Reeves, Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Milind Soman, Rajeev Mulchandani [seems unfamiliar, he was famous for his off-screen dalliances with Aishwarya Rai]. How do you feel reading these names? Don’t you feel the urge to quickly open a browser and search? Why do you feel so tempted to know them? Tinsel Town always beckons us, pulling us towards it.

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Communism As I See It

I welcomed the downfall of CPM in the recent assembly election in West Bengal. This is not the first time; every time, I saw communism going downhill, my ecstasy knew no bounds. Am I anti-communist? It is up to you to judge when you finish reading this article. Anyway, this is first part. Communism as an ideology has been evoking interest from across the globe and down the generations. It would be too simplistic to put my thinking or any discussion thread for that matter into one article. You can call me a walking parliament, representing both the warring groups, arguing on both sides with same élan [Of course wearing one hat at a time]. You have right to do that but I would also request you NOT to step into the shoes of TOM who walked off the cliff but did not look down so had not fallen (a common scene in Tom and Jerry Show: When it looks down, it has a free fall).

I was born to a family who always voted for the Congress party. I chanced to find books on Russia when I was very young. My father used to buy Russian magazine published in Bengali. As far as I remember, it used to be sold at Gorki Sadan, Calcutta. I started reading it not knowing much about what it was intended for. I still remember one photo where one grand old man was surrounded by his 80-odd family members. My interest grew. I waited with a bated breath for each issue – one thing got registered in my mind: people live happily in groups, they help one another; well, quite contrary to the nucleus family setup we find ourselves in nowadays. Then I found a book on Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. I went through the book but could not make out the economic impact or the jargons but one thing I understood: Commune, a body of people living together and sharing. As I grew up, I learnt the meaning of egalitarian society. I learnt how investment in social sector can bring about good benefits to the people of any country in general.

I have a deep-rooted belief that a child has a right to live, no matter where she is born, what family she is born to, she should live her life; she has every right to have a roof over her head, proper nutrition, a reasonable level of education that would qualify her for a job and a job at the end of it to ensure she should live. She was born to a poor family. Was it her fault? She did not do anything wrong. Why was she destined to live the life of a beggar when other boys and girls would enjoy luxury? Does this happen owing to the sins she committed in her previous birth? Her soul if at all that exists should have been imprisoned in the hell then, not have been allowed to be born. A popular belief goes that a child can remember her deeds in her past life till the age of five. Well, she has to carry the baggage through the rest of her life without knowing it. This is gross injustice. Was it God’s punishment? It might not be as God cannot be so cruel as to decide someone’s fate in this manner. Probably GOD gives this judgment. I say “Judgment” and “Judgment” is not decision; law is interpreted and judgment is given. So I will defy such judgment and flout the law which opposes a child’s right to live. I did not read Das Capital or Communist manifesto but it is this form of communism I have learnt through those books and magazines. I have come to believe that communism has the answer to this evil through implementation of egalitarian society.

Over a period of time, perspective has changed. I saw people around me who associate communism with eternal struggle against the other –isms: imperialism, capitalism etc. They associate communism with fighting against the rich, shedding blood, and revolution. The communists represent weaker or poorer sections: peasants, laborers. Does this mean that peasants and laborers are born to live a disgraceful life, work for a mere pittance? Communism is there to snatch the money from the rich people and make peasants and laborers smile. No way. Are we not going on the wrong course? I have read “Rich Dad Poor Dad”. I fully agree to the fact that a person can become rich because he has the ability to earn money in a different fashion that others may not have or for that matter, the ability may have lain dormant in their mind. I have also seen distortion in other areas. CPI (M) leadership in west Bengal opposed the introduction of computers citing that it would do work in a second rendering thousand people jobless. Going by this logic, we will do things manually, spend days in doing repetitive jobs what can be done in an hour. The earning obtained through this process is distributed among the people. This form of communism is not allowing a company to grow, its management or owner to make profit, even limiting the potential of the people communism claims that it represents for but ensuring that no one can earn more. So by limiting what a person can do, closing down the avenues which can potentially transform the economic state, this form of communism espoused by erstwhile leadership of Bengal, ensures that everybody remains poor. So egalitarianism is maintained and struggle against the rich, imperialism, capitalisms continue. I hate this form of communism.

Going back to my example of two groups of boys and girls representing rich and poor people, I would like to rephrase the same question from a different podium. A child born to a poor family cannot enjoy the luxury of life. True. It is not their fault. A child born to a rich family can enjoy all amenities. They would have everything they desire, even something which they have not thought to own but are given unasked. Those little boys or girls have not earned it. They are getting it because their parents are rich. It is not their fault either.

Probably the answer lies in the good governance, making the best use of resources to bring about the benefits to the people, providing the platform or a level playing field to the weaker section so that they can grow learn the ability to compete and strengthening the platform to the stronger section so that they can redefine the benchmark.

Do –isms really matter? What do you say? I will carry forward this argument in my next post; try to come up with more “For & against” stuff………

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Anna Hazare And Indian Political Paradox

Now Anna Hazare Episode – I is over. Knowing that he is going to start one more campaign, ”Right to recall MPs”, we can say for sure that it is going to be episode – II that would draw even more crowd at Ramlila Maidan, have the chief editors of news channel to arrange rounds and rounds of group discussion [richer in content and more poignant than CAT GD or personal interview]. People would thunder and give their comments. Some software professionals would come up with anti corruption software. Now the dust has settled; we can have an objective analysis of the entire episode.

Let us discuss the scope and scale of what we were trying to achieve. Are we striving for corruption free India or a bill that is panacea for all the issues happening every day in the full glare of media/public: something as big as 2G scam or CWG or illegal mining or something as small as an event that happens in the compartments of the long distance trains: so many people buy general ticket, board the train, meet the ticket collectors and give them some extra money to buy reservation. Do they pay the full amount? Is not it a form of corruption? We are also a party to it. We, the same group of people, who thronged to Ramlila Maidan to support Anna Hazare in his fight against corruption, have something in our cupboard. I remember reading an article describing a conversation between Mr. Manish Tiwari, spokesperson of the Congress Party, the host of the show and a group of people participating in it. Manish Tiwari was asked why Congress had fielded Azaharuddin in the election. His quick reply was that Congress only fielded but you voted for him and brought him into the parliament. The statement could be an example of the presence of mind of Mr. Manish Tiwari but in my opinion it summarizes the paradoxical situation India now is in. A system where corruption has crept into all layers with people from every strata of society no matter what their religion, caste, financial position are or any other yardstick that we can think of willingly or unwillingly being a party to corruption, fantasize themselves bringing about a revolution that would change the face of the nation. Coming back to scope and scale of what we are trying to achieve now through this movement, let us map it against what we know best, a software project. Let us size it up.

When we do requirement gathering, how many stakeholders we meet? How long does it take to finalize business blue print document? How many process areas do we try to impact with our visualization of what the proposed process would be? How many people get involved? What is their competency level and qualification? How many people are impacted by the change? Are you getting what I mean?

Now superimpose lofty objective on Anna movement to this template? Let us ask the same question and try to get the probable answers.

How many stakeholders are involved? Ans: Entire political class, other members of society with varying degree of understanding and vested interest.

How long it takes to finalize business blue print document [Sorry, Lokpal bill, Ah, I am a committed professional, don’t usually think beyond my arena?] Ans: Not very sure but definitely we are not going to get sign off by the end of the month once we start negotiating with the client about the scope.

How many process areas do we try to impact with our visualization of what the proposed process would be? Ans: We would bring in the entire chain of bureaucracy right from low rung officials to prime minister; I am not very sure about the definition of low rung officials, need to check the website, “India against Corruption”

How many people get involved? Ans: There are 5-6 persons in Team Anna

What is their competency level and qualification? I personally feel that honest intention is the most important qualification one should possess to participate. One does not need deep horizontal and vertical exposure to become eligible.

Here comes the most important question: How many people are impacted by the project? Ans: 1.2 billion.

All facts probably point to the fact that the Janalokpal Bill drafted by Team Anna might not be the best one and not a single bill can eliminate corruption. Corruption-free India needs a collective effort of administration, legislature, and judiciary and every one of us who will put their foot down and thunder “We will not pay bribe no matter what we lose”

Does that mean Anna movement has not achieved anything?

The movement has several spin-offs:

1. It has kept the focus on corruption for a pro-longed period which is unthinkable if judged in the light of short memory of public.

2. Lokpal bill which was passed in principle in the parliament was laid dormant for 40 years. It took one Anna to revive it no matter what its form is

3. It has brought all sections of people under one umbrella. This itself is a big achievement if we think the diverse nature of India

4. Power does not concede anything without a demand. Anna demanded and Government of India Conceded. Is it not a point that can offset or rip apart my previous arguments?

Well stay tuned for the next part. I welcome your opinion on this.

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Spy Literature & James Bond – 007 – why bond movies are so appealing

I came across an excellent article by Mr. Manas Das on The Statesman on 20th August 2011.

It has reignited in me the love for bond movies. I scanned my repository and there were a few – “From Russia with love”, “Goldfinger”, “The Spy who loved me”, “World is not enough”. I also saw “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” and followed that up with a casual search over the net on Ian Fleming. “From Russia with love” Starring Sean Connery was released in 1963 and Quantum of Solace starring Daniel Craig in 2008. James Bong star-casting during 5 decades experienced the shift from Sean Connery to Roger Moore to Pierce Brosnan and to Daniel Craig. The James Bond still remains as appealing today as he was 70 years back. So what make Bond movies so special?

  1. One reason is definitely his super spy image. He cannot be a real star, a real secret agent. He would not have survived even a day with his identity known to all counter intelligence divisions across the world. I feel the character appeals to fantasy of people cutting across geographical boundaries.
  2. Secondly, every bond movie has a very good story line with twists and turns happening at a moment when they are most unexpected. It has the advantage of carrying usual high octane thrill ride typically associated with secret service/espionage operation. That is further fuelled by extensive usage of improvised gadgets. Imagine you are driving a car at high speed on an express way. Now you take an exit, drive 1 km, take a sharp turn and find a sea beach glittering with sunlight. Deep blue sea is just visible in front of you. You are in no mood to stop the car, simply drive through the sand into the sea. How would you feel: driving the car under the sea? Remember the scene from “the spy who loved me”. James Bond movie can engage you in quite exotic way.
  3. Then come the bong girls. “Bond Girl” has really been packaged and marketed well. They really spice up the thing. Close your eyes and imagine what strikes you when you hear the word: stunningly beautiful, lethal package but humbled in the end by the super man, Mr. Bond. Take a look at the picture of Tatiana Romanova, Pussy Galore, Solonge Dimetrius, Vesper Lynd [Their names in the movies”]. Imagine how this post would seem to you without these pictures: A differentiating factor no doubt.
This is what I think. I would like to see your opinion too…….
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