Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How about downsizing the government?

How about downsizing the government?
The so called Civil Society guys keep saying we must get rid of corruption. They think Lokpal will help. But I think Lokpal comes into the picture after the act is done! We have to think of how to stop opportunities for corruption.
The best way may be to downsize the government itself! We have to my mind too many ministries at the Central government level and many of this need to be shut down. Recently I asked this question to Dr Virmani who knows the ways of f the government and he said all where the real work is at the state level and I think all administrative ones as well.
So we can do away with I &B, Steel and Mines, Chemicals and Fertilizers, Heavy industry, Aviation, Railways, Telecom, Oil & natural Gas and many others. We can convert Railway into an independent Corporation and slowly privatise it.
The administrative ones that essentially make sure that the PSUs can never function independently are useless. We need to empower the boards of these companies and let them be free. The government should stop giving them budgetary support as they can raise money on the strength of their balance sheet. They can get into partnership with the Pvt Sector if they so desire. Ultimately the government should sale its stake in these companies.
If we do this we can cut a lot of bureaucracy and that will lead to huge savings and will cut off a lot of red tape and that will improve inefficiency.
In the in sectors where a regulator is already in place there is no need of a ministry. We must stop appointing bureaucrats as regulators. Experts must be appointed and they must be held accountable. In telecom for example had the power to decide whether to auction or not should have been with the regulator, same goes for coal.
I believe Modi has turned around many PSUs in Gujrath, will he be bold to do it in Delhi? If he does this he would have done a great deal.
The fifth and sixth pay commissions have increased the salaries of government employees handsomely and now the seventh pay commission is in place. These pay commissions have done some work on administrative reforms but the implementation is tardy or non-existent. I have heard this many times- Since salaries are increased and there is no performance evaluation that will lead to loss of jobs for inefficient the productivity has actually decreased.
We must also stop the present system of increasing pensions by linking them to inflation. The pension must be fixed on the last salary drawn and should remain at that level. Today I know many government employees who are drawing two or three times more pension that the last salary drawn by them.
Once this exercise is completed at the Center it should be replicated at state level. States should be encouraged to do this on their own and if they don’t it should be enforced through the Finance Commission.
We the so called enlightened educated, intelligent citizens must take the lead in forcing the government to downsize itself as the most important reform carried out in our country. Our government servants at all levels are highly pampered and most do not deliver. We have tried the carrot by way way fifth and sixth pay commission now is the time for the Stick.
Any government that dares to do this will have created tremendous support and goodwill for itself amongst the citizens of the country.
The question is will the new government have the guts and vision to this. Will we use all forums to press the government to do this?
23.4.2014


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

देवांची गोची!


देवांची गोची!

कडकडणार्‍या अक्राळ विक्राळ विद्युलता
धबा धबा कोसळणारा पाऊस
नखशिकांत भिजून थरथरणारी चंद्रकोर,
सूर्याची ग ही तिची थंडी नाही आहे
भागवू शकत, अपुरी आहे ती ही आत्ता
काय करणार ती आता बिचारी
वाट बघणे फक्त तिच्या हाती
सूर्याची आराधना करते आहे बिचारी
अजून आठवडा लागणार ऊब मिळण्या साठी,
थांबेल त्या आधी हा पाऊस नक्की.
वेडी आहे ही, आराधना सूर्याची कशाला
वरूणाची भाकायची त्याचा कोप हा
सूर्याचा काय इथे संबध?
आपण ही तर हेच करतो
करुणा देवांची भाकतो जेव्हा
खर तर सार आपल्याच हाती असत
नसतो आत्मविश्वास;
मग भीक, करुणा सगळच आल
आणि मग त्या बिचार्‍या
देवांची ही गोची!
२०.४.२०१४

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vividhbhrati!

Vividhbhrati!
People like me born much before FM radio and TV were addicted to Radio Cylone and Vividhbharati for ages. Radio Cylone has now lost out but Vividhbharati is still going strong. We hooked on to it much before it became commercial and even today that is the place where one can hear some nice songs almost throughout the day!
Those were the days before RJs were born to talk non-stop nonsense and bore us. One wrote a ‘farmaish’ not because one got free tickets to some movie but because one probably wanted one’s name to be announced on the radio and to hear a song that one liked.
I still tune in to Vividhbharati especially when I am driving. What strikes me is the fact that there are many phone in programs and a lot of people actually take the trouble of calling in. In today’s age of U Tube this I find quite fascinating. May be these guys are not net savvy.
What I also find astounding is they seem to pour their hearts out talking to the program presenters! On Vividhbharati thankfully they are still called presenters and not jockeys! I always thought jockeys were horse riders in horse races and none other!
The presenters all of them are so sympathetic to their listeners and encourage them to speak. It almost feels like a therapy session! They even seem to recognize the voice of regular callers. The whole environment is so homely in these programs.
I think the people who call in, really wish to share their experiences with the world. At times I feel they may be lonely souls who have none to speak to and hence call. Some do it to wish someone.
Vividhbharati really needs to be complimented for all this and more. This is one GOI enterprise that has improved over the years. I am not sure whether they make money even after going commercial, but they surely are rendering social service to millions of people across the country and may be homesick NRIs as well!
For many poor people it is the way to connect with the rest of the country. As transistors are affordable most households are likely to have one. This is probably the cheapest form of entertainment available to millions, though I suspect many of them may now be tuning in to the so called modern FM channels rather than Vividhbharati. The loss is entirely theirs!
Long live Vividhbharati!

19.4.2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

अवहेलना!

अवहेलना!
उघड्या नागड्या माळावर उघडे नागडे झाड
दोघांना ही याची नाही वाटत लाज,
हर सालचाच हा सिलसिला ग्रीश्माच्या
लज्जाहीनतेचा, आता आस दोघांना
फक्त मृगाच्या जेष्ठाची, आला तो तर
झाकली जाईल लाज दोघांची,
नाहीतर मग आहेच अवहेलना
अंगवळणी पडलेली!
१८.४.२०१४



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some interesting things about politicians.

Some interesting things about politicians.
(Ref Marathi book “Sattachakra” by Jagan Phadanis and Ashok Jain. Published in Oct 1978)
Phadnis and Jain are reputed journalists in Marathi. I was re-reading this old book and came across some interesting things about some well known politicians, and so thought that I should share this.)
CharanSingh-
 Had the habit of resigning very often!
He was not a believer in castes. He hated to be called a Jat leader! He used to say you don’t call other leaders by their caste’s leader so why me?
As a Chief Minister of UP he did not allow his coalition party to hold agitations during the visit of PM Indira Gandhi for Indian Science Congress at Varanasi. His objection was the PM has to be respected. To this effect he arrested Socialist leaders like Rajnarayan.
He was a teetotaler and a voracious reader.
Even when in power he lived a fairly simple life.
Jagjivan Ram:
Had to face humiliation many times in his early life due to his caste.
As a school boy he was not allowed to drink water from the “Matka” for Hindu students. When a different mataka was provided for untouchables he did not like that and broke it. Finally the principal made sure that he could drink water from the common Matka!
He did not apply for scholarship that was available to him due to his caste. He wanted scholarships to be awarded on merit even at that age! He stood second in the school examination and earned the scholarship on merit.
Atal Bihari Vajpai:
A through nationalist. While leading a delegation abroad while in opposition he praised Indira, whom he was severely criticizing her at home! He said that was the right thing to do.
Subramaniam Swamy complained to Morarji that Vajpai had a drink in an embassy as FM.
When he was released on health grounds during emergency he tried to convince JP to withdraw the agitation and negotiate with Indira.
Nanaji Deshmukh wanted Morarji to divest Vajpai of foreign ministry because he was not following Jan Sangh agenda as FM.
He had to actually take the official positions in foreign policy as FM that was not his or his party’s stated position before they merged with Janata Party. Many erstwhile Jan Sanghis did not like it.
He had accused Indira of having entered into a secret pact with Bhutto during the Simla pact.
Advani as I & B Minister made sure that he and Vajpai got maximum exposure on official media! Charan Singh was livid because of this!
George Fernandes:
Ran away from home because his Father wanted him to become a priest.
Planned the downfall of S K Patil for five years and succeeded.
Lived on the streets of Mumbai till he got a job with TOI as proof reader.
Built the first ever union in the country for hotel and restaurant workers.
A born South Indian was adopted by North and fought many elections from there.
Won by record margin in 1977 when he was in jail.
15.4.2014






Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fatigue!

Fatigue!
I am sure most of us who are not “Bhakts” of someone or other are actually in a state of utter fatigue with the 2014 elections. I cannot wait for this “tamasha” to be over and a stable government being in place so that we can get on with our life.
Do elections really mean so much to common man? Does he really believe his lot will improve whoever comes to power? Is it also not true the lot of many has improved in spite of all the politics?
The media and the so called panelists are making the fatigue a real thing. The newspapers behave as though the whole world has either gone to sleep like “Kumbhakarna” and will wake up only on 16th May or they want us believe that the whole world is enamored by the dance of democracy being performed in India and are watching it with glee and astonishment!
I am sure nowhere in the world elections grab so much of time. We have been at it for almost a year now. One hears the same arguments over and over again. Have we learnt anything new about our political parties who are trying to convince us that have our best interests at heart?
Post elections the supporters of the party that wins it will be dancing on the streets and getting drunk, the supporters of the losers will be getting drunk and not dancing. The euphoria will last for some time and then evaporate. May be the new government will announce new policies and the feel good factor will be in the air for some time. The budget of the new government will get great reviews from experts who will hail it as path breaking, as it will be an exercise in trying to please everyone.
Will our institutions be revived accorded their original status? Unlikely. Will parliament function and can we switch to Lok Sabha TV and hear great debates?  Will the new government be accountable? Will India be the priority number one?
I hope this one month just flies off quickly. I am fatigued and I am sure many of you are also in the same state of mind.
Dr Ambedkar on his anniversary won’t be feeling great about what is happening in the country.
14.4.2014


Thursday, April 10, 2014

फूल!

फूल!
कोण जन्मल कोण गेल
याच या फुलांना काय घेण?
कोणी सजव पाळणा,
कोणी पडत गळ्यात हार होऊन,
कोणाचं भाग्य कोण्या ललनेच्या
केसांना गजरा होऊन सजवण्याच
कोणी होतात देवाचं निर्माल्य   
कोणाचा बळी मढ्यावर,
पण सुंदरता तीच
सुगंध ही तोच
त्यात भेदाभेद नाही
कारण फूल ते फूल
त्याच नशीब मात्र त्याच्या
हाती नाही, ते आपल्या हाती
म्हणूनच बहुतेक आपण
त्यांना वापरतो सुखात आणि दुक्खात
आणि मग वरती हे ही ठरवतो
कोणत्या प्रसंगाला कोणती फूल!
१०.४.२०१४