Delimitation and Contempt for Politics

The Constitution mandates that boundaries of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies be adjusted every 10 years (Delimitation), taking into account the changes in population, density and other demographic variations. This exercise should be based on the decennial census.

Ensuring Women Their Fair Share

The Women’s Reservation Bill has once again made the headlines. Why is this bill which has been introduced six years ago, which seems to have the backing (public, not necessarily private) of most political parties and most parliamentarians and which definitely has the support of at least 50% of the population (women) not been enacted so far?

A Dozen Years of Dramatic Change

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The dawn of the twenty-first century brought to us vividly the dangers inherent in our modern world. The terrorist attacks in the US on the 11th September, 2001, the Second Gulf War now raging in Iraq, and the rapid spread of Severe Accuse Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from the first reported infections in Guangdong province in China to over a dozen countries across continents – all these illustrate the perils confronting us in a shrinking world.

Courage to Lead

For far too long governments in this country were held to ransom by the entrenched employee unions who were able to get almost anything they sought. Out of the total 28 million employees in the organized sector who get a monthly secure wage, 20 million are in government alone. This makes even the lowest employee in government more powerful than the 900 million ordinary Indians. In spite of getting a decent wage and having life-time security, government employees rarely deliver services of quality.

Crisis in Urban Co-operative Banks

Series of scandals have engulfed the urban co-operative banks in the state. Thousands of small depositors, lured by the comparatively higher interest rates offered by some of these banks, lost their life savings and not know who to turn to.

People’s Mandate Delinked from Power

Recently, we had the privilege of interacting with a number of leaders who were former local government heads in the state. A few of them who served as heads of the district panchayat (Zilla Parishad) in the 60’s and 70’s were commenting that they turned down positions in the state cabinet as they wielded more authority than that of a cabinet minister! In fact the norm used to be that a MLA or minister from any district had to request the ZP chairperson for any assistance that their constituents needed.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose!

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I was amazed to read news reports that the government had issued show cause notices to Gram Sarpanchs’ (in some instances suspending them!) holding them accountable for the slow pace of implementation of drought relief works through the food for work (FFW) scheme. Under this scheme the village governments are supposed to provide daily employment to the landless labour and pay them wages in the form of grain (rice) and utilize them for any development activity in the village. The state government is supplying the food stocks with liberal assistance from the union government.

Urban India – Crumbling Metropolises

Throughout history cities have been centers of civilization and have been engines of growth for commerce and industry. They were hubs of their respective regional economies. Cities also foster and nurture new ideas and serve as centers of excellence for the arts. Owing to their inherent economic strength, and opportunities for growth, they are also beacons of hope for many a budding entrepreneur. Mumbai and New York City continue to attract thousands of such hopefuls every year who contribute to the city through their labour, services and entrepreneurial abilities.

Fresh Blood In Public Service

There is no greater calling than public service

FDR

Institutions are the Key; Not Culture

No. Corruption is not a cultural or genetic problem. There is no special predisposition to corrupt behaviour in our society any more than in any other culture. Ordinary Indians are as decent and honest as people anywhere in the world throughout the ages. A reputed global magazine conducted a survey of levels of integrity in several nations by dropping at several public places equivalent sums of money (in purchasing power terms) in small packets containing addresses. About 85 percent of Indians – mostly the poor, hard-working labourers-returned the money to the addressee!