Fruits of Freedom - for Whom?

A large-sized district in India is larger than about eighty (80) nation-states in the world in terms of population. Most of our larger states would be among the large nations of the world. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal - each would be the largest nation in Europe if independent. Even a truncated Uttar Pradesh would be the world's sixth largest nation!

Given these mind-boggling demographic realities, coupled with unmatched diversity, our centralized, somewhat imperial style of governance is archaic and ineffective.

No Room for Cynicism and Despair

The new year brings little cheer to the long-suffering people. War clouds are hovering over our skies. Much of the economy is stagnant. The share of manufacturing sector as a proportion of GDP is in decline. Tax revenues are well below projections, and expenditure – mostly unproductive - continues to mount. Capital markets are jittery and investor confidence is low. Banks are flush with funds, and yet legitimate credit requirements of the surviving manufacturing enterprises are not met. But spurious companies get large loans for imaginary purposes.

Rule of law a prerequisite for prosperity

diThe recent debate on POTO helped draw our attention on failure of rule of law. Although the Supreme Court in Jayalalitha case held that rule of law is supreme, in reality our incapacity to enforce rule of law has done immense damage to our polity and has become an impediment to economic growth. Right to property, sanctity of contracts, mechanisms for peaceful resolution of disputes, public order, and a system of fair and equitable laws well-enforced are the prerequisites of economic growth. We clearly need strong measures to promote peace and order.

The real danger of subversion from within

Tags: 

Since Black Tuesday the whole world has been glued to television, transfixed by the  horror unfolding in front of their eyes, thanks to endless replays of the gruesome tragedy.  The American response was even more fascinating.  Initially there were signs of panic and confusion.  Quickly they gave way to order, and a cold fury and cries for resolute action. Blind rage and demands for ‘bombing Afghanistan to stone age’ are replaced by more measured, calibrated responses.  The system found effective direction and leadership.

Are Civil Servants Holy Cows?

Recently, a media report quoted the Karnataka Chief Minister, S M Krishna saying, “I don’t have the power to punish corrupt civil servants” and making a case for amending the Constitution to enable state governments to act against erring civil servants.

Absence of Risk and Reward System

An acquaintance once remarked, “If anybody came up to me and said ‘India’s problems can be solved if the population is reduced by half’, I am willing to die”.

It doesn’t require such a great sacrifice to set India right. Nor does that kind of sacrifice guarantee things will be right in the end. Wasn’t our population half the present size only a few decades ago? Haven’t we managed to bungle? Far from any guaranteed success, we would have the additional problem of disposing off 500 million bodies!

Joy Of Community Service

We are surrounded by myriad problems - minor irritations to crises of great magnitude. We are often upset about the way things work or don’t work. Many of these could easily be set right – like the traffic problems at intersections. All these problems bother us a great deal everyday; we talk about them at length and maybe hope that someone else will take care of them. But then their sheer number and complexity is enough to deter many well-meaning people from trying to do anything. And there are always the ‘cynics’ who dismiss the small individual efforts to make a difference.

The Good In Our Midst

A friend of mine was telling me that my column is always about what is wrong in the country or in Hyderabad – maybe giving impression to readers that I think there is nothing good in our society. It’s precisely because I see so many good things in our society that I think that we are not a doomed country and our problems are not intractable. Far from being a prophet of gloom and doom I am an optimist to the core and a very cheerful one at that. My anger is only at the gap between what is and what could easily be, and at the gulf between the promise and performance.

We Need To Bridge The Communal Divide

Tags: 

The carnage in Godhra and rest of Gujarat is a painful reminder that beneath the veneer of civilization, beastly impulses continue to lurk in our society. Thanks to mindless manipulation of power-hungry politicians, a local dispute over a place of worship became an intractable national crisis. Whatever be the origins, the Godhra tragedy could not have been the handiwork of ordinary Muslims. As a religious minority, Muslims are most vulnerable when such a ghastly incident takes place. Only foreign saboteurs could have hatched such a cruel conspiracy putting a whole community at risk.

Enough of Fanfare, Let’s Get Down to Business

There is a well-known Telugu saying “Andhrulu arambhasurulu” - meaning people of Andhra