Thursday, August 10, 2006

We the Democratic Republic

We take pride in calling ourselves the largest Democracy in the world. In the last elections, more than 600 Million of us voted out a Government which ruled us for more than 5 years. The Power tansfer was smooth withour even a mumur of protest.

Now lets step back and take a realistic point of view of the government what we have today:-

- We are lead by a Prime Minister who has not even won a Municipal election in his entire political life.

- Our Defence Minister has not been elected been elected to Loksabha EVEN ONCE.

- Our Home minister is a political Non Entity

- In the cabinet we have Laloo Prasad Yadav, Union minister for railways who is under trial for no fewer than seven cases, six of them criminal, relating to the infamous fodder scam, in which an estimated Rs 900 crore worth of non-existent fodder was purchased by a succession of governments in Bihar

- Ex Minister Taslimuddin faced nine criminal charges. According to a report of the legislative committee of the Bihar assembly in 1996, he was, even then, "a habitual criminal whose offences range from extortion, cheating and rape to dacoity and attempts to murder".

- Ali Ashraf Fatimi, According to police records, he is implicated with an inter-state gang of kidnappers that has kidnapped people for ransom in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and UP. Fatimi, however, has only one criminal case actually registered against him, but the police says this is because he's enjoyed the unstinting protection of Laloo Yadav for the last 14 years.

So are we really Democratic. Is it not time to ponder

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Do the right thing, fight for RTI

Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is one of the best things which has happened in recent times. The original law is so powerful it can change the way people interact with government.

Under this Act, any citizen can approach any government department and seek any information with respect to the working of that department, inspect any files or take copies of any documents. They have right for the following:-
  • inspect works, documents, records.
  • take notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records.
  • take certified samples of material.
  • obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts
The logic is very simple. In a democracy, people are the masters and Government exists to serve them. People have a right to know how they are being governed. We should have a right to question them on what decisions they take on our behalf and why such decisions are being taken.

The Supreme Court has observed that Right to Information is a part of Right to Speech & Expression, which is a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. According to the Supreme Court, Right to Speech & Expression cannot be exercised without Right to Information.

The Right to Information Act is a potent device to weed out corruption from government institutions. But the UPA Government seems to be bent on sounding the death knell for the RTI Act. It has moved to amend the law to exclude file notings. It is obvious that the political leadership is buckling under pressure from the bureaucracy. One wonders how file notings can be exempted from disclosure when they form an integral and inseparable part of the record.

We need to act now so that this important piece of legislation and weapon in the hands of common public is not thrown into garbage by this UPA Govt. and the White Elephant bureaucracy.


Monday, August 07, 2006

My Friend Called Gandhi

Last week, I met Gandhi, my best friend from kerala. Of course Gandhi is his nickname, He got it during our college days due to his insistence on using Swadeshi and belief in Non Violence. It is paradox that we had such a person in kerala, a state whose economy is based on NRI's and Political System draws heavily on Violence.

I could not believe my eyes and ears (literally), when I met him. Firstly because he started to speak in chaste American Accent and secondly he had a Black Eye. More than his black eye, I was more intrigued by his American Accent as he had never left the shores of Kerala.

Nothing had prepared me for the explaination, he gave for his condition. "I have married to a girl who works in a Call Centre" was his explaination. He elaborated that his wife is employed in a Call Centre who supports customers in US and she was trained to speak in english in US accent. The poor thing has got so used to American English that she speaks American English even at home which rubbed on to him also. I can only imagine the confusion at home. Since his wife follows American Working Hours, its good evening from her when its morning for him and at night its good morning. You can imagine the "things" they might be missing, no wonder he used to go missing during lunch hours. They have two lovely kids Kittunni and Kannan whom she started calling kit and Kat. He almost had a heart attack when she started calling him Dick, short of Diwakaran.

The breaking point happened when he realised she is working in a company promoting viagra. He like any of us would do confronted her but he did not realise that now all young females in call centres are being trained martial arts. Rest is history.