Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Pain

There is no doubt I have been suffering excruciating pain for last one year or so. My pain has got reflected in the open letters and some of the other blogs posted earlier. It is true that it was my own choice that I allowed myself to be the guinea-pig in an attempt to save thousands of crores of public money year after year. The pain is not that my personal well being as well as well being of my family remains seriously compromised under victimization by the establishment. That would have been too small a cost if thousands of crores of public money were saved and utilized for the welfare of the poor. That is how I felt and thought in my belligerent mood. I had felt that it would impart some real worth to my existence. I had desired for myself just to be able to survive decently while working as would be professionally correct. But alas! that was not to be.

The pain is that I have failed. The loot is continuing totally unabated. The pain is that the powerful establishment down below from the UPA chairperson to the PM, from the Minister for Railways to the Railway Board have not even bothered to think of necessary policy changes, let alone initiating those. The pain is that the 'good guys' who had set out to cleanse the procurement in Indian Railways and public procurement at large in India encompassing lakhs of crores of public money every year, and affect necessary corrections, have disintegrated as usual, having gone down as half hearted warriors. The pain is that the inefficacy of our political system, the acts of omission and commission by our top level bureaucrats, and the hypocrisy of our media stand thoroughly exposed through my example but no one is bothered. The pain is that the daylight continuous loot of such large amount of public money doesn't concern any parliamentarian or any activist of the civil society who are always taking pride in talking big. The pain is that a thoroughly corrupt people (for having accepted corruption and systemic absurdities as a way of life) headed by the fountain heads of corruption themselves are happy to pat themselves for persecuting a few unfortunate ones now and then for corruption. The pain is that the officers belonging to IRSS (a family I myself belong to) continue to accept and enjoy their existence as third rate citizens devoid of professional self respect, worse than that of a prostitute, out of fear or out of lure of the lucre. My pain is that inspite of having been well educated and professionally reasonably competent, I couldn't survive honorably in the system as I was not prepared to accept absurdities and compromise professional self respect.

To counter this pain there has been some solace. There is solace that some well meaning officers of Indian Railways, specially those belonging to consuming and accounts departments, might have become more aware through the efforts of 'The Statesman' and might act better in their limited capacity to save substantial public money in times to come. There has been solace that I didn't compromise my self respect whatever the cost be, while in job. There has been solace that for a few months I experienced a level of existence (when one sets out to sacrifice self for the larger interest of the people one loves, it is a different experience altogether) God must have reserved for the blessed ones. There is solace that I at least tried like the Yossarrian of Catch 22.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Binayak Sen Gets Bail

Day before yesterday Supreme Court allowed bail to Mr Binayak Sen. Another heartening development. The political masters made the right noises that they respected the judgment as if they had any other option. The family said they were happy and they were always hopeful. The consensus was that justice had prevailed. Had it? If there was not a case of sedition as per Supreme Court, how has been the detention of Mr Sen for months justified? Who can give him back months and years of his life wasted and suffered in jail? Won't the bureaucrats and judges responsible for this grave injustice get their promotions? Was establishment or judiciary causing his unlawful confinement corrupt? I ask this last question just to emphasize that while the civil society and the media appear obsessed with corruption (themselves being corrupt to the root), there are much graver fundamental issues that need be addressed.

Mr Sen's is not an isolated case. There are lakhs of cases where either injustice is imparted or justice is not imparted for years by our legal system. Yet being the hypocrites as we are, we continue to acclaim it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Need for Zero Based Thinking

This post follows from the last post. The disappointing developments since last post further add to the need. The egos of 'good guys' are at work and the 'bad guys' are having a silent laugh. Here follows what I wish to convey.

I am an ordinary citizen. Day after day I come across what the distinguished citizens have to say~ there is no dearth of them ~ through print and electronic media. We and they all have been educated and have grown up in a society governed by certain systems and norms for ages. So it is imperative that our thinking is also governed accordingly. Therefore every day we indulge in intellectual masturbation thinking of incremental corrections or cosmetic changes like LokPal Bill, other additional laws or institutions, more powers to this, less powers to that, hanging him or sending her to jail - in an attempt to address perceived ills of the society. We conveniently forget that our forefathers were no less intelligent or concerned and in-spite of the continuing best efforts of so many well-meaning people the things are not improving as we would have desired, rather have been only worsening for humanity as a whole - a glance at the factual data concerning haves-not is sufficient to know it. There was a ray of hope in the popular uprising led by Anna Hazare but that is fast disappearing. As expected, the evil forces are regrouping. The fissures have already started appearing among a society that had spontaneously supported the movement as one man. The politicians are feeling threatened and regrouping lest Anna Hazare capture the space they have been controlling. What amuses me no end is the fact that the people who till other day were holding the politicians responsible for all evils, are questioning their space being taken by Anna Hazare. Obviously the so called intellectuals and pillars of the society don't know what they want except for a place for themselves in the sun.

Where does all this lead us? The need is for zero based thinking - a thinking that will lead us to see what are the basic flaws that have crept in the systems , social and political norms and conventions we have been following blindly for decades and centuries. A thinking that will have well being and happiness of each and every human-being at its core, beyond all regional or national boundaries. "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" not in words but in practice. When we start doing so, we shall soon realize that very basic and totally revolutionary changes are called for in the way we think and we live. That is because the civilization, more so in recent times, has been progressing pigging-back falsehood.

The zero based thinking will have to aim at fulfillment of basic needs of and availability of basic amenities to all humans on earth. There can't be any place for a starving child, an uneducated person, a beggar, pavement or slum dwellers. It is not an impossible fantasy. What is required is only that the people who matter will so. Other things will follow. The most difficult part will be unlearning of the bureaucratic and legal systems, among other things, we have become so much habituated to. It is true that things have evolved over time for us to be as we are today. But the fact that a majority of our brethren, specially in the third world countries, have an existence we would shudder to think of does mean that things have gone wrong in the systems we have created and nurtured. If we really believe in "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam", massive basic changes will be necessary to ensure that all members of the family are well provided for and are happy.

That is if we really bother about the state of affairs in the society, in the country and the world, we must embark on Zero Based Thinking without delay. Otherwise we shouldn't lament at all about the thoroughly hopeless lives we or our brethren live and the injustice we face.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Anna Hazare- The Relevance and The Myth

For about a week now, all the electronic media and the print media have been sieged of Anna Hazare and the movement led by him. There is hardly anything which has not been spoken or written about this historic event. I shall also have my take.

It has been really refreshing to see a true Gandhian suddenly take national center stage. More reassuring has been the fact of spontaneous public support world wide in favour of his crusade, the support that kept on multiplying exponentially with each passing day. As many people put it, the dead souls had, out of nowhere, got some air to breathe. The joke of a government that we are having had no option but to bow to the pressure of the civil society. Kapil Sibal, though, did show his class once again by telling the nation that the PM and Sonia Gandhi had been magnanimous in giving in. I doubt if anything could be more ridiculous, specially in the background of the utterances made by the Congress leaders in public when the movement had just begun. The people of repute questioned the propriety of the recourse taken by Anna Hazare and many still question the legality of the demands and acceptance of same. They again tend to forget a simple thing that propriety, law or any such thing dear to these people had died a natural death in this country at least three years back, if not earlier, when 'cash for vote' scandal took place in broad daylight and the perpetrators continued to rule. Even otherwise, I for one couldn't fault even the slightest the method adopted, stand and decisions taken or the utterances by Sh. Anna Hazare. The relevance of Sh. Anna Hazare and the activists with him namely Ms Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal is historic that they could galvanize a helpless people into a very potent force and make them realize the power they posessed. If they continue with the good work and don't allow themselves to be disintegrated through rift among themselves, as egos of these people and designs of political rulers are likely to cause, people continue to support the issues to be taken up by them, the corruption within society which is so deep rooted and pervasive begins to get eroded - then it will be a miracle and these people will be worth their weight not in gold but diamonds or platinum. (Unfortunately as I write these lines, the fissures have started surfacing already. I do hope that better sense will prevail and well meaning people (Baba Ramdev in this case) will not utter unnecessarily or act in a way that would weaken rather than strengthen the movement).

The issue now being addressed is enactment of a potent law to punish the corrupt in high places. Already we have umpteen laws and institutions supposedly for the purpose. Problem has not been absence of the arsenal to deal with the malice but the use of that arsenal. Have not supreme court judges or even CJI's been known to be corrupt? Have not Presidents been known to be totally ineffective? Have not Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers been known to have continued in office through dubious means? Not being able to make use of existing laws correctly and to enact and throw up more and more laws and institutions in an attempt to overcome inherent inefficiencies and weaknesses can not serve much purpose and will largely be self deceiving. The people have come together with right spirit but for a specific cause that is just a myth. I can say so with authority out of my personal experience in last one year or so as brought out in my earlier postings. The rot is so deep rooted and wide spread now that no medicine can substitute the need for a major surgery.

Let me be clearer. I brought out the annual loss of more than Rs 5000 crores of public money and daylight victimization of whistle-blowers to the personal knowledge of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the PM, almost all members of Lok Sabha, and a few distinguished members of Rajya Sabha through a letter months back. No one has bothered and the top bureaucrats, many of them respected and considered honest, are allowing the loot to continue and the whistle-blowers to be victimised, with impunity. That too when the PM and the UPA chairperson publicly announced that whistle-blowers must be protected. In an article titled 'Pelf and Pilferage' in The Statesman about a fortnight back, Mr. Shiv Karan Singh brought out with facts and figures how leakage of lakhs of crores of rupees was taking place in public procurement in India. I doubt if anyone, including the self -patting media at large looking only for scandals, has bothered to bother. Neither will the purported Lok Pal bother as it will be dealing with cases of individual corruption and will have to do nothing in much more lethal cases of systemic corruption. And how effective can a few Lok Ayuktas be in a country of 1.2 billion where almost every0ne in position of power is corrupt and/or doesn't mind allowing corruption all around? And there are lakhs of such powerful 'corrupts' who will always be keen to bail each other out.

So what Sh. Anna Hazare and company are pursuing - tackling corruption through 'Jan Lok Pal' Bill - is a myth, but the popular uprising they have caused against corruption as such is no mean achievement.