Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sept, 2015

Dawood, Media, and India
(The Cricket Connect)

Lalit Modi, the Indian cricket czar, in a recent interview to Rajdeep Sardesai categorically stated that international cricket was being run by mafia and betting syndicates controlled by Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Shakeel. He, the star insider who must be knowing it all, was right, as this already stands proven even otherwise through detailed scientific (mathematical) and rational (logical) analyses. The proof has been in public domain for a couple of years now and remains uncontested and unchallenged. Unfortunately, media at large has guardedly been keeping this truth from public.
How would betting syndicates run international cricket? They would do so by ensuring that the matches were fixed from start to finish, to the advantage of those who got the proceeds from betting. Session betting (betting on number of runs scored in a bracket of overs) takes place in all matches. No bookie could dare indulge in it if matches were not fixed. It’s as simple as that.
Could international matches be fixed continuously without connivance of all those who mattered and without fixing in cricket being institutionalized? Think a little and you will get the answer.
In another related development, SIT on black money in India told Supreme Court of India not long ago that black money to the tune of Rs 3 lakh crore was being transacted annually in India through cricket betting. Further lakhs of crores of Rupees were being remitted from at least one crore Indians in India to foreign betting websites as found out by our Enforcement Directorate. Putting pieces together would simply mean that an international fraud worth much in excess of Rs 5 lakh crores per year, repeat Rs 5 lakh crores per year, was openly taking place through cricket. Mudgal and Lodha committees appointed by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India have meant nothing. Petitioning to the highest authorities under the Constitution of India has resulted in nothing.
The beauty is that those around me had been thinking that fraud in cricket was a very small matter. A fraud worth Rs 5 lakh crore per year, or Rs 1370 crore per day continuing year after year, day after day, a small matter? I hope that reflecting on above facts and figures they will now realize what is what.
Are cricketers the only ones responsible for this fraud? They, including all great heroes like Sachin, Dravid, Virat Kohli, and Dhoni, have been the executors or the actors, but directors or producers clearly have been the politicians, and big names at that. Again Lalit Modi has been repeatedly naming, through his tweets. a number of Indian politicians including Arun Jaitely, Rajiv Shukla, Anurag Thakur, Jyotirditya Scindia etc. for continuous fixing in cricket. Again, he has been absolutely right. No way that the continuous fixing in cricket could be taking place without these and other renowned gentlemen being in the loop. Only what Lalit Modi didn’t tell us was that Mr Narendra Modi, the present Prime Minister of India, as one of the cricket administrators, has also have been in the knowhow of this fraud and that same fixing existed even when Lalit Modi himself was at the helm of affairs of IPL.
Put 2 and 2 together and hold your breath. This all also means that leading Indian leaders from major political parties along with the cricketers we worship have been hand in glove with the country’s enemy number one, Dawood Ibrahim.
Our electronic media enjoys debating for days on small matters of impropriety. Is it not very strange that they have never bothered to dwell on such a massive issue that has become all the more conspicuous after Lalit Modi’s tweets and interviews? It is this silence of Indian media, Indian politicians, star Indian activists and crusaders, and Indian celebrities on such a major national fraud and betrayal despite their full knowledge that is very worrying. Because it means that there can’t be any hope for a country where everyone prefers to turn a blind eye to a proven greatest fraud of all times affecting hundreds of millions of the fellow citizens.
How easily our media has led us forget Sunanda Pushkar’s murder and number of star players reported involved in fixing? How easily the world has forgotten Bob Woolmer’s murder? How easily we forget the matches reported totally fixed and continue to shower praises on the same players who had played in those fixed matches?
To me, Arnab Goswamis and Rajdeep Sardesais of media are nothing short of big criminals for keeping away the all pervading fraud from public. Not only that, they also continue marketing this biggest fraud called cricket. As things stand, there just can’t be any hope for India irrespective of what Modiji, RSS or their admirers would like us to believe. Take it from the hard facts.

When we choose to keep quiet on an open massive fraud involving Who’s who of India, we are being naive in taking candle light marches on open rapes, murders, and other crimes around us committed by lesser mortals. All ills and evils in such a society are bound to continue to flourish; the hollow, rather self defeating, or at best superficial noises being made in public, in panel discussions and in newspapers would amount to nothing. 
Jan, 2015

A Clean World Cup?

Dave Richardson, CEO of ICC has very recently assured the world that all the potential fixers, more than 100 of them, had been identified, and it won’t be possible for them to approach players during the ensuing Cricket World Cup in February and March, 2015. He assured us of a clean World Cup. It may or may not imply the acceptance that earlier World Cups had not been clean, but it does imply that Mr Richardson believes fixing to be the handiwork of some outsiders or he would like the world to believe so. In fact, the world does believe so as it has all along been made to believe so. In this context, it will be really interesting to see some bare facts.
In the recently concluded ODI between India and Australia at Melbourne on the 18th Jan, 2015, Wasim Akram while commentating in Hindi casually mentioned in the 34th over that 10 runs per over can be scored in last 6 overs if there are wickets in hand. After 42 overs (India 219/4) Arunlal mentioned that even if further 8 runs are scored in remaining 8 overs, score would be 283. Wasim Akram added that 280 would be scored but India should add further 20 runs to compensate for their (India’s) fast bowlers.
After 44 overs, India were well placed at 237/4, 10 runs having been scored of the last (44th) over. The first of the last 6 overs (45th) was a double wicket maiden and India ended up at 267/8, scoring just 30 runs in last 6 overs.
A few days earlier, on 28th December, 2014 at Melbourne, during the 3rd day of the 3rd Test match India vs Australia, it was again Wasim Akram who was commentating when play resumed after Tea (India 336/3). In reply to Australian first innings score of 530, India were going strong. Wasim Akram specifically told us that first 30-40 minutes were crucial for India and the set batsmen not to lose wicket. And if they could see through that period safely, there should not be further much problems for Indian batting. The opposite happened. Indian batsmen did see through that period and a bit more, scoring runs and without losing any wicket, and in the 13th over after Tea they were 409/3 when the 4th wicket fell. Indian batting collapsed thereafter to be all out for 465 in their first innings.
At the end of the first day’s play in the same Test match with Australia at 259/5, Saurabh Ganguly interviewed Indian pace bowler Umesh Yadav. Yadav told that game plan would be to take remaining wickets early and restrict runs next morning. For that Indian game plan, Australia scored rather briskly and rather excessively, scoring 271 more runs for the last 5 wickets in just two sessions.
In the first Test match of the same series at Adelaide, Kapil Dev was commentating towards the end of the 2nd day’s play. He repeatedly told us that Australia should/would bat next day also for sometime before declaring. Australia declared next morning at overnight score of 517/7.
Around same time, in the 5th ODI between Srilanka and England at Pallekele, Srilanka, on 10th Dec, 2014, England won the toss and elected to field. The commentators repeatedly told us that 220-230 would be a very good total on this pitch. They wondered why England had fielded first with Srilanka having 4 good spinners in their ranks. Dilshan was supposed to be very effective (as spinner). England lost 2 quick wickets but chased comfortably thereafter when spinners were supposed to get more assistance from the pitch. The bottom line being that score of 230 plus was easily conquered and Dilshan proved expensive, picking up one wicket only towards the end when it didn’t matter.
In the second ODI of the aborted series between India and West Indies on the 11th October, 2014 at Delhi, West Indies were required to chase down 263 runs posted by India to win the match. The commentators repeatedly told us that India needed to take early wickets to bring the good hitters down the line in the West Indies side under some pressure. Just the opposite happened again. West Indies were very comfortable with 170/2 in the 36th over and then collapsed to be all out for 215 in the 47th over.
In IPL 7, in the match between KKR and RCB on the 22nd May, 2014, KKR lost Gambhir in the first over at score of 5. Commentating in Hindi, Navjyot Singh Sidhu told us, “KKR should now be playing for 130-40 runs in 20 overs.” They scored 195/4.
SRH took on KXIP on the 14th May at Hyderabad. The commentators told us at the start that the pitch was going to slow down in the 2nd innings and so thought the captain of KXIP, George Bailey. Yet he decided to bowl first on winning the toss. SRH, considered to be a strong bowling side, especially on their home ground, posted a massive 205 in 20 overs. And KXIP chased it down like a child’s play in the 19th over. There was no slowness of the wicket but only fastness of scoring in the 2nd innings that became visible.
On the 13th May, batting second CSK were chasing 148 scored by RR. Match had gone into the 20th over with CSK still requiring 12 runs, CSK having allowed the match to drift after having been in a very comfortable position at one stage. With Dhoni on crease, the Hindi commentator—Shoaib Akhtar or Waqar Younus it was—made a very interesting comment. “A big hit may be difficult to come by and the batsman may play some dot balls, being new to the crease.” No one ever comments like that with Dhoni on the crease, and it was an extra-ordinary comment given the state of the match. You must have guessed it right by now—the next ball was hit for six by Dhoni and CSK won with 2 balls to spare.
Let us go to 4th Ashes Test between Australia and England held from 9th August to 12th August, 2013 (the match ended on the 4th day). Following are the brief scores for the match:
England 238 and 330; Australia 270 and 224 (68.3 overs, target: 299). England won by 74 runs.
Towards the end of the 2nd innings of England, before commencement of Australian 2nd innings, one of the commentators emphasized that it had been difficult to negotiate the new ball on this pitch as the match had progressed, and that would be the main challenge for Australia when they batted second. Both, Australia in their first innings and England in their second innings, had lost their top 3 wickets in first 15 overs, earlier in the match.
What happened was just opposite to what the commentators had subtly suggested. In their second innings, Australia lost their first wicket in the 30th over at 109; and still went on to lose the match by a comfortable margin of 74 runs, chasing a moderate 299 to win. Australia having successfully negotiated the new ball (the real threat as per commentators) and with less than 200 runs required with 10 wickets intact, one would have taken their winning, at least now (after 2 losses and one draw), for granted, but it was not to be.
While commentating, Sunil Gavaskar expected a draw in the last test match between India and Newzealand in the Test series played in India in, Nov, 2010. The match ended with more than a day and half to spare. Ganguly while commentating on another occasion, in the last T20 between India and England in India in Dec 2012, told that 150 would be a formidable/winning total. India scored 177 and lost.

I can go on and on. And with the recordings of telecast of cricket matches in all formats available, from recently started Caribbean Premiere League to Ashes to World Cups to Big Bash, anyone can go on adding to above examples, the list literally becoming endless, given the number of matches being played now a days.

Now let us give some exercise to our grey cells. Were above instances all random or coincidences when opposite to what commentators and experts thought or painstakingly tried to make us expect further in the match, happened? Many, especially those who control cricket, and who benefit from cricket and its marketing, will dismiss it as such. If so, some questions remain unanswered. How is it that the commentating expert cricketers are and have been wrong so often in their assessment of the game and the pitch? Can a similar thing happening again and again not hundreds but thousands of times over the years be randomness or coincidence?
Was it just a coincidence that Wasim Akram specifically mentioned of last 6 overs (generally one mentions of last 5 overs or last 10 overs) in the first example mentioned above? And India started collapsing exactly in the first of the last six overs? Was extraordinary comment leading us to expect Dhoni to play dot balls at another occasion just a coincidence?
If the above and hundreds or thousands of similar occurrences can’t be dismissed as random or coincidences, then what can these be? These can mean one and only one thing. That is, the commentators are well aware of the script of the game that is going to unfold, and subtly and purposefully make such comments that would make the viewers, and consequently the bettors within the viewers, expect further outcome in a match by way of runs to be scored in specific overs or in the innings or by way of outcome of the match, contrary to what was actually going to happen.
Here one must know that along with betting for the result of a match, large scale betting also takes place for the runs to be scored in specific number of overs (called brackets) or in the innings, both in legal and illegal betting markets.
Let us see another very special occurrence.
Let us go to the IPL 7 match between DD and RR on the 15th May, 2014 and play the Hindi Commentary. In the 20th over of RR innings, the bowler Shukla got hit for a six by Faulkner. The commentator (it was a Pakistani one, probably Waqar Younusa big name in cricket) commented 'Why did he switch to over the wicket and got hit for two sixes?' Something like this. Point is—by then only one six had been hit. The commentator realized his mistake and corrected himself saying 'by now only one six has been hit'. Sure enough a six was hit off the very next ball, and the next ball (being the last ball of the innings) was a dot meaning that two, and only two consecutive sixes were hit at that point.
It was a slip of tongue by the commentator alright, but was it just a slip? Or was it a slip caused by prior knowledge in the mind of the commentator that at this stage two and only two sixes were going to be hit? By now your guess should be as good as mine.
If the cricketing greats and legends also are commentating to purposefully mislead the masses, and players and coaches are making comments on the sidelines for same purpose, not once a while but repeatedly (though not always, they have to be right once a while), then what does it mean? This is happening so in T20’s, ODI’s, and Tests alike; and also in Premiere Leagues, bi-series, or tri-series, international tournaments or World Cups alike. This simply and unambiguously means that international cricket is staged drama in totality. It is not only IPL that is a stinking hole as a few are heard saying on TV channels, it is the international cricket as a whole that is the stinking hole. Who all are involved? Think a bit and you will find your answers.
The fixing to the extent as indicated above again can mean one and only one thing. That all or almost all the players, commentators, umpires, officials, administrators, coaches, and mentors have to be in the know-how and involved. That also tells us that fixing is institutionalised and is an insider job. It is not an outsider job by some dons or their handymen luring some fringe players. That means that identifying of hundred or more fixers by ICC has nothing to do with promise of a clean World Cup.
But some fixers and bookies being in touch with some players from time to time is also a matter of record. What is that if fixing is always there, being managed institutionally? That can again mean one and only one thing. There is attempt from some anti-socials to lure some players to get inside information or to make them do some fixing within fixing for the sake and advantage of these bookies/ anti-socials. Irrespective of such attempts, successful or unsuccessful, by the big bookies from time to time, the institutionally fixed cricket goes on intact.
Many will say that it may be so, but what is the evidence or where is the evidence? What do we mean by evidence? Shouldn’t evidence mean something that shows or tells what is what without any ambiguity? Surely, there can’t be and won’t be documentary evidence for fixed cricket played. The examples given above are only some indicative examples. When we go through the recordings of continuous matches, there is no scope left for any ambiguity as to what has been happening in what we call international men’s cricket.
And above is not all. In fact, above is only a small part of all what is available to us as evidence of the fact that fixing in international cricket has been total and institutionalized for quite some years. Though the above should be easily comprehensible to all cricket fans, bettors or non-bettors, and these simple undisputable facts easily convey the extent of involvement of people and the depth of fixing.
There is irrefutable scientific mathematical evidence available based on application of theory of probability to the scoring patterns to prove existence of continuous institutionalised fixing. And then there is evidence of logic and cricketing logic applied to the available facts in the public domain (like IPL 6 scandal involving Sreesanth and others), and to the inter-connection of matches and their unfolding scripts in a series or a tournament. The deafening silence of the cricketing greats and cricket administrators on the betting and fixing scandals also confirms institutionalisation of fixing.  
All the evidence in the world, one may like to call it circumstantial evidence, is available for those to whom peculiar shots played and balls bowled, and peculiar plays contrary to requirements of the occasion and defying competitive cricket, particularly at crucial junctures, don’t convey and mean anything. Volumes can be written to mention such plays also. Again, the evidence can help only those who would like to look at it.  
Unfortunately, Indian media has been obsessed with Srinivasan and his fate as BCCI chief, and the Supreme Court verdicts for last more than a year, the real and much larger issue of fixing in cricket escaping their attention. The man in the street is not much bothered about who runs BCCI or how BCCI is run, he is not interested in the arguments the highly paid counsels present in the courts, or in the fruitless TV debates; all he or she wants is pure unadulterated cricket.
To keep the real issue under wraps suits all those who control cricket and the world. But then people like Mr Richardson should not knowingly make such false assurances that the ensuing World Cup will be clean. That hurts.

Jan, 2015

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Sub: Dealing with the massive fraud through cricket

Dear Sh. Narendra Modi,
Your kind attention was drawn to an issue of extreme national importance through an article dated 19th August, 2014 (link: http://www.politicsparty.com/shownews.php?newsid=501). Your personal attention was drawn to it through tweets. Again your and PMO’s kind attention was invited through tweets to a recently published book ‘Cricket: The Massive Fraud’ (one of the links: http://www.amazon.in/Cricket-Massive-Fraud-Atul-Kumar-ebook/dp/B00REARJXU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420254668&sr=1-1&keywords=Cricket%3A+The+massive+fraud) that did call for your action/reaction. But you have kept quiet till date. Probably you feel you can afford to ignore and keep mum. I tell you why you, as Prime Minister of India, can’t do that.
You personally have been associated with cricket administration in India as President, Gujarat Cricket Association for quite a long time. And Mr Arun Jaitley, the Finance Minister of India, perceived to be the next most important member of your cabinet, has as Vice President of BCCI and a member of Governing Council of IPL (along with his political clout) been at the helm of cricket administration in India for many a year. Same cricket and same IPL that is fixed (total continuous fixing in cricket is now well established and is a matter of fact just like 2+2 = 4) and played for the benefit of none other than Dawood Ibrahim as per our own police reports/findings. While you could get benefit of doubt for your personal involvement in the murky cricket, no such benefit of doubt could be given to Mr Arun Jaitley since multiple media reports have repeatedly painted him as one calling the shots in Indian Cricket and BCCI, and since it just can’t be that he with his roles has not been aware of the dirty deeds in cricket. What does this mean? It simply means that if not you yourself, the present Finance Minister of India, among other eminent cricketers and Indians, has been in league with Dawood Ibrahim who is supposed to be/projected as the enemy no. 1 of India. Not only Mr Arun Jaitley, another important BJP leader, Mr Anurag Thakur, also gets similarly implicated. That means that you and your government have been bluffing through public speeches. 
Now, what are your options? The most convenient for you is to ignore this letter and keep mum as you have been doing. But then the world will know that you were no statesman, and you were willingly allowing your country and your people to be compromised. Next is that you may see to my harassment and liquidation. That also shouldn’t help or benefit you, rather may prove counter-productive for you. The best course for you will be to show true statesmanship and to deal squarely with the massive fraud called cricket. That will send a message to the world that you meant business and didn’t indulge only in rhetoric.
Needless to say, this letter will be made public. 
Encl: Write-ups by two top/renowned journalists on the subject titled Drugs, terror, PM and cricket  and ‘FIXERS and CRICKET’ (links: http://rajinderpuri.com and  http://www.newsinsight.net/FIXERSANDCRICKET.ASPX#PAGE=PAGE-1&page=page-1) and copies of two books ‘Bettors Beware’ and ‘Cricket: The Massive Fraud.’

Atul Kumar
(a citizen of India) (atulrailway@hotmail.com)
Winner of S R Jindal Prize 2011 for crusade against corruption

Sh. Narendra Modi

Prime Minister of India
May, 2014


I was born in free India – the world’s largest democracy – and hopefully would die in free India – the world’s largest democracy. Does the fact of being a citizen of the world’s largest democracy fill me, a normal educated Indian, with pride? Am I a happy citizen? I and my family are well provided for and I am free to express myself. Still neither I feel proud nor happy. I feel to the contrary. I feel uncomfortable to be a part of an unjust system where the resources are usurped by a few and citizens enjoy equality only in having equal voting right.
In most, if not all, of our intellectual discussions and public discourses, we find solace in blaming our leaders – the rogues, rascals, and men of straw in Churchill’s prophetic words – for all our ills, at the same time feeling proud about being a great democracy. Could there be anything more farcical than this? Because we very conveniently allow ourselves to forget that the very definition of democracy entails the leaders to reflect nothing but the character of the people they lead. And as a result we also miss to see the clearly visible fault lines of democracy.  
The fault lines of parliamentary system of democracy ~ the system we follow ~ are many and we must see these and know these before we can even think of undertaking the repair work. The run up to the General Elections 2014 has made these fault lines more pronounced and hence easier to see for a keen observer.
Going by the media and the social media - rightly or wrongly - there is a strong wave in favour of Mr Narendra Modi to be the Prime Minister or the Chief Executive of the country. If it is for the good of the country that Mr Modi should become the Prime Minister, then I and you must vote for the candidates fighting the election on his party symbol or on symbol of the parties supporting him. If such a candidate is a known rogue, we shall be electing such a person as our representative by voting for him, and if we choose not to vote for such a person we would be defeating the larger cause. In the present system of party politics, electing a good candidate from a constituency may mean nothing at the national level or may mean getting a rogue or incompetent government as a result (if the ‘good’ candidate belongs to a party having rogue leaders).
We have about eight hundred members of parliament, distinguished men and women from all walks of life and all political parties being among them. In last 3 years, I had occasion to write individually to them all on two substantial matters of national/international importance, one on continuing leakage to the tune of above Rs 5000 crore per year through procurement of goods in Indian Railways, and second on a massive continuing international fraud in the name of Cricket. None of them ever bothered to find out from me what the matter was, let alone take any effective action. I am sure some, if not many, of these parliamentarians, must be honourable, honest, and well meaning individuals as per our perception of these qualities. Even they failed the nation when a call was made upon them. To my mind, nothing punctures the bogey of voting to elect good individuals better than my experience with our elected parliamentarians. It is evident that who end up as parliamentarians are all just individuals living only to serve their self interests. There are reasons for same as discussed in various paragraphs here.
The above brings to fore the least perceived and yet the most significant fault line of democracy - the bogus propaganda made out of our right to vote and the importance attached to exercise this right. This right exercised in the right way doesn’t ensure anything for me. I may exercise utmost wisdom in voting and yet find the worst of all the candidates elected. My right doesn’t encourage or make really good people offer their services and jump in the fray. Only thing it does is that it makes the job of one winning an election to wield power tedious and difficult. The candidates using money and muscle power to woo voters or to indulge in booth capturing and bogus voting is a common phenomenon in a large number of constituencies. The vicious circle in fact keeps the really well meaning people away from jumping in the fray and be able to serve the nation. The election through majority vote ensures that rogues, rascals and men of straw become our leaders rather than the opposite. And the vicious circle continues. We have been witnessing and experiencing this fact for last sixty five plus years and yet have remained impervious to it.
The system we follow is bound to give rise to vote-bank politics as it has. Voters are wooed on religious and caste lines and fissures are necessarily created in the society. One is never made aware of one’s religion or caste more than during election times. Even leaving this apart, one becomes pro Modi or anti Modi; pro Congress or anti Congress; pro AAP or pro corruption. The friends become foes and we become a society vertically divided. One has to see the comments and posts of the educated on the social media to fully appreciate it. This is what democracy is not supposed to do but this is what it does.
We must understand that whatever is happening in India is what democracy allows. It allows the contesting candidates to publicly call others names on their whims, thus seriously vitiating the social environment. Calling others names is the easiest thing to do as is finding fault with the individuals. One can win an election simply by finding fault with others and not having any concrete program of one’s own. It is no wonder today that all political parties and leaders on scene without exception are doing just that and we find nothing but poison to inhale if we read newspapers or turn on news channels. We suddenly find that democracy also entails an irresponsible and at times biased media without having much accountability.
The role of the media, especially the electronic media, may better be expressed in other words. They are simply acting as marketing medium for various political parties and candidates. Interestingly, media considers it its sacred duty to act as carrier of the abuses and senseless utterances by the big leaders throughout the country 24x7.
Everyone is selling oneself to the best of one’s ability. The candidates leave no stone unturned in their attempt to befool, or, putting it mildly, to woo the voters. Democracy would ideally demand that there should be candidates, with intention to serve the people, aspiring to represent them, and people should choose the best among them. But most of the times we find there is not a single such candidate and we are left to choose the lesser evil. And it is not that the best candidate gets elected, generally it is the best marketed/advertised candidate that gets elected and the democracy loses its very purpose. Media no more appears even to be aware that its purpose in a democracy is to do objective reporting about issues to inform the populace and not to act as a medium through which the rogues market themselves.
Marketing also requires spending big time money. If you have intention to serve people and would like to contest an election towards that end, you can’t and wouldn’t do so unless you have access to surplus money. Again a vicious circle.
Then do people have a say in choice of the candidates who would be representing them after winning an election? The candidates are chosen by the political parties that are run as family business or private corporations controlled by a few individuals. Aam Aadmi Party promised to do away with this culture but forgot its promise more hurriedly than the other political parties have been forgetting their promises. When the political parties present a large number of persons with criminal cases or criminal record as their candidates, democracy becomes a curse rather than a blessing straight away.

The above should make us wonder whether democracy in India even remotely means ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people.’ Is it something to feel proud of? The time is overripe for the nation as a whole to ponder over this question and find answers. We shall continue to overlook the fault lines of Indian democracy to our own peril.
October, 2013


I was born years back. I was born in a free country. My parents, elder siblings, some relatives, and may be some neighbours as well must have rejoiced at my birth. I am not very sure they did the right thing. Today, years later, past the prime of my life, I search for a country for my yet to be born grand children and I don’t find any. I don’t feel sure that it will be an occasion to rejoice if and when they are born.
Today millions of my brethren are without work. Millions of them are hungry. They all deserved to have a decent life, a life in a just and equitable society. A life in which they could have work, they could have food, they could have freedom, they could love, they could be loved. They belonged to the land and the land belonged to them as much as it belongs to you and me. I can’t be sure whether my grand children won’t have the misfortune of one like these unfortunate millions. You can’t be sure.
When I read the news of Ashok Khemka, the IAS officer in Haryana, who exposed the irregular land deals by one belonging to the ruling family, being charge sheeted again and again, and see no anger or appropriate reaction in the media or in and by the known stalwarts of the society, political or apolitical, I know there is no country around me, only a cluster of people. Left to fend for himself, his is not an isolated case. Examples of Sanjiv Chaturvedi, the forest service officer, and Durga Shakti Nagpal, another IAS officer are not very old. The public servants doing duty in the interest of the public are hounded by those elected by the public to serve the public and the public looks on, the other thousands of self serving public servants look on. Certainly a circus, not a country.
When I find Baba Ramdev, who has been devoting his time and energies for the good of the masses for years, being hounded, and find absence of any sympathy for him in the civil society at large, I know there is no country anymore. I know there is only a fiefdom, and a cluster of people in that fiefdom. A god man is allowed to amass untold wealth and run sex rackets for years. But as soon as he sins to open his mouth against a particular family, all his sins come out in the open, and he becomes the greatest sinner within the boundaries of my country. Now I know I am allowed to say whatever I like only till I am not perceived as a threat to that fiefdom. The day that happens, my hounding will also begin, and I shall hardly be able to defend myself.
When our soldiers are butchered and we keep mum or don’t react appropriately, I know country has been lost somewhere.
I read the columns by the renowned and seasoned journalists. One day they tell me how one political party and its leaders are bad. The next days they tell me how the other political parties and their leaders are bad. There is no political party or leaders that are not bad. And only one or other party and their leaders can rule me and you, and will rule you and me. The seasoned journalists don’t tell me what the way out is. Beyond giving some superficial sermons, they are not bothered what the way out is. If they were bothered, they would have thought of a way out. They would have pestered the society with that way out. They are men of blood and flesh, and have been gifted with brains. They are not bothered about the country; they are bothered about their egos and their finances. Probably they have accepted the fact that there is no country. Probably they are happy with the fact that there is no country.
Newspapers must publish daily, and are published daily. They must carry the headlines and they carry the headlines. The utter non-sense uttered daily by the rogue parties and the rogue leaders (their rogue character having been conveyed to me earlier by the same newspapers) must form the headlines and forms the headlines. We are left to judge who was more effective in continuous exercise of calling others names and we make our judgment, and then vote for the more effective one as we could judge. We go ahead and celebrate democracy and our voting right. If I want to convey something sensible to my countrymen, I can’t as I am neither a celebrity nor renowned. Newspapers shouldn’t and don’t act as my mouthpiece or your mouthpiece since we are unknown; these should be and are the mouthpieces of the known on daily basis even if they happen to be first rate rogues.
Flaring of communal passions of the masses to serve own interest by these rogues was never as open and as blatant as has been in recent times, more so by those who have got the tag of secular hung around their necks. They are not bothered that left to ourselves, I and you are not interested in knowing the religion of our next door neighbours, we are interested only in their conduct.
A couple of years back some activists emerged on the national scene as saviours of the country and gave a lot of hope to aam aadmi (common man) like me. They disintegrated earlier than the rogues would have wished. The gods started fighting among themselves rather than with the demons, to the delight of the latter. A retired Judge of Supreme Court recently discovered that the ends of justice would be best served in the country if a particular distinguished convict was pardoned, even though thousands of other mortals continued to languish in jails without trial. The President also saw merit and considered it worthwhile to examine the matter. It was evident to me that there was no hope for the country from the quarters from which it should have.
How easily we deceive ourselves in thinking that some particular person will become Prime Minister and suddenly everything will be rosy? Deceiving ourselves so, we continue to accept what we must not. We deceive ourselves by abusing our leaders, chosen earlier by us, and continuing to be the self-seekers ourselves. We have to come out of our deeply ingrained self deception. Not easy but necessary.
The young visionary Bhagat Singh had a family, but laid down his young life for a purpose, for a country. A country, that doesn’t exist anymore. What exists today is only a large cluster of self seekers.   
But I must have hope, for my children and grand children. You must have hope, for your children and great grand children. So I appeal to you, my dear countrymen, as someone made of blood and flesh, whether a journalist, or a judge, or a bureaucrat, or a politician, or an aam aadmi , to give me my country back, to give yourself your country back. When the holocaust strikes, and strike it must sooner than later if we continue the way we have been doing, it will not distinguish between the perpetrators and those who suffered at the hands of the perpetrators. It will have no distinction between the haves and the have-nots.
You have got to get the country back! We have got to get the country back! Before I die. Before you die. Before it is too late.
-          one among us              

July, 2013

Time for relook at Constitution?

Our Constitution has been in force for about 65 years now and has stood us in good stead. Or has it not? That is a question worth pondering? To my mind, much more urgently than the question whether Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi, or Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi should be next Prime Minister of India? More urgently than whether BJP or Congress, or Congress or the Third Front should come to power?
We have been having such great reverence for the Constitution in ink (abusing it in spirit all the time through our actions) that the thought of critically examining it in totality hardly ever crosses our mind. But in the present scenario, when a sense of helplessness and being a citizen of a failed nation is all pervasive, we must collectively introspect whether the Constitution has failed us or we have failed the Constitution. Or has it been a combination of both?
The common feeling is that our leaders have failed the Constitution. While feeling so, we don’t realize that it means we have failed it since we are the ones responsible for choosing our leaders. But is it that the only reason for the pathetic state a right thinking Indian today finds him or her in? The recent scams during last couple of years, unfolding at the heels of the previous one, exponentially increasing in size every time, from worth a few hundred crores to a few thousand crores and then to lakhs of crores of rupees; and the perpetrators and those responsible for misuse or wastage or loot of such large amounts of public money still continuing to control and govern us without any accountability, will suggest that our Constitution also has failed us.
There could be nothing more farcical than the implicated Railway Minister in the recent infamous Railgate scandal becoming a prosecution witness rather than being the main accused. The culprits of the Bofors deal could never be brought to book. Neither could the revered Constitution save us from the dark era of Emergency in 1975. Nor could it save us from the clutches of dynastic rule.
That is not all. Today one will think hundred times before seeking a judicial redress of one’s genuine grievances. One will not be sure of getting justice but one will be sure that even if one gets it, it will be too late, and the implementation of it may further take years. For this we can’t blame the leaders. Then there is bureaucracy, not only in the public sector but also in the private sector, to contend with. And the majority of the media, especially the most visible one, working on hidden agenda, bringing out half truths and very careful in hiding the complete truth, is too evident now-a-days.
All this boils down to the harsh reality that it is nothing but our collective character as a people that is responsible for our present state, and those responsible for drafting the Constitution didn’t take that sufficiently into account. Today those in power and responsible not only for cornering huge amounts of public money for personal gains, but also for rank bad governance, can look forward to coming to power again by doling out goodies and promises to the starving and the deprived masses just before the next elections. The five year tenure allows the people’s representatives to exploit the fact that public memory is short. They can and do loot for the major part of their tenure, and announce doles towards its end.
On the positive side, we have been enjoying peace and freedom. Overall there has been peace except for sporadic riots here and there, and now and then. Credit for that goes more to our tolerant nature, than the Constitution. Except for those two dark years of Emergency, we have been enjoying freedom of the highest order, a gift by our Constitution.
Still, the ever increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots, and ever increasing civil unrest in the shape of Maoists and other public outcries, tells us that all is not well. We are far from a country the founding fathers of the Constitution had in mind. Our children die of hunger and our large work force of youths remains unemployed and without work. Injustice and inequality rule. In the name of growth, we are allowing inroads to the foreign powers.
It is true that we can’t change our character. But being living beings, we also can’t resign ourselves to the present state. That will mean death to us and our descendants. So we have to do something. The meaningless and motivated late evening TV debates anchored by Arnab Goswamis and Rajdeep Sardesais resulting in and ending up in the dignitaries and the anchors calling each other names, can’t be that something. These debates, though on air for years now, haven’t been able to bring about any accountability or improvement in governance. More often than not, the media ends up being the mouth piece of the rogues and the rascals controlling institutions and running the country.
What we can meaningfully do and must do is to have a relook at the Constitution. I am not suggesting that Constitution must be changed nor I am suggesting any particular changes. What I am suggesting is that there is an urgent need to review the Constitution in its totality, utilizing the rich experience of 65 plus years of independent India. Our intellectual energies as a nation need to be channelized in this direction. Media needs to come out of its infatuation with Shahrukhs, Priyankas, Dhonis, and Modis, and needs to rise above selfish agenda to devote itself to the act of nation rebuilding.

A team consisting of sagacious Indians from all walks of life can be formed for the purpose of reviewing the Constitution. The members of this team should be from as divergent fields as can be, but they all must be well read, possessing good intentions, necessary vision and wisdom. They must not be egoists. They will have a job at hand as important and as historical as the Constituent Assembly of India had. They should be up to it. Our present day leaders will do well to lend them and the whole exercise their support. They and we all live and prosper only as long as the nation survives.
June, 2013

How Do We Err

First the disclaimer. I pen the following words not with any hope from the present Indian society infested with the pseudo intellectuals, but for the posterity and to satisfy the urge within.

To begin with, we err in not realising how base we are or have become at the roots as a people, remaining individually good at heart. We are a people having a fake leadership and political system, a fake judiciary and judicial system, a fake bureaucracy and bureaucratic system, and above all a fake media. Of course there are some exceptions here and there. I am not the only one to say so, having brought out this fact amply through my earlier articles and in my book ‘rogues rascals and Eunuchs (pain of an Indian whistle-blower)’, but a number of recent articles by veteran journalists published in the Statesman have also clearly been indicating this fact. To an extent this fact is a result of the crab mentality we Indians are cursed with. Most of the times, we are using up our energies in pulling down the capable and deserving individuals around us, allowing the fake to rise. The correct knowledge of the depth and spread of the rot is necessary before we could think of an effective cure.

Even those of us, who are well aware of the fact and have the best intentions, err in searching for solutions where none exist. Anna, erstwhile team Anna, and lakhs of their active and passive followers are the immediate example. In believing that Janlokpal was a major solution for the deep rooted and widespread ills of the society and that they could force its creation as an outside pressure group, team Anna betrayed some lack of vision; and their mass following proved once again that the masses were governed by nothing but the herd mentality. Theirs has been a failed movement with loss of credibility for their leaders. Had they not erred and had taken the political course earlier than they did, they would not have lost their credibility.

It is an irony that they chose the political recourse at the same time when proving to the world their lack of political acumen. Had they taken this recourse (the only sensible recourse available to them in the first place) without having led the people into doubting their intentions and without having subjected the nation to the farce (as it turned out to be) of yet another fast at jantar mantar, they would have been much better off. Or if all this drama was necessary to sway the herds for a good cause, I won’t complain. All said and done, erstwhile team Anna remains the best among the well meaning Indians in sight and it is unto them to provide the leadership the nation needs and for us to accept and encourage such leadership as and when it emerges.

A failed movement is worse than no movement as it brings more despair to the people. In a similar way as issues are raised without following those to a logical conclusion. Here the Indian media errs the most as they do so day in and day out with no exceptions. Scams are reported, losses to the public exchequer are reported, but one doesn’t come to know of a logical conclusion in one’s life time. The people get more and more demoralized. 

Let us see what the culture we nurture is. One playing seemingly fake cricket gets to earn Rs 150 crores (besides undisclosed income) a year and a carpenter or another artisan doing his or her job most professionally and sincerely gets to earn Rs 150 thousand a year. Families known to have looted lakhs of crores of tax payer’s money and stashed it away in foreign banks are chosen to rule us and are sung praises of by the pseudo journalists and the pseudo intellectuals of the country that far outnumber the genuine ones. We as a people bow at their feet day after day. Politicians known to have looted other lakhs of crores are elected and chosen as key central ministers or chief ministers again and again. We waste our energy in creating stars from among us and then use up rest of it in competing with each other in licking their bottoms.  Worshipping them becomes our main preoccupation. These are nothing but the manifestations of our culture and the capitalist and democratic systems we feel so proud of.

When we accept these manifestations so nonchalantly, don’t we look very foolish in making so much noise about corruption? We, very seriously err in not realising that corruption is nothing but a by-product of the culture we pursue.  Corruption is not the root cause of our evils as everyone conveniently seems to believe, it is a necessary off- shoot of the capitalist and bureaucratic structure we have embraced. And if we are happy with our culture, we should be happy to accept the by-product also. If we don’t like this by-product, we must look for solutions in revolutionary corrections in the economic and political systems we follow.

We err in associating only politicians with corruption and scams most of the time, forgetting how thoroughly base our bureaucracy, the backbone of governance, has become. And that, much more than the politicians, the bureaucrats and the bureaucratic systems, and the judicial systems we have become slave to are responsible for the massive scams we come across on daily basis now. I say this out of my experiences in the Railways, an organisation supposed to be having a better set of bureaucrats in the country. This aspect has come out in better detail in my interview published in the Statesman about a couple of years back under the title ‘Bureaucrats are both running and ruining the country’ and subsequently in my above book.

The most importantly, we reach the height of human foolishness when we abuse and curse our leaders, duly elected and chosen by the people, for their rogue behaviour, not saying a word to ourselves, the people, who had chosen and elected them as their leaders. We happily accept that majority is authority expressing faith in the wisdom of the people all the time, and then question why a majority of ministers and a large number of parliamentarians elected by those very people were corrupt and rogues. Even after experience of 65 years as a free democratic country, we fail to understand that today’s lowest ever level of governance and the highest ever level of corruption are nothing but a necessary outcome of our character and the parliamentary system of democracy we follow with such pride. Not learning from history, we continue to ignore the diseased roots and in vain attempt curing some stray leaves here and there.

Sushma Swaraj, a renowned leader, was all praise for our parliamentary system a few months back for the reason that because of it change of power in the country had always been peaceful. But is that a reason enough to justify the existing system? The bottom line remains that a vast majority of Indians live and die in abject poverty. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is ever increasing. There is injustice all around. There are so many laws, some of those outright absurd, such that a common man always lives under fear of having broken one or another. The food adulteration and wide spread corruption in medical care adversely affect everyone except probably the VIP’s and the VVIP’s. If this scenario is acceptable to us, fine. If not, nothing but our folly prevents us from achieving better for us.

We err in looking for incremental corrections for a malaise that requires nothing less than total overhaul for cure. Today many voices, Baba Ramdev’s and Anna Hazare’s being the most prominent among them, are talking of need for total systemic overhaul. So did Jaiprakash Narayan talk forty years ago. We as a nation have been talking and saying everything for last sixty five years as it is our favourite pastime. Often we lack in vision and always we lack in action. Deep down most of us do feel need for a revolution not knowing what it should be and how it should come about.

Historically, revolutions the world over have meant a set of people fighting another set of people. In today’s India, the adversaries are anti corruption crusaders led by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev on one side and the present UPA Govt, perceived to be the epitome of corruption, on the other side. But is not this government of the people and by the people, going by the definition of democracy? Isn’t it that the government is as corrupt as it is because we the people and the systems we nurture have been allowing it to be so? Will it be correct to consider a few individuals who happen to be in the government and have amassed massive wealth illegally to be the culprit now after having encouraged them to indulge in corruption all these years? Are not the people of India the real culprit? Has the world been becoming any better after wars and revolutions involving wars? Is it necessary that for a revolution a set of people must fight another set of people? Couldn’t a revolution be all inclusive where all the people combine and unite to arrive at solutions beneficial to them at large, without indulging in blame games?

Answers to above questions and finding solutions won’t be difficult if we allow ourselves to be dictated by nothing but truth and love (or compassion), the two legs of humanity. Truth and love together. All the religions teach us so and all the literature tells us so. We shall have to unlearn all that we have been following and embark on ‘zero based thinking’ based on the twin virtues and principles of truth and love. That is if we really wish well for our descendants. Otherwise let us continue to engage ourselves in the same vicious circles, exemplified in our late evening TV channel debates involving the luminaries of the society, again and again, to get lost in the quagmire. 

A write up sent to Statesman in Feb, 2012

…….. And the Farce Continues

Elections are again round the corner. Everything is same as it used to be ~ about one third of the candidates with criminal record (no, they are not independents but are fighting on the symbols of all major political parties), campaigning and media coverage centering on leaders calling each other names, doling out of liquor and cash to voters by the political parties, the false promises promising the moon, manipulation in voting and who knows if manipulation of the voting machines. Ramdev and Anna Hazare who kindled hope in naives like me don’t appear to be of much consequence when it comes to grass roots of politics in India. The masses appear to be more enamoured of the crown prince than being bothered about the real issues concerning them. Or so the media and results of surveys presented by it make us believe. Why to blame uneducated masses when the cream among the literates, the media persons themselves, is fascinated by the prince. And what are the credentials of this prince?  
Rahul Gandhi, the crown prince, is being projected as the Prime Minister in waiting and is the main campaigner for the ruling party. Is he a great orator? Is he a great thinker? Is he exceptionally talented? Has he got exceptional organizing capabilities? Is he an exceptionally gifted leader? Does he possess an overall personality to stand out in comparison to all other leaders and eminent personalities? Answer to all above and any other such question will be a loud ‘no’. On the contrary, of late whenever he has conducted himself publicly, more often he has given the impression of being a moron, especially while reading out that borrowed idea on Lokpal from a text written by someone else during zero hour in the Loksabha in late August, 2011. But he has a peculiar worthiness which no one else (except his sister) has or can have. He is son of Rajiv Gandhi, grandson of Indira Gandhi, and great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, all having been Prime Ministers of India. If I am not able to grasp this great virtue, it must be my problem.
I have some other problems as well. I expect that when elections are being held to elect the governments, there must be detailed analysis and discussions on what those in power had promised before the last elections and what they had delivered. Where did they succeed and where did they fail? Were reasons for failure beyond them? What did the parties in opposition deliver as a responsible and constructive opposition? I expect to know the bare and objective data about the performance or non-performance of the government. How did the crime rate behave? How many FIR’s remained unresolved? How many children were under-nourished and how many died of hunger? How many farmers committed suicide? How much time did courts take in deciding cases and imparting justice? How much money was squandered or how much saved and utilized for public welfare? With the mushrooming of 24x7 news channels, I expect the media to provide me, the voter, with the answers to these and all such questions during election time. I do not expect it to act as agents of a particular family or bombard me with who called whom what names. But our media is not irresponsible like me. If they don’t report the utterances of the leaders and the ministers, even if those were worse than non-sense, they won’t be doing their duty. To find the answers to my questions is not their necessary job. They know better than me what an average viewer wants.
Winston Churchill certainly was a wise man. It was not without reason when he said, “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”  In India, this can be extended further: “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute viewing of debates at prime time on prime TV channels,” or “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute hearing of the utterances of the central ministers who are supposed to be running the government,” and so on.
There is nothing what has not been said or written about the corruption and shamelessness of the central government during last one year repeatedly, a lot in the columns of this newspaper. But all the ministers or their favoured ones who have distinguished themselves in corruption, incompetence or shamelessness, from PM himself to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, continue to be in power with their heads held high. The distinguished among the distinguished being Pawars, Sibbals, and Chidambrams. Those known (I believe at times knowledge is something much superior to evidence) to have stashed away billions in foreign banks control the government while petty thieves remain in jails without trial.
Ruling politicians and the people they rule don’t complete democracy. Opposition is another major player. In the federal structure India has, those in opposition at the centre can be and are the rulers in the states. There is a main national opposition party and there are regional parties in opposition at the Centre. When the ruling party was blundering now and again, the opposition’s space was being taken by some individuals, Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare, and their teams. The supposed to be main opposition party, apart from counting its own chickens in the states ruled by it, was non-existent barring mouthing something here or there. When it could catch the ruling party by the scruff, God knows for what reason, it continued to get snubbed itself. The regional parties were too busy doing in their ruled territories what the ruling dispensation was doing at the Centre.
Many learned Indians have started seeing hope in the Hon’ble Supreme Court as a result of some recent judgments taking the Government to task. They conveniently forget that judiciary as such remains the weakest pillar of Indian democracy. An average Indian who has ever had to seek legal redress of his or her grievances knows it too well. One has not only to face corruption at every stage; there is no deliverance of justice for years together. While the Hon’ble Supreme Court has rightly been taking the bureaucrats and the government to task, it has miserably failed to put its own house (the judiciary) in order. There is no other outside institution except Parliament that could deal with this worst aspect of Indian democracy, but its members, the elected representatives of the people, have some better jobs to do. They have to ask questions for money or make false complaints to harass vigilance officers whose efforts lead to unearthing of scams worth hundreds of crores of rupees and registering of cases by CBI.
That leaves bureaucracy. The least said about it the better. What can poor bureaucrats do? They have to worry about their transfers, postings and promotions all the time, while making or not making money. Over and above, they are not expected to see beyond their noses and the feudal mindset doesn’t allow them to see beyond what the boss sees. There are umpteen agencies and bureaucrats empowered and responsible to prevent corruption. When they catch a few (the unfortunate ones) among hundreds of thousands of corrupt, with huge unaccounted wealth, they only confirm their incompetence and failure. What were they doing when mind-boggling sums were being amassed?
Aha! How do I forget of religion and castes while talking about the world’s greatest secular democracy? Whenever elections take place, Muslim votes and Hindu votes is the first thing worried about and talked about by the political parties, the anchors, the media-persons and the learned citizens that take pride in being secular. And then there are castes - religions within religions. The religion and caste equations along with money power play major role in choice of the candidate by the political parties. His or her capabilities come in the end and character is hardly counted. While even a group D employee is recruited on merit within specified quotas, merit is rarely a consideration in choosing the chief executives (the ministers) at the centre or in the states. 
Very recently an editorial in this very newspaper explained how India was a sham democracy. How decisions were taken by those in power, not as per people’s wishes, but driven by extraneous considerations. Mr. Rajinder Puri also illustrated how Indian democracy was a farce as those responsible were not considered accountable. True. What further needs to be understood is that it is not only those in power who are rendering the democracy a farce. All the constituents are responsible. The voter, the backbone of democracy, the most. Clearly the shamelessness of the present government emanates from its belief that inspite of all its misdoings it will be able to hypnotize or hoodwink the voters to vote it again to power or that the voters will have no better choice even otherwise.
The majority of the voters are illiterate or uneducated if not illiterate. They may not understand many things which their more blessed brethren, the educated ones, are supposed to understand and explain to them. It is here that the responsibility shifts to the educated class of the country and basically it is their collective failure that has turned Indian democracy into a farce. Everyone criticizes everything, and yet accepts everything. Even after being enriched with sixty years of experience, nobody is willing to see and think beyond the revered Constitution and Parliamentary democracy. Within the framework of the existing systems, a colossal leakage of public money goes on unhindered (an estimated Rs. 7000000000000 (seven lakh crores) annually from procurement of goods and services alone) and a chunk of the educated class ~ the vendors, the businessmen, the bureaucrats, the liaison  people and the politicians  continue to share the loot. Another chunk - the journalists, the columnists, the activists feel ecstatic whenever a big fish gets caught in the net or an historic judgment is pronounced, blissfully ignorant of the fact that at the grass roots the corruption and depravation had been continuing blossoming. Rest of the time, just being able to vent their frustrations and anger satisfies them. Baba Ramdevs and Anna Hazares while successfully conveying to the voters what was wrong fail to provide an alternative to choose for better governance. They don’t get support from the educated class as they should have got if that class were really interested in better governance. They deceive themselves in believing that they would be able to change the hearts of the rogues as an outside pressure group consisting of a few.
What all above boils down to is simply that democracy, though highly desirable for the freedom it gives, is inherently a farcical way of governance as one of the greatest philosophers of all times, Socrates, could foresee two thousand and five hundred years ago. The world’s largest democracy is only proving Socrates correct. The way the candidates are chosen and the way the majority votes, all said and done, the farce that Indian democracy is, is there to continue for a long time in the name of the Constitution and the Parliament. To look beyond that, nothing short of a revolution is necessary and we, the nice and tolerant human beings, as a people are far- far away from it. Till such time, reducing the duration of the license to loot from five years to, say, three years could help.