Thursday, 30 December 2010

Who Will Change India? A 'Pseudo-Religious' Parivar or a 'Pseudo-Secular' Parivar?

On the above topic, excellent article at:

Monday, 27 December 2010

Mr Raj Loomba, an Indian taking global humanitarian leadership

The UN General Assembly has unanimously declared 23 June “INTERNATIONAL WIDOWS DAY”, following a sustained effort by Mr Raj Loomba and the Loomba Foundation.

For many years, Mr Loomba has taken the lead to draw attention to the plight of widows and has taken action to alleviate the plight of widows - in memory of his own mother, who was a widow.

My mother was also a widow, and had an incredible struggle to enable myself (I was eight years old when my father died) and my younger brother and sister to survive.

There are some 245 million widows around the world, many of them poor and destitute.

There is the much worse problem of "abandoned wives" - a growing cancer, even in the West.

Meanwhile, do spare a thought and a prayer, and make any and every possible effort to draw attention to, and to use the occasion of, International Widows' Day to improve the situation for widows around the world, but specially in India.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Debrahminising history (a book by Braj Ranjan Mani)

I have a ocnfession to make. Having read this book ages ago - years ago, in fact! - I put it on my pile of things to do (i.e. with the intention of doing a short blog on it) but have been swamped with other priorities.

Well, here we are, finally!:

Mani is a social activist and independent researcher, and has put together a powerful demolition of whatever little I thought I knew about Hinduism and about Indian society.

Essentially a documentation and assertion of Buddhism Sufism/ Sikhism as "rational-liberating traditions" against the sort of Brahminical traditions that most Indians know.

It is not that I don't know of Buddhism, Sufism and Sikhism (quite the contrary) but Mani's denunciation of what I have regarded as "my" and "the mainstream" (Sanskritic/ Gandhian/ Nehruvian) tradition is quite a shock - at least to my system.

Holding up Phule and Ambedkar (as might be expected) as the real heroes for the majority of Indians, Mani also draws on the work of people such as Iyothee Thass, Narayana Guru and Periyar.

I do have some problems with Mani's book:

First, the book is unnecessarily repetitive and could have done with a strong editor.

Second, there are minor niggles, such as the reference to the Buddha as "the first major challenger to caste and Brahminism" (well, I guess it boils down to what one means by "major"!) or the reference to "the thousand years of (the) overwhelming influence" of Buddhism. True, Buddhism was influential over this perion. But "overwhelming"? And whether or not "overwhelming", there is the question of why that influence faded asn well as what factors internal to Buddhism enfeebled this "rational-liberating" paradigm? Those are questions that Mani does not attempt to answer.

Overall, however, this book is a must read for all Indians who wants to be aware of all facets of their country (and Brahminism is probably even now the most important facet of which one should become aware and self-critical). The book ends with typically bluntness: " Sita (forbidden from acquiring knowledge and power), Karna (treacherously deprived of life-saving device) and Eklavya (robbed of his thumb for his "illegitimate" prowess in archery) are still clamouring for their rightful place in society. The greatest sports award in India is still given in the honour of Arjuna, and not (in honour of) Karna or Eklavya, both of whom, according to legend, were greater archers. And the best coach award has been instituted in honour of Drnacharya, the perfidious guru who forced Eklavya to cut off his thumb as guru-dakshana in order to (leave) Arjuna the best archer of his time. How can a country whose moral foundations are based on bricks of (such) deceit and double standards excel in social democracy?". (Brackets mine)


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Does Pune (Poona) really consume so much water? WHY?

In a recent communication from a company, I read the following: "Pune consumes more than 300 litres water per capita per day as against the national norm of 135 litres and New York city's 200 litres. Pune also does next to nil recycling of water. "

Let's leave aside for the moment the question of whether and why Pune recycles water.

How come the average citizen of Pune consumes approx 225% of the national norm, and 200% of what the average citizen of New York consumes?

Any explanations that you are aware of?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Self-Governance: Swiss versus Indian

My article titled "Self-Governance: Swiss versus Indian" is the latest in my "Guptara Garamagaram" series in The International Indian magazine (published from Dubai)

If interested, please see pages 72 & 73 at

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

M J Akbar on the depressing state of the nation

"As far as the people are concerned the difference between grace and disgrace has evaporated. It could hardly be otherwise given the scale and sheer audacity of the corruption....(what we have) is nothing but big-budget back-scratching between pals, an insurance policy against exposure: if everyone is guilty then no one is guilty....But there are always a few who refuse to be co-opted. They keep our democracy democratic."

I am glad he thinks there are still a few who refuse to be co-opted. That is the only hope.

He goes on to say: "The tendency to elide through crises with token gestures can become a self-defeating habit...(with the result that) now the people do not take even a well-meaning gesture seriously."

Well, if things have really become that bad, then any hope could be short-lived.

He concludes: "A weak government weakens the nation". This is not a startling new bit of wisdom that has been revealed from on high. Even so, I would like to question it.

Do we really have a weak government? Rather, do we not have a government so strong that it can continue to ignore with impunity the needs of the majority of the people who elected it? How can we say that the government is weak when it can continue to line its own pockets in cahoots with the so-called opposition?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The inclusion of Caste in the next Indian Census

A friend sends me an article by someone arguing that caste practices have no justification in our scriptures, and were basically the invention of Western colonialists.

This is a peculiar point of view. I do not know in what world such writers live. If they even read Indian newspapers, they would get more than enough evidence of the reality of violence against Dalits in our country even today.

Anyway, I responded basically as follows:

The problem with our scriptures is that they are multifarious and can be used to "prove" almost anything. For example, if one takes just the Manusmriti, "While verses such as III - 55, 56, 57, 59, 62 glorify the position of women, other verses such as IX - 3, 17 seem to attack the position and freedom of women. Similar contradictory phrases are encountered in relation to child marriage in verses IX - 90 and 94. PLEASE NOTE that I am quoting and have not had the time to check the refereences myself.

However, in practice, all over the country, there is no doubt that caste practices were prevalent for centuries, and have even now not disappeared - for contemporary accounts of caste discrimination see, for example, the website of Dalit writers such as Chandra Bhan Prasad

The focus of the Jaipur Literary Festival this year was Dalit literature (see for example:

On the Dalit literary movement as a whole, see for example:

On Gujarati Dalit Literature see for example

If you are seriously interested in finding out about the relationship between foreigners and the rediscovery of our own heritage, you might want to start with my article titled "The Impact of Europe on the Development of Indian Literature" (published in the Review of National Literatures, New York, Special Issue on India, 1979. I sent my friend a copy, and will happily send it to anyone reading this Blog who wishes to have it).

Specifically, on the issue of whether or not caste should be included in the census, my view is that it is not up to the oppressor castes (such as my own) to tell the oppressed castes what is the best thing to do.

In general, anything that the Dalits think will help them to get equality has my support, and it is clear that Dalits overwhelmingly support the inclusion of caste in the censsus.

Again, my own view is that neither the upper caste focus on religion and "Bharat Mata" is going to help them, nor the inclusion of caste in the census.

What the oppressed need is release from their systematic oppression, and the best way of achieving this is to encourage and help them to gain education - but not the sort of education that is usually offered in India (that is, more or less useless education, from a practical point of view).

The best would be "useful education" that is really going to help them, including a focus on starting and growing their own businesses. Of course, that cannot happen in reality without the provision of finance for such new Dalit businesses - providing which, in turn, would involve the extension of normal banking and credit facilities to Dalits, and the removal of the scandal of microfinance (though that is miles better than the sort of finance traditionally provided by baniyas of my caste).

So why do Dalits want the question of caste to be included in the Census? Because, regretfully, government-controlled education and government employment are still the main channels for Dalit liberation in India.

The biggest hurdle facing Dalits even today is discrimination against them when it comes to employing them, let alone promoting them, in "normal" areas of life, including companies.

So of course discrimination against them in buying and selling would need to be eliminated if Dalit businesses are to succeed.

Monday, 5 July 2010

India's poor record at patents does not improve much in 2009

The Yearly Review of the International Patent System, for 2009, has just been issuedby the World Inntellectual Property Organization.

For the first time in its history, the number of patent applications is down on a previous year (primarily due to the recession, apparently).

At the same time, patent applications from China went UP 29.1%, and it now ranks 5th in the world in terms of its patent applications.

By contrast, India does not appear in the top 15 countries.

China's patent applications went from 2,512 in 2005 to 7.906 last year. India's patent applications in 2005 were 679, and moved to 1,070 last year .

Universities from the USA continue to dominate patent applications from among universities worldwide (nine of the top ten, 18 of the top 20, 22 of the top 30, 28 of the top 40, and 32 of the top 50 are from the USA).

The University of California not only topped the list from the universities' sector, but was also the only one from that category to make it to the overall top 100 applicants - all the others are companies (a sad state of affairs for the globe, as that means more and more IP continues to belong to private companies - which will inevitably increase even further the gap between the rich and the poor).

Friday, 25 June 2010

How NOT to respond to material on Blogger

Someone calling herself or himself "Arnab" and claiming to be from the Indian Institute of Science, writes as follows:

"Instead of being a Lion, I would say, try being a good indian. Our nation was an educated, spiritually supirior (still is), rich in moral values. Then why and how did a foriegn nation could conquer it? By using our dishonesty, our unpatriotic acts and using our disrespect, lack of love, lack of belongingness to fellow indians.
Lets be realistic, lets find out what the English had done to our culture, but, honestly, not by tampering with the history. Lets have so much respect and honesty to our selves and towards our actions that foreigners also respect us.
--- Arnab"

First, how is it honest or truthful or does it display spirtiual or moral values to write to someone from an email that is titled "Anonymous"?

Second, if "our nation was an educated, spiritually superior... (and) rich in moral values" how come it was at the same time marked by "dishonesty...unpatriotic acts...disrespect, lack of love, lack of belongingness to fellow Indians"?

However, I agree with "Arnab" that we need to find out both the positive and negative impacts of British rule on our culture - and that without trying to distort or tamper with the history. If s/he is really interested, I can send her/ him at least one full article (several articles and books, actually) on the subject.

Let us indeed "have so much respect and honesty that foreigners can also respect us" - and not merely because "Business India" is shining at present for reasons principally outside our control - though of course we should make hay while the sun shines.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Opposition to Retroactive Rules regarding Compulsory Surrender of Indian Passport for all who have become citizens of other countries

If you are of Indian origin, may I encourage you to sign the following on-line petition, which I have signed.

The petition draws attention to yet another scandalous method which our Government has produced to harass people who once held Indian citizenship.

This particularly affects all such people who wish to avail of consular services (including issue of visas, and in theory even simple enquiries for information!)

The petition has been drawn up by my friend, Ashook Ramsaran, who has just been given yet another Award in recognition for his services to the community.

The TEXT of the petition is provided immediately below, and the petition itself is ONLINE AT:


Opposition to Retroactive Enforcement of New Rules for Surrender of Indian Passport

Hon. Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of INDIA
New Delhi

Subject: Opposition to Retroactive Enforcement of New Rules for Surrender of Indian Passport

Hon. Prime Minister:

I strongly object to the retroactive enforcement of new rules regarding the surrender of Indian passport upon acquisition of citizenship of other countries. The new rules impose undue and unnecessary burden on Persons of Indian Origin. In addition, I object to the prescribed fee as being unreasonably high.

The notice posted on the website of several Indian embassies and consulates stipulates that Persons of Indian Origin who have acquired citizenship of other countries are required to surrender their Indian passports to the nearest Indian Consulate within 90 days of their acquisition of citizenship of those other countries. I have no objection if the enforcement of the new rules takes effect from the date of issue. But retroactive enforcement and requiring people of Indian origin who got citizenship of other countries years ago, could cause unimaginable hardship in thousands of cases. The minimum service fee of $175 for the surrender certificate is also unduly very high.

There can be a few millions of people who have obtained citizenship of other countries over the last fifty years, since the passage of Indian Citizenship Act 1955 – the law quoted in asking for surrender certificate. Many of the former Indian citizens have been travelling to India on passports of countries of their adoption but with Indian visas granted by the same consulates whose websites now have posting of new rules. If the law did exist in the past, Indian embassies and consulates everywhere should have asked for the surrender of Indian passports before first time granting Indian visas to Persons of Indian Origin. Requiring Persons of Indian Origin to surrender their Indian passports after the lapse of many years of acquisition of such citizenship, would cause undue hardship and delay in getting consular services. In case an applicant has lost, damaged or surrendered his/her Indian passport to a foreign Government, he/she is required to furnish certified copies of following documents, as per notice on website postings of Indian embassies and consulates:

1. Details of last held Indian passport (Passport No., Date of Issue & Place of issue). The onus of providing details rest on the applicant.

2. Official documents submitted to authorities of new country at the time of obtaining citizenship/naturalization & documents used for entry such as US Form I -130.

3. Notarized letter explaining reasons for loss.

4. Police report.

A large majority of the new citizens did not have any use for their old Indian passports and may have lost, misplaced or never kept in their possession after naturalization. The production of items 1 and 2 above, in particular, will not be easy and could take months to obtain from the immigration authorities. In the meantime, consular services will not be available to visit the mother country, even for emergency situations.

I urge the Government of India to reconsider the retroactive enforcement of the new rules as thousands of people who have acquired citizenship of other countries could suffer undue and unnecessary hardship for no fault of their own, in addition to reducing the fee to a reasonable amount of $25.

End of text.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

India slips in the World Competitiveness Index

Only from the 30th position to the 31st position, it is true.

But that indicates that while we tinker with minor adjustments and think we are making good progress, the rest of the world is moving faster and actually overtaking us - even if ever so slightly.

Given the way that economics and finance are constructed around the world at present, there are only winners and losers.

India is winning at a few things (e.g. IT). But we seem to be unaware that our competitive advantage even in IT is under threat.

And we are still doing too little to improve our global competitiveness.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The "puzzling" rise of Hitlerism in India

Readers who keep up with my "general" blog will be aware of my post titled "American versus Indian philanthropy":

In response to this, someone who calls herself/himself "Jeremy" draws my attention to the following:

As "Jeremy" provides no information about herself/himself, I regard that communication as an anonymous one, and I try very hard never to post anonymous comments on my blog - though there may be some lapses, as I am often responding from some strange time-zone in the middle of the night.

However, as the communication itself is worthwhile, I have provided the link above. The post at this link shows the puzzlement of a Western young lady at the pro-Hitler mania that possesses our country. The young lady is not aware of the decades-long promotion of Hitler by the Hindutva brigade, so she is naturally puzzled. If she is interested in following up the history of how pro-Hitlerism has been propagated in India, there are several books on the subject.

The whole attempt by the Hindutva brigade has been to glorify "strong" leadership (such as that of the despicable Narendra Modi) which provides economic benefits at the unnecessary cost of thousands of human lives - or I should say: the cost is unnecessary to economic progress, but necessary only to keeping the particular leader in power. At least in the perception of such "leaders", and the perception of those who support such "leaders".

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Quality standards in India

Some 20 years ago, the family decided not to buy factory-made British beds, side-board, dining table etc and to buy Indian hand-made products and import them into Britain instead. Because we were not there to oversee the actual packing, the products all arrived soaked and warped. The seller in India was a renowned one, and he worked with a British importer...!

Just a few weeks ago, my son, on a visit to India, decided to buy a nice tailored bespoke jacket. After repeated failures to get the jacket ready at promised times, the jacked was eventually ready just before he flew out, but still needed some last-minute adjustments as is often the case. So he had to leave without his jacket. I was visiting India last week, and picked up his jacket for him. You can imagine his disappointment (and mine) when he reported that the adjustments had not been done as instructed and that the jacket is not up to what it was promised to be.

Our quality standards in India may have improved for some things, but they are still not up to scratch. What is lacking is a work ethic that knows how to work backwards from having made a promise, to having the processes and commitment to deliver on the promise - on time. We either take on too much, or we don't have mastery of processes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The furore over gowns, robes and other signs of being an official

According to a news item, the Union Minister for the Environment, Shri Jairam Ramesh, has created a furore by taking off his ceremonial robe during the actual convocation ceremony at the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), in Bhopal, on Friday, April 5, saying "Why do we have to come dressed up (in) barbaric colonial relics"?

He clearly does not understand anything about the significance of robes and gowns.

Not only that, he is proud of his ignorance, and thinks his ignorance is something to be displayed!

I invite him to consider that a policeman's uniform means that, if he or she arrests someone, the arrest is not being made by any odd individual but by an authorised representative of the law.

It would be unacceptably inappropriate for a pandit to perform a puja wearing a suit.

Or for a Hindu woman to be married wearning a white sari - or, for that matter, under the open sky.

Similarly, wearing the janoi or Yajnopavita (sacred thread) is inappropriate for a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jain - or indeed for anyone who rejects caste.

Every Sikh is enjoined to wear, among other things, a turban and a kachha (particular sort of underwear).

Sadhus are supposed to wear, at most, a simple single-coloured robe - though they should really wear no clothes at all, as indeed many do not.

But if the Minister were to wear no clothes, my guess is that he would soon be relieved of his post.

Not just that. Far from commissioning graduates of the IIFM to manage forests, he might have been thought fitting for him to have been encouraged, for the rest of his life, to wander in those very forests.

He may find, therefore, that there may be something to be said for wearing appropriate clothes for every occasion.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Ancient myths and current realities

On an email chat list, a respected guruji offers sermons on topics such as "Study of Veda is the Highest Virtue"

To one of these, a person (to whom I will refer only as Sharmaji) responded as follows:

Dear All
What is the objective of these sermons. If it was so, India would be the foremost country in the world, both spiritually and physically. Indians can not claim to have spiritual values at all. Worshipping in temples and always asking for material things from Gods is not a spritual characteristic. We do not have values of compasssion and love towards our own people. The way we have treated dalits and poor in this country from centuries despite vedas and gita, belies our claim of being spritual persons. India needs science and technology and INNOVATIVE attitude and not obsessionn of our greatness of the past and assertions that vedas have all the knoweldge which is being realised by science now. If it is so, scrap all the science books and use vedas knoweldge to build aeroplanes and rockets and make India a leading power of the world. The sermons and the culture of gurus has ruined this country...."

To Sharmaji's post, I responded as follows:

"Dear All

I am torn by Sharmaji's mail, but sometimes truth does tear.

Undoubtedly we had some greatness, but we need to know objectively:
(I) what exactly we were great in, and what we were not so great in.
(II) We also need to know objectively why we lost whatever greatness we had.
(III) And finally we need to know what we should do to build ourselves up again.

Having studied these subjects from all sorts of viewpoints for some time, I consider (I) to be finally unknowable in any full sense though of course we do have several clues and hints - but the fact is that we lost our greatness so very thoroughly that not even adequate records remain.

I consider (II) to be more knowable, and the answer lies in our own moral failures.

I consider (III) to be the most clear though most difficult to come to terms with, because it takes us (or at least it takes me) in Sharmaji's direction.

The most helpful books that I have found have been Dr Thom Wolf's little book, India Progress Prone, published by University Institute, Delhi; and Dr Vishal Mangalwadi's latest book, Truth and Transformation (YWAM Publishing, USA, 2009).

Meanwhile, I urge respected (Guruji) to continue providing us with his sermons, because we need all the help we can get, from every direction, if we are to make progress in the face of the difficult winds that have been held back by God's grace from affecting our country too much so far, but the winds could be about to turn against us, in terms of the effects of the global crisis so far as our country is concerned.

Prabhu Guptara"

I put the "Guruji" in brackets above, because that is not his real name...and I am trying to preserve the privacy of the group concerned....

Saturday, 13 March 2010

I have just seen the following statistic:

in the US, there are 3 million policy shapers, 3 million influential intermediaries, and 16 million people who could be described as members of the public actively engaged with public policy debates and discussions.

Does anyone know, or can we attempt to work out, how many would fall into the last category in India?

I would be astonished if it is more than one million.

But I would be happy to be surprised....

Friday, 12 February 2010

Message from Dr. Prasanna Deshpande on Dr Gadre winning the Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik (Human Dignity Award)

Among the many other messages that I have received on the matter, I am pleasantly surprised to receive also the following message from somone who I had never come across earlier (he has kindly given me permission to post it):

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for recognising Dr Arun's work.I know Arun from my schooldays.We belong to the same school & medical college too.He was very enthusiastic right from outset about whatever activity he was involved in. He is dedicated to social cause and worked for the same for more than 20 years.Even today he is working with NGO fighting for prevention and control of HIV and AIDS.

Thanks again for giving this award for a well deserving brilliant,sincere and hardworking personality.I really appreciate your selection.

Dr Prasanna Deshpande

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Dr Arun Gadre wins this year's Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik

The winner of this year's Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik (Human Dignity Award) of Rupees One Lakh in memory of Professor M. M. Guptara, is:

Dr Arun Gadre, of Pune, Maharashtra.

Arun Gadre is a doctor and a writer.

The citation reads:

"Dr Gadre worked for some 20 years in a rural part of Maharashtra as a gynaecologist: instead of working in a major city where he would have received a reasonable income and a comfortable quality of life, he chose rather to invest the best years of his life to helping rural women. As the only MD within a radius of 50 km, in a draught prone and poor area, with much more irregular electricity than in our cities, with scarcity of water, paucity of trained assistants, no blood transfusion facilities, and no one to assist, he conducted around 5500 deliveries as well as other major surgeries.

"In spite of his heavy duties in the challenging environment, Dr Gadre somehow found time to exercise his gift for writing, to produce in fact many different books. Two of them are due to be published soon, one on ante-natal care and one on HIV/ AIDS counselling. However, he has 14 books which are already published - three for semi-literate people on medical subjects, two medical textbooks, one on premarital counseling, one is a work of philosophy, one is autobiographical, and six are novels.

"Many of the books have won awards. His philosophical work, BHAVA PESHI, won the Shenolikar Puraskar for the best book of the year in philosophy from the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad Pune, as well as the Marathwada Sahitya Mandal Puraskar. His novel, EK HOTA FENGADYA, won the Shankar Patil Puraskar for the best novel of the year, from the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad, Pune. His novel GHATACHAKRA won the H. N. Apte Puraskar from Maharashtra State as well as the VS Khandekar Puraskar for the best novel of the year from the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad Pune. His latest novel, VADHASTAMBH, won the Vikhe Patil Puraskar, as well as the Vaman Malhar Joshi Puraskar for the best novel of the year from Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad Pune. His latest book, a biography of the (now practically unknown) founder of modern India, William Carey, has just been published under the title: “Ase Hote William Carey” (Rajhans Prakashan, Pune).

"We probably have many people in our country who have put in decades of medical work in poverty-stricken, resource-poor and ill-connected rural areas, but there are hardly any who have combined that with outstanding literary work– and all of Dr. Gadre's works, whether philosophical, biographical, fictional or medical, provide evidence of a deep commitment to humane values which seem to be under threat in our world. We hope that the award will inspire many people to follow Dr Gadre's example of self-sacrice, and of the triumph of the human spirit over adverse circumstances, and that it will therefore inspire even more people to serve our rural areas with distinction".

Dr Gadre is the second winner of the Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik (Human Dignity Award). The first winner was Dr John Dayal, a Member of the Indian National Commission for Minorities.

Recognising that the award is only a token, the Guptara family deeply appreciates Dr. Gadre's lifetime of outstanding service to our country.

Dr Gadre is available for interview on (Indian) mobile: +91 9822246327

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Indian IP filings

I have just been reading through the World Intellectual Property Organization's "World Intellectual Property Indiactors 2009".

What strikes one is:
(i) how rarely the word "India" appears,
(ii) how poorly India appears to do (even after including NRI filings), and
(iii) how late is the information that is supplied by the Indian Patent Office (most of the information is from 2006, some from 2007).

If India wants to do well from a financial point of view in the future, we need to:
(a) wake up the Indian Patent Office, and
(b) encourage our companies and citizens to register the IP which undoubtedly exists, and is being increasingly created, in the country.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Recent survey results on corruption within India

Apparently the results of a survey on the subject have just been released by MDRA, a market research agency. The report from the Press Trust of India is at:

However, I cannot see it on the MDRA site:

As the sample size is smaller than 1000, in a country like India the survey results could be technically considered indicative rather than substantial.

However, the new thing that the report reveals is that there is greater toleration of corruption at the top levels in society than there is at the bottom levels of society.

This is presumably because the top levels benefit the most from corruption, while the bottom levels suffer the most from corruption.

In any case, the finding must surely not only be a sign of hope but, for those who are interested in doing something about, it must also suggest a strategy for action.

"An average 86 per cent of respondents believe that corruption is a common phenomenon in corporate India. The acceptance towards corruption increases from lower management (83.4 per cent) to middle management (88.1 per cent) to senior management (90.2 per cent)," the survey by market research and consulting firm Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA) said.

The study by MDRA was conducted among 742 employees across the sectors in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad.

The employees surveyed ranked monetary transaction as the most prevalent form of corruption while nepotism comes at bottom. Monetary transaction at 39.2 per cent is followed by exploitation at 17.1 per cent.

Besides, breach of trust and fraud are the other form of corruptions widely seen in the corporate world. When it comes to activity-wise corruption, 36 percent respondents said most frequent corruption is observed in recruitment process followed by promotion/performance appraisal (24 percent).

Further, 22 percent of the surveyed employees said that it occurs most in procurement and 17 percent of them consider it is visible in project implementation, the survey said"

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Pakistan or China?

While the immediate danger is from Pak-based suicide bombers and other attackers, they do not pose a significant national threat (even though, as in Mumbai, the cost is huge to the individuals concerned). We should therefore regard the challenge coming from Pakistan-based individual and small-group attackers as a pimple, or series of pimples.

China is a totally different matter. While it is best for China and India to be friends (something for which I wish many more of us worked), I fear that national compulsions facing China may make it look around for who it can attack - preferably successfully - in order to divert attention from internal problems. As far as I can see, it has only two options that fit the criteria, the Spratly Islands and India. That does not mean that it won't attack Russia or Taiwan (the other two options), but that these are more unlikely targets at present - better equipped to resist, and likely to lead to much greater political complications. The last factor mentioned (complications) also makes the Spratly Islands (which are claimed by several nations - eight, if I recollect aright) less attractive than India.

If, as stated in an interview with The Hindustan Times yesterday by Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (General Officer Commanding, Northern Command), "The Indian Army lags far behind China in military infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control", then it is of the highest importance and urgency to spend the necessary money to upgrade the infrastructure. "China has built all-weather metalled roads leading right up to its border posts facing Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and Demchok and Fukche in Ladakh....Indian troops, on the other hand, often have to march miles to the front. Roads, where they exist, are dotted with potholes, with long stretches of boulders and slush, leading to accidents that slow down movement. Better connectivity allows the Chinese to cover 400 km a day. The Indian army finds it difficult to cover more than 200 km a day in the forward areas". An army is hugely disadvantaged if it is not as mobile as its opponent.

So what about air power? One to five, apparently: India has "three airfields at Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyoma, about 220-250 km east of Leh. But only AN 32 transport planes can land there, so they have no operational value in terms of countering an attack. The only airfield near the China border from where India can deploy warplanes is at Tezpur in Assam, where it has stationed its frontline Sukhoi 30 planes. Chinese military aircraft, however, can reach Shimla, Chandigarh and Leh within five minutes and New Delhi within 20 minutes of taking off from their forward base in Gar Gunsa, across the border, from Demchok in Tibet. It has five such airfields in Tibet where it has stationed warplanes".

So China has at present overwhelming superiority in surface mobility as well as in air power. Chinese soldiers are also better trained and equipped, as far as I can make out. The only disadvantage faced by the Chinese in an attack on India would be if they went beyond the areas they claim, where Chinese soldiers may not feel any sense of conviction in battle. The only advantage possessed by India is that its soldiers would fight for the motherland with full conviction, even in relation to the areas claimed by the Chinese. Conviction is important, but it is the responsibility of the government to provide the best possible training, equipment and facilities so that our soldiers have more than mere rhetoric and sentiment on their side.

Chinese and Indian defence forces may be both riddled with corruption, but what gets through to the bottom level is clearly far more in the case of China than in our case.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

India's legal system is now unreliable at state level

It has always been the case that our legal system has been more reliable at national level than at local or regional level.

However, there are now contradictory trends, with the national system weakening in some areas, while the local system seems to be strong enough to challenge national weakness in certain areas.

However, we still have incidents of total flouting of the law at local or regional level.

For example: Manoj Pradhan, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Orissa, from the Bharatiya Janata Party (the political wing of the neo-fascistic Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), has been accused in several cases in relation to the attempted genocide in Kandhamal District.

Reliable reports say that the accused threatened one of the witnesses inside the Court, and even threatened the police right inside the court.

As far as I know, the Court has refused to take cognizance of his threatening behaviour - which should surely be enough on its own to land him behind bars.

We have descended to a sorry condition if MLAs display such barbaric behaviour in the first place; and even more if Courts are now so powerless, corrupt or ineffective.