Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Mute Screams

One may write thousands of words on the feeling one gets regarding the 'plight of Kashmiri pundits', but I would like to instead write the reality here.

1. Resettlement back in Kashmir isn't possible anymore because of the dominant Islamist ideology that governs Kashmir, its demography, and its politics. Also, Kashmiri pundits are one of the most progressive and educated community, this rules out any possibility of armed and violent retribution.

2. This does not make the entire Muslim population of Kashmir valley bad or good, but it simply reflects how people tend to not poke their nose in other's issue when their own home is not burning.  It was never ‘Kashmir issue’, it was and is about ‘supremacy of one community over other’, for if it would have been a demand of free Kashmir for ‘native Kashmiris’, Kashmiri pundits would have been taken into confidence to struggle against union of India instead of being massacred and thrown out. 

3. This is a classic case where violence has won and is prevailing. Right now as you read this, there are millions who are displaced in their own country and whole of the judiciary and the political setup is a mere mute spectator. ‘Ahimsa’ anybody? 

4. The only solution to this issue, that was available for Nehruvian parliament, was never acted upon and does not exist anymore. Infact ‘super intellectuals’ are demanding plebiscite to let the ‘Kashmiri’ people decide their fate, I wonder how is this justified or ethical or even logical in absence of Kashmiri pundits?

Their life in exile, in their own country is a matter of shame for each one of us and the democracy which we boast about. Those who are aware of the rich culture that this centuries old community represents can perhaps imagine the necessity of its survival. The government was and is responsible for protection and welfare of each and every citizen of the union of India, isn't this is the reason why we all don't roam around with gun in our hands? What is one supposed to do if the government is failing in doing their mandated task?

So, next time before we teach the utopian concept of 'Satyamev Jayate' to the world, pause and question, does truth alone win?

Jai Hind,

Disclaimer: All the photographs used here are copyrights of their respective owners.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Curious Case of Corruption

There may be a debate on whether corruption is indeed the most dangerous threat to our nation or not, but there can simply be no debate about the fact that no other threat can materialize without help of corruption. Few days back, I was chatting with a friend. When we were talking about the ongoing general election, he asked me, “What do you think? Why do we have so much corruption?” After much deliberation on various topics, we settled on some points on which we both agreed. I wish to document that conversation through this article.

The issue with rampant corruption that we face today is fueled by multiple issues and causes. The mistake we (Government and citizens in general) all are doing is; looking at corruption through same old pair of lenses. Though it is true that corruption of any kind should not be tolerated, but trying to handle all kinds of corruption in same way might not prove to be a good idea in the long run, as it won't be sustainable. To understand this better, let us categorize corruption based on its origin.
We are well aware about the first type of corruption; that is a person filling up his coffers by looting public money. Fixing government bid processes, leasing out public land to big industrial houses for meager amounts, selling public property like spectrum, coal blocks, and gas blocks all come under Greed based Corruption. The only way to check this menace is by legislating strong anti-corruption law and enforcing it swiftly. We all are more or less already aware about this type of corruption. Moving on to the next type of corruption which, I feel, has more wide reach and which affects our day-today life in a more profound way.

Let us take a simple example from our daily life, getting a travel ticket from city X to city Y. There are 20 odd trains running between these two cities, each having around 18 coaches and each coach having 72 berths for passengers. I will skip the mathematics here, but I hope by now you have calculated the number of passengers which our system can support. We do not need to apply any rocket science to understand that the main culprit is the poor infrastructure, which force us (yes, you and me) to bribe a railway official for a paltry sum of 500-1000. I believe, here we (the passenger and the Railway ticket checker) are not looting the public money or killing someone to fill our coffers by swindling government contracts, but we are just making a compromise with the poor standard of infrastructure we have even after half a century after gaining independence (oh! that reminds me, weren’t the public services much better under British Raj?). The bottom line is; if you have more demand and less supply, then this type of corruption is bound to happen, which I feel can be aptly named as Need based Corruption.

We have a shortage of supply in traveling, water, electricity, and every other public service that we can think of; still most of these commodities operate through state machinery, whose performance is hidden by none. The frustrating paradox here is the fact that, we (middle class ordinary citizen of India) earn and thrive on the well-known and well acknowledged concept of capitalism, where we want better services and are ready to pay for it. But, we are at the same time expected to be utopian and socialistic to the core when it comes to availing public services. Why on earth, would a hard working salaried person wait for a railway ticket that will never reach him through legal means, when he can get the desired service through illegal means? For reasons obvious you can't justify one person's need to travel as more urgent than other (thanks to our forefathers that we are not living in a communist state), the only solution is have more seats available to passengers at reasonable costs and services.

Like a simple railway berth, there are many things which we need to lead a healthy and happy life. We may/can check the Greed based corruption through legislation and laws. But, if we seriously wish to remove the Need based corruption, then we need to have our complete focus on growth of infrastructure and economy or simply choosing a government which features this quality. Of course, we all have to be an integral part of this journey, just assuming that one superman will emancipate us all of all our sorrows and problems will not work.

Edit: I found this very informative and enlightening blog by Mr. Alex Paul Menon, IAS

Feel free to share your experience with corruption, where you have felt that it could have been avoided if we had enough for all.

Jai Hind,

Disclaimer: All images are copyrights of their respective owner(s)