Archive for 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012

How the Politics of Corruption Will Ensure a Third Term for Dr Man Mohan Singh as India’s Prime Minister.

Monumental ignorance of its politicians like Akin, Palin, Ryan and Romney, exposed through their statements, shape public opinion and the course of the presidential election in the US.

In India, the ignorance of the electorate and their inability to grasp complex issues, which the political opposition try to capitalise to portray Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh as India's most corrupt leader, are likely to get him elected for a third term, despite his reticence to fend off unethical and motivated charges of corruption.

In all fairness, the eighty years old Singh, who boosted India's growth rate by bold fiscal action and little ado, must be looking forward to a quiet life at the end of his term ending in 2014. However, the bizarre Indian "politics of allegations of corruption" is shaping and fostering a third term of incumbency on this reluctant economist, who the rest of the world look towards as a Guru and an honest man.

A Disgusting and Macabre Chinese Journey.

Do people blog about disgusting and macabre dreams? I don't know. Here is something to cheer you up! My next book titled "Merchant of Macabre Dreams" is ready for writing. All I need is someone with the heart of little Alice, ready to be awed and terrified, someone who can't get up alone in the night for a wee. Curious? Dial M for Macabre Dreams.

It is really huge and crowded. I am inside some sort of a rail terminal with huge rounded roof but all very dark inside, amidst milling crowd of being who resemblance humans. Don't know if I am coming or going. Where to? Where from? No idea. Well, perhaps not much to write home about a dream. After all Chinese rail stations must be really crowded like anywhere in the world.
This is intriguing. I must be in a star hotel, in a lobby with high ceiling, heavily ornate wooden panels all around, smartly dressed hotel staff busily busying around amidst huge plants, greenery and fountains. Nothing unusual except I have no idea about which one it was. I have never stayed in a Chinese hotel or been to China.
This is the disgusting part. I am searching for something frantically. Though I feel being in a room I can still see the hotel staff and greenery around me. I am pulling off empty draws one after the other for whatever I was searching. Now you won't believe this. Suddenly, I am reliving myself in one of the draws I just pulled out. I can't believe it either. My very own s*** in a clean white draw with some of the hotel staff around me looking at it. I can't think of or remember their expression. Some of the girls were definitely giggling.
This is where it gets really exciting! I am in a bath room, standing under a really lavish warm shower. I look up and realise that there is no shower head. In fact the shower is pouring across from bath room next to mine, over a frosted glass wall. Suddenly, I notice through the glass the outlines of what looked like a female human body, covered in lather. Wow! Am I not lucky for a bonus gift from the hotel?
Well, not exactly. Suddenly the shower recedes and the body reaches out for a towel and wipe to reveal, what was more likely a male figure. Not very exciting, at least for me!
This is the macabre bit. All I know is that I am running down a hill leaving the tall building of the hotel amidst a lot of others, from a silhouette which looked like a busy down town. I have jumped inside a waiting bus. Now I look for an empty seat. This is where it gets really horrible. All I can see are strange human bodies with huge disfigured faces with waves of massive yellow wrinkles. Quite frightening! I move from body to body trying to jump out of the bus, with no success. Frankly there was nothing Chinese about this nerve shacking experience.
Perhaps my dream has very scientific explanation. I don't know. May be some one can throw some light.

Will Harvard Boy Chidambaram Make India The Promised Land Again for American Business?

There are ways to test the worth of things. But the means of real tests are always harsh and bruising like the touchstone on which you rub your gold nugget to see if it is genuine. For Harvard, the proof of the pudding is when its alumni get roasted in the harshest ovens of real life business and come out shining.

Palaniyappan Chidambaram, an alumnus of Harvard, is about to prove his worth with another stint as India's Finance Minister. But in his case, his nemesis and his biggest distracter is also an ex professor of Harvard, Dr Subramanian Swamy.

The problem is that, to gain the confidence of foreign investors, Chidambaram has to find ways to arrest and reverse the powerful negative trend in India's growth which has ended up in a yawning gap in the nation's fiscal balance and high inflation, left behind by his predecessor and the new Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Perhaps this was also the main reason behind the decision of the UPA leadership to project Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate.

Moreover, since his last stint, despite the confidence of the political leadership he enjoys and repeatedly publicly proclaimed by the Prime Minister, Chidambaram is confronted with a variety of allegations from electoral tinkering to corruption.

While being the country's Finance Minister, Chidambaram has also to fight off extreme political attacks and damaging allegations of corruption, pending legal scrutiny in the courts, which Dr Swamy and the main opposition BJP are spearheading, making his task really daunting for any politician.

To be fair to Chidambaram, he has already been credited with some convincing reforms to India's archaic investment framework during his stint as the Finance Minister during the previous government of the United Progressive alliance of Sonia Gandhi.

Though Chidambaram had to leave the position in the Finance Ministry with an unfinished agenda in the wake of the 9/11 Mumbai Terror attack to take over the Home Ministry, at the behest of the party leadership, unfortunately, no one gives him the credit for stabilizing the country's governance and internal security with swift and decisive actions. Like everywhere good acts in politics have no rewards in India too.

However the impressive measures of modernisation and reforms he undertook as the finance minister is much recognised by the foreign and Indian business community.

In fact this is the main reason why the sentiment of foreign investors has been boosted raising the NIFTY a couple of hundred points since his elevation, from the beginning of the month, as the Finance Minister by the Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh.

Though the political baggage he has to carry is making his task of putting the country's economy back on track extremely hard, his task is in fact not only important for India and its future but is vital for the survival of the UPA and its success in the elections to be held in 2014.

It is this imperative against which Chidambaram's mettle being tested which makes his actions and steps so vital to the world investors looking for successful business in India. It looks like the UPA leadership has realised that it is time for decisive action if the government has to expect another term after the next elections. This will certainly strengthen the hands of the new Finance Minister, giving hope to the investors in India and abroad.

However, a host of other issues from land reforms to mining and power generation which are outside of the Finance Minister's control also need to be sorted out on extremely high priority, which will decide Chidambaram's success in turning the economy around.

So far, it looks like Chidambaram has been successful in boosting the sentiments by quick and decisivemeasures and steps everyone has appreciated. Whether he will be able to carry through the political anarchy which modern India is turning in to through the so called civil society and anti corruption movement of Anna Hazare and others is a matter to see.

If what Harvard instilled in the Finance Minister by his education will stand him in his seemingly gargantuan tasks of being decisive and taking assertive actions in the face of furious opposition, the world famous university can really be proud.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Three Scary Stories of Love and Romance In a Week Which Could Make You Lose Your Sleep.

Have you ever been unable to sleep a whole night after hearing about real but mysterious stories of love andromance? Well, if they have ended in tragic, scary andinexplicable death, you can feel more intrigued and sleepless than sorry.

At least half of India in fact is sleepless over three stories involving beautiful and successful women and powerful ministers. So if you are of a romantic kind and death is not something you like to think very much about, please don't read further, unless you want to lose some sleep.
Though the Olympics and the Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting dominated the world media, the Indian Media is abuzz with three intriguing and unsettling stories of tragedy involving, money, power and love which tragically took the lives of three beautiful, young ladies.
It is indeed very unsettling that all three have been found dead in apparent situations of suicide, yet leaving enough room for being cases of suspicious death which makes you sad but annoyingly inquisitive too. What is really unsettling is the fact that all three were highly educated with very promising careers making one on wonder what exactly in their private lives lead them to such horrible plight.
Interestingly, the social web, with its army of active participants who discuss everything and anything threadbare that appear in the media with immense imagination, make the stories much more intriguing. Very often, as in the case of these stories with very little factual information in the media and in public domain, such discussions end up in character assassination of the diseased, without any chance for the poor souls to defend themselves.
Looking at the number of comments posted on this article, I come to realise that India has a huge pool of talented writers who can create so many different reasons and scenarios for a case which neither our forensic experts nor our police department can envision or solve!!!!
Neelima, a twenty-seven year old software engineer and lead, employed by the IT major INFOSYS at a site in Tampa, USA, was on holidays in India for three weeks. For mysterious reasons, she walked one night in to the high security campus of her employer in Hyderabad, where she used to work before, and jumped off from the tenth storey car park to her tragic death.
This is how some one among her tribe of Indian techies which dominate the comment threads on Indian News sites with all sorts of bizarre explanations, opinions and comments summarise the story.
The news is already all over Telugu channels: 1.Reason to come to Infosys campus was to email and call boyfriend from quiet place. 2. Reason to come so late in the night is because of time difference between India and USA. 3. Boyfriend is P.B. from Cognizant in Tampa, Florida. 4. She was more eager than boyfriend. Boyfriend did not want to marry as he was getting free milk, so why buy the cow? 5. After boyfriend said clear no, she wrote to him saying hope we will be together in next Janma and killed herself.
In another tragic story, Fiza, a beautiful 39 year old lawyer and wife of an ex state minister, whose love affair and marriage became headline story in the Indian media a few years back, was found dead in a decomposed state in her own bed, apparently after several days after she died.
The love component of this story is so unbelievably strong. Fiza, and her husband Chandra Mohan the son of a powerful chief minister of the state of Haryana who was already married, both born Hindus, converted to Islam so that he could legally live with a second wife.
That was before the minister, who couldn't stand the separation from his first wife, went back to her leaving Fiza a Muslim and now dead. There is no clarity, in an ongoing investigation if Fiza was murdered.
In yet another ongoing story involving another Haryana minister Kanda and another beautiful young lady who recently committed suicide, Geetika, an airhostess has accused her lover of harassment in her suicide note.
What is really intriguing and makes you lose your sleep, just in case you are stoic for some reason and not emotionally disturbed by the tragedy of it all, is the question how well educated career women could end their lives like this.
In all three cases, it is mind boggling as to why the women couldn't stand up to the situations and seek appropriate help which is surely available in modern India.
The incidents are covered in mystery and ambiguity as there were no suicide notes found and made public at least in two cases. In the case of air hostess Geetika, it is the suicide note itself which is the bone of contention, as she has allegedly received material help from her lover in her education and career when she was alive, making her allegations of harassment questionable.
In any case it is the shoddy and unprofessional police work in India, with poor knowledge of the importance of collecting, preserving and using forensic evidence, which make these cases more mysterious than they actually are.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

Is There Anything Mitt Romney Can Learn from India's Anna Hazare Movement?

Anna Hazare has proved to be the modern Don Quixote of India. Your life is only worth as the cause you stand for and legitimate action by the government can wipe out your cause. That is what Anna Hazare movement eventually shows the world. If America's Mitt Romney has taken up any cause and is counting on it to win the election he has to make sure it won't be gone in thin air, come November.
Like any other consummate politician who he claims he isn't, Anna Hazare took on an opportunistic fight against corruption when an avalanche of perception of rampant corruption was engulfing India and its UPA government, led by the Congress party.

A year back, negative public sentiment, fanned by a series of presumptive allegations by India's CAG of loss of billions of dollars to the government due to corruption, gave Anna Hazare a cause worth giving his life for. The protest and agitation by Anna Hazare, who went on a fast for several days, forcing the Indian parliament to agree to enact a bill, caught the attention of the world by the mass following it generated.
However, a year own his attempt to rekindle the massive public support he had has fallen flat, with hardly a fraction of the masses coming forward to support his fast and forcing his gang to adapt the path of politics to achieve their goals.
So what has happened even as the proclaimed cause of removing corruption from the public life remained unresolved?
The problem was, like Don Quixote, Anna and his gang were trying to tilt his imaginary windmill of corrupt government whereas the real cause lay in the staggering inequality in education, healthcare and housing of urban population, heightened by the influx of massive amount of foreign investment in recent times.
The influx of easy foreign money has since abetted, even retracted with several billions of dollars withdrawn from the Indian stock market on account of falling confidence and global crisis. The reality of faltering growth and unemployment has dawned on the Indian urban elite making Anna's life not all that important to save at any cost.
Perhaps, more importantly, genuinely honest actions of the government and the political leadership to let law take its due course, which saw several high profile ministers and business leaders involved in corrupt practices behind the bar, had a much more sobering effect on the public sentiment as well as anyone prone for corruption.
Though this has not vastly changed the corruption faced by the people in day to day life, several high profile politicians and administrators all over India have been pulled up, giving a common feeling that, after all serious governments can do with existing laws to act against corruption.
Though a series of faux pas by Anna Hazare and his team over the year might have eroded the credibility, this general impression of positive government action may have more do with the evaporation of the mass support for Anna Hazare.
Of course there are no comparable issues in the American public life Mitt Romney can declare to undertake a fast for which will turn millions in his support. Corruption, nepotism and related evils, which get promptly punished whenever exposed, are a way of American life everyone has taken for granted. Mitt Romney's fasting is not going to change much.
However on issues like the Obamacare, which Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal, he might find the hard lesson from Anna Hazare that a cause can disappear over time, worth taking note of.
Given that the presidential aspirant of the GOP has numerous other issues like his taxes and those related to his employer to convince the American public about, this may not be important to him. But for the world who is keenly watching his steps abroad and see only faux pas whether it is with the British Olympics or his recent visit to the Middle East, a scenario of a landslide victory for President Obama, already being talked about, will be more reassuring.

Saturday, August 04, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

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