Monday, August 29, 2005

Silly me!

I had thought the courts should take steps to counter the proliferation of commissions appointed by the Parliament
I should've known better.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Labour reforms and divorce rates

Unless India decides to ditch economic reforms for good, labour reforms will have to be brought in some time in the near future. I'm not sure if this can be done legislatively though. Our society is not quite ready for labour reforms. One's success is defined (by himself and others) by his paycheck and job security. So how would the society react to "hire and fire" regimes implemented on a large scale?

Either the society rebels against it, or adjusts towards it. If it does accept and adapt to these reforms, then one unintended consequence might be rising divorce rates. Once the society is willing and able to handle insecurity and uncertainty in the job market, I'd imagine it would seep into our family structures as well.

Hmm... !!

In search of an ism...

Capitalism is based on human nature - that human response is governed chiefly by incentives.
Communism portrays itself as the means to a "just society" - for welfare.

Can't we find an ism to combine these aspects of capitalism and communism?
Or does the solution lie in the undefined grey area between these two?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

When in doubt...

I think I had cribbed once on my blog that Wikipedia is not user-friendly etc. Well, I'm now a convert.

From "When in doubt, Google!" to "When in doubt, Wiki!".

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The power of the idiot box

Happened to watch a BBC report on the Israeli settlers' evacuation. The viewer was told how some Israelis were in denial even as they were forcibly evacuated. As if to highlight the point, a house was shown with clothes left to dry in the sun and a kid's cycle parked. The reporter said something like "It looks as if the occupants of these houses have gone for just a few minutes, but they're never going to return".

This report powerfully brought out the human aspects seen from an Israeli's point-of-view, and the viewer could relate to the agony in the Israelis' hearts. Now, this is the problem I have with the world media. When was the last time that a Palestinian family or home was shown as humans. The only Palestinians we get to see in our media is either the Hamas junta or the politicians. How about doing a special report on the hardships a Palestinian family has faced?

I should mention here one such report NDTV had prepared on Iran. In one of the episodes of "24 hours", we had a look into Iran - and its youth, and culture. Now that is the kind of stuff the US public should watch - at least, once in a while. Otherwise, the next time a trigger-happy president decides to invade Iran, the US public would let itself be convinced that all Iranians are al-Qaeda recruits.

Left and Right

I recently got to read (via IndianEconomy) a piece by S.L. Rao, a former director-general of NCAER. He writes about the 'Commie conspiracy' in India. His theory is that the Commies' grand plan is to drive out the industry, attain full control over the state machinery by placing its cadre systematically at strategic positions in the government hierarchy and then finally attract foreign investment. The author cites West Bengal as an instance of this theory.

I tend to agree with this funda, except that it isnt limited to the Left alone. The BJP plays the same game, albeit with a lot less panache. It got to power by playing the communal card, and then it it attempted to act as if it was not all that communal. This change was far too drastic to be digested, and now in spite of losing power, the Advani camp is determined to wash the communal tag off the party. Again I just wonder that at least, the Left was patient and skillful in playing this game.

Politics is about attaining power. And the easiest way to reach this goal is to create a beast out of something, and portray oneself as the saviour. If the Left demonized the evil capitalists, the BJP took upon itself the mantle of saving the nation from minorities and pseudo-secularists.

One should quit blaming the politicians. A politician aims to attain power. Its naive to expect that he would work for public welfare unless he is left with no option but to do so. So be it an Advani or a Bush, he will divide the society if he has to in order to reach his goal. In fact, Advani did so with the Rath yatra and has now seemingly reversed his position beginning with his Jinnah statement. The reversal is a result of the realisation that the divisiveness was now hurting his party rather than helping it. In other spheres of governance as well, it is upto the Indian society to push the politicians into a corner and demand accountability from its elected representatives.


A couple of lines from a tam song

A: "Yaarukku kavalai illai?"
B: "Athai pathi kavalai illai..."


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Gods must be lonely!

Exhibits 1 and 2.

I have a question...

What legal standing does the Nanavati commission have?

The terms of reference of the Nanavati commission were: to enquire into the causes and course of the criminal violence and riots targeting members of the Sikh community; the sequence of events leading to and all the facts relating to such violence and riots; whether these heinous crimes could have been averted and whether there were any lapses or dereliction of duty on the part of any of the responsible authorities; to enquire into the adequacy of the administrative measures taken to prevent and to deal with the violence and the riots; and to recommend measures which may be adopted to meet the ends of the justice.

Now, the first three points are best addressed by a criminal court of law, and the last one is a moot point - the trials in the criminal court should be conducted in a fair and timely manner.

The essence of my post is this:

1.What constitutional right does the government have to set up a parallel court - and a toothless one at that?
2.Isnt installation of such a commission a vote of no-confidence passed by the legislature on the judiciary?
3.Can't the judiciary strike down such attempts to subvert the natural course of justice?
4.If I were to murder someone, why should I be tried in a court of law? Why not a commission of inquiry for me? Am I any lesser a citizen than the Tytlers and the Modis?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

FTV at work

Even as I stare at my monitor, I sense something strange happening around me. "FTV" is being mentioned far too often in a conversation a little away from my desk. Is something interesting happening, I ask myself.

After straining a bit to overhear, it turns out to be ftp :(

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Of Lexuses and Olive Trees...

I'd read Thomas Friedman's book a month or two ago. And had maintained a file "Logical Flaws in Friedman.txt" on my desktop. Just felt like releasing my learnings to the world.

Note: The second point below makes more sense now with the Mumbai rains being called a great leveler - after all, Amir Khan (and a Mck consultant I know of :) ) were also stranded, werent they?

So here I go...

1. "Democratization of finance, information and technology impels the need for the Golden Straightjacket."

What about areas that dont have the 3Ds yet? This statement is like saying the US economy should be ready for globalization, duh!

2. Towards the end of chapter 9, Friedman has this to say: "The one thing you can say in favour of globalization system is that it doesn't discriminate - it leaves both the weak and the powerful feeling a loss of control and under the thumb of unelected and at times uncontrollable forces". The anecdote he cites is pathetic. He talks about how Mexico's Fin Min felt powerless when its economy went for a toss. So all he's saying is that the Fin Min of Mexico and a taxi-driver in Mexico would have been equally helpless. That's not to accept or deny the fact that foreigners have the power.

Reminds me of a post Dilip D'Souza had written soon after the tsunami. Every once in a while, when there's a natural disaster the media loves to talk about how nature is a great leveler and the rich & poor have both been hit by the calamity irrespective of their status. Dilip made this rather insightful observation that if you visited the same area a few months after the calamity, you would find that the well-to-do have gone ahead with their lives in spite of the calamity. But its the poor who have their lives shattered on a larger scale and take much longer to bounce back. Like Friedman states, a disciplined country that has gone ahead in preparing itself for globalization will bounce back much easier from a recession than one that has not.

Globalization is so much like an earthquake or a volcano. Its beyond one's control, and the threat lurks forever. But if it hits you, you'll suffer hugely if you arent well prepared. So get your earthquake-resistant buildings in place well before it strikes.

3. Friedman does NOT answer the question as to why a country should globalize. Its more like you've got no choice but to globalize because everyone else is doing it. Of course, history helps him in killing the possibility of any other system working. Why?. Because so far, communism, socialism etc have failed and capitalism has worked. Am reminded of "Mr. Romeo, ippo Taj Mahal idinji poidichunnu vechukonga. Neengalellam kaathalikratha niruthiduvingala?" from Anbe Sivam. (Translation: Would the concept of love be deemed a failure if something that symbolized love were to be demolished?)

4. Friedman tries to give the impression that the Electronic Herd is a global force. But given that most, if not all, members of the EH reside in the developed world, the argument seems rather shaky. So in essence, what globalization does is to outsource a developing country's economic sovereignty to the whims and fancies of members of developed countries.

5. Friedman, like many other pro-globalisation junta, says that the governments have to shrink themselves etc. But in a country like India where food security and financial poverty are found on a large scale, the government has to play a crucial role - and reducing the size of government might affect it.

6. The number of anecdotes falls steeply as Friedman gets to the chapters on environ etc. Its more speculation, and reads like one long essay.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

et tu Nariman?

Monday, August 01, 2005