Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The DRDO Mess

Admiral L Ramdas, a former chief of staff of the Indian Navy:
"The Indian armed services' experience with DRDO-made armaments has not been a happy one. Their reliability is often extremely poor. We often used to joke that one had to pray they would somehow work in the battlefield."

That sums up the state of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Some examples:

MBT - Main Battle Tank
  • project launched in 1974.
  • failed to meet service level requirements - too heavy and undependable for combat.
  • army prefers to use it for training. Arjun Tank - nowhere in sight.

Nuclear Powered Submarine

  • launched an incredible 31 years ago - not yet finished.
  • estimated spending till date - Rs 3000 Crores.

LCA - Light Combat Aircraft

  • launched 1983
  • failure to develop a reliable engine for it.
  • with imported engines too - there is no inducted flights in sight yet. The LCA Puzzle.


  • project launched 19 years ago.
  • estimated expenditure - Rs 250 crores.
  • DRDO expressed confidence that it would be inducted into service by 1994.
  • after evaluation Navy went in for Israeli Barak Missile system.
  • project is likely shelved as per reports.

Agni - III

  • tested recently and failed to deliver, has been in development since 1999.
  • largely seen as technology demostrators, as extensive field trials is not something that DRDO normally does before declaring it a success.

We sure have good scientists too - but what is going on here?

Reasons for failures remain the same - as they would be for a public sector behemoth ~ lack of accountability. At this rate: What will happen to the operational readiness of our defence forces?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Grain Robbery

The Plan
Every year govt. spends crores of Rupees buying grains from farmers to be distributed among those below poverty lines, for free or at a subsidized rate. FCI/PDS is largely entrusted with this work.

  • This grain is transported across godowns in India, to be distributed among the needy.
  • The unscrupulous elements (caretakers, clerks, babu's, middlemen) - steal this grain, and sell it in open market or export it. The FCI marked grain sacks have been found at most unexpected places - being sold or exported.
  • Nobody complains because, it is either recorded or declared that - the grain was distributed as planned Or Rats ate it Or It just rotted away.
  • Is Public Distribution System (PDS) working? It is believed that close to 50 per cent of food grains in PDS get stolen.

Thanks to NDTV for bringing this out. Complete Story: Here, and Here.

This is EXACTLY how we perpetuate poverty - by corruption, inefficiency, promoting the lazy and not questioning the obvious. Crores of Rupees vanish - just like that. Isn't that Tax Payer's money that was entrusted to Babu's, to use meaningfully for the countrymen?

Instead we have gimmicks like : Garibi Hatao, TV Set distribution, and berozgar bhatta. Stop this sloganeering and gimmicks - where are the results?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

In the future: Justice by SMS Votes?

High Court has reversed the Lower Court's judgement and pronounced the accused (Santosh Singh) in Priya Mattoo case, as guilty. It has even indicated the maximum punishment is under consideration.

The public outcry, media activism, etc. etc... played a significant role in bringing about this judgement.

Justice needs to be based on Facts, Investigations and Evidence.
So lets see What new facts came into light between the time Lower Court acquitted the acused, and High Court passed its judgement. Almost Nothing new was presented by CBI or any investigating team. So one may argue that the Trial Court bungled, and all has been set right by High Court. Yes this is the case, but what took 6 long years to do so? Apparently until the media pressure increased, dates were not being alloted into hearing this case for years - for whatever reasons.

So, this becomes a curious case of Flip-Flop Justice based on Outcries, Candle Light Vigils, Media Activism.

On the face of it - it even sounds attractive. But is it?
We run the risk of subverting the very idea of a strong and a just legal system. Any legal system that needs to be swayed by the Vigils, and Activisms - will be deemed to be weak. But the fault does not lie with Legal System alone - its the investigating agencies (as pointed out by HC) that deserve the strongest rap on its knuckles.

With this trend - we run the risk of doing justice to Media Savvy Victims, and being ignorant or even unjust to a lesser victim from not so informed backgrounds. Can we honestly say that - if the the victim (Priya Mattoo) was a poor old woman from the backward villages of Uttar Pradesh - she would have got similar justice?

What we need is a strong Investigative System (Police, CBI), free from the clutches of Politicians. A Judiciary that doesn't have to spend time in informing the govt. that pot holes need to be repaired.

Otherwise - we run the risk of handing out justice or injustice by SMS Votes and it's likes.

Mattoo verdict: Victory for judicial system
Trial judge mauled justice, says HC

Monday, October 16, 2006

In the past: At a Post Office

Remember the days when there were no Emails, no Internet, no Couriers. Post Offices were the life lines of written communication. (And STD Booths for voice ofcourse)?

So, there used to be serpentine queues, rude clerks and bad service - trademark of a monopolized, public sector service.

And its no wonder this happened at a the Post Office:

Main Characters
A Student (at least looked like one.. probably applying for admission to some college).
Letter Registration Clerk (regaling in too much attention, and perhaps troubled by it too).

At the Letter Registration Counter
Student (forwarding a letter): This is for registration.
Clerk (after weighing the letter): Postage is not enough.
Student (immediately affixes additional postage): Here it is.
Clerk: Is this how you affix postage.
Student: But this is ok.
Clerk: Do you know better than me?
Student: OK, i will affix again.
Clerk: Then why do you argue.
Student: I am not, i am correcting it.
Clerk: Don't act smart. Do you know what i can do?
Student: What?
Clerk(threatens): You leave your letter and go. Nobody will ever find out what happened to the letter.
Student: What? This is very important registry.
Clerk(mocking): Oh Really?
Student(either realizes the futility of argument OR is afraid of the letter going missing): OK, Please do the registry, i will take care of affixing stamps better next time.
Clerk: Now you get it.

Was this rude threatening behavior result of Monopoly?

Do you remember the days when: You had to wait for months for things like a Gas Connection, Telephone Line, a ordinary Scooter, Ration Card, Cement etc.? Usually the only faster way available to get these was the corrupt one, because legitimate ones were either too slow or just not working.

ALL of the these constraints and lack of choices were created ARTIFICIALLY by Politicians and Babu's of the day. In reality it was the very cause of rampant Poverty and Corruption.

Opposing SEZ just because it is fashionable in Socialistic Lingo, is not good. SEZs mean industrialization, job-creation, and exports. By all means protect agricultural land, but do it meaningfully. Ms Medha Patker are you listening?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Healthcare @ Public Hospitals: Expired Kits in use?

Faulty diagnostic kits were being used to test blood meant for transfusions in major public hospitals.

Apparently - the expiry dates on these diagnostic kits had been tampered with. From prelimanary reports this went on for a year or more.
Result: In West Bengal, cases of Hepatitis and HIV have spiralled.
Cause: ZERO Accountability. Rampant Corruption.

And What is the Health Minister busy with?
Calling institute body meeting of AIIMS - to discuss charges against its director. Read Here.

Dear Mr Health Minister - there are very large number of public health care centers in india, most of them in total mess. Have you ever called a meeting to discuss that?

Related earlier posts:
Corrupt and Poor HealthCare - WHY?
Dengue at AIIMS - What is the Health Ministry doing?
Health Warnings from Dr Ramadoss

Diagnostic Kit Scam
Blood Kit Scam
Ramadoss, get well soon

Friday, October 13, 2006

Movie Directors from Hell

Consider the following film directors: Gurinder Chaddha, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta.

What do they have in common?
They are all so-called international film makers of indian origin, who make films usually based on india, women and things woven around them. All of them have obtained some amount of international acclaim (at least portrayed so in indian media). And they are not based in India.

These are all directors whose movies pretend to be showcasing various hues indian culture and are basically made-for-western-audiences. They are not real movies in that sense, most of them are made hoping for international awards, and accolades.

They are creative...Sure!
Take some examples of the movies made by these directors: Bride and Prejudice, Kamasutra, Monsoon Wedding, Water, Bend it Like Beckham - all have india/indians as a theme, woven with a storyline - in most cases a very unrealistic one - things with which indian audiences cannot relate (consider Monsoon Wedding for eg: - several sequences in the movie are totally alien to an average indian! And the movie is made around an indian wedding ..!). So much for creativity.

Yes movie directors.. can take liberty of making whatever crap they want. But, unfortunately they are often lapped up by western audiences as if these represent real india (well... woman director, that too from india - .. now how much more exotic can you get !).. not even close. These are badly made movies (watch Bride and Prejudice to convince yourself !), deserving no attention, much less any international reward.

It is almost as if, these directors from hell, are playing to the gallery; and making movies to garner awards, and no other real purpose.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Top 10 ways to keep Indians Poor

  1. Invent fancy slogans like GARIBI HATAO, throw them at people and go to sleep.
  2. Resort to Gimmicks like distributing TV Sets, Bicycles, Berozgar Bhatta. But never ever try to encourage employment in anyway. (TN, Karnataka, UP - its happening everywhere.)
  3. Pot Hole the Infrastructure so that it can't be used.
  4. Ensure Civil (and other) court cases/disputes take decades to settle. This will effectively discourage good hardworking men from entering into any business.
  5. A sorry state of law and order will help. (Allowing Bandhs, Road/Rail Roko only harms economy)
  6. Allow Trade Unions to protect few thousand jobs (Hard to Fire, is hard to Hire), at the cost of keeping millions un-employed. (Eg: Airport Modernization/Privatization will result in very large number of direct/indirect job creation actually)
  7. Make starting/running/closing businesses so difficult that entrepreneurship is very unattractive; therefore job creation. Ensure that you have the most archaic labor laws in the world. (Did you know: If you close a business which employs more than 100 people you need govt. cleareance. What it takes to do that - is anybody's guess.)
  8. Do not even think of spending anything on Primary Education. Waste the Tax Payer's money in all the wrong places. (In huge self-promoting advertisements in newspapers, in reservations etc.)
  9. Make Property, Company and all forms of registration full of red-tape and corruption. This will ensure that all important work is slow and held back. (Yes Corruption and Red Tape breeds poverty too. Go try Property Registration, Or Apply for Passport and see the policeman do his passport verification bit)
  10. Promote men and women to important policy making positions by virtue of their cast, creed and place of birth - enact legislations to this effect. This will ensure poor, ill-conceived policies continue. (We need superb leaders at the top. A great leader can carry hundreds of mediocres, NEVER the other way round).

Food for Thought:

  • Are these problems actually Political in nature? It seems so... not much of economics actually.
  • Is there a case of a stronger more vocal middle class (that votes too) ?
  • Are we in love with poverty? Sometimes it seems so - so many movies/stories in our country actually eulogize poverty - as if its something desirable.
  • Who can change this scenario - its the men/women in power. Ordinary individuals can do only so much. When reform, growth happens top down, it happens fast. When it happens bottoms up (as in the case of India) it happens in spurts, unregulated, and definitely uneven manner.

What are the other Top ways to keep Indians Poor?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Airlines Reservations Desk: What is your nationality?

Sample This:

You: Hello, I want to book a ticket for two on Flight XYZ, on Date -xx-xx-xxxx.
Airline Ticketing Agent(ATA): Sure Sir. May i ask what is the nationality of passengers?
You: How does it matter, pls book two tickets. We are flying within india, on the same flight and date.
ATA: Sir, it matters. Foreign Nationals are charged a different rate than Indian nationals.
You: Oh.. really? But why do you do that?
ATA: We are simply following the rules as per prescribed norms by govt. If we don't we may be punished.

Same is the case - for Hotel Reservations.
Same is the case - for entry fee to Taj Mahal (and a host of such places).

Foreign Nationals are charged a different rate (much higher) in Airlines, Hotel, and Tourism industry.

This is the law/policy perscribed by govt. So Airlines, Hotels, and the Taj Majal entry staff are simply following what they have been told to.

What a shame. Why does this kind of silly crap exist? This hurts Tourism greatly. Tourists are not fools - they notice such buffoonry and do not like it (been told this by a guest actually).

WHY Such Archaic discriminatory policy exists? ONLY because - nobody - babu's/neta's/their chamcha's gives a damn about being fair, promoting tourism industry, and ensuring that we enjoy a good name among visitors. (4 million visitors to India, in a year in which 16 million visited Malaysia).

Recently there was a proposal actually to do away with this Stupid Crap. But, it was never taken to its logical conclusion - probably it got lost in the mud of more important things like Reservations in Higher Education, Garibi Hatao (of neta's?) Yojana and more.

It is important that Policy Makers are efficient, merit driven individuals - who can think beyond the obvious. Such Policies are a direct reflection of the rot existing at important Policy Making Positions.

This thread of discussion started from here: Robbing foreign tourists

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Caught on Television: We have democracy, and you?

Indian Television Reporter(TV guy): Hello. Can you speak English.
A man on the street - somewhere in China (China guy): Yes, Some English.

TV guy: I am from India, visiting the country for a news report.
China guy: ok

TV guy: What do you think of India, as a neighbour.
China guy: good.

TV guy: There is democracy in India, but you do not enjoy that kind of a system here.
China guy: Hmmm... no not like that. {perhaps reluctant to speak about this topic}

TV guy: You have a different kind of administration here {continues to probe}
China guy: We have a different system, and it works.

TV guy: So, what do you think of the fact that Indians enjoy a democratic system, and you have a very different one here. {the final nail}
China guy: You have democracy, but you cannot even build a airport in your IT City...ughh... Bangalore i think. We have something which works for us.

TV guy: Thankyou. {that was it. got a dose of reality}


This is a rough transcript of this tv report caught on CNN-IBN. It demonstrates a China vs India approach to development very well, in simple words, spoken by a ordinary man on the street.

As Deng Xiaoping uttered his famous statement: "It does not matter if the cat is white or black. If it can catch a mouse, it is a good cat."

So, When will we get our act together? Not anytime soon with Gimmicks, Caste and Vote Bank Politics. Is anyone even planning for the future?

Can we even hope to conduct Olympic Games? Think about sending a man to the space? China is indeed doing all of these and much more.

Earlier Post: China's Growth - Time to Wake Up and Learn
More: China will be ready. Will India be?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bandh in Karnataka: Estimated losses?

Client(a paying client somewhere outside india) : Hello.
Employee(a paid employee in bangalore): Hi how are you.

C: So, do you think you will be able to complete the work tomorrow and be ready.
E: Oh No, sorry, but we are are not working tomorrow. There is a Bandh, hmm.. a kind of forced closure.

C: What? But, i need this done tomorrow, as agreed last month.
E: I understand, but this was not planned. We are forced to shut down.

C: What do you mean?
E: Yes, it's hard to explain, but nobody is supposed to work tomorrow.

C: I don't understand, who could possibly force you to stop work. You mean govt. has declared a holiday?
E: Hmm... No...some folks are protesting, so we cannot venture out tomorrow. It is not safe.

C: I still don't get it. I expect this to be done tomorrow, we cannot delay this. You already know we are behind schedule.
E:A few months ago we were faced with a similar situation when a revered film star died, and fans went beserk. Pls understand.

C: You mean you will be punished for working, just going about doing your job?
E: Its something like that, pls try to understand.

C: What should i tell my customers - that our service provider cannot work because they are afraid to reach workplace?
E: Its just a day.

C: Never mind. Just upload all the completed work before leaving today. I shall have the folks in China look into completing it.
E: Wait, can't do this. This work is assigned to us. Why let them take over this.

C: They have been pestering us for this work since ages. I believe we could begin the transition.
E: I don't get it. Are you saying you would want to transition the work somewhere else, because of a day's delay?

C: No. Because of your mindset that you are doing us a favor. Sorry folks.
E: Hello... Hello... Are you there?


No amount of monetary losses can be equated to loss of confidence. But, the estimates are upwards of Rs 500 Crores(tv newsreport). Not counting the losses made by daily age earners - who cannot compensate themselves anyway.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dengue@AIIMS - What is the Health Ministry doing?

WHY has Dengue afflicted almost 20 doctors from a single premier govt. run Hospital - AIIMS.

The reasons are not far to seek: AIIMS like much of govt. run institutions (inspite of its premier nature) is a victim of apathy, inefficiency and yes : lack of hygiene.

Read this news: Dengue Outbreak: Why AIIMS?

We just don't have a tradition of Planning for Success. We know how to react. This is what is taking place - now see 'safai karamchari', minister - coming out to make noises and attempt to clean up the mess - after Dengue menace has surfaced.

And have you heard of Extortion/Vasooli by the Safai karamchari's (govt. paid employees who are responsible for cleaning or picking up garbage from localities)?
Sure you have. If not - read this story - `Demanding' karamcharis
Excerpt: "...the safai karmacharis' leader has allegedly warned Mr. Dubey's family that they would dump garbage in front of their house if the said amount was not paid."

The adjacent picture shows CM of Delhi - Shiela Dixit - on a cleanliness drive. What exactly is she trying to do with a broom? Can she herself clean up all of Delhi???

This is Exactly the kind of Tokenism, and Gimmicks - we should get rid of. What we need is - for her - to make the 'safai karamchari' or the cleaners - DO THEIR JOB Properly. Ensure that Health Minister of her State is doing the needful. We need Solid Administration with Results - not gimmicks.

WHY is it that premises of Private Enterprises are so often sparkling clean, and when you walk-in to a govt. run department it gives a picture of Chaos, Rudeness, Apathy, and Lack of Hygiene. Walk into an RTO Office or pretty much any govt. hospital to see it for yourself.

Health Minister, The Cola-Smashing NGOs - WHY are they silent?
Why don't they raise a hue and cry about sorry hygiene conditions across hospitals, hostels, roadside hotels? Because it doesn't serve them with newsbytes?

An interesting note: Cola sales don't seem to have really gone down as a result of pesticide controversy (except for the one artificially created by closing down Kerala plant). WHY? Perhaps because people do not believe the self-serving Politicians and NGOs much.

But this is nothing.
We have Polio re-emerging, clean drinking water not available in rural areas (even cities), govt. hospitals in a state of filthy mess. Nobody seems to talk about them?
An earlier post regarding this: Corrupt and Poor HealthCare across India - WHY?

Dengue Scare Intensifies in Delhi

Monday, October 02, 2006

Anatomy of a Mob

Mob - the very word is so abhorrent that it brings out utter contempt and disgust for it. And we had so many of these in our country destroying life and property time-and-again, often with implicit blessings of the state.

1984: Anti-Sikh Riots; 2002: Gujarat Riots; 2006: In the wake of Rajkumar's death mobs go on rampage. And so on....

Why do they Exist

For the single reason that they do not fear any punishment. They know they can hide behind anonymity. They know they have implicit blessings of crooked Politicians in many cases. They know that mobs have largely been left unpunished in the past. Aren't we one of the only countries in the world - where such large scale mob violence exists? More than 3000 murdered in delhi alone in 1984, Hundreds in Gujarat, and the list goes on.

What comprises a Mob

The illiterate, hooligans - who have - nothing to lose mentality. The problem also is these hooligans are not tax payer's as well - so destroying property doesn't matter to them at all (Why else would anyone attack Delhi Metro?). It wouldn't be far fetched to say - most of them participate for the sheer thrill of violence. Largely Middle Class people do not participate in Mob Violence. This is just an approximation, but is largely true.

How can it be Prevented

Political and Executive Will. That alone will crush this menace. It has almost been a practice to allow Mobs to go on a rampage for a few days before trying to subdue it. WHY? Well - ask the cheap Politicians? But when Politicians use Mobs to settle scores, play divisive vote bank Politics, mobs are emboldened not weakened. Presence of Media perhaps will help - but not much. Courts can only do so much.

What can a ordinary individual do

Take a clear stand against it. Speak Up. As a citizen of India - how come you do not have a stake in betterment of your country. Ofcourse you do. Do what it takes. India belongs as much to you as it does to a Politician or a Policeman. Its not their job alone to set things right.

On a side note: Sipping tea and watching world cup football (where we don't even figure) alone will take us nowhere. It is so silly to see jokers praying for Brazil's win with a football in their hands. Guys wake up - take that football and play the game for India - if you love the game so much...ask why shouldn't the President of All India Football Federation resign after India's dismal performance for decades in this sport.

There is no single story and picture that did as much harm to India's secular image as this one in TIME: Killing Thy Neighbor

Love in the Times of Slaughter - Harsh Mander