Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Letter to the void

This post is in reply to a comment posted by Saravanan. Please read the comment before reading this post to have a better idea.

Dear Saravanan,

Thank you for bringing this up. Please read the post carefully. I have never said that I hate all the politicians. Neither have I said that "We are all good; we don’t have bad sides at all and politicians are all bad; they don’t have anything good at all". And no matter how many chances you give me, I would never want to be him, nor closely related him.

I have known you closely and since you are a man of finance, I can safely assume you are just looking at the financial success of politicians. You are looking at it like a business which yields crores of money so that you can achieve your long term dream of “financial freedom”. Many people of our country are looking at it the same way. No wonder then, political wannabes ransack party offices just to get the much coveted Party tickets and contest elections.

But does this have to be done at the cost of your nation? Are we not from the land where we perceive our country as our mother? Of what use is the whole lot of money to you if you cannot ensure the happiness of your mother? Isn’t our country the same?

Look at what your “much admired” son of soil has done – he has used the name of his soil to make money. In your own words, “he has controlled the whole state according to his whims and fantasies”. Is it not equivalent to using his own mother? I would never want to be like him even in the wildest of my dreams. Would you?

Though I agree that politics is not my cup of tea, I have been a very keen observer of the politics in my country and as a responsible citizen I want to be involved in the democratic process of electing our leaders. Right from the time I was a kid, my father used to explain to me the importance of choosing the right leaders. I was very fascinated by the idea that in our country, we get to choose who we want as our leaders. Not unlike most of the countries where there is monarchy/dictatorship where the fate of the country is pretty much sealed. In our country, we have an active part in shaping the country. Is it not why we fought for our freedom? Lakhs and lakhs of our country men withstood cruel treatment meted out to them just to ensure that our land does not fall in wrong hands. They made sure that ultimately “we” could control the destiny of the country. Is it not a privilege by itself? So whenever elections used to happen, I used to be very excited. I used to observe the whole process of nomination filing – campaigning – political rallies – voting day – the result day and finally a new leader swearing in. Whenever I saw a blot on my dad’s finger after he voted, I used to wonder when will I get a chance to do this? So when I turned 18 and got a card my joy knew no bounds. I do enjoy this fundamental right that the country gives me. I do abide by the laws of the nation properly. I fulfil the duties that my nation asks me to do in my capacity and so I deserve every right to make a comment on its affairs.

The politicians of our nation have a responsibility to the people. We in turn have a responsibility to choose our leaders wisely. Though not significant, each one of us has a definite role to play to shape the country of our dreams – an India so rich and powerful that the whole world can just bow their heads in admiration towards. That is what I wish my country became. That is what each of the freedom fighter who sacrificed his life for the nation dreamt. And that is what motivates each of our soldiers on the front to stand guarding the nation braving cold winds, snow and rain. That is what every farmer who toils in his fields growing food for us thinks. That is what a statesman is supposed to think. Even though, we may not live to see a country like that, we can atleast die peacefully knowing that we have contributed towards that end.

And even if one of us fails in this duty, the whole cycle gets halted. If we don’t vote wisely and give power to unworthy people, the country suffers. If the soldiers don’t protect us from enemies, the country suffers. If the farmers stop growing food for us, the country suffers. Similary, if the politicians stop caring for the nation the country suffers. I don’t hate all politicians. Neither do I say that they are all bad while we are all good. I am just saddened that the progress is halted because of the whims and fancies of these few people.

Now you might ask me – how does it matter to me whether they rule properly or not? As long as I am getting my salary and have my job, it is enough. But don’t you think it matters in the long run? Today, Bangalore is the hub of IT and electronics biggies of the world. Why? It is only because of the attractive schemes that the government provided to these companies that drew them here. They provided land, water and power at subsided prices. They gave tax sops. Also, they provided them with talented people by giving permission for a large number of engineering colleges. It was because some government before had a vision – to make Bangalore a prosperous city. But do you think it will remain like this for ever if the government keeps on neglecting the demands of the industry? It certainly wouldn’t. We need a very stable government that takes care of issues like these so that we can progress as a nation.

Politics has become dirty – agreed. But no one is expecting it to be cleaned up all by itself. No one is asking them to spend money on elections. In fact the election commission has banned the use of money to get people’s attention. So why do they need to spend money lavishly now only to come back and recover ten times of it later? I am amused that you think this is honest and in the best interests. The only interest it satisfies is the greed of our politicians. It is only those greedy people I detest. I don’t want them to clean up the whole nation and build a great nation overnight. But it can atleast do some small things that make a huge difference. Can’t it?

For example, the international airport that opens on 23rd is too far from the city and there are no proper roads to it. Can it not sternly argue with the builders of the new air-port and keep the old one open at least till proper roads are built? The fees for medical and engineering courses have sky-rocketed in the past few years shattering poor students dream of studying professional courses. Can it not provide scholarship to these students? People have lost interest in the judiciary these days because all politicians commit crimes and get away with it. For a change, Can they not abide the law and set an example that judiciary is still strong in our nation?

If they cant do good to our nation, let them not. If their only intention is to make money, let them do it. But atleast, they should not stop good things from happening right? Why did the NICE road get stalled? Could it not be opened for public long back? Why do many infrastructure projects get stalled years together for want of funds? Can they not be sped up? If tomorrow, Bangalore’s IT companies feel that some other city is a better option than ours and close down here, what will happen to all of our jobs? Will it not be a mistake from someone else for which we will suffer?

I am sorry if I was harsh to you sir. I dint mean to hurt your thoughts. It is just that these topics are very sensitive and the lack of attention to them by our policy makers makes me so frustrated. It is really a good thing that you brought them up. Please think about these in detail and get back to me with your thoughts.

Best Regards,

1. NICE – stands for an ambitious infrastructure project by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise. They have taken up many nice projects in Bangalore and Mysore cities.
2. May 23rd is the scheduled date of opening for Banagalore International Airport at Devanahalli, about 50 km from city centre. After that, the existing airport will be closed for even short –term flights.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Thoughts - medley

I spend most of the time traveling and during this time, usually I listen to music or keep pondering over some issues. Most of these thoughts are good enough to become blog posts. But by the time you think it out structurally how to put it in your blog page, there would be some distraction from outside like a honking motorist, loud ad on radio, etc.

I have decided to post a collection of these small tidbits as a single post so that you can think about it further and get back to me with comments about what you feel about it. Here is a medley of ironical thoughts that I have been having lately:

Thought 1:
While coming back from work the other day, there was this huge traffic jam that held up traffic for hours together. It was in the middle of the week on a Wednesday and I could not make out why – Mondays and Fridays usually have unpredictable traffic because there will be too many people moving in and out of the city. The heat in the cab was unbearable and there were kilometers of vehicles that were just stuck there. It was after a while that I realized that one of our “true” national leaders, the greatest epitome of sacrifice and Indian culture, had come to that area begging for votes. Isn’t it ironic that the very leader who gave up the post of the prime-minister because she was willing to sacrifice everything for the well-being of this country comes back every time there is an election asking for a mandate in her favor, blocking life for hours? She is not alone though. There are many such great people in our country who always do everything for the good of the country! Particularly, I feel amused at the great “son-of the soil” who dis-owned his son (ie, grandson of the soil) and resigned from active politics just because he joined hands with “communal forces” to form a government against his wishes and then made the whole state inactive by his remote-controlling skills.

Thought 2:
The company gives us this “food coupons” so that we can save tax. This is really a nice idea and is catching up among many restaurants and departmental stores. They accept these coupons in place of money on all their products and to an extent it is helping people like us to segregate their expenses based on food and non-food items. Also it is an advantage because you can walk to up to any departmental store and buy all the essential items at once with these coupons. However, I came to know from a friend of mine that at a particular store, only food items could be bought with coupons and you had to pay for rest of the products with cash. Isn’t it ironic that a store which calls itself “Food World” and keeps all other essential items other than food in its store, but does not allow you pay coupons for non-food items?

Thought 3:
A cab-mate had her “last day” at office and distributed sweets to everyone. She was such a nice human being and we had many nice and interesting conversations together. The sweets that she distributed were too good and I loved eating them. Isn’t it ironical that when we spent “nice” moments together, we never thought of giving sweets to each other but it was only during separation that we get “nice” sweets? Why is there only one last day for everyone :)

Thought 4:
There was one other reason for the traffic jam on Wednesday. A sudden holiday had been declared on Thursday for many offices and the general elections were to be held on Saturday. As you know, election days are generally holidays. So there was a huge rush of people wanting to go out of the city for a long, extended holiday. And it is needless of me to say these were all highly educated people who knew what democracy meant. As a result the city witnessed the least voter turn-out yesterday among all the districts in the state. The reasoning that these people give for their absence from voting would be that all politicians are corrupt and it did not matter who won because everyone would ultimately come to power and loot the nation.

I strongly disagree with them. As an example I would want to take example of two states of our country very near to each other, but with striking differences in development just because of the administration. Karnataka, with its string of coalition governments, unholy alliances, betrayals, allegations, etc has seen very little development in the past 4 years. Bangalore, which was once the preferred destination for every major technological or consultation company has been struggling with its crumbling infrastructure. The charm that the old city had is long gone. Today, every major company thinks twice before investing in Bangalore. The international airport is yet to see a flight landing inside it. The woes of students writing CET have not ended at all - all these because we don’t have able administration in place which can take fast decisions. Both parties in the coalition have their own views and ultimately development suffers. On the other hand, its neighbor Andhra Pradesh has been enjoying stable government for the past ten years and the development it has seen is very heartening. Although it has not made tremendous progress, the relative development compared to Karnataka is significant. Even though, the politicians are ultimately corrupt, the level to which it comes into play is not high when a single party is in power. Isn’t it?

Aren’t free and fair elections one of the pre-requisites of a strong nation? Should we all not participate in the polls to ensure that the best candidate among the lot wins? Having a say in who leads us is one of the fundamental right in our country. Isn’t it ironic that the learned men choose to boycott this fundamental duty time and again and ultimately we are at the mercy of unworthy men controlling us?

Thought 5:
Isn’t it ironical that Thought 4 which has been posted as a thought is a very big thought that it could have been a post by itself? :)

1. The references to the politicians in thought 1 are obvious.
2. The food coupons that we get are to just to save tax and not evade tax. Nobody should evade tax as responsible citizens of this country.
3. The elections held on 11 th may was for the Karnataka state assembly. Out of a total of 224 constituencies, elections were held for 89 of them on saturday. The remaining constituencies go to polls in 2 parts - on 16th and 22nd may 2008.