Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Party Manifesto : Promising Milk and Honey

Political party manifestos will never be great literature but they can be great works of fantasy. One that I have been reading states that Kolkata, the city of my birth could soon dazzle like London, if the electors in West Bengal do the right thing and vote the Trinamool Congress into power. So says Mamata Banerjee, and since she is the sole policy maker in the party, her words can be said to be authoritative. Further, Digha, the Bengal coast line, could rival Goa and the North Bengal hills where the Gorkhas agitate temperamentally could wean away tourists from Switzerland. Of course these are the Lok Sabha elections that are looming on the horizon, so how will Trinamool implement these promises without governing the State. No matter, just wait – the Trinamool vision of a resurgent Bengal promises to turn Bengal into a land of milk and honey.

If you are looking for gravitas here in what was said by Mamata Banerjee in the press conference where she released the party’s election manifesto, you won’t get any. But irony is available in plenty: We've great talents (in the state) but the only thing missing here is clear political vision and mission in our ruling Left Front government," she added, while releasing the party's manifesto for the April-May Lok Sabha polls. So we know now – the Left Front doesn’t have any vision for governance – not a wrong vision, not an obsolete vision, but simply no vision. Trinamool on the other hand, possesses the elixir of life and is just waiting spoon in hand to administer it to the hapless people of the state.

Of course one is used to hyperbole at election times. There is that famous one about Bihar’s roads and Hema Malini’s cheeks; that the roads would be as smooth as her cheeks. That statement is usually attributed to Lalu Yadav but he has claimed that it was former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who made these comments.

In the light of all that goes into party manifestos, just how seriously should they be taken? The Congress party manifesto released the other day claims that they had made promises in their manifesto of 2004 and that they have substantially delivered on them. Perhaps they have indeed; though this will always be a matter of debate. but what makes the party manifestoes a little more than a glorified academic document – a mere statement of intent at best or even a journey into fantasy land like the Trinamool wish list ; or the quasi academic document produced by the CPI(M), whose manifesto would not be worth even the paper they printed it on, since even the leadership is not expecting to get numbers in parliament that would allow them to get any where near to implementing it.

Perhaps one day, party or coalition manifestoes would become contractual legally enforceable document and not a statement of intent or even worse an exercise in futile fairy tale writing hoping that out of the dense wordy documents that emerge out of the woodwork, in the election season, some vestige of reality would be visible…. and the dream of visiting Switzerland for the cost of a train ticket in Magmata’s Bengal would be realized. After all, isn’t there a slogan …” hum honge kamyaad ek din…”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

India : 85th on the Corruption Index

India’s Central Vigilance Commission has taken umbrage at a recent report of the Transparency International the global corruption tracking watch dog. Transparency International has downgraded India’s ranking from 72 to 85 in the list of world’s corruption-plagued countries. That has upset the chief babu of India’s own corruption watchdog, the Central Vigilance Commission, Pratyush Sinha, who has taken up the matter of India’s downgrading and wanted to know the methodology used to measure corruption across countries. TI’s reply hasn’t been to their satisfaction and that has upset the CVC more.


To most of us living in the country, the CVC’s gesture would look to be mere posturing. this attempt to play around with statistics. It is a bit like the data on inflation – inflation may have dropped to below 1 percent as per the official gazettes, but the potatoes and the cauliflowers at the local vegetable seller don’t seem to be getting any cheaper.

The way things are set up in India, the climate is more favourable to bribe taking and opacity than simplicity of procedures and transparency. Let me give an example: the other day, a friend and a colleague had to get a Trust deed registered at the office of the Registrar of Trusts. After we had put together the Trust deed with the help of a lawyer, and got our photographs and other papers ready, we proceeded to the Registrar’s office. The lawyer encouraged us to leave the matter to him and his staff “Have coffee in my office and I will call you when it is time” was his advice. Once we reached the Registrar’s office, we understood the poignancy of the lawyer’s counsel. There were a bunch of windows and surrounding each was a motley crowd of hands and feet; each trying to make eye contact with the clerk at the other end and simultaneously push through a cluster of papers. The sight would make a typical citizen shudder.

One of the reasons corruption thrives in India is the fact that procedures to get any thing done are so incredibly complex and opaque and there seems to be a deliberate attempt at several levels of officialdom to keep things thus; so that almost invariably, the common man has to take recourse to brokers and middle men to get things done. These men then not only get the things fixed but also act as a conduit for the money that cannot be obviously exposed to the public gaze.

Although e governance has made some difference to the common man by making some aspects of government accessible to the common man, there is a lot to be done. In many instances, complicated and antiquated procedures have simply been mounted on line, and that does not help much.

Coming back to Transparency International and their corruption index, how are the neighbors doing? Well, Bangladesh is at number 147, Pakistan at 134, Nepal at 121, Myanmar at 178, Sri, Lanka at 92. India could pat itself on the back for its South Asia region, except for the fact that tiny and impoverished Bhutan stands at number 45, standing tall.

the Central Vigilance Commission is complaining about the data that Transparency International and quibbling that the number that India ought to occupy ought to be 71 or 73 or some thing in that region. may be instead of squabbling about data, the CVC should send some babus on a study tour of Bhutan to check out just what is it that they do right that we can copy. May copy book style India “jugaar” to reduce corruption will get us better rankings next year than a representation to Transparency International!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Incest : India's Hidden Shame

Incest : Our hidden shame


Two instances of incest were widely talked about in the media over the last week. The first pertained to the Austrian Josef Fritzl who has just been sentenced to life imprisonment for incarcerating his daughter in a purpose-built prison beneath the family home in Amstetten for 24 years, raping her more than 3,000 times, fathering seven children with her and causing the death of a twin son. Sounds too horrible to be true; and the fact that it was his own daughter make it sound even more monstrous.

The other story, more home grown, is that of a businessman, who allegedly raped his daughter over a period of nine years following a tantrik’s advice for getting rich. The traumatised girl, now 21, had been silent about her ordeal but mustered courage to approach the police after her father attempted to rape her 15-year-old younger sister, again on the advice of the tantrik. The mother was arrested by for abetting the crime, and if any thing, the fact that the mother actively helped out as her daughter was being violated makes it if anything; more ghastly.

Just how big an issue is incest in India? Well obviously a topic like this will always be in the shadows and one may have even to look at the definition of the word “incest”. In South India, marriages happen between cousins (especially cross-cousins, that is, the children of a brother and sister) and even between uncles and nieces (especially a man and his elder sister’s daughter). That is culturally acceptable and would not be termed as an incestuous relationship.

A report produced by the BBC a decade ago had opined citing research sources that Close-knit family life in India masks an alarming amount of sexual abuse of children and teenage girls by family members. It said that that disbelief, denial and cover-up to preserve the family reputation is often put before the individual child and its abuse. A report from RAHI, a Delhi based NGO working with child sexual abuse titled “ Voices from the Silent Zone,” suggests that nearly three-quarters of upper and middle class Indian women are abused by a family member - more than often an uncle, a cousin or an elder brother.

Indeed, sexual abuse of children in any form of household setting by a family member in India is among the most urgent forms of child abuse which our society must address. As per women’s organizations and activists nearly ninety-five percent of the abused are girls and more than ninety-five percent abusers are males. Surveys carried out in schools and informal chats reveal that around 40% girls experience incest abuse or sexual abuse in one or the other form in India. How deep the ice berg is can perhaps be gauged by the fact that 6% of all calls made to CHILDLINE (a 24-hour Indian helpline for children in distress) in the last ten years have reported Child Sexual Abuse(CSA) — 6% of 10 million calls! There probably could not be greater statistical validation that CSA/incest is the most under-reported child rights violations in India.

In India, there is no single law that specifically deals with child abuse, and there is no clear delineation of sexual abuse in the Indian Penal Code. Indian laws consider only “assault to outrage the modesty of a woman,” rape by penile penetration, and “unnatural sexual intercourse” like sodomy as punishable sexual crimes.

Although, there are lawyers and child rights activists who are ready to spell, explain, and act against incest and abuse they are still not a critical mass and their views strong enough to be able to impact consciousness of the policymakers, police, lawyers, judges, teachers, schools, mental, physical and sexual health professionals, and all those who could take up the issue.

Although the issues of shame, family honour and plain depravity means that very little statistics are available, it also means that every statistic available speaks not just for itself for a lot many others in the shadows, children and girls who invisible and will because of the abuse and betrayal they have faced, retreat further into the darkness and possibly out of reach of help. For organizations like RAHI, the RAASTA is indeed long and a lot more RAAHGIRs are needed to fight this mammoth dark monster.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jade Goody and the Sanctity of Death

I have always been fascinated by the Jain practice of Santhara. In this practice, when some one from the Jain community believes that he or she has lived a full life and has fulfilled all their social and familial obligations, they can opt to voluntarily hasten the process of death by going on a fast which lasts till death. Unlike the fasts that Gandhiji popularized and others have also undertaken, this fast is not a protest fast; these men and women are not having any demands that they want met.

Although this practice has some times been understood as suicide; Santhara has none of the emotional turbulence that is typically associated with the term best translated as atma hatya - the taking of one’s life. Here death is welcomed through a peaceful, tranquil process providing peace of mind for everyone involved and is a ritual of great dignity.

The question of how private and how dignified should death be is an important one and the question has been raised before. Probably in recent times, it was first raised while reflecting on the media coverage of the death of Princess Diana in an accident. The editors of many of the leading British tabloids had agreed that they had helped create a mood in which the paparazzi, who were hounding Diana when her car crashed in a Paris underpass, were out of control. Phil Hall, who was editor of the News of the World, said it was a circle of culpability involving the readers who demanded more photographs, the photographers who chased her and the newspapers that published the pictures. “A big Diana story could add 150,000 sales. So we were all responsible,” he said.

I guess that that began the commercialization of death and there has been no looking back ever since. But even so, death and the private life of individuals has been some thing that the Indian media has generally not intruded into. But the rules seem to be changing.

Times Now, the news channel has literally been giving a ball by ball commentary of Jade Goody on her death bed; which really looks macabre. Of course unlike the Diana episode, all this is happening with Jade’s full consent. As she herself says, I’ve lived in front of the restraint cameras. And maybe I’ll die in front of them. And I know some people don’t like what I’m doing but at this point I really don’t care what other people think. Now, it’s about what I want.” And since what Jade really wants is to earn enough cash for her children even in her dying days, the picture is some what complicated.

But while the motives may some what blur the issue of the sanctity of death, it does not obliterate it. A death bed scene cannot really be telecast like a 20-20 cricket match of the IPL. There was a time when terminal illness was treated with a decorum that mirrored a society which was, for all its faults, essentially at peace with itself in respect to the eternal truths of life and death. But today, in a bizarre circus that is scarcely imaginable, tributes to Jade Goody are printed while she still lives, there was an interest in filming her as she breathed her last and apparently her reality show producer, Max Clifford is planning stories as he in true vulture fashion , waits for her death. Even the venerable BBC is readying itself to cover the event when it occurs. It has long been said of our time that we have lost the sanctity of life; now it would appear that we have lost the sanctity for death too.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lonely at 60

A couple of days ago, I opened up the newspaper to read that an elderly couple living in an upper middle class locality had committed suicide suddenly. There was no ostensible reason for this, but the newspaper reported that they were desperately lonely and a point came when they felt that they could not endure it any longer. They had several children; their youngest lived with them, but the others; married and with families of their own lived within a couple of hundred miles away from Delhi.

This one of course was not the first suicide occurring among the elderly in Delhi, and neither will it be the last. Although the government in Delhi has tried to be responsive to the needs of him elderly in much way – it has a helpline for access by senior citizens, increased policing, free medical aid, bus travel and what not. But all the help that government and civil society organizations can and do provide does not alleviate the pain of loneliness and abandonment that our senior citizens go through.

But this is not just a Delhi thing, though this could well be an urban thing. Last year, BBC had covered the story of Laxmibai Laxmidas Paleja in Mumbai, whose grandson and daughter in law were abusing her and speaks of Laxmi bai’s hapless condition “"I'm old. I couldn't defend myself. I was bleeding all over. I've got bruises all over my body. Then they just bundled me in a car and dumped me here at my daughter's house."

There has been a steady rise recently in reports of cases of elderly being abused, harassed and abandoned in India and it does not need the BBC to tell us that Joint family systems - where three or more generations lived under one roof - were a strong support network for the elderly and they have more or less disappeared – at least in the cities.

But more children are now leaving their parental homes to set up their own. Sociologists say the pressures of modern life and the more individualistic aspirations of the young are among reasons why the elderly are being abandoned or, in some cases, abused.

Delhi University professor Kum Kum Srivastava makes a telling comment when she says that "I think this a child-oriented society, not a parent-oriented one anymore." Meanwhile, demographically, India is getting younger as a nation and the problems and aspirations of the youth alone are increasingly getting centre stage. But even so, India has more 60m men and women older than 65 and the problems of the elderly are multiplying, and with societal trends going the way they are, the problems of the elderly are likely to get more and more sidelined.

Although organizations like Helpage have long been around, typically NGOs and other organizations have a bias towards the poor and the marginalized. This is a bit irrelevant hee considering that many of the emotional deprivation that the elderly suffer are likely to more accentuated in the isolation that upper or middle class living brings. Despite there being a National Policy on Older Persons and several schemes for the physical welfare of our senior citizens, the emotional gap and loneliness is a need that looks set to grow at a much faster pace than can typically be met.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What has befallen us ….A look at Child Sexual Abuse

The word ‘disgrace’ seems inadequate to describe a society in which human beings are lured or forced into activities that our sense of common humanity. It is difficult to do justice to the moral repugnance and outrage felt by civilised people when the facts about child trafficking are brought home to them. The fact that such appalling suffering is deliberately inflicted on men, women and children by criminals who regard them as commodities to be abused and sold for financial gain, is so far removed from most people’s experience that it is easy for our minds simply to recoil from it. Therefore, the subject of sexual exploitation of children is an issue where a lot needs to be done to bring about awareness on an issue we would much rather keep under wraps.

Commercial sexual exploitation of children is defined as ‘sexual abuse by the adult and remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated as a sexual object and as a commercial object’. It includes the prostitution of children, child pornography and other forms of transactional sex where a child engages in sexual activity to have basic needs of food, shelter or clothing fulfilled. It includes forms of transactional sex where the sexual abuse of children is not stopped or reported by household members, due to benefits derived by the household from the perpetrator.

Research has proved that children are especially victimised in the commercial sex trade. They are forced to accept a large number of clients can almost never negotiate safe sex and are often beaten and ill-treated. Due to the illegal and clandestine nature of the commercial sexual exploitation of children, their ‘keepers’ keep them in captivity — hidden from public view. Thus, children condemned in commercial sexual exploitation continue to suffer in silence.

India is fast emerging as a favoured destination for sex tourists from Europe, the US and other western countries. The favoured destinations are Goa, Kerala, Maharashtra, and more recently, West Bengal and Orissa. Goa continues to be a haven for sex tourists from Europe and the US. After Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka strengthened legislations to combat the growing menace of sex tourism and paedophiles, the jugger naut rolled on to Goa. The state was a popular choice as it was cheap and easy to procure a child and sexually abuse him/her. The inadequacy of the existing legislations to combat this growing menace and the apathy of law enforcement officials adds to the attraction

Trafficking of children is also a serious problem in India. The nature and scope of trafficking range from industrial and domestic labour, to forced early marriages and commercial sexual exploitation. Existing studies show that over 40 per cent of women sex workers enter into prostitution before the age of 18 years. Moreover, for children who have been trafficked and rescued, opportunities for rehabilitation remains scarce and reintegration process arduous?

While systematic data and information on child protection issues are still not always available, evidence suggests that children in need of special protection belong to communities suffering disadvantage and social exclusion such as scheduled casts and tribes, and the poor. The lack of available services, as well as the gaps persisting in law enforcement and in rehabilitation schemes also constitute a major cause of concern.

Child sexual abuse has so far been largely ignored by the Indian legal system. The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, does not address children as a separate category. The only legal provision that is most often used to bring about a conviction is Section 377 of the IPC that criminalises ‘unnatural sex’ and is abused by the police to violate the human rights of same sex couples.

According to figures provided by the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2004, as many as 2,265 cases of kidnapping and abduction of children qualified as forms of trafficking and were reported to the police. Of these, 1,593 cases were of kidnapping for marriage, 414 were for illicit sex, 92 for unlawful activity, 101 for prostitution and the rest for various other things like slavery, begging and even selling body parts. Most of these children (72 per cent) were between 16 and18 years of age. Twenty-five per cent were children aged 11-15 years. This is the tip of the iceberg; the malaise runs much deeper and many cases go unreported. And with trafficking having overtaken the arms trade and drugs as the world’s largest illicit industry, we need more hands on the deck than we have at present fighting this sickening menance.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Educating our Kids : The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

A school that I visited last week in Dehradun awakened me to one of the many changes that are quietly taking place in the country. The school, which usually fell silent after the last student had left for home in the afternoon, is buzzing with activity all through the day. Till the evening shadows lengthen, the class rooms are full, the play grounds abuzz with activity and the staff room is busy. No, the school is not running a double shift. It is just that after the regular fee paying students have left, another batch of students from the near by slum communities come in and utilize the school facilities and the classrooms. The arrangement is sponsored and paid for by the government under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) program.


Contrary to the usual belief that nothing in the government works, the SSA is a great endeavor to universalize elementary education. Although the 1990s saw noteworthy progress in education indicators in India, wide-ranging gaps were prevailing across states and districts. For example, the net primary enrolment ratios ranged from 63 percent in Bihar to 98 percent in Kerala. Inequity across scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was pronounced. However because of efforts like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the number of Indian children out of school went down from 25 million in 2003 to about 7 million in 2006 (exceeding the target), thus steadily moving towards universal enrolment (about 185 million children were enrolled at the elementary level in 2006).

Although, there is no doubt that the average drop-out rate in primary classes suggests a consistent decline; but the same is still too high to attain the status of universal retention at the primary level of education. Universalisation of education comprises four components- universal access, universal enrolment, universal retention and universal quality of education.

The SSA has ambitious goals. It was launched in 2001 to universalize and improve the quality of elementary education in India through community ownership of elementary education. In order to effectively decentralize the management, it has involved Panchayati Raj institutions, School Management Committees, Village and Urban Slum Level Education Committees, Parents’ Teachers’ Associations, Mother Teacher Associations, Tribal Autonomous Councils and other grassroots level structures.

SSA, apart from being a programme with clear time frame for Elementary Education, also offers opportunities to the states to develop their own vision of elementary education. It had set 2007 as the deadline for providing primary education in India and 2010 as the deadline for providing useful and relevant elementary education to all children in the 6 to 14 age group. In order to improve the quality of elementary education in India, the SSA has emphasized on improving the student teacher ratio, teachers training, academic support, facilitating development of teaching learning material and providing textbooks to children from special focus groups etc.

The SSA is getting carried out in collaboration with state governments to cover the entire country and address the needs of its children in 1.1 million locations. Keeping an eye on sanitation and the girl child, the government has built under the programme nearly 222,000 toilets at primary schools. Similarly, nearly 187,000 new schools have been opened in the last seven years - courtesy the SSA.The campaign has also helped construction of over 656,000 additional classrooms and provided drinking water facilities at 175,413 schools.

The programme seeks to open new schools in locations which do not have schooling facilities and reinforce existing school infrastructure through provision of additional classrooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants. In the budget of the last two years (2007-08, 2008-09), the government has allocated over Rs.262 billion ($6 billion) for universalising elementary education to achieve the millennium development goal (MDG) of universal primary education.

The challenge has been a sizeable one but the rewards have been many. The achievement stories range from children in far-flung villages to slum clusters in India’s many expansive cities. As always, it is evident most effectively not in figures but in real life stories like the children in the school I visited in Dehradun last week, whose education is being taken care of by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. And for once I am happy that the educational surcharge levied every time I pay a service tax on any transaction is reaching the right people in the right way, and the government machinery is working. The story is not all bad.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Girls,Women and the Legacy of Mahatma Phule

It is common wisdom that literacy is a reasonably good indicator of development in a society. Increase and distribution of literacy is generally associated with necessary traits of today’s civilization such as modernization, urbanization, industrialization, communication and commerce. For the purpose of census, a person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with any understanding in any language, is treated as literate.

As per the 2001 Census, the overall literacy rate of India is 65.38%. The male literacy rate is 75.96% and female literacy rate is 54.28% Historically, a variety of factors have been found to be responsible for poor female literate rate,viz Gender based inequality, Social discrimination and economic exploitation, Occupation of girl child in domestic chores, Low enrolment of girls in schools, Low retention rate and high dropout rate.

A literacy rate of 54 percent means that there is a long way to go yet for women’s’ literacy in India to get to where it ought to be – a literacy rate of close to 100. But we should still be grateful for where we are in the journey and for the man who began it all, the mahatma of the 19th century who has been some what obscured by time – Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai were remarkable personalities, especially for their times. He started the first school for girls, at Pune, in the year 1848. He advocated Education for women- female students from the downtrodden (Shudras/ Atee Shudras) communities and adults. He started schools. He established institutes like the ‘Pune Female Native Schools’ and the ‘Society for Promoting Education for Mahar, Mangs’.

But of course Pune has forgotten all that. The historical structure where the school functioned was taken over by a builder, demolished and replaced with a commercial complex, but the government has now realised its mistake and wants this piece of history back. The structure was taken over by a builder, demolished and replaced with a commercial complex, but the government has now realised its mistake and wants this piece of history back.

More importantly or equally importantly, he engaged in his education at home too. Jotirao prepared his wife Savitribai to teach in the girls’ school, with a view to educating the women first, in order to bring in the value of equality at home. Savitribai had to face bitter opposition from the orthodox society of the time for teaching girls and people from the underprivileged groups in the school. Despite this bitter opposition, Jotirao and Savitribai continued their work with sincerity.

Interestingly, Mahatma Phule nurtured a favourable perspective on the British Rule in India because he thought it at least introduced the modern notions of justice and equality into the Indian society. Phule vehemently advocated widow-remarriage and even got a home built for housing upper caste widows during 1854. In order to set an example before the people, he opened his own house and let all make use of the well water without any prejudice. Similarly he started the infanticide prevention centre (’Balhatya Pratibandhak Griha’) for infants born to hapless widows because of their deviant behaviour or exploitation.


Considering the legacy that Mahatma Phule has left; grappling with issues that we have still not resolved more than 125 years after his death in 1890, he could have deserved better name recognition than having the building from where he ran his school for the education of the girl child being demolished by a nameless builder. May be Aamir Khan can add some other slices to his campaign to the defacing and destruction of historical monuments and give his legacy a facelift!

Have it, Show it....

I ran down the stairs like every morning to find that the gate outside my home wouldn’t open fully and I would have to some how squeeze myself out through the partially blocked gate and get out. A Toyota Qualis stood parked outside the gate.

In the evening when I returned home, it was still parked there. When the next day, and then the day following, the Qualis stayed parked there, it was clear that the vehicle wasn’t one that belonged to some one who had come visiting. It had been purchased by one or the other of my many neighbors. Not having any parking space, he bought his out sized vehicle and not having any parking space, decided that it was quite all right to dump it on the road; not in front of his house necessarily, but wherever he found the space; which happened to be in front of my house. A gaudily painted sign at the back of the car said that it was a “gift of god”.

On the eve of independence India’s newly elected Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made an impassioned and oft-quoted speech saying India had made a tryst with destiny. It was an austere, simple time when idealism was at its height and the distribution of wealth was a priority. Even decades later, in my own childhood, it was implicitly taught and understood, that today, it would seem that India has taken a slightly different route towards its destiny.

Flaunting your wealth? Is it a good or noble thing? In general, it has always been considered bad form to flaunt your money if you’ve got it. And it’s considered really bad form to flaunt your money these days when so many are losing their jobs or living with massive salary cuts. whereas traditionally “old money” has always been discreet and not ostentatious, the merchant princes of Mumbai and Kolkata for instance, it is the nouveau riche, who have made the money but never had the education to use it well, who are the real problem – the ones who will buy a Qualis and then not having the space to park it or the wherewithal to figure out a solution, dump it on the public space.

“The have it shows it “attitude is even more insensitive these days when scores of jobs have already been lost. For a while at least turning their backs towards globalization, countries turn back towards a protectionist economy and look after their own. As a result of policy changes under way currently, Over 50,000 IT professionals in the country may lose their jobs over the next six months as the situation in the sector is expected to worsen due to the impact of global economic meltdown on the export-driven industry, a forecast by a union of IT Enabled Services warned.


Addressing corporate honchos, the Prime Minister had remarked once that “Rising income and wealth inequalities, if not matched by a corresponding rise of incomes across the nation, can lead to social unrest. The electronic media carries the lifestyles of the rich and famous into every village and slum. Media often highlights the vulgar display of their wealth. An area of great concern is the level of ostentatious expenditure on weddings and other family events. Such vulgarity insults the poverty of the less privileged, it is socially wasteful and it plants seeds of resentment in the minds of the have-nots”. If I recall correctly, that address of Manmohan Singh was greeted by a stony silence by the functionaries of CII. Perhaps they weren’t yet too ready to abandon their conspicuous consumption patterns. Flaunting it if you have it is here to stay, be it private jets, ostentatious weddings or the Qualis at my door