Saturday, February 27, 2010

Instinct and intuition of Kocheril Raman Narayanan and Gopalkrishna Gandhi

The grand son of M.K Ganshi Gopalkrishna Gandhi writes in today’s HT:

“An individual can resolve the conflict between one right path and another through his or her instincts. But what about a State? Does the State have instincts that help it choose one of the two, or does it rely on objective reasoning alone?

In a totalitarian regime, the supremo’s instinct decides everything. But to the extent that a democracy elects thinking, feeling individuals to office, its leadership cannot but use both intelligence and instinct, intellection and intuition.

In India’s integrated acoustics three major forms of utterance can be segregated: the grammar of authority (sarkar/siyasat), the prose of faith-systems (dharma/mazhab) and the free verse of human instincts of the finer kind (svabhav/jazba). The first two, the grammar and the prose, are strong baritones. The ‘free verse’ of human instincts illustrated powerfully in Sufi compositions and in the writings of Kabir and Surdas, is soft. This is not just because it is un-pedestalled and unamplified but because it is plural, like a choir’s. The framers of our Constitution were aware of the importance, as well as the fragility, of this voice, the ‘inner voice’ of India. The preamble to our Constitution, beautifully rendered in Hindi as ‘Uddeshika’, is the seat of that voice.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Going back to no-reforms

Prof Arvind Panagariya point out in his piece in Yesterday ET titled “Indian growth miracle faces threat

Some excerpts:

“Even those such as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, home minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who had fought hard for economic reforms in the 1990s, show little keenness for continued pro-market reforms. Indeed, the fear is no more that still-incomplete reform process will not move forward under the present government — that is now old hat — it is that there are realistic prospects of the clock being turned back.

Attempts to enforce the minimum wage are bound to give rise to exactly the same problems in the unorganised as in the organised sector. Producers will shift into more capital-intensive sectors and technologies. Mechanical car washes, construction equipment, agricultural implements, washing machines and power-driven lawnmowers will gradually replace many activities currently performed by hands. And when that happens, the workers so released will have nowhere to go.

The third and final example of a recent policy that potentially sets back progress is the refusal by the environment minister Jairam Ramesh to allow the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) brinjal. Just as the ultra-high standards of social legislation in the area of labour have led to stunted industrial growth, environmental concerns that ignore scientific evidence can thwart a second Green (Gene?) Revolution. Indian farmers have already handsomely reaped the benefits of GM cottonseeds.

GM foods are also not new: they have existed in north and south America for more than a decade. Moreover, based on extensive study by agricultural research institutes, universities, and expert panels , one of which had been appointed by the Supreme Court, our government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has given the brinjal a clean chit. Yet, bowing to groups such as Greenpeace that are committed to opposing GM foods under all circumstances, minister Ramesh has denied our farmers the benefit of the new variety.”

Free market heal inequality

Reviewing Prof. Suresh Tendulkar paper on “Inequality and Equity during Rapid Growth Process” published in the “India’s Economy: Performance and Challenges: Essays in Honour of Montek Singh Ahluwalia” Mythili Bhusnurmath writes:

  • “Tendulkar concludes that equity would be advanced in the normal course of market operations without government intervention for reducing inequalities if technological changes reduce the relative price of one or more necessities of life or by enhancing the supply and consumption of necessities like food. This is what happened in China during the transition from collective farming to individual household responsibility system that generated economic incentives that were instrumental in enhancing the supply and consumption of necessities like food.
  • So, contrary to widespread belief, certain types of market outcomes can be equity-enhancing as opposed to the usual intellectual presumption that all market outcomes are necessarily inequitable. Now, if only the rampaging Maoists in central India were enlightened enough to read Tendulkar’s paper, growth might get a chance!”

The paper is worth reading not just Prof rejected the old theory of “Standard measures of inequality such as Gini coefficients” but makes a case to amend the notions of inequality in market and how market create equality in society. You have plenty of examples to count!! Think of tiny mobile phone to small car.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Language is no longer an issue, really

But may be Chennai welcomes non-Tamilians.

I miss my Beach Walk

Walking on the Marina beach in Chennai is a thrilling movement. It is thrilling movement because the music played by is eye-catching waves on the shore.

I had two kind of walks on the beach: one is I walk alone for some time to breath myself and muse through the language of waves whom I can talk to for peace. Secondly, I use walk with my close friend whom I consider next to the wave. We use to talk all kinds but love and passion about the waves dance. I miss him too!!

What brings me to remember is the former Governor of West Bengal Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi has a piece in today’s HT:

  • “The beach in Chennai’s Thiruvanmiyur draws morning and evening walkers who, in their ardour and ambition for fitness, rank next only to those who walk along the Marina. Young fathers training their small children in aerobics; middle-aged dodgers of coronary and cerebral strokes; youthful couples in love; once-youthful couples in mutual toleration; ‘foreigners’ sprinting; ear-phoned professionals in a hurry; hearing-aided pensioners in none — all jostle to beat the sun, burn adipose, and prepare to face another harsh day. The Coromandel coast is at its most moody and playful here, ebullient and sluggish, smiling and snarling.
  • The beach has three kinds of visitors. One, those who come to burn their calories. Two, those that come to cool their nerves. And three, those who come ‘simply’. Despite valiant efforts by the city corporation and NGOs, this third category of ‘beachers’ deposit on it in a relentless flow of every manner of non bio-degradable garbage. The beachline here has a remarkable group of volunteers who clear the litter to the best of their ability. There is also a company that hires cleaners who remove the litter each day.
  • I asked a serene-looking aproned woman who was raking some plastic bags and rubbish off the road onto a mobile bin how much she was paid by her employer. “Rs 3,200 a month,” she said. I offered her an invisible genuflection with the thought that if our decorated artistes and medallioned professionals, our Shris, Bhushans, Vibhushans and Ratnas deserve the nation’s segmentised admiration each for his or her field of achievement, this untiring woman with her unthanked broom deserves our unsegregated admiration and our unqualified apology.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

Whose morality is this?

There is a reported news on “Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, reader and chairman of Modern Indian Languages at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was suspended for having consensual sex with.. “rickshaw puller”. This is high time for Section 377.

I am posting the full article below for record and readers ready reference

Whose morality is this?

February 18, 2010

First Published: 23:28 IST(18/2/2010)

Last Updated: 23:31 IST(18/2/2010)

Saleem Kidwai, Nivedita Menon, Mary John, V. Geetha, Shilpa Phadke and 13 other teachers and academics from universities across India.

We, as teachers and academics from universities across India, read with outrage and dismay that Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, reader and chairman of Modern Indian Languages at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was suspended for having consensual sex with someone of the same sex within the privacy of his home.

What made the press report that came out on Thursday in certain sections of the media particularly shocking was that there were either cameras placed by students within Dr Siras’ house or television reporters got into the house and made a video film of the alleged incident that was then passed on to the university authorities. The university authorities instead of going by the constitutionally recognised right to privacy within the four corners of one’s house have instead chosen to act against Dr Siras.

The outrage of the university authorities is deeply misdirected. Instead of suspending Dr Siras, they should have taken stern and serious action against those who so blatantly took on the role of playing moral police with no regard whatsoever for Dr Siras’ constitutionally recognised right to privacy and dignity within his home and the university.

What is the ‘gross misconduct’ for which Dr Siras has been suspended? It is not a crime for an adult to have consenting intimate sexual relations with another adult. It is not an offence for an adult to have consensual sex with another adult in the privacy of his home. Dr Siras, in line with the judgement of the Delhi High Court in Naz Foundation, has also committed no legal offence. On the other hand, he is the victim of multiple offences — his house has been entered into without his consent and his intimate life has been filmed without his consent.

The press reports repeatedly allege that Dr Siras was having consensual sex with a “rickshaw puller”. Is the occupation or implied class status of the individual involved the reason behind the accusation of ‘scandal’ and ‘outrageous’ behaviour? If so, then the AMU administration is violating the tenets both of India’s Constitution and of the ethics and values of an institution of higher learning with a history as long and distinguished as AMU which was built precisely to end discrimination on religion, caste or class.

One has to remember that it was only last year that Chief Justice Shah and Justice Muralidhar, in holding Section 377 inapplicable to consenting sex between adults in private, came up with the important distinction between public morality and constitutional morality. As they noted, “Moral indignation, howsoever strong, is not a valid basis for overriding individual’s fundamental rights of dignity and privacy. In our scheme of things, constitutional morality must outweigh the argument of public morality, even if it be the majoritarian view.”

If the Naz judgement with its stress on constitutional morality is taken seriously, the immoral actions will be not be Dr Siras’ conduct but rather the actions of the university authorities in suspending him for the expression of his constitutional right, the actions of the media to blatantly invade his life as well as the possible involvement of students of the university.

This incident follows a series of events that mark the shrinking of spaces of freedom and dignity within India’s institutions of higher learning. It is imperative that we protect institutions that should be bastions of building inclusive and democratic cultures for generations to come from narrow-minded moral policing of this kind.

This is the full text of the petition letter

The views expressed by the authors are personal

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Empowering individuals and parents

Vikas Vasal on Budget idea

Education deduction

  • Currently, the deduction available in respect of expense incurred on education of children is clubbed with other investment-related deductions U/S 80C of the Act. Further, any specific education allowance if paid by the employer is exempt up to Rs 100 per month per child for a maximum of two children.
  • Education is one of the key requirements of our country to grow and prosper. The very reason the government had levied education cess was primarily to collate and channelise funds for the education sector. It is imperative that education be encouraged by providing meaningful concessions/relief at the grass root level.
  • In this context, a separate deduction for expenses incurred on education up to Rs 2,500 per month per child for a maximum of two children would make economic sense. In order to bring in economic parity, this deduction may be restricted to individuals having annual income of less than Rs 10 lakh.
  • Further, instead of government subsidising schools and education institutions as at present, it is high time that the government empowers the individuals/parents to decide in which school/education institution their children should study. Therefore, education deduction, coupled with education vouchers, is probably the need of the hour.”

There is no poetic justice in this whole drama of Climate Change!!

Barun on India Supports a Toothless IPCC”

A bit from his piece

  • “The explanation for this support is simple: It is in the Indian government's interest to perpetuate a weak IPCC and a toothless Mr. Pachauri at its helm. Given the recent scandals, the IPCC is hardly in a position to lobby India for carbon concessions. No one from the IPCC can again cavalierly dismiss their critics as promoting "voodoo" science or "vested interests," as was Mr. Pachauri's wont. By offering scientific support to the IPCC, the Indian government is actually confirming its lack of confidence in the U.N. body's scientific credentials.
  • Mr. Pachauri is now in his second term as the head of IPCC. He is not a climate scientist—or indeed a scientist at all. He is an able science administrator who built his institute from scratch. Influential governments in the rich world probably accepted Mr. Pachauri not just for his redoubtable skill in institution-building, but also in the hope that by placing an Indian like him at the head of IPCC, he might be able to influence Indian policy.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't Ignore India

Property titling has to extend to everything

Empowering the poor: De Soto says no titling process of homes in slums such as Mumbai’s Dharavi is going to work unless the government includes all aspects of life. Madhu Kapparath/Mint

There is fantastic Mint interview with Hernando De Soto on many issues including the inside feeling of UPA II.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Property Rights

Mr. Hernando de Soto President, Institute for Liberty & Democracies, Peru back to India.

"Mr. Hernando de Soto also cautioned the government from looking at a system of property rights in a vacuum. He believed that it was necessary to build a system of public memory that legally identifies all their people, their assets, their business records and their transactions in such a way that they can unleash their economic potential to benefit, both themselves and the country at large."

For more see here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The State of Police

Coomi Kapoor on Record breaking ages:

“Vikram Srivastava took over as head of the Central Reserve Police Force on the first of this month. His brother Raman Srivastava was appointed chief of the Border Security Force in August last year. That two brothers now head the country’s two largest para-military forces is a record of sorts. The Srivastavas’ elevation has also brought to the fore an old controversy regarding their ages. According to the files in the Home Ministry, there is a difference of just five months between the brothers, which is a biological impossibility. Raman was born on October 24, 1951 and Vikram on March 18, 1952. Asked about the discrepancy, Vikram brushed it aside with the cryptic remark, “The matter has been duly examined by the competent authority.” This is surely an even more amazing entry for the record books.”