Brainless Bomb : Are we really young nation?

A much hyped news just made my mind ponder to find an answer to an obvious question, Are we really a Young Nation?

Our first Citizen, President of India, Shri Pranab Mukerjee is 77 years old,

Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari is 75 years old,

Today, Prime Minister of India, Shri Manmohan Singh turns 80 years old.

So if top three leaders of country, where compulsory retirement age is at 58-60 years, are much beyond there retirement age, how do are we saying ourselves truly a Young India?

Brainless Bomb : Can Music & Cricket treated differently?

 

 

Last month, there was a huge controversy when Raj Thackeray said something to Asha Bhosale regarding facilitating Pakistani  Singers.  I don’t want to comment on what Raj said or ‘not’ said as I was haven’t heard from his mouth and I fairly would like to reserve my comments on reports issued by ‘independent’ media.

India Flag

India – Pakistan Flags

The question of concern is how can government of India ban cricketing ties with Pakistan and allow such reality shows cashing on patriotism.  Everyone know with enough proofs and facts, that Pakistan have been involved in almost every terrorist attacks on Indian soil and what we have done in return, at maximum ask our ambassador to return, stop cricketing ties and after few years, introduced confidence building measures to normalize the tension.

I will definitely endorse the thought that if we are at war with Pakistan for supporting terrorism in our country, we should ban all such events and if we are not doing that, we should not be hypocrites by banning the game of Cricket between the two nations.  It’s definitely the need of hour to make ourselves clear what we want, a short lasting compromise or ever lasting peace.  I fully support Raj if he said that Asha Bhosle or any other individual, especially a mumbaikar, should not have facilitated or even shared a stage with any Pakistanis. Let me pray for all those who still flaunt their hypocrisy by supporting ‘aman ki asha’ or similar initiatives. 

God Bless us all!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Headless Hunch: Why Diesel pricing should have out of the box solution.

Recently UPA lead government overcame the biggest hurdle in reviving economic condition of India by straight increase price of diesel by INR 5/liter reducing its under-recovery to 10-13 INR/liter from one time high of 15-18 INR/liter.

The reaction to this announcement was as expected.  Opposition and ‘independent’ media, in name of common man, condemned it, while stock markets and majority of economist applauded it.  Personally, I think this was inevitable as UPA would not be able to pull this long considering the curren

t state of economy.  They played their cards well; with this diesel huge hike they definitely kept room for themselves, in case they need to do a partial roll-back under populist pressures.

However, I think it’s high time, we step out of our comfort zone and think innovate during such unprecedented circumstances.  Price hike was inevitable, due to subsidiary burden and fiscal deficit reaching around 6%.  However, the hike will work as catalyst to propel the inflation and will in short term will impact the economy.  So what is way out?  As usual, I juggled the thoughts and numbers to come up with this solution scenario.

Diesel Pump

OMC (Oil Marketing Companies), which includes mostly IOC, BP, HPCL have traditionally cried foul over the subsidiary payments and under recoveries in subsidized distribution, however, after lot of research I couldn’t found out any conditions on these companies to improve their refining margins.  Refining margins for these companies are almost stagnant for last decade.  This is high time when they should be held accountable for the inefficiencies in improving the refining margins.  Private players like Reliance and Shell have shown considerable improvements in their Refining margins with help of various tools, including fund hedging and different crude mixes.  Unfortunately Govt. held refining companies, have been working on with almost single kind of crude for decades.  Why the inefficiencies of government companies be compensated by way of government subsidiaries? Why these companies are not being pulled up for not improving refinery margins?  I think they should be made liable and bear up the losses for their inefficiencies.  I don’t have correct numbers with me, but I am sure over long term, this will bring down the under-recoveries by nearly 30-50%.

Coming back to practical approach on diesel pricing, we can divide the diesel consumers into four categories, (a) Cars including SUVs, private buses, small shops & apartment which use it for electricity backup, (b) Industries who consume truck loads of diesel like generators in IT companies or manufacturing, (c) Truck & Heavy vehicles which being used for transportation of goods and (d) Railways and public vehicles (State transport)

Out of above mentioned categories which require subsidized diesel is category (c) and some portion of category (b) users. Some time ago, we had a wonderful view of differential pricing which was negated due to the fear of the black-marketing and practical hindrance in implementation.  Let me first describe of the easy once that can be termed as ‘quick wins’    Category (b) industries generally procure the fuel directly from the OMC and thus can be charged at market rates (non-subsidized) and wherever they have subsidized requirement, equivalent tax credits can be provided on monthly/ yearly basis.

Now, category (d) Railways is biggest consumer of diesel and they also procure from directly from OMC.  They can like category (b) users be charged at market rates (Non-subsidized) and if government want to continue populist railway budget, Railways can be provided with oil subsidiaries via Rail Budget allocations.  Two benefits, first railways subsidiary bills can be accountable and their efficiency improvement can be tracked.  Secondly, government if wanted to maintain fiscal health policy criteria, will be forced to present genuine railway budget rather than current populist budget.  Similar story goes for the state transport vehicles, only funding medium will change from centre to state.

There is no doubt in my mind that category (a) users should be charged minimum at market rate (non-subsidized) and because still in India cars, specially diesel cars, are considered as luxury items, they should be charges extra via additional Road Tax and Excise Duties.  The argument will now arise that this will kill the automobile industry which is currently under pressure, blah blah blah…, so let me remind you, the ultimate aim should be to kill such industry which destroys environment and doesn’t invest in R&D for fuel efficient systems.  The saying ‘Necessity is mother of Invention’ will help the so pressured automobile industry to survive and if not, there are option of petrol, electric, CNG, hybrid cars.  Perhaps, we might find solar cars running in India.

Now let’s focus on final category, category (c) which represents Trucks and vehicles transporting goods. Fuel price rise in this, will have direct impact on cost of goods being raw material or finished goods and would directly contribute to inflation and hit every individual.  Thus it’s imperative that this category gets subsidized fuel. However, it’s virtually impractical to have differential pricing. So let this vehicle procure fuel at market price but implement the following:

Reduce the excise duties to minimum: The reduction will have a loss on exchequer but can be mostly compensated by marginal hike in duties of car.  Again, number of cars sold is much higher then number of trucks sold, so by simple arithmetic solution, the hike in car excise duties would be marginal and help survive automobile industry.

Reduce the road tax to minimum: Same as excise duties, road tax if reduced will help trucker save money and with same logic as excise duty, private car owners will not have to share hefty hike.

Eliminate the State Permit:  Elimination of State Permit will ensure that the truck would be freely available to ply between any routes and any place.  This will also help truckers to quick move to profitable routes and competition will ensure that market correction will give optimum rates of transportation.  Unlike right now, permit costs would not increase the transportation cost and this move will be equivalent in monetary terms as subsidies in fuel cost.  Again, as there would be no state permits, the trucks would not get stacked at state entry check-post for a day or two, giving around 1-2 days more for trucker to earn.

The question will now arise that who will bar loss of State Permit charges.  Well these charges will be compensated by Centre on reducing basis over few years.  Post few years this would not be required as the trucker would be working more efficient and would be doing more rounds, they would deliver higher quantities of goods leading to higher VAT/Sales Tax/ GST collections.

Again, free movement of trucks within states, will create burden on the State Government to reduce the current taxes on diesel prices as truckers will mostly fill up the tanks where they get cheapest fuel.  So if trucker is making rounds between Bangalore and Chennai and if Chennai has even 10 paisa less fuel price, trucker will fill most of fuel from Chennai and thus Bangalore eventually have to reduce their prices (taxes) to compete with Chennai.

Again, this is my hunch on how to handle diesel scenario for this country.  But I am sure this one is also not full proof and requires lot of ‘consensus’, which in today’s narrow world hard to come by.  Still with all the positives, I am floating these thoughts for all intellectuals out here to read, comment and suggest some ‘out of box solution’ to this not so simple problem.

 

Brainless Bomb : What do we Value?

In recent time, three similar events occurred and I was surprised to see different reaction of people to these events. This terribly lead me to search for an answer within myself what do we value in life?

Let me detail out my thought process and the events that triggered it. First was the death of the ‘First Superstar’, Rajesh Khanna aka Jatin Khanna, second was the death of Vilasrao Deshmukh, Ex-CM – Maharashtra State and last was the death of ‘Father of White Revolution’, Dr. Verghese Kurien.

These three personalities were from distinct fields of specialization and there own set of contribution to the India.  However, the question that triggered this blog was the way media and overall people pay respect to these individual.

When in mid-July Rajesh Khanna passed away, we saw this death being covered among heavy rains, with all individuals thronging social, print and television media to pay their respect to the great actor. During his last rites, film and political fraternity joined along with millions via television network.  However, looking back I think, what was his contribution?  To summarize shortly; he provided entertainment to entire country by way of films, inspired a lot to come to entertainment industry and represented lot of social issues to public using films as platform.  He was also involved in lot of activities; we don’t look in role models, like marrying a girl of almost half of his age.

Approximately after a month after death of great actor, was the time of in-office minister of Union of India, Vilasrao Deshmukh, died due to failure of kidney and liver.  Just as expected, being in-office minister, 3 day state morning was declared and first time in history of Independent India, Independence Day flag was hosted at half-mast.  Again, the individuals, across the country flocked every possible medium to pay homage to a person who rose from the rags of village of Latur to the riches of city of Mumbai.  His last rites were widely covered by the television media from a small village in Latur district, somewhere in Maharashtra State.  Again, thinking of his contribution, like all other politicians, I would term as nothing special apart from making wealth for himself and his family.  Some of the wonderful things I can recollect about his contributions were sitting duck on November 2008 Mumbai attacks and huge Adarsh scandal involvement.

Again, after approximately a month, in early September, we lost ‘Father of the White Revolution’, Dr. Verghese Kurien.  I was lucky to know more about him unlike other Indian, as I have one of mine priced possession, a book ‘I too had a dream’ – an autobiography of Dr. Kurien.  A dreamer who wanted to be become a nuclear scientist and was by fate forced to dairy engineering and later landed to a small town in Gujarat, Anand.  Dr. Kurien became instrumental in uniting the millions of farmers to bring about the White Revolution in India by making these farmers/ individuals self-reliant and more powerful by themselves.  One of the world’s biggest case studies on co-operative institution success brings us to the creation of AMUL, an entity nurtured by Dr. Kurien and his team.

However, when he dies, in now, not so small town of Anand, I hardly see any individual of ‘Free’ India expressing his condolences on any medium.  Hardly half page coverage of demise of this individual.  I would not blame these mediums for not covering his death or government on not mourning because these government and these mediums are mere reflection of the people’s wishlists.  Like others, I would like to summarize his contributions shortly; created AMUL as brand and as livelihood for millions of individual, established a success story on co-operative institution, replicated the AMUL model across country, indigenous made process of creating milk powder from buffalo milk.  On the vice, he stood as chairman of the GCMMF and NDDB for long long time, till he was thrown out by petty politics.

So after penning down my thought on these three distinct personalities and we, people of India, paid out tributes to them, I go back to my troubling question, what do we value?  I don’t want to give any judgment on any of these, but I surely want to ask all, whom we should follow as role model and how should we pay our tributes.  At times, many such heroes gets lost in this ‘Image’ driven world but then what is that we aspire to be, Real Heroes or Image Heroes?

Amul Ad - Verghese Kurien

Tribute to V. Kurien – An AMUL Way

A World’s View Without Glasses – Quotas for Promotions

Resevation in promotion has became an hot debate everywhere, benifieatiary are in favor, rest are worring about there pie being left out… here is an wonderful article on the Reservations in Promotions and root cause of skewed representation of reserved category in higher positions.
The author is R Jagannathan, an prominent writer writing for FirstPost…. must read this article.. 

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Why quotas for promotions are a bad, bad idea

It’s easy to dismiss any argument against caste-based reservations on the ground that it comes largely from the upper castes. But this is an illiberal stand, for an argument should stand on its own ” and not depend on who is saying it. One could use the same logic to say reservations are supported only by its prime beneficiaries ” and hence suspect by definition.

Now, with the UPA government planning to introduce caste-based promotions in government services, it is time to re-examine all the arguments again. But let me plead guilty upfront to being an upper caste writer ” though I deny being overly caste-conscious. If you want to dismiss my arguments for that reason, please don’t read any further.

In the kind of first-past-the-post and fractious political system we have built, bad ideas have a way of expanding beyond their original intent. Since elections are won by tiny margins of votes, no party wants to anger any caste group, howsoever small. This is why barring the Samajwadi Party ” which is gung-ho about reservations in general ” no one was willing to oppose caste-based promotions when the PM called an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

Caste-based reservations are an idea whose time has gone. Sixty years was long enough to prove its efficacy or lack of it. But one can be certain it will remain forever. We started with Ambedkar’s promise that Dalits need it for only 10 years, but have found various excuses to extend it forever, and for all kinds of groups, and for all kinds of reasons. From SC/STs, we now have reservations extended to OBCs, Muslims, and even economically backward upper castes. Worse, we are not even willing to ask tough questions of the idea’s backers. This is nothing but incentivising backwardness.

Centuries after some backward castes abandoned Hinduism for Islam and Christianity, the latter have not found nirvana. Now they want reservations.

Ambedkar called for the annihilation of caste. What we have erected instead is a complete political and institutional support system for the regeneration of casteism. Indian secularism is supposed to root out discrimination on the basis of religion, but when it comes to caste ” another form of communalism ” we water its roots and apply fertiliser.

Today, the only forces working against caste are urbanisation (which is erasing caste consciousness in the metros) and the market economy (where talent is what matters, not your caste-mark). Politics is helping and hindering the erasure of caste: it is helping, because in the race to win seats, different castes end their unwillingness to sup with other castes by banding together to aggregate votes; it’s also hindering, because castes become vote-banks that also emphasise stronger caste identity consciousness.

Coming back to issue of caste-based promotions in government services, our starting point, let’s see where the arguments are coming from.

The main reason adduced for giving promotions on a caste basis is that there are very few SC/ST candidates in the higher echelons of government. This is why Mayawati introduced a law in Uttar Pradesh to ensure this, but it was struck down last April by the Supreme Court on the ground that it was ultra vires of the constitution. While some constitutional amendments after the Indira Sawhney judgment (which declared this ultra vires) provided for reservations in promotion, the Supreme Court said this could not be done unless a state could demonstrate that a particular caste was backward and grossly under-represented in a service.

This should normally have been easy to prove, but our politicians do not even want to provide even data to support their cause. So, clearly, this is not about giving SC/STs a helping hand against discrimination, but a political ploy to further complicate the reservations issue. Mayawati wants this small caveat squashed through a constitutional amendment that guarantees reservations in promotions with no riders. The rest of the political class, with Dalit vote-bank politics in mind, is willy-nilly acquiescing in this gameplan.

In any case, the question really is this: why are the SC/STs under-represented in central and state services despite 60 years of reservations?

The answer is counter-intuitive. Government jobs usually go by seniority upto a point, and then by merit. The reason why so few Dalits are up there near the top is that their average age of entry is around 29-31, when other candidates enter in the range of 24-26. Little wonder they lose on the seniority criteria.

The solution is clearly not reservations in promotion, but lowering the age of entry of SC/ST candidates in the administrative services. What the government really needs to do is focus on getting younger Dalits to enter the services through quotas, whether by giving them better mentors, or spotting them earlier, or financing better for pre-test coaching, or some other means.

The second argument pro-reservationists use is that the merit claim of the upper castes is bogus. This is both right and wrong. It is a good point to make ” but also beside the point. In competitive exams like the IIMs CAT or the IITs JEE, what is being tested is a certain kind of narrow intelligence, and no less a person than Infosys’ ex-chairman NR Narayana Murthy has criticised the quality of students the IITs are now getting via the coaching classes route. It is also a moot point whether maxing CAT makes you fit to be a manager ” after being processed through an IIM. SC/STs, with no resources to attend coaching classes, clearly don’t face a level field here.

But what is the real argument here? One, that merit may be wrongly defined, and that, gaming the system by attending coaching classes is not the same as merit, for which SC/STs should be excluded.

Nobody is saying that merit is not important; just that what is now considered merit may not be real merit. There is no substitute for competence. We can always redefine what constitutes merit, and use other yardsticks to avoid this kind of bias against Dalit candidates. But the argument for promotions, and reservations based on caste, and not merit, is clearly without merit.

A third argument is to say, œsee, it already works.” In TV shows, we often find Dalits saying that they would never have made it without reservations. The case of Tamil Nadu (where reservations now are close to 69 percent, despite a Supreme Court order capping it at 49 percent) will also be trotted out. See, here is a state making progress due to reservations.

Of course, if you do give me a job, I will say it works for me. Very few interviews are conducted with Dalits who made it even without reservations. This is a selection bias in the sample which talks of reservations.

I doubt if any serious experimenter would accept this logic. The only way one can prove that quotas work better than no quotas is by comparing two states which undertake opposite policies ” one through reservations, and another through mere voluntary affirmative action coupled with growth-oriented, employment-generating policies that benefit everybody.

So when anyone in India says reservations have worked, the answer is that they have no proof. We know a medicine works only when we can show a placebo given to another control group does not work. If the placebo works as well, then the medicine is worthless.

So there is no compelling reason to claim that reservations work ” for we don’t have a placebo case where there was no reservation, and the system worked just as well, or even better.

Reservation In Promotion

Reservation


I would conclude thus:

It is time to abandon quotas and substitute it with a time-bound affirmative action programme.

To give Dalits or OBCs or even Muslims the opportunities that they are justly entitled to, we need to create alternative programmes that allow states, government bodies or even private organisations to do it differently.

Rather than embedding a proviso in the constitution that ensures reservations in promotions, what we need is a constitutional amendment that will give any state or institution currently subject to reservations a 10-year window in which to try out alternate affirmative ideas and plans, subject to periodic reviews.

At the end of 10 years, if the plan is a flop, the amendment can be made to automatically lapse and compulsory reservations mandated instead.

It is time for India to take the road not taken to help the classes that have been most discriminated against. The worst baggage our Dalits carry is the stamp of mediocrity writ large on their foreheads all their lives, thanks to mindless quotas.

If Ambedkar could do it without reservation, it is downright insulting to argue that all his followers are so incapable that they deserve reservations.

Indians need to have the courage to admit that quotas may be mere placebos ” they are not the cure for social backwardness.

(…from FirstPost.com – Original Article Link: http://bit.ly/RGJ5uM )

Brainless Bomb: Equality & Constitution of India

Preamble to the Constitution of India states:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA…

Case Politics

Equality – My Constitutional Right

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

Can any politician tell me how can we say promote Equality of opportunity, if we have a reservation for SC/ST in promotions.  Its high time, WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, wake up and rise above petty caste based politics which leads us nowhere…

Today, as an Indian, feeling ashamed of behavior of our political leaders and sleeping citizens.