Category: Government

PayPal Blocks WikiLeaks – Hundreds Closing Accounts

It’s small wonder that the Internet is running rampant – in support of WikiLeaks. PayPal released this statement on their blog – and closed the comments section. It’s called – the freedom to shut others up. To look at how many people are joining hands and shutting their accounts down with PayPal/Amazon see this news report which has frequent one line comments against both PayPal and Amazon. PayPal’s community links are running threads on and off about account closures and threats  (since there are reports of threads being killed).

People are using alternate payment portals to continue on – Neteller.com and MoneyBroker.com. It’s not clear though that how long all banks and credit card companies can keep their funds flowing to WikiLeaks.

PoliceWale

This interview on policewala.in is the harsh gust of reality and fate of Indian police personnel. Since this interview is in Hindi, here is a short summary (all credits due to the interviewers at policewala.in and Amitabh Thakur, IPS).

  • Mr. Thakur is of the opinion that the long standing convention of “thinking like criminals” has affected the police adversely, turning some of these men to be more dangerous than the criminals themselves
  • He observes that there are two corruption situations to be dealt with separately, one that are of the grievous and serious kind with deep rooted problems – and the other that are notorious and on the street
  • He observes how the police personnel are deprived of family life, living in harsh and mentally frustrating situations – and how all police men and women come to appreciate each other and develop a bond since they are victims of the same injury
  • Another very important thing brought up was the fact that lower ranks don’t have a career path towards higher positions – the sepoy to  inspector ranks are basically stagnant. This is the most serious issue with the system right now since it cuts off the most basic form of self-motivation.

Rajasthan CM Gehlot: The Biggest Dimwit?

This was reported on NewsX with Gehlot blurting out live on camera.

News: Jodhpur blood transfusion scam – children transfused with HIV+ blood

NewsReporter: Mr. Gehlot, what’s the Govt. doing..
CM Gehlot: We’ve sent an inquiry and authorities will be following up.
NewsReporter: How much time before we can see the reports..
CM Gehlot: We just won the Panchayati elections, we’re celebrating that “arre abhi to uski khushi manaiye aap log, Congress ne kitna bhadiya..
…err, cut it…

Seems like this bugger has more to celebrate than the newly HIV positive children.

How to become a politician? (India)

The why. You want to change the system and do some real work you can take pleasure in than just whining about it. Get that road straightened, or better, a new one carved! But then, you have your principles and you don’t want to break them – and politics is about doing away with all the principles. Bull shit, it is about breaking principles, so what? Like they said in “Page Three”, “To change the system, you have to be in the system“. So break those bloody principles you have and do stuff to get to the top. Don’t lose sight of your aims and of what you were and when you get there, re-establish the real you.

The good. Contrary to belief, you really don’t have to be a son of a tycoon to become a politician – though it would certainly help a lot. Money is the goer in Indian politics today, but not the only one.

Let’s look at the timelines first. You start today with one of the few options we explore here, and you would probably take another 10 years to reach at the top – if everything falls right in place. Even if you are partly successful, it will take you to a position where you can do a considerably lot more than just whine.

The first option is to enroll into the civil services. This works best, since the chances of entering the political arena are a million times more than any of the other ways in. The plan is simple:

  1. Get ready for the civil services entrance exams conducted by UPSC.
  2. The hardest part is clearing the Mains, but well, you’re preparing for something larger in your mind – the Indian Polity, so this is nothing.
  3. Be in service for another 8-10 years, make your contacts and get your voluntary retirement when a party promises you a ticket.
  4. Even if your party, whoever it is, gets you to organize an election – you still can change a lot. It’s not about getting elected, the power to do anything at all on those levels can help you move stuff faster.
  5. With clear objectives, you can even do a lot of stuff if you are just a manager/organizer/adviser in a State/National party committee – since the only thing that matters is getting stuff done.

Obviously, I am imagining that you want to be a politician to be a change catalyst – and not a money minter. I hope you are never successful in case you are planning all of this for the latter. :|

The second way in is to apply to a local political party. The best time, when they need most help, is during an election (any election). You can showcase your public speaking skills, your education, your background, your negotiation skills – anything at all. Chances of your getting in at organizational levels are very high. They even pay a salary to individuals. Now, it is mentionable, that at every level of these options – there will be a tough job for you to get through by playing some “real games” in life. Did you hear, “you can never please everyone”? Get it out of your head. Time to change age-old adages and get them wrong is what your attitude should be.

The third option, and the real way that was devised to get into the system is… In most circumstances, you are already late for this. This was through being elected at the university level as a president for a youth wing of a particular party. This doesn’t apply to a lot of states where University politics has been banned or is extremely controlled. You don’t have to be the president per se, but this is the best arena you can sharpen your skills to get to the top.

The fourth way in is by going to the village of your dreams (or where you can associate yourself the closest). You attend the Panchayats, become a helping hand in every possible way and get to become one of the Panchs. Then you work your way up to the top. It would take a lot more time this way, but this is by far the easiest ways in for the urban-educated masses if they can understand and relate to rural problems. If you can’t take life without a packet of weekend, you have to practice and live with it.

The bad. These are a few of the ways to get there – all that sure looks easy but ain’t so. Not to disappoint you, but power comes after great risks but with greater benefits and even greater responsibility. Won’t talk about the benefits & responsibility, but now follow the risks and the tough part.

Civil services are not for onboarding politicians. The idea of it being a launchpad is since it’s the closest you can be with a real politician. Since you get close to them, you can tell them how you want to be one of them. There are threats though. 90 of 100 politicians today don’t want newcomers. Nepotism is what reigns there. So you have to be at the right place, with the right people and to complete it, at the right time with the right words. You risk getting far-posted and at worse, getting deported or even worse – getting stripped & jailed for things you never did.

Getting to work at a local office of a political party is no fun. You deal with people who themselves have been there for ages and have dreamt of becoming the CM-then-PM. To compete with such political nerds, who have nothing but fetishes of power, it’s a completely different game. Threat to life is the worse that it can get. Don’t try it if you are not a local yourself or cannot act like one. That is the best pretext to get you thrown out if they find out.

Studying in a University infested with a political system is the worst thing a student wants to do in India. But who said you were a student? You wanted to be a politician – and being a student who gets a degree at the end is just a side-effect. Since such Universities are numbered, your chances of getting into the University get lower since you again have to be a local to get all the advantages. To get to the top, you’d have to do things that you never believed in.

Of course, the surest way is always the longest – though with lesser risks (depending upon how aggressive the environment is). Getting into the Panchayati system (which is completely different from the state-union), makes sure you can do your stuff, strike a chord with the local polity and get to work on real-life projects that will alter the way people lead their life. The only thing it doesn’t do is – do it fast. So being in the realm of your final objectives all the time is going to be very critical. In most cases, this will be the most rewarding experience since you will see change happening as you go – and unlike the other options above, you’d get to do stuff right from the beginning.

35 to Badami

Badami has single-rock sandstone caves carved into temples (near Hampi – around 160 Km). That was my motivation to get there and after seeing Malegatti Shivalaya (Badami)the Hampi ruins, I thought it best to get some positivity back. It so happened that the road to Badami had much more to say than probably the place itself.

The road from Hampi to Badami is kind of nice until you follow a state highway that leads you all the way until the last 35 Kms to Badami are left. This 35 Km journey was very interesting. The road is broken and slows you down completely. It’s a single lane road, meaning you can either come or go if you have the road for yourself. That doesn’t mean that there’s no oncoming traffic. Mini trucks would still ply there forcing you and themselves to go off the road on one side of the axles.

That ain’t all. It was around 7.30pm in the evening and I saw a bunch of folks walking towards Badami on the same road. The highway was converted into a single lane footpath-cum-road. It wasn’t until I saw the milestone with 35 on it (and the mention of Badami) that I realized that there was quite a bit of travel left. What geared me up was the fact that I was in a car, while these people were walking – in the dark – on a broken road for a journey as long as 35 Kms (around 22 miles).

There was ample time to wash down, since all I could do was a meager 30 Kmph on that road and I knew it would take me another hour or so. Thinking on these lines, it struck me, why was the 130 Km highway suddenly changed into a broken footpath? There’s a well paved out two lane road with cat’s-eye markers, 2 ft shoulders and signs that tell you to keep under 60 and suddenly it goes dud!

The slowdown angered me so much that I felt what the people living out there could do. There are only a couple of transport vehicles plying on the road because of the very condition of the road. Due to the bad condition, you cannot even ride a cycle there, the humps would break your knees. I wondered, what if they became violent one day in protest? Will that make a difference? Well, that’s what turns into naxalite activity. This very frustrating 35 Km stretch could well become a seed for naxalites there – people who fight for simple things and fight so hard that they forget what they were fighting for. Things Chhattisgarh, AP and Bihar are facing for a long time.

It’s not just Badami – the story is same for Karmala to Bijapur  (MH),  Lucknow to Bareilly (UP) and Shirdi to Aurangabad (MH). Bad roads are everywhere – and there are long ways to go.

YSR

Someone: Not the right time to talk on his allegations. 63  people died across the state so far some are heart attack and some are suicide cases.

Me: How can I be so sure that the person was shocked because of a certain death or any other ailment he had?

To take this further, shocks happen when you have absolutely no clue of the news and you suddenly get that “X” happened. In this case, there was a build-up of a missing helicopter for over 24 hours and hence any shock that someone is dead was not supposed to be a shock. If they were so concerned, they were closely following the news and probably already had the idea that the people are dead. That is not to say that people didn’t really get shocked, but it is highly unlikely. To get media attention, there might have been wrong reports and wrong attribution.

Someone: We are nothing to do with his newspaper and news channel and steel plants rather than some employment to the public.

Me: Why so? There should be a thorough investigation into where the money came from to start up a news channel. I am not able to build a bloody room for myself and people go setting up their own steel plants? If I stopped paying the taxes that is being used in ways I don’t know (leading to Naxalite activities), I could at least think of loaning my own house. That steel plant is profiting from your money. Everyone has the right of question.

This is not just about Andhra Pradesh or this particular incident. This is about how we go about justifying actions about anyone who is dead. Going to the deathbed doesn’t mean you automatically become an angel and escape scrutiny.

We really need to change this attitude – “blah opened up two hospitals and three schools” and so they must’ve been really nice. Come on, you can’t stay in power by just building elephant figures and your own statues everywhere. You have to achieve public work, and almost every politician achieves that by merely following what the bureaucrats tell them to (so that they remain in good books).

I don’t trust media’s conclusions – they are biased, tilted and most of them have a single source, so there’s no cross-verification. That doesn’t mean we all go out in our own chartered helicopters, but that we don’t form any judgments and always remain in this fuzzy state of stupidity where we really don’t know what the exact truth is.

Poochh-taachh (taach.com)

I had this idea of creating a wiki to collect data on how we do things with the Govt. and stuff. So finally, here it goes:

http://taach.com

In case you have any experiences to share or write up stuff there (or even if someone has a writeup I can point to from there), I’d be more than welcoming that.

I plan to keep it a text-only site and have a mobile version up soon (that would only send the body – no frills). It is just MediaWiki running there for now with the plainest skin available.

Indian Super Railways – that's what we need

There’s a dire need to upgrade and increase the capacity of the Indian Railways. When you look at the 6-lane, 4-lane and sometimes 2-lane highways in the US, you feel how could India have had something similar. We don’t need anything of that sort.

India’s answer to the US and European highways would be the Indian Railways. We don’t need to replicate what everyone is doing, we just need to have a way of our own to do it. Every Indian would use the Railways as efficiently as people use the roads or air travel elsewhere in the world. Instead of bailing out Air India, bloody shut it down and use all that money to make a new track between Delhi and Mumbai and Delhi and Calcutta. Just kill the Maharaja.

We have an excellent mesh of Railway network that just needs to be upgraded. There are hundreds of stations in just about an area of thousand kilometre square, which makes it the best point-to-point network that has ever been. More so, the Railways are an automatic way to reach from point A to point B, with minimum risk and fatigue. The advantages are way beyond what anyone could imagine. My point is, India needs a major infrastucture investment in the Railways and not the highways.

Consider this article from SCIAM. The article points to the fact that selfish drivers would do better in an environment of less convenience rather than in an environment that was better suited to their needs. The very fact that they tore down a highway between two points in Seoul and increased the traffic efficiency, is indicator enough of how things can churn out.

Consider the fact that India invests another hundred thousand crores on the highways. It would only add more pressure on the cities and that now the infrastructure is available, fuel prices would go up for want of use of the highways. Instead, let’s build more railway tracks. Here’s what we could do:

  • Build more railway tracks – upgrade two lane tracks to four lanes between major junctions
  • Upgrade all single tracks to a minimum of two lane tracks
  • Re-enforce all bridges along major railway tracks or build alternate bridge routes with hard deadlines
  • Increase the number of central stations that exist in a city – upgrade normal stations to central (or junction) status to de-pressurize the number of passenger boardings on central or city or junction stations
  • Increase the number of general class coaches to a minimum of 10 coaches in short distance trains and a minimum of 5 coaches in long distance trains. Right now, there are at most 3 general coaches in both long and short distance trains.
  • Reduce the number of classes – abolish coupe class, abolish AC first class, abolish First Class (2 tier sleeper)
  • Do away with Pantry cars and catering services – focus on what we have to do – travel.
  • Make mandatory electrified routes between all major stations: Delhi – Lucknow, Bangalore – Chennai, Mumbai – Pune (which doesn’t even have a train route yet), Bangalore – Hyderabad, Bhopal – Raipur, etc.
  • Ensure that if there are more than 36 (half of the number of berths in a Sleeper Coach) waitlisted passengers, then all of them should be guaranteed a seat with extra coaches being added to the train.
  • Run emergency trains to cater to any extra capacity required and increase the number of coaches/engines.
  • Introduce Ultra-super-fast trains for long distances that would run on dedicated tracks and stop only at junctions
    • Target run-time of such trains should be less than 24 hours. It is doable:
    • From Jammu to Kanya-Kumari, the distance is approximately 3500 Kms
    • If a train runs at an average speed of 180 Kmph (which is a doable speed on a new dedicated track), it can do the distance in 19.5 hours.
    • Add to that any extra time taken for boarding/stopping/cleaning etc. and you have another 4.5 hours.
    • If the train stops at 12 points for an average of 15 minutes at every point (which is extremely sufficient), it would have used only 3 hours out of those 4.5 hours.

There are a million other things to do. If even half of my above wishes see light, we would see a much better India in future.

Ok to be gay, but the church says…

Who cares what the church says? The state should not be interfered by any religion. India is a secular country and nobody cares what they think inside the church. They can keep it to those who do not have any choice.

As India matures to yet another line of thought: NDTV reports on the issue. Article 377 is the extreme, there in the constitution to appease religous sentiments. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism – the religions followed by the majority, do not have any firm lines of thought on homosexuality. Extremists and fascists from these groups might have strong thoughts, but they are not based on any proofs of banishment of homosexuality in any of these religions. Though it is for sure that the BJP would disagree on this, I for one, do not care about them when it comes to this. Both Christianity and Islam have strict opposition to any kind of homosexuality. Nobody cares.

This is most unfortunate that the Indian constitution is being affected by hypocritic ideologies. Statements from Church officials say, “We know and understand the need of someone to be homosexual. What we do not accept is that they have sex.” Hey Mr. Smart A**, if you could write down the spelling of homosexuality, you would understand that it does have the letters “s”, “e” and “x” in it (in that particular order). So go and dig deep somewhere.

For the most part, the problem is not the church. The problem is the other half of our society that is still bothering with control on individual preferences and does not have any inclination to fix other extremely basic problems (related to the mother and child).

Scrapping Article 377 would be yet another police reform and rid the police of any extra annoyances they had to worry about.