Devayani Khobragade issue on CNN

CNN TV channel, the demigod of USA, did a segment on Devyani issue in their popular program called “Piers Morgan Live” today. CNN or FOX News like TV channels are openion makers in USA and discussion of Devayani issue is an acknowlement of the fact that finally this issue getting registered in their minds.

Indian response so far is quite measured but still somewhat subdued. Removing barriers from the road leading to USA embassy in Delhi is by far the most visual part of it. We must pursue this matter further with much stronger response.

USA has subjected one of our female diplomats to a body/cavity search, has put handcuffs on her and jailed her with criminals like drug addicts and rapists. And what was her crime ? She was accused to have paid to her Indian maid a salary less that minimum wage of USA. As per USA standards the minimum wage works out to be S4500r while the salary of the diplomat is $4200. So she was supposed to pay her maid, a salary more than what she earns as a diplomat! For this crime (!) she has been jailed and fined! In past also USA had subjected our citizens to humiliation. They did not spare our past president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and then defense minister Late Mr. George Fernandez. India at every such instance in past had responded meekly and subserviently.

There is no need for the clamor of USA having done anything lawfully wrong, if a law of their land was violated in someway. They are treating this issue as a law enforcement issue and we must respond to it in like manner. First India must payoff whatever money USA wants out of this issue and get the thing over with. Simultaneously we must enforce our laws of land on USA citizens in India. One example of issuing visas to homosexual partners (companions) of USA diplomats working in India. As per our law of land homosexuality is a crime and we must revoke visas of all such individuals immediately and deport them forthwith. After all USA being a law abiding nation should welcome this step !

Ms Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State. during her recent trip to India and interview to a local TV channel had admitted that post 123 agreement, there has been marked increase in cooperation between Indian and USA in technology and defense areas (read the meaning of word ‘cooperation’ as business). In these business transactions India gets goods and USA gets Dollars and jobs for their citizens in their country. We should take a hard look at all these “areas of cooperation”, find alternate markets in Europe and Russia. In today’s state of world economy every single country is hungry for money and jobs.

We must continue our pressure on USA with strong and lawful counter actions.

Aam Admi Party – New kingmaker in Delhi

By not giving majority to AAP and bringing BJP close to half way mark, people of Delhi have done a favor to themselves. During the campaign for Janlokpal, the conduct of people now in AAP, has proved that they are not yet ready to play an effective role in the field of politics, which needs something more than idealism. While it was understandable for people like Ramdev Baba, to get fooled by Congress maneuvers, it was utterly surprising that eminent lawyer like Prashant Bhushan, IAS and IPS officers like Kesariwal and Kiran Bedi  could not handle the dirty politics of Congress which ultimately let into deflation of the Janlokpal movement.

It is best for AAP to get the experience of administration and politics by sitting in opposition. This way they get to learn ropes and at the same time, not having power themselves, get shielded from the all the ills the power brings to people, especially when they are not used to it in the first place.

AAP says that they played on regional issues of Delhi and hence were primarily fighting the inept and corrupt rule of congress and it is anger of people against congress rule which got them so many seats. Given to this position it should not be be difficult for AAP to support a non-congress government formed by BJP and provide  an issue based support. This way they do not get blamed for being a roadblock in government formation leading to repeat elections but at the same time can exert some positive influence on the BJP government to ensure that it provides a clean, corruption free administration. This is a win-win situation for all, especially people of Delhi.

It was a nice experience to watch Mr. Yogendra Yadav, AAP spokesperson on NDTV channel today. He came out as a level headed, honest person. His public posturing today was to sit in opposition as AAP does not have numbers. Hope in private AAP takes a more practical view and helps Delhiites to get a clean, efficient and corruption free government.

In parties like AAP which have born out of issue based public movements, it is always a danger that there are too many cooks, to many people who think themselves as leaders, experts and spokespersons leading to diverse and conflicting positions, creating confusion among public. Consider how the flip-flops done by Mr. Anna Hazare have irreparably damaged his image – to an extend that public is not able to take him seriously anymore. Hope AAP does better on this front

Crime and Punishment

I was going thru the the JILS blog and the entry named ‘Through my Looking Glass’ by the lady who claimed to be sexually violated by a retired Supreme court judge. She writes about this incident in a cool, story telling way which I find at complete contrast with the recital of similar incident by another lady involved in sexual assault case of Tehelka’s Tejpal. This lady sounds extremely agitated and angry. In both cases the males involved were their long time associates and more or less like their mentors. In spite of many other similarities in both cases, the responses of ladies involved are dramatically different. One wants to forget and forgive while the other wants to teach the violator a fitting lesson.

How should society respond in these cases. Should the response be in line with the desires of the victim or should it be solely based on the crime committed?

In both cases society has responded in a similar way. In case of the retired judge, the response is a bit subdued but essentially the public in general does not want violators in these cases to be forgiven, whatever be the victim’s desire. This is more so because in both cases the violators are influencial people and hence public feels that these cases must be given maximum exposure so that they  become lessons for their peers and other lesser mortals who may want to indulge in such acts in future.

How long should we subsidize J&K government?

Since independence, Central government has been providing support to J&K government in the form of special subsidies and financial assistance, which far exceeds any such assistance given to any other Indian state. An article “370-an-objective-appraisal” ( points out the following fact:

“It’s worth noting that the per-capita subsidy provided to J&K is 16 times more than West Bengal and 12 times more than Bihar. Allocation of financial resources for the Kashmir valley varies between 65-69 percent, whereas both Jammu and Ladakh divisions put together get about 31-35 percent. J&K also gets special employment packages and prime ministers packages regularly but there is no accountability as none of this information is made public or is available under J&K’s RTI Act.”

What the Indian state has received in return? Constant bickering, threats of terrorism and voices to either be independent or merge with another bankrupt country like Pakistan. Forget what people and governments of J&K have done for the rest of the country, they have not been able to help themselves. Their tourist industry is in ruins, revenue from film shootings has all but gone, they have not been able to market their produce be it eatables or articles like shawls and carpets. They only want more and more aid, then turn back, and curse the aid givers.

It is now time to teach people of J&K some lessons in reality. We need to tell them that there are no free lunches. Basically  there is an urgent need to discipline the state. They have abused the shelter provided by article 370 and there is a need to bring the state at par with other states of the Indian Union in terms of laws, rights and responsibilities.

But do our politicians have a will and guts to do so? Can they rise above the petty politics of appeasement? If they are not, then it is time for we, the people of India to throw such politicians and their parties out of power. We have suffered too long; our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered too long and have become homeless in their own country. Now is the time for the country to act and help J&K to get the respectable status it deserves by being able to stand on it’s own feet and become the jewel of the country it was many years back.

Profiteering at the cost of customer safety

All of us remember the gruesome incident at Bangalore where a lady was robbed and brutally thrashed at an in-secure ATM. Now a days you will notice that at many ATM’s, especially of private banks, there is no security guard, the ATM booths are filthy, air conditioners not working and the entrance doors at times do not even close. You may recollect that when these banks opened various ATMs, they were properly manned by security staff and were clean, well lit and secure. Once customers became habituated with ATM convenience, banks started cost cutting measures and one of these was off loading ATM responsibilities on franchises. Manning ATMs 24×7 was considered as a major cost and hence they removed security guards at the cost of customer safely which eventually resulted in the Bangalore incident.

Bank’s argument about ATM guarding cost is incomplete and presents only one side of the story, the one which is convenient to the banks. However the other side of the story is about the huge cost saving at the bank branches. Looking at the large no. of people who use ATMs, it a simple fact that in absence of ATMs these people would have flocked the bank branches requiring large augmentation of staff, bigger premises and added infrastructure. All of these would have cost banks a bundle, which they have saved 100% but on which they remain conveniently silent. Considering a single shift cost of Rs. 8000.0 per guard, banks would incur a monthly cost of Rs. 24000.0 on security. Considering this cost against their enormous recurring savings on staff and premises costs, one can easily deduce that with ATMs banks are actually making money and their cost cutting is nothing but profiteering at the cost of customer security and safety.

We all must raise our voice with the banks and make them provide security at the ATMs at no extra cost to the customers. They can not profiteer at our cost, let them improve their profits by being more efficient and innovative.

Otherwise, there will be a day when one of us will again fall victim to some brute at an un-guarded ATM of one of the “prestigious” banks.

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