Monday, April 19, 2010

"Goliath kills David"

Thousands of years before the birth of Christ(BC),in the Jewish kingdom, there was a giant called Goliath. He was a man of might and was unchallenged.All were scared including the King. One fine day, a small boy named David took up the challenge to fight with Goliath. It was similar to a battle between a Giant and a Lilliputian. David,using a catapult killed Goliath and later became the famous 'King David'. There ends the story.Few days before, Goliath took up a fight with David.Tharoor never realized that he was just a Lilliputian in front of mighty Goliath( Lalit Modi).Instead of going for a truce by surrendering 'Kochi IPL franchisee' to the whims and wishes of Goliath,he thought after all he is Minister of State, and accepted Goliath's offer to fight. Entire nation witnessed. History DID NOT repeat this time.Goliath killed David. A month before, BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu made a remark in Rajya Sabha which created laughter in the Upper House.He remarked that Tharoor's Twitting(he meant tweeting)will lead to his Quitting.Venkaiah Naidu was alomost right. Tweeting led to quitting but it was Modi's tweeting.Shashi Tharoor has been forced to resign because prima facie he appears to be guilty.Lalit Modi is Goliath not because he is IPL chairman, he is Goliath because he is ‘Lalit Modi’. Forget Tharoor, even the Cabinet Minister for External Affairs cannot take a decision when it affects the relation with foreign country like Pakistan without the consent of Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.But our Goliath took a decision with his cabinet colleagues Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta to ban Pakistani players from attending IPL 3 which severely affected relations with Pakistan at that point of time.But our Goliath got away unharmed. When most of the middle class population run after LIC agents during March to save few thousands of rupees to save from tax, our Goliath tried to evade around two hundred crores of rupees as entertainment tax from Maharashtra Government(which could have been used for infrastructure projects) citing the reason that IPL is promoting a sport. Is cricket an endangered sport in India and whether our IPL missionaries are promoting an endangered sport to get tax exemption? Our Goliath who never played cricket could also threaten to remove from Cricket academy, the cricket icon in India, Kapil Dev, when the latter was supporting Indian Cricket League(not IPL).

In my view, Shashi Tharoor became a casualty in this episode. Mamata tried to make Indian Railway Budget a Bengal Railway Budget, Lalu did the same for Bihar and Maran did the same in Telecom for Tamil Nadu.This is a standard practice because,after all they are elected by the people of their home state and they have to go back to their electorate after 5 years. This practice may be wrong but still it is not illegal. Tharoor did the same. If he had the intention of getting stakes through his friend, he could have done it silently. He openly acknowledged to the media that he is a patron of Kochi franchisee because Kerala is his home state. He supported openly. If he had intentions of misusing his office for getting stakes for his friend Sunanda, then he could have silently done it. Even the Congress feels that Tharoor has done a SILLY BLUNDER which means that Tharoor has become a casualty because he did act silly.One can argue that Tharoor did not promote Railways or Telecom for his State, but it can also be genuine that he could have decided to promote IPL seeing the craziness for this sport. Anyhow since Tharoor was holding a responsible post and there are prima facie doubts about his involvement in alleged transfer of stakes to his friend Sunanda, it’s good that he was removed from the post of Minister. On the other hand Modi who took the moral stand of exposing Tharoor, was a failure in all his business ventures till 3 years before, but has bought a private jet, a luxury yacht , a fleet of Mercedes and BMW cars after he became IPL chairman. Times of India report alleges that Modi’s brother in law Chellaram has stakes in Rajasthan Royals and Modi also has Benami stakes in Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders Teams. Times of India report also claims that IT raids have found Modi’s involvement in IPL betting and money laundering.

Its good that Goliath-David battle took place, not because Goliath may also be killed soon, not because Goliath’s betting scandal has got exposed, but good because some section of MPs in Parliament have started demanding the ban of IPL. Modi who claims that IPL’s aim is to promote cricket across the world, should have not opposed ICL if that was his true intention because ICL was also a league which could have promoted cricket.BCCI actually started IPL to counter ICL and it used all arm twisting activities and removed ICL from the arena and has become the sole proprietor of the Gold mines. Even though cricket is a lazy sport and has spoilt the sponsorships of other games, one thing good about cricket is, it unites the nation. If Rahul Dravid played well, Tamils, Biharis, Bengalis and the entire nation praised the iron man of Karnataka. Similarly if Harbhajan Singh bowled well, the Haryanvis, Kannadigas, Bengalis , Assamese and the entire nation praised the Punjab Tiger. IPL on the other hand has removed the only positive factor in Cricket. It has led to balkanization of Indian Cricket. and India The other day one of my friend was about to cry because 'Chennai Super Kings' lost. I asked him whether Dhoni was from Chennai. He told Dhoni likes Chennai and that’s why he opted for being a player in 'Chennai Super Kings'. He also told that Dhoni out of his love for Chennai, has recently bought a house in Chennai. Nowadays my friend staunchly opposes Sachin, Ganguly etc because they play against Chennai. Some may argue that IPL is equivalent to Foot Ball league and County Cricket of European countries and it has not led balkanization in those countries. Its true for Europe, but India is not Europe where there is single religion and single language.In next few years, the youngsters will start really believing that Dhoni is playing for Chennai out of his love for Chennai and will start fighting with Kannadigas if 'Royal Challengers' win 'Chennai Super Kings', like the way people react when Indo-Pak cricket match takes place.I conclude with the remarks of Geeth Sethi,the Billiard player, who won the first individual Olympic Gold medal for India, “The fanatical obsession called cricket has just joined hands with the film world to create a new pastime (I consciously refrain from calling it a sport) where it will gain even further visibility and media hype fuelled by both cricket and Bollywood,this in turn will almost certainly divert sponsorship which could have gone to disciplines with a genuine chance of winning India that Olympic gold.”

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"We the people"

In 2008 May, there was Panchayat Election in West Bengal.I was Additional District Magistrate of West Midnapore District at that time. On the day of elections, I was busy moving to different polling booths since early morning and things were normal. Around 1 30 PM, I got a message from Election Control Room stating that there was a panic call from one of the Presiding officers of Jamboni area. Jamboni is a very disturbed place known for its criminal and anti social activities. It took around an hour for me to reach the polling booth from where the panic call was logged. The presiding officer was sweating and his face was pale. I asked him whether there was booth capturing. To my surprise, he told that everything was normal and peaceful. I got irritated and asked him why he gave a call to control room if everything was normal. He told that due to intense heat, he became abnormal and so he made a call, which was a very foolish answer. I could make out that he had been threatened not to talk. I checked the voting register and found that voting percentage was normal till 1 pm, but suddenly there was drastic increase of approximately 30% of votes between 1 and 2 pm, which was a clear indication of booth capturing. I searched for polling agents of different political parties but none were found. If I recommend for repoll without Presiding Officer’s report, State Election Commission may not accept. So I thought of trying my last option. I took the presiding officer to a nearby room and told that he would be suspended (He was a teacher in Govt School) for raising false alarm when polling was peaceful. His face became blank and the he started weeping for next 5 minutes.Then he told that one of the election candidate came with armed personnel around 1 PM and drove away the polling agents and cast bogus votes.When he saw the presiding officer calling for help to control room, he threatened to kill if presiding officer gives any report.After much of persuasion, the presiding officer agreed to give a report on booth capturing, on the condition that I would stay in the booth till the polling is over and I would accompany him up to DCRC where he would deposit the ballot boxes. State Election Commission on receipt of Presiding Officer’s report along with my recommendation, ordered for repoll.

Last month, I was returning from Delhi after attending a meeting. The person who was sitting beside me in flight was in White Shirt and White Dhoti, and from his attire I could make out that he was a politician. After initial exchange of pleasantries, I came to know that he was a political functionary of a prominent political party of Tamil Nadu.He told that he came from a poor fisherman’s family and he still owns fishing boats which goes for fishing. To get respect within his community he joined politics and after few years his work got recognized by the party high command and he was made the candidate for an election. I found him to be very down to earth person and very friendly. We started serious discussions about the current political scenario. I shared my Jamboni experience with him. On hearing it, he asked me whether I voted in last election. I was surprised by his question. I told him that I voted, but not in Tamil Nadu but in West Bengal, as I was registered voter of West Bengal. He again asked whether my friends and relatives voted in last election. I could not make out on why he was asking such question. I told that I did not know whether my friends and relatives voted. He told, “ Mr.Israel you go and ask them whether they voted. If they are honest to you, then the answer would be ‘no’. Of course they would say that they have lost hopes in politicians of India. Middle class and upper class people always are critical of politicians. They argue that military rule is the only solution for India. They talk very big but on the day of elections, around 50% stay at their home without coming to polling booth and watch TV because all TV channels would be broadcasting new movies on the day of election. Don’t think that the remaining 50% would have come to polling booth. Rather they would have left the previous day itself to the nearest tourist location along with their friends or families because Election day is a paid holiday in India. So when we go back to electorate asking to vote on our constructive work, our middle class and upper class voters are missing. It is the poor people who come to vote and as they are vulnerable due to poverty, we start bribing for votes. We are left with the option of booth capturing or vote buying. As Election Commission is very strict these days, booth capturing is ruled out. So currency plays a crucial role. Today the rate of one vote is approximately Rs 1000 in Tamil Nadu.” As he was getting emotional I changed the topic of discussion. Even though he was not 100% correct, still I found his argument was very logical to a great extent. Once we landed at Chennai, we exchanged our visiting cards. The following Sunday, he sent to my house, large quantity of fishes and prawns.

Yesterday I was reading the blog of Shri L.K.Advani in which he had written a post on compulsory voting (March 7th, 2010 post). Shri L.K.Advani is of the view that graduates, post graduates etc, try to shy away from voting and hence he argues for compulsory voting. He says, “I read about a remarkable incident that occurred in eighteenth century Britain.A member of the House of Commons received a letter from his constituents in which he was asked to vote against certain excise proposals in the Budget. According to the BBC feature, the M.P. sent a stinging reply to his voters as follows :
“Gentlemen, I have received your letter about the excise, and I am surprised at your insolence in writing to me at all.
“You know, and I know, that I bought this constituency.
“You know, and I know, that I am now determined to sell it.
“And you know what you think I don’t know that you are looking for another buyer.
“And I know what you certainly don’t know, that I have found another constituency to buy.”
So during next election, either we people should vote or if we are busy with tourist places or TV, we should stop talking like intellectuals on the status of democracy and politicians in India. I know most of the middle class and upper class would prefer to stop talking rather than voting. So in my view, compulsory voting is the only solution for India.Some people who may argue that none of the candidates are worth voting, may exercise Rule 49-O after reaching the polling booth.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Our Father in Heaven..."

On 31st March, suddenly I had to visit National Institute of Rural Development(NIRD), Hyderabad.Since it was financial year ending, my visit was crucial for my organisation.On 30th evening only I decided due to a sudden development.When I told one of my colleagues about my plan to visit Hyderabad,he asked me to postpone because of the curfew imposed due to communal disturbances.I explained him the importance of my visit but still he insisted not to proceed.When he found me adamant,he asked how I would move from Hyderabad Airport to NIRD.I replied that there is no curfew in that area and so I would take a taxi from the Airport.He then gave me the phone number of a driver who took him to NIRD few months before when he visited Hyderabad.I called the driver and asked him to be at the airport around 7 30 AM of next day.Next day when I landed at Hyderabad, I found the driver waiting for me with my name written in a placard..I asked him his name and he told Rahim. Once I reached NIRD,I became too busy with my work.An employee of NIRD called Srinivasan was attached with me by NIRD to sort out the problem. Around 2 PM Srinivasan took me to the NIRD guest house for lunch.I started having lunch but suddenly Srinivasan vanished.After few minutes I found him bringing Rahim Bhai for lunch.Then only i remembered about Rahim bhai and felt ashamed that I forgot about his lunch because there was curfew and he cannot have lunch outside.Srinivasan and Rahim bhai were sitting in a nearby table and had lunch happily chatting about some telugu movie.I asked them whether they know each other earlier, I was told no.

Around 5PM my work got over I started to airport.I was thirsty and asked Rahim Bhai whether drinking water was there in the car but he was not able to find.As my trip to Hyderabad was suddenly planned,i forgot to take sufficient cash and since I had debit card and credit card I was not worried.Around 200 rupees was there in my wallet.I asked Rahim Bhai to stop near a ATM.Most of the ATMs were closed and finally when when i found an ATM , it was closed due to insufficient cash.Seeing my worried look Rahim bhai asked me the reason.I told that I did not have sufficient cash to pay his taxi bill.He asked me not to worry and pay him next time when I visit Hyderabad.I told that I didn't have plans to visit Hyderabad in near future and asked him his bank account number so that I could transfer fund to his account.He laughed and told why should a poor person like him have bank account and told me to pay the taxi bill whenever I return next time to Hyderabad and asked me not to worry even if my future visit is after one year.Suddenly he stopped the car and asked me to wait for few minutes and went to a nearby shop.I thought he went for smoking or to get pan.After few minutes he came back with a mineral water bottle and a frooti packet.As i earlier told him that i was thirsty he bought these thinking that I was not even having a single penny.I was moved by his attitude and paid him the money for water bottle and frooti.Luckily there was a ATM near the airport and so I could pay him the taxi bill.I bid farewell to my new friend Rahim Bhai and boarded the aircraft.

On my return journey I was reading a news item which stated that many poor labourers had lost their daily wages due to curfew and curfew may be imposed to new areas of the city the following day . I was worried that my friend Rahim Bhai would loose his daily earning.Why such communal fights happen in a country where around 40 crore people depend on their daily wages. Anyone who has read The Holy Bible or The Holy Quran would agree with me that thousands of years before the birth of Christ(BC), a patriarch named Abraham lived and he had two sons named Isaac and Ismail.Descendants of Isaac are Jews and descendants of Ismail are Muslims.Both religions agree on this.Jews worship God of Abraham and Muslims also worship God of Abraham.This is an undisputed fact accepted by both the religions. Jews were waiting for God to send Messiah.Whoever believed Jesus Christ as the Messiah became Christians.Jews who did not accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah are waiting for his arrival.According to Christianity,Jesus is the Messiah and he is the son of God.All Christians worship God of Abraham and his son Jesus Christ.So it is a crystal clear fact that Muslims,Jews and Christians worship only God of Abraham.Barring few most of the Historians are of the view that Aryans migrated from central Asia and share common ancestors with Jews.The sacraments of Jews and Hindus are very much similar.So when every religion is worshipping the same God why there are Crusades, Jihads and Hindu militia in which thousands of innocents are killed.Our Father in Heaven will definitely disallow in Heaven, the clerics and politicians of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism who use religion to unleash violence.On the other hand there are people like Srinivasan who take care of the Hunger of a Muslim and people like Rahim Bhai who is very generous towards a Christian, ironically when their relatives are fighting with the people of other religion just few kilo metres away in Hyderabad.