Saturday, August 29, 2009

Declaration of assets – Much ado about nothing

After Punjab & Haryana High Court Judge Justice Mr. Kannan and Karnataka HC Judge Justice Mr. Shylendra Kumar declared their assets and brought pressure on Apex Court to declare the assets of Supreme Court Judges also, the elite media is elated. While one segment views it as revolution in transparency in respect of those holding public office, others are euphoric over the effect that such disclosure will have on checking corruption or amassing of wealth by extraneous means by others. It is surprising that the issue has bitten the judiciary from the legislators who have been forced to reveal something during the elections. The effect of affidavits filed by our politicians on the levels of corruption is better not discussed. In this ocean of bribery and manipulation, one can well imagine the impact of disclosure of assets. It can be proudly said that we compare with the developed world where such asset declaration is made by the judiciary. Right from election funding to corporate frauds, the so-called developed nations lag no behind in all things shady and loathsome. These voluntary or administrative measures are cosmetic as in the next 100 years you will not get a property deed registered without bribe, you will not get a motor driving license without bribe or your building plan sanctioned without greasing a few. If from next year, no RTO demands speed money, one can laud the campaign on asset declaration. Pessimistic one may say but reality is often synonymous with it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Independence Day Greetings

Happy Independence Day

More than 6 decades – still the debate rages. Only political freedom and no economic independence – the cry has not changed all these years. We may argue on such controversies but there can hardly be any doubt that India as a nation, need to travel a long way before at least a decent majority is guaranteed of basic necessities. The agenda of development has become so twisted that there are as much opinions as the population itself on what is to be done.

On the one side we have all hi-fi analysis touting the invasion of television in rural households as a giant leap in India’s growth story. The mobile phone revolution and use of hi-tech gadgets by the vegetable vendor is seen as second liberation. Somebody suddenly talks of building temple as the only way forward and later wants to bring back all black money stashed in foreign banks. In the midst of all confusion, gay marriage becomes the number one issue – the reforms in this direction is advocated as the panacea to root out all social evils and to bring India in the league of developed nations.

The avaricious Sensex which is the most insensitive index vis-à-vis all social problems, is the only barometer for the pundits to measure our wellness. For some driving out industry is an achievement. For some naxals are a menace while the corrupt babus and netas are not. Installation of statues will improve the living conditions of the downtrodden and of course, others also. Till the other day, global best practices and integration were proclaimed as sine qua non and now, they say Indian economy managed to save its skin from economic chaos because of relative insulation.

All this apart, starvation deaths continue to be reported. Children and women in remote villages suffer and die of malnutrition, hunger and lack of medical attention. No social security for the aged and infirm who must work till they land in the grave. The more we talk about (in)sensitivity, civic (non)awareness, social (ir)responsibility, etc., the more pessimistic it sounds. Independence Day gives us some time to reflect on what we need and what don’t, where we are headed and where we ought to, what are the values with which our individual and social lives have become polluted and what are the values we should yearn to imbibe…Let me think first rather than being preachy.