Feminism & Fascism

The society has become so sexist that everybody is going crazy in the name of women empowerment and feminism. I am not against those who preach gender equality and root for women liberties but the point that I want to make over here is that you cannot give a section of society its due representation and rights by snatching away the rights of another section of society.

In a situation where half of the nation is booked in the name of reservations for ladies, OBC’s and SC/ST’s, what is a general category man supposed to do? Beg for admissions in colleges or stand and cry in front of PSU’s for jobs. This ambiguous scenario can be understood both philosophically and pragmatically. Let me come out with an example. There is a difference between being a fundamentalist and being communal. Being a fundamentalist means that you’re rigidly following your religion as prescribed by your God in the Holy Verses of Your Book which is not at all wrong but when you’re being communal you’re discriminating against all those people who do not belong to your religion. What needs to be realized over here is that a particular belief cannot prosper at the cost of the other meaning thereby all those people who think that they are helping their religion by plotting the downfall of other religions are highly incorrect.

I have one more example. We have enormous poverty and inequality existing in the world. What do you do to end poverty? Loot all the rich people so that they also come down to the same level, the inequality ceases to exist and poverty finishes because everyone is now on the same footing. All these solutions are farce in nature. The writing on the wall is clear. All sorts of discriminatory solutions should be avoided to in order to fuse further problems, mobilization and dissent. Stop the practice of discriminating in order to empower women, OBC’s and SC/ST’s. It’s true that these sections of society were discriminated and suppressed in the past but the fact remains that they cannot prosper by doing the same to others.

Fighting Poverty & Identifying The Poor

There are an ample number of reasons for the failure of the welfare schemes initiated and implemented by the Planning Commission of India for the poor. The first and foremost problem lies with the identification of the poor. The statistics revealed from time to time by the Planning Commission are erroneously flawed and contradict the figures of many other independent outfits conducting surveys to measure poverty. This error comes into play because since a long period of time we’ve been dependent on a uniform definition of poverty. A uniform definition of poverty cannot rightfully point out towards all those who are poor. For correct and clear identification of the poor we need to have multiple definitions of poverty measuring poverty on multiple parameters. The figures obtained should be further classified and they should plainly put all those afflicted by poverty under different categories.

The first one should consist of all those who are living in a totally deprived state referred to as absolute poverty by economists. The second and third, should shell out the names of those who are poor but somehow are able to meet day to day expenses and who are vulnerable to poverty in the near future, respectively. The second problem lies with our bureaucracy. We’ve created a giant sized bureaucracy which incurs astronomical amounts of administrative overheads. 60-70% of the funds allocated get exhausted by the time all the administrative and management expenses are met, the next 10-20% get swallowed courtesy corruption. In such a scenario only 20% of the funds targeted at the people actually reach them. We’ve got to fix our bureaucracy. This handicap can be outdone by simplifying the procedure of implementation of schemes which will not only ensure cost effectiveness but will also lead to timely execution of the work to be done.

Bureaucracy needs to go through overhauling to get itself back on track in order to ensure that we are able to allocate 70% of the total number of funds allocated for the poor. If these small steps are performed as desired then we can surely achieve planned growth and eliminate poverty. We’ve got to stop concentrating on GDP. It just represents trade. The real growth is in desirously rooting out poverty and in improving the quality of life which is categorized by health, happiness and human resource development. Quality of life should always come prior to the standard of life because standard of life is economic in nature and the numbers game associated with it is can be easily manipulated with the help of the amount of money earned by the super rich. In an economy as unequal as ours it takes a far greater amount of pain to enhance the quality of life rather than the standard of life but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a need to enhance the standard of life. 

 

RTI & Institutional Efficiency

Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid recently stated that the Right to Information Act (RTI) is causing serious roadblocks in government functioning. The RTI Act has been a major milestone in the history of the constitutionally governed democratic Republic of India.

This Act has helped in exposing graft and incompetence, it has also led to the inception of transparency in government functioning, decision making and policy implementation but at the same time it has been greatly misused to create unnecessary obstructions to various policies to satisfy vested interests, political purposes and to garner access to politically sensitive information capable of evolving into a sensational news item.

This Act like all other acts has been rightly as well as wrongly used. What we need to do is to draw a clear line of demarcation between transparency and restricted institutional autonomy necessary for flawless functioning. Sometimes the tab of the RTI which hovers over the offices of the PM, CJI etc becomes burdening in nature. An effective mechanism capable of ousting and specifically stopping the misuse of an Act of this much importance is essential for good governance capable of giving inclusive growth. There is no denying of the fact that governments do need to be accountable to the general public but they deserve some secrecy to conduct diplomacy and statesmanship and this fact needs to be respected.

Hypersensitivity Towards Kashmir

Ever since the inception of India, Kashmir’s existence has revolved around scepticism and apprehension. The hypersensitivity of the Indian society towards Kashmir was once again brought to the forefront when three vagabonds attacked Prashant Bhushan, an eminent lawyer of the Supreme Court and a core member of Tem Anna in his court chamber.

The attackers assaulted Mr Bhushan because of his controversial statement in which he came up with the suggestion of a plebiscite in order to determine the fate of Kashmir. Even after being caught the attackers showed no signs of remorse and sounded unapologetic. The organization to which they belonged glorified them in the name of nationalism and patriotism. Shiv Sena, a highly regional, divisive and jingoist political party seized the moment and started using it to its political advantage. They hit out at Mr Bhushan for his comments which they referred to as ‘anti-nation’ outcry and further urged Anna Hazare to remove such anti-national elements from his team.

The Congress too with the help of this incident got an opportunity to settle scores with Team Anna. It stated that Kashmir is, was and will always be an integral part of India and there can be no rethinking or re-posturing of India’s stand on this issue. The spokespersons of the Congress lashed out at Mr Bhushan and he had to face severe opprobrium. Realizing that they were on the back-foot because of the remarks of Mr Bhushan, Team Anna distanced itself from his statement in order to ensure that they don’t lose popular support. This whole fiasco has generated an intriguing question within me. What is the reason for India’s hypersensitivity towards Kashmir? For years India along with Pakistan has been trying to find a landmark settlement in relation to Kashmir but they have always failed to arrive at a consensus.

We need to realize that talks haven’t yielded the kind of results which we thought they could. In such a situation like this the only feasible solution to this impasse is an election where the people of Kashmir get to decide their fate. They have every right to choose the country to which they intend to be associated with and this was the idea which was given by Prashant Bhushan. Logically I don’t find any fault in this suggestion. It’s the most pragmatic solution possible. We’ve got to accept the fact that if we want to settle the issue of Kashmir then we need to take a chance. The settlement can lead to conceding large chunks of the land of Kashmir to Pakistan but that in any case would be far better than the present scenario ie the impending logjam which has resulted into commotion and violence in the valley. I feel that for once democracy should be given a chance to speak. We’ve taken ‘n’ number of initiatives in the past, right from the deployment of forces in the valley for peacekeeping to enacting the AFSPA to counter terrorists. We’ve also taken up this issue with different countries and at various international summits but they have all failed. We haven’t got a result and the most feasible way of getting a result is a plebiscite.

UPA Govt. & Political Mismanagement

The Congress led UPA Government seems to be in a hurry to demit the omnipotent office of the Union Government. They seem to have overlooked all their past wrongdoings and are learning nothing from those bitter experiences which is evident from the fact that they have deliberately pushed on the accelerator which seems to be heading them towards a political dead end.

The striking feature of this Government is the astronomical amount of governance deficit associated with it. All the Ministers, Ministry’s and Party Officials seem to be officiating with the sole intention of ensuring that whenever they are questioned, they field an impeccable argument of self defence and self justification. Government representatives refuse to come out and take a public stance on an issue until and unless a massive hue and cry is generated. Today, we saw two senior officials of the Government, namely, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairperson Planning Commission and Noted Economist Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister Rural Development, most noted for his stint in the Ministry of Environment & Forests, enforce upon a truce between themselves (as has been the case with other members of this Government whenever a dispute has been brought to light in the public domain) and issue a joint communiqué which was in no way convincing and satisfying.

The Planning Commission strategically dissociated itself from the BPL figure of Rs 32 saying that it does not represent its view. Mr Ahluwalia further added that the schemes of the commission have been so devised that in most of the cases the beneficiaries of the schemes happen to be both the sections of the society (Below Poverty Line [BPL] and Above Poverty Line [APL]). It’s good to hear such a kind of a clarification but the question remains as to why did the Planning Commission file an affidavit in the apex court of justice ie the Supreme Court of India stating that anybody who spends more than Rs 32 in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas is not poor ? And if these figures don’t represent the view of the Planning Commission then whose views do these figures represent? On one hand you table reports indicating such figures in the Supreme Court and on the other hand you say that we are aware of the gravity of poverty in India and such figures would not be relied on during the implementation of welfare schemes. If you yourself don’t agree with these figures then why don’t you change them? The common perception is that the BPL happens to be a yardstick via which people living in a deprived state are categorized but today we had Mr Ahluwalia coming out and saying that these figures will not be made use of. In such a scenario the whole objective of devising a Below Poverty Line fails. Such contradictory statements are the reasons for the sorry state of the UPA Government. The UPA Government has lost the faith of the people. Public discontentment, outrage, anger and hopelessness to succeed looms over this Government and nothing short of a miracle can bring them back to power but logically speaking the current scenario clearly shows that victory will elude the Congress led UPA in the 2014 polls.