Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I think the ayes have it, ayes have it..

Yes Madam Speaker.. have the AYES finally given the nation something?

The whole scene looked comical while Meira Kumar went on and on.

Neverthless, after years and years (42 long years) of deliberation, finally a version of the Lokpal bill has seen light and I would like to believe that it is an achievement for the nation.

While many still berate Anna Hazare, let me continue to think that he played a major role. He created the situation and the whole nation was to forced join the discussion. While many supported him, many others were forced to look into Lokpal, if it was only to disagree. The mass support that Anna managed to get did make every political party, including the ruling party, nervous. The nation was forced to think deeply about the corruption that existed in our nation; not just within the politicians or the bureaucracy but within each one of us.

The current bill may be weak but it is here finally and well meaning governments can bring in appropriate amendments to strengthen it, in the future.

Our PM said the following:

"We have, therefore, proposed a process of appointment of the CBI Director which involves the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India or his nominee and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. None should have doubts about the integrity of this process. As far as the issue of CBI functioning under the Lokpal is concerned, my government believes that this would create an executive structure outside Parliament which is accountable to none. This is anathema to sound constitutional principles," the prime minister said.

Yes dear Prime Minister. .the nation trusted you the most when the present UPA was elected to power but why did one see the worst corruption happen under it.

Were you never in charge of the government?

And do you know the ways your esteemed ministers have come up with, to fight corruption? By blocking social networks so that no news of further corruption shall reach the masses. Is this the only result of  discussions with our neighbouring countries where similar restrictions already exist?

You also said the following:

All systems of governance must be based on trust. It is the people's trust that we in Government reflect and protect. Rampant distrust of all authority imperils the foundations of democracy. Our polity with its enormous size and diversity can only be held together when we put our faith and trust in institutions that we have carefully built over the years," said Dr. Singh in his speech made inside the Lok Sabha today.

Yet, when CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) came up with the figures of corruption, it was your minister who undermined this 150 year old institution.
Kapil Sibal, the minister for telecommunication has stated that the CAG had presented an erroneous report on the 2G spectrum and that the total losses incurred by the treasury was only Rs.99,000 crores.
It is the same way even CBI has been undermined over the years by the corrupt in your government.

"In the course of this debate, the bureaucracy has been at the receiving end. While I agree that public functionaries must be above board and that delinquents must be dealt with expeditiously and decisively, I must express my deep appreciation for many a public servant who have shown exemplary integrity in discharging their functions in an environment of distrust. I don't think all public functionaries need to be painted with the same brush just as all politicians should not be presumed to be corrupt," said Dr. Singh
No dear Prime Minister, we do not think that this nation is devoid of individuals with integrity and honesty. In fact, it was the collective conscience of the nation that made you the Prime Minister. (They trusted in your honesty) But  unfortunately, those with integrity and honesty are being ridiculed and many lost faith even in you.

Anyway, I managed to get an idea of the the Lokpal that has been passed, from and it is as follows:

Amid all oppositions, let’s have a look at some of the silent features of the Cabinet-approved Lokpal Bill for the creation of an anti-graft ombudsman with Constitutional status.

•Citing Lokpal and Lokayukta as autonomous and independent bodies of investigation and prosecution, the Bill has underlined a uniform vigilance and anti-corruption road map for both Centre and States.

•Lokpal will consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight Members of which fifty percent shall be judicial Members. At the same time, fifty per cent of members will be from amongst SC, ST, OBCs, Minorities and Women.
•All members including the Chairperson shall be selected by a Selection Committee that consists of Prime Minister, Speaker of Loksabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India or a sitting Supreme Court Judge nominated by CJI and eminent jurist to be nominated by the President of India.

Lokpal jurisdiction

•Prime Minister to be brought under the purview of the Lokpal with subject matter exclusions and specific process for handling complaints against the Prime Minister. Lokpal cannot hold any inquiry against the Prime Minister in allegations relate to: international relations, external and internal security of the country, public order, atomic energy and space.

•Besides, any decision of Lokpal to initiate preliminary inquiry or investigation against the Prime Minister shall be taken only by the Full Bench with a majority of 3/4th. Such proceedings shall be held in camera.

•Lokpal to investigate corruption cases against all categories of public servants including Group ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ officers and employees of Government. On complaints referred to CVC by Lokpal, CVC will send its report of PE in respect of Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ officers back to Lokpal for further decision. With respect to Group ‘C’ and ‘D’ employees, CVC will proceed further in exercise of its own powers under the CVC Act subject to reporting and review by Lokpal.

•All entities receiving donations from foreign source in the context of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in excess of Rs. 10 lakhs per year are brought under the jurisdiction of Lokpal.

•Lokpal will not be able to initiate inquiry suo moto.

•No prior sanction shall be required for launching prosecution in cases enquired by Lokpal or initiated on the direction and with the approval of Lokpal.

•A high powered Committee chaired by the Prime Minister with leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India as members, will recommend selection of the Director, CBI.

•Provisions for confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while prosecution is pending.

•Lokpal to be final appellate authority on all decisions by public authorities relating to provision of public services and redressal of grievances containing findings of corruption.

•Lokpal to have power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them.

In addition, the Bill has set timelines for both investigation and prosecution of cases. It has also proposed to enhance punishment under Prevention of Corruption Act. Maximum punishment is set from 7 years to 10 years and minimum is shaped from 6 months to 2 years.

While preliminary enquiry is outlined to be completed in three months which is extendable by three months, investigation is set for six months (extendable by six months) and for trial the proposed time period is planned for one year which is also extendable by one year.
Let us all hope that something good shall come out of this...


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rules of Life

Found this brilliant piece in FB and wanted to know if it was truly authored by Bill Gates, especially since one knows that he was not so fond of Harward and had dropped out. But then he was a brilliant student; if not, Harward would not have admitted him. And, not all can become a Bill Gates.

Anyway, the full text is as below and says the following:

As frequently happens when texts are repeatedly copied and forwarded over time, something written by one person has come to be attributed to another. Here, the displaced text is a pared-down version of an op-ed piece by education reformer Charles J. Sykes, best known as the author of Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves, but Can't Read, Write, or Add. The op-ed was originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune in September 1996. It began making the email rounds under Bill Gates' name in February 2000, and has continued to do so ever since.

Forwarded-by: Daniel Rogers

Some rules kids won't learn in school

Text By Charles J. Sykes

Printed in San Diego Union Tribune

September 19, 1996

Unfortunately, there are some things that children should be learning in school, but don't. Not all of them have to do with academics. As a modest back-to-school offering, here are some basic rules that may not have found their way into the standard curriculum.

Rule No. 1: Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teen-ager uses the phrase, "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever. When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realized Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2: The real world won't care as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets reality, kids complain it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1)

Rule No. 3: Sorry, you won't make $40,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a car phone either. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Gap label.

Rule No. 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure, so he tends to be a bit edgier. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it.

Rule No. 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grand-parents had a different word of burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed making minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about Kurt Cobain all weekend.

Rule No. 6: It's not your parents' fault. If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, or you'll sound like a baby boomer.

Rule No. 7: Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your bedroom.

Rule No. 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers. Life hasn't. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4)

Rule No. 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks. It just goes on and on. While we're at it, very few jobs are interesting in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realization. (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 2.)

Rule No. 10: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.

Rule No. 11: Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That's what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

Rule No. 13: You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

Rule No. 14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school's a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now.

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is Tamilnadu in Pakistan?

An exasperated voice came from the TV in the living room while I was in the bedroom all warm and cozy since it is now winter here in Kuwait.

It must be from a participant in one of discussions held by a Malayalam TV channel and the subject being Mullaperiyar dam, I continued listening from the bedroom.

This Keralite’s frustration came from the fact that the government at the center has failed so far to bring TN and Kerala together for a discussion. He continued to tell the audience that if this is the state of affairs within two states in India, then how in world they are sorting affairs between India and Pakistan!

Yesterday, Kerala felt more tremors and so far within the last 9 months there have been more than 20 such tremors. Since they have been within Richter scale 4, one may just listen to the expert and conclude that nothing will happen. But these frequent tremors are a source of concern for the Keralites since it is something new. Is it pointing to a bigger earth quake in the future? Can the 100 year old dam withstand the frequent temors? How long should one wait in fear?

Do take a look at the SEISMICITY MAP given by the the Indian Meteorological Department:

Over the years, panic has spread among people of four districts of Kerala around the dam following cracks in the structure and repeated earthquakes in the region recently.

Instead of heeding to this genuine cry from the Keralites, the TN government has decided to play down this fear and is more interested in distributing pamphlets (in Kerala too) and giving speeches saying that Kerala is unnecessarily whipping up fear and is going to deprive water to the farmers in TN. Of course this can create panic in TN since many villages depend upon this water for their sustenance and it is very easy for them to turn hostile. And hostile they have turned and have wrecked shops, hotels and business establishments in TN owned by Keralites. Yesterday more than 4000 villagers marched to the Kumily border to avenge the killers of Tamil Workers in Kerala. But no such workers have been killed and shall be killed and this I know for sure. I grew up around this place; a beautiful place called Peerumade which continues to me the most beautiful place on earth.  The tea estate that I grew up has many from TN and they have been working there since many years. The Tamilians living in this area own land, shops and are present in all walks of the society and have assimilated well. The Keralites find no reason to harm them since they very well know that they are equally concerned about the state of the dam.

The entire state has only one slogan "Safety for Kerala and Water for Tamil Nadu".

It is time the TN government reigned in the villagers and explain them the fact that if this dam breaks, then there will no water for them for many years to come.

Instead, the CM of TN has written to the center that if Mullaperiyar dam breaks, Idukki dam will hold the water!

Referring to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s contention in her letter to the Prime Minister that Idukki dam could contain the waters if the Mullaperiyar dam broke, Mr. Chandy said this was a virtual admission by Tamil Nadu that the dam was weak.

How callous and inhuman can she be?

By this letter she is willing to brush away the life and property of those living in the vicinity of this dam.

Don’t they have any value?

And what if Iddukki dam fails to hold this water and everything that will come rushing into it?

I think only God can save a few Indians living in the south of India...

Edited to add the following:

Have seen many appealing passionately for those in the animal kingdom, if not for the humans. They must have their reasons especially after living in this world managed by humans… the following is for such activists.

The Periyar National Park in Thekkady, a Protected area of Kerala, is located around the dam’s reservoir, the 26 km2 (10 sq mi) Periyar lake. 62 different kinds of mammals have been recorded in Periyar, including many threatened ones. Periyar is a highly protected tiger reserve and elephant reserve. There are an estimated 53 tigers (2010) in the reserve. Tourists come here to view the Indian elephants in their natural habitat. The elephant number around 900 to 1000 individuals. Other mammals found here include gaur, Bison, sambar (horse deer), barking deer, mouse deer, Dholes (Indian wild dogs), mongoose,foxesand leopards. Also inhabiting the park, though rarely seen, are the elusive Nilgiri tahr. Four species of primates are found at Periyar – the rare lion-tailed macaque, the Nilgiri Langur, the commonlangur, and the Bonnet Macaque. According to a report by the Kerala Forest Research Institute, the protected area surrounding the dam and reservoir is classified as a biodiversity hot spot.

The above was taken from a site petitioning to save the dam….Yes.. please save the dam before it breaks by reducing the water level, while taking steps to construct a new dam which will continue to provide water to Tamilandu.

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