1 March 2010

NANAJI DESHMUKH(October 11, 1916 – February 27, 2010)

The Nation has lost one more deshbakth who struggled for the rural folk. A role model for the youth of our country

22 February 2010


Every february of a financial year we have a comedy show in the name of railway budget. This ritual has become a show to prove that the government and more particularly the railway minster is one among the poor and downtrodden. He/she always cares for the poor. The railways has now become an instrument of appeasement. I still regret the fact the British left India. They really were visionaries in every aspect. Be it the railways, seaways and airports they did a marvelous job. Infact our politicians have looted far more what the British stole from India.

The railway ministry has defacto been marked to either the state of Bihar/Westbengal. How else can u justify the fact that the railway ministers are only from these two states for the past 10 years. The railway budget is a real shame on this country and its intellectual thinking. The southern states are the worst affected due to this poor leadership. The successive governments need to share the blame for this thinking. In all the successive budgets there is no real road map to create a solid infrastructure. The infrastructure immediately required are

1. Conversion of existing meter guage lines to braod guage
2. Electrification of all major and minor lines
3. Creation of new lines
4. Creation of a dedicated freight corridor
5. Improvement of suburban lines
6. Improvement of passenger amentities.

There is no point in our GDP growing at 8-9% if our trains can't reach a 500 km destination in time. The usual dialogue of deficient money in creation of infrastructure is no excuse. The NDA government had a vision when it had put a cess of one rupee to initiate the golden quadrilateral and other highway development projects. The UPA government headed by a distinguished economist and having many self styled economic experts,former RBI governors have no clue in creating this infrastructure.All that they can keep saying is that "GDP will grow at 9 % this year. Inflation will come down later this year".

As a layman i have few questions. The government has so much of money in the form of pension funds. Can't the government lend it to railways to create this infrastructure for our country. We are no new customers to World Bank, IMF. Cant' we get money from them to improve profit earning sectors and infrastructures ??.Another option is putting a additional cess of one rupee to create a reserve for the railway infrastructure. If the government can create a worthy infrastructure, I will be happy to pay the cess when i buy one litre of petrol.

Another favourite option will be to develop infrastructure in the public private partnership. Few new sectors/ railway tracks can be compltely left to the private players. Just imagine having a dedicated and separate railway line from Chennai to New Delhi completely built, managed and operated by private players. Let the railways run its trains on the tracks it created and private players run their trains in their own tracks.This is the sort of creative thinking that is missing from our government.

Another laughing point is the new trains that are announced in every budget.All the major railway tracks are running beyond their capacity. Best example is the Chennai Egmore-Madurai segment. This highest profit earning sector of the Southern Railways does not have double broad gauage line in majority of the distance. Still the railway minister is least bothered about this segment. The administration virtually can't run any more trains in this segment. The railway minister for the sake of being populist announces list of trains which are implemented after few months or worst are not implemented.

The passenger amenities in all the major railway stations and trains show us that we are still a developing and third rate country. After some years even the African nations will be better off than our railways.The toilet still stinks and the compartments are still shabby. The reserved compartments are no less than general compartments just proves the status of our railways.The food being served by the IRCTC is another worrying point about the railways. Even the private players have not improved the quality of our system.

So will we see improvements in the system from this year??. One can confidently say that the answer is a big NO. As our railway minister is facing elections in her come state later this year. She will announce big and major projects for her home state. Majority of the trains will run through howrah junction. All other states will continue to cry. Nothing more can be done to this. After all we are in India and this Indianism.


Come February, the buzzword is ‘budget’. Even if the common man is least bothered, the English media keeps hyping it up. They want people to send feelers to our Finance Minister. It looks as if though u ask god a wish and he immediately grant the same to u. The aam admi very well knows that he is always the soft target and no one is really interested on him. The main beneficiaries are going to be the capitalists, hoarders, stock brokers and middle men. I need not mention about the typical Indian politician hiding in all the roles at various levels.

Reckless spending on Social sector:

Ever since the UPA took over, it has been spending recklessly on the social sector. I am not against spending on social sector. I too support the judicious spending on social sector for inclusive growth. But i underline the word reckless. The pet project of the UPA has been the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, where rural men and women are employed through the panchayat president or politically linked state government official. Immaterial to mention that both these men are corrupt and take their part before the salary is distributed. The work routine of the rural folk is something like this. Come at 10 am. Do some work till 1 pm. Take rest till 2.30 pm .Work for another one more hour and secure by 4pm. The work they do is to take mud from one side of the road/pond and put it on the other side. The next day they do the reverse. Take the same mud and put it in the original location.

A hopeless job where they do anything worth. They do not create any rural infrastructure and they are paid +/- Rs 100. The positive side has been the fact that their income has increased and they no more depend on their regular farm employees for agricultural work. The men now happily spend the income for their own social commitments basically drinking alcohol. One can find the mushrooming of state owned alcohol shops all over the country side these days.

Rob Peter to pay Paul:

As this famous English proverb goes, the union government is conveniently robbing the urban middle class and upper class and paying the so called poor who have their own house, tv sets and high end mobile phones. The real ‘platform’ dwelling poor are never in the rolls of any government schemes. The IT/Corporate/Govt employees continue to remain the soft target. Media keeps highlighting the high salaries of corporate employees and the sixth pay commission for government employees. They forget the fact that these same people now spend so much on food, water, school fees, transportation and not to mention the various taxes which they pay regularly without fail. Half of the salary goes for these basic needs. The middle class now hardly have anything left to save for their future. The real estate mafia has increased the prices so much that owning a house remains a dream for our middle class.

Such is the mismanagement of policy by the UPA government, one wonders how they came back to power?. The cricket savvy union agriculture minister has hardly any time to spend on his constitutional portfolio. He and the RBI governor give us tentative dates where the inflation will come down. Now the date given by them is july 2010. The high prices have been thrashing us almost for a year now. The policy managers sitting in Air conditioned rooms can only give us these dates and nothing more.

The inflation always goes down but the prices never. Classic example has been the prices of all varieties of dal which have often reached 3 digits. I suppose the politicians would have realised this if they had ever gone for marketing to purchase their household items.

Where is the fault line?

One need not be a distinguished or extinguished economist to find out the reasons. The following are
1. Online trading of all essential food items.
2. Declining agricultural productivity
3. Apathy of state governments and its officials
4. Gross policy mismanagement by the union government

Let us see the reasons in detail.

The reason for permitting online trading is part of our liberalisation process. As usual liberalisation always favours the capitalists and middle men. It benefits the middle class only at times. How do u justify the fact that the prices of capital and non essential goods(like mobile phones, bikes and cars) are going south and the prices of essential items(food and water) are going up.

The agriculture sector has been the worst hit in the last decade. Failure of monsoon is just one natural reason, but the real culprit has been the agriculture ministry. The ill conceived rural employment scheme has increased the cost of labour manifold making agriculture economically unviable. The farmers are not doing any social service in agriculture. They too need marginal profit. Apart from that the prices of urea, transportation and other agri specific inputs just force the farmer to abandon any plans for tilling his land.

When agri inputs go down for natural or unnatural reasons, it provides an opportunity for the politicians to make quick profits through food imports. Just imagine the wheat import fiasco which our agriculture ministry did few months ago. They exported high quality wheat at low price. Then after few months they imported low quality wheat on high price. We don’t have a agency to provide scientific inputs to our farmers. Even if we have one, we don’t evince keen interest to take it to the farmer in spite of our technological advancements.

Another factor is the apathy of our state governments. Barring a few, most of our state governments are incapable of doing any justification for the mandate which they have got. The southern states are slightly better in this respect. They have well routed public distribution system which at least takes little of the salt in our wound.

Unless and until the Congress and UPA are shown the door in the coming elections, the government will not get into a serious mood in this issue.
After all the country and our people deserve better governance.

29 January 2010


Many a times i have seen and heard about the discussions in the media about the role of women in the armed forces. Now they have started to play a role in the paramilitary forces too. The border security force,Central Industrial Security force and now the Indo Tibetian Border police have women in their armour. This is clearly a bold and progressive step in women's empowerment.