Thursday, January 3, 2013

अधूरी रात

उसकी उँगलियों में उँगलियाँ डाले

सर से उसके सर को सटाए

बिन बोले पर होठों से ही

एक बात कही थी

वो बात कहीं तो रुक गयी

हमारी हया के सामने झुक गयी

वो बात अधूरी रह गयी

उस रात अधूरी रह गयी

 

रात जो लंबी लग रही थी

बंद आँखों में भी जग रही थी

वो रात सहर के आने से जैसे डर गयी

खत्म होने से पहले ही वो चुप से दिल में भर गयी

सहर का डर खत्म हो तो

वो रात फिर से बाहर निकाली जाए

ना करके परवाह किसी की

वो रात तो पूरी जी ली जाए

फिर बात वो पूरी कर ली जाए

जो बात अधूरी रह गयी

उस रात अधूरी रह गयी

 

 

क्यूँ होता एक बात बता

दिल अपना इतना परेशां हैं

कोई न कोई बंदिश सी वो

अपनी बातों में लाता हमेशा है

एक को तोडो दूजी तैयार खड़ी

होठो को भी बांधे देती हैं

तेरे मेरे कहने से पहले ही

वो बात हमारी पी लेती है

एक बार तो कोशिश करके

इन सबसे दूर जाया जाए

बिना उनके सुने ही

अपनी बात को पूरा किया जाए

वो बात जो कबसे अधूरी है

वो बात जो करनी पूरी है

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Melody of Change

 

In the contemporary turbulent times when the whole world is undergoing multidimensional transformation, which have given a new direction to the way human history was being written, one cannot but help thinking what is it that he wants to see changed or more specifically what is it that he could change?

A simple look at the front page of a newspaper will give an indication that world is falling apart, from the corruption in our own country to the miseries of an African, to the state repression in middle east, to the relative unemployment among even the employer nations, to the climate change and the list does seem to have an end. While the scale of the problems is intimidating,  perhaps that of the solution is not, specially when it comes to the question pertaining to our individual role in the society.  All we have to do is to find out those little things which can be fixed and fix them.

Sounds lucid or baffling? Here is an example, we all will agree that one of the biggest obstacles in the path of human development is human ignorance or more fundamentally in case of our country – illiteracy. The problem is really big, to educate around 20 crore more Indians…solution is really simple, teach one illiterate, how to read or if that seems too burdensome, support unprivileged children in your neighbourhood. The support could be as simple as providing books or pencils. We must not seek any fame in that, if we want real satisfaction from that work.

What is it that holds us from doing anything despite our sinusoidal emotions for our nation? The indifferences we have created within ourselves are so profound that no external stimulus seem to evoke any response from us. How to fight this state of frustrating inactivity? A state where we watch prime time news as a prime time show. The key is in realizing that we are responsible for whatever happens in our society, even if it is not related to us remotely in a conspicuous manner. Owning responsibility for each and everything will be emotionally torturous in the starting, but soon it brings a change in our thinking when we begin to think how something could be stopped and also start acting in that direction.

Take an example, you see a plastic wrapper on an otherwise clean Metro platform, you may curse the unknown sinner who threw it earlier or may just pick it up and throw it in a dustbin. Even if the dustbin is located outside the metro station, carry it along with you and throw it there. Your action might not immediately change the hearts of onlookers, compelling them to accompany in your noble efforts, but they will definitely take a note of it and one day they will be part of your self purification movement. Inspire people more by your deeds and less by preaching. When a rich and well to do lawyer can replace his expensive clothes with a homespun lungi and can shake the conscience of entire world, we have much less to sacrifice and much less to change.

What is that must be change to make this world a better place? Today individual, society, nation and the world, all exist in a delicate interdependent ecosystem, change in one leads to change in other. So we need to change ourselves, our perception to the surroundings, the change is required in our belief that two wrongs make it right, they don’t. Change is required to make us believe that we have to speak up for at least ourselves if not for others, even if it is as a simple problem as enforcing a no smoking regulation in a village bus. Change is required in seeing ourselves a part of problem and hence solution. Change is required in our vision of society and our nation, because our future vision is the present of our progeny. We must change the system we are going to bequeath upon our children. Let millions of us perish in that endless pursuit of a prosperous  society, even if we can’t build a society of  our dreams in our lifetime, we shall contribute at least a brick to that. Let us contribute our own tone to this symphony of change, that will mellifluously echo in the minds and hearts of our brethren. That’s the change I want to see in everyone………to listen to and to be part of this melody of change……

 

Submitted for http://www.facebook.com/sftimetochange

Friday, February 24, 2012

The diplomacy of law

 

The Supreme Court(SC) recently passed four judgments which were long awaited for, by the common people and intelligentsia alike – 2G, Army Chief’s age raw, Vodafone and Ramdev. All of them were related to corruption in some or other manner. The judgements passed were expected to leave a historical impact on the way Corporates, Politicians, Governments and ‘Aam Aadmi’ work in this country. There were similar  things on in the neighbourhood as well as in Western World, we’ll take a look on the events taking place there also.

The SC has lately started sounding ambivalent in its decision, some sort of finding always the mid way. It has also formed a love-hate relationship with the government, criticizing it at one time and conforming to its policies at the other. Lets take all the cases one by one and the mid path position taken by SC to make ‘justice seemed to be done’ while at the same time absolving the guilty.

First, the 2G case, the biggest scandal in the history of Independent India. SC while cancelled all the licenses issued there with. It absolved PM of any delinquency. The reason given was that PMO did not apprise him of the full facts and so he can’t be held guilty in the case. Sounds funny, bureaucracy in this country is not so powerful that could keep PM in dark. Moreover what happened with the principle of ministerial accountability and collective responsibility, the arch stones of a Parliamentary Governance? A mid way position where you tell the corporate that it could not go this way, but absolving  the government of any guilt.

Second, Army Chief’s Age Raw – it got to be somebody’s mistake? There is a clear cut scenario where the date was not corrected even after several requests by the Chief and later his acceptance of the date as such ‘under pressure’ and the subsequent denials. Either you punish the record keeping agency and ask it to get its act together or you tell the Chief why so late? Again, a midway, where you condemn both, and appreciate the latter for his bravery, which anyone would, since he is Army Chief and no one has doubts regarding his integrity. What precedent are you setting for less fortunate people, when a powerful person like Army Chief had to fight so much for such a simple thing?

Third, the Vodafone case, SC held that Vodafone wasn’t liable to pay taxes for the transfer deal, since the subsidiary was located in Mauritius. A boon for all those companies who  are evading tax laws of a country by locating subsidiaries in tax heavens. One of the reasons given was the investment climate of the country should be favourable. Then why did you cancel the 2G licences at all, we would have accepted that also as a fait accompli. And did you forget your own judgement in Salwa Judam case, where you dedicated a good part of your judgement in denouncing the neo-liberal policies of the government?  I am not an expert in the legal matters, but a simple reading of the IT Act, mentions that the tax will be levied if the capital is located in the country, which I guess, is located.

Fourth, Ramdev case – it was a shear violation of fundamental rights of the public to protest peacefully. Good, an eloquent judgment was written, mentioning the sleep also as a fundamental right. But Ramdev was also held complicit saying he did not follow the orders of vacating the round. If I am not mistaken, they were protesting there, not performing a rock concert. Is government authorized to suppress any protest just by ordering that place of the protest be vacated?

And about the illegal occupation of the ground, since method of protest was Gandhian, lets compare it to ‘his’ tactics. When he appeared on the Freedom Struggle scene, he broke all sorts of the law, but he never broke the fundamental law of peace. It was he, who started a new phase in the methods of protest by Congress, while Congress used to abide by the law at the time of protests earlier, it was he who brought idea of Non-Cooperation on the forefront. He  used to keep long fasts, he must had been held guilty of ‘attempt to suicide’ in that case. I believe the in this case, there should have been some strict exemplary punishment for the government. As of now, all of you have done is to make them pay compensation, that too using public money.

Now the neighbourhood, Pakistan. The judiciary almost caused a judicial coup there by maintaining a stand that government must reopen cases of President Zardari in swiss courts. And since the government did not comply, prosecution for holding PM, not the PMO, guilty of Contempt Charges started. NO midway was taken. The easy way for the court could have been to criticize the government for its omission and leave the case pending till President dies or gets 98 year old(recently an ex-minister was held guilty at this age in India).

Germany, President had to resign facing the prospect of prosecution for allegations of corruption relating to his prior service as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. And now compare that with India, he resigned merely on the ‘prospects’ of prosecution, in our country, they try to stay unless the conviction happens.

Indian Judiciary has helped maintaining the ‘Rule of Law’ in the country throughout its entire history. Today also, it makes us feel proud when through various instruments of law, it tries to maintain public confidence in the law. But in the light of multiple cases of judicial corruptions, lack of a judicial accountability mechanism, the opaqueness of selection procedure and such ‘ambivalent’ judgements – judiciary needs to put its house in order so that others may revere it like a temple, for ever.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

एक पल जो ठहरो तुम तो….

 

आती है जो दिल से आवाज़

उसे हम अनसुना सा क्यूँ करते हैं

रुकने को चाहते पर चलूँ चलूँ करते हैं

इस पल की तो सुन लो आवाज़ कि कहीं वक्त रुसवां ना हो जाए

एक पल तो ठहरो कम से कम, ये पल खुशनुमां सा हो जाए

 

किस्से सुना रहे हैं तब से, फिल्मों के, अख़बारों के

अफ़साने से कुछ सुना रहे हैं, हम बीती यादों से

कुछ बातें तो कही सुनी हैं, पर कुछ नयी नवेली हैं

कुछ बातें तो पूरी हो गयी पर कुछ अब भी अधूरी हैं

थोडा वक्त और दो,  तो शायद एक बात और पूरी हो जाए

एक पल और थोडा ठहरो तो ये पल खुशनुमा हो जाए

 

सपने जो तब से देख रहे हैं, हम भटकते बंजारों से

कब से जैसे भाग रहे हैं हम, हकीकत के पहरेदारों से

कुछ सपने जैसे पकड़ लिए हों, किसी कड़वी सच्चाई ने

कुछ अभी भी बचे हुए हैं, पूरे होने की ख्वाहिश में

कुछ देर और साथ दो तो शायद कोई सपना मंजिल पा जाए

एक पल जो तुम ठहरो तो, ये पल खुशनुमा हो जाए…..

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ok, I am awake……now what?

 

To start with, a mass drive to encourage people to join NGOs can be initiated. They can be made aware of their responsibilities towards the society and individual and collective capabilities of how a transformation in the society could be brought at personal and local level.

The recent ‘awakening’ of the nation was no less than a miracle. At one point of time it seemed difficult that Indians, could come together for one issue, rising above their self interests, and taking out  some time from their highly busy and ‘productive’ life. But it happened and it happened magnificently. ‘The People’ behaved very responsibly following all principles of a peaceful revolution while asserting their demands forcefully.

The basic fact that everyone understands is we just need a reform of the system, the demands are legitimate and in no way anyone is asking for a overthrow of the state and an establishment of alternative order. Comparing to the freedom struggle of India this is very much similar to the Swadeshi Andolan of post 1905 Bengal Division, when people demanded for nothing else but reunification of Bengal.

The Swadeshi Andolan was a watershed in the history of India, before that Moderates were working through the instruments of petitions, resolutions and pleadings. They were also able to get some piecemeal but substantial reforms in the governance. This could be equated with the RTI and NREGA of our times, which were achieved through same ‘constitutional’ means of lobbying and pleading.

What changed in the Swadeshi Andolan was the unprecedented participation of the masses, and use of ‘extra constitutional’ means (not illegal or unconstitutional, just ‘extra’ constitutional). Same happened in the Anna movement, which is blamed to be of ‘undermining’ the parliamentary democracy but no one could say that it was unconstitutional or illegal. Assertion of one’s rights is a basic human right, no legal maxim could snatch that away.

One more similarity with the Swadeshi Andolan is that the Moderates and the then intelligentsia were apprehensive of a mass movement and were afraid of antagonising the ruling establishment. Same could be observed today with the opposition of Aruna Roy and other Civil Society leaders as well as the legal fraternity to a mass movement of this kind.

The other similarity is rather a painful one.  Swadeshi Andolan though achieved its goal after 6 years in 1911, it fizzled out by 1908. The reason was oppressive techniques of government. The leaders were apprehended and the revolution was left leaderless. The government is trying to do the same today by playing dirty orwellian tricks. Then also a promise of a Minto Morley Reform came to pacify the movement and today also the ‘sense of  the House’ has tried to do the same. Reforms came but nowhere near the expectations, and I am afraid the same is going to happen now.

The thing is that now People’s leadership(I prefer this name rather then Team Anna, which seams like a private venture) has no other option but to wait and watch. Any more time bound persuasion is going to harm the prospects of a strong Lokpal.

But the most important thing which People’s leadership must do is to channelize the newly released energy of the youth and the masses at large for some constructive and reformative work. Leaving it wandering in search of something to do is going to harm the prospects of a mass agitation, which I am sure will be needed in the future.

To start with, a mass drive to encourage people to join NGOs can be initiated. They can be made aware of their responsibilities towards the society and individual and collective capabilities of how a transformation in the society could be brought at personal and local level. Most of the employed class have a five day week and the remaining two days can be used to teach unprivileged children and educating the masses about there rights. There are so many evils which exist at personal and social level like female foeticide, dowry, preference for a male child, education of girl child etc, which if removed are going to help the nation in long way.

People can also be taught to fight for their rights at local level. Since at Panchayat or Gram sabha level, communities are more cohesive, it needs a little training of optimal use of resources and a zeal to develop into a prosperous society. The experience of Ralegan siddhi could be very useful here.

The reforms begin from the individual level, whether its about being corrupt, tax evasion, over pricing or something else. A rational critique and argument should be made to the people, to make them understand that anywrong done to the society is a wrong done to oneself.

The scope to reap in public for the cause of public is much wider than anyone could think of. The moment should be stolen to make it a moment to remember for the History of India.

Remember our childhood?, when Mom used to wake us up and simultaneously used to tell us to get fresh, brush teeth, take bath and get ready for the school….almost everything every morning used to be told to us, even while it used to be the same. Well, we have just woken up and have done our first chore, please tell us what to do next……?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

तुम थोडा रुक पाते तो…….

 

इस राह कि ये बेबसी है यहाँ अकेले चलना पड़ता है

हमसफ़र कोई मिले तो भी अलविदा उसे कहना पड़ता है

हम थोडा और साथ चल पाते तो सोचो कितना अच्छा होता

तुम थोडा और रुक पाते तो सोचो कितना अच्छा होता

 

बस अभी तो अपनी बातों में गहराई सी कुछ आई थी

बस अभी तो तुम्हारी मुस्कान में मैंने हंसी अपनी पायी थी

बस अभी तो चलते चलते अपनी कुहनियाँ टकराईं थी

बस अभी तो मेरी हथेलियाँ तुम्हारी उंगलिया महसूस कर पायी थी 

हम थोडा और कम शरमा पाते तो सोचो कितना अच्छा होता

तुम थोडा और रुक पाते तो सोचो कितना अच्छा होता

 

कितनी बार ऐसा हुआ कि तुम बोले और में चुप रहा

कितनी बार ऐसा हुआ कि मेरे पास कुछ कहने को ना था

कितनी बार कितना कुछ था पर कुछ कह न सका

कितनी बार एक बेदर्द सा वाकिया, गले में आके रुक गया

हम अगर हमदर्द बन पाते तो सोचो कितना अच्छा होता

तुम थोडा और रुक पाते तो सोचो कितना अच्छा होता

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Currency driven growth : where are we headed to?

 

The on-going global '”Currency War” has its roots deep buried in the history of monetary system and the economic practices followed worldwide post Second World War. Men’s experiments with money loosely started from bartering during river valley civilizations and extends to the currently prevalent fiat money system. It started with a promise to solve trading problems, which barter system could not solve and has evolved into the cornerstone of modern economics, driving and determining country’s trade, economic prosperity and its relations with the world outside. This certainly imposes a necessity to think about (mis)use of this system as a weapon to fight power games while suffocating another country’s trades and simultaneously creating inflationary problems for your own people, which in long term may lead to a ‘currency bubble burst’ kind of scenario. Because historically in world economics everything that rises up so rapidly, simply crashes one day.

A bit of history

The earlier barter system was succeeded by commodity money in which the currency used to represent the value of the substance it is made of. So if you melt the coin, you don’t loose anything. It was followed by standardized money in which the value of currency exceeded that of the substance it was made of. The difference between the ‘real value’ of the money and the ‘market value’ kept on increasing. Then with the emergence of bills of exchange and banknotes, came the concept of ‘gold/silver’ backed currency or representative money which guaranteed that against that banknote a definite amount of gold/silver is kept in treasury, which can be redeemed by returning this banknote. This is the reason we see “I promise to pay bearer a sum of ….” statement signed by bank governor on our currencies. But soon the money became over valued, there was meagre amount of back up treasury maintained. The new thing was ‘fiat money’, backed up by a sovereign guarantee and not by other commodity.

Real Sector vs. Financial Sector

Real sector of an economy represents the aggregate demand and aggregate supply of goods and services in the economy. It has two major markets – production factor market and the output market.  While financial sector represents the system which supports real sector by providing financial services like banking, insurance, investment fund etc.

It has been found that finance sector leads the growth of real sector, which means a well developed finance sector will have a well developed economy. Adam Smith expressed the view that the high density of banks in the Scotland of his times was a crucial factor for the rapid development of the Scottish economy[1]. So the huge credit generation and money mobilisation by financial sector leads to the increased demand and supply in economy and hence to the real sector growth. This makes it a strong case for legitimised offshore bankingwith all its socio-economic evils.

 

Why do governments print so much of money and who regulates it?

We were amazed at the US declaration in 2008 to provide a USD 2.3 trillion economic stimulus with a ‘plan’ that out of that USD 1 trillion will be printed. the immediate question which came to mind was how? Is this just the sweet will of government to print the money and won’t it create the global and national intersectoral imbalances? The answer was actually given by US Treasury Secretary John Connally (after US moved away from gold backed currency) – “This is our currency and your problem”.

Not going into much details basically the developed countries print excessive amount of money to keep their imports of raw material cheaper while the developing countries want to keep their exports  of ready material cheaper in the international market. Main aim is to keep the currency undervalued. And both north and south are sort of in competition and trapped in a vicious cycle to print more and more of money causing huge fiscal deficits and ultimately PIIGS type of situation.

Another reason is to create demand in the economy by supplying money. Take example of welfare schemes like NREGA, the money given is without creation of productive assets and is with very meagre returns of investment.  This way developing countries try to stimulate growth. Developed countries resorts to this in times of crisis.

The money increase also inflates GDP growth figures, showing a perceived growth of economy.

Also when country’s foreign trade increases, it needs to print more of domestic currency to ‘manage’ the incoming foreign currencies.

 

They all seem to be good and desired advantages, any problems?

Obviously, that’s why this article is being written. The most visible problem is inflation. Because of supply demand mismatch of money the value of currency decreases and it leads to inflation with all its side effects. More you ‘manipulate’, more the poor people pay. So all people who are jealous of China, for its manipulative power can feel pity for her poor. Paul Krugman says about Chinese case that while an undervalued yuan helps the industrialist community, it is detrimental to the interests of poor.

In absence of balancing by market of goods and services, this printed money creates ‘false assets’ in the economy, mostly in terms of high real estate prices having a dead underlying  asset.

The other problem is unhealthy practices like the current Currency War. A nation will try all measures to keep its currency undervalued and print more currency in absence of any international guideline controlling printing of money.

This is an ever expanding phenomenon, soon there will be a time when Rs 100 notes will also be phased out because of their unviability as it happened recently with 50 paisa coin. We may imagine a global future where fiscal deficits of governments will be too high and so will be the tax rates, there will be no more chances of increase in the ‘real assets’ which are limited by nature’s limits to produce. Where more and more money will be generated but there will not be any takers for that, as fundamental system of economics is bootstrapped by availability of raw materials which can not be created beyond a limit. Globally and historically the “Stock Price bubble” has busted, the “real estate bubble” has busted, and the “Gold Bubble” is just waiting to be. On national level we have seen many countries going bankrupt e.g. PIIGS in recent times and may Afro-Asian countries in 90’s (including India), because of huge currency manipulation regimes along with their elephant size fiscal deficits. The boom-burst cycle is now believed to exist empirically.

Just think if the currency bubble ‘bursts’ and all legal-tenders(currencies) become completely (or almost) illegal and invalid or useless, would we back to Barter system? This may not happen in next 100 years but its bound to come. The time may be prolonged or US and China may lead a shortcut to the crisis. This is high time when global powers should come together under the premises of Bretton Woods Institutions(IMF specially) and devise binding methods to control this unhealthy and disastrous practice. The new currency should be backed by a real commodity, something more than a sovereign guarantee whose guarantee itself depends upon the international credit rating agencies.