Tag Archives: Politics

Separation woes

When a new state is defined and new boundaries are drawn, there can be either celebrations or sorrows among people. As under peculiar circumstances just before General Elections of 2014, in the last session of 15th Loksabha the “Telangana bill” has been passed and the creation of India’s 29th state is imminent, the situation in Hyderabad, the capital of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh and at present the combined capital of newly found Telangana state and Andhra Pradesh state, can be described as nothing more than that of confusion.

Telangana

After witnessing the jubilant celebrations of people in Telangana region, I wondered about the impact of separate state to a COMMON man, that man who believed in Telangana movement, that man who trusted the politicians that separate Telangana state is the panacea of all problems in the region. In long term a smaller state might be helpful in developing the region but on closer observation we can see that separate state is coming with some immediate troubles to that COMMON man, like

  • There was announcement of state tax for all vehicles crossing the Telangana – Seemandhra border which was non-existent before. This means I’ve to shell more money to meet my friends staying over in Seemandhra region and the same for them too to visit Telangana.
  • There is news that as soon as there are two states, all the telephone calls from one region to other will be considered as STD/roaming. Another economic burden on common man
  • Telangana is very much dependent on Seemandhra for several food crops like rice, chillies etc. if the inter-state trade tax is imposed there products will be costlier than now
  • As Telangana is going to be a landlocked state (coast line is only in Andhra region) any goods in sea route has to be brought from Andhra state to Telangana which means higher cost of goods in Telangana
  • As a new capital will be built for Seemandhra, land rates in some of the “Probably” new capital have been shooting up and once the capital is decided another city is going to be unaffordable to common man

When a demand for something crops up, usually only the positive side of the demand is projected but the repercussions of it are hardly calculated, in case of Telangana these are just a few of many troubles that the people of both regions have to face. Apart from these, the relocation of Seemandhra employs from Telangana will not be without troubles as many families have settled here and made it their home so it’ll extremely painful for them to relocate all of a sudden.

Giving special status to one region, some financial packages might help but still the immediate troubles will not be resolved by it. Should we consider these as price paid for the solution provided? Please present your view what could be done now..

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[Short Story] SPIRITS of Life

Bhola was sitting along with ten other men who were all waiting for the work to begin that morning. It is a common scene in every Indian city where thousands of families migrate from nearby villages in search of work and become daily labourers in construction works, his story was no different. When he came five years ago with his wife he expected the city to embrace them with joy but till now city has only been an insensitive host for them. They were blessed with two children in the meantime; sadly it became a curse than blessing as he found it too harsh to feed four, in this costly city, by working as daily labour.  Like every morning, today too he first went to the liquor shop to buy a quarter, drank it there itself and only then he came to work, hoping to earn some money so that his family gets some food.

Four cabinet Ministers were present in the meeting room and Finance Secretary was explaining them why the present hike in State excise duty is imminent. Such meetings are held every day in that State Secretariat but this one was more significant because a hike in excise duties will always be detrimental to governments.

“Why can’t we postpone this hike for some time and instead of hike we manage to reduce our expenditure on welfare schemes?” asked Finance Minister.

Other ministers immediately showed their displeasure to the idea of reducing expenditure on welfare schemes, while Secretary made a strong argument that welfare schemes are all in full swing and need continuous funding to earn the goodwill of people, also if they are not funded properly Government will be in trouble to explain why it is neglecting the poor.

“Government is already in trouble now. After our announcement yesterday to hike excise duties, Opposition has started raising public support against it and CM is asking me to handle the situation. What do you expect me to do now?” Finance Minister asked again.

The Secretary sighed and said “Sir, we both know well that Opposition is misleading people and are not actually concerned with people’s welfare. Hiking State Excise tax would increase cost of elite consumption products like alcohol and cigarettes which should not affect common man.  We need not take Opposition so seriously”

Finance Minister, “We need to take it seriously Sir. Unlike you bureaucrats we politicians need to walk along with people and work for their votes but not for their welfare alone. Opposition is doing same and our party is worried now what to do.”

As always meeting ended without any common opinion.

All of you, today the Opposition party has declared Bandh to oppose government’s decision to increase prices again, so no work will happen. You people can come to the rally organised to protest against the government and you’ll receive reward for your time spent” said the labour leader to all men waiting there for the work to begin.

Bhola and other men had no other option than going with their leader, holding the banners and placards given to them, which they cannot read, all men went behind the politicians who marched towards the State Assembly in protest. The party members were shouting slogans against government and hundreds of men following also lent their voice in support.

Because of large gathering, it caused severe traffic jam and Police after a formal warning, arrested the politicians. As the party cadres were causing havoc on arrest of their leaders, police had to open lathi charge and water cannons to wither the crowd. Men ran helter-skelter, few were injured too who were sent to hospital, luckily Bhola escaped unscathed.

In the late evening, all labours gathered at same place where they were waiting in the morning. Their leader came with smiles, took them all to a nearby motel where they all had food and drinks. Finally gave them each a bottle of liquor before leaving.

spirits

Late night Bhola reached his hut in BharatNagar, cursing his wife, in inebriated state and fell on his bed with a thud. His wife searched his pockets for any money but to no avail, there was only a half filled liquor bottle in his hand, half he must have emptied she thought. Both children were still awake and crying with hunger. She had nothing to give them to eat, took the half-filled liquor bottle from her husband and with tears running down her cheeks, poured a few caps full of liquor in the mouths of children. “Oh Lord! Forgive me for this crime, I can’t see them crying for food, by this poison liquid at least they’ll have some sleep for the night.”

Opposition’s ruckus went for next six days and government had to succumb to the pressure at last.

Next day a national daily published in front page the words of Finance Minister, “Owing to public pressure, we are taking back our decision to hike the excise duties; we strongly reiterate that for government nothing is more important than public welfare and we are always committed to do what benefits the common man. After all this is the Government for Common Man.”

There was another news in inside pages – “In one of the huts of BharathNagar slums a women and two children were found dead. People suspect it as suicide but no proper reasons were found as yet. The Police said they have registered a case and will investigate to find the cause of death.”

 

Note: It is a work of fiction.

 

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NOTA small thing

A revolution will always start silently, just like stillness in air before a storm. Indian politics is in such a bewildered hush now as a storm is on its way, however we are yet to witness whether it’s gonna be really a storm or a simple “storm in a cup”.

First, Supreme Court gave judgement that a convicted legislator will be disqualified immediately and unlike before, he cannot continue in post even if his appeal is pending in higher court. The party in power tried to bring an Ordinance (it’s a Presidential order which comes in effect immediately) to override the decision and in turn protect the convicted lawmakers. But thanks to the comment of “tear it into pieces” by one of the known faces of Indian Politics, this ordinance was taken back. As a result what we witness is, for the first time in the history of independent India, some of the ex-Chief Ministers, who are MPs at present, got disqualified when they were convicted in cases related to some scams in past few weeks. It is first step towards political decriminalization in India.

NOTA

In another famous case of People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India, Supreme Court has given a landmark judgement to make NOTA (None Of The Above) button mandatory in EVMs (Electronic Voting Machine) in elections from now on. This decision might seems pretty small because

  • NOTA votes count will be made public but they do not have any significance as of now,
  • Even if NOTA gets maximum votes, the person with next maximum number of votes will be declared as winner

For Ex:- If a constituency has 1000 votes and three candidates A, B, C are contesting elections. Now the voting results are something like this,

Candidate A –   150

Candidate B –   200

Candidate C –   250

                NOTA votes –   400

Total Votes                =  1000

In this case, though majority voted for NOTA, Candidate C will be declared winner.

As explained above, when there is no credible impact of NOTA on electing the right candidate, is it not a futile exercise to provide NOTA button in elections? Actually it’s not that simple. Though it seems like NOTA might not have much impact, its reverberations are yet to be experienced, like

  • As NOTA vote count is made public, Political parties will be cautious in selecting their candidate, because it will be embarrassing if NOTA votes are more than winning votes, which means majority people actually rejected all the candidates.
  • Though as of now it is not conceivable that re-elections be held in case of majority voting NOTA but may be in near future, when technological advancements make holding elections a quick and low-cost activity, we may see re-elections with fresh candidates by disqualifying all the candidates who lost to NOTA J
  • This provision of NOTA can slowly take us towards the significant “Right to Recall”. This is a right of voters using which they can disqualify a legislator (before his term is expired) by conducting election.
    • Actually this “Right to recall” has been implemented for Panchayati Raj system in Madhya Pradesh where in a village of Anuppur district the Gram Chairperson, a lady, was voted out. The ballot paper included two symbols, one chair occupied by a woman and another chair empty. As majority voters stamped over empty chair, the gram chairperson was voted out.

Now you believe, after seeing the prospective changes this NOTA button can bring, that its NOTA small change. Actually this button has a personal significance in my life. In 2009, I was excited about using electoral franchise for the first time in life and was discussing about it with a friend, he surprisingly said “I don’t want to take part in any kind of political activity in this country, it’s better to keep away from such $$^^%#”, and he was strongly supporting his argument saying, when all the politicians are criminals why should he vote to one of them and become a party of the criminalization, instead he sought to keep away from elections process. I had no way to convince him then, but with the advent of NOTA such an argument has lost its meaning now. It is time we, being responsible citizens of this world’s largest democracy, must actively participate in democratic process as “Voting is not just our Right but it is our moral duty to choose the right representative”. What say? Please share your thoughts…

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