Is Padmaavat movie issue a wake up call or a blessing in disguise?

Everytime we feel proud that our nation is progressing economically and culturally, movies like Padmaavat should be released. It will be a true test of our progress. The whole issue around the Padmaavat movie is a disgrace to our culture and it highlights the regressive thinking by a group of people who believe in divide and rule politics.

On 1 hand The Prime Minister is welcoming global businessmen to come and invest in India but on the other hand we can’t maintain peace and law and order in our country.

So a little analysis of why this is happening and what all could have been done.

Why?

We all have been pointing our hands at the politicians saying vote bank, divide and rule etc. But my burning question is what goes in the minds of those people who can throw stones at a school bus? What is their drive- money, religion, allegiance to history or allegiance to a party? Nobody has ever heard of this brave princess until SLB started making a movie about it. So Why now? Because this is how it’s done in India. We have been fooling the world that we have been progressing as a society but we are not.

What can be done?

Is there a simple solution to this? I doubt it. We as a country have been divided on various fronts right from our vedas which had proclaimed 4 castes according to their profession. We are used to it and it still prevails in our minds. So getting people together to see beyond caste, money and politics is a very slow process as it’s a major cultural change. What about Law and Order? This may be possible if the government wants to do it. Throughout this whole issue there has been no strict action by the police, why? Is it really true that the ruling party is involved in this? My understanding is it’s usually an opposition party which takes up an issue which is quite close to people’s sentiments and does politics, violence etc on that but why the ruling party. May be I don’t understand Indian politics. Unfortunately we all are aware of the multiple solutions like education, cultural change, strict law and order, political willingness etc but time only can change it.

So every 5 years a movie like Padmaavat should be released to test if we as a country have actually progressed. Are you listening Mr Bhansali? By the way the movie is excellent, we really enjoyed it. Thank you and well done to the whole Padmaavat team.

India trip 2017

 

 

 

 

 

This blog is based on our recent trip to India. Every time I go to India I find myself lost due to the changes that have happened in a short period of time. The shops, roads, traffic, the system everything is changed. So I thought this time it will be great to write a blog on that experience.

Airports – In India only people with a valid ticket are allowed inside the airport. I am not sure if this is the case in other countries but certainly I haven’t had that experience in my travels. In airports like London Heathrow anybody can go into the departures, so you have the luxury of saying good bye to your friends or family inside the airport. I am writing about this because I had checked in online and I had chosen the option of getting the boarding pass at the check in desk. So I am on my way to the airport and I realise that I don’t have a copy of the e ticket and won’t be able to go inside the airport without a ticket. Luckily they do allow you to show your e ticket on your mobile phone, so I was allowed inside. So folks if you are going to fly in India make sure you have a ticket or a boarding pass to actually get into the airport.

Disabled access – India is developing rapidly but definitely the disabled and the elderly have been forgotten in terms of infrastructure. We took a push chair for our 7 month old baby so that he can play or sleep when he wants to. Unfortunately we gave up using it because India is not designed for disabled people. This blog on NDTV really gives you an insight of a disabled man’s suffering in India https://www.ndtv.com/blog/my-wheel-chair-and-i-excluded-by-india-740208 I don’t need to say more.

Uber/auto – Wow, Uber is brilliant, book your taxi via an app, get in the taxi, enjoy the drive, your friend or family can track your location throughout the time, send alarm signals if something is suspicious, pay what the app tells you and rate the driver at the end of your journey on the app. What a brilliant idea. No bargaining/argument with an auto driver, no rigged auto meters and the rest which comes with it.

Food/hygiene – If you like food and especially Indian food, the place to be is India. It was an absolute treat for somebody who has been eating so called Indian food in the UK cooked by Bangladeshi chefs adapted for the English palate. Talking about food hygiene in India – certainly there is progress but you still see in a lot of places even wearing a simple plastic gloves would make a great difference but people don’t use it. Obviously we don’t know what happens in the kitchen or how clean the kitchen is. Unfortunately there are no health inspectors or food inspectors in India who can check the cleanliness and hygiene of these places. Even if there are any I guess they turn a blind eye as long as they are bribed well.

Goa – We went to Goa on a short trip. We went in an off season, so it was very hot but the food, beaches etc were all amazing. The resort which we stayed was excellent. Customer service is incredible in India, we had a little baby who was having mashed up food, they prepared it for us as we asked and even did room service. Thank you.

Garbage/plastic bags – Plastic bags are banned in Bengaluru but it’s still widely used and is available. The reason for this is 1 word – corruption. Corrupted and ignorant minds of shop keepers/consumers and the same applies for the government staff who are supposed to enforce it.

Muslim vendors/shopping – Shopping in India is a skilled job. You need to be local and know the prices if not you get ripped off. Bargaining is a mandatory and useful skill. When we went shopping although we look Indian we didn’t speak the local language, so people immediately recognised us as outsiders and the prices went up high. Interestingly when we went shopping during the holy month of Ramadan started we saw that the prices were reasonable. During the month of Ramadan adhere to certain principles and 1 amongst them is honesty and no cheating.    So if you want to get decent bargain and not get ripped off, shop in the holy month of Ramadan if they are a Muslim vendor. I don’t know if Hindus have this culture during their holy festivals.

Traffic and roads– Bengaluru has a huge traffic problem and the government doesn’t have a long term plan about it. Bengaluru is known for it’s small roads and now a surge in the population due to the IT industry means the city is not coping. The government’s argument is that it is taking steps to tackle the traffic problem but on the ground reality they find that no change and in fact they feel it’s getting worse.

Cost of Living – Every time I go to India, which is once in every 2 years (this time it was 4 years gap), I am shocked to see the rise in the cost of living. We always go to a major city, so can’t comment much about smaller towns and villages. We went out to a pub in a mall in Bangalore. 3 of us had 2 rounds of whisky and some chicken alongside it. The total bill was 11000 Rs. I was absolutely gobsmacked to see the price, interestingly we can buy 3 full bottles of the same whisky for that price. My friends who were with me found it to be normal. It’s not just the pubs, it’s the same with everything else. A family eating out at a restaurant can easily cost you Rs 2000 which is still a lot of money for the wages people earn.

Skilled Labour work – India has always been good in recycling and a willingness to repair old stuff. The Europeans and the Americans way is to just chuck them out or replace the whole thing. I have a touch screen Lenovo laptop which had problems starting up. When we managed to start it, it worked a treat. So restarting it was a major problem because it may take hours or may not start at all. So I took it to 1 of the premier shops in the UK which sells computers and repairs them. The answer was to get a new whole motherboard and I was quoted a total cost of 350£ for which you can actually buy a new laptop. I did not go ahead and wanted to try my luck in India. It was fixed for 2500Rs, they needed to change a chipset and since then it has been working fine.

Economic divide – Indian economy has seen tremendous progress in the last 2 decades. But the progress has not been reflected in terms of economic equality. The division between the rich and the poor has got wider. I think only when we achieve a certain standard of economic equality is reduced India will be considered a developed country.  

Healthcare – eye operation, mum scans – Healthcare in India is predominantly private sector. I have 2 interesting tales to share. My mum had some neurological symptoms for which we took her to a Neurologist. I myself suspected a condition and the neurologist thought the same. The diagnosis is usually made with a clinical examination and no tests can identify this problem. I am pretty sure that the neurologist was very aware of that but inspite of that he ordered us to take scans which were irrelevant. The interesting part was when he suggested lung function tests for a problem which was arising from the brain. Unfortunately there are no systems in place to challenge a decision like that and there are no guidelines for medical professionals regarding this at a medical council level as well, so all doctors get away with this.  The 2nd story is a really positive story, my wife wanted to correct her vision through Laser eye surgery. So we rang 3 hospitals in the same city for quotes, 3 different quotes ranging from 250000 Rs to 100000 Rs. We went with the cheapest option and the care was excellent. It’s an interesting scenario because the procedure, the technology and the skill set are all the same but there is a huge difference in the cost. It’s a shame the way Indian health care system is as we have some of the best healthcare professionals in the world living in India and living abroad.  

Overall we can see good and bad changes but progress is still being made. I hope for the best.

What can we learn from Mauritius government employees?

I wanted to share this highly positive personal experience which we had with the government employees in Mauritius. My wife is from Mauritius and we went on a 2 week holiday to Mauritius. My wife’s Mauritian passport was expiring soon and if she did not have her passport renewed she could not come back into UK. My wife had decided that she will get her passport renewed in Mauritius and she estimated that it will take 2 days to get it. She had not checked any of these details and the reality was it would take more than 2 weeks for the whole process . So we land in Mauritius and then we go to renew her passport. There are only 3 documents required, 1 is a proof of address, 2 is her old mauritian id card and 3 our wedding certificate to update her marital status.  My wife had the telephone bill in her name, so 1 sorted and  2 documents to go.

Mauritian id card

My wife’s Mauritian id card was happily resting in the UK and it was quite likely to have expired because all citizens were being given new id cards. So we went to the id card office, we were told we need the old card or a letter from the police saying the old card is lost or stolen.

Police station

Next stop is police station, we explained the situation, the policeman immediately wrote a receipt and gave it to us. No bribes, no recommendations, no questions, no waiting, it was done straightaway.

Marriage office

We did not have our wedding certificate either. We went to the marriage office, explained the situation, obviously everything is computerised, so they found the certificate and we had a copy given to us within minutes. 2nd document done.

Mauritian id card office- part 2

We were back with the police receipt. They did not make us wait in the queue again and took us straight in. They took the application form and said it usually takes 8 to 10 days for a new card. We didn’t have that much time. The officer aware of the situation assured us that he will do his best to get it sorted within 5 days. We were still worried about the time scales for getting the passport. The officer said he has a friend in the passport office, he will speak to him and get it sorted. The officer even gave us his direct number to contact if there was any problem.

So we waited 5 days and the the id card came. The id card officer sent us to the passport office and said he has already spoken to his friend and we can go straight down to the office.

Passport office

We waited to see this person, then when we saw him, he took our documents for processing and we were asked to come back on the saturday before we were going to fly out. We went back and collected the passport. It usually takes 5 days at least but they did if for us in 2 days.

What happened next is unbelievable

We were so pleased and ever so grateful for these people. We took a thank you card and a box of chocolate each for both the officers. Both of them refused to take it and said it will be considered as a bribe. We never knew these officers beforehand and they still helped us. These officers helped us without any expectations even though we were pretty unorganised and they went beyond their jobs to help us out. I was in awe seeing something like this. But then my wife said 1 thing ” Generally Mauritian people are nice and they are happy to help each other”. No wonder they were not expecting anything.

In a million years I don’t believe that this will happen in Indian government offices. Their people were kind, approachable and grounded. Hats off to all those Mauritian public servants and Mauritian Government. All the offices were in 1 place, so it was more convenient and no time was lost in travelling between offices. All offices have CCTV cameras installed to prevent any sort of malpractice happening in the office.

Take home message for Indian government servants – If you do your job by getting bribes you only get curses along with the money  but if you do your job without expectations, you get blessings for it and that’s the greatest gift you can ever get.

Good Luck India.


Chennai Floods 2015 Vs Cumbria Floods 2015

Chennai floods

 

 

 

 

Year 2015 saw some unprecedented weather patterns in the whole world and Chennai in India and Cumbria in the UK experienced some worst floods due to this. My intention of writing this blog is to compare and contrast the floods which happened at the same time in 2 different parts of the world. Did India being a developing country and UK being a developed country make any difference? Let’s find out

When –The floods happened in Nov 2015 –Dec 2015. UK was hit by storm Desmond which caused some unprecedented flooding.

How Much -The amount of rainfall received was frightening  and explains the scale of the devastation caused by these floods. On 1st of Dec 2015- Chennai received approximately 272 mm of rainfall in 12 hours according to Skymet data. Cumbria had received 350mm of rainfall in 24 hours over the weekend of 5th and 6th Dec.

Death Toll – Chennai had approximately 300 deaths due to the floods and in Cumbria 3 deaths.

Chennai has a population of more than 4.5 million people and approximately 25 lakh homes were affected from the floods. In Cumbria 45000 homes were affected because of the floods.

How did Chennai Cope?

The TN government showed a poor and delayed response to the floods, even the national news channels did not have any coverage of the flood situation until Twitter reacted furiously. As the country’s citizens are used to not depending on the state machinery, Chennaites themselves took up the task of rescuing people and rebuilding Chennai during the floods. The people of Chennai used social media to launch a massive recuse and relief effort which helped to save many lives. The Chief Minister’s Public relief fund received a donation of 195 crores. The TN government requested the central government a whopping 25000 crores for the restoration process. The central government responded with a 1940 crore relief money. Lack of leadership became very evident as the T.N Chief Minister Jayalalitha was nowhere to be seen and there was no structure on how the relief money will be used and spent. Local Politicians had interferred with common people providing relief materials and were more interested in promoting  J.Jayalalitha. This had caused a lot of disappointment and anger amongst people. I guess this is not surprising as the sole aim of Indian politicians seem to be scoring points with their vote bank in any circumstance. Inspite of a major calamity like this the government has still not outlined any future plans on how to prevent or respond to a situation like this. 

How did Cumbria cope?

In Cumbria an effective state machinery took over the job of rescue efforts by deploying all its services including the army. The government worked out an evacuation and rescue plan to save people who were caught in the floods. Residents of flooded homes were provided alternate accommodation along with other basic needs. Every household which was affected by the floods was given 5000 Pounds for recovery. In the UK most homes have home insurance. Mr Cameron led from the start by first seeking assurance from the insurance companies that there won’t be any problems in insurance pay outs. Next he visited the flood-hit areas on foot and then announced that there will be a major review on the flood defences. The Cumbria community foundation launched the Cumbria flood appeal and had managed to generate 5 million pounds. David Cameron had also announced 40 million pounds to repair and improve flood defences.

The current situation is that Chennai is recovering by itself, unfortunately most people don’t have home insurance unlike people in the UK, which means they have to rebuild their lives by themselves. There have been a lot of heroic efforts during the floods and it has shown the true nature of Chennaites and human beings in general.

People caught up in natural disasters in any part of the world have ways of coping and this was quite evident in both Chennai and Cumbria. Chennai coped itself due to a collective public effort and Cumbria coped due to a systematic response from the government. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt for both Cumbria and Chennai and hopefully we will be prepared for future natural disasters like this.

How to move your wordpress website and domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi, I recently moved my WordPress website from 1 host to another and I learnt a lot in this process. I am a complete novice to this sort of territory as I have no formal computer knowledge. So I decided to write this blog for people like me to understand the whole process especially the computer jargon.

Why do we move?

There are usually 2 main reasons for moving hosts (for example Go daddy, Blue host etc) which is space and cost. For reasons I don’t know I have realised that this is an unforgiving market for existing customers, as existing customers get a raw deal when they have to renew but if you move to a new provider it’s significantly cheaper. There are websites, sources which can move your website for a fee but it beats the point if you were moving your website to reduce costs. This means it’s a DIY (Do it yourself) job and I am going to explain it with a step by step process.

What are we moving?

Moving a website is not a simple cut copy paste as we do for our computer files although it would be much easier if that was the case. So what do we have to move and what are they called and what do they mean? Any website is made up of 2 things 1 is your website files which are called html files and the other is your database.

The Html files are actually your website files which means the structure of your website, these are the files which you created when you initially built the website.

Then there is the database which are again files but these are files which were added onto the site after they were created like blogs, comments, discussion etc.

In simple terms Html files are files which we don’t change and database files are always changing. So those 2 sets of files is what we will be moving.

Back up your website

Before you move you need to back up your website because during the process if anything goes wrong, you have your whole website backed up. The website can be backed up to your computer or you can set up regular backups to your dropbox or other cloud storage. There are WordPress plugins which you can use to do this job for you, I have used dropbox full back up or Updraft plus back up and restoration. These is usually a step by step process and quite easy to follow.

The process of moving

So now there are 2 sets of files to move and each of them have a separate way.

There are actually 4 steps

1.      Move your html files from your existing host to your computer using Filezilla

2.      Export your database from your existing host to your computer

3.      Move your html files from your computer to the new host

4.      Import your database from your computer to your new host

Moving Html Files

Let’s look at moving the html files first. Almost 95% of them use a FTP. It’s basically an intermediary program which will help you to transfer files from your website to your computer or viceversa. The reason you need this is because as I mentioned before you can’t do a cut copy paste of your files. The most commonly used FTP server is the Filezilla, download FTP server on your computer.

The FTP process – existing host to your computer

Open Filezilla. Then you have to connect to your website which is with your existing host. The FTP settings are usually available on your Control panel (not wordpress cpanel, it’s in your Godaddy or blue host Control panel). Connect to your website with the FTP settings. Then you will see that there are 2 windows 1 is local site which is files on your computer and the other is remote site which is files on your website. Find the root directory files which is usually in httpdocs ,this will have all your website files, select all the files and then do a simple drag and drop to a folder on your local site which is on the left. At the bottom of the screen you will see the number of files transferring etc. If you have any failed transfers check if they are important files and if they are then you may have to restart the same process and it should transfer fine. Now your website files have been moved to your computer.

Export Database from your existing host

This is the next step, moving your database from the existing provider to your computer. Go to your database. It’s usually MySql, go into your database (which is again in your control panel), select either manage or php my admin and then click export your database, you can then save it to the folder of your choice.

Role of wpconfig file

This is quite an important piece of information to know. The database and the files are connected to each other through codes and the codes are a simple username, password which are actually in the wp config files of your html files. These files can be opened and edited by notepad. So make a note of the essential details like username, password etc onto notepad and save it for future use. It is very much essential for the next step.

Create new database with your new host

The next step is to import the database which you have on your computer. But first you need to create a new database in your new host. So in your new host control panel, open MySql database and create a new database with the wp config settings. Then you will see that a new database has been created but the username and password may be different (I have no idea why it does that but that happens). So now you have to make sure that before you move your html files to your new host they have the same username and password as the new database. This can be edited using notepad. This might be a bit confusing but I would recommend this Youtube video link  which clearly explains the whole process.

Moving the html files from your computer to your new host

The next step is to move the html files from your computer to your new host. It’s exactly the same process as you did when you moved the files out from your previous host. So find FTP login details, enter them on Filezilla, connect to your new host, open their root directory in the remote site and transfer the saved html files from your computer through a simple drag and drop process to your new host. If you wish to create a new directory you can create one and then move your files. Now all the files have been moved to the new host.

Import the database from your computer to your new host

It’s again the same process as exporting but this time you are importing. So in your control panel, click on MySQl database, then select either manage or phpmyadmin, in the Php my admin page, select the database which you created, then click import, then choose file (which is the database on your computer) and then click go. The database will now be imported onto your new host.

Now both the files and the database have been transferred to your new host and if you login to wordpress admin you should be able to see your website.

If you have any hiccups in this process always contact your new host and they should be able to assist you.

The above process is for moving your website to a new host, but if you were moving your domain as well to your new host this will be a separate process which is outlined below.

Moving your domain name

This is comparatively a much easier process to do. You can do most of it by yourself depending upon the options your registrar (host) allows. You can do it with this step by step process.

1.      Unlock your domain, can be done by yourself on your control panel or your existing Registrar’s customer services can do it for you.

2.      Then speak to your existing registrar and request transfer authorisation code, make sure you back up all your emails before transferring(I don’t know how to do this, but should be able to find it online)

3.      Then initiate the process of transfer with your new registrar who will basically need the authorisation code and then they will contact your existing registrar and request the transfer.

4.      Your existing registrar will send you an email with the instructions to proceed with the transfer and when you confirm the transfer the transfer process will be completed.

It can take up to a maximum of 2 weeks but usually it’s much quicker. During this time your website will be down, so be aware of it.

Moving your domain name and your host

So if you have transferred your domain name to a new registrar and you are still hosting your website with your previous registrar the process ends there. But if you are moving your domain name and your host then there is another important process to complete for your website to be back online.

In simple a domain name should be pointed to the server which it is being hosted on. So if you have changed providers you should point the domain name in your new registrar to their named servers. This can be done by going into your c panel, domain settings and then point the servers (they are called named servers or DNS servers) to the name servers of your new registrar. If you have any problems with this your new host should be able to help with you this.

That brings us to the end of this blog. Hope I have made it easier for folks like me with no computer knowledge regarding the process involved in moving your wordpress website. Good Luck with moving your word press website and domain.

Sorry is the word Salman Khan

I am sorry

 A few weeks ago the most talked about news or the only news in India and midst Indians was Salman Khan’s conviction in an accident case. He was convicted for 3 years in jail because he drove his car onto pedestrians sleeping on the street injuring some and killing 1 person as well. The court concluded that he was drunk and he did not take responsibility for his actions. This happened in the middle of a night in the year 2002. It took 13 years for him to be convicted. It is reported in the media that he is a changed man since that night. He started his own charity called “Being Human” and has helped and touched a lot of lives. If Salman really does want to prove that he has changed the only way he can do it is by accepting it and taking responsibility for the accident. “Sorry” is the word Salman and this will bring peace to himself and the people and their families involved in this case.

This conviction has raised a lot of questions about our judicial system, people’s attitudes, divide between Bollywood and general public, media’s craze for sensation and the poor helpless victims involved and their attitudes. But the most important question is why do these sort of incidents keep happening in our country? It was reported that Salman Khan left dying people under his car and ran to his lawyer’s house. Why and what made Salman do that? Is Salman inhuman? Has Salman not got any remorse or feelings? Probably not then what made him do that? I guess the answer is attitude and culture. In India we have an attitude that money, power and influence can buy anything including the law. This is highlighted in many instances time and again, it’s even shown in Bollywood movies the very own movies where Salman is a high profile star. So it’s the attitude and culture which made Salman run away from the accident and since then he hasn’t stopped running.

There are many instances that people in power get concessions and there is nobody to question it.

  1. Rahul Gandhi went away on a sabbatical and did not attend the parliament during that time, nobody questions it.
  2. Sachin Tendulkar Rajya sabha MP has 3% attendance record in the Rajya Sabha and an RTI was raised regarding this. Sachin Tendulkar’s answer was he was tending to his brother who was unwell and so he could not attend Rajya Sabha. The question is did he not leave his house or engage in other activities during this period of time. Imagine how many regular workers in our country would be able to say this answer and still keep their jobs.
  3. Sanjay Dutt was convicted of having 3 AK 56 rifles at his home illegally. He alleged that he received death threats and he bought these rifles to protect his family. Why would somebody buy AK 56 rifles to protect their family as opposed to a licensed pistol? He was convicted and imprisoned for 5 years. He has been out of jail so many times citing that his wife is not well. Although I have my sympathies for him and his wife, Is this special treatment available for every other prisoner in the country?
  4. Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor dies in a hotel under mysterious circumstances. Mr Tharoor was not questioned in relation to this case until an year after his wife’s death and was questioned only when the SIT requested it. If this was any other citizen in any other country the first person to be questioned will be the husband who in this case is Mr Tharoor.
  5. Devyani Khobragade was arrested in the US on charges of ill-treating her domestic help Sangeeta Richards. Devyani Khobragade’s arrest was not well received by the govt due to the way there diplomat was treated and Indo US relations were sour at that time. The Indian govt seems to be proud that it handled the situation very well but the biggest question is, What happened to Sangeeta Richards and Is she not an Indian citizen and Does the Indian govt not have any responsibility to Sangeeta and her family?

This list will go on and shows how much the law bends over if you are a citizen with money and power. I personally don’t want to judge these celebrities and politicians because given an opportunity to bend the law without any repercussions anybody will abuse it. It’s the system and the culture which is responsible for this.

So let’s see some examples of convictions in UK

  1. Chris Huhne a politician gets a speeding ticket and he requested his wife to take the ticket as he didn’t want his career to be ruined. So his wife takes the ticket. 10 years later he is a Cabinet Minister from the Liberal democrat party. At this time he and his wife separate and wife admits taking speeding points for her husband. This results in both being jailed for 8 months and Chris Huhne is told to pay 77,500£ in legal costs http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-27350050
  2. Probably the biggest scandal ever in the UK political circles is the MP’s expenses scandal. MP’s claimed expenses fraudulently for second home, tax evasion etc. This came into light through the FOI act and what followed was something to be applauded. The leaders of the major political parties told their MP’s to pay back all the expenses and most of them have paid back http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8044998.stm

There is some more to add but the following link http://www.channel4.com/news/out-of-order-politicians-who-ended-up-behind-bars will be a worth a read.

I guess it will be years before this will happen in India. I have often noticed that when I cite examples from other countries we Indians get defensive and try to dig dirt about those countries. I think that attitude should change, the attitude should be to learn from better systems rather than finding fault in their systems.

There are definitely a lot of positives which have come up with this high profile cases

  1. Social media gives a chance for people to voice their opinions and in all this it’s good to see that people want a change.
  2. Change is already happening and that’s the main reason Arvind Kejriwal was re-elected in Delhi. They failed when they were elected the 1st time but they were re-elected again with a phenomenal majority and Sorry was the word which got them re-elected. Arvind Kejriwal accepted his mistake and the public magnanimously provided him with a second chance.
  3. There is a demand for a complete overhaul of our judicial system hoping that will make law equal for everybody.
  4. When people talk about the poor victims in the Salman Khan’s case it reminds us that humanity still exists within each and everyone of us and that will eventually get rid of the selfishness.
  5. Strong leadership with an attitude towards positive change is needed and there are definitely some politicians and citizens who are committed towards a positive change.

Finally a positive change can happen only if we accept and forgive our mistakes, once again “Sorry is the word Salman Khan” which changes everything, brings peace and that’s what “Being Human” is.

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Clean India

 

 

 

 

 

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India mission was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi on 2nd Oct 2014. This is an incredible initiative for a cleaner India by 2019 which marks the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. It will be a fitting tribute to the man who advocated cleanliness in every walk of his life. He once famously said “So long as you do not take the broom and the bucket in your hands, you cannot make your towns and cities clean” and this seems to be the mantra of the Swachh Bharat campaign.

My understanding of the project

1.     The Ministry of Urban development has been given the task of creating and implementing the project.

2.     The Prime Minister has taken the initiative of naming celebrities as ambassadors of this campaign. It’s a hugely clever move because celebrities are adored and listened to India than any other country.

3.     The ministry of Urban development website http://moud.gov.in/swachchbharat outlines the details of the plan, keeps updating the progress of the project. This is all in public domain which means that there is total transparency.

4.     Improving infrastructure is part of this mission. There are no details of how and what will be improved but I am very positive that the very thought of doing it is the first step towards improving infrastructure.

5.     There is a website https://swachhbharat.mygov.in where the general public can interact and suggest ideas to improve the mission. They are encouraged to publish their activity on the website and can provide inspiration to others.

6.     The total estimated cost of the programme according to Times of India is approx. 134386 crores of which 100447 crores will be provided by the centre. The funding is proposed to be shared by centre and the state in the ratio of 75:25 according to the guidelines http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/files/file/guidelines_Swachh_Bharat_Mission_Gramin.pdf. However the nitty gritty details are unclear on this plan. Recently the cabinet has approved private funding to be accepted for this plan where anybody can contribute and “Clean Ganga Fund” is the first of its kind. This will promote personal contributions and thereby a collective responsibility.

7.     Education and awareness programmes are also part of the mission which is a basic requirement for any public initiative. There is very little information with regards to plans on the ministry of urban development website.

 

The plan certainly seems to be a realistic and effective program. I have some suggestions for this program.

1.     Recycling- It is a process by which waste is segregated. In the UK and other European countries this is done in every household. In the UK it’s done in a simple way. Every house here is provided with recycling bins for example green for paper and paper related waste, Blue for bottles and related stuff, black is for general waste which cannot be recycled and Brown for garden waste. In this way every household separates their waste and these are collected separately and then sent for recycling. Apart from this bigger household waste can be disposed off in recycling centres which are available in every town. This can feel like an expensive project for India as there is a lot of investment needed but once invested recycling will become a source of revenue.

2.     In Switzerland they have the same system of recycling, but they are 1 step ahead. They want to promote recycling amongst their citizens, so general household waste (which cannot be recycled) is actually weighed and you pay tax in proportion to your waste. So if you have a lot of general waste you pay more tax and this will encourage their citizens to recycle.

3.     Infrastructure should be focussed on 2 areas. They are providing basic amenities for general public and waste collection/recycling. Basic amenities include provision of dust bins, toilets, recycling bins etc in public places. Waste collection/ recycling needs a big boost in terms of safety equipment, waste collection equipment etc.  At the moment we are falling behind on this and improving infrastructure will definitely improve people’s attitudes towards keeping our environment clean.

4.     Waste is going to be a major problem and waste management will be the next biggest challenge for our world. Citizens should be encouraged to recycle their old stuff by actually giving it away instead of throwing it. In a country like India where there is a large economic divide, instead of throwing away old stuff it could be donated to the less able people. In the UK there are websites like Freecycle (https://www.freecycle.org/) where people can swap or give away stuff which they no longer need it. Information Technology should be used for these kind of initiatives to work. Facebook, twitter and other social media website should be used to do this. It does not need to be a government initiative and this could be set up by any citizen in our country.

5.     Funding- Encourage private funding from individuals and companies for their respective local projects. They can also promote donations, fund raising activities and this money fed back to the system to achieve the goal.

6.     Education- It should be started at the school level. Encourage kids to take part in voluntary activities like cleaning their school or their street and also educate them about waste management. Government initiatives should focus on education through awareness videos in public places and social media focussing on good practices, environmental pollution, hazards, diseases etc.

7.     The last but the most important is stricter laws. Stricter laws should be in place to improve public cleanliness. The strict laws should apply for politicians and political parties as well. In the UK waste recycling is a serious thing. We have examples of people being fined for showing disregard to this. The following link is 1 such example http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/woman-fined-putting-waste-wrong-2507155 .

Cleanliness is a serious and basic part of everybody’s lives and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan certainly is a feasible and effective project with robust plans in place. This is really a promising step and I am confident that this will be a fundamental step in changing people’s attitudes towards public cleanliness. I finally want to share something which I came across recently. Sweden are so efficient in their waste management that they have run out of garbage in their country and they are importing rubbish from EU to produce energy. And the winner of course is Sweden as they are paid by the EU countries for collecting their garbage and at the same time they make money out of the energy they produce http://www.pachamama.org/blog/models-of-sustainability-sweden-runs-out-of-garbage. I am very positive that if we can have a successful Mars mission we can do the same with Swachh Baharat Abhiyan.

Are we ready to get rid of corruption?

 

corruption logo

 

 

 

Every Indian who wants India to prosper and become a successful nation feels that getting rid of corruption is the only solution for that. Of course I agree but are we ready to get rid of corruption? Do we understand what a corrupt free India will be like? There is an old saying that if you point a finger at somebody remember that the rest of the fingers of your hand are pointing towards you. This is a blog for those people who point fingers at others and don’t realise that the rest of the fingers are pointing towards them.

So what does Corruption mean? These are some of the definitions which I found on the web

1.      Lack of integrity or honesty, use of a position of trust for dishonest gain

2.      Inducement by improper means to violate duty

3.      The process of decay

My blog is focussed on the 3rd definition, we as a culture are so used to corruption that we don’t realise that our culture, attitude is in the process of decay.

Now, let’s look at some of the day to day examples which we will come across in a corrupt free India.

1.      We have to pay the right amount of tax, be honest with our taxes, if we don’t the hand of law is much bigger, so we will be penalised for it.

2.      Imagine this scenario, rich kid drives dad’s car without a license, kills somebody on the road, walks away from it and the dad finds a poor man and makes him to take the blame and the son walks free. In a corrupt free India this kid will have to be prosecuted. This story is about Chris Huhne an MP in the UK who was sent to jail, it’s an interesting read http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21737627.

3.      You cannot drink and drive, you have to take a taxi home or arrange a friend (who has not had any alcohol) to drop you back home. This applies for all the road traffic offenses like not wearing a helmet, not wearing a seat belt, driving whilst talking on a mobile phone and most importantly have to give a proper test to get a driving license etc.

4.      You cannot drive an unlicensed auto or taxi

5.      You cannot bribe a customs officer and bring things into the country for which you should have paid customs duty.

6.      You cannot get a fake medical/sickness certificate

7.      You cannot get false reports on investigations, forensics, autopsy reports

8.      You cannot get a loan if you are not eligible for 1 even if your bank manager is your blood relative

9.      You cannot jump queues or cut corners because you know a politician or an influential person. This applies to influential persons as well just because you are in power doesn’t mean that you get priority. This is very commonly seen in our temples where celebrities and people of power have a special line for themselves.

10.   You fail to pay a bill you have to pay the specified penalty and not get away by bribing the officer.

11.   Your kid who is not good at studies can’t get a seat in a good school/college through a recommendation from a politician, they have to sit through the exams and get admitted in school/college if they are successful.

12.   Public officials have to work their standard hours of work and have to be doing official work when at work. They will also have to complete work at the stipulated time.

13.   Can’t use government vehicle for personal reasons

14.   Hospital staff can’t sell medicines to Local pharmacies at a cheaper price and you can’t buy cheaper medications which should have been given to the poor people.

15.   All government employees will be accountable for their work and if they don’t the organisation is responsible for it including handling people’s complaints.

16.   Can’t smuggle government supplies ranging from a simple pen to building materials for personal use.

17.   Street shops should be only in legitimate places and can’t bribe the police and get away from it.

18.   MP’s either Lok sabha or Rajya Sabha would have to attend parliament and cannot get away with poor attendance.

19.   Businesses have to comply with health and safety regulations which would automatically reduce their profit.

20.   Judiciary cannot be bribed to get favourable verdicts.

21.   Politicians who are corrupt and convicted will not get special treatment and celebrities will not be able to openly support a corrupted politician blaming political vendetta.

22.   You can’t have black money in real estate transactions.

23.   Politicians or celebrities can’t set up properties or companies in your name (no benami names)

24.   Common man will not get money, alcohol, biryani during election time. Election funding will have to be made public.

25.   There won’t be cheap labour in India as everybody in the system will have a minimum wage and they have to pay tax and will get all employee rights as any other job.

26.   Consumers will have better consumer rights and if you sell faulty stuff you are accountable for it.

This is just a simple snapshot of our day to day lives in a corrupt free world.  “You” in this blog refers to the common man who is against corruption and is part of corruption. I know that every common man would like to live in a corrupt free world but they have to realise that they are part of the corruption and their attitudes and culture has to change if they want to get rid of corruption.

So we need to ask the question again – Are we ready to get rid of corruption? May be the answer makes more sense this time.

Are we Indians not good at sport?

Marathon, black silhouettes of runners on the sunset

 

 

 

What is the current state of sports in India?

In the recent Asian games an athlete Sarita Devi had to refuse her bronze medal in an awards ceremony so that she is heard by the whole world including IOA and sports ministry.

IOC had banned IOA in 2012 because of  tarnished elections and electing a tainted secretary general.

Commonwealth Games in 2010 was conducted in Delhi and it was marred with lots of corruption and scandals.

Are we Indians not good at sport?

Of course not. It’s being misproven by the talented sportspersons who had recently won lots of medals in the Asian games and successful sportswomen like Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal. How did they manage to do it when the others can’t do it? Almost all of them were supported by their family or friends in terms of training, economics, finding sponsors etc and were able to utilise their talents to achieve success at an international level.

Although this is quite positive for Indian sport, it still does not correlate to the population of India.  In the London Olympics 2012 we won 6 medals, and when data was calculated for number of medals to population we came out last. This link http://www.medalspercapita.com/#medals-per-capita:2012  provides you the information.

So why are we not successful in all sports? There are a lot of factors but the 2 things which stand out are Corruption and a lack of system to grow talent and provide opportunities.

Sports Associations

Let’s look at the Sports associations in India. We have a lot of independent organisations like IOA, SAI, BCCI etc which come under the sports ministry. The IOC actually outlines rules that any country’s governement should not interfere with their respective Olympic association which means the Indian government has little control over it. But that does not mean that the government can wipe their hands off and sit and watch sport being ruined in our country. They have control over that sort of abuse of power and have the right to clean up the system. But do we have a political will or Government will? If they do how can we change the system.

How to change the future?

These are some of the steps which will help to bring about a radical change to Indian sport.

1.     A complete overhaul of the system. Conduct a detailed investigation on how the money given by the sports ministry and IOC is used by the independent associations. This can be done by a team comprising retired Supreme Court judges and very specifically retired sports personalities and propose changes to the system. I hope this will focus very much on cutting red tape, bureaucracy, quota system etc.

2.      There are too many agencies who are unaccountable, system should be created where all of them are accountable. In simple terms these associations should be run by retired sports personalities and not politicians. Take a look at this webpage of British Olympic association (BOA) http://www.teamgb.com/boa-board, the board members are all previous Olympians or athletes who represented at the national level.

3.      The BOA also has an athletes commission which confers once every 2 months and listens to the athletes views and opinions, The link here http://www.teamgb.com/athletes-commission provides more information on this.  This is an amazing platform to listen to players views, get them involved in decision making and plan for future developments.

4.      Talent first, sport first, athlete first and then comes the association, ministry etc. The system should be designed to be fair for everybody and there should be policies and guidelines on player selections, participation in games etc. This takes away the insecurity about selection and the sports person can focus on their sport and abilities.

5.      Sports associations in India should learn from other associations in the world. It was very much noticed that Australia won more medals when they hosted Olympics and it was the same case with China and London. Although home support could be a major factor but all these countries devised a system to develop talent and become successful. We should learn from these countries and come up with a vision for Indian sport.

6.      BCCI is a very successful independent organisation in India. BCCI is now so powerful that ICC sometimes feels powerless in decision making. We don’t need to go far to learn a better system, we can learn from BCCI.

7.      Successful Cricket players have all started their own academies and have taken up a role of developing talent and creating opportunities for the upcoming generation. It’s something which other sports personalities should do as well to cultivate talent in other sports.

8.      The most important of all is attitude. The general public attitude towards sport should change and the security provided by the system and the academies should bring a positive change. The attitude from the media should change as well, media is all about cricket, there should be focus on other sports and especially encouraging younger generation to participate in other sports. Media should become a great marketing tool for young aspiring sports person who need sponsors and funds to further their career.

9.      The world has become a small place, we have foreign coaches and other support staff in cricket. We should follow that in other sports and learn from the experience of people who participated in sport at a global level.

The list above are some very basic changes to help revive the system but the most important change should be sports associations being led by sports persons and not politicians. I hope this will signify the start of a new era for Indian sport and wish that one day we will top the Olympics medal table.

Elections in India and UK

Election fun fair

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a few months since the last general elections in India and Britain will have its general election exactly 1 year later in 2015. I thought it might be time to write a blog comparing elections in India and UK.

Elections in India are like anything else in India. Indian marriages, cricket matches and movies are all extravagant and very much part of people’s lives, so are elections in India.

Elections are won based on power, money, religion, caste and people. One can only wonder how much of that money can be saved and spent towards growth, development and eliminating poverty in India. Money is spent on rallies, meetings, posters and votes. Obviously rallies and meetings brings road blocks and inconvenience.

In a democratic country like India anything can happen. Parties can contest the elections without even naming their PM candidate. There is no agenda or plan set out before the start of their propaganda or even Election Day. Personal, direct attacks are common and have become part of our elections. There are no public debates as politicians are afraid of taking part and answering people’s questions.

Like the endless number of castes and cultures in India there are endless number of parties. This is actually the beauty of a democracy but obviously in India we overdo it to the point that we need a book the size of oxford dictionary to list all the parties. Contestants get party tickets mostly because of money or due to their power to woo people. This means special entry for cine actors, actresses, cricketers etc. because they have a large fan base who are potential voters. Unfortunately most of these people are disconnected from reality, lack understanding of governance, do not have any leadership skills and end up exploiting the very own people who had elected them. The sad part of this is a real hard working party member is denied the opportunity of contesting elections because of a celebrity. If a husband is not allowed to contest his wife contests, wins and rules the state. I guess we follow the old monarchical style rule in our democracy through dynasty politics.

On the other hand we are the 1st country in the world to have an electronic voting system. So it means to a certain extent booth capturing, and other malpractices in voting are minimal. The other good thing about elections in India is the Election commission of India which conducts elections. In the last few years thanks to Supreme Court they have got more powers and they conduct the elections efficiently and every citizen is given an opportunity to cast their vote irrespective of where they live. After all democracy is still alive in India.
Election victory is then celebrated with the Tax payer’s money through rallies, posters, ads etc.

Elections in the UK

Elections in the UK are a different ball game. There are 3 main parties here Labour, Conservatives and Liberal democrats. Now we have a 4th party emerging called UKIP.

Political parties announce their PM candidate well in advance and that person leads the propaganda. The PM candidate is the leader of their party and is usually chosen in a democratic way by their party. This happens in the American elections as well but their party leaders are chosen by the people themselves. The parties put out their plans and agenda well in advance and these are usually debated in the public domain. In the last elections the 3 big party leaders actually debated on national television 3 times before the actual elections. It’s something which is impossible in India as there is not even a PM candidate named before the election.

Elections in the UK are generally a quiet affair in comparison to the fun fair in India. Propaganda is usually done through door to door canvassing, promotion through media. Politicians put forward their plans and these are discussed in public domain, everything is evidenced based on stats, government figures. There are no rallies, no protests, no processions, no posters, no road blocks etc.

Parties are usually funded through donations, lot of the times business people make large donations to parties they support and is all in the public domain. Party tickets are generally given fairly. Politicians don’t change parties midway through elections and it’s very rare to see politicians change parties.
There are no big victory ceremonies or rallies to celebrate their victory.

So what’s the difference?

I guess in India we easily point fingers at the politicians but it’s the people who are responsible for it. They vote for the party which pays them to vote. People are short sighted, careless and irresponsible and treat elections like another festival. This can only be changed through education, proper governance, good leadership and stricter laws. That seems decades away, let’s hope for the best.