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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reservation – a tool used to divide and rule or just divide?
Reservation is a system in India which was designed to eliminate social disparity based on one’s religion or caste. It is part of the Indian constitution which hails India to be a secular state.
In all societies and cultures there was always a division in people based on religion, sex, colour, profession, wealth and the list carries on. India in the Vedic ages was a land of Hindus and in the Hindu scriptures it has been stated that societies were divided into four groups based on their occupation. They were
• Brahmins – priests
• Kshatriyas- rulers
• Vaishyas- traders, merchants
• Shudras- servants for all the above.
Then there was another group called outcastes who are regarded as the modern day dalits. This is a system which is archaic and it probably worked in those ages but this system of dividing people prevailed even when the British came to India. The British used this to their advantage and established a strong and concrete system of dividing people based on their caste. They also included Muslims and Christians in this system of divided the people even further. Although the British exploited the divisions in the society to rule our country it was actually the upper caste people who executed this division in a systematic manner. The worst form of this division was untouchability which was abolished by Indian constitution in 1950 and the reservation policy was put in place to uplift the generation of people who were deprived of equality. This was done in a very noble sense to give a fair chance for the lower caste people against the dominant upper caste people. Although it has benefitted the lower caste people it has still widened the division in the society. If we look at in simple terms the policy of reservation actually promoted division by identifying each individual by their caste. The system was designed to reduce social disparity based on caste and make our country a land of equal opportunity but it actually divided people by giving them an identity based on their caste or religion. This was obviously a great tool for politicians who continued the divide and rule legacy left by the British and adapted it to a reserve and rule policy. The reservation policy like any other law or policy in India was never rewritten or audited and is still being used by politicians to gain votes. Although the advent of foreign companies into the Indian market has taken the topic out of our headlines it still remains in place and caste and religion have become deep rooted in our country.
Let’s look at a few examples to point out the downside of the system and the reasons why it widens the division in society
1. Reservation means a certain percentage of jobs or educational seats are reserved for a section of the society. So if a position is supposed to be filled in by a person from SC and if there is nobody available to fill that position, this remains vacant even though there are a lot of qualified people from other sections of the society.
2. A person from a backward caste benefits from the reservation system and progresses themselves in their social status. Ideally, reservation should not be applicable anymore to this person’s family as they have economically progressed and the objective of reducing social disparity has been achieved but the same reservation policy is applied to the second generation of that person which makes the system unfair. In the case of a 2nd generation benefiter this becomes an unfair playing ground for the upper caste person. I would probably agree with a lot of parents in the country who will find it difficult to justify to their kid that their friend who has got lesser qualifications than them, whose family is equally or sometimes more economically prosperous gets an unfair advantage over their kid when applying for university education or jobs. This example is applicable in in-house promotions where people who have benefitted from the reservation system are given unfair advantage again and again.
3. The reservation policy provides certain percentage of reservation for each section of the society but there is no such reservation for the upper caste people which means if 20% was reserved for open competition only 5% of them will be from the upper caste and this actually pushes the upper caste people downwards. I am convinced that this was not the intention of B.R Ambedkar when he wrote this policy.
4. Reservation does not start at school, it starts only when you are pursuing a college education and from then on into jobs and governance. This again provides an unfair advantage for somebody who is not competent.
5. A person from the upper caste does not mean that they have a higher social status which means an upper caste person from a low socio economic background does not have any support to progress.
6. In the name of reducing inequality quality suffers because the person who has secured 500th place lands a job when a guy who has got 50th rank cannot get it due to his caste. In essence a less qualified person is preferred when opposed to a more competent person. This is actually damaging for the economy in itself as these are people who are involved in policy making, governance and quality suffers.
This may also be a major reason for brain drain as all these people who have been denied opportunity, go abroad and build a successful life for themselves. It’s a pity to know that some of the best professionals from India are working abroad and those countries are benefitting from their knowledge and wisdom.
In essence reservation has divided people, deprived the best in our country an opportunity and has not achieved the objective set by B.R.Ambedkar instead promoted inequality in the society.
This brings us to the question “Do they have social disparity in other countries and how is it reduced?”
Let’s now take a quick look at the British system. Britain in itself is a multicultural country due to immigration and a lot of ethnic minorities living here. So how do they make sure that there is no discrimination in all walks of life? In the UK when somebody applies for a job or university education they are asked to fill in a separate form called equal opportunities monitoring form which is not available for the person who is assessing that individual thereby maintaining confidentiality and allowing an unbiased approach. In a lot of the institutions the assessor does not even get any personal info about the applicant until the shortlisting process is done. This information is collected separately and is accessed only by the HR department which is called an equal opportunities monitoring form. The equal opportunities form collects data on race, age, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability etc. If you prefer not to disclose any of the above info you have a prefer not to say option for all the questions. This data is monitored by a separate department and if it suggests any form of discrimination actions should be taken to address it. So this acts as a safety net to prevent discrimination on any basis.
So how is social disparity dealt in Britain? Social disparity in Britain is addressed through a benefits system which provides support for people/families who are economically challenged. There is a whole range of benefits which you can get if you are unable to provide yourself like employment benefits, child benefit, housing benefit, disability benefit and so on. In this system people are means tested and provided support by the government to reduce social disparity.
In the education sector there is no discrimination as everybody gets the same opportunity to take up the education they want and it’s solely based on remit. Student get a student loan towards their tuition fees which they have to pay back when they have started earning. Parents are means tested and if they have a low income their kids are provided living support when they are in university. This is a really fair system where kids are provided equal opportunities to pursue education.
The key here is if you have a low income or a disability which is stopping you to earn better support will be provided irrespective of your gender, race, religion, age etc.
Obviously there are downsides to this system as well because people start exploiting the ambiguities and false fully claim benefits which is being addressed by the current government.
It is very clear that to reduce social disparity the support system should be a needs based system rather than a caste based system. So the following are some of the steps which can be taken to achieve that.
1. Devise a needs based system based benefits system which will provide income support for the poor and disabled. If this system is well planned it could be something like a loan to the individual and when they are able to support themselves they should repay it back to the system.
2. Provide equal education to all sections of society from primary school so that everybody has a level playing field.
3. Income based educational support which should be given as a loan to repay for people who cannot afford education etc irrespective of their caste, religion.
4. A separate equal opportunities monitoring policy which is not mandatory to complete should keep a check on discrimination.
The needs based system should be reviewed every 5 or 10 years atleast and changes applied according to that period. In doing so we can hope that social disparity can be reduced in a fairer way provide equal opportunity for everyone in our country.
Try typing Telangana on Google and one of the top suggestions you will find is “Telangana issue”. I guess at this point of time there is no surprise that Telangana is known for all the wrong reasons. The question is why Telangana is in such a mess?
Let’s look at the issue in simple terms. Andhra Pradesh(AP) is a state which was formed post independence. Even during that time there was reluctance for Telangana to join Andhra Pradesh. Telangana forms approximately 40% of AP and accounts for 75% of the state’s revenue with the majority coming from Hyderabad which is the capital city. There has been a feeling of exploitation being part of AP as Telangana generates almost three- fourths of the state revenue. This forms the core issue behind requests for a separate Telangana state.
The issue was present in 1956 when Telangana was merged with AP and continues even today. So after 5 decades of peace and violence the Indian Government decides to carve a new state called Telangana. The point to be noted in this is that the Indian central government decides to create a new state and not the people of AP or Telangana even.
This brings me to the question of democracy in India. What is democracy? Abraham Lincoln quoted “Democracy as the government of the people, by the people and for the people”. In actual fact most countries follow a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy where the elected members of the people makes decisions for them and India is also 1 of the countries with a representative democracy. So the Indian government which is the elected representative of the people decide to create a new state.
Now let’s look at the issue of Scotland. Scotland is part of the British Union which is based on a treaty in 1707 and Scotland has remained part of the union till date. Scotland also wants to become a separate nation mostly for economic reasons for several years. In 1997 Scotland formed its own parliament and got some powers of governance over Scotland which it could exercise independent of the UK parliament/government. The concept of home rule or an independent Scotland has been there for ages and the SNP won the elections in Scotland and vowed to hold a referendum on independence by 2010. Although this wasn’t possible due to political reasons, it won the elections again in 2011 and had promised the Scottish people a referendum by 2014 or 2015.
What’s a referendum? Referendum is a direct vote by all of the electorate in relation to a particular proposal. This is an example of a direct democratic exercise. In Scotland the Scottish people get to decide whether they want to be an independent country through the referendum vote which is set for the 18th of Sept 2014. So the proposal was introduced in March 2013 and it gives 18 months for various political parties to voice their views/opinions on it and then let people of Scotland vote on it.
The point that we need to be clear here is that UK also has a representative democracy (although Monarch is the head of state) but on major issues like Scotland they have a referendum. The conservatives have promised that if they are re-elected there will be a referendum on whether UK should be part of the EU.
Switzerland is another country where referendums are used and there was a recent referendum on limiting EU migrants. Although this vote has created more storm in the EU- Swiss relations it is another example of using referendum as a tool to make major policy decisions.
The question now is “Is India ready to have referendums on major policy decisions like the Telangana issue to reach a democratic and amicable solution?” Can the people of Telangana decide whether they want to be part of AP? Will they ever get a choice?