Posts Tagged ‘india’

Yeah, the title of the post sounds like a school child’s composition topic 🙂

But really, there is no better way to describe the roughly 1 hour that I spent at the Syndicate Bank yesterday.

Nowadays many of us have started banking with private banks like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and others. Also we are accustomed to Net Banking and do not need to walk in to the bank as much. I also have the privilege of help, so for routine matters, I am able to send a person who takes care of depositing cheques etc. So visits to the bank are rare. And when these happen, these are at plushly decorated private banks, with smart tellers and loads of credit-card and loans-selling salesmen hovering around you.

So the visit to Syndicate Bank yesterday was a different experience altogether.

I do not bank with them, but had some money to collect, against a bearer cheque issued to me, for some old dues. Rather than send someone, I decided to stop by on the way to work, and do the honours myself!

So here’s the scene first.

Unlike my HDFC Bank, I do not see any systematic queues or structure here. There are many tellers sitting behind glass covers, but people are generally hovering around counters, as they please. Obviously the regulars are more familiar. There are complete walls filled with elaborate explanations about banking matters. From who can open a current account, to the requirements for FDs, and including their email address of the ancient form that I had first seen in 1997, i.e. or something long and drawn out, like that. Yes, the large walls serve as notice boards. Except that the instructions are mostly in English (and which is not what their target group will read, as I discover in some time) and the fact that most of those are painted, and so I wonder how often do they change these, considering the fact that bank facts change all the time!

Anyway, getting the scene in, I asked for where I needed to go, and was directed to a particular window. There were few people already around that counter, and I tried to create a semblance of order, by standing behind a person, and making an official queue. Couple of people who came after that, I guided them behind me, to stand as a queue. Was a little strange for them but they complied anyway!

The queue was slow moving, but which  enabled me to look around and observe the scene.

It was clear that there were many people from the lower and middle income group that banked here. I am not sure if it is the bank charges or the airconditioned environs or the perception of private banks being richer people’s banks, but it appears that the lower and middle income group has stayed with the PSU banks and continued to be in their comfort zones there (wonder if it is true for kirana vs organized retail, and for similar reasons?). Old people with sticks in their hands, gingerly led by their younger ones, many Maharashtrian bais, ladies in burgas and the like, were seen all around.

As the queue moved ahead, I could also see the transactions happening ahead of me. Demand drafts to send home, small amounts deposited, small amounts withdrawn were the typical transactions.

The tellers seem to know familiar faces. Even while giving out small cash, they wanted to be sure that the person had updated her passbook. I guess people must live close to the brink, in terms of maintaining low balance!

While depositing cheques and cash of people, tellers would ask for passbooks. Just to validate the account numbers. Obviously mistakes of putting in incorrect account numbers must be common!

The tellers were not the most efficient, but that was due to slow computers, lack of support systems etc. They all appeared to be genuinely helpful to the customers, and either had a slight smile on their faces, or a neutral face. At least not a grouch that I have seen in other banks!

I needed to validate the balance and then withdraw cash. So when my turn came, and just as I asked for this detail, their systems went down! Knowing how computers work, and realizing that the bank will not shut down for the day, I expected the systems to come back up again, in sometime. So I hung around. But I was standing right at the counter, waiting for the systems to come back.

Meanwhile, the teller continued to service other customers, the kind who did not need the use of the system. For example, those who had cash to be deposited or small cash withdrawals (here the teller just asked the question to the customer, ‘have you checked passbook – balance is there, no?’) to be done.

As I waited there for the next 40 minutes, there were very interesting observations.

Many people were depositing cash like Rs. 300/-, Rs. 700/- and amounts of those kinds. There were withdrawals also of Rs. 250/- or numbers like those. There were drafts being made for sending to home towns, for amounts like Rs. 500/- or so. There were small amounts being deposited with questions that they have some cheque already given, and will this deposit ensure that the cheque does not go back (perhaps some EMI?). The people there, the numbers being mentioned can be a reality check for many in our society, who are used to seeing and dealing in far larger numbers!

In between you would find the small businessman, who speaks English (for a change) and who is also familiar with the tellers, coming and chatting up. That he has got used to net banking, and is able to see so-and-so details. And the teller and the customer both have smiles. And there are the real regulars who know their way around. They find it easy to walk to the inside part – where the tellers are sitting – and move from one table to another, to take care of their work directly at the respective tables. From the inside, they will hand over their slip books to deposit cheques, or take larger chunks of their cash for the shop, for example.

There is an entire method to the madness. One can be aghast looking at all this, but there is perfect peace with the way these things work, and nobody questions any of this!!

There was one particularly amazing incident where a Bai walked to the counter. Looking at her, the teller said in Marathi, that “why did she come in so drunk, early in the morning?”. The bai mumbled something. There was a lot of pain and trouble in her voice. She mumbled about problems at home. She was standing right next to me, and she was smelling of the liquor that she must have had, she was old (60+), she was staggering and her speech was all garbled. But she knew what she was there for.

She needed to withdraw cash!

She gave a passbook. By this time, the systems had come up. And although I was waiting for long, the teller could sense that this lady was in trouble and it was best to get her done and sent off. She looked up her balance. And conveyed that it was a little over 700/-. The look on the face of the lady was one of extreme disappointment. She had no idea, but she was obviously hoping that there was more money there. The teller asked the lady to get a slip and bring. The bai was in no position to move around. She mumbled something, but had a look of pleading on her face. The teller understood. She got up, went somewhere and brought back a slip. Filled it out for 700/-, put a stamp pad and asked the bai to put her thumb on it. Somehow the bai managed. And 700/- was given. The bai asked how much more is there. The teller advised that let the balance remain there. It was only another 70/- more. The bai had a look of helpless plea / request. As she mumbled away. She so badly wanted even that 70/- to be taken. She could do with whatever cash she could get that time. The teller advised against it. The bai accepted the suggestion. But then said that she was headed to the hospital. And not sure if she would return back at all, or conk off from there. The teller asked her not to talk like that, and she will be back soon. The bai then proceeded to push her hand inside and profusely bless the teller several times, like she was her own daughter. She proceeded to give blessings likewise, to the teller on the next table.Before she walked away.

I was amazed by the scene. This is the real India, I guess. This is what those sentimenatal bank advertisements are about. Which talk about the relationships that bankers have with the customers. This is the real India, of small money, or survival, or being hand-to-mouth, so often!

A reality check for anyone who is not tuned into this world.

Go, spend a few hours in your local PSU bank or a cooperative bank, or even at your post office, where money orders are being made and sent. Even living in a city, you can get a view and an appreciation of life on the other side of the fence. We will also complain a lot less about our state, once we see this.. !

I expressed my anger, my disgust and to an extent, my hope in various blog posts, post 26/11 last year. But a year later, it all seems such a bloody waste.

I wrote:

And we are already seeing the urgency at Delhi. Manmohan and Sonia realize well that this time, there is no running away. No way to let public memory die down. Because it will not die down.

The events were tragic. But if they have put the entire country into positive action, there is hope for the future.

Well, it was all shortlived. Public memory WAS short, we all got back to routine, and allowed the politicians to get back to their dirty old ways!

I wrote about the fear in the ordinary citizen’s mind:

But all of us have been afraid. Some more than others. Any of us could have been in the Taj or the Oberoi, any of us could have been at the VT station, or in the train when the earlier train blasts happened. Our loved ones could have been there. In some cases, they might already have been so.

Sends a shiver down the spine to even think about it. What if??

Yes, the fear is there.

But again, fear-shmear-whatever, life has had to go on. And till the next incident happens, we go about life like there’s nothing wrong, nothing to worry about, and all is hunky dory!

I referred to many unanswered questions around 26/11 last year. A year later, we do not have answers to these, but in fact, there are many more questions that have come up, and which have no answers either!

And then there was this earnest plea for political accountability:

I also hope that other heads roll – soon. Prime candidates being Vilasrao Deshmukh and R. R. Patil, the CM and Dy CM of Maharashtra. Besides their inaction and inability to protect the state and the city, their totally insensitive attitudes convey how completely disconnected they are from the citizens and their feelings. The CM took his film star son and his director friend, Ram Gopal Verma, on a terror tour through the Taj. R. R. Patil put his foot in his mouth when he conveyed on camera that such “small incidents” happen in big cities like Mumbai. BOTH HAVE TO GO. Sooner rather than later.

This is the most disgusting part. Vilasrao now enjoys a plush cabinet position. R. R. Patil is back in his old seat in the Maharashtra government. Both rehabilitated.. nah, rewarded!

A year later then, we are as unprotected, as insecure as we were. We have a Union Home Minister who takes pride in his ‘achievement’ (though not sure how much of this was also HIS achievement) in not having had another 26/11 in the whole year. Look where we have reached. A Home Minister who is happy in the fact that there has been no other major incident (he does not worry about the many minor ones that keep happening across the country), rather than talking serious steps of creating better security. The same Home Minister says categorically that war with Pakistan is not an option. Well, even if they keep creating, nourishing and supporting terror armies that can cause damage to our country, the Minister wants to categorically rule out the option! Not that anyone wants war, but it is about posturing. Saying that we will only talk, and put international pressure (all very slow moving tactics), even as our citizens remain exposed to danger, is what kind of leadership here??

The bottomline clearly is that the country gets a goverment and a leadership that it deserves. And perhaps in our busy lives, as we remain satisfied with just joining a Facebook cause against terrorism, and think we have done our part, and get busy with our lives, we do deserve this government, this leadership, this polity, this insecurity..

Yes, lets take ownership of our situation, and declare that we and we alone, are responsible for our affairs.. !

I have mellowed on the road. LOL..

I fret a lot less now, about traffic snarls. Most of which are caused by crazy driving. I have reconciled to things being the way they are, and stopped stressing my blood pressure. At least on that count!


But that does not stop me from wondering “why”?!

Why is there such a mad rush to not let go of that 1 inch of space that gets created? Why is it that, as you wait for your signal to change from red to green, you are already sneaking ahead, one cm at a time, and of couse, want to be just that little ahead of the vehicle next to you? Why would there be just so often, total deadlocks, at a 4-way traffic signal, because vehicles kept going way after their signal had turned red, and others whose signal became green, also started simultaneously?

Are we all in such a tearing hurry?

Are we all so-so-busy that those 30 seconds extra will mean huge losses of cash or kind?

Is ours a country on a high speed conveyor belt and all the people on the roads are in a rush to get work done, so the blistering pace of growth can be maintained?

Guess not, right?!

So why then? This fierce competitiveness on the roads??

Is it then because of illiteracy? Lack of education means lesser understanding and awareness about respect of rules?

I would not say so. For the misbehavior, if I may be permitted to use that word, is not just from the truck or auto rickshaw drivers, but it is also from those driving fancy vehicles, where education can be assumed to be there.

So lack of education cannot be considered as a reason for this mess.

The only thing that I can think of is: our genes!

Our internal programming, coming from our forefathers through the genes, is about grabbing what is in front of you, because it may not be there later. The legacies of the shortage economy that our country had, years back.

When there was a waiting list for a car, for a Bajaj scooter, for a telephone connection, for a gas cylinder, when cinema tickets were not available and had to be purchased in “black”, when our country borrowed money, and asked for food grants, etc. etc.

The young amongst you readers might wonder about what under developed country I am talking about. Rest assured, these stories are all about India. And most of which I have seen myself (which yes, makes me feel little older, but I am not that old, and these are not that ancient tales 🙂 ).

So those days, if you managed to get a phone allocation, you will do what it takes to grab it, before someone else takes it up. If Premier Automobiles got kind and gave you a car, you will beg, borrow or steal, but you will not let go of that allotment. And so on.

So it is this genetic factor that we inherited.

And which is why we fight. We do not stand in queues, if we can find our way from the side, to the front. We take an inch if we see one available. We put our hanky on the empty seat in the train (well, that is one thing that is STILL in shortage!) to put our hold on it.

So how can roads be different? Even if the road is not going away anywhere, and there is ample of it for all vehicles out there, we are programmed to not take any chances! Just get it first. Before someone else stakes a claim.

So now if you “understand” the reasons behind the chaos on the roads, perhaps you will be more tolerant?

And also understand that it may take a few generations before these legacies are lost from our being. Till then, enjoy the ride on the Indian roads.. 🙂

They crib about the expensive real estate.

Or that maybe finance is not easy to come.

Good people are not available.

Such and many other excuses why organized retail apparently struggles still in India.

Well, all those reasons may be true. But when I went a shopping today, I realized that there are far bigger fundamental problems that they seem to have at this time!

I was at the E-Zone store in K Star Mall in Chembur. The staff was nothing much to talk about. But that was a small part of the problem. In India, we get used to untrained, unhelpful staff in stores!

The problem was in the actual shopping process. That it was very slow, and then they had this elaborate process of two different rubber stamps put slowly, one after another, on the invoice, and then while walking out, the security person seeing the invoice, the SKU number, looking at the product, and then putting yet another rubber stamp, was exasperating.

But the biggest problem was in putting up the prices on the product.

On the same product, there were TWO different MRPs!

Two prices on one product at E-Zone! Is it for 299/- or 349/-??

Two prices on one product at E-Zone! Is it for 299/- or 349/-??

It was an iPod headphone that I was purchasing. On one pack which I picked up, there were two prices, 299/- and 399/-. But both those prices were faint.

Picking up another piece showed the above mentioned two prices, 299/- and 349/-..

Here was the 299/-:

So is it 299.. ? Or..

So is it 299.. ? Or..

And then at another place on the same pack, was the other price.. 349/-:

.. 349? Please decide, E-Zone.. !

.. 349? Please decide, E-Zone.. !

These are really basic systems for retail, and organized retail should surely be on top of this! But obviously not. Wonder what the Consumer Protection Act has to say about this??

And if Kishor Biyani, the king of retail in India, cannot get on top of such basics, wonder who can?!

Speaking of retai, the other crib I have is, why can’t stores have change to give??! We never face this problem in US stores. Or in Indian kirana stores either. But go to an organized retail outlet, be it a big store, or smaller franchisee outlets for ice creams or coffee shops etc., and every now and then, you find them asking you for change. And struggling to give you change, then.

Why so?
Is there less change in circulation in India?

Do the banks not give enough change to these stores?

Or these stores just don’t try hard enough??

I suspect it is the last named reason!!

Oh well..wish the kirana stores expand and organize themselves. Maybe therein lies the answer..

A question posted by a Facebook friend on his status got me thinking. He asked “give me a good reason why I should go and vote tomorrow?”. With all the extensive mobilization and promotion of our duty to vote, that such questions still remained, made me wonder.

At the outset, I came up with this one answer to that question, “Voting gives you the right to crib for the next 5 years. If you don’t vote, you can’t crib.”

Having said that, why really, does the thought of not voting come up? I have been there, in previous elections. Sometimes because I was frustrated by the system. Sometimes because I was giving an excuse to myself (“cunning intelligence”) while actually, I wanted to take a holiday, or was too busy at work. Those times, I had also asked similar questions, “Why should I vote? What good does it do? Finally the government is decided by rural votes..” and thoughts of that kind.

Maybe the terror attacks, maybe some ‘wisdom’ (??) over the years, has ensured that I don’t ask that basic question, about voting.

But there is a feeling amongst the intellectual classes that their vote does not matter. That there are vote banks, and they vote en masse, on account of certain factors – be it caste, be it money, whatever..

My thoughts on this subject are:

1. Maybe vote banks ARE big. Maybe they ARE influenced. Maybe they ARE manipulated. Or MAYBE NOT?! Maybe the so-called vote banks have seen through the manipulation. Maybe they have realized that election-after-election, when they voted together, it did not really deliver them any kind of salvation to their woes. So MAYBE they take their own calls, and vote differently. Or at least SOME do. And we see a shift. Perhaps a small shift.

2. If OUR chosen candidate does not win, if say a Meera Sanyal does not win, and an apparently lesser mortal wins, then do we sense frustration? If we get say, a 3rd front or 4th front emerging ahead at the center, do we again feel cheated? Do we resign ourselves with the thought that “vote banks at work again”? Hey, ever considered the fact that what we want, may not be the popular vote after all??

3. Elections finally are about popular vote. We “intellectuals” (and I include myself here) think that we know what is good for the country, and if things do not happen our way, then things are really wrong. Well, going down high-speed elevators, driving our air-conditioned cars, and having cups of coffee at 5-star coffee shops, gives us a certain view of the country. The real India may be different. In their own limited intelligence, they may have a view of what is good for them. And maybe we just do not identify with it. Gandhiji reached his sphere of influence after traveling the country, by road, by train, by being with people, by empathizing with them completely. If he was a practising barrister in England or South Africa or even Bombay, and from that pedestal, if he had preached about what is good for the country, we might still have been a British colony!

So, let what happen, happen. Lets believe that we have a system which is largely clean, at least as far as the process goes. And lets accept the verdict that we get. As the real popular vote. If it happens to be what we also wanted to see, great. If not, tough luck.. !

Just for the record, I have had my share of depression about the system, even during the run-up to this election, as you can see from this earlier post!

Newspaper headlines and some small print that I managed to catch, generate a few questions in my mind. Would love to have answers to these?

1. Are politicians such super beings? That while they have been busy members of the parliament for five years, they have also managed to be either fantastic investors or awesome business persons on the side, to have been able to increase their personal worth several notches! Even as accomplished full time investors and business persons have seen their worths going down, thanks to the stock market collapse, real estate pull down and the general recession. Rahul Gandhi’s worth went up from a couple of laksh in 2004 (wow.. was that a joke or what??!) to more than 2 crores in 2009. Would you not like that kind of growth in your capital?? He is said to have acquired a couple of shops in Delhi, worth about 1.3 crores. Would income tax investigate the matter to ask for the resources used to acquire this property?? Or that is only meant for common people like you and me?
Mind you, Rahul Gandhi is not an isolated case, most politicians’ worth has gone up. HOW do they do it? Maybe they can run some courses for us..

2. Priya Dutt, daughter of Sunil Dutt, fights on a Congress ticket. Her brother, with whom she has shared many a platform, and sworn lifelong love and shared the Dutt tradition and all that, now tries to take a SP ticket to fight the elections from Lucknow. The same brother who is an accused for very heinous crimes, during the Mumbai riots, and has been out on bail.


To the candidate who is to oppose Priya in the elections. Mahesh Jethmalani, eminent lawyer, on a BJP ticket. BJP, the party with the Hindutva agenda. Who want to take stern action against Pakistan, should they come to power. Now Mahesh’s father, Ram Jethmalani, was quoted by Pakistani TV, making some very embarrassing (to India) statements, in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 Mumbai attack. In fact, both Mahesh and Ram have often defended hard core criminals, including the ‘enemies of the country’ kind, in courts.

With all this baggage, Priya and Mahesh get tickets from India’s two national parties! So the question is, “HOW?”. Do the parties not get candidates with real clean slates? Without any kind of baggage?? Or are these issues not considered as baggage anymore in Indian society?

3. Priyanka Gandhi’s father-in-law is found dead. “Found” dead. The most famous political family, a celebrity family like none other in India, and a scandal of this size. And yet the story appears almost in fine print in the dailies. And the hounding investigative media, who can run day long bulletins, after issues like why Katrina is chosen as India’a Barbie and not Aishwarya, choose to go quiet on this big scandal.

What do you make of this? Is this the ultimate “Godfather family” of the country (Italian connection is incidental.. or maybe not..?) who no one can dare speak a word against? What was the real reason behind the death? How was he just “found dead”?

4. The Telgi scam. Huge headlines. Thousands of crores of money (well,s tamp papers) simply printed. Huge participation of government sources. Dirt flies on minister Chhagan Bhujbal, DCP Pradeep Sawant and many other big names. Most have to lose their jobs, because evidence is clear enough.


Few years pass. Other scams and other events capture public’s imagination. 26/11 happens. Huge political damage takes the toll of Maharashtra CM and Dy CM. Replacements have to be found.

Quietly Bhujbal is back. No one even notices. Because 26/11 is far bigger and everyone is focused on that. No one questions how Bhujbal is forgiven and brought back to power.

Few months go by.

And as if on cue, DCP Pradeep Sawant, accused in the same scam, also returns. Is reinstated. Again no questions asked. All is forgiven and forgotten.

Interesting eh?
The question is, “Is public memory so short after all? Will politicians and scamsters continue to thrive in these circumstances? Will we suffer crooks always??”

5. Under the circumstances, we go to vote in a few weeks now. And they tell us to go and vote, to be conscious of whom we are voting for, to be sure that we vote for ‘no criminals’. So the last question that I ponder over, on this lazy Sunday is “Is there anything like ‘no criminals’? Is there really an alternate option with a hope to actually pull in the votes and make us feel proud of our politicians??”

If you have answers, let me know.

Meanwhile, as in case of most other citizens, for me too, this phase will get over. I will return to my Sunday beer, my cricket match, my family, my Facebook, and pretend that these problems do not exist!

Yesterday, I expressed my shock at the Samajwadi Party’s decision to put up Sanjay Dutt as their candidate from Lucknow.

And then today, I see more developments that continue to disgust further.

The sycophants of the Congress party, starting with their senior leader, Pranab Mukherjee, are talking about Rahul Gandhi becoming the PM after the next elections. And why, may I ask? Does he have the experience? Has he shown any kind of brilliance to understand the country, its challenges, the economy, to warrant a jump start of this kind? And what about the other politicians who have put in years? Like working in a family owned company, do these leaders have a glass ceiling that they cannot penetrate?

Goddammed sycophancy, at a time when the country is scaling new heights, and is being considered as a future global superpower?

And in all this, where does the existing PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh figure? While he is still in office and leading the country, a senior minister of his cabinet, and a senior leader of his party, is talking about someone else becoming PM of the country, if their party comes back to power in a few months, after the elections? And poor Dr. Singh cannot even protest?!

Then you read the other shocker of the day, from Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party.

He says that if for any reason, the courts not allow Sanjay Dutt to contest the elections (considering his none-too-proud crimilar record and his legal tangles), then his recently wed new wife, Manyata, would be the candidate from Lucknow?!!

I don’t even have the expletives in my vocabulary to condemn a statement and a step of this nature.

Think about the people of Lucknow, whose representative is being talked about.

How can a film actor with questionable criminal and drug history, suddenly come from nowhere, and take care of their interests in Parliament?? And what’s more, if that does not work, then there is his wife.. a person whose antecedents are not known, nothing is known about her education, qualifications, experience… and someone annoints her as a candidate to represent Lucknow!!

God, where is our politics sinking? From thugs and dacoits, now we have strange choices like the above mentioned ones. And we still expect India to be a leading superpower of the world, in coming years. HOW??? Damn! Double damn!!

Come across some of the most shocking instances in recent days, that convinces me that we, the ordinary citizens, are helpless fools, and much as we agonize over things, shit happens!!

Some stark examples:

  1. Vilasrao Deshmukh, after resigning as CM, does not feel it necesary to attend the Legislature. And he justifies it in public saying that “now he does not have any specific responsibility, so what’s the big deal about attending the House?”.  Is he so pathetic as to not realize that he is an elected representative, and his constituents would expect him to be in the House, and playing a role?? CM or not??
  2. R R Patil, dropped as Dy CM, on account of Mumbai terror attacks, is made the head of the NCP Maharashtra unit. So where is the accountability factor? Punishment for being responsible??
  3. Chhagan Bhujbal, involved in Telgi scam and other messes, and who had to vacate his chair earlier, is quietly brought back, again as Dy CM..?! Again, what about accountability?
  4. The board of Satyam, a public company, involved in IT, having name brand independent directors on the board, still go and strike a deal with the Chairman’s family owned infrastructure and real estate companies, for a staggering $1.6 billion. And actually expect to get away with it. Because after all, shareholders are supposed to be suckers (could not go through, however..!)
  5. Telecom licenses which were always auctioned earlier, given away to new and unknown entities, for peanuts, and on a “first come, first served” basis. And those entities, immediately go and sell stakes in their companies, for HUGE profits. No heads have rolled so far. The minister is not feeling an iota of guilt. There will be the political protests and the Joint Parliamentary Committees, so that all the politicians can get their own share of the loot. As far as citizens are concerned, they know the public memory is small, and this too will be forgotten and forgiven!
  6. Amar Singh, crooked Indian politician contributes more than $ 1 million to a Clinton fund. As do others from India. But Amar Singh? Any questions on the sources of the income? And why the Clinton fund? What goes on here? We the suckers of the world, the citizens, cannot question!!
  7. Cabinet minister, A R Antulay makes allegations about the cause of death of ATS Chief during the Mumbai terror attack. Crass, crude and clueless as these statements are, and also for once, not appealing to ANY section of society, he still insists on making these. Perhaps with an idea to break the for once, united thought across the country. The Congress apart from distancing itself from his statements, does not have the guts to take action against the minister, nor condemn him in public. Because they fear minority vote backlash. And we the citizens of the country need to be silent observers to this nonsense.

When will things change? When will a common man ask questions and expect to be answered? Will it ever happen? Do I live in a dream that life can be different?

I have no answers. Meanwhile… shit happens!

Why do these politicians not worry about the people, after they get elected? Why do they think about their constituents only during election times? And in between, they behave irresponsibly, and do what they jolly well please.

The reason for this is that once elected, these MPs or MLAs are quite untouchable. They could commit crimes, they could be insensitive to public needs, they could be fraudsters. They still retain their seats. And while they may be called in old British style terms, as public “servants”, they are anything but that!! In fact, they make all service providers dance to their tunes, be it the airlines, the police, the bureaucracy.. everyone.

So what is the potential method to make them more responsible? If any?

Yeah, sure, there is the threat to re-election, if they are seen to be grossly messed up. But most times, things are not that clear. Also its a five year term, and by the time the elections come, some of their misdemeanours might have been forgotten by the people too.

The only weapon that the people could potentially have, in such cases, is the right to “recall” an elected representative. To let it be known, that the constituency as a whole has lost total confidence in the concerned MP / MLA, and would like him / her to be recalled.

This article has some background on the subject. It clearly shows that its not easy or perhaps not possible at all, in India. But as a germ of an idea, and even if there is a slim chance of it being implementable, its something that is worth considering. Especially at such difficult times… !

Even if there is ONE case of recall in India, that may be a strong message to all other elected reps, like no other message could ever give, I suspect!

This time around, the anger is huge. All and sundry have expressed their frustrations against the politicians.

Politicians who have sat on the need for a federal agency against terror, politicians who took their own bloody time to act even as the dastardly act was happening at multiple locations in Mumbai, politicians who repeat the same stupid words after each event (“we are investigating”, “we condemn”, “we will get those responsible”, etc. etc.), politicians who use up high profile security for their own selves leaving the citizens unprotected… the list is endless.

Citizens have made comments on live television saying that let the politicians not come here, as they will be killed by the peple here!!

This angry voice has finally reached the powers to be, and we can now expect actions to be taken. While many may call these actions as too little and too late, the way I see these are, being better late than never!

The first head to roll has been that of Shivraj Patil, the Union Home Minister.

Great! Finally! Phew! He has been one of the most impotent and uninspiring Home Ministers that India has had the misfortune to have. So I am glad that he is gone.

I also hope that other heads roll – soon. Prime candidates being Vilasrao Deshmukh and R. R. Patil, the CM and Dy CM of Maharashtra. Besides their inaction and inability to protect the state and the city, their totally insensitive attitudes convey how completely disconnected they are from the citizens and their feelings. The CM took his film star son and his director friend, Ram Gopal Verma, on a terror tour through the Taj. R. R. Patil put his foot in his mouth when he conveyed on camera that such “small incidents” happen in big cities like Mumbai. BOTH HAVE TO GO. Sooner rather than later.

In fact, there is no real ability factor that could justify a Shivraj Patil as Home Minister or a Vilasrao Deshmukh as the CM. Its clear that they had their positions due to reasons other than capability. Vilasrao is supposed to be one of the biggest “fund raisers” for the High Command, and even Shivraj Patil holds some similar aces in his hand, with respect to his relevance in the Congress. These are the only reasons why these people get to their chairs and hold them for long too.

There will be few other bureaucrats who will also have to go. One of the prime candidates for such a removal is the National Security Advisor, who has been exposed as being a total misfit, time and again.

But the other point is that in spite of such resignations, do these politicians really suffer at all? If past is anything to go by, maligned ministers lie low for a while, and since public memory is short, they make a quiet comeback after a while. Or in some cases, they are given a plush Governor’s position (if one is lucky, they could even aspire to be President), and can enjoy the good life!

Why so? If Shivraj Patil has resigned for being responsible for his inability to prevent such terror happening on Indian soil, its clearly a performance issue. Why should he be rehabilitated? If a CMO of a company has been proven to be not performing well, would you still make him a Branch Manager, or would you just give him the walking orders?? In fact, in other cases, politicians have been accused of being corrupt or being linked to violence, or of embezzlements, and they have STILL been rehabilitated!! Why do politicians never have such problems? Because of their “fund raising” ability?? When will THIS change in our country??