Tag Archive | India

The collective dream of a Nation

mangalyaan

The old mechanical alarm clock started to make loud ringing sounds enough to wake up the entire neighborhood. But the 11 year old kid slept on unperturbed. His mom came and tried to wake him up. After some attempts, she softly whispered into his ears, ‘you will miss the launch!’. The kid woke up with a start. He didn’t want to miss the rocket launch that was telecast live on TV. And there was no competition for TV time amongst the 14 members of his joint family as it was 4 AM in the morning and every other soul in the house slumbered peacefully. The darkness around him wasn’t much a bother for this enthusiastic kid who woke up, quickly brushed his teeth, drank some water and dashed to the living room not to miss the countdown of the rocket launch.

This was 1995 in India where TV cable hadn’t a presence yet in nooks and corners of the country. But the national network (DoorDarshan) had a special broadcast live from French Guiana in Central America. The commentators spoke in Hindi peppered with scientific words in English which the 11-year old understood only slightly. But his gaze was fixed on the inset video of the rocket and the countdown timer at the bottom left of the TV screen. Suddenly as the countdown timer said T-20 the whole team of scientists went into a freeze and now only the project director’s voice was heard loud and clear saying “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Go”. A brief silence followed after which the Ariane rocket ignited and lifted off carrying India’s INSAT-2C into earth’s orbit. The boy cheered every time the sounds of jubilation were heard on TV. His dreams soared high along with the rocket that carried India’s future (communication). The boy wondered, ‘Are my friends watching this too?’ and looked forward to school that day to compare notes with his best friends so that they could together dream of becoming scientists who go on to create something truly majestic that their countrymen will be proud of.

In the current day, 19 years later, these kids have gone on to build bridges, mend others’ hearts & lungs, write software, setup businesses, teach and inspire other kids and what not. And when India makes another huge scientific progress (in this case Mars Orbiter Mission or Mangalyaan) we all pause, look up the sky wondering where the red planet is, feel proud of our scientists and also proud that a collective dream of a nation to have come true.

This reminds the author of a quote from his favorite idol, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
‘Dream, Dream Dream. Dreams transform into thoughts. And thoughts result in action.’

Gifted – A Poem

28_Gifted

Disabled’, the society screamed and their life was restricted,
Different! not less‘, was the chant to which their parent’s enlisted.

To achieve the impossible, is what their families committed,
It was every parent’s dream that their child lives unassisted.

Unique they were, and each of them was spirited,
Unhindered by the limitations, their bodies had inherited.

Reading about their triumphs, the myth of disability gets lifted,
A celebration called life‘ is the story of these truly GIFTED.

 

Gifted is a collection of 15 inspiring stories of people with disabilities. It’s written by VR Ferose and Sudha Menon. This blogger is proud to have been associated with the book in his own small way (check the acknowledgment in the book).

Space to be different (IPL Saga – Part 3 of 3)

26_IPL3

   “Love you, Gauti”, shouted the two girls at the top of their voices. They were jumping off their seats and dancing and cheering when Gautam Gambhir played. Not only did they cheer his walk to the cricket pitch but every time the ball hit his bat. This is a usual scene in a cricket crazy nation where crowds run behind team buses just to catch glimpse of Sunil Narine or Wasim Akram. What would the scene look like for a Tendulkar or Dhoni. Absolute chaos.

   Coming back to the scene of the girls rooting for Gautam Gambhir and his Kolkata Knight Riders brigade. Every time the girls got up from their seats to cheer or shout some young boys behind them were copying the girl’s moves. Especially a lanky lad among the boys put some moves that kept the crowd amused. Behind, a drunk man was throwing a lot of ‘F’ expletives at a bunch of people who had occupied his seat. For some reason he wanted to sit in his own seat and not open to sit in other vacant seats. A bunch of opportune guys, saw the cheering girls and came and started chatting up the girls. And then there were people shouting slogans for India’s victory. That too in an Indian Premier league cricket game where teams were regional and didn’t represent the country. And there were people who were sloshed and shouting at the top of their voices. If only they had thumped their chests, it would look like a full clothed Tarzan in the jungle.

   Replace Cricket with Football or any other sport and sportsmen, the situation is the same world over (except maybe for tennis and its tie-clad clapping gentlemen). Do spaces like stadium offer a space where man lets his adrenaline flow? Why do we tend to behave differently in these spaces in contrast to our own offices or communities? Are we constrained by our social fabric so much that getting excited or fearful (the cause for adrenaline rush) is only restricted to these special spaces? Should we bottle it up until the next cricket match to vent it out?

Man versus System – The Indian Context (IPL Saga – Part 2 or 3)

25_IPL2

It feels happy to have beat the pack of 40000 people and had an early drink in a stadium doesn’t it. After enjoying this little achievement, this author turned back to his seat in the stadium to watch cricket players going through the practice drill, coaches guiding players, Umpires and referees inspecting the pitch and the ground staff and their machinery clearing the dew off the grass. It was break time for the biggest game of the IPL season.

One such machine used in day-night cricket encounters in the sub-continent is a super sopper. It’s used to absorb all the dew of the grass so that the batting side don’t have an advantage. It was a road roller of sorts meant for the grass. Ironic that these machines were in use in IPL where balls mostly flew out of the park and only occasionally touched the grass. On the particular day of IPL final, two machines came onto the ground to do their duties. Unfortunately one of them broke down during operation. The technicians were called in to fix but to no avail. The break got extended by a few minutes as the huge machine stopped moving and had to be cleared off the field for the play to start. Though it had regular wheels to be rolled off the ground, for some reason the ground staff were reluctant to use it. The solution finally employed being, about 40 people lifted the machine off the ground.

The author wonders, what would happen if this situation were to happen in Australia or England where the planned system would have accounted for such an eventuality. Maybe they had a crane on the ground. Maybe they would have better designed super soppers that could be easily rolled off the ground. Why do, we in India, offer solutions that need people to do it instead of systems and infrastructure.

   The answer, in the author’s mind, is simple. ‘We use the resource that’s available in plenty‘. Could a western country afford to have hundreds of ground staff? Probably not. But we do. So are we a country that has less use of a system? Maybe. Look around you. Every time a road is dug to lay a cable you will find tens of people digging trenches in the age of advanced tunneling machines. At our IT/BPO industries which hire by few hundred thousands. Look at Indian Railways that’s one of the largest employer in the world.  So next time someone tries to retrofit a western solution to an Indian context. Take note that this is a different country where human resources thrive over systems.

And IPL 2014 winner is….

IPL

There is an interesting co-relation between Indian Premier League (IPL) and Indian State’s growth. (Refer to the table below)

Year IPL Winner Govt in the state state growth(%) National
Growth(%)
2008 Rajasthan Royals BJP 9% 6.72
2009 Deccan Chargers Congress 10.1 8.59
2010 Chennai Super Kings DMK (UPA) 11.7 8.91
2011 Chennai Super Kings DMK(UPA), AIADMK 12.39 6.69
2012 Kolkata Knight Riders Trinamool Congress (UPA) 7.5 4.47
2013 Mumbai Indians Congress NA 4.86

Is Indian Premier League contributing to additional growth of a state in some way (either directly or by increasing the happiness quotient of the people in the state or something else that I am not able to comprehend). Also one generally sees a pattern that the team that won belonged to a state government that was in alliance with central government. Seems to be there is more than what meets the eye.

Let’s see who will win the IPL 2014. My pick is Kings XI Punjab for obvious reasons. …… Maxwell silly:)

Social Deposits – An Idea for Poverty Free India by 2020

Social_deposit

Please read my earlier blog ‘A Bank to Thank’ to know more about social deposit or micro-credit

I am no tax expert nor am I a financial guru. It seems to come up with ideas to rid India of poverty you needn’t be one. Here is one such idea
‘Include social deposit(or micro-credit) with a limit of INR 50,000 in section 80C of income tax. Thereby extending the 80C limit to INR 170,000.’
With this we will reduce the poverty of India in 6 years time.

If Narendra Modi’s government implements this, he can for sure claim in his 2019 report card that he stood upto ‘सबका साथ सबका विकास’ which in my knowledge means ‘Together we prosper’.

Now your left analytical brain would ask how? Let me elaborate
Tax payers:
  • India has a growing population of 1.24 billion of which 150 million people are below International Poverty line.
  • Out of the 1.24 billion, there are about 34 million tax payers in India.
  • Of these 34 million tax payers, only about 15 million are salaried and hence tax for them is deducted at source.
  • Income Tax reports the total tax paid by salaried class as 1121 billion Rupees.
  • That’s an average of 75K paid per person.

Here is a graph to illustrate these stats

Tax1
Now lets consider the scenario if Government were to add a new category of saving called social deposit through RangDe (or other reputed social lending organizations) with an upper cap of INR 50,000.
Let’s assume that atmost 33% of the salaried tax payer’s (15 million) use this component fully to save on tax.
Therefore 33% of 15 million, i.e., around 5 million invest around 50K each.
This would result in 250 billion Rupees (or 25000 crore) in social deposits.

Now say the average social loan size that could be given is INR 10,000, you will have helped 25 million (or 2.5 crore) small street business or village women entrepreneurs in getting loans at low rates which will in turn help their business and help themselves to financially sustain and then payback the loan.
Now if you do that every year, you will have touched about 150 million (25 mi *6 years) people in 6 years time. And that too, if the lock in period of these social deposits in only 1 year.
If we have the lock in period at 3 years (like a tax saving mutual fund lock in period) we will reach the target of improving 150 million people’s lives in half the time ( i.e, 3 years)

Simple isn’t it?
Poverty free India by 2020 is achievable

P.S: I am assuming that the reputed social lending organizations aren’t Government based organizations, nor are they Banks. If it’s these then the social deposit scheme is no different from rest of the 80C instruments

Choose your battles wisely

War

 

What’s got into Arvind Kejriwal and his army these days?
Doesn’t he get it that the revolution is over for the common man?

The common man has voted in a stable government, booted out the looters, started feeling safe again and went to his home and hearth to care of his responsibilities.
If Arvind is willing to stir a global revolution then the wave has passed.
Instead his army should take to streets to create local revolutions around issues bothering the common man.
That pothole on the road, that traffic snarl, that hospital without facilities, that local water mafia, that local middleman gobbling the farmer’s profits, that coal mine worker exploited by his employer.
That’s where the common man is, these days.

Not in the echelons of power, not in the Tihar’s of the world and not in the streets of Lutyens Delhi.
 
Here’s an adapted quote for the occasion
“Choose your battles wisely. After all, life isn’t measured by how many times you stood up to fight. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go”