India Against Corruption.

As I write this, the Indian Parliament is debating introducing a bill to enact a law for a Lokpal, a super ombudsman position to tackle the major problem of corruption in public life in our country.

We now see emails, FaceBook messages, Twitter messages, phone calls, SMS texts doing the rounds mobilising the country’s people to join a protest led by Anna Hazare who is on hunger fast in Delhi.

I shall write more about the developments in due course on this turning point in India’s history, but want to share something that is very interesting.

I sent this message to my friend in Singapore T, who is an economist and teacher, and a third generation Singaporean of Indian descent.


One of the many mails currently doing the rounds in the Indian net space is this one:

IN 1982, In Singapore, LOKPAL BILL was implemented and 142 Corrupt Ministers & Officers were arrested in one single day.. Today Singapore has only 1% poor people & no taxes are paid by the people to the government, 92% Literacy Rate, Better Medical Facilities, Cheaper Prices, 90% Money is white & Only 1% Unemployment exists..

I am reasonably sure that this must be some jokerโ€™s idea of a spanner in the works, but just thought that I should seek your expert opinion!



I received this in response:


I think the arresting got well under way much before that (in fact we put all the communists and radical trade unionists away in one sweep under operation “cold storage”, sometime in 1967 or thereabouts); corruption was rooted out in the very early years of independence (partly because there was little avenue for corruption since we did not have bureaucrats operating a license raj, and partly because of zero tolerance, with the anti corruption agency directly reporting to the PM’s office), our literacy rate is higher than 91%, our unemployment rate is practically zero; as a financial centre, there must be dirty or black money from the many tycoons from Indonesia, China and the region which is parked in Singapore banks — but that money does not become a factor in local corruption, it just allows the tycoons to buy palatial homes for which they will pay taxes; we citizens do pay taxes but at relatively low rates.

You may know that many Indian citizens now live here, easily some several hundred thousands, tons of new Indian restaurants, etc. Of course, K hates Singapore for its perceived authoritarianism, though that never stopped affluent highly educated Indian citizens from applying for permanent residence and citizenship.


K is a mutual friend and is a bit of a maverick. K, T and I have a three way exchange of ideas and try and solve all the problems of the world, particularly that of India. K is about to retire from service and is increasingly looking to spiritualism to see him through the rest of his life! My readers of course know that I am a retired hippy.

The point of this post is to share the success story of Singapore with my readers. I have been to Singapore a number of times and have always felt that it is a wonderful to place to live in. Frankly, T, his lovely wife Anne and a few other friends of mine who have made Singapore their home lead very enviable lives.

Weekly Recap – 8.

Last Saturday started off with my life-line Idli and Vadai wallah put in an appearance and my father was delighted being able to speak to him in our language. It was comedy with my father unable to hear him and answering irrelevant things to simple questions. You would have read about him in my post.

I got news that my maternal first cousin has just become a grandfather. That side of the family now has a third generation male child!

The missing middle book in a trilogy has now been replaced with many apologies from the online book seller. I have started reading it.

Sunday was total bliss. Day nine sans cigarettes passed off without incident.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday saw a lot being accomplished. My father had been insisting on banking with three different banks for sentimental reasons. I had tried to get him to simplify by consolidating into one account with one bank and he had resisted. Whether he imagines that I will be a different person after my surgery or whatever, on Monday he suddenly agreed to do so, and I had to start the process of getting his pension and other payments shifted to the bank close by, closing a couple of accounts, transfering funds etc. All are going well without hitch and hopefully, before the end of this month his affairs will be much more simple to manage and handle.

I had been in email exchanges with the surgeon who will revise my hip joint and he has been clearing some doubts and misgivings with patience and humour. Nice to have a surgeon who understands the patient’s anxiety.

Wednesday also saw me make a new friend through the simple expedient of humour.

Thursday was dentist appointment for my father and I surprised the dentist with a gift of a book. That did not persuade her to give a discount on her fees though! I was also very pleasantly surprised by a request for a telephone interview by a writer writing about net shopping. She promised to visit my blog and leave comments too!

Friday saw me discovering a big goof up by my bankers on an important account which is being rectified. Phew! It also saw two friends coming over to visit and spend time with me. My own invention, an Indian version of Pesto was cooked by our help and it turned out to be out of the world.

The whole week was full of rain and we hardly saw the sun. Despite the weather being so gloomy, there were a lot of things to be cheerful about.


Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Nema, Noor,Ordinary Joe, Paul,Maria the Silver Fox, Padmum , Rohit, Will knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar.

IMHO d gr8st invention of man is ๐Ÿ™‚ and

Translated that will read, In My Humble Opinion the greatest invention of man is the insertion of a colon dash and close bracket sign (In this WP program that automatically translates it to a grinning face!) and the smiley graphic.

I can write anything I want and convey that I am just joking, or that I am not serious, or just being funny, by inserting either of those two signs. Neat, very neat. One does not have to go to convoluted linguistic gymnastics to convey humour as the intent in written communication. Now, the ubiquitous cell phone has smileys as part of the text that you can insert in a text message to make it even easier.

I wish that I had had these when I wrote all those love letters in my youth. I could have written more effectively in quantity in the same aerogram envelope or post card, and used less flowery language. And now that I have these in my life, I don’t have anyone to write love letters to ๐Ÿ™‚

Laugh And The World Laughs With You.

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” ~Lord Byron

I was at the local bank where there is an alcove with two desks, one each for Privileged Customers and Senior Citizens. I suppose that I qualify for both as whenever I enter that alcove, either desk’s occupant immediately extends service to me.

Today, I was fortunate to be served at the Privileged desk. While the
executive had gone somewhere to get a photocopy of a document for me, a
lady, may be around 40 came in and sat at the other desk. I smiled at her,
and told her that she was at the wrong place. She got quite annoyed and
said, this is the XXXXBank. I simply pointed out the board hanging over her
head that said “Senior Citizens” and said that she looked like Sub Junior to
me. She shot out of the chair and came alarmingly close to me and said, “In
that case, I shall sit on your lap!” By the time both the executives had
also returned and there was laughter all around, and this is the funnier part, people outside the alcove not even knowing the background had grinning faces as I came out.

Were they all laughing with me or at me? Does it make a difference?

Chintan – Idli/Vadai wallah.

This is Chintan. Another one of Pune’s Pheirwallah entrepreneurs. He is a particularly important contact for me as he supplies home made stape food for many people from the South of India living alone in hostels, and fellows like me, too lazy to prepare the two vital items that my father simply adores.

In the picture, he is doling out idlies. These are steamed rice/lentil cakes.

He also supplies Medhuvadais.

He plies his trade on bicycle and announces his arrival with a bicycle air horn

He supplies accompanying coconut chutney and sambhar free of charge!

The two stainless steel vessels that hang from the handlebars contain sambhar and chutney. Behind him on a side saddle, he has his stock of vadais.

Chintan comes from deep down Tamil Nadu. His clientele however is eclectic as, though idlies and vadais are South Indian dishes, they have now become ubiquitous throughout India. Chintan grinds the dough for his dishes every evening in an electric wet grinder.

The grinding is actually done with a stone grinder and it is quite an engineering feat to have developed a modern equivalent to the old stone grinders that I have seen my mother use to grind dough.

Purists would still insist on using the old stone grinders!

Chintan’s wife steams/fries the idlies and vadais early in the morning while Chintan prepares the chutney and the sambhar. By 8.00 am Chintan is off on his bicycle and normally sells his entire stock off by around noon. He then returns home, which is about five kilo meters from our township to rest and organise for the next day.

Chintan is the third from his family who have been supplying me with idlies and vadais. His cousin and his uncle before him handed over this beat to him and moved on to other townships in an ever expanding city. There are now six of them vending the same stuff in different localities.

I would be hard pressed to satisfy my father’s craving for these dishes without Chintan playing his role in my life.