The Gravy Train.

In India, whenever some new project is announced with much fanfare and foundation stones laid by local political bigwigs, the knowledgeable will know that there is a bunch of smart operators, including the ubiquitous bureaucrat and a gang of politicians is making money out of that project. Actually, one does not even have to be knowledgeable to come to this conclusion. Ordinary people without any knowledge of how public finance is managed will conclude the same way. It is the dumb ones like me, who do not know how to get on the band wagon of the gravy train and skim some off the top.

No, I am not seeking a Guru to teach me how to undumb myself. I am referring to the gall of the people concerned that have got on the gravy train despite the funding coming from the World Bank, whose auditing of expenditure is more stringent. Here is a detailed news report in our venerable Indian Express.

I am however gratified that this is not a local phenomenon. Politicians and other vested interests seem to be the same in other more “advanced” countries. Since some of my readers live in the vicinity, this report in the Washington Post should be of some interest to them. They can feel glad that their vested interests are no less than ours.

Insult To Parliament.

Head of the parliamentary panel on Lokpal bill and party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi of the Congress party claimed that the movement against corruption and the insistence on passing a Lokpal bill was an insult to our Parliament,

I would like to offer a counter argument to Sri. Singhvi.

If anyone has been insulted, it is the Indian citizen who has been led up the garden path by the Congress party. The proposal for the Lokpal bill has been hanging fire from 1968. since then, the Congress party has mostly been in power and mostly with a brute majority in the parliament. If for all these years, the bill could not have been passed and measures taken against corruption in our body politic, our citizens have been insulted and not the Parliament.

Moreover, our respected Parliamentarians have been calling the agitating citizens as the Civil Society. Is it then not obvious as to who is insulting who, and who is the uncivil party in the equation?

Anna Hazare.

That is a note that my grand niece and Padmum’s grand daughter Uttara, sent on behalf of her sister Madhura and herself, to Anna Hazare.

Her obviously very proud parents have this to say about it.

“After writing the note she asked me how we could give it to Anna. Before I could think of a suitable reply, she had ‘offered’ her letter to the TV broadcast ‘Here Anna, my letter'” – Vandana her mother.

“If 5+ year old Uttara can be passionate and is hopeful that “the Governmint has stopt caroppthan” (corruption) then there is hope for my country!” – Jai her father.

This is the four of them.

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 joker’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.


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 Padmum.

an·i·mos·i·ty (n-ms-t)
n. pl. an·i·mos·i·ties
1. Bitter hostility or open enmity; active hatred.
2. A hostile feeling or act.

That definition explains the current state of mind of most Indians towards the political and bureaucratic class.

Sir Winston Churchill wrote 64 years ago about India :
“Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. They will have sweet tongues & silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power & India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water would be taxed in India.”

To paraphrase another Englishman Sir David Hunt, erstwhile British High Commissioner to Nigeria, “Politicians and bureaucrats as a whole are, not only not averse to cutting off their nose to spite their face; they regard such an operation as a triumph of cosmetic surgery,”

For five decades after independence, this class in collusion often with the criminal class brought the country to its knees with socialism, statism and sheer arrogance of power. Those days were called the License/Permit Raj, or the Inspector Raj and the net result was that India was going down the tube. From the nineties many of such restrictive controls were removed, but the versatile gang of thieves have found ingenious ways of looting the country and its people.

India is in the midst of a major anti corruption movement and my readers will get some idea of what is happening in this article.

For the first time in decades, all members of the establishment are facing animosity instead of fear from the public. The animosity is finding expression and here is a report that augurs well for public finally getting its act together to force change from a feral leadership. Here is another report closer to my home.

Modern communication methods and a vigilant media is enabling the ordinary Indian to express his animosity and when the situtation calls for it, a leader emerges. Anna Hazare is one such leader and the movement inspired by him can only go further to make our country what it can be. Have a look at this report too. The media and concerned citizens have already started to respond to inanity.

One question that one of my loyal readers, Ursula, will ask of me is where I stand on the emotion of animosity. Let me anticipate her and assure her that I can be allergic to people and things, but I have no personal experience so far of “Bitter hostility or open enmity; active hatred; hostile feelings or acts.” either from me towards others or from others towards me. I avoid situations that can lead to animosity and perhaps others do the same to me too.


Hope By Zordo

The hottest news in India today is the popular disdain being expressed for the political and the bureaucratic class of India.

To show the ridiculous levels to which corruption has seeped into our system, here is a story which takes the art of bribery to a new level! ‘MLA’ in the story stands for Member of Legislative Assembly, the state level equivalent to a Member of the Parliament. You will learn something about Anna Hazare as you proceed further in reading this post.

Various small steps taken in the past by many activists have now cumulatively morphed into a popular movement led by a crusader Anna Hazare. More information about his crusade here. Subsequently, the government agreed to constitute a joint mechanism with what it called the Civil Society, thus agreeing that it represented the uncivil aspects of our body politic, to draft a Lokpal bill. This would eventually result in an Ombudsman kind of constitutional mechanism.

The Lokpal bill which is expected to be enacted before Anna goes on his fast again on our Independence Day, August 15, 2011. It is expected that it will be a forerunner to bring about many other changes to the laws at state levels and also to bring up badly needed administrative reforms at all levels.

It is too much to expect an overnight miracle, but a start has been made and the establishment has been made aware that the public will not take this lying down anymore.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”
~ Robert Francis Kennedy

I join many other Indians in hoping for quick and lasting change.