Thursday, December 30, 2010

Negative Me

People say I am negative to the hilt. I see a conspiracy in everything. Somebody told me that there are people who are genuinely good. But to me that would not be possible as I would see some sinister designs, ulterior motives.



I am critical to an extreme. I have something to complain about everyone and everything my friends would tell me. If I complain to a friend that he should not throw open air parties on a winter evening, he would remind me that I am on my usual negative spree.



Pleasantries is what they says is conspicuous in absence in my conversation. They feel that my free and candid assessment of things make me critical. My constructive criticism is a negative outburst to them. And I am habitual of saying my mind, though I take care to put it in mild words. The idea is to inform people of what amiss would happen if course correction is not done, and suggest some measures for course correction. The idea is benevolent. But people take it otherwise.



This is a issue that is at the back of my mind. I am actually made to think about it by my friends. When more than half a dozen people tell you have a negative disposition, you cannot ignore it. So I batted for me on this issue. I resisted the idea of being negative. But then why do I come across to people as a negative?



The reason for it came as a flash in one nook of my brain. People don’t like to be told. And I take special joy in telling people things. The idea is to help them. They might not take it in the same spirit.



Is not looking to target inadequacies a way to progress or to succeed? It is. But people don’t like to be told the reason they failed. They would be far more receptive if you tell them what they can do to succeed.
Negative me


The fact that I seem to know fairly effortlessly what is wrong with others has not helped me much. Because the course correction I suggest to others is what I need to implement the most. I am in a fix. And I see me in everyone who is in a fix. And thus strive to fix the fix.



I need to fix me. If I fix me; I will not see the need to fix others. And therefore would lower my negativity coefficient.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Radiagate

Radialeaks is a conspiracy to malign very powerful, select individuals in the corporate sector and in the government. The worst sufferers are Ratan Tata and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; A Raja is a convenient scapegoat. Keep this in mind, the people behind these selective leaks are equally important and powerful.

In an unprecedented move the finance ministry under P Chidambaram taps Niira Radia’s phones after a complaint against her is received that she is a spy, or ‘an agent of foreign intelligence agencies’ and therefore is involved in anti national activities. That is a very serious charge. The Income Tax department should not have been investigating a serious matter like this, instead some highly specialised and equipped agency like IB, ED, CBI or RAW should be dealing with it. But this serious charge comes across as a lame excuse. The finance ministry has a lot of explaining to do. Assuming she is a foreign intelligence agent, which intelligence agency are we talking about? Which specific anti-national activity did she indulge in? Also if she is involved in anti national activities, so are her partners who she works closely with and are the top corporate guys, greedy bureaucrats and politicians looking to make easy money.

The fact of the matter is that Finance ministry under Chidambaram target her and it is alleged that home ministry under him could be behind the selective leak.

On the business front, the leaked tape hit at Ratan Tata. The message is clear. Niira Radia, a Tata’s PR consultant, was trying to influence policy decisions in the favour of her clients. Though the tapes are not just confined to telecom sector. It talks in detail about civil aviation and the institutionalised bungling in this sector of the tune of thousands of crores. It talks about Mukesh Ambani’s (also her client) gas project. And host of other issues. It shows how vulnerable is government to corporate influences, much of which is not legitimate. And the level playing field is a farce, as these behind the closed door lobbying decide the fate of many of the money-loaded projects.

What is clear now is that former telecom minister A Raja issued licenses for some extraneous considerations and not entirely on merit, but nothing more then this is established as yet, not even the exchange of money taking place. But these revelations have put the new licenses in the dock. This will benefit the old players, or the incumbents, like Idea, Vodafone, Airtel. What Raja did, by default, by issuing some 120 new licenses, is that he liberalised the telecom sector. This ensured that the call rates crashed; mobile phones became more and more affordable to the poor and the network extended to rural India. The oligopoly of the incumbents was broken and they were for the first time facing the levelling forces of competition. This is a unique scam in the sense that it has benefited the common man. And these leaked tapes could scuttle the competitive environment in telecom sector by potentially cancelling all new licenses so that the incumbents will start making super normal profits again. Is that the idea behind these leaks? (an idea can change a whole sector).

This whole conspiracy, not just a controversy, has put a question mark on the effectiveness and leadership of Prime Minister Manmhan Singh. Ironically, he has many times being referred as the cleanest prime minister. And weakest too. We have a parliamentary form of democracy where the cabinet is collectively (not individually) responsible to the parliament and through it to the people at large. So, it is untenable to have a clean prime minister in a cabinet where the ministers are waist deep in the muck of corruption. A Raja resigning might not help. We know that prime minister was well aware of what Raja was up to. He failed to stop Raja. So the prime minister is under pressure too for allowing Raja commit 2G scam, the opposition stalling the whole winter session of the parliament on this issue creats more problem for the prime minister.

But I see a trap here. The trap is to pressurise the prime minister to resign. And if Congress grapevine is to be believed, since 40 years old Rahul baba is still not ready, somebody else might get to be the ceremonial prime minister. Chidambaram is one of the top contenders, so is the finance minister, Congress's chief trouble-shooter, Pranab Mukerjee and defence minister AK Anthony. Both the home ministry and the finance ministry have expressed their helplessness to stop the leak, but this does not bother them much. However, both the ministries have clarified that they have not leaked the tapes. Somebody has, one of them could be lying? There seems to be a larger conspiracy to force an emotional prime minister to tender resignation in light of corruption charges so that some other non-Gandhi will get to man the top job.

The truth might never come out. In the meantime, CBI will continue raiding the homes and offices of dispensable politicians and bureaucrats to fish out evidences after giving them good 13 months of time to get rid of them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Information

Wikileakes and Radiagates: unbridled dissemination of information is so difficult to handle.

There should be no doubt that people have right to privacy. Nobody has the right or reason to know what happens between two or more adults behind closed doors. No body should have access to their private talks.

This brings us to the next question: Is the right to privacy absolute? Or let’s pose this question differently. Criminals use privacy to hatch plots to cause larger harm to the society. Given that privacy can be used in a way that can lead to disastrous consequences-can the denizens of the society be assured of absolute privacy? If it could be controlled, would US ever allow Osama Bin Laden or Al Qaeda operatives privacy?

I am being judgemental when I say we all lead a dualistic life: one for the public consumption and, perhaps, more than one private lives. An expose or a sting operation therefore affects most the person it talks about. It breaks the sham of dualistic life, selective dissemination of information to create a certain false image. It is like the exposed is stripped bare in the middle of a crowded street. He has no place to hide, nowhere to go. It is worst that can happen to someone. I would therefore not do it for reasons that are described by the word: frivolous. I would exercise utmost responsibility and restraint, would do it for larger public interest. And there is no thin line here but a clear demarcation between what constitutes private chit-chat and what forms a negotiations that spells the contours of criminality, misuse of official position of a custodian for personal gains. There is never confusion. But there is always a temptation to sensationalise things.

In Niira Radia tapes, I am not so bothered about the tone and tenor of the telephonic conversations that sound very informal…bordering private. I am rather amazed at what is being discussed and by whom. The richie rich and the biggie big doing what we expect them to do, use money power to bend rules. But it was good to hear it, the vague ideas concretised when exposed to the real drill. I am reminded of a proverb in Hindi: naam bare aur darshan chote (big names and small deeds). There is no criminality as no law has been broken. Perhaps recorded conversation is not even admissible in the court as evidence. But since it was official, sanctioned tapping of phone; and no one has really denied to these telephonic conversations, it is a potent embarrassment. It will cause many heads to roll, especially in the media fraternity.

In US-the harbinger of free society-is much more hassled by the Wikileaks. The government has employed all the means possible, most of them unethical and undemocratic to plug the Wikileaks. But the Wikileaks has a thousand holes and it might not be possible to plug all of them before it spreads sufficiently to cause the damage. It makes us aware of what we already know-American highhandedness and selfishness. It is also indicative of frustration in the American establishment that they are slowly but decisively losing their dominance on the world. A change that is inevitable to create a new world order.