The curtains have been drawn for a show that promises to be quite interesting.The PM Manmohan Singh’s suggestion yesterday that judiciary should not breach the thin line dividing judiciary and legislature and asking the courts to follow some guidelines before accepting PILs was followed by the CJI,KG Balakrishnan’s asserting the judiciary’s independence and its power to review the actions of Parliament and legislatures.

There were a good number of incidents where there was a confrontation between the two systems-the Bihar assembly dissolution, Jharkhand government formation, expulsion of MPs in cash-for-query scam, reservation in promotions, 9th schedule and now the stay on implementation of 27% OBC quota.The legislature responded favourably only in the case of cash-for-query scam.

Its natural for the ruling class to be irked by the constant ‘interference’ by courts in what they consider to be their own domain,but its very much essential for the smooth functioning of the democracy.As the CJI rightly said,there may be some tensions between the legislature and the judiciary some times,but its a sign of a healthy democracy.There were many clashes between the two forces earlier too,the most famous being the Allahabad High Court’s ruling that declared the then PM of India,Indira Gandhi’s election as void.Indira Gandhi retorted by imposing Emergency,a blot on Indian democracy.Now though we can be sure of such situations being repeated,thanks to a much politically-aware society and the media revolution and the emergence of internet as the most popular means of communication, answerability of the legislature to public is still a distant dream.

The PILs are one of the few options left to the public to question the policies of the Govt.The Govt has tried to tamper with the other option,RTI act,but was met with stiff resistance by the public.If all the policies are made in the larger interest of the public and not for political mileage or personal benefits,why does the Govt want the courts to restrict PILs?Absolute power in the hands of a few people will be disastrous for everybody.And healthy discussions are an absolute necessity for a flourishing democracy.Just because you are elected by the public
(?) doesn’t mean you are immune from from judicial review gentlemen.There is a rule of law in this country and let it be there.

And why does the Supreme Court still wants to be out of the purview of RTI?

Image Source:

Cross-posted here

Short Answer: Yes. It can be!

According to the Open Budget Index 2006 (pdf), while six countries (France, US, UK, New Zealand, South Africa and Slovenia) provide extensive information to citizens, and nine countries (Botswana, Brazil, Czech Republic, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, South Korea, and Sweden) provide significant information to citizens, India is among the countries which provide some information to its citizens. The International Budget Project (IBP) home page provides some more details; for example, the budget groups in India, and a page explaining participatory budgeting.

I ended up at the IBP homepage via this article in the latest issue of Economic and Political Weekly (pdf) which argues for a more transparent and participatory budget preparation for India. The article further notes that there is no evidence to indicate that a closed budget process is essential–on the contrary, there are some reports (I guess the references are to the reports available here and here) which show that such a closed budget preparation system actually leads to corruption, inefficiency and speculation.

You and I are watching a news channel. We see the fate of widows of farmers who committed suicide in south India. As usual we say a word or two in sympathy, gets angry about the government and the system, switch off the television and goes back to our own busy life.

But that is not what author and Hollywood musician Joseph Curiale did. When he saw the news in CNN about the poor widow Anjamma and many others like her from Andhra Pradesh, he decided to help them out with what he had in hand.

Since I had just written a book “The Spirit of Creativity,” which contains a chapter devoted to following one’s intuition, I knew I had to walk my talk… Not surprisingly, a few days later I got a royalty check of $1,600 from a music-related source that I was completely unaware of. I knew instantly that I had just received the money to pay Anjamma’s debt and have a bit left over for expenses…

He came to India and paid off the debts of Anjamma. Again he came back after collecting more funds and helped those poor widows whose husbands have committed suicide because they couldn’t pay off the debts. To the date Joe managed a total of nearly Rs 11 lakh, settling about 12 families. Plus he paid 25 others, about 5,000 each. He spent most of the money on his own and raised some money from his friends.

It is not just giving money, but Joe is also thinking about permanent solutions to solve this problem. In a Tehelka interview, he said:

My point is you have to get them on level ground before you can do anything. People say that about education… but these people are too weak and don’t even have any food. They don’t give a darn about going to school! I was helping them personally. But now I’ve got a foundation started by Indians in the US called Asha. They sent two people, one from Chennai and one from Hyderabad for my help. I’m trying to cover every aspect. Devendra Sharma with his political journalistic side is trying to bring greater awareness. I feel it’s important for people to work irrespective of the money they have. It’s important for one’s self-esteem, sense of purpose. I got to get them out of the hole, and give them hope. To be poor is one thing, but to have no hope… then one feels there’s no reason to live.

Joe puts the arm-chair activists like me to shame. I believe we cannot always expect governments and politicians to act on issues as we know how our governments and politicians are. Although it is important to keep the government and politicians responsible, we as the citizens of this country cannot just wait for them. It is time we get into the scene and put the politicians into shame.

If you care for this cause and would like to help your fellow countrymen to bring back hope in their life, please contribute generously through Joe’s website and also spread the word. This is the least we can do from wherever we are.

Saving Lives India – Joe’s project
The Hindu article
Interview in Tehelka
Musician comes to orphan’s aid – NDTV

Cross posted here


I know many don’t understand when I keep raising this issue. Why is it so important?

It’s important to me because thousands of my countrymen have died for those lines. It’s our nations boundaries. Please respect it.

I can understand if foreigners can’t accept it but what about Indians?

Look at the cover of this book, Reintegrating India with the World Economy,  by T. N. Srinivasan and Suresh D. Tendulkar.

Well done guys, give it way. I guess it’s just rocks and sand for you.

Today we have with us whom our dear Ujj has emulated since he started watching cricket. We haveHarsha Bhogle with us Harsha Bhogle who was kind enough to some spare time for us and chat with us and strangely not much of what follows is related to Cricket !

Ujj: I know you must have been asked this about a hundred thousand times by people, but then I need to get the obvious out of the way to get to the interesting part, how did an IIM A Grad end up commenting on cricket?

Harsha: Ujjwal, if you have an interesting part why are you wasting time on the obvious? if,for example,you have a ten minute interview slot with someone, you want to check out something that isn’t obvious!! but to cut a long story short (and actually to be more polite!) I was doing this before I went to IIM-A and my first one-dayer and test match happened while I was there. I worked in advertising and then thought I might freelance for a while. we had a house in Mumbai, my wife Anita, who was also from IIM-A, worked and we weren’t particularly worried about income because it didn’t mean a huge amount to us. by the time pro TV appeared, I had enough experience and in a way therefore, was in the right place at the right time. In retrospect, I realize that success is about how much you are willing to do when you don’t have a reward in mind.

Ujj: Cricket, as I gather, is not the only sport you follow, I have personally heard you quoting records of football, tennis and even Carl Lewis, were you always a sports freak? even in Hyderabad Public School? Did you play any sports?

Harsha: not exactly sports freak but since there was no television when we were growing up I read the entire sports page, played virtually every sport in our colony but was always more serious about cricket which I played at school, at college, at senior division in Hyderabad and for my univ in the all india inter-univ. For some obscure reason people are surprised when they hear that (I think it is a good story to say ‘he didn’t play any cricket and anything that goes against that is not interesting’). I try and watch as much of other sport as I can (watching a bit of Chelsea v Tottenham at the moment!) but am not as much of a freak as many others I know. will follow results though.

Ujj: You were on air on radio at the age of nineteen. How did that happen? and then ABC (Australian Broadcasting Council)?

Harsha: yes, did my first ranji trophy match at nineteen. I did a demo tape for air-hyderabad on one of my league matches and they were kind enough to hear it. The station director,a big jovial man, said he liked it and was bold enough to put a kid on air. The big advantage was that when a kid is on air people tend to discount mistakes. Also I learnt a few hard things very early in life and to that extent the learning curve began early.

In 1991, I wanted to broadcast overseas. the ABC said they had a very strict quality adherence policy and would need to hear something. luckily my father had recorded some commentary from an Irani trophy match and I had the cassette. I made a copy on one of those old two-deck tape machines and sent it by registered post (courier was way too expensive even for two IIM-A grads!). Got a fax back saying I was okay for one test, that they would take it from there but that their policy was that the overseas broadcaster is paid by his station. that was fine for me. worked my backside off doing a lot of other stuff (ghosting columns, writing two a day every day, shooting features for video mags…anything) so I could do commentary for which I wasn’t paid anything, but the ABC were awesome and put me onto the BBC and gave me a very nice testimonial that came in handy when TWI were looking for commentators in india. so again, how much are you willing to do for no reward!

Ujj: This is really something. Did your family ever found it odd or did they ever threaten to take you
to someone when you said, you wanted to do something other than consulting (my knowledge of management jobs is quite limited as you would have guessed)?

Harsha: Oh no, not at all because the decision to freelance was taken when I was 29. it wasn’t a risky decision because, as i said, Anita worked and we had a house. plus I knew that I could get a job in advertising again if it didn’t work out. in retrospect I realize I did not think too much. but it would be very difficult now because the opportunity cost would be too high. Salaries are seriously good so giving it up would be tough. Today’s kids would have to give up too much and I suspect they are far more driven than I ever was.

Ujj: Do you think your education both at HPS, Osmania univ and IIMA, gave something different to you that helped you in making you what you are? I would like to generalize this and ask what you think of the pedagogical system of our country that somehow seems to shout that “do no venture into unknown territories”? You may of course differ from me completely.

Harsha: I can understand why it says that because people tend to glorify those that have done something different without focussing on what can go wrong. A lot of people go wrong too, but I don’t think it is the system that says don’t do this. within the system we need to have priorities clear. but yes, school at HPS helped me enormously because that is where I started playing cricket. had a good “PT sir” and outstanding English and Chemistry teachers and those are the three memories that I carry. College wasn’t a great learning experience. the biggest thing in its favour was that it was in hyderabad and that allowed me to play a lot of cricket and do a lot of radio and television which may not have been possible had i been in a hostel somewhere, but by far the greatest influence was IIM-A. It gave me confidence and a different outlook to life. I think I sometimes look at the game, and its players, differently. It also gave me the desire to excel. you see, I had to be aware of what my batchmates were doing and if I hadn’t made some progress early on I don’t know how long I would have done it. even today, it isn’t the number of games i have covered that gets me as much respect as the fact that i have an unusual educational background!

Ujj: Would you as a father mind if your son wants to get into something totally bizzare? something like a pro blogger?

Harsha: provided I was convinced that he wouldn’t be unhappy later. but it would be very important for me to see if he really loved it deeply and wasn’t doing it as a passing attraction.

Ujj: Hyderabad has a neat history of quizzing. You studied at the Hyderabad Public School, did it have a quizzing club?

Harsha: We had a quiz team that went to inter-school competitions and of course we had an inter-house competition conducted by one of the best quiz masters I have known; our English teacher called S W Chandrasekhar. I would sometimes sit in for the inter-house quiz but while I was in the debating team I wasn’t ever in the quiz team.

Ujj: I recently participated in Tata Crucibles. The turnout this year was massive! I think quizzing is here to stay. What do you think? With business quizzing becoming a “must have round” for most quizzes, do you see some prospect in becoming quiz masters? (People have this impression that quiz masters are ubermensch of some sort).

Harsha: Tto be honest, don’t know if it can become a profession. I do the odd one for one and am clear about that. in my quizzes i only ask the questions and am aware that the participants know more than I do. in fact I think that is true of all quizzes! all I see my job being is that of a pleasant conduit between the person who sets the questions and the person who tries to answer it. if people haven’t enjoyed themselves at the end, whether they have won or lost, I think I have lost. but beyond that, I am aware that the real stars are those that set, and those that answer, questions. oh, by the way, I don’t know what ubdermensch means!!

Ujj: Ubermensch..ahem.. I was trying to impress you. 🙂 Thanks a lot for the answers. Ill keep the time thing in mind. Thanks for it.

Harsha: ah, that was just a joke

Ujj: but I thank you for it.

Harsha: interesting you don’t mention cricket among your interests. no crime, but just curious since you ask me a few questions!!

Ujj: Ill clarify one thing immediately. I played cricket for my district (Jabalpur under 16 team). Hold the record for 8 catches in a match and the longest six of my college. -) Just that your Indian Express articles (especially the “ego is what brought Indian cricket to its knees”) on cricket cover most of what I could have asked you. Thanks a ton for your time.

 Here’s what happened in Mutiny this week.

Jo started off the week with the tragic news of Laurie Baker’s death. He also blogged about how Google played an April Fool prank and the ABCs of audio/music blogging
Nita wrote about some students who have moderate views on reservations. She is concerned that couples can no longer enjoy sunsets on sea fronts without looking over their shoulders and is worried about wild Life in India which is under grave threat
Swetha takes a sneak peek at Sivaji – Rajnikant’s Next Blockbuster
Jerry blogged prolifically about Eragon, Mid-Night Hot and The New Detectives  CPM. He rants about why the M6A1 is being deployed overseas.
Guru tells us about Network Computers and provided some very informative links in HowTo: Startups
Chacko writes about  a league for cricket and  gives his opinion on the BJP. He also shows us a very  interesting piece of Indian art in a restaurant in Smash Menu.
Cakerfare informs us about ATM Access in Bihar
Maltesh writes about Logan and opines that we should not give a reservation to folks who don’t want to stay in India
Gentledude writes about the ubiquitous hand pump
Sridhar ended the week informing us that Musharraf is deliberately letting Talibanization creep into main cities
 Keep coming back for more at the Mutiny !

Well, this is not a post to against all those who ask for reservation, read on..

As I tuned in to NDTV, I happened to watch this story regarding a student’s plight on SC’s stay on OBC reservation. This guy, has already appeared for the IIT JEE once, and now was seeking an admission to the IITs, and was supposed to use his OBC certificate to get in to it. Well, fine till here, but what I hear next did inspire me to raise my voice over here. He as reported, wants to work as a Computer Engineer in the US!!

May I ask why? What’s wrong with India?
Why do you want to flee to the US, when people outside India consider getting an IT job in India difficult?

I was astonished by this guy’s intentions.
Is it why you provide reservation to these communities, so that they leave our country and work for another nation and pay that nation’s taxes? In the benefit of the deserving, I support the reservations, but definitely not for these cases. Why should the nation provide subsidised education to these people who don’t want to pay back to the country?

If this is why he wants to use the reservations, then I assert, that he should be denied one.

PS: As I learnt from the rest of the story, the student (I forgot the name), had appeared the IIT JEE once before and this was his second attempt, he has now decided not to answer this time (because one gets only two chances to appear for the exam), and hopes to answer next time, with the reservations ON.
Well Friend, I would suggest that you don’t be dependent on these reservations, work hard and get into the institutions through merit; reservations are not an alternative to hard work.

For a proof, go switch on your television, and tune in to NDTV, today itself, rather now.
I didn’t find the news article on their site, I can’t say if they shall be airing the clip again.

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