Electoral Reforms

Although I had planned to, I will not be attending the “5th National Conference on Electoral and Political Reforms” of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). It’s happening in Mumbai, and I alas, am in Pune. My colleague Rajesh Jain is going there to be on a panel on “The role of business and Government.” Rajesh mentions on his blog the context of the event.

Since 2002, the major impacts of these campaigns have been on criminalization of politics, and transparency in candidate and political party assets. Leaders of both the BJP and the Indian National Congress have made public statements that they would not field candidates with criminal records even if they were likely to win in the coming Lok Sabha elections . . .

Interesting, isn’t it? I added the emphasis above because it is worth noting. That phrase is a recognition of the fact that criminals routinely contest and win elections. Let me understand that a bit more. That criminals contest elections is a choice that the criminals make. The laws of the land, for whatever they are worth, permit criminals to contest elections. That they win elections is the more remarkable fact. Contesting the elections is within the control of the criminals; winning elections is not. People — the much celebrated wise Indian voters — are the ones who vote criminals into power.

They at ADR could conference the whole day long till the cows come home, but I am afraid that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not with the criminals but with the people who vote for them.

If in your generally free and fair elections, you elect criminals as your political leaders, you might be a third world country. (Or in the case of the US, you might be aspiring to become a third world country.)

What’s a “Patwa”?

A fatwa is a religious decree made by a mullah. A “patwa” is like a fatwa but made by Patil. A patwa, like a fatwa, is not based on reason or logic. But it is not just a matter of whim, a fancy, a just-like-that sort of thing. It is calculated to serve Patil’s and her masters’ interest.
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Naming of Things

Some years ago I came across a single-panel cartoon which showed a statue of a figure on horseback. It was clearly the statue of Shivaji Maharaj, the great Maratha hero. Standing in front was a little kid with an adult. The kid was asking, “But what was the statue called before it was renamed Shivaji Maharaj?”

In Mumbai, the trend is that everything gets renamed after Shivaji. And in the broader context of India, everything gets named after Nehru and his clan. Naming things is easy in India. “Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal, Indira, Rajiv, and Sanjay” are the choices for the first bit, as in “Jawaharlal Nehru University,” or “Indira Gandhi International.” It won’t be too long before we have “Sonia, Priyanka, Rahul, Spotty” added to the list. (Spotty is just a place holder as I am not sure what the name of the Gandhi family dog actually is.)
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World Bank Complicit in Indian Corruption

A recent Wall Street Journal article, World Bank Disgrace, (hat tip: Prakash Advani) reports that an internal review of five WB health projects in India totaling US$ 569 million in loans shows major corruption. The report begins with

Credit Robert Zoellick for knowing how to put the best face on a profound embarrassment. On Friday, the World Bank president announced in a press release that the bank had “joined forces” with the government of India to “fight fraud and corruption” in that country’s health sector. This is happening at the same time that Mr. Zoellick’s colleagues are hounding bank anticorruption chief Suzanne Rich Folsom, the person primarily responsible for bringing the scandals to light.

Joining forces with the government of India to fight corruption is reminiscent of joining forces with General Musharraf to fight terrorism. One bank managing directed is reported as saying that she is “encouraged by the Indian government’s “strong resolve” to deal with corruption.” Exactly like the strong resolve of the fox in guarding the hen house. We can now all sleep soundly since the Indian government has resolved to . . . whatever.

If your corrupt government is strongly resolved to deal with corruption, you might be a third world country.

PS: Let’s remember that all the stolen money is a WB loan to India. That means, we, the tax-payers in India, have to ultimately pay back all the embezzled funds.

Weep for Taslima, and then for India

I was born in India. Most of the time I am quite content that the land of my birth is not a hell-hole. But every now and then I am rudely awakened to the fact that to a very large extent, it is ruled by a bunch of slaves, criminals and myopic morons. I read Taslima Nasreen’s heartfelt question “What is my crime?” with rising disgust and distaste for what India appears to be at times — a pathetic Third-world country with the morals of a bottom-dwelling creature and the ethics of pond-scum. Read the whole thing by Taslima and weep — a bit for Taslima but a lot for Mother India. Here’s just the last bit.
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Air Indian — Part Duh

So then the two state-owned Indian airlines are going to merge (according to this rediff report — hat tip: Tejaswi) and the merged entity will be called — umm, let’s see now — “Air Indian,” the title of a blog post last month on the merger.

I have written earlier about the stupidity of changing the name “Indian Airlines” to the even more generic “Indian,” repainting a few dozen airplanes spending tens of millions of dollars, knowing full well that in a matter of months the whole exercise will be repeated when the name is changed yet once more. Time to revisit that piece.

Like I say, India is not poor for nothing. It takes concerted cumulative stupidity over decades to bring a large economy to its knees. Behold the bureaucrats and marvel at their madness.

Air Indian

Imagine a restaurant where the number of employees exceeds the number of seats. Would be a very expensive restaurant indeed. Now imagine an airline where the number of employees exceeds the the number of seats. Actually, you don’t have to imagine that one as India has two such airlines where all the employees cannot be seated in the planes simultaneously. When the two state-run airlines merge shortly, they will have about 132 airplanes — my estimate is around 20,000 seats — and 35,000 employees.
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