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Thursday, January 25, 2007

regulators or controllers?

text of the letter sent to the press:

The TRAI's intent to slash the roaming charges by some 56% appears more resulting out of a directive from the government with a view to wooing the electorate before the impending elections in UP and other states. With these kinds of agenda's being pushed through the regulatory bodies, they are in general seen to be acting more like Consumer Fora than playing the role of the impartial regulator that they were meant to be. Perhaps this is inevitable when their Chairmanships become sinecures for retired bureaucrats.

Unfortunately, there still seems to be very little appreciation in the country of the fact that, for a healthy business climate to develop, market factors should dictate the decisions as far as possible, with interventions by the regulator coming in only when very essential.

be a patriot, please!

text of the letter sent to the press:

Priyaranjan Dasmunshi's greatest patriotic act would be to quit as the President of the AIFF, a post he has held on to from times immemorial, so that this body also flourishes like BCCI, and takes Indian football to its deserved heights.

SC's Siddhuisms

text of letter sent to the press (unlikely to be published):

The Supreme Court's reprieve for Siddhu is most shocking, to say the least. What is even more shocking is the judges' use of 'Sidhuisms' in extolling his new-found virtues. Siddhu, however, is so far not known to have expressed even one word of remorse for his act which led to the death of an elderly person. Infact, he has been going to town flaunting the High Court verdict of 'culpable homicide, not amounting to murder' as some kind of an award, rather than the guilty conviction that it is. By continuing to back him, the BJP does not appear to have learnt its lessons from the changed mood in the country, today. Maybe the citizen's groups, whose campaigns led to the recent convictions of the highly connected murderous lot, should start a campaign against Siddhu also now.

Friday, January 19, 2007

'special' gimmick

text of letter sent to press:

The traffic between Bangalore ant Thiruvananthapuram is so huge today that the Railways are forced to announce 'special trains' every now and then. However, they steadfastly refuse to regularise them into daily services for reasons quite unknown, but certainly not commercial. I now have a new hypothesis - perhaps that is another way to keep themselves in the news!

Friday, January 12, 2007

de-complicating issues

text of the letter sent to the press:

The Ulsoor lake parking scheme, Malleswaram underpass, National College flyover, and all such issues emanate out of one common problem - too many vehicles being added on (at close to 1,000 a day) to the city roads, far in excess of their carrying capacity. And, the public, while grudgingly beginning to accept that this needs to be checked, simultaneously comes up with the argument that the public transport services are inadequate, in the process helping to perpetuate the typical chicken and egg situation. While extremely expensive options, like the METRO / MONO rail, etc are being bandied about by all and sundry, nobody even wants to think of professionalised bus services, which essentially means competition for the BMTC from the private sector, as the simple and staright-forward answer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tainted TATA's !

Relevant excerpts of the mail sent by Mr L to Hasiru Usiru Yahoogroup, on 6th Jan, ‘07

Dear All,

Rediffusion has come out with a couple of powerful short video clips and also print ads to run as a campaign to stop felling trees. some of us at ---- watched those clips and they are useful ... Rediffusion is willing to support a long term campaign.

At ----we are keen to see this off, provided the money does not come from tainted corporates, such as Coke, Tatas, etc. Rediffusion is sensitive to this aspect.

best regards, L

Response made by me on 8th Jan

Rediffusion, if I am not mistaken, is TELCO's ad agency. TELCO is part of the 'tainted' TATA group - the same TATA group of Singur and Kalinganagar notoriety. That apart, Rediffusion is today largely owned by the US multi-national THOMSON International - the same US that is the repository of all that is evil in this world. How can anyone have anything to do with such a Corporate, please?

Muralidhar Rao

Response from L (same day)

Muralidhar Hi,

We pointed out to rediffusion that if it was Tata's that sponsored the ad, we will not subscribe to it. we did also tell rediffusion, that it was their democratic choice to work for tatas.. after all they are in business.

The point of not aligning with a corporate on some issues is about building pressure. This is a well accepted social ethic. You and I know that there is no way we can say no to using Tata products. My house is build with the steel they produce. But I will not allow our social cause to reflect positively on tatas or any other corporate with low social and business ethics. I may have to buy their products, but I don;t have to promote their products, if you know what I mean.

On the issue of rediffusion being part of thomson of us, you are mixing issues here. It is one thing to be against the Rt Hon'ble Uncouth and Inhuman Chief Executioner of the world.... that still fortunately does not mean an entire country on the substantive issue, do you think we should say yes, or no, to rediffusion?


My response of 9th Jan

Hi L

Thank you for the prompt response. I put it that way deliberately to provoke reactions. I am not in disagreement with what you have said about Dubya. And, the differentiation you made between the American people in general and the political leadership also needed to be stated. But, when it comes to the TATAs, aren’t you yourselves mixing issues?

TISCO has engineered the first ever totally indigenous car and now wants to capture the world market. For that, it needs to add capacity. The various state governments fell over each other to invite them to set up the plant. The West Bengal govt offer seemed most attractive. The TATAs accepted it, and paid up the money for the land as determined by the government. Now, if there is an issue with that, the WB govt has to answer, and not the TATAs.

Likewise, for centuries together, India had been exporting iron ore to countries like South Korea, where they were converting them into steel, selling to the world market, and reaping a bonanza. With liberalization, TATAs invested money and effort to become the most competitive steel producer in the world, even while affording the best quality of life to their employees. They then approached the Orissa government with their plan to add new capacity so that the entire value addition from iron ore to steel and even beyond can happen within our shores, and our people benefit from it. The Orissa government saw merit in it, and struck a deal, whereby TATAs were offered the Kalinganagar site, for which they in turn paid the govt determined price as well as guaranteed employment for atleast one member from each of the displaced families. If there is an issue with that, again, it is the Orissa government which is answerable, and not the TATAs.

As against your talk of their being ‘tainted’, I would rate TATA’s as amongst the most respected industrial house in the country. They introduced the concept of ‘earned (privilege) leave’ leave for their employees – a first in the world; a large share of their group profits go to funding institutions like Indian Institute of Science, right here in Bangalore; and there’s a lot more.

Very much as you say for Rediffusion, TATAs are also in it for the business. You know very well that I have been campaigning for restrictions on usage of cars, and promoting usage of public bus services instead, particularly in cities, which should normally seem to cast me against the TATAs. But, my campaign is directed at the government, and not at the TATAs. It’s for the government to decide which of the options is in larger public interest. If they choose to go for better public bus transport services, TATAs will follow suit and concentrate their efforts on upgrading their buses, and give VOLVO a run for their money.

Also, it must be remembered that forest land gave way to agriculture when man decided that he could not live on forest produce alone. Likewise, when land begins to yield far better returns when invested in industry, it is inevitable that it will get converted for industrial use. The challenge is to make agriculture more paying. Our country is blessed with the very best of agro-climatic conditions which could make it the granary to the world, apart from a center for floriculture as well as cash crops, even without going in for GM seeds, etc. But, if we choose to remain stuck with old world notions of ‘kheti-baadi’, all we will be doing is to sink our people deeper into poverty.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Welcome change of guard

text of letter sent to the press:

The new DGP, Mr K R Srinivasan, has started off well by announcing the discontinuance of the practice of displaying the photograph of the incumbent DGP in police stations, started by his predecessor.

The predecessor's deeds and statements - the photo display order; applying afresh for a BDA site suppressing the fact that he had already been allotted one earlier; when that became known, trying to evoke sympathy for having had to part with it due to extraneous circumstances for a mere Rs 70 lakhs, even as the market value was much higher (question arises as to whether the balance was collected in cash); and accusing the media of trying to tarnish his image for reporting all this - qualifies him adequately to enter politics now, after having sufficiently eroded the dignity of the high office of the state DGP.

A welcome change of guard indeed.