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Saturday, May 26, 2007

value for money

text of the letter sent to the Times of India:

I refer to your editorial captioned 'Lesson in Languor' of the 24th.

While the salary increases recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission cannot quite be faulted with, the answer to the very important question raised by you as to 'whether it will result in improved services', is a definite 'no'. One very important recommendation that all earlier pay commissions have uniformly made, but that has been sadly ignored by the present one, is on the question of 'down-sizing'. It is another matter that this part of the recommendations made by the earlier commissions has never ever even been attempted to be implemented.

Now, as long as the government retains its gargantuan size, playing the role of an employer rather than as a facilitator for generating employment, the term 'government' will continue to be equated with sloth, inefficiency, corruption, in fact, everything negative.

The tax paying public can no longer afford this. It is time they started demanding better value for their money.

Friday, May 25, 2007

continued darkness at noon

text of the letter sent to Times of India:

I refer to the string of letters from your readers, offering various solutions, in response to the article titled 'Darkness at Noon', authored by Sri S L Rao (former Chairman, CERC), published in your columns on the 21st instant.

Yes, there are plenty of workable solutions. But, for all that, first and foremost, the distribution has to be privatised. And, until that happens, the darkness will continue.

If the citizens of Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Surat, Greater NOIDA, etc can enjoy the privileges of far better quality power supply provided by the private players, why should the citizens of Bangalore continue to suffer the incapacity of BESCOM? That is the question that citzens should now be raising collectively.

Monday, May 21, 2007

improving voter list accuracy

Text of the message posted to the CAF googlegroup:

A certain report that I had read a few months back had stated that the electoral list, on an average across the country, is only some 35% accurate. Whereas, the slum lords ensure that all the people, who are perceived as their constituents, are definitely on the list, the educated lot in general are not all that persuasive in this regard. Making available polling booth/ ward/ constituency - wise voter lists on the net, something that can help ensure higher accuracy, has still not been undertaken by the EC. It is largely because of such a scenario that even people held in highest esteem by the public at large ( A P Venkateswaran to name just one) come a cropper at the hustings.

As things stand today, the EC goes about enlisting the services of government school teachers for updating its lists, paying a pittance to them for the job. No surprise then that the accuracy is only at such an abysmal level. Further, when a person re-locating to a new address wants the change recorded with the EC, the procedure today is totally unfriendly, making for further inaccuracy of the lists. Isn't it time we, the citizens, pressed for the job to be re-assigned to some professional agency? And, shouldn't this be accorded the highest ptriority?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

for more responsible judiciary

text of the letter sent to the Indian Express:

I refer to the report in your columns (on the 9th instant) about a case against Mr N R Narayana Murthy, over the national anthem issue, being admitted in a Mysore court.

Now, very obviously, what Mr Murthy intended was to save the foreigners present the 'embarrassment' of having to remain mute listeners, even as the majority joined in, if the national anthem was sung. As compared to that, if just the tune is played, generally everyone stands to attention silently, and that was what Mr Murthy preferred. Nobody can fault him for that. What he didn't quite bargain for that specific day, however, was Sri Abdul Kalam taking off on the song, and the countrymen joining in. Whatever, no problems there either! The problem arose only when a pesky reporter thrust a mike in Mr Murthy's face and got him to blurt out a response with the word 'embarrassed' slightly juxtaposed, and thereafter, went to town over it - plainly a case of headline-seeking, irresponsible journalism.

The response of the status quoist politicians like Mr H N Nanje Gowda, who have over the years been unseated from the public mind by progressive leaders like Mr Murthy, in understandable, though pathetic. What is more shocking, however, is the way the courts have been admitting such frivolous cases, even as they are themselves seen as guilty of delaying justice ( and thereby denying it) against the huge pile of cases they already have on hand.

Monday, May 07, 2007

not by 'raagi mudde' alone

text of the letter sent to Indian Express on 12th April:

Mr U R Ananthamurthy is apparently very concerned with "the mushrooming of call-centres, which lure the youth with high salaries thereby destroying their capacity to think and also draining out their energy before they reach their early forties", as reported in your City Express columns on the 9th April, under the caption 'Ananthamurthy's Rujuvathu released'.

But then, what is Mr Ananthamurthy's prescription for employment of so many of the educated youth of the country? Will pursuits like Yakshagaana, Dollu Kunitha, writing poetry, or whatever, that he may like to classify as intellectual activity, be able to privide even for one square 'raagi mudde' meal a day for the people? And, he should know by now that the youth, with their exposure to the outside world, do not want to live any longer by 'raagi mudde' alone.

misplaced anxieties

text of the letter sent to Indian Express on 12th April:

Mr U R Ananthamurthy has reportedly expressed great anxiety over healthcare and education sectors getting privatised, vide the report in your City Express columns on the 9th April, under the caption 'Ananthamurthy's Rujuvathu released'. But, how come this same Mr Ananthamurthy does not express similar anxiety when newspapers, including yours, repeatedly come up with reports about the deplorable conditions in both the government hospitals, as well as schools.

The conditions in the hospitals are so bad that it is only the real desperate lot who ever go there, to come out far worse of, if they come out alive at all. So much so, even the poorest of the poor choose to go to a St John's or a Manipal, somehow finding the means to pay off the bills and without complaining much, or availing the various beneficiary schemes that the hospitals organise for the real needy.

And, it will shock anyone to know that the BBMP run schools have been spending on an average, per annum, per child, far higher than what a parent spends to send his child to say, a Bishop Cotton's, to eventually report pass percentages barely in double digits. And even this, sequel to a recent intervention by an NGO. As to the conditions prevailing before the intervention, particularly of the toiletary facilities (rather lack of it), the less said the better.

Would Mr Ananthamurthy like to attempt to redeem the situation on the ground, instead of pontificating from his ivory tower? If not, would he let the ones who are doing a good job, and are prepared to do more, just do it, please?