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Thursday, August 25, 2011

My response to an email on Somnath Chaterjee's article on Jan Lokpal Movement...

Dear All,

This is very typical call by anybody who's part of our political system and nothing surprising about it...!In fact, the same sentiment was expressed by A B Bardhan during a procession at Gateway of India post 26/11 Mumbai Terror attack. Then M A Naqvi of BJP criticized that protest march as an elite class lip service and nothing deeper than that. I'm not going to technicalities of constitution and the parliamentarian politics now, as the issue they are projecting to size down is much beyond those narrow technicalities.

Though I respect the impeccable public life of Somnath Chatterjee, he along with all other politicians need to understand the pulse of the people and need to admit the fact that people reached at this point after being marginalised and pushed over long painful years of suffering..! In fact, the political class of this country have of late, hid behind the vote banks (in the name of region, religion, caste, etc.) and a common middle class who were vibrant society in the initial stages of independent India slowly turned indifferent towards the electoral politics due to predominantly two reasons...1) They felt that nothing is going to change as every one who came as new hopes took them for grand royal rides. 2) when they felt that they had been taken for ride, they looked at a constitutional provision for rejecting the entire list of candidates and realized that no such provision does exist. However, the hope resurrected when T N Seshan became CEC and brought in the provisions of his position to bring in radical changes to a system which was actually put to a slow death in the minds of the people. Hence, T N Seshan deserves a very important and immortal position in the sustenance of our democracy, whether the politicians agree or not. Unfortunately, like our society, our politicians also look at every issue with a short term vision unlike the visionary politicians of the early independence days and they were comfortable at the middle class alienation from the normal electoral process as they had to focus on those sectarian issues and influencing an illiterate, social, economical lower class was quite easy and there are time tested formulae to handle them. So middle class indifference was a blessing in disguise for every politicians to handle the system and whenever there was an awakening among this class, they mocked at them on their right to speak out as they hardly participated in the process and eventually succeeded to shut their voices. When A B Bardhan responded that the kind of politician bashing happened after 26/11 incident was dangerous to the democracy, he was 100% right! But the fact of the matter is that every colleague of him should have interrogated to find the root cause of the issue instead of not just responding at the symptom of the problem...!

No one from this political species understood that they are sitting on a boiling volcano and it can erupt at any point of time...!They were all the more interested and indulged in looting at unimaginable folds and ignored various signals this society started giving. Above all, they never sensed that this middle class is the one who actually contributed the major chunk of the taxes as most of their taxes were deducted from the source even before their earnings are paid to them. The ire of these genuine or partially genuine tax payers were growing as each scam was meted out to them and Anna's movement had provided them a perfect platform to vent their feelings and that is the success of this movement. The beauty is that it is the only movement of the recent past with complete peace and non violence!!

So anybody (I mean the entire political class) who talks about the sanctity of the constitution and the parliamentary system, I have only one answer: Had they kept up this very sanctity of the system with utmost integrity, they would not have reached this situation at all! I have few more questions to ask: 1) In the name of regions & religions and reservations & anti-reservations, when people kills people and burns public/ private properties and affect the normal public life, then it is called protests in a democracy just because it is organized by a political outfit. What's your take on this? 2) When people go for a peaceful protest fast completely legal under the constitutional provisions, that too after engaging and negotiating for months together, how can you call it as blackmailing?


Padmanabhan Bhaskaran

Skype ID: padmanabhan.bhaskaran

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Save! Save! 108 Services….?!

For some time now, I wanted to express my sincere gratitude to ‘108 Services’ in Hyderabad for saving my life on 2nd August, 2008 midnight when I had an unprecedented, severe asthma attack and their fully equipped ‘108 – Ambulance’ reached exactly in 15 minutes and gave me the first aid by connecting me to the oxygen cylinder and took me to the hospital along with my wife with no time wasted anywhere…! I was unconscious and it would have been fatal, if it was any later..! It was an eye opener for me to understand about the services and later I did lot of research on the services provided by both EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute) and HMRI (Health Management and Research Institute) and found out the brilliance of our veteran health scientists and their pragmatic approach. In fact, later we could refer this model of their ‘Hospital on Wheels’ with a Mini Operation Theater to some of our clients in African Countries, where medical health care is still an oasis…!

I’m extremely sad that I had deferred writing my thanks giving article about the services only to find me writing almost an obituary of this fantastic concept which, by now, has been implemented in many of the states of India partially or completely…! When Former CEO of Satyam Conglomerate came up with his confession on the fraud he had committed, nobody had thought that his dream project initiated and supported by Satyam will ever go through this phase in its path forward…!

When Ramalinga Raju and team had conceptualized and created this institution with the support of then CM of Andhra Pradesh, Y S Rajasekhar Reddy and  pulled in lot of eminent scientists and advisors like A P J Abdul Kalam, it was a dream coming into life for the common man. The people were really relating it to the ‘911 Services’ of the USA and it was a sigh of relief and there was a touching story like mine for everyone who used these services. As planned by the institution, it was replicated across the country in a phased manner at different levels…!

Withdrawal of Rajus & Satyam in the aftermath of the scam, who actually envisaged the entire project and later, demise of YSR had actually orphaned this project and with lot of reluctance GVK group had taken up the operations with a more reluctant Kiran Kumar Ministry, who had been grappling with lack of funds put these services in the dock..! Now, the quality of these services is quite pathetic and not worth to talk about…! Moreover, there have been a lot of blame games by GVK Group and the Government on this issue and the GVK Group categorically blamed that for months together they had not received the promised funding from the Government…?!!

Whatever may be the reasons, the current status of the quality of the services and the quality of the employees of the EMRI indicates the lack of interest and the incapability of both GVK Group and the AP Government and it is really a serious concern for the public??! If a single private firm is not able to run this, why can’t we discuss about involving more corporate houses as part of their CSR Programme (Corporate Social Responsibility) and make it successful? Why can’t we have value added services at an additional cost and thus bridge the gap in funding? Now with the introduction of the UID, the income groups can be identified & defined and a fees structure can be arrived at, accordingly. The need of the hour is to take this forward with top priority to save one of the most beautiful & important social health care milestones of our country…!

Note: If this issue is not addressed, this deterioration in the quality of the services may seep through to other states as well, like an epidemic...!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Politicians' Way Out....!!

The ongoing protest fast by Anna Hazare and millions of people are clearly an outcome of the vacuum in our political system and the leadership, either naturally formed or deliberately created for a prince’s crowning ceremony scripted well and executed to perfection, if you closely observe these political developments of last few months. As I had written earlier in my articles, it’s unbelievably stupid for the senior leaders of Congress (Digvijay Singh, Kapil Sibal etc.) to conduct themselves in the way they had, during this crisis since the beginning and the way this whole protest was handled by the PM and the Govt. as such. Otherwise, how do you expect a more than willing Manmohan Singh to come under the purview of the Lokpal to retract on his own statement passing the buck to his cabinet colleagues…?! Another signal we should carefully read from the ‘Aug—16’ episode of arrest of Anna Hazare and then later his release after so called intervention of ‘Prince Charming’ is the subtle, but firm effort of the remote controls to paint a picture of how capable ‘Prine Charming’ is, with his pragmatic sense of reading the pulse of the people…?! So before coming to a conclusion, we should wait for the final scenes where the induction process is expected…!

This also points out at an opportunity presented in a platter for any other intelligent politician to fill this vacuum and carry these aspirations of the millions forward as well! Inside the Rajyasabha, Arun Jaitley had used it beautifully and much elegantly. However, outside the parliament, there seem to be a lot of apprehensions to take up the mantle full heartedly as this huge support comes with lots of responsibility to perform. This is exactly what Anna Hazare also going to face as well and in addition, as the civil society don’t present any political alternative, there will be this question that who is going to perform for them…?! All such movements in the history of our nation were presenting a political alternative unlike the current one which is apolitical so far. Whenever there was a political alternative presented, the people had taken it in their hearts linking it to their aspirations of better governance. Each time, they witnessed that they are taken for a grand royal ride and later forced to go back to the old one since they had no other options…! The so called ‘middle class’ who are being mocked at, for their indifference towards the system, with lots of unwarranted sarcasm by every politicians and the media in every possible platform should actually remember that they also had a past of active political participation and vigorous campaigns for the ideologies and parties they had kept close to their hearts and trusted them to guide towards a better future. However, the same people repeatedly abused their faith and failed them miserably in elections after elections with the inherent arrogance and over confidence on the short lived memory of these people, had gradually alienated them from the entire system and made them indifferent towards every other institution of the country. I would call it a methodical move by our beloved politicians to keep them away as this will eventually make it easy for all the political class to bargain with the grass root vote banks on the basis of caste, community religion and other incentives! They have become indifferent towards all sorts of elections as they don’t find a single candidate eligible or clean to vote for and they are not given any option to express ‘No Vote’ to anyone…! The political class was enjoying this dis-interest of middle class in the system and whenever encountered, used to escape by accusing them of their indifferent attitude towards the system and conveniently shut them up…!

Times have changed and people are at the threshold of their tolerance and Anna struck a chord with these sentiments of these people across the nation. But in the process, this protest had slowly seeped into a section of lower levels of the people as well! Every Government in this world who pretended to represent the people had tried to suppress such protests and tried to ignore the anger of the middle class as they are considered to be indifferent to the electoral politics and hence will not be a threat for them during next elections…! However, I request everyone in politics to remember that every revolution happened world over, were initiated by this so called indifferent ‘Middle Class’…!

To conclude, as I mentioned above, it’s going to be ‘Advantage Intelligent politician’, who takes the platter offered by Anna…!

Note: The congress MLAs in Andhra Pradesh threatened to resign against the CBI raids in the offices of Jagan Mohan Reddy and his associates. When they do this, it is not blackmailing because they belong to political class, but when a simple man sits on a fast for a national cause with the support of millions of people, it is called blackmailing…??!!