Tuesday, January 10, 2012


At the outset wishing all our readers a wonderful new year and an eventful & promising 2012.
The change that we have introduced last month in splitting the earlier long editorial appears to have gone well with some readers who have responded. The only permanent thing in this world is change. We have tried to change hoping it is for better. Feedback so far is positive. Kindly keep in touch with your inputs. We do value them.
India is a happening place of all myriad things. We have dealt with most happenings under our new column ‘Month-in-Perspective". However Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retailing took the parliament by storm and went off as whimper. Why this had to be so hurriedly brought in as a bill, is unknown. But it had to beat a hasty retreat, because nobody was ready for it or at least most of the MPs wanted longer debate and more detailed discussion, since the decision would touch millions of Indians, especially those in the margins. Besides there are other far more important issues which are impediments to achieve the Millennium Development goals. India being in the Low Development Group in Human Development Index (HDI), it is an issue of serious concern. We have tried to discuss both HDI & FDI in Focus. Hope you will find it interesting. Do revert with your thoughts.

AMMU & KASHMIR: A Srinagar date lined report informed "Pastor held on conversion charge". One C M Khanna of All India Saint’s Church was reportedly arrested for alleged conversion. Report informed about his being presented before the Grand Mufti of Kashmir for explanation and has allegedly confessed his involvement in the conversion of Kashmir youth. Report did not inform of any untoward activity and whether the fundamental right to preach was violated. And everything appeared very straight. But, what if this conversion attempt was say in Madhya Pradesh, or say Andhra, or say Gujarat, would the report in the media equally be as straight forward? Wouldn’t the so-called whole secular media have cried hoarse, if there was any such arrest and a good number of intellectuals would have joined the street group in denouncing police power, and if it was a BJP governments then roof would be where the land was. Yes Grand Mufti cannot be wrong. But a Swamijee?! Our professional secularists truly suffer from selective myopia.
KARNTAKA: Controversy around an archaic ritual at a temple near Mangalore city occupied the local media space for quite some time without much sense in it. ‘Made Snana or rolling over the left over of meal’ in banana leaves is an obnoxious practice by a section of people in and around the temple town of Subramanya in the coastal Karnataka district of Dakshina Kannada. This ritual is practiced for generations. It could be over 400 years. Funny part is that the refuse or the left over has to be that of Brahmins and the superstition that such roll over’s shall bring health benefits since these residual food is, supposedly, believed to be germicidal in its reaction to skin ailments. While there is nothing to prove its veracity, it certainly leaves a creepy feeling viewing it being practiced. There are number of NGOs abhorring and opposing the ritual, the government appears to be in a quandary, having once banned and revoked under pressure. But, the authorities in the larger interest of societal health must take the call and put its foot down to mean business.
‘AR Infant Files Petition with CAT’ was a Bangalore datelined news. This was sequel to the appointment of Shankar Bidari as DG & IGP-Karnataka, who is reportedly junior to AR Infant. Claiming injustice to him, Infant accused the government of ‘overlooking my seniority and merit’. An year senior into the IPS, Infant did in fact had a better case. The question of merit may be a subjective issue. But his going to CAT will certainly raise uncomfortable questions. The BJP, the so called Hindu party, could have risen to the occasion, by going merely by the book, without having to walk an extra distance to be nice. This could have sent a positive signal. But politicians being what they are, interested only in short term gain. After all party with a difference proved no different at all.
Participating at the ‘Colloquium on Higher Education in 12th Five Year Plan', conducted by the Centre for Educational and Social Studies jointly with Karnataka State Higher Education Council in Bangalore, Prof R. Govinda, V.C of National University of Educational Planning, reportedly stated "Everybody is talking about establishing more IIMs and IITs. We need to focus on improving the lower level colleges which admit 90% of the student population". But then barking up the wrong tree has always been the bane of our policy makers and followed in letter by the policy executors. In most places they are manned by square pegs in a round holes, so delivery is always a problem. Academicians gathered at the convention expressed their apprehension at lack of focus on higher education. British framed the syllabus for making clerks out of the educational system. And it continued merrily for all 6 decades of post independent India. Hope the Bangalore noise reaches the portals of parliament.
TAMIL NADU: As a nation we can probably pride ourselves with largest number of people suffering from mental poverty. While examples can be many, this one particular report coming from Chennai can substantiate the above claim. "Lack of incentive kills a solution to oil saving" wrote Karthik Subramanian, while saying "Carpooling has caught up globally, but not in India". Despite having 100 million internet subscribers, the effort of well meaning activists did not catch up. Karthik writes "We approached the government and the corporate sector to provide incentives for people who carpool. It is not enough to just put out posters asking people to do carpooling". What incentive is he talking about? Are we talking to small children? The fact you are saving fuel and therefore cost of petrol, you are saving the wear and tear of the car, less consumption can lead to less import of oil. Above all you are saving the environment from carbon monoxide by decreased burning of hydrocarbon. What more incentives are needed? The bottom line is, we Indians are a selfish lot. But listen to Udit Bhandari of www.indimoto.com, a website for carpooling launched in April 2006. According to him carpooling campaign lost because ‘people consider alone in their cars, is status symbol’. So damn the country and environment. Its, me and mine. Period.
HYDERABAD: So, like it or not, Sandal, as a missile, has come to stay. The latest to be hit or rather missed to be hit was Telugu Desam chief Chandra Babu. Is it a healthy development, for this to happen, now so often seen in public? Probably answer can be a bit affirmative. First of all it is better than being bloody or violent. It is a reflection of the frustration of the person throwing the foot wear. In a Mileu that we live, where addressing a redressal is a very labour intensive time consuming effort, this sandal missile provides instant and easy redressal. However it has to be admitted that while recommending it, may be deice, it does not seem to have any equivalent alternative.
KERALA: The issue of Mullaperiyar dam built in Idukki in 1886 has been bothering both Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Built by British under an agreement with the erstwhile Maharaja of Travancore, to provide adequate water to Tamil Nadu. Dispute arose after Tamil Nadu demanded the increase in dam height from the present 136ft to 146 ft, which would need repair and alterations. Being 116 years old structure, how much it will hold any structural intervention is an extremely deice proposal. It has reportedly, around 30 lakhs living downstream, who would naturally be exposed, should the dam cave in. That they have an issue, there is no doubt. But how serious, only structural experts can say. However as usual Jayalalitha, in her regal style has said that the fear is unfounded. Since she is not living there it is easy to say. The dam is a necessity, how much it would cost to rebuilt, is to be estimated. Both states need the dam, but Kerala has greater issue of human safety and it’s a huge number. While structural engineers may have the last word, it may be worth the money to see that Kerala’s concerns are adequately addressed.
MAHARASHTRA: A Mumbai date lined report informed "3 held for hurting religious beliefs". Reportedly three persons, Director, Producer and Publicist were arrested under different section of IPC, like hurting religious sentiments and malicious intension to insult religious beliefs etc, besides violations under Cinematograph Act, which are non-bailable offences. Police were acting on complaints by some catholic groups. Reportedly, the posters and publicity materials contained offensive depiction of stabbing Jesus Christ.On the face of it, if there is indeed a ‘depiction of Jesus being stabbed’, it is highly reprehensible and deserves to be condemned. It would certainly hurt the sentiments of all Christian faithful as well as disgusting to those with a larger canvass of thoughts. Fortunately, those three who were arrested for the blasphemous depiction are non-Hindus. Or else it would not be surprising for the entire media going hammer & tong condemning the three in superlative terms. And strangely no-body came to the defense of artistic freedom or the arrest as a blatant attack on creativity. Yes occasionally media men and women are caught with no garments on. That’s Indian media for you. Just to keep the memory fresh or rather to refresh it, readers are invited to Baroda University Fine arts deptt. exhibition. Some years ago a student had painted naked Jesus urinating from the cross into a W.C. The Christians protested. There was also couple of paintings of Durga giving birth to a demon through vaginal delivery and piercing the infant with a trident and some other equally sickening paintings. Hindus protested. Here both Christians and Hindus protested jointly at some point. Media was in a quandary. Anupam Katakam of the Frontline, even questioned this joint protest. Media, and a whole lot of it condemned Hindu outfits, for being violators of artistic freedom and all that crap that goes with it. None wrote anything about Christian protest. What do you do with such media men and women.
Can you believe it that a state government has withheld the salary of a senior police officer, reportedly for over 4 years for being honest to his job and for initiating criminal action against senior politicians? This is exactly what has happened. The Maharashtra govt. has not only not paid the salary for over 4 years but also kept the officer Sanjay Pandey on compulsory waiting for the said period without promoting this IPS officer of the 1986 batch.
R.R. Patil, the home minister of Maharashtra has still not acted on the CAT order which was later challenged by the govt. but the Bombay High Court turned down the govt. plea and ordered again to comply with the 7 month old CAT order to pay and promote. The State government has again failed to act, despite the court refusing to allow the govt. to appeal to the Apex Court. Why these government deptts are exposing themselves to be rapped by the judiciary time and again, is a serious question of inept and corrupt governance by these elected & selected representatives of ‘aam aadmi’. So, isn’t protest is the only way out for the frustrated people and their groups. But Bombay High Court has stated ‘It might be satyagraha for you but for others it might be a nuisance’, while disposing Team Anna’s petition for a waiver of charges.
Reacting to the hasty retreat by the UPA govt. on allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail, after furore in parliament, Bhaskar Pramanik, the Microsoft India Chairman, was very acerbic in his observation. He has reportedly stated "It doesn’t make sense any more. For MNCs, India is no longer a preferred destination. We have lots of issues concerning our operation here". He was responding to a media query about the chances of an R & D centre in India. "Yes I am very disappointed with the govt’s decision to put FDI on hold" he has reportedly stated responding to a specific query. But this Mr Pramanik, is truly being 'pramanik' (honest) in being his master’s voice. He is concerned about the bottom line of Microsoft, which in turn will influence his take home package. And the host country can fend for itself. So what, he is an Indian? His first worry is himself and his company the Microsoft.
Jagdish Rattamani writes from Mumbai "Political leadership failed Nilekani". The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh really made a news, when he appointed Nandan Nilekani to head his pet project, ‘Aadhaar’, the Unique Identity Card. Now the whole project is in jeopardy, if one has to go by what the parliamentary panel has recommended. It has dubbed it as "unacceptable and directionless". Nilekani is one of a newer breed of professional business managers. And a very successful one at that. He surely would have applied himself to the job on hand. Reportedly, the house panel heard the UID chief Nilekani. Yet there appeared unanimity is terming the Aadhar project as "directionless" and that "it deserved to be shelved". The opposition came from representatives of all parties in the panel, namely Congress, CPI, BJP and BJD. The panel is chaired by BJP-MP-Yashwant Sinha. Even the Home Minister Chidambaram had gone on record saying that ‘UID cards can be generated using fake identities and stolen data. Thus even a terrorist can obtain a card!' Similarly BJP had said about Bangladeshi illegal immigrants getting Indianised by this UID. While it may be true that there could be problems, since India has its own unique set of problems, it need not be abandoned, now that process of issuing the card is already on. It can be halted for a while to incorporate safety features as feared by panelists and MHA. After all Nilekani is a person who will deliver, in time and without cost overrun, for the overall good of the country.
The session court in Vasai, a Mumbai suburb, has awarded 5 years rigorous imprisonment to seven members of one family. Crime was the barbaric killing of very tender aged siblings of 7 and 3 years, on 15th Oct. 2010. By any standard it was fairly quicker judgement. Killing was planned by the Jaiswal family including parents, as a sacrifice for a woman of the family who did not have child. To fulfill a desire, to what extent a human can fall, this dastardly inhuman and diabolic act is a testimony. Of course the 5 year RI with a small fine of Rs: 3000/- is no punishment at all for the sheer cruelty and perversion of beating so small children to death. Prosecution is reportedly thinking to approach High Court to enhance the question of punishment, In fact, any thing less than life imprisonment, would indeed be less.
WEST BENGAL: Talking to reporters in Kolkatta, former U.S Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill reportedly stated "U.S does not have clout to make Pak handover Dawood, Omar". It is eminently possible that he could be right at this point of time in the life of the relationship between the 6 decade old US-Pak friendship. For all these years, when U.S could have helped India, another democracy like U.S., in getting those two most wanted criminals in India, for crime against India in particular and humanity in general. But the successive U.S. leadership looked the other way, since it helped promote its own interest. Now that the relationship is at its lowest ebb, of course things are difficult, to nudge Pak to act. Now U.S. claims India as a great friend, probably for its market and the strength that India acquired over a period. In politics, as the adage goes, there is no permanent friend or permanent enemy, only permanent interest.
Mamata’s regime is in the thick of happening and have occupied frequently the media space in recent times. If it began with theatrics, it did show honesty and sincerity in following days, however lately it slipped into total disarray. Especially the health management or rather medical management showed the rampant ineptness in handling of cases. Starting with some 30 deaths of infants in the state run B.C Roy Hospital, allegedly due to medical negligence. Some 3 NHRC notices have been served to Health Secretary of the govt. of West Bengal. But strangely nothing is heard from Bengal Babus.
Then comes the news of fire at upscale specialty AMRI Hospital, in which state govt. also has a stake. Here reportedly close to 100 perished, either by fire or by suffocation and later succumbed to injuries. Again pointing fingers at an endemic, deep rooted systemic malaise.
On close heels come the news of almost 150 having died of illicit hooch tragedy in West Bengal's Sangrampur and other villages not far from Diamond Harbour.
It is true all these are happening within the first year of Trinamool Congress government. Thus, for all you know, it could be the Left governments legacy continued to affect the new incumbent. Of course, given to politicisation of all issues, Mamata is not making things better. It is blame game all the while. It is a no holds barred Tu-Tu-Mai-Mai. Happenings are sad, but there is no point blaming any body. People are suffering, how do we address the suffering is the only issue. She must get down to real work while blaming her predecessor.
PUNJAB: There was this report datelined Chandigarh "Dalits detained, in Kuwait after contract expires". And NHRC or other so-called civil society, or even organisations espousing the cause of Dalits did not take cognisance of this report. Aren’t these Dalits Indians? So its "Indians datained in Kuwait after contract expires", should have been the title of the news. When shall, we the so-called learned, learn to accept all citizens of this great Mera Bharat Mahan as Indians first and Indians last? Why do we suffer from this mind set. I would think the paper and the reporter filing such denigrating reports should be hauled up.
NEW DELHI: With no holds barred observations by Dr. Subramanian Swamy against Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his attempts at prosecuting the minister, comes the news that ‘Ministry of Home Affairs knew of Balwa’s link with Dawood’.
Deposing before a Delhi Court, Janata Party president reportedly informed that Swan Telecom was granted licence for the 2G spectrum despite the Home Ministry expressing reservation over it on the ground that its promoter Shahid Balwa has links with underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim. Under the licence Swan was allowed 13 circles for Rs: 1537 crores and soon thereafter Swan offloaded 45% of its shares to Etisalat, an UAE based company. 45% which works to Rs. 691.65 crores, was sold to Etisalat for Rs 4200/- crores . Thus Balwa enriched himself at the cost of the nation, by Rs 3508.35 crores, according to the CBI chargesheat. The other 55% accordingly would have got around Rs 5800 crores. In other words, in this one deal alone the country was poorer by Rs 8463/- crores.
So what CAG is talking about Rs 1.76 lakh crores loss to the exchequer does not appear far fetched. Besides, Subramanian Swamy has right queries regarding the alleged culpability of P. Chidambaram as Minister of Home Affairs. In any case MHA has lot to explain. But what about those allegations by BJP MP, who had, some time ago alleged that Sharad Pawar and the President of BCCI and their wives had travelled to Dubai in Balwa’s private aircraft? Why media somehow do not seem to follow up issues connecting and relating to Sharad pawar? Between P.C. and Sharad Pawar, later may be having far more skeletons that would lead to many uncomfortable questions.
The debate in Parliament on the Foreign Direct Investment in multibrand retail, of 51%, triggered an avalanche of protest. The FDI in retail business has exposed the political fault lines in UPA, where not merely its allies have let it down, but also had many of the Congressmen up in arms against Prime Minister’s decision. If you do not have your own people on board, how do you expect the opposition to save you? You only blame the opposition for having wasted the Parliament’s time? For a week, the winter session of Parliament drew a blank doing no business. Media goes to the town saying nation lost so many crores every day. But who is responsible? For a change can we accuse the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for this waste of time of the parliament and therefore for the cost, the nation has to bear? The way he asserted at the youth Congress meet, it appeared to be entirely his brain child. He didn’t talk to his allies, he didn’t speak to all Congressmen, his party M.Ps, and of course, he is averse to talking to opposition M.Ps, unless cornered. So there was all round amazement, why is Dr Singh bringing this issue of FDI in retail now, especially when his record as a non-political person in part, as a senior economic bureaucrat, or as RBI governor, he did not take any bold or dramatic decision or advised the government of the day. He acted only when late Narasimha Rao, as Prime Minister, instructed him to dismantle licence-raj and devalued the rupee. Of course what followed, as the cliché goes, is history. India experienced unprecedented boom. But FDI in retail is another ball game. Need far more consultations and multi faceted approach to handle it, since it involves lives of millions dependent on this business activity. The retreat probably was the only option. Yet FDI in retail may be good in parts, but can wait for another more opportune day and time.
Maulana Mohd. Ali Jauhar Academy, founded in 1974, confers awards on individuals for extra-ordinary contribution in their respective fields. Among the 8 selected for the award is the infamous former Congress Union Minister Jagdish Tytler. In all fairness, storm was only expected. Jagdish Tytler is allegedly one of the master minds of 1984 Anti-Sikh riots, and during the last election an insensitive leadership of the Congress gave him a ticket to contest the parliamentary election, only to be withdrawn at the last minute after an anguished protest. Thus if there is a call to boycott the award ceremony it is only in order. 45 civil activists including writers and journalist issued an appeal to this effect, The appeal reportedly asks other awardees not to accept the award as a protest against "the award being given by a religious minority group to a person who has been found involved in bloody riots against another religious minority and played key role in the victimisation of another religious minority". On the face of it, the demand is just, for the reason that the awardee, short of court judgement, is an accused of killing innocent people. But for these so-called activists to say that because the victims were members of a minority community and therefore another minority community should not honour him, is to undermine the very basis of their boycott. Jagdish Tytler is a criminal accused of murder of Sikhs and therefore he should not be given the award, or else you only legitimise his action, period. Where does the minority comes there. Killing is a crime against humanity and all killers should be in jail and not on stages to receive award. Why these civil rights activists mix up things with their myopic vision?
EPF scheme offering 9.5% for the year 2010-11 was a financial harrakeeri. Bowing to political pressure, the govt. had succumbed unreasonably, to the Left parties supporting the UPA. It knew very well, it cannot. But Left parties blackmailed it to submission. Now that the Left parties are not in coalition, and UPA govt. feels it can try to be realistic by paying only 8.25% which if paid could still leave a loss of a few lakhs. And if Employees' representatives arguments of 8.75% as payment is agreed, it could lead to over Rs 250 crores as deficit. The point here is how both the govt. and the Left parties have compromised the nation’s interest only to address the voting constituencies, and the survival of the UPA govt. Both said ‘damn the country, just help ourselves’. Of course whether any other co-alition, say NDA too would have succumbed, is a moot point.
"Inept babus to be weeded out after 15 years of service" is a welcome development. Indoctrinated into a legacy left behind by Britishers, the babudom has created deadwood galore, all across the country. Most of these babus are either incompetent, intolerant, unproductive or all of them together. They need to be sent home as early as possible lest their culture spread. In this case they shall be sent out when they turn 40. This is still the right age for them to find their appropriate vocation to keep themselves engaged. There will be life time pension any way. However along with, All India Service officers even junior staff should be sent home accordingly. Since at any given time 50% of government staff shall not be working mainly whiling away their time at the cost to the nation. At least their being sent out can save some cost. After all, they constitute the biggest item of budget on non-productive expenditure.
In the KBC shows, anchor Amithabh Bachchan must have signed hundreds of cheques to prize winners. But the one that he signed for Bihar’s Sushil Kumar, the lone and the biggest winner of jackpot Rs.5 crore prize money, is strangely waiting for encashment, informs a report from New Delhi. The advertisement revenue, the channel owners Sony make, must be good enough to make such payments. After all they are having the most expensive anchor on the show. If Amithabh Bachchan could be paid, which should be many times more than this 5 crore prize money, there should be no problem in getting paid. But there is this inexplicable delay according to the report. Of course, the channel would never have imagined in its wildest dreams that it may, one day, have to pay this big a prize money. But then, a public commitment is a question of integrity of the channel itself. It should not have been so delayed to become a news item. It can seriously erode its credibility with mega star Bachchan involved as anchor.
WORLD: Men, which includes women, are essentially same all over the world. From London to Lahore to Lanka, you find them everywhere – men with multiple standards. We all talk about freedom or rather right to freedom, quietly forgetting that every freedom has its equivalent or more, share of responsibilities. But responsibilities are always expected of others. Assange, yes, its our famous whistleblower, has hit again the dirty underbelly of power. This time it’s the money power. Reportedly he released about 290 files exposing the mass surveillance industry. According to Assange, some 160 Companies in 25 Countries that develop snoop technologies have been selling equipments to dictators and democracies alike, in order to intercept entire population – the mobiles phones, email a/cs, internet browsing histories. And we think its only happening in India. But it is a bad world out there. Yes, may be you are not able to trust your own shadow, following you. Assange even informs that he has evidence that China is hacking into Indian govt. emails, saying that Chinese were sucking out CBI emails. So you know, you cannot call any Space as your own. That’s the life come down to, take it or leave it.
One more instance of our double standard in public life came from far away New York. One of our best brains in public arena, Dr Subramanian Swamy has been rubbished by no less name than Harvard University, his Alma Matar. Ostensibly terming his article "reprehensible" the university terminated his association with it. The article which appeared in ‘The Hindu’ appeared very regressive in its tone and content. But that was his opinion. Similarly, as an entity, Harvard was within its right to cancel a course for whatever reason it might deem fit. But the question is, why they had to do it without giving him a hearing to know his side of the version and the logic which made him write what he wrote. After all U.S. is supposedly the Mecca of individual freedom. And there was nobody who questioned the move of Harvard, including from India. As for Dr Swami, while appearing unperturbed, he did react as saying "It is a dangerous principle, that stifles personal opinion".
We have always maintained, men, which included women as well, are same all over the world, from London to Larnaca to Latur. And comes the news that famed London School of Economics, the Alma Matar of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sold a Phd for a donation. And to whom? Believe it or not, to the currently captured son of Libya's Muammer Gaddafi, Saif Gaddafi. For the public consumption, the Phd was ‘awarded’ on the same day he made a donation of £ 1.5 million. Of course a Mangalore based university was routinely awarding Phds for those who donate Rs. 10 lakh or more which works to around £ 15000/- only. In comparison what LSE received was 100 times more. Of course LSE's brand equity was always prized. But then the bottom line is same, you sell Phds for money. And academically, Saif Gaddafi, reportedly had poor record and Oxford University had earlier rejected his application for admission to Masters degree in Development Studies, despite foreign office of Tony Blair pressuring it, way back in 2002. So keep smiling. We are all same beneath the colour of the skin.
A survey conducted by Saban centre for Middle East Policy has reportedly found that 65% of Israeli Jews prefer to see Israel as well as Iran without nuclear weapons and would opt for a nuclear free Middle East. The response was to a question ‘If Iran gives up nukes would Israel favour giving up?’ It was indeed a good question in the larger interest of the world peace in general and in Middle East peace in particular. The finding was indeed very matured and should take the balance 35% along. Friends of both sides should take it up from here to pursue it to a positive conclusion.



HDI & FDI – Barking up the wrong tree!

On 30th Nov., newspapers carried extensive reports on the happenings in the parliament on the debate in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the multi brand retail sector. Reportedly our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was attending a political convention of his party’s youth wing along with the ‘Prime Minister in Waiting’ and his mother, the UPA chairperson in attendance. Speaking to this high profile youth wing, our economist Prime Minister ‘left no one in doubt that the FDI is indeed one of the best thing to happen to the country, if allowed to happen, and vigorously defended his cabinet’s approval for 51% FDI in the multi-brand retail sector’. This was reportedly a sequel to what happened in the parliament earlier on the day. Reportedly, opposition parties, who were opposing this particular invitation to foreigners to invest in retail sector, asked the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was leading the treasury benches in the absence of Prime Minister, ‘What are the compelling reasons, which prompted the govt. to give the approval to the FDI in retail sector, at a juncture when the Parliament was very much engaged over several contentious issues?’ Reportedly FM had no answer. Indeed, there are too many issues, which are far more important than this FDI in retailing. Doesn’t this present a picture of dichotomy in our body politic? It is another matter, that opposition parties too are dishonest in their seriousness to issues facing the nation. Their’s could be a politics of opportunism, as Montek Singh Ahluwalia of Planning commission reportedly observed "opposition to FDI is bogus and politically motivated".
It is indeed true that except communist China, the proletarian ideology as a political doctrine has been dumped into the history’s dustbin. This was mainly because of the negation of individual liberty and initiative to expand his materialistic and spiritual horizon. That was how USSR collapsed. But then US, the torch bearer of individual freedom, and promoter of freedom of thought and action, too have failed to keep the flame burning. Thereby sending the message that both ideologies have its own inherent problems.
In college, in our English language lessons, there was this essay by Robert Lynd. ‘A Sermon on Shaving’. He theorises that, to have a perfect shave, you should not only have a perfect razor, but also a perfect brush and an equally perfect lather. He extends this theory to the domain of political ideology. Thus to have a perfect government you must have the best from different ideologies to make a cohesive unit. Doesn’t this mean that there should be a marriage of principles of not just communism and democracy but also of socialism for welfare orientation of national policies, to bring about a perfect ideology of political governance?
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in wholesale and retail is one of the concession that India had to extend to foreign companies under WTO regime and India is signatory to GATS. But any such concession that could leave the door open for foreign players in our domestic market cannot be at the detriment of India and Indians. But it must be admitted that FDI per se, has many advantages to the host country, and we have experienced the tremendous growth due to this financial liberalization. Since 1991, when the liberalization started, there has been an upward swing in the standard of life of a very good % of Indians. Look back to the days when there were only two brands of automobiles. Ambassador and Fiat. One had to wait, for months-on, for taking the delivery, after even full payment. And look at the scene now. There are over 15 brands available OTC (over the counter). Look at the airlines. Indian Airlines was lording it over in the domestic sky and see the sea-change that has come-by since the liberalization. Now it’s the traveller who is lording it over. Look at white goods – Fridges, A.Cs and similar fixtures. Or look at Television and electronic products there is revolution out there. Since 1991, there has been steady improvement in the GDP of the country. In 10 years flat, India appeared to be shining. Shining, it certainly did. This ‘India shining’ led us to think that we are within the cusp of being a SUPER POWER. Yes we do indeed have the capability to become a Super Power. We may become one day. But certainly not in 2020, just 9 years from now, as envisioned by our former president APJ Abdul Kalam. Yes, our shining is only in patches. Increased income of a section of Indians increased the general price levels of all commodities. Those who got higher prices also got higher profits and therefore they had more money to spare. Money circulation increased. Inflation had to be the end result. Of course those who had increased income didn’t much complain. But out there, a section, a huge one at that, whose economics either remained stagnant or deteriorated, they became slowly and inexorably worse off. Inflation ate into their very vitals and purchasing power became less and less. No wonder Mani Shankar Aiyar, a Congress MP and Rajeev Gandhi’s blue eyed politician, only the other day, took a pot-shot at his own party, while addressing a gathering in New Delhi. Aiyar had reportedly told "The fact of the matter is that India is prospering but Indians are not".
It is true that a vast majority of Indians remained either unaffected by this growth or were rendered poorer. The liberalized economic regime did not make much difference to the life of marginalized or the poorer sections of our society.
There is this Indo-US CEO’s association up beat about India wanting to open FDI in retail. They have been making overtures to the power that be in New Delhi. Multinational Corporations are very keen to make their foray into the life of Indian multitudes. This is not to suggest that those foreign investors are in love with India. They are in love with their bottom line and nothing else. In a world where might-is-right, there are always dangers that these mega corporations could leave the host country and countrymen poorer.
"Of the worlds 100 largest economies, 51 are now corporations, only 49 are nation-states. The sales of General Motors and Ford are greater than the gross domestic product of the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and Wal-Mart now has a turnover higher than the revenues of most of the states of Eastern Europe. Yet not many of us understand fully the growing dominance of big business" writes Dr Noreena Hertz, a director at the Centre for International Business, of University of Cambridge. In her critically acclaimed book the ‘Silent Takeover’, she brilliantly reveals how corporations across the world manipulate and pressure governments by means both legal and illegal, how corporations are taking over from the state, the responsibility of everything from providing technology for schools to healthcare for the community. She rightly asks us to recognise the growing contradictions of a world divided between haves and have nots, of gated communities next to ghettos, of extreme poverty and unbelievable wealth. These are faces of unacceptable extremes.
Isn’t she so right that despite the near double digit growth constantly for many years, the Human Development Index (HDI) developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) showing that the development of humans in India is clearly slipping. This exercise covering 187 countries has ranked India at a lowly 134 in the group of countries with Low Human Development, with both Sri Lanka and Maldives in the Medium Development group at 97 and 109. And both these countries are being rendered development assistance of billions of $ by India. This is another dimension of the dichotomy of ‘India is Rich and Indians are Poor’.
This exercise of HDI is generally in the areas of Health, Education, Income and Gender Equality. If Life Expectancy represents the health of a person Australia is at the top at 81.9 years and Indians' average lifespan is 65.4 years below the world average of 69.8 years. When it comes to schooling or education it’s the U.S with 12.4 mean years at school for every U.S. citizen and Indian sadly are in the school for an average length of just 4.4 years when you take the entire population of school starters, with both Pakistan and Bangladesh better at 4.9 years and 4.8 years. World average mean years of schooling being 7.4 years. Coming to per-capita-income, while the highest is UAE at $: 59993 and Singapore with $: 52569 is at second with India at just U.S $: 3468, lower than Sri Lanka at $ 4963 and Maldives at $ 5276, both of whom we are trying to fund with development assistance. The world average per-capita-income is US $: 10082. In the gender equality or inequality ratio, maternal mortality ratio, India is having 230 deaths per 10,000, where as Italy is having just 5 for every 10,000, the world average being 176. Similarly in education of males in India it is 50.4% whereas for females it is 26.6%, where as in the U.S. its 94.5% for males and 95.3% for females. In Australia 97.2% for males and 95.1% for females, with both Pakistan and Bangladesh being lower than India. But in Sri Lanka gender equality is better in education at 57.6% for males and 56% for females.
These are very disturbing indicators which the powers that be, the policy makers, policy executors and the whole system need to take note of. These indicators do not disturb our political representatives, elected and unelected, who keep disturbing the parliament and assemblies all over India, all in the name of serving ‘aam aadmi’. There is a serious lack of seriousness to understand the malaise that India is afflicted with.
Of course we cannot blame the FDI for our problems. The current debate on FDI in multi brand retailing has thrown up many aspects of the issue, both in favour of it and against it. We all know, that Indian retail trade is highly fragmented and unorganised. With only few huge malls and Super Markets in cities and large towns, over 90% of the trade is single person owned/operated or family owned and operated. But there is indeed a huge market. According to market sources the retail business is in the region of over US $400 billion with only around less than 5% being in organised sector. A latest study by CII and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) informs that the current size of organised retail in the country stands at close to US $: 28 billion. But the market is estimated to grow to US $: 1250 billion by 2020. Hence big names in retailing like Wal Mart, Harrods and other giants in the trade are eyeing this huge market. The latest Economic Survey 2010-11, reportedly says "Permitting retail in a phased manner beginning with metros and incentivising the existing retail shops to modernise could help address the concerns of farmers and consumers. FDI in retail may also help bring in technical know how to set up efficient supply chains which could act as models of development."
Based on the survey, the UPA government had decided to take it up in the winter session of the parliament, but as usual, the opposition has opposed it, tooth and nail. But unfortunately for Dr Manmohan Singh even his allies in UPA opposed it. Politics over economics or development is a regularly happening thamasha or drama in the Indian context. Of course, there are any number of issues that the ruling dispensation could have taken up, besides the currently debated issues like Black Money, unchecked price rise, humongous corruption in high places. Instead the government rushed through this FDI in multi-brand retail. Could this be to divert the attention as alleged by opposition? Or why has so suddenly out of the blue, the FDI in retail became important for the Prime Minister? It was totally an unilateral decision without other political parties on board. Was he under any pressure from ‘friends’ in U.S.? Or some corporate honchos who backed the PM in the press? Of course, in the event, the government had to beat a hasty retreat, in the face of all round stiff opposition. Despite the government claiming that the opening of retail for foreigners shall help farmers, benefit consumers and create some 10 million new jobs, there were no takers, except a part of the ruling combine. Of course, the claim of 10 million jobs is a huge bunkum. We are all privy to the knowledge, how many jobs these Special Economic Zones (SEZ) have created? The very basis of SEZ permission and development has been the creation of massive employment opportunities. But what is the reality? Probably not even 1/10 of the promise has been fulfilled.
Thus the fear that all these advantages that government is talking about, due to the entry of FDI in retail, may be far from truth. It is indeed true that FDI, which happened after the liberalisation of 1991 and after, did change the domestic economic and social scenario. It has created a huge middle class, found no-where in the world. Millions of people moved upward above the poverty line. But it is also true that there still exists over 400 million Indians still struggling to make ends meet.
The opposition reasoning to oppose this FDI in retail has many arguable points. It is feared that it would lead to unfair competition and result in large-scale exit of domestic retailers, especially the family owned and managed outlets, leading to large scale displacement of persons employed in the retail sector. Another concern is that the Indian retail sector, particularly organised retail is still in nascent stage and therefore it is important that the retail sector is allowed to grow and consolidate first, before opening to foreign investors.
'FKCCI, Bangalore is opposed to FDI in Multi Brand retailing', informed the media. It has urged the government to help the unorganised sector reorganise itself with appropriate technology and financial support.
Opposition to FDI in retail is also on many other grounds like, that the entry of large global retailers such as Wal Mart, Harrods would kill local shops and those dependent on it for livelihood. There is an enormous % of Indians employed in retail sectors after agriculture. Besides, these multinationals giants could conspire and exercise monopolistic power to raise prices, as visible in pharmaceutical products. They could also use monopolistic power to reduce prices while buying from suppliers. Thus from both sides they could fleece consumers to increase their margins. This situation can lead to uneven growth leading to discontent and social tension, where both consumers and suppliers would suffer loss and only the profit margins of these retail groups would go up.
Thus the opposition to the FDI in multi brand retail is rational. But the opportunity for growth also should not be exaggerated. Therefore what may be required could be the calibration of both plus and minus of the proposal for the greatest good of all. It is an ideal situation. But in the market place it is the strength of the party that shall see the day through. Without regulation it is always the consumer who shall lose.
There may have to be checks and balance, some inbuilt safety valves have to be put in place. For example, writes Paulkit Agarwal "FDI in multi-brand retailing can be allowed in a calibrated manner with social safeguards so that effect of possible labour dislocation can be analysed and policy fine tuned accordingly. To ensure that foreign investors make a genuine contribution to the development of infrastructure and logistics, it can be stipulated that a % of FDI should be spent towards building up back-end infrastructure, logistics or agro processing units. Reconstituting the poverty stricken and stagnant rural sphere into a foreward moving and prosperous rural sphere, can be one of the favourable aspect for introducing FDI in multi brand retailing."
The President of Wal Mart India Raj Jain, reportedly said, it is willing to invest in back-end infrastructure that will help reduce wastage of farm produce, improve the livelihood of farmers, lower prices of products and ease supply side inflation.
Agarwal further continues "to actualize this goal it can be stipulated that at least 50% of the jobs in the retail outlet should be reserved for rural youth and that a certain amount of farm produce be procured from the poor farmers. Similarly to develop our small and medium enterprise (SME), it can also be stipulated that a minimum percentage of manufactured products be sourced from the SME sector in India. PDS is still in many ways the life line of the people living below the poverty line. To ensure that the system is not weakened the government may reserve the right to procure a certain amount of food grains for replenishing the buffer. To protect the interest of small retailers the government may also put in place an exclusive regulatory framework. It will ensure that the retailing giants do not resort to predatory pricing or do not acquire monopolistic tendencies. Besides, the government and RBI need to evolve suitable policies to enable the retailers in the unorganised sector to expand and improve their efficiencies. If Government is allowing FDI, it must do it in a calibrated fashion because it is politically sensitive and link it up with legal provisions for creating some back-end infrastructure" he concludes.
Thus, what is imperative is the attention to the social need and adequate redressal of these needs. In this direction, a preliminary rider for any opening of retail sector in the new proposed bill is the condition that – ‘only those foreign retailers who first invest in the back-end supply chain and infrastructure would be allowed to set up multi-brand retail outlets in the country, which should essentially create jobs for rural India, before starting their business'.
In conclusion it can be said that, if the issues raised by opposition to the, FDI-in-retail entry, it may well be a very promising development. The experience of countries like Thailand and China is reportedly extremely gratifying. The opening of multi-brand retail to foreign investors led, not only to high level of employment but also led to enormous development of the country’s GDP.

J. Shriyan


Education must make healthy minds; not just wealthy careers.
Prof. B. M. Hegde,

"A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us. "
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Education, higher or lower, should have the prime goal of making healthy minds in society in addition, of course, to making comfortable careers. Unfortunately, today the sole aim of our present education seems to be to make careers, the higher the pay the better. Smart people might not be educated in that sense but they are smarter all the same. The Tagores, Bill Gateses, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffets, Dhirubhais were too smart but were not the products of this kind of miseducation! Parents, teachers, "educationists, (so called because they own educational institutions) educational administrators, as also the governments of the day, along with the brainwashed children to day want education only to make better careers. In the knowledge society of today NO BODY thinks. Thinking seems to be a distinct disadvantage in the present set up! This looks good on the face of it but, in the long run, this could prove to be a dangerous game. "The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe," wrote Voltaire years ago. Sir George Pickering, FRS wrote that the main function of education was "to kindle the flame, not fill the pot".
There is a new malady, born in the west, against which Europeans have already woken up to fight. That disease is called "Wall Street Greed." That name does not tell the whole story. The "Wall Street Greed" might have effectively destroyed the American economy lately, thanks to Lehman brothers and their ilk. What has gone unnoticed, though, is the larger universal effect of corporate greed in general which has spread its tentacles to all areas of human existence. It has invaded the sacred temples of education, science, research, governance, judiciary, the medical care establishment, the media and all other spheres of the day to day existence. Poverty being the mother of all illnesses, poor in the world today pay for their poverty with their lives, thanks to this corporate greed. The latter was born out of the philosophy of Bernard Mandeville, who was Adam Smith’s teacher in some sense. Mandeville proclaimed that "in corporate philosophy what matters is ONLY profit, irrespective of consequences." (Italics mine).
Mandeville goes on to show in his Fable of the bees that a society possessed of all the virtues (blest with content and honesty) falling into apathy and utter paralyses. "The absence of self-love is the death of progress. The so-called higher virtues are mere hypocrisy, and arise from the selfish desire to be superior to the brutes. The moral virtues are the political offspring which flattery begot upon pride." Similarly he arrives at the great paradox that "private vices are public benefits". Among other things, Mandeville argues that the basest and vilest behaviours produce positive economic effects. "A libertine, for example, is a vicious character, and yet his spending will employ tailors, servants, perfumers, cooks, prostitutes. These persons, in turn, will employ bakers, carpenters, and the like. Therefore, the rapaciousness and violence of the base passions of the libertine benefit society in general." Although Mandeville was unpopular in his time for his views, today’s corporate world seems to be venerating him with one difference though. Today’s private vice does not translate into public good, which was the essence of Mandeville’s teaching.
The noble professions of medicine, law and scientific enquiry have ceased to be what they aught to be. The medical profession of the early 20th Century in London was assessed to be a bunch of "incompetent, corrupt and nepotistic" humans who resembled a stinking pus filled abscess on society, wrote a young MP and a physician, Thomas Wakeley in 1823. To set it right and let out that bad pus, he started a medical science journal with the name of the surgical instrument to drain pus-The Lancet. The journal had a chequered career of nearly 190 years to date. Around the same time another great brain, a dramatist, Sir George Bernard Shaw, wrote a satirical drama, The Doctors’ Dilemma, which forced the star performers of the day, like Sir Arbuthnot Lane, out of business! Surprisingly, if one were to replace those star performers of London of 1823 by today’s star performers anywhere in the world including India, the drama would get greater kudos.
A recent audit by a medical journalist/historian has thrown up more surprising data. Hillary Butler, writing in the famous, British Medical Journal, feels that the "nepotistic, incompetent, corrupt" bunch of 1823 has been replaced by a "Corporate Monstrosity," today which would cut any Wakeley at his knees! Many, if not all, ills of society today could be traced to the faulty educational philosophy followed by the globalization concept of the post Second World War world. Terrorism, wars around the globe, white collar crime, irrational consumerism, disease mongering, drug peddling of both legal and illegal drugs, rampant fraud in research, intellectual terrorism, corruption in all the watch dog bodies ranging from the World Bank, IMF, WHO to national watch dog bodies, dangerous dictatorships, state sponsored terrorism and corrupt politicians could all be traced to oppression, suppression and denial originating from the educational system failing to make healthy minds (health defined as "enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate) as their main motto!
With the advent of the Cold War era, western education, even in the UK was slowly tilting towards the US model. Been to America (BTA) was considered an additional qualification for all top posts in the UK. Colonial countries in Asia and Africa, naturally, followed suit. Even India, despite our hoary excellent educational base which had attracted the best European brains in the past, was bending over backwards to fall in line with the American thinking in this area. The eastern block led by USSR followed a different path but, many great brains there were behind bars anyway in the pre-Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika!
With the fall of the Berlin wall and the advent of the new economic liberalisation era in India after 1991, there has been a renewed emphasis in following the US model here. With European and American Universities starving for rich paying students, especially after the 9/11 tragedy which brought in a drastic fall in rich west Asian students gravitating to US and Europe for higher education, all those countries focused their attention on India to supply their needs what with the demographic predictions throwing up the possibilities of more the 700-800 million young men and women looking for higher education in India in the next four to five decades. With a concurrent fall in the numbers of the younger generation in the west, the rush has become acute. Australia, USA, UK and European countries are selling their education like they sell their silicon chips! With the advent of the new era of young peoples’ exchange, thanks to the multitude of newer Sweat shops and body shopping establishments in India, there is renewed awakening in the minds of young Indians about the hassle free life in the west!
While there are both good and bad things in any system, especially educational system, time has come for us take stock of those fall outs, as our government is too keen to keep our doors wide open for foreign universities to step in and reap the harvest. The simplistic argument is that India will not be in a position to offer (free) higher education to all the needy in the future. Even private-public partnerships, much touted, seem to have run into road blocks already. Some heads in the government are biased against home baked education and feel that foreign brand is better. In this cacophony the worst sufferer is Indian primary education. Unless and until we set that right our higher education, built on that faulty foundation could collapse any day. The "PROBE" report on primary education in India, commissioned by the GOI in 1997, shows that our primary education is in real mess. I strongly feel that primary education of quality is the one that lays the foundation for making healthy minds, which is the essence of all education. Tax payers’ money should be fruitfully utilized to make primary (elementary, middle and high school) education not just compulsory and free but also effective and fruitful. Higher education should be paid for by the recipient-rich pay for it, meritorious get scholarships, and the poor get interest free loans from a newly created Educational Development Bank. License and permit raj must end giving place to "quality" controlling the standards of institutions. It should be a buyers’ market and not sellers market as of now where quality is given a go by.
to be contnd. in next issue...


Black and Blue

Despite my utter failure as a teacher, Autry called me again for help. The stakes were a little higher this time—and, for me, so was the reward.
Autry and the other staffers at the Boys & Girls Club wanted me to help write a grant proposal for the U.S. Department of Justice, which had advertised special funds being allocated for youth programs. The proposal needed to include in-depth crime statistics for the project and the surrounding neighborhood, data that was typically hard to get, since the police didn’t like to make such information public. But if I took on the project, I’d get dir5ect access to Officer Reggie Marcus—"Officer Reggie" to tenants—the local cop who had grown up in Robert Taylor himself and was devoted to making life there better. I jumped at the chance.
I had met Reggie on several occasions, but now I had an opportunity to work closely with him and cultivate a genuine friendship. He was about six feet tall, as muscular and fit as a football player; he always dressed well and carried himself with a quiet determination. I knew that Reggie often dealt directly with gang leaders in the hopes of keeping violence to a minimum and that he was a diplomatic force among the project’s street hustlers. Now I would be able to ask as many questions as I wanted about the particulars of his work.
Why, force instance, did he try to reduce gun violence by making sure that the gangs were the only ones who had guns?
"They don’t like gun violence any more than the tenants, because its scares away customers," he explained. "So they try to keep things quiet."
One wintry afternoon I met Reggie at the police station in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood, a few blocks from J.T.’s territory. When I arrived, he told me he still had some phone calls to make, so I went to find a water fountain. The police station was drab, row after row of bland gray cubicles; the air was cold and damp, the tile floor slippery from the tracked-in snow.
Near the water fountain, I came upon a wall covered with Polaroid pictures. They were all of black men in their teens and twenties, most of them looking dazed or defiant. Beneath each photo was a caption with the person’s name and gang affiliation.
Taped next to the photos was a party flyer headlined "MC South side Fest." J.T.’s gang hung similar flyers all around the buildings when they were sponsoring a party or a basket ball tournament. On the MC flyer, there were several names handwritten along the right margin, as if it were a sign-up sheet: "Watson," "O’Neil," "Brown".
Reggie came by as I was inspecting the flyer.
"Let’s not hang out here," he said, looking concerned. "And let’s not talk about that. I’ll explain later."
We were heading over to the Boys & Girls Club to talk to Autry about the Department of Justice grant. As we walked to Reggie’s SUV, parked behind the police station, I was still thinking about the MC flyer.
I recalled a party the Black Kings had thrown a few years back, having rented out the second floor of an Elks Lodge. The women were dressed up, and the men wore spiffy tracksuits or pressed jeans. They drank beer and wine coolers, danced, and passed marijuana joints around the room.
As J.T. and I stood talking in a corner, a group of five men suddenly busted into the room, all dressed in black. One of them held up a gun for everyone to see. The other four ran to the corners of the room, one of them shouting for everyone to get up against the wall. Four of the men were black, one white. J.T. whispered to me, "Cops." He and I took our places against the wall.
One of the partying gangsters, a huge man, at least six foot two and 250 pounds, started to resist. "Fuck you, nigger!" he shouted. Two of the men in black promptly yanked him into the bathroom—where, from the sound of it, they beat him brutally. We all stood silently against the wall, listening to his grunts and groans.
"Who’s next?" shouted one of the men in black. "Who wants some of this?"
Two of them pulled out black trash bags. "Cash and jewels, I want everything in the bag!" one shouted. "Now!"
When the bag reached us, J.T. calmly deposited his necklace and his money clip, fat with twenties. I put the cash from my pocket, about fifteen dollars, into the bag. As I did so, the man holding the bag looked up and stared at me. He didn’t say anything, but he kept glancing over at me as he continued his collection rounds. He seemed puzzled as to what I, plainly an outsider, was doing there.
When they were done, the five men dropped the bags out the window and calmly filed out. After a time J.T. motioned for me to follow him outside. We walked to his car, parked in the adjoining lot. Some other BK leaders joined him, commiserating over the robbery.
"Fucking cops do this all the time," J.T. told me. "As soon as they find out we’re having a party, they raid it."
"Why? And why don’t they arrest you?" I asked. "And how do you know they were cops?"
"It’s a game!" shouted one of the other BK leaders. " We make all this fucking money, and they want some."
"They’re jealous," J.T. said calmly. "We make more than them, and they can’t stand it. So this is how they get back at us."
I had a hard time believing that the police would so brazenly rob a street gang. But it didn’t seem like the kind of thing that J.T. would lie about; most of his exaggerations served the purpose of making him look more powerful, not less so.
I had forgotten the incident entirely until I saw the MC flyer at the police station. I wondered if the names written in the margin were the cops who had signed up to raid the party. So I told Reggie about the BK party and J.T.’s claim that the robbers were cops.
He took a deep breath and looked straight ahead as he drove. "You know, Sudhir, you have to be careful about what you hear," he said. Reggie drove fast, barreling over the unplowed snow as if he were off-roading. Our breath was fogging up the windshield. "I’m not going to say that all the people I work with are always doing the right thing. Hell, I don’t do the right thing all the time. But—"
"I know that, I know that. But you should know what’s going on. Yes, some of the people I work with raid the parties. And you know, sometimes I feel like I should do it, too! I mean, guys like J.T. are making a killing off people. And for what? Peddling stuff that kills. But it’s not for me. I don’t participate—I just don’t see the point."
"I’ve ridden along with J.T. and a few of his friends in their sports cars," I said. "Sometimes a cop will pull us over for no reason. And then—"
"he asks to see a paycheck stub, right?"
"Yeah! How did you know I was going to say that?"
"Think about how frustrating it is to do policing," Reggie said. "You’ve been hanging out with these guys. You know that they never hold the cash that they make. They have all these investments in other people’s names. So what can we do? We can’t arrest their mothers for living in a nice house. But when we stop them in their fancy cars, we can legitimately ask whether they stole the car or not. Now, again, I don’t do that stuff. But some other people do."
"But I don’t have to carry around a paycheck stub. Why should they?" I knew this was a naïve-sounding question, and I was fully aware that there was a big difference between me and the gang members. But because naïveté had worked in the past, I’d stuck with this strategy.
"You are not peddling that shit," Reggie said, stating the obvious. I wasn’t sure if his explanation was meant to be sarcastic, whether he was humoring me, or whether he just wanted to make sure I understood precisely the police officers’ rationale. "You aren’t making millions by killing people. Sometimes we’ll take their car away."
"What do you do with it?" I asked. I knew Reggie didn’t believe that the drug dealers were each "making millions," but some of their earnings were still sufficiently greater than the cops’ to make Reggie upset.
"A lot of times, we’ll sell it at the police auction, and the money goes to charity. I figure it’s a way of getting back at those fools."
On a few occasions, I’d been riding in a car with some gang members when a cop stopped the car, made everyone get out, and summarily called for a tow truck. On a few other occasions, the cop let the driver keep the car but took everyone’s jewelry and cash. To me the strangest thing was that the gang members barely protested. It was as if they were playing a life-size board game, the rules of which were well established and immutable, and on this occasion they’d simply gotten a bad roll of the dice.


RTI – As a Tool of Empowerment

We all pay taxes. This money is taken from us with an assurance from the government that it will be used for our well-being. But nothing happens. Where does this money go? There is no water to drink in a country which has large number of water resources. The condition of the roads is pathetic, the government hospitals have no medicines in their stock, during rainy season the drainage system doesn’t work properly. Likewise every department is deeply involved in corruption. We often have to pay bribes in our interaction with government departments – be it getting a license, passport, ration card, registering an FIR etc. Sometimes even if bribe is not asked for, our work is still not done due to complacency of public officials and bureaucrats which results in our harassment and loss in cognitive energy.
So far people were helpless and could only curse the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the system and be a mute spectator. But now we have the right to question the government, inspect their work, inspect their files, take copies of government documents and make them answerable for every question shot at them. The Parliament of India has passed a law which makes the common man of the country the ruler in real sense. This law is known as Right to Information.
The Right to Information Act was passed in India in 2005 in order to set up a structure whereby citizens can request information in a consistent manner and a reasonable amount of time.
The Right to Information Act 2005 provides access to information for citizens of India, which is under the control of the public authorities. It promotes transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. It extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir. In order to ensure greater and more effective access to information, it was decided to repeal the Freedom of Information Act, 2002, and enact another law for providing an effective framework. To achieve this object, the Right to Information bill was introduced in the parliament and was passed by the Lok Sabha on 11th May, 2005 and by the Rajya Sabha on 12th May, 2005 and it received the assent on 15th June, 2005. It came on the Statue Book as ‘the Right to Information Act, 2005’.
The Act empowers every citizen to: ask any question from the government or seek any information, take copies of any government document, inspect any governmental work and take samples of materials of any governmental work.
The Act covers the whole of India except Jammu & Kashmir, where Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act is in force. It is applicable to all constitutional authorities. Including the executive legislature and judiciary; any institution or body established or constituted by an act of Parliament or a state legislature. It is also defined in the Act that bodies or authorities established or constituted by order or notification of appropriate government including bodies "owned, controlled or substantially financed" by government, or non-Government organisations "substantially financed, directed or indirectly by funds" provided by the government are also covered in it. Private bodies are not within the Act’s ambit directly.
Under the Act, all authorities covered must appoint this Public Information Officer (PIO). Any person may submit a request to the PIO for information in writing or through electronic means. The applicant is not required to disclose any information other than his name and contact particulars to seek information.
The Right to Information Act, passed in the Indian Parliament in the year 2005 has proved to be a landmark for good governance and in helping common people, especially the poor and underprivileged, get their dues from the government. The act has emerged as the most potent tool to empower ordinary citizens to combat state corruption and to play an important role in participatory democracy. Drafted by civil society itself, the law is unique in the sense that it has been the result of years of struggle by civil society, NGO’s and media.
The Right to Information Act is an effective tool to control corruption, make government accountable, and curb the arbitrary use of power. The world over, country after democratic country, has recognised the need to keep their citizens informed about the way government takes decisions. In our country we have the Right to Information Act. The spirit of the Act can be best summarized by stating that without informed citizens there is no democracy. It recognises that in a democracy citizens are the masters and servants cannot deny information to their masters. In fact, servants act as trustees and hold the information belonging to their masters. But due to lack of information among the masters, the servants have behaved like masters and the masters simply accepted this treatment.
Rampant corruption prevailing in the country forced the law makers to understand that there is no way the country can become better without the servants favouring good governance. Under these circumstances, the preamble of Right to Information Act highlights, containing corruption, improving transparency and making governments accountable by empowering citizens to get information. It lays the foundation for a better tomorrow. In fact, every citizen who is the master has now the same power to obtain information which only the legislatures had so far. This single aspect alone should create a new group who will demand good governance.
The RTI Act recognizes that information held in any form should be made available to citizens. The only requirement is that the information sought should be in public invest. As far as the information held by the Government including personal information, the Act allows one to get such information without even giving any reason as to why you need the information. The RTI Act not only helps the citizens but also the whistle-blower and to recognize whether a particular person is a genuine whistle-blower or not, all one has to do is see files handled by him earlier. In this way, supporting a whistle-blower is a much easier task today. But as whistle-blowers do not announce about their own activities, opinion of individuals should be collected and likely whistle blowers list should be prepared. The very fact of preparation of a whistle-blower’s list itself allows more information to come regarding whistle-blowers.
For many who indulge in corruption, giving up corrupt practices may be difficult as giving up smoking for some. While a chronic smoker rejects counseling to give up smoking, a very corrupt person does not make efforts to give up his corrupt practices. Luckily, RTI is a tool which can expose and embarrass a corrupt person. The embarrassment should be so acute that he should feel shy to be seen in public. Unfortunately today it is not happening. To start with, we should recognize the honest and embarrass the corrupt. It is in this way that RTI could become a stick to beat the corrupt with.
The reluctance of so many member countries to enshrine the right to access information is surprising considering open government offers the key to deepening democracy and quickening development that the commonwealth is so desperately seeking. The Right to Information lays the foundation to build good governance, transparency, accountability and participation, and to eliminate that scourge of corruption upon the poor. As such, it should be embraced.
Every Indian should be ashamed when India is graded year after year as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Corruption cannot be rooted out by just one person, every citizen is responsible to combat corruption. The RTI act can be used as a tool to attack the roots of corruption. There will forever be corruption at the lower levels as long as its seeds are sown at the highest levels. The RTI Act can be used to expose these seeds of corruption which in turn can curb corruption at the lower levels. By fighting corruption we would be making our own tomorrow better.
Today, in addition to this Act, we have the benefit of internet. Also most of the youth today do not bribe to get jobs. Even if small number of such people who can handle technology effectively are motivated to fight corruption, it can do wonders. Such optism was unthinkable only a few years back. The RTI act, young people and internet can really bring in the real freedom to everybody. This was unlike during Mahatma Gandhiji’s time when he had to move from place to place to mobilize people and use communication methods which were very primitive. So we are at a distinct advantage as we are empowered by the RTI Act along with technology.
The RTI Act is a revolutionary weapon in the hands of public which makes a common man up to date by informing him his role in government’s decision making process but this act also needs greater clarity and articulation to meet its intended objectives and protect citizens’ right of privacy.
There is no doubt that the RTI Act enables common man to make a difference. The enactment has enabled records, which highlight deficiencies in working of government departments in India. Struggle by citizens to get transparency and public accountability from the government is gradually showing results and would lead to ushering in a new era of democratic governance. The success of RTI Act in India depends upon these non-government initiatives. Without pressure from outside the government, officers would prefer to avoid the quantum jump in their public accountability.
At the end of the day, transparency and accountability in public administration require sustained efforts of the citizens. If the citizens show apathy towards the public issues and only indulge in arm-chair criticism of the government, the problems of maladministration would continue. On the other hand, transparency laws which enable access to public record, lead to democratic participation by the citizens. RTI Act enables effective democratic participation by the citizens and sustained struggle is required to overcome the historical baggage of highly centralised governance where citizens do not effectively participate.
At no point of time would it be possible to state that public administration has reached perfection. In vast organisations, checks and balances are needed to correct the aberrations. RTI Act in India is a vital addition to the existing checks and balances; it may enable the citizens to keep the government officers at their toes, to demand improved performance.
The Right to Information Act is definitely a step forward towards modern democracy and it would go a long way to bring responsibility, transparency and accountability in functioning of all public institutions and departments in the country.
This is the article which won the Ist prize in the I & C Essay Competition for College students of Mangalore. She is a student of I PUC from St. Aloysius College.


Over 30,000 pieces of info on black money under I-T scanner

New Delhi: More than 30,000 pieces of Information about black money in India have come under the scanner of the Income Tax Department. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), under the Finance Ministry, has gathered voluminous data on suspicious transactions, the department informed a global OECD conference held here recently.
Black money hoarders have also disclosed more than Rs 430 crore of unaccounted funds to the I-T department after the government received classified information from various countries on stashed funds under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA).
"30,765 pieces of domestic information about suspicious transactions has been obtained by FIU which are under investigation," Director General of I-T Investigations (Delhi) K V Chowdary said while speaking at a conference.

‘Indians pay $700m yearly as bribe’

A whopping $700mn (about Rs.3,700cr) is paid annually as bribe in India for land administration services, a joint study by United Nation’s body FAO and Transparency International has observed.
According to the working paper ‘corruption in the Land Sector’, jointly prepared by Food and Agriculture Organization and global anti-graft body Transparency International, weak governance has increased instances of corruption in land related issues.
The working paper, which includes studies conducted in more than 61 countries, found that corruption in the land sector varied from small-scale bribes and fraud to high –level abuses of government power and political positions, FAO said in a statement.
Land administration services include land legislation, registration, valuation/ taxation, land –use planning, land allocation and information. The paper reveals that land related corruption was not confined to India but is a worldwide phenomenon.

Official anti-labour practices

Mumbai: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has been wasting public money as they are paying Rs 44 lakhs per month to employees on contract whereas 35 percent posts in the apex body are still vacant. RTI activist Anil Galgali found out in an RTI query that out of the total (670) sanctioned posts in MMRDA – only 443 were filled while the remaining 227 are vacant. "This is absurd and is hampering the infrastructure work of the city. MMRDA should immediately fill up these positions and not hire people on contract basis as that eats into the coffers of the authority," said Galgali.
MMRDA has hired 177 people on contract in various departments while another 63 people are on deputation. To add to it, MMRDA is paying these people salaries to the tune of around Rs 44 lakhs per month. And some top officers among the contract staff draw salary of up to Rs 90,000 per month.
"The authority could hire people on permanent basis which will save on cost and moreover the work can be carried out efficiently and faster.
This is wanton wastage of government funds," said Galgali.
MMRDA was created as a special body for planning the development of Mumbai and its satellite cities surrounding Mumbai. But off late MMRDA transformed itself to being a implementing authority as well.

Helmets-is there anything wrong?

Mumbai: In the backdrop of Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik tightening the screws on errant bikers who do not wear helmets or use sub standard ones, it was learnt that the Mumbai Traffic police are yet to categorise deaths of bikers due to either poor quality helmets or not wearing helmets. Further, the number of errant riders wearing sub-standard helmets was not available with the Traffic Police Department.
About 611 bike riders have died since 2007 till October 31 this year, but the Mumbai Traffic Police are unable to state whether these bikers were riding with their helmets on, when they met with the fatal accident.
"INDIAN STANDARD INSTITUTE (ISI) marked helmets available with authorized dealers at Rs 1,800 have a hard shell that covers the head from all angles absorbing the entire shock in case of a mishap. But, riders risk their lives to save a few hundred rupees and buy cheap helmets with fake ISI mark sold on the streets," said traffic police inspector Shriram Patil.
The bone of contention behind passing a circular was that many errant drivers were seen riding without a helmet or with a sub standard helmet. Therefore, Patnaik reinforced the order to wear helmets with ISI mark only.
But, it was found out that despite every minute details of the fatal accidents like the timing, age, gender, etc is recorded with the Traffic police, whether the driver was wearing a helmet or not is yet to be categorized in these records. Also, whether the biker was wearing an ISI mark helmet or not is out of question.
Passing the buck to Mumbai Police on the issue a traffic official said, "We do not get such specific detailing about the accidents from the Mumbai Police, because of which we are unable to record them." However, he admitted that it is of crucial importance.

Mumbai orders fire audit of hospitals

Mumbai: Days after a blaze killed 93 patients in Kolkata’s AMRI Hospital, the Mumbai civic administration ordered a fire audit of all public and private hospitals with a mandate to prosecute those which do not comply with regulations, an official said. The audit will be taken up in all the 67 major state government-run, Municipal and private hospitals, with 100 and more beds, said Chief Fire Officer H.N. Mujawar.

Parliament or no parliament,we want our D.A - MPs

Lucknow: An RTI activist has put a couple of Uttar Pradesh MPs in the dock for having charged daily allowance for attending parliament on days when no business was actually transacted in the institution, reports IANS.
Akhilesh Saxena, local co-ordinator of India Against Corruption (IAC) lodged an FIR with the police here accusing BJP’s Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon of availing the special Parliament attendance allowance for 22 such days in 2010, when his own party did not allow parliament to function.
Other Lok Sabha members to face similar FIRs were BJP’s Varanasi MP Murli Manohar Joshi, Ghazipur MP Radhey Shyam and Samajwadi Party’s Allahabad MP Reoti Raman Singh. According to Saxena: "It was against an RTI query that we were told about suspension of all Parliament proceedings for as many as 22 days between Nov 10 Dec 13 (2010). However, on further inquiry we learnt that barring 143 MPs, all others had taken the special allowance for those days at the rate of Rs 2,000 per day."
He said: "Meanwhile, the drain to the exchequer on account of suspension of parliamentary proceedings is of the order of Rs 25.94 crore". The functioning of parliament was paralysed by the opposition, which had been holding agitations and demonstrations against the government’s alleged involvement in multiple scams.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Euro: co-existence crisis, French Minister
Paris: The European single currency could break up and Europe itself unravel if political leaders fail to tackle the region’s debt crisis, France’s minister for European affairs warned.
"The situation is serious….the euro can explode and Europe unravel". Jean Leonetti told France’s Canal Plus television hours ahead of what is being seen as a crucial European summit on the issue in Brussels.
He said that if possible all 27 members of the European Union should be involved in talks on tackling the debt crisis but that non-eurozone members might have to be excluded. "When there are some in the 27 who say ‘I’m not interested in what you are talking about because I never want to join the euro’," like Britain for example, "this should not cause paralysis," he said.
The most difficult point of contention at the summit would be "discipline," he said, a reference to France and Germany’s efforts to force other eurozone members to accept legal limits on their budget deficits and automatic sanctions for countries who break the rules.

GUV gets 14 years in prison – Senate seat auction
Chicago: Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to auction President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in 2008 and several other corruption charges.
He became the second governor after George Ryan to be sentenced for corruption, who was spent 6.5 years in jail for fraud and racketeering charges in 2006, PTI reports.
Blageojevich’s sentence came following his conviction at trials in 2010 and 2011 on 18 felony counts of corruption during his tenure as governor of Illinois, including his effort in 2008 to illegally trade appointment of a United States Senator in exchange for USD 1.5 million in campaign contributions or other personal benefits, the report said.

Cambridge: Shaking hands to shaking heads!
London: There is no need to shake hands with foreign students – that’s Cambridge University’s latest advice to its academics.
In its directive, the UK based world-renowned institution has cautioned all its academics against automatically shaking their hands with foreign students in case it causes offence. ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
The varsity has sent out the directive to its administration tutors explaining that some people are culturally sensitive of greeting. It advises that ‘suitable body language conveys welcome just as well".
Academics were sent an alert advising them to read the instructions. Under the headline: ‘Welcoming the Applicant’, the instructions add: "There is a certain amount of cultural sensitivity relating to handshakes. Suitable body language conveys welcome just as well."
However, the directive sent out by the university’s Admissions office has caused anger and consternation among the dons who say it is treating them like "social misfits".
"This is ridiculous. It would be obvious if someone objected to handshakes and we would know what to do. We don’t need instructions," an academic was quoted by the British newspaper as saying. But, the university’s press office said the instructions applied to Muslim women and certain people with disabilities.
"It is not banning handshakes, it is just saying that best practice in some cases such as Muslim women who do not want to shake hands and certain people with disabilities. Dons should read the situation properly and bear in mind that not all people want to shake hands," a spokesman said.
Saudi man sentenced to 2,080 lashes
Riyadh: A man in Saudi Arabia convicted of raping his daughter has been sentenced to 13 years in prison and 2,080 lashes. A court in the city of Mecca found the man guilty of raping his teenage daughter for seven years while under the influence of drugs, the Gulf News reports. According to The Okaz newspaper, the man will receive the lashes in stages throughout his prison sentence. Saudi religious police said the girl’s uncle tipped them off regarding the crime. Lashing is one of the penalties available to the clerics serving as judges in Saudi Arabia and issue rulings according to the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic law.

Citizenship oath: Canada bans veils
Toronto: Women aspiring for Canadian citizenship have been barred from wearing burqa or Islamic hijab when they take oath of citizenship, Immigration Minister Jason Kenny said, PTI reports.
The move was announced by the minister, who said it was necessary as women with face coverings could not be fully identified at ceremonies to swear-in new citizens, the ‘Montreal Gazette’ reported.
The ban has triggered widespread concerns among the Islamic community here as they fear that it could lead to similar ban in other settings.
Canada has now joined countries like France, Belgium, Australia and Netherlands who have banned women from covering their face in public. In Australia, the ban has been imposed in only two states.
The Immigration Minister said that there were misgivings about covering of faces by women. He said the feelings were that new citizens should take oath in full view of other fellow citizens.
Kenny said he had received complaints from lawmakers and judges who said that they found it difficult to know whether individuals who masked their faces were actually reciting the oath or not.
The conservative minister said the issue went deep into the heart of Canada’s identity as a nation valued its openness and equality.
The Gazette quoted Salam Elmenyawi, head of the Muslim Council of Montreal, as labeling the ban an attempt by the conservative government to divide Canadian Muslims.
The minister made the announcement in the French speaking province of Quebec, which is in the middle of a raging debate on how much Canada should bend to accommodate newcomers.
Though the ban went into force with immediate effect, the Immigration Minister assured that the authorities did not intend to go further by drafting laws to ban women from wearing veil in public.
Quebec Province has already banned veils at polling booths on election day.

All-religion prayer meet
An all-religion prayer was held in the presence of Governor Ram Naresh Yadav on the occasion of 27th anniversary of Bhopal gas tragedy. Tributes were paid to those who died in Bhopal gas tragedy with leaders of various religious verses from their respective scriptures. A two-minute silence was also be observed.

‘No pay, no work’ for MPs
New Delhi: With Parliament being stalled for the sixth consecutive day, BJP MP Varun Gandhi said MPs should face ‘no work, no pay’ if minimum business is not transacted, PTI reports.
"Good news about the government accepting united opposition’s demand of adjournment motion in Parliament. 6th straight day of no work. Current Lok Sabha has had fewest working hours since 1985. Time has indeed come for ‘no pay’ for MPs if minimum business not transacted, Gandhi said on Twitter.
He further said he felt "silly, getting paid to sit around drink coffee in Central Hall."
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Smriti Irani took on Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for his Twitter comments that MPs disrupting Parliament should not get any pay, accusing him of creating more controversies.
"Instead of answering questions on fears of small traders, small shopkeepers and unemployed youth, the chief minister of J.K is using his Twitter handle to create more controversies," Irani said.


Italian cat inherits over $15m fortune
London: An Italian cat has turned world’s third richest animal by inheriting her owner’s fortune of almost £ 10 million (over $ 15 million) after the wealthy lady died aged 94. Maria Assunta, the cat’s owner, died last month aged 94 and according to lawyers entrusted with her estate, she left the fortune in property to Tommasino, a stray cat she had found and looked after because of her love for animals, the Daily Mail reported. Assunta had a large property portfolio with homes and villas across the country, as well as several bulging bank accounts and share portfolios but no living relatives. The world’s richest animal is thought to be Gunter, a German shepherd with over 90 million pounds. In 1988, British recluse Ben Rea left his fortune of 9 million pounds to his cat Blackie. Lawyers Anna Orecchioni and Giacinto Canzona say Assunta left the fortune to Tommasino in a will she wrote and deposited with them in their office in Rome in October 2009.

Food is right – Shape is wrong
London: An Islamic cleric in Britain has banned women from touching ‘penis-shaped’ foods such as bananas or cucumber, in order to avoid any ‘sexual thoughts’. According to a report by el-Sawsana news, the unnamed Sheikh said that if women wish to eat these food items, a third party, preferably male relative, should cut the items into small pieces and serve. In a story reported on Egyptian news website Bikya Masr, the cleric said that these fruits and vegetables ‘resemble the male penis’ and could arouse women or ‘make them think of sex’. Carrots and courgette are also added to the list of forbidden foods for women, the Daily Mail reports. When asked ‘how to control women when they are out shopping for groceries and if holding these items at the market would be bad for them,’ the Sheikh said that this matter is between them and God. Answering another question about what to do if women in the family like these foods, the Sheikh advised the interviewer to take the food and cut it for them in a hidden place so they cannot see it. According to the report, the opinion has stirred a storm of anger among Muslims online, with hundreds mocking the cleric. One reader said that these religious ‘leaders’ give Islam ‘a bad name’ and another saying he should quit his post immediately.

What a stomach!
Raipur: It took S.N. Yadav a few moments to make sense of what he saw in the operation theatre.
After all, it isn’t every day a doctor sees a patient carrying six kg of metal – 421 coins, dozen of nuts and bolts and three key rings – in his stomach!
Though the doctor in Chhattisgarh’s industrial town Korba successfully completed the two-hour surgery on Kaleshwar Singh, a question is still hovering in his mind: "How was he carrying six kg of iron-made items for several months?"
The patient, however, died as his condition suddenly deteriorated.
The 26-year-old Singh was brought to Shristi Institute of Medical Research in acute pain. After serious blockage was found in his stomach in a sonography, Yadav decided to conduct an immediate surgery.
"I was stunned to find 421 coins, dozens of nuts and bolts and three key rings in his stomach.
The patient who survived the operation and showed signs of improvement for the first two days, died as his condition deteriorated all of sudden and efforts to save him went in vain," Yadav told IANS over phone from Korba, located some 220km north from Raipur.
Yadav said Kaleshwar was in acute pain for about three months and had consulted a few doctors in his village Korkoma, about 20 km from Korba, but his problem was not detected.
Kaleshwar’s family members thought he was suffering from some mania, which made him eat every thing he found.

1400 kids missing
Thane: A total of 1,480 underage children have been missing since 2006 from the satellite township of Vasai-Vihar in Thane district. Out of these, 962 children have gone missing from Nalasopara alone, Thane rural police told newsmen. Shockingly, the crime graph in Vasai-Vihar has been increasing for the past five years, sources from Thane rural police said. Criminals and other miscreants are finding Nalasopara a safe heaven for hiding. Many of the criminals who were externed from Mumbai and other places have taken shelter in the infamous slum areas of Santosh Bhuvan in Nalasopara (East), the police said.

It’s official : Mr Perfect does not exist!
London: Most women rank their partner as only 69 percent perfect, a new poll has found.
According to the poll of 2,000 women commissioned by Remington, not even one woman was found to be completely happy with her man.
When asked what would make the perfect man, a good personality came top, followed by a sense of humour and looks. "the average guy may not be able to compete with the image of a David Beckham, but there are still a number of small changes they can do to make a big difference," the Daily Mail quoted Nikki McReynolds, the marketing director for Remington as saying. When asked about the imperfections in men, failing to make an effort with their partner’s friends, criticizing their driving and the inability to multi-task were included in a list of 20 common shortfalls. Other male failings included leaving the toilet door open, watching too much sport and poor personal grooming. "It seems women are quite realistic on what they look for from their partner".
"While they might happily overlook a few common flaws, there are certain behaviours that men just won’t get away with," she said.
Leaving out nail clippings, growing a scruffy beard or being too much of mummy’s boy are other sure fire ways to guarantee ‘imperfection’.