But our top-heavy New Delhi decision-makers thinks otherwise!
UPA-II caught in multiple issues

National Advisory Council (NAC)’s ideas rejected by the rural development ministry, food ministry and others. NAC is National Food Security Bill (NFSB) is facing resistance from various administrative ministries.

With no idea of entrusting the jobs scheme to monitoring by panchayats and social audit by villagers and also ensuring subsidized food to poor families, there are on-going debates by all and sundry who have no legal authority to do what they are now doing.

There are various groups of do-gooders, busy bodies and others who adorn NAC, Planning Commission, and various PM’s advisory councils. The result is the present chaos, the scams and drift in governance.

NAC has acquired a special mystique and much incoherence at the same time. What is it doing? What are its new schemes? Simply because Sonia Gandhi heads it and as Sonia Gandhi is seen as the power behind the throne or the plain PM chair, it is because of this political conundrum, we see some skewed views about our own ideas of what constitutes development.

Are there many persons these days, who believe what the Prime Minister says about economic reforms? Very few and that too for the sake of form. There are too many busybodies in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

There are armies of members of the NAC, the Planning Commission and God knows how many are there in the various Prime Minister’s advisory councils. No one has a latest count of these busybodies. At least one expert or an observer of the New Delhi bureaucracy has come out with some cogent reasons why the Planning Commission, as an example, is an anomaly right now!

First, there is the current mood of disenchantment. Our economy, whatever the PM or his obliging advisers might claim to see or say, the economy is now scam-filled, it is now clear that there is vast corruption at the highest levels of the government. There is black money hoarded abroad. Now, what is news is that it is not the usual suspects, the underworld or the corrupt businessmen who would always break the law of the land and take the money abroad to put in Swiss banks or tax havens, it is the new class of politicians and bureaucrats who are the new practitioners of this art of taking bribes and transferring and hoarding abroad, who are now beyond the reach of the law and to put it differently, the new governance deficit which was pointed out by the new class of left-over good corporate leaders. But then what is the chance of a response?

Very little, it seems.

There is a case for new thinking for decentralised planning process. Let us activate the panchayats to monitor the 100-days work scheme. Or better abolish the scheme or merge with the agriculture development schemes. Otherwise, the welfare of rural labour, or landless labour in small and medium industries need many protection, social benefits, education and medical benefit.

Let the government give up the grand talk of economic reforms. The economic reforms is now driven by FDI and the big corporate initiatives. So, regulate and make the corporate venture adhere to law. Strengthen the governance culture. Choose the right persons for big ministerial assignment. The Prime Minister must strict to high standards. The PM must be seen as speaking the truth, taking Parliament into confidence.PM must interact with the common mass of people as often as possible.

The current practice cost his credibility dearly. Let us hope he decides to function differently or make way for others.

There is no inner -correction mechanism, there is no inner resilience in the political system.

That is the current tragedy.

It is now plain that there is internally huge diversion of funds for the 100-days work scheme, grandly called by some strange name associated with the Mahatma Gandhi. Please let us drop Gandhi from this scheme.

It is hugely misused and the states are becoming bolder and the Centre’s writ doesn’t run in these states. In TN, the ally DMK did the maximum damage. Two ministers, one in National Highways and another in the Telecom, did what others dared not to! Notorious corruption came to engulf the UPA_II and even after removing the two ministers, one by force and another by 2-G scam getting into the net of the Supreme Court. But then the development got hurt. National Highways is yet to recover its original momentum and telecom, one can’t be sure of when the whole mess will be sorted out.

The Prime Minister and his officials are rhetorically focused on economic reforms. Now, even the phrase economic reforms sounds a joke, if not worse still. What economic reforms in a state of oligarchical growth of favourites among the corporate honchos.

The Cairn-ONGC dispute on royalties, there are disputes about the royalties and the FDI in oil and gas, the ONGC would pay 100% royalty while it would hold only 30 per cent of the share holding. The government is yet to clarify the issues here.

This is not yet done and when it will be cleared up? Who is the minister in charge? What he is thinking and what are his thoughts?
There is no more any need for silence on this score. The public must know about the government’s thinking. Unfortunately, our MPs are not what their predecessors used to be. Knowledgeable MPs seem to be in short supply. It is for the Sonia Gandhi and PM duo to answer this question.

Yes, we can’t just talk in compartments. One issue and that leads you to the government and another lead takes you right into the 10 Jan Path conclave where very different set of operators with different mindset are perched as advisers and states-in charges!

As for winding up the Planning Commission it was set up by an executive order. It continues to exist. That is all. Under the Constitution public expenditure is scrutinised and approved by Planning Commission. Fund flows to the states takes place through Finance Commission, PC and Central sector and Centrally-sponsored schemes (css).Let us strengthen and revive the original Constitutional body. The issue needs in-depth study and one obvious case is the misuse and misutilised funds under the various Central sector schemes. No one knows the number of css! Once it was 455 and now pruned to 150.Not sure even now! There is no clarity about Plan and Non-plan schemes!

India still is a country of small scale enterprises and the bulk of the labour is unorganised and lacking all social protection .
It is this class of labour, hard-working and yet lacking in social benefits, the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council must give priority.

Not the fashionable labels or other such wild schemes that might drain resources but lacking in sustainability.
11% of  world carpets produced here. 41% of labour migrates to distant states for jobs.

One billion rail tickets are sold every year. Add the ticketless travel! This under-class contribute 43% to our exports.
Tiny non-agricultural enterprises employing less than 10 workers have increased by 110%in the last two decades.
In the organised sector 46% of the workforce belongs to the informal sector.

That is why formal employment figures remain rather constant, at 24 million, while the production in the organised sector has risen, it is because of the ragtag labouring class that has risen in numbers and hence the growth in production.

India still is a country of small scale enterprises and the bulk of the labour is unorganised and lacking all social protection . It is this class of labour, hard-working and yet lacking in social benefits, the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council must give priority.

Not the fashionable labels or other such wild schemes that might drain resources but lacking in sustainability.
11% of  world carpets produced here. 41% of labour migrates to distant states for jobs.

One billion rail tickets are sold every year. Add the ticketless travel! This under-class contribute 43% to our exports. Tiny non-agricultural enterprises employing less than 10 workers have increased by 110%in the last two decades. In the organised sector 46% of the workforce belongs to the informal sector.

That is why formal employment figures remain rather constant, at 24 million, while the production in the organised sector has risen ,it is because of the ragtag labouring class that has risen in numbers and hence the growth in production.

PC has failed to decentralise the planning process. It is now the reverse. For every small thing, we, both the state agencies and individuals travel to New Delhi and pay small and big bribes to get things done!

It is noted by one critic that most of the PC documents are rehashes of First Five Year Plan documents!

Much more damaging is to note that the Planning Commission members retired bureaucrats or failed politicians and as the current practice of nomination culture, you can get a nomination if you hang around, nomination for NAC, for PC or Rajya Sabha are all through a crony culture! Wiki Leaks has done a great national service by highlighting the weak governance mechanism at many levels of the government and the party. Let us not forget what Rajiv Gandhi said of the PC, a bunch of jokers! How unkind, one may wonder.

But now, considering the number of scams and scandals, what one to understand the reasons could be?

Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are cited as typical states with reportedly 2lakh crores and 2.5 lakh crores debt.

In TN it is wreckless populism and in W.Bengal no less. In W.Bengal you have an insatiable supply of cheap labour that travels all over India for jobs. In TN too there is migration of cheap labour for construction industry and the state continue to remain poor, despite its otherwise claims of development.

The point is that NAC which came out with the 100 days wage labour is now bedeviled by large scale corruption and diversion of funds.
We need a revamp and a new way of fixing responsibility to implement the scheme. There is also a clamour for scrapping the very NAC itself, whose members randomly and even whimsically selected and they come out with all sorts of wild schemes like the “free food for all” and other such highly populistic schemes that had already been shot down by the PM’s economic advisory council! What sort of work for these councils in rivalry?

Now, as for one more white elephant which the PM knows and yet he keeps mum and the whole non-work is funded. That is none other than the Planning Commission itself. Planning Commission, it is also pointed out, is not in the Constitution. There are so many constitutionally -mandated bodies and yet the Planning Commission that gathered much glamour in Nehru’s days and it retains its existence on that faded glamour.

Image Source : stockmarkettoday.in

From villagers to experts: what they say?
There is popular fear after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster!
But experts surveyed here say, almost uniformly, nuclear power is a superior solution to the all other alternatives.

Coal has ruined the environment, in USA and China, notably.
Oil and natural gas in short supply and prices fluctuate beyond affordability in s sustained manner.

Solar, wind and biofuels have their own limitations.Time to give a pause, some time and space for a relook at India’s nuclear vision and ambitions.

India has to articulate a new energy policy vision Growth, environment and alternative energy sources Now no clear vision for alternative energies Solar, wind power, biofuel are developed in the West. What about India?

A pause button would encourage anti-nuclear protestor’s agenda?
So, go ahead with the project as it is?

That seems to be the mindset of the new thinking?

Yes, this how the latest editorial in The Hindu (April 29, 2011) puts the current thinking in New Delhi. Yes, it seems so considering the very many ironies in the current decision making and the current engulfing confusion that makes the government’s functioning in Delhi.
See first the dates. The PM chairs the meeting, ironically and tragically also on the very day when the world, yes the outside world, not in any noticeable way in India, remembered the Chernobyl tragedy of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster. There have been many articles on the occasion. The PM or his colleagues might not care to remember that day nor did any of the high and mighty in the hierarchy said anything.
But the media said many things on that occasion.

And much more crucial is the fact that the USA, the patron-saint of the current incumbent PM and the regime, though lately they had shown some courage and went ahead and chose the European jet fighters for the Indian Air Force.

The nuclear lobby is much more powerful. This time we have not been told, certainly not at the Jaitapur meetings, the protests and the police firings, no one told, as far as we know, that it is more than 30 years since the happening at the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the USA they had not built any more nuclear power plant, right?
So, the USA, the most energy-consuming nation didn’t think it right to go for new nuclear power plants since the Three Mile Island accident.
Now, the Chernobyl and the latest, the Japanese Fuskushima nuclear disaster.

Even before the dust, as they say, settled down the PM had undertaken a 5-day overseas trip and went all the way to Kazakhstan ,where is it on the global map, and for heaven’s sake he has concluded another nuclear pact and spoken  very enlighteningly about the advantages of nuclear power and this is where we stand now.

As the Hindu wrote in the editorial, every word in the editorial sounds ironical, official assurances of transparency, the promise to put the post-Fukushima reviews of nuclear safety in the public domain and the latest, enactment of a new law on independent safety regulatory body etc are all; very ironical indeed given the latest developments in Delhi. The very functioning of routine institutions, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Lok Sabha has been reduced to a farce! There are grave questions of credibility and the legitimacy of the members of Parliament behaving as law unto themselves.

Can the PAC be converted into a shouting match and disruption and a new coalition with the SP and BSO MPs making for a quorum and also for joining hands with the DMK, the Congress MPs seem to set new standards of parliamentary behaviour.

So, where is the form and propriety, protocol?

The draft report of the PAC, for whatever it is worth, is now in the public domain. After Anna Hazare, everything in the Indian public life is now subjected to public curiosity and public scrutiny.
So, the draft report only makes the public fears and the public scepticism confirmed.

The PM, the PMOI, the Cabinet Secretariat and  the former Finance Minister P.Chidambaram, the way they went about in the sicharge of their functions would raise serious questions of the credibility of this government.

Manmohan Singh whatever may be his claims; he can’t justify much of what he had done so far in office.

There can’t be any easy excuse of get-away from facing the realities and the consequences.

The 2G scam is before the Supreme Court and it makes one extremely worried and concerned as for the health of the Indian polity and its democratic credentials. It looks as things are in the moment that Dr.Singh can’t go on as he imagines he is capable of.

The protest at the Jaitapur nuclear complex, the proposed complex is not going to any simply affairs of routine ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The protest again the nuclear power as an energy option is now dim.
The Indian public won’t be reassured any more by the bland reassurances by the PM nor by the very smart-talking Jairam Ramesh, the environmental minister.

The latest issue of the “Fortune” magazine (April 11 2011) No.5 has carried out a survey of opinion of six experts from the very filed where they have contributed some significant wisdom an expertise. Steward Brand, the editor of the White Earth Catalogue, Whole  Earth Discipline and Ecopragmatist Manifesto notes that  the 1986 Chernobyl, before that the Three Mile Island accident, now Fuskishima, he says the radioactive spread, the release of radioactive stuff is not yet on such a vast scale.

The media handled the coverage with restraint. Mr.Nathan Myhrvold, 13 years in Microsoft, now founded Intellectual Ventures says that older nuclear plants are different from the new ones being built by Westinghouse and GE. The real problems with the nuclear plants are the spent fuel storage. In the US Yucca Mountain storage consumed more billions and decades. No solution. In Tarapur also, no solution!
These our scientists too don’t talk about openly.

Can we trust the Singh regime to change all that with its proposed “independent regulatory body”?

The experience so far doesn’t raise any panic. Yet, now, whether the world can go forward for new nuclear renaissance?

The new WESTINGHOUSE AP1000 DESIGN IS SAFER, IT HAS A PASSIVE COOLNG SYSTEM, and the FUKUSHIMA have a 40-year old boiling system. So, it can be a safe way forward for new nuclear plants. But he warns that it can’t make us complacent. Tomorrow, in China or India something might happen, he warns us. At the same time, says this expert, that high concentrations of energy, be it gasoline or natural gas going through  a pipeline underneath in your neighbourhood can explode and create as much disasters as nuclear plant explosion.

In the USA, the four nuclear reactors that are being built by the Westinghouse means, it is reported, additional 5,000 new jobs! This is how the Indian nuclear industry is also seen in the USA. Yes, the current setback for the USA in losing the defence order for new fighter jet planes meant a setback for the Prime Minister who sees his political base also owing to US strategic support for his continuation in office. So, there is a widely suspect scepticism for the Prime Minister’s present urgency to push the Jaitapur nuclear facility.
This further complicates the atmosphere for a cool and detached and a balanced outlook for nuclear power industry in India.

India has to explore all the alternative energy sources.

Germany is an example. Germany has abandoned the old nuclear plants. It has shut down the older plants. It didn’t go for newer nuclear plants. It has gone for the aternative energies, specially, the wind power.
So each country has to review its nuclear industry history. So far, the Indian nuclear industry was based on the pretext of India seeks atomic power for peaceful uses. This claim is no more valid.

We are in a nebulous situation. Indian nuclear power, nuclear strategic claims are all mixed and confused and contradictory in some ways.
This, Geroge Bush himself acknowledged.

Even now, our vision, if such a word can be deployed is blurred as far as our nuclear “ambitions” as concerned.

Now, under the current state of Manmohan Singh’s dispensation there is every reason to go slow. To give a pause. To give some room for a wider public debate. To push matters as they have done in Jaitapur is to create more tensions in the policy. It could destabilise the g overnment.

He makes a very insightful statement that we have to see the issues globally, not from our own narrow, national perspectives. In Japan it was both earthquake and tsunami, tsumani is a Japanese word says another expert.

In the USA there are other reasons. So, for India too it may have to consider other dangers, environment certainly. So, there is not much to worry, it seems. There could be much more, a bigger calamity, he says and he points to climate change as the bigger threat, a new threat altogether. Mr.Micheael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, an environmental group of million members. He says that the USA was fighting for phasing out the coal-fired power stations, the 150th proposal for coal fired plant was blocked and we considered a victory. Now, the nuclear power plants too must be opposed?

No, he says there is alternative.

Iowa State has now 20% win power, Portugal has 45% solar. Now there are plans for 25% of off-shore supplies for US electricity needs. After the US experience with the BP gulf spill, there is much environmental concern for drilling more oil wells.

In India too we have now some other problem with our off shore drilling of oil and gas wells.

Reliance D^ well in the KG basin is not yielding as much output as it was promised and expected by the government. Gas output is hovering at about 50 million standard metres per day and it is lower than 20 per cent down. The point is that we have to articulate a new comprehensive energy policy vision.

Image Source : http://www.orissatv.com/UserFiles/FULLPAGE/Image/2011/vidya/jaitapur_n_plant_20110328.jpg

Why Microfinance is now a bad word?
Finance ministry must introduce a regulator for the agricredit monitoring

Yes, microfinance companies have now come under a cloud.

Andhra Pradesh government brought out an ordinance   in 2010 end and asked the RBI to probe the scandals that have come out now in the open.

There have been the usual suspect roles by the microfinance (MFIs). They competed for the same clients, the very poor and they over lent, multiple lending and the same result, namely, suicides of the poor borrowers who couldn’t reap.

Now, the story is not new and not much for debate or argument.
Our banking system failed in its original mandate when the big banks were nationalised by Indira Gandhi in a huff as it were to settle scores with Morarji Desai. In India, in the way we are running our government there is the tendency to excuse the original sinners. So, we find excuses for blaming the others!

If the finance ministry is doing its job then, it must have supervised the banking system to carry out its mandate. The priority sector lending was neglected and hence the few good banks that were serious about their social commitments let down the priority sector targets and hence there was this persistence with under banked sections.

We talk of financial inclusion, a bogus concept. How can you have an inclusion without an institutional framework, without institutions and without safeguards etc?

Lending to the poor has always been a difficult job; it is as old as the days of the Raj.
So, rural indebtedness was very old and the spread and the grip of the rural money lenders is also a hoary institution in India. Simply because the rulers in Delhi are lax and they are also as irresponsible as you and me!

We see what the finance ministry did in the latest scandal of the telecom minister. When the minister ignored the finance ministry’s guidelines the finance ministry under such a veteran like Pranab Mukerjee must have alerted the Prime Minister and the matter must have been brought before the Cabinet and the Prime Minister must have acted in time.

Now, the Prime Minister has paid a heavy price, his reputation is shattered by the serious remarks of the Supreme Court.

Even now, there is a tendency to avoid the serious sinners. Whereas the looted money with the telecom scandal? The money is with all sorts of people, the public knows the people. Certainly in Tamil Nadu it is public knowledge where the loot is held.

So, now to talk of microfinance as if it is a great discovery by some NRI is simple humbug.
It is one more innovation at recent times. Now, the Grameen Bank concept is at the root of the MFIs. Now, after the SKS scandal came out it was also revealed that one high profile investor, namely, N.R.Narayanamurthy of Infosys had also invested, he picked up equity in the SKS and everything seemed normal, Infosys investor made a huge swelling of his value and till the SKS scandal bust ,no one knew that Narayanamurthy was also in this pie.
Now, for Narayana murthy to speak in very polite and diplomatic language was the cruelest cut.

Why?

As a high profile seeker of ethic in corporate governance he must have taken an active role and went out of the way to defend the ultimate beneficiaries, the voiceless millions who thought they have a chance in the life to escape from the eternal poverty trap.
Now, Murthy made his money and he resorts to diplomatic language.

Why the CDO, Gurumani was sacked from his? No one has brought out the truth.
Nor, the fact why the SKS was doing its job in such blatant unethical manner, so huge salaries for the top dogs and so high and unjustified interests, as high as 46 per cent.
Yes, we know the microfinance is to take the loan to the door steps of the poor, this involves additional cost and also many visits and this also costs money.

But then, there is the ethical dimension to a rural credit business.
Doest Mr.Murthy knows this aspect?
Why doesn’t he articulate these aspects?

Now, the MFIs want the banks to lend them more money and the banks refuse to oblige them. In fact, if we look the issues more seriously and with some gravitas, the Central government must have come out with some new ideas, with so many advisers around the PM, all economists and so many are men with some vision or ideals or some other and they must have forewarned the government, the banking system, the RBI and the bankers and there must have some framework and system to regulate the new institutions.

Of course, the ideals are the co-operative institutions. Even with the private players entering the scenarios, we have the model of the Bangladesh Grameen Banks system.

Even with the self-help groups and joint liability lending etc., there is here a clear lapse on the party of the government.

Now, what? Now, surely we have to put in a regulator for the micro credit institutions.
There must be strict guidelines not to go for fat salaries and ostentatious lifestyles as Mr.Gurumani is alleged to have been doing. We are not sure. We may be mistaken.
There is however some uncomfortable feeling that with Akula and Gurumani and with Narayanamurthy joining them, there is this let-down feeling.

All high profile, all crave for moral high ground and we have government machinery in New Delhi, which as the Supreme Court now famously did calling us, collectively or otherwise, as inaction when it comes to preventing wrong doing on such vast scales!

Let us reform the private sector money lending business for the poor in right
earnest!

Image Source : topnews.in

Bangalore, India’s future face!
The best and brightest Indian youth throng to Bangalore!
High-tech India arrives on a bullock cart!

2,30,000 engineers, most of them young, are working in Bangalore IT firms and outsourcing companies.
China has a tech work force of 1,80,000 engineers.

China is one year behind India.

While other countries, even in Europe, are lagging behind India in such tech work force numbers.
Recently, there was this photograph in the newspapers.

A bullock cart fetches a new satellite dish on a bullock cart to the door steps of a newly set-up US software company, the first one to set up shop in Bangalore. It was a long time back, about 25 years ago. The last 25 years saw India emerge ,Bangalore city emerge, from a sleepy city, garden city of pensioners paradise to a bustling city we see today!

How this had happened?
This is a story that needs to be written about, a story that needs to be narrated more widely and sung in school text book songs!
Yes, in those days when you  walk through the Bangalore city roads, even in the then  fashionable roads like M.G.Road or Cunningham Road you won’t see any foreign company name plates. The first one name plate to change the scene came thanks to the US based Texas Instruments on the Cunningham Road and then the nearby Millers Road.

The satellite was driven on a bullock cart and unloaded and here is that picture that captures dramatically what we are saying here.
Today, Bangalore has something like 650 MNC companies or their branches or franchises.
In the year 1985 there was only a few. Infosys was started in 1981 and no one took notice of it’s for the next  twenty years or so.
Today it is an international icon.

Now, it is said by many that the US President Barack Obama is keeping himself awake all night and Bangalore is frightening him to his bones. In the last few months the US President failed for his words and the one word that constantly prop up in his imagination is Bangalore that had taken away the American jobs and the US unemployment at 9.6 per cent simply drives the American President for some solutions to the losing US jobs.
His prescription is to stop jobs to Bangalore, the off-shore jobs ,the US President thinks are jobs taken by the low cost Indian techies and the high tech sectors in the US are losing it out, may be forever!

That is the fear.

As for the Indian youth, more specially, the first generation rural youth, the well-educated and highly motivated and highly disciplined Indian youngster, both men and women, from the far -0ff North East, Bengal to Rajasthan  to Mumbai to other parts of India Bangalore is the new Mecca.

This is where a new divinity has cropped up. Bangalore means business opportunities. Bangalore is equivalent to business outsouring jobs for the entire world!
India is now taken seriously. As for the US President Bangalore is a nightmare, Bangalore is much feared.

The brain power of Bangalore is the new hope, the new strength and  new global power!

Texas Instruments(TI) then communications director , K.S.Narahari  stumbled upon this rare photo and that is how the Bangalore high-tech story is unfolded here.

The current anti-outsourcing campaign  in the Ohio state is simply because there is a crude fear that by banning the outsourcing of jobs somehow can be stopped.
This is sheer ignorance and failure to see what the IT technology holds for the future of the world. Internet revolution has simply reduced the  physical distance. The world is flat. This is now a 24/7 world.

The world is always awake.
Round the clock, round the world everyone is working.

India is a young country. There is so much of educated skills power.

Internet ideally suits and drives this economy, a virtual economy where you can get things done at the minimum cost.
Can you argue, however nationalistic you are you will do your jobs only within your own geography. This madness.

Now Bangalore houses the best MNCs all in a few streets. Drive down the old airport road. You would come across IBM, Intel, Reuters, Dell, Microsoft and these are only the big names. All the other American names, Oracle, Accenture are there.

Cisco has built its second headquarters here. Cisco also has reportedly shifted 20 per cent of its top executives to the city. Alcatel-Lucent  is planning to invest 500 million to set up its global services base in India. Capgemini announced last week that it will make India its global services base here. By the end of this year its 35 per cent of employees will be based in India. Its largest office outside USA is in India. Other global brands, Microsoft, Yahoo, Adobe and Google have a similar story to tell you!
Computers came to India as soon as they were out in the USA. Not the IBN big machines but the desk top computers. In 1985 one could walk down the MG Road and saw one-one room office of the WIPRO! Today it is a giant!

In 1985,the only business book on the roadside book stalls is the IBM Way! With a dark blue colored suited man on the jacket!
Today business books are   dime a dozen, it is now ebay, kindle, e-book readers.

Today an average techice, reads his or her books on the I-Pad or kindle and as soon as the newspapers come out in the morning, be it in New York or London or  Shanghai, you can scan the newspapers just at the next second!

So, we in Bangalore scan the newspapers from around the world capitals in a matter of minutes.
So too the books, no more we order even on the ebay.

We can just download and read them on the ebay e-book reader!

So life today in the tech capital of India is fast and at the same time very invigorating and exciting.
India’s competitive edge, say observes ,lies in Indians’ innate and innovative capabilities.

So, business enterprises to thrive only on their innovative business models and strategies.

Today’s India sees lots of new billionaires and millionaires. In Mumbai it is a stock exchange culture that drives business.
In Bangalore just the opposite.

New startups, new linkages, new It tools, Google, Facebook, Twitter and these are the roads to success.
Be it business or even in social and other areas of life.

Bangalore is India’s future face. So be it!

Infosys struggled for the first 19 years to reach a turnover of 100 million. By 2008 it grew by 40 times to touch 4 billion.

So, now in Bangalore it is all about billionaires and millionaires.

The Bangalore roads are choked to death by the new and latest foreign brand luxury cars. In five minutes time the chances are you might be caught by such models like the latest Mercedes, Volkswagon or Skoda or BMWs.

The public transport in Bangalore is now a marvel of latest technology. Besides the latest Volvos, you will now see the latest Mercedes buses and other models.
There is now a new metro. The flyovers of Bangalore makes you feel you are in San Fracisco!

The youngsters sport latest fashion clothing. Saris are becoming rarity, the changeover to modern dress codes is now a standard.
So too the use of latest gadgets. You will see in an auto rickshaw youngster using their laptops!

You can pick up your latest Apple i-phone or a laptop. We are all eagerly awaking the coming of latest  I-pads!

Kumari Selja

It is reported the Prime Minister has given the housing and urban poverty alleviation minister Kumari Selja two books by the visiting Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto. The books by the economist are called the poor man’s capitalist, the books by the economist who seems to have created urban housing the in the slums there in his country. What is new in the books? No one so far has told us. There are so many eminent persons in the government, in the PM’s  advisory councils, experts outside who advise on urban poverty and transport, why, we have such outstanding names like eminent architect, Charles Correa who has written extensively and he is one who has been associated  with the Mumbai urban development, slum housing projects and townships.

Much more significant he is one person who is a big visionary and  a thinking sort of creative solution provider.

If the government is really serious about tackling urban poverty and slum cleaning, slum housing, then, the country must get to know what the thinking of the government is on such a vital subject.

Correa says in his latest collection of essays that the cities are the very future of the country and the cities are the precious natural resources and as other natural resources,  as he says, like the coal reserves of Bihar and the mineral reserves of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. So, the city spaces must be treated as the natural resources of the country, of the entire people, the poor and the rich who both live and work in the city.

Now, what is happening, asks Correa.

Now, the physical spaces of the cities are plundered, the scarce space is invaded by the powerful and the mighty, first the politicians  who are not elected by the voters of the Mumbai municipal corporation limits and the accountability for spending the scarce natural resources of the cities is almost nil. Says Correa without mincing any words: the Chief Minister of the state in which a city is located, say, as Mumbai or Chennai , and the elected politicians, the state government and the ruling party politicians go to make the most.

The ruling parties mobilize their funds by using and abusing the floor space index and other rights to plunder the scarce resource like the urban space and this is now accelerating, it seems, says Correa, without any thought for the people who live and occupy the urban space, in particular, the slums, the slum dwellers now increase without any thought of any future or the ruling elite also live happily without any thought of the future as well, we have to say.

So, what is  happening today?
The PM might make some gestures as he invites the Peruvian economist and expert and also gift his cabinet colleague the books he might want her to red and benefit.
But for what benefit or for what end result?

It is quite clear that the urbanization process is now relentless and  the further intensification of the process would only multiply the slum creation.
Says Correa: the first characteristic of a city is its transportation system.  First, the people from the outside, from the rural areas come into the city by the available  transportation means, usually by roads and the railways. Once they come in the search for settling down, this usually happens on the pavements or any other open space that is left vacant for even a day or two. Then, they move about in search of an earning. It could be anything, from begging to other menial jobs and one after another the new migrants start find a dwelling, it could still be a busty, a shanty location and once the slums start sprouting other things follow.

Problems only multiply, not the solutions, from water supply to hygiene to other questions arise.

So, we have got to a situation that is now a common sight. The more the cities expand, more are the slums and more are the urban problems.

Unless there is a long-term vision and a long-term thinking and a long term plan, there can’t be a satisfactory solution, no sustainable urban development infrastructure, and urban governance in short.

How to do urban governance?

A big question that of course has many answers and many approaches.

One obvious model is the urban governance model  put out by the Bangalore Corporation during a previous government and now followed in some form or other by the present government.

There  are of course so many issues here.

As listed out by Correa, it is the large scale corruption in urban governance which ,as he says again so perceptively, part management and part political.

It is the political that is critical, that is part of the problem and part of the solution.
Urban space is the most precious resource and so we have to plan for preserving and conserving the precious national and natural resources.

What is interesting, please note, interesting is the word, is the news that the visiting Peruvian economist is known for his new theory, it is new because we haven’t heard before, is that he wants to give the slum dwellers property titles and land ownerships.
That is both interesting and intriguing.

Why? Because of the many populist policies pursued by the state and the central government, property titles have almost become non-existent, you talk of property, and then you get into so many convoluting terms and endless discussions.

Today, to hold a property title even to a small piece of land even if it is inherited from family origins is challenged in the courts, increasingly out of the courts owing to the rise of populist democratic politics.

The point here is that the government seems to be just drifting and has no definite plans or ideas to tackle the urbanization issues.

Yes, there have been many new initiatives, the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Mission and also there are now huge urban infrastructure  developments, metros, flyovers and massive housing projects. The developments that are  taking place in the private sector housing, the big players all bring to the Indian urban scene the foreign  development models.
So, there is every reason to believe that while the huge political corruption would push things in the urban space sharing in its own momentum and direction(what alternative is there for political parties to mobilize funds?)And as long as the huge corruption is brought into within manageable proportions, we have to look at the urban developments only in an international perspective.

At the end of the day, it is how the general public, the people see what a government does or doesn’t do.

But there is every reason to feel that things are going only in the right direction.
The National Highways have opened up the countryside and there is very little incentive to abandon the rural India to itself. It is getting integrated with the urban conglomerates.
The telecom revolution is another big new element that  would  connect  the cities and the rural hinterland.

There would be a process of suburbanization and the further dispersal of the urban population as prosperity grows.

The IT revolution is also creating its own momentum, the tier ii and tier iii cities would all become centres of growth and this would only augment the housing stock and ease the pressures on the more developed city centres in the big metropolises.

Urbanisation is only a continuous process.
There is no reversal or any halt to this process.

It is the new prosperity, the new wealth and the spreading effect of the new, a sort of a new “money order economy” that transfer  the funds from the urban centres to their rural  hinterlands.

So, we have to take a positive look and wait for the wisdom of the Peruvian economist as to how  the poor can have landed property rights and the new illusion of slum owners catching up with our present plight in owning lands in the urban centres and more challengingly in the rural agricultural environment.

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