Tuesday, September 26, 2006

MOST VITAL , YET THE MOST NEGLECTED…………

Whenever we talk of development and taking INDIA into the league of developed nations, whenever we proudly present Vision 2020, almost invariably the focus shifts to two vital issues. Two issues which will decide the fate of our development. Which will decide whether we get into the league of developed nations. But the irony is that these two remain the most neglected areas in our country and governments continue to be apathetic.

The first of them is the poor and the farmers. The major neglect of the farm sector has led to increased debt burden and increased pressure. There are no alternate sources of livelihood. This has led to the inevitable. Suicides. There have been instances when governments brushed aside suicides claiming that this has become a fashion. Death is a fashion in their realm of thinking.

Even as the Congress CM’s were brainstorming on how to induct Rahul Gandhi into main stream congress politics, 10 more farmers left this world. Few more weavers had their last breath. Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan singh acting as if the Rural gods of INDIA stressed the need for immediate remedial measures. But these have been very few and far.

In course of my research stints on various issues to improve my knowledge, I came across a shocking story. The plan mooted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This will be the final deathblow to the already crippling life of farmers.

The plan being, RBI has constituted a 6 member committee in May 2006 asking them to come up with modalities to implement a grand idea. The idea is , From now on Banks will lend to the Money lenders directly at low interest rates from their burgeoning reserves thanks to increased savings by the middle class. The moneylenders will then be responsible to disburse loans to the poor and the farmers. They will legalize this. The logic being,Money lenders have the largest network and the widest reach. They will enact a law legalizing this and putting in place provisions to provide loans at nominal interest rates. This will institutionalize the Rural credit system. Also the money lenders have a proven track record of 100% loan recovery by means of coercion etc. This is where banks have failed. So they feel it will be an efficient system. This is their idea.

They are justifying the high interest rates citing the high maintenance costs that are a part of rural credit system. This is due to the fact that the loans are small in size and there are ought to be many more transactions involved. Banks cannot take it on themselves according to them. This will be the final deathblow to the farmer who is already on the brink of extinction. Money lenders will now have the legal sanctity to coerce and recover loans. We already know how these people maintain two accounts (one for the black money and one for the white)and grow their kitty of black money. This step will further encourage them and they will go scott free. This step will be regressive one. The fact being in these troubling times ,the state should have come forward and help the farmer,take the onus on itself. Rather it is getting away from its responsibility.

The second issue being compulsory primary education. There was this grand plan of Right to Education Bill. This would have revolutionized the primary education system. It would have become a fundamental right. There are 6 crore children out of school. We are busy drafting Office of profit bills. But when it comes to primary education, both the center and the state shy away from their responsibilities.

Primary education was a state subject initially. But keeping in view the importance and the need for a uniform policy, this was put in the Joint list of subjects of state and center. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan(SSA) was one such initiative where the center and the states should fund in the ratio of 75:25. Not even 20% of the funds allotted for this year have been spent by the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The draft education bill would have cost us an additional 44000 crores. The over all spending on education will be less than 2% of GDP even with the additional layout.
Government is not ready even to take this burden. The bill is on the back burner now. Only GOD knows if this bill would ever come to light. Instead the center is pushing it onto states to device their own strategies.

The children and their future will in no way influence electoral politics. This is the reason why education is such a neglected subject. Never in our elections, you would see a leader stressing on the need for better education.

The people affected by these two issues are almost 70% of our population but still the issues which are ought to be the most vital are the most neglected. Unless special emphasis is laid on these two issues and immediate remedial measures are taken, Developed Nation is a distant dream and Vision 2020 will remain a utopian word.

On my part, I will try my best to educate people and do my best to find more voices to echo my views so that they make a huge sound and shake the apathetic Government……………….


JAI HIND

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"VANDEMATARAM"....ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED..



वन्दे मातरम्


सुजलां सुफलां मलयजशीतलाम्सस्य श्यामलां मातरंम् .

शुभ्र ज्योत्सनाम् पुलकित यामिनीम्फुल्ल कुसुमित द्रुमदलशोभिनीम्,

सुहासिनीं सुमधुर भाषिणीम् .

सुखदां वरदां मातरम् ॥


I bow to thee, Mother,

richly-watered, richly-fruited,

cool with the winds of the south,

dark with the crops of the harvests,

The Mother!

Her nights rejoicing in the glory of the moonlight,

her lands clothed beautifully with her trees in flowering bloom,

sweet of laughter, sweet of speech,

The Mother, giver of boons, giver of bliss.

In the annals of history, these will remain the most effective 6 lines that galvanized an entire nation,some 500 million people and shook the British raj so much that they found ways and means to add communal color to these lines and imposed a ban.

Today we are 100 years hence..fighting whether to sing those lines..whether our religion would accept those lines…..adding communal color to this….and happily letting the fundamentalists have their say……

I will once again be called a communal after this…I am the least worried for I believe some things are beyond religion..they transcend all boundaries…they find their place in peoples hearts…vandemataram is one such……

What is wrong if you equate nation with mother?…after all it is your mother that is the very reason for your existence..what is wrong if you call this nation BHARAT MATA?

You had no problem when you sing and dance to A R Rehman’s vandemataram….why is the problem now?

The congress has started its dirty politics again…BJP for its part is adding to the politics….You will never let this nation grow out of these narrow barriers…..

There are mullahs,imams issuing fatwas…..for what…if some muslim sings,will he cease to be a muslim?

If there are issues with the song that it is about hindu deities..so be it….i have no problems in reciting the gayantri mantra or a verse from Quran if it symbolises nationalism…if it can galvanize an entire nation…..

I am angry.. I am frustrated…I am fed up……but there are some things that give you solace…..i will recite vandemataram in the peak of my voice…till my voice breaks down….to remember those who gave their lives for us…for us to live happily today with all our comforts ....


VANDEMATARAM…..one word…one mantra…that is more powerful than a nuclear bomb…remember those who gave their lives for u…

Celebrate the spirit of freedom struggle…live in the moment…..



with tears in my eyes.....

VANDEMATARAM……
JAI HIND
BHARAT MATA KI JAI


Monday, August 28, 2006

SATYAMEVA JAYATE..................

Today was my hearing with the state information commission. I had earlier filed a petition with the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad(MCH) regarding details of property tax collection in an area called prashashan nagar. I ran around MCH and the circle office for about 15 times. I complained to the commissioner(MCH) after 33 days. Still the same. Then i had no other option but to approach the state commission. Today was the hearing. It was supposed to start at 4pm. I went in at around 4.02pm. They were already waiting for me! MCH was represented by Deputy commissioner Koundinya and some additional commissioner. The state commissioner was K.Sudhakar Rao. I had to apologize for being late. Then i was asked put forward my points...here they go....

1. I filed the petition on 24th march. Then filed the first appeal on 27th april. Finally i appealed to the state commission on 2nd June. I received a reply only after some 95 days on 28th June. My application was rejected on the grounds that this would "disproportionately divert the resources of the concerned public authority". How funny......
2. They sent my application back and forth for about 20 times between the MCH head office and the circle 5 office. Each time i had to track the where my application was wasting my time. If this back and forth business did not disproportionately divert the resources, then i am very sorry at the functioning of the corporation.
3. There is no mechanism in MCH even to take the mandatory fees of Rs10/-. Every time i would ask them, they say not required. After all it is not their money.
4. I am very disappointed at both the way my application was handled and also the reply. If this is the way the so called hi-tech corporation of hyderabad operates, then i have no words to say.

Then started the fun....the state commissioner repeatedly asked the MCH ppl as to why was my application rejected. Neither they knew the law nor the section written that was used as an excuse to reject my application. Some intelligent guy in MCH suggested that the application can be rejected on these grounds and they blindly did so. They didn't read the act. They knew nothing about the act. All that they knew was to read from some letter which was sent to me as reply. The MCH authorities were like convicts sitting and me the victim. The judge started blasting them left and right....i was just happy to look at the fun...after all the discussions, a first warning was issued to MCH and here is the outcome of the hearing.....

1. MCH is severely reprimanded and an official letter will be sent to the commissioner,MCH in this respect.This is the first and last warning.
2. The requested information will have to be provided within 7 days from the day the order is issued.
3. The cost of providing information,(as they would surely be voluminous records) will have to be borne by the concerned authority.
4. That cost of providing information will be deducted from the salary of the concerned authority according to section 7 sub clause 6 of the RTI act.


I thanked them and came out. The MCH officials were still sitting in his cabin. may be trying to influence him. But whatever, the system which i strongly believe in has once again proved that truth prevails.....it is a victory of sorts....

SATYAMEVA JAYATE......

I am eagerly waiting for the information..........

Thursday, August 17, 2006

RIGHT TO EDUCATION 2 FREEDOM UNDER CONSTRUCTION???

How are both these related?May look weird....i will come to that point later....

The only silver lining of the reservation fracas was that after a long time, the focus shifted to education. Providing quality primary and secondary education. Then i was overwhelmed when i heard that right to education bill will be passed.Right to Education Bill that aimed to make education a fundamental right for children between 6 and 14. After all that crap about eqaulity,merit etc..finally sense prevailed. Why is this bill such a significant step?

A recent survey on education in INDIA suggests that 75% of the children study in govt schools. The dropout rates are high and it is only the lure of midday meals that is keeping these kids in school.

When there was this talk of merit etc, i had only one question to ask...Is merit inborn?Not at all..may be to an extent it is inborn, but beyond that it is where you live,how you are broughtup,what you read,what you see that shapes your merit. I will give you three simple examples and then you yourself decide on this senseless argument. Just look at the contrast....

1. 60% children of this country dont have a room to sit and study ,but the other lot who talk of merit dont even come out of the fourwalls. They step out into AC cars,AC class rooms and finally even one day into AC play grounds.
2. The first lot dont have books to read where as the second lot also cannot read because they are not in a position to decide on which publisher,which series to read.
3. The first lot always are worried about their next meal where as the second lot also resort to fasting because of their diets.

And they go on....you talk of merit,equality and all that crap. Dont look at the ideal world. Look at reality and then decide.

The present spending on education is abt 47000 cr. The draft bill(education bill) which makes right to education a fundametal right and that will ensure free and compulsory education to all children is being buried under the carpet and the states are being asked to come up with alternate plans. The reason "economically not viable". The additional costs would be round 36000 cr which makes the total spending abt 83000 cr which is much less than 99000cr(3% of GDP) of what the UPA has envisaged in its CMP. Arjun singh is in a hurry to push the reservation bill, but when it comes to education bill, it is ecnomically and politicaly not viable. And moreover the 17 crore kids that will be affected do not form the vote bank and they cannot vote.

And then comes FREEDOM UNDER CONSTRUCTION. We at BHUMI started laying the pillars on aug15th 00:00 hrs. A neverseen event before,overcoming all odds. YOu had to be there to experience what was it like.For me personally, this was an event that reinforced my faith, that turned hostility into confidence, a preview of what future holds for BHUMI. Just go to http://www.bhumi.in/ and experience. I was speechless that night,but as sun rose, i began to realize the immense responsibility that was put on us. Never before an indeopendence day was so special to so many people. This independence day impacted 700 kids....rest assured.....coming independence days will impact greater numbers and one day the entire one billion....

As our president said,

"August 15th,2006 will be a red letter day in the history of New India.It is not about patriotism or about history.It is about the responsibility and the fitting respect to the tri colour.Theatmosphere..the spirit,the energy and the will demonstrated has re-inforced my faith in the power of numbers. I
would like to tell every single one of you that i am extremely proud of all of us and the courage we demonstrated by taking the responsibility of New India in our hands.while it is a moment which calls for celebration..most of us understand that the only problem with victory is that it increases expectation,responsibility and commitment.It is exactly how i feel now...that we have a greater cause,responsibilty and essentiallity to keep the spirit alive. Freedom and Patriotism are strange things..they become insignificant if they are called on for one day in a year.We at Bhumi,need to believe that everyday is a challenge ..everyday it is the same India we talk about and see.It is everyday that this spirit needs to be cultivated and nourished.It is only then that the New India that we dream about...might come one step closer.And Bhumineeds all of you. I personally think all of us are assets in our own little way..with the honesty,passion and the will that we bring to Bhumi.
From Marketing to Publicity, Website to Ground Work ...it was a brilliant show guys! And imagine if our debut was a century..we can only get better. Let us make a collective promise and a commitment in our own capacity that we pledge ourselves to the cause of a Better India...let us pledge ourselves and remember everry day that BHUMI is here to stay....and it has become a movement now.It is now or never..let the momentum going !!! Proud of You Guys!!!"


And now to the relationship between these two. Right to education was a hope which was ruined by the stupids. But at teh same time, BHUMI started a movement which has replaced my anger with hope to bring about a change.

I wish to be the prime minister of INDIA one day.... turning all these strong foundations of freedom that we are constructing into a huge edifice that the world would be jealous of.............

And between all these, the first hearing of my petition to the state information commissioner is scheduled for 28th of august....the other side will be MCH...lets see what transpires

JAI HIND!!!
FREEDOM UNDER CONSTRUCTION!!!
JOIN BHUMI for there will be no second chance to make history...................

Friday, July 14, 2006

ALL IN ONE...............

Its been a long time since i posted...I have so many issues to write on....which is why this all in one....

LIFE's CHANGED:
---------------------

Life can change in a matter of hours or even seconds. And for me it is even more applicable as my life has taken a virtual U turn the moment i met Divya(BHUMI). What followed is as they say history. Now here I am ready to join BHUMI full time. Did i ever imagine even in my wildest dreams that we would design this country's future sitting in the lawns of necklace road. Every day you have crossed a new hurdle. A new achievement. Such is life. Now we r a BHUMI family sharing everything from happiness to worries to what not ice creams, ideas on how to develop INDIA. Each day has something new for us. New challenzes to look up to. We njoi each other's company. Though there r some dull moments(there shud be some for it is life),by and large we are all happy and geared up for all the challenzes ahead. Life's changed a lot for me. Earlier it used to be only me with all my ideas dumped into a side of my brain. Now you have few more to work with for the same cause and more importantly with the same passion and conviction. Soul mates is the general term used to describe us. I am not even in a position to imagine what is in store for me.........


FARMER SUICIDES--VIDHARBHA--PM VISIT
-----------------------------------------------------

"Had there been a waiver of debt of up to just Rs.25,000, more than 80 per cent of Vidharbha's farmers would no longer have owed the banks money"

writes P.Sainath in THE HINDU. he is one of my favourite writers. On the surface when i first heard abt the package , i was happy that some sense prevailed at last and the farmer is getting his due. But now as i closely look at it and look into the details of the package, it is only that the packing has changed but the contents are still the same. Some down points are
>there is no waiver of loans
>There is no advance bonus for cotton
>There are no concrete steps to provide irrigation facilities to more land
>There are no incentives for food crops like Jowar
>But there is encouragement for "seed replacement" which amounts to encouraging BT cotton and MNC's
> there is no help with seed or other inputs. Not even a promise of it.
>Since the principal amount has not been waived, the debt crisis will renew itself rapidly

sainath goes on saying,
"Nor did it announce a debt waiver though many in power know there is no escape from such a measure. Some government of India will have to do this at some point. Sure, it would draw flak and cries of `fiscal imprudence' from the ideologically devout. (Though, when tens of thousands of crores are written off for a handful of industrialists, that is barely reported. Unlike that pampered lot, farmers have landed where they are due to policies hostile to agriculture for over a decade.) "

As my previous post clearly shows what amount of loans are written off for industrialists(it is the official estimate by RBI), you can imagine the plight of the farmer.

Nothing is going to change unless there is a strong will to do something............

TERRORISM--PAKISTAN
------------------------------
The Mumbai blasts again proved the devilish side of pakistan and proved that a dog's tail can never be straightened. The foreign minister of pakistan says "Till J n K is not resolved, this will continue"... On the other hand the pseudo secularists are out again to back the terrorists. Mulayam singh Yadav was one of the first ones backing SIMI. When you such ppl in your own country, how can you fight your enemy.

Of what use are the cultural exchanges,CBM's, Aman setu's, etc etc when you are reluctant to change your mindset and that devilish nature. Again i know that i will be called communal, but i will close this debate once for all saying that i am communal for all those who are pseudo secular.
I cannot physically go to mumbai and and condole the deaths. I am saluting the resilience of mumbaikars and Indians and the spirit of Humanity. I will write letters to the families of the bereaved. This is my way of expressing the grief.

We cannot wait for long. Once for all we may have to settle scores with pakistan.......


BHUMI UPDATES --FREEDOM UNDER CONSTRUCTION
------------------------------------------------------------------

मंजिल पे आया मुल्क हर बला को टाल के
सदियों के बाद फिर उड़े बादल गुलाल के
हम लाए हैं तूफ़ान से कश्ती निकाल के
इस देश को रखना मेरे बच्चों सम्भाल के
In english....
The nation arrived at its destination, after surviving many calamities and
after several centuries, celebrated the freedom by throwing coloured powder
We (the older generation) have steered this ship during the terrible storms,
You, my children, keep this nation safe.
This was wriiten by poet pradeep describing the magical moment of freedom.....

On aug 15th,2006,00:00 hrs, a group of Bharat Mata's Children will start building a compound wall of a government school long neglected. This event will kick start in what is going to be a long journey in ensuring that this nations's safety,pride,future are in the safe hands of the young guns....Join the revolution....for you are not doing any service..but it is your responsibility...your time to payback MOTHER INDIA...for more details,contact rakesh.dubbudu@gmail.com or visit http://www.bhumi.in/

JAI HIND
BHARAT MATA KI JAI

Thursday, June 08, 2006

THE FIGHT CONTINUES.........

I am always of the opinion that we will never be a developed nation if we continue to ignore the poor and the farmer. Let alone in 2020 not even in 2050. A couple of months back on apr 10th, Sharad pawar (the union agriculture minister) was in hyderabad. The meeting that day was hyped up as it laid down a grand plan to alleviate the Farmer's suffering. The 35 districts where the farmer suicides were high were considered for a comprehensive package based on a six point formula. This package was to come into effect within 2 months. But there has been no talk of it off late. 2 months have passed and any slight hopes of getting this implemented during this Kharif season have vanished.

There is this hope of a good monsoon this year resulting in a good yield in KHARIF. But the callous nature of the govt has put an end to any kind of hope. The comprehensive package would have given the farmer that much more confidence and strength during tough times. The comprehensive package includes crop insurance,weather insurance,livestock insurance etc.
The farmer still finds it difficult to get a loan(forget the 7% interest). He has to go back to the money lender as he is denied loan by banks. Despite ostensibly strict instructions from the govt , Banks continue to deny new loans. The argument put forward is the credit history. Farmers never pay back the loans. From where will he pay back? He doesn't even have enough to eat twice a day. This brings me to the issue of loans. When there was this argument of farmers having a bad credit history, i was very curious to know the credit history of corporate business houses.

I filed an RTI petition with the Reserve bank of india (RBI) asking them the amount of debts related to corporate business houses (the seemingly sincere ones)written off by banks for 3 consecutive years.(2002-03,2003-04,2004-05). I was denied information initially saying that they dont maintain those records bankwise and corporate business wise etc. I had a heated argument with the PIO(public Information officer). He then asked me to file a fresh petition if i wanted a summary bank wise. This was totally unjustified. He did not furnish the information requested in the first place and then he asks me to file a fresh petition. I then appealed to the deputy Governor (Rakesh Mohan) of RBI who also is the appelate authority. There also the arguments continued and finally common sense prevailed. (which I consider a big victory)The PIO was directed by the deputy governor to provide the information i requested for. After almost 2 and a half months, i received the information today. You will be surprised to know the credit history of the so called honest and sincere corporates.

In 2002-03, Banks (nationalised,private etc) wrote off 11,619.70 crore rupees of loans of corporate business houses.
In 2003-04, Banks (nationalised,private etc) wrote off 13,489.56 crore rupees of loans of corporate business houses.
In 2004-05, Banks (nationalised,private etc) wrote off 10,876.74 crore rupees of loans of corporate business houses.

Just have a look at the figures and decide for yourself. when it comes to the rich and powerful, every rule is flouted and you are not even bothered to write off loans worth thousands of crores.
All the proposals, packages meant for the rich and powerful get approved overnight. Banks stand in queues to offer loans at throw away interest rates. Bureaucrats work overnight to complete their work. You could have implemented so many developmental schemes with the money written off.

But when it comes to the poor and the farmer, the banks turn them away. Forget the 7 % interest rate, you dont even get a loan.

It is still the rich and powerful that rule this country and twist every rule in the book to their advantage. The poor and the farmer are ignored. Goverments can happily continue to do so at their own peril.
The day is not far away when there will be a revolution. The poor will raise their voice. All you rich and powerful, will be toppled from your castles.

Till such time THE FIGHT CONTINUES and I will be on the side of the poor as a part of their army……………………………….



Monday, June 05, 2006

COLLAPSING PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM--YOUTH---REALITY CHECK

We generally say that some things cannot be described, they can only be experienced like Sachin’s innings against pakistan in the 2003 worldcup, splendor of tajmahal etc. This is also true for the other category. Unfortunately I am not going to talk about the first category. I am going to describe the second category “Osmania General Hospital(OGH)”.

Last week was really hectic at BHUMI . We visited OGH a couple of times trying to prepare an operational plan for the sanitation drive on June 11th. In course of these visits, the dark truth about how public health system in INDIA is collapsing came to fore.

Individual stories of how poor ppl are suffering stuck us. As one of my friends put it,

~ an old man sleeping in his own excreta.
They didn't have enough attenders to pick him up and take him into the Hospital. No responsible ones anyway.
~ a boy, hardly 9 years old, covered in blood and whose leg had been cut through, by an electric saw or something. They didn't have enough cotton in the emergency wards.
~ the burns ward, with 18-19 year old girls. All dowry cases, apparently.
~ the unending beds filled with people who had bandaged limbs
~ the undisposed syringes, the dried blood.. all in the passage way.

And they go on………………..

But just how much of emotional pressure can your mind withstand? You will atleast get 10 such stories daily. Will you just think about them for a while and help them in your individual capacity in whichever way and leave?is this the solution? We have decided not to do that. We will change the system. We will not leave the hospital until we bring about a substantial change.

Is it that there is lack of good,committed individuals at OGH? No, not at all. There are wonderful doctors with lots of conviction living in the rotten system but still helping those under previleged. By any which way you look at it, it is still the biggest hospital in the world in terms of the average number of patients treated /day. There are hundreds that are coming out out of it cured. But why are we critical? The supposed to be largest and best hospital is today in tatters. Corruption is institutionalized. No infrastructure to meet the growing demand. Let alone the sophistaicated modern instuments, there is acute shortage of the basic things such as syringes,cotton,stretchers etc. But why is this so?

It is worth looking at some statistics :

1. India constitutes 16.5% of the world’s population where as its share in number of patients is 25%
2. Expenditure on health as a % of GDP is a shocking 0.9% where as even in the poorest country of the world(Nepal), it is around 5 %. In the pre - liberelisation era of the 80’s, this used to be around 1.5 %.
3. Out of the total expenditure that is incurred on health related problems, 80% comes from the people whereas 20% comes from the Govt. This scenario is exactly opposite in european countries where the Govt spends 80%. In a country where 60% are not in a position to even earn their daily living, you leave it on them to take care of their helath expenses. No wonder that the public health system is collapsing.
4. More than 90% of the villages never heard of anything known as health insurance.
5. for every lakh of ppl,you have only 59 doctors.
6. In OGH, where there is a requirement of 900 odd nurses, there are only 300 odd.

You proudly talk about the buoyant economy,markets,software industry and all those hi-fi stuff about which not even half the population is worried about.Of what use is your economic growth when poor ppl are dying due to lack of proper health care ? what do poor ppl have to do with your sensex crossing 12000 or FII’s investing billions of dollars? What do poor patients have to do with the pro-reservation or the anti reservation rallies? What do we have to do with offices of profit? What all we want is basic things just to live in bare subsistence levels. We are not demanding you to give us pizzas to eat ot capuccino’s to drink.....

As a country, we are failing miserably. Always mired in their own happy world of PVR,pizzahuts ,pubs etc the youth of today is not at all concerned barring a few.
I challenze all the medicos who were protesting against reservations ,tell me how many of you ever protested demanding better infrastructure, better facilities to poor ppl?
We (govt and ppl) have to set our priorities right. To better this situation, you need a suatianed and concerted effort from all those involved.

We at BHUMI understand all these things. We will show it to the world as to how you can revive the public health care system in INDIA. We will neither do hunger strikes, dance to the tunes of water cannons,nor go on TV shouting slogans. We have our own way of taking along all the parties involved. (detailed steps of how are we planning to go forward will be posted in due time)A small beginning to all this is the sanitation drive on June 11th. It may just cost you 3 hrs of your time if you take part in this.But, It will save poor lives and give them the confidence that we the youth (so called visionories of tomorrow)are with them and will go any distance to change the system.
There will be critics who might be arguing that will carrying a broom and cleaning bring about change in a rotten system? But all revolutions,all historic events started with the simple first steps.
After all Sachin’s 35th century in tests came only after he made the 1st test century.

If you belive we are doing something worthy, Please join us on june 11th for the sanitation drive. Visit http://www.bhumi.in/ and register yourself by mailing to ogh.bhumi@gmail.com

Last but not the least, everyday before you close your eyes think of one destitute you came across that day. May be this will change the mindset and apathy some ppl might n have towards the less previleged.May be this will trigger you. May this will bring about a change ………………

Oh! Paramatma………..help my countrymen awake………………

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

AM I REALLY DOING JUSTICE TO WHAT I HAVE VOWED TO DO?

I was at the hydearbad airport to pay homage to K.Suryanarayana along with a couple of my friends at Bharat Uday Mission. I could not even imagine that there would be such a meek response from the general public. There were some 10-20 ppl from the general public and the rest were the media and officials. The media ppl were happily engrossed in their own world of TRP’s. No one was even showing minimum respect to the slain engineer. At one point, some of them were almost on the coffin in a bid to get clearer pictures for their repective channels. No one even chanted slogans of “Suryanarayana Amar Rahe”. Me and Ali(one of my friends at BM) were the only ones who chanted.
We as People have degraded morally. After this incident I feel that we as a nation (all one billion ppl) are culprits who are answerable to that family. What has that family to do with the foreign policy of a nation or all the diplomatic decisions? I proudly write that we are working for a developed INDIA But am I really doing justice? I really felt guilty yesterday. Can I do anything that will reduce the suffering of that family? What else can I do except shed a tear or two?(which i did)
Am I really doing justice to what I have vowed to do? Surely not……………

And coming to the media, I was never really expecting anything from the hopeless media. But there was hope. Atleast this time, they will understand the gravity of the situation. They will be more sensible. But again I was proved wrong. They rarely worry about anything other than their TRP’s. They were out in their numbers taking interviews of those young children who could not even understand the disaster that has struck. I may not really do anything that will help reduce the suffering of that family. But I was satisfied after I came back from the airport. Atleast I have discharged my moral responsibility……………………….

Monday, April 17, 2006

AAMIR KHAN'S RECENTLY FOUND CONSCIENCE

I was till a few days before an aamir fan because of his acting skills and the versatility he potrays in his characters and the theme of his films. But his new found conscience has forced me take some tough decisions. I will not watch any Aamir khan starrer till such time i am convinced with his "what my conscience says". It may look silly and non sensical. My ticket money may not make any difference to his revenues, but in just 2 days i could find abt 20 odd ppl echoing my views. Why did i take this decision?What prompted me take this decision?

It was in a filmy style that Aamir was driving through Jantar Mantar and he saw a few ppl protesting. He got down and asked what was going on. then he decided to support them. How funny? Any educated urban indian who was watching any kind of news for the last 15 days would be definitely aware that NBA is protesting there. And Aamir knew that only when he interacted with NBA activists.
One more important thing to be noted is , barely 10 meters from that place, few other ppl were protesting. these were the victims of the BHOPAL gas tragedy. These were also common ppl,poor ppl suffering for the last 20 years. But Sadly enough, Aamir's Conscience did not notice these ppl. May be his one eye was blinded that he was only able to see the NBA activists. If we was sincere in his activist avtar, he would also have shown solidarity to the Bhopal ppl. He surely has personal motives against gujarat and MOdi. Why is he being "CHOOSY" in protesting against injustice?Why can't he be sensitive enough to other issues as well if he is so much worried abt the suffering of the poor?

I am not protesting Aamir khan's support to NBA. I am protesting his hypocrisy,his double standards. He never visited any place that was struck by any natural disaster.He did not even take part in any ground work.

1. Why did aamir's so called conscience wake up only now?
2. Why did aamir never voice his concerns abt muslim youth joining terrorist organizations?Being a celebrity from that very community, his voice wil surely find some takers.
3. Why did aamir never spoke on any issue of national importance?
4. why is that aamir is realizing only now the devil side of coke (coke usurping ground water in plachimada)
5. why is that aamir's conscience woke up only now?Is it because the issue involves Narendra Modi and gujarat on the opposite side?
6. Why is that he only suggests MODI to love people more but not the terrorists from his own community who are killing innocent people?


And let me make it clear. I am not against Medha patkar or NBA. I support them and also want all the displaced to be properly rehabilitated.I am not even supporting BJP or congress workers who vandalised MEdha patkar's office. But my only concern is the hypocricy of AAmir khan. let him protest , but not publicize it. Protest on other also issues that are of concern. Let him work on the ground. Build schools in kutch or in places where the displaced are living(he sure has enough money). Dont just show it off on TV infront the of the self proclaimed watch dogs(the elite media). Dont go and inspect after 3 months. work there and monitor the rehabilitation activities.Take part in the rehabilitation work. Inspire others with your actions rather than by your "ACTING" . Support financially if you are truly willing. Look also at the woes of kashmiri pandits who are leading miserable lives on the streets and footapths of DELHI. May be one day your car will pass through those streets as well. I am also not protesting because he is a muslim. I will protest against any celebrity who is trying to get some cheap publicity in this way.


I am not a chauvinist. I am only warning ppl against ppl like aamir whose real intentions are something different.,who is trying to get some cheap publicity.(as i see it). I will be a happier person when aamir speaks up on issues on minorityism, pseudo secularism, terrorism etc. I will watch his movie that very day when he does that................................

Sunday, April 09, 2006

EMOTIONS AND TEARS

May be emotions and tears go hand in hand. Some times tears flow out of my eyes spontaneously when i am emotional. few examples are "whenever i watch a story on the villages of india, whenever i watch a story of our centuries old traditions and culture still being alive (recent one being the story on SAMMAKKA & SARAKKA JATHARA) ,whenever i watch stories of poverty, whenever i watch stories of indian jawans,whenever i watch Sachin batting well etc........."

The MEDARAM Jathara that i earlier spoke of is the biggest tribal festival in the whole world. More than 60 lakhs attended the jathara this time.

Why do tears come out only in those situations?not sure, but in my case emotions and tears go hand in hand. But the exception may be the death one of my close friends when i couldn't stop crying.............

BEING HINDU

After almost 1 and a half months, i could watch a film. I just watched SRI RAMADAS. It wasn't gr8 but good. It told a story that we knew little of. Once again this film proved the greatness of HINDUISM. The pluralism which can be seen only in HINDUISM. Why would kabir das and tanisha worship lord RAMA if not for the solace they found in singing praises of Lord RAMA. I am proud that i am born a HINDU in HINDUSTAN.

yee murthy.......song was my favourite besides the usual sri seetharamula kalyanam chuthamu rarandi, paluke bangaramayena.............

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

TEMPLE PROPERTIES ARE THE NEW TARGET

The other day, Endowments minister JC Diwakar Reddy of the congress was announcing that the temple properties such as lands etc will be sold and the money will be spent for the mainatanance of temples.
Sounds gr8, isn't it? But if you have a look at the Govt's history in supporting temples, you will come to know why this statement was not that encouraging. Out of an estimated 32000 temples in AP, over 29000 are today in complete shambles and no daily rituals take place there. The govt has done nothing over the years to better this situation. But now their eyes are on the rosy temple properties which could easily bring in the much needed money the officials and the politicians are looking for to fill their pockets. We will have to strongly protest this move. People who have generously donated to temples did so to help poor people in and around the temples. To carry out "Annadanam" etc.

But now the wicked ppl are out and focusing on these rich temple properties.Why dont these ppl look at the rich church which is flodded with dollars for carrying out forced conversions?
Pseudo secularists are out again to prove their credentials.

lets protest this and not allow this to happen.............................

Atleast i will by filing a RTI request to know the actual figures...........

SOME DISTRESSING PICTURES



Tuesday, April 04, 2006

WHY AM I LOSING RESPECT FOR Dr. MANMOHAN SINGH?

The day Dr. Man Mohan singh was chosen to be the next PM, I was happy that atleast a man with some clean image and conviction is going to lead this nation.(this was the only bright spot in an otherwise dark image of the congress ruling the nation) He never won an election (lok sabha), he lost one in delhi. He is now a rajyasabha member from Assam. He is not a mass leader, but was competent enough to lead this nation.

But as time told, he is trapped in the ever so common congress's kind of politics. It seems that he is sold his soul before deciding to lead the UPA govt. There was never a moment where he asserted his full authority as the PM in political matters and matters which could easily snowboil into big controversies. The only occasion i could recollect is the Jharkand fiasco, where after the intervention of the supreme court, the central govt woke up and Mr. singh put his act together.

every big decision will be taken at "10 janpath". every central minister will decide on policies only after consulting the super PM(not mr.singh). i once funnily told my friends that on every file that Mr.singh has to sign, there will be a check box named "approved by sonia". Only then Mr.singh will sign it without even caring to know what it is.

Even in the congress plenary, no one was worried abt Dr.singh, it was all abt sonia and rahul.In a party where the heights of psycophency can only be imagined, Dr singh is soon becoming one of those psychopents. There is no mark that typifies him in the functioning of the govt. everything will be decided in "10 janpath" where the cotary of sonia gandhi sits and decides on policies.

In a latest case, Dr. Singh was speaking to journalists in assam as part of his election campaign. he was asked as to how his govt would ensure that illegal migrants are identified and strict action would be taken and also how his govt would respect the supreme court verdict of scrapping the IMDT act. Scrapping of IMDT act was like a body blow to teh congress. They thrived on muslim votes who were not even legal citizens of this country. Dr. Singh's reply was the one which made me think on the lines of counting him on yet another "typical pseudo secular congressman.". He said "we will respect the supreme court verdict,but no muslim of assam would be hararsed in that name. " What dichotomy? Congress is not protecting the country, but rather destroying it just to consolidate its vote bank. Dr.singh is soon falling prey to that ideology.

It would be better if Dr.singh resigns. atleast ppl like me will not lose their respect for such a human.......................Hope he reads this...........................

Saturday, April 01, 2006

THE BIASED MEDIA AND THE REALITY

This is a wonderful article in today's hindu highlighting the media's obsession with glitz,glamour,fashion and stock market and its continued neglect of the real INDIA "the farmers".Read it and judge for urself. we need to change and make them change(the media)



"In the village, we demolish their lives, in the city their homes. The smug indifference of the elite is matched by the governments they do not vote in, but control."



FARM SUICIDES in Vidharbha crossed 400 this week. The Sensex crossed the 11,000 mark. And Lakme Fashion Week issued over 500 media passes to journalists. All three are firsts. All happened the same week. And each captures in a brilliant if bizarre way a sense of where India's Brave New World is headed. A powerful measure of a massive disconnect. Of the gap between the haves and the have-mores on the one hand, and the dispossessed and desperate, on the other.

Of the three events, the suicide toll in Vidharbha found no mention in many newspapers and television channels. Even though these have occurred since just June 2 last year. Even though the most conservative figure (of Sakaal newspaper) places the deaths at above 372. (The count since 2000-01 would run to thousands.) Sure, there were rare exceptions in the media. But they were just that — rare. It is hard to describe what those fighting this incredible human tragedy on the ground feel about it. More so when faced with the silence of a national media given to moralising on almost everything else.

In the 13 days during which the suicide index hit 400, 40 farmers took their own lives. The Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti points out that the suicides are now more than three a day — and mounting. These deaths are not the result of natural disaster, but of policies rammed through with heartless cynicism. They are driven by several factors that include debt linked to a credit crunch, soaring input costs, crashing prices, and a complete loss of hope. That loss of faith and the rise in the numbers of deaths has been sharpest since last October. That's when a government that came to power promising a cotton price of Rs.2,700 a quintal ensured it fell to Rs.1,700. A thousand rupees less.

When 322 of 413 suicides have occurred since just November 1, you'd think that is newsworthy. When the highest number, 77, take place in March alone, you'd believe the same. You'd be wrong, though. The Great Depression of the Indian countryside does not make news.

But the Sensex and Fashion Week do. "There is nothing wrong," an irate reader wrote to me, "in covering the Sensex or the Fashion Week." True. But there is something horribly wrong with our sense of proportion while doing so. Every pulse beat and flutter on the Sensex merits front-page treatment. Even if less than two per cent of Indian households have any kind of investments in the stock exchange here. This week's rise does not just mark the highest ever. It makes the lead story on the front page. That's because the "Sensex beats Dow in numbers game." The strap below that headline in a leading daily reads: "Dalal Street's 11,183 eclipses Wall Street." It's moved to 11,300 since then.

On television, even non-business channels carry that ticker at the right hand corner. Keeping viewers alert to the main chance even as they draw in the number of deaths in the latest bomb blasts. At one point, the mourning for President K.R. Narayanan was juxtaposed to the joys of the Nifty and the Sensex. The irony does get noticed but it persists.

The great news for Fashion Week lovers is that this year will see two of them. There's a split in the ranks of the Beautiful People. Which means we will now have 500 or more journalists covering two such events separately. This in a nation where the industry's own study put the Indian designer market at 0.2 per cent of the total apparel market. Where journalists at such shows each year outnumber buyers — often by three to one.

Contrast that with the negligible number of reporters sent out to cover Vidharbha in the depths of its great misery. At the LFW, journalists jostle for `exclusives' while TV crews shove one another around for the best `camera space.' In Vidharbha itself, the best reporters there push only the limits of their own sanity. Faced with dailies that kill most of their stories, or with channels that scorn such reports, they still persist. Trying desperately to draw the nation's attention to what is happening. To touch its collective conscience. So intense has been their tryst with misery, they drag themselves to cover the next household against the instinct to switch off. Every one of them knows the farm suicides are just the tip of the iceberg. A symptom of a much wider distress.

The papers that dislike such stories do find space for the poor, though. As in this advertisement, which strikes a new low in contempt for them. Two very poor women, probably landless workers, are chatting: "That's one helluva designer tan," says the first to the other. "Yeah," replies the other. "My skin just takes to the Monte Carlo sun." The copy that follows then mocks them. "You'll agree," it says, "chances that the ladies above rub shoulders with the glitterati of the French Riviera are, well, a little remote." It throws in a disclaimer, of course. "We don't mean to be disrespectful ... " But "this is a mere reminder to marketers that a focus on customers with stronger potential does help." That is an ad for the `Brand Equity,' supplement of a leading newspaper group.

Nearly 5,000 shanties were torn down in Mumbai in the same eventful week. But it drew little attention. Their dwellers won't make it to the French Riviera either. Those in media focus, though, might. Mumbai's planned Peddar Road flyover, seen by some of the metro's mega rich as hurting their interests, grabbed yards of newsprint and endless broadcast time. There was barely a word seen or heard from those whose homes were razed to the ground. Meanwhile, more and more people flee the countryside for urban India. Candidates for future demolitions. In the village, we demolish their lives, in the city their homes.

The smug indifference of the elite is matched by the governments they do not vote in, but control. When the National Commission for Farmers went to Vidharbha last October, it brought out a serious report and vital recommendations. Many of these have become demands of the farmers and their organisations. At its Nashik meeting in January, the All-India Kisan Sabha (a body with 20 million members) called for immediate implementation of the NCF report.

Instead, both the Centre and the State Government have sent more and more `commissions' to the region. To `study' what was well known and already documented. It's a kind of distress tourism now. It just adds the sins of `commissions' to those of omission.

Favouring corporates


The damage is not only in Vidharbha but across the land. Why is the Indian state doing this to its farmers? Isn't farming, after all, the biggest private sector in India? Because being private isn't enough. Ruthlessly, each policy, every budget moves us further towards a corporate takeover of agriculture. Large companies were amongst the top gainers from distress sales of cotton in Vidharbha this season. The small private owners called farmers must be sacrificed at the altar of big corporate profit. The clearest admission of this came in the McKinsey-authored Vision 2020 of Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh. It set out the removal of millions of people from the land as one of its objectives. Successive governments at the Centre and in many States seem to have latched on to that vision with much zeal. In some ways, the present United Progressive Alliance takes up where Mr. Naidu left off.

Where are those being thrown off the land to go? To the cities and towns with their shutdown mills. With closed factories and very little employment. The great Indian miracle is based on near jobless growth. We are witnessing the biggest human displacement in our history and not even acknowledging it. The desperation for any work at all is clear in the rush for it at just the start of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. Within a week of its launch, it saw 2.7 million applicants in just 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh. And close to a million in 12 districts of Maharashtra. Note that the Rs.60 wage is below the minimum of several States. Know, too, that many in the lines of applicants are landed farmers. Some of them with six acres or more. In the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, a farmer who owned eight acres of paddy fields was a person of some status 10 years ago. Today, he or she, with a family of five, would be below the poverty line. (If that's the case with landowners, imagine the state of landless labourers.)

If the State Government's role in Vidharbha is sick, that of the Centre is appalling. Making sad noises is about as far as it will go. As the NCF report shows, much can be done to save hundreds of more lives that will surely otherwise be lost. But it avoids that path.

Its vision of farming serves corporates, not communities. And the media elite? Why not a Vidharbha week? To report the lives and deaths of those whose cotton creates the textiles and fabrics that they do cover. If just a fourth of the journalists sent to the Fashion Week were assigned to cover Vidharbha, they'd all have many more stories to tell.

THE PLIGHT OF FARMERS AND STEPS REQUIRED

It is 2050 AD. It is a history class. A student is asking his teacher,"Sir, where did these people called farmers live?what natural disaster made them extinct?"

This will be the situation in future if the govt continues to neglect farmers.Every govt comes to power announcing grand plans to help farmers. What is the ground reality though? Farmer suicides are growing by the day. Vidharba is soon becoming the cousin of andhra pradesh in farmer suicides.The Farmer suicides have touched an all time high of 400 this year in Vidharba.

Let us take the case of andhra pradesh where farmer and weaver suicides have become so normal that the govt is no more taking these suicides seriously.i was watching the story of a farmer suicide recently. The wife of this farmer says that, "even though we all decided to die, my husband stopped us and drank he pesticide himself. he was dying because atleast me and my children can have a better life with the compensation". What a touching story?he was dying to let his family live.
YSR's congress govt came to power on the plank of being a farmer friendly govt.In fact farmer suicides were at an all time high of 2321 in 2004-05(the first year of congress govt).Of these 1294 deaths were termed as suicides not related to farm losses. Even without those 1294, 1027 farmer suicides in one year is a staggering number. Very much so, during a regime that calls itself farmer friendly.In the ninth five year plan, the growth rate of this sector in AP was 4.35%. But according to the midterm review of the 10th plan, it is an appalling -0.4 %. During 1980-90, the growth rate of govt investments in farm sector was 8.5%. We would generally expect an increase in this figure during 1990-00, but that again decreased to 1.4%. These are all official figures of the RAMCHENNA REDDY commission setup by the YSR govt to find out the reason for farmer suicides and prepare a plan on how to decrease them.
A major concern is the disbursement of farm loans.YSR grandly anounced a 6 month maritorium on all farm loans immediately after he came to power. Infact this did not help, but rather was counter productive.Farmers did not get new loans to support the new crops.If we take a look at the curent financial year, the DCCB's (district central co-operative banks) have a target of disbursing more than 2000 crore rupees of short term loans for the kharif season.BUt the actual figures of short term loan disbursement are very disturbing. Only 213.5 crore rupees were disbursed according the Economic survey (2005-06). So not even 15% of the acctually planned amount. The situation of long trem loans is also the same. against a target of 460.5 crores, only 57.29 crores were disbursed.
A look at interest rates will reveal the true colour of these so called farmer friendly govts. An interest rate of 15% being collected from commercial banks and co-operative societies on farm loans. This in contrast to 4% interest rate on loans to buy cars like the mercedes. the small and the marginal farmers are the hardest hit. Only the large farmers are able to get loans from the govt and commercial banks at around an interest rate of 8% or so. The finance minister Chidambaram grandly announced that hence forth farmers will be charged only 7% on farm loans in the recent budget(2006-07).This is doubtful in the sense that actual ground level implementation of this is questionable. Even if we take the word of the finance minister, this wll benefit only 20% of the farmers who have access to bank loans. What about the rest 80% of small and marginal farmers? They will have to invariably go to the local money lenders who charge from anywhere between 24 and 48 % of interest.
In the name of recovering dues, the govts are using the revenue recovery acts which is unpardonable. The govts have to immediately do away with this act.

One more crucial factor is the market linkages.fake pesticides, low quality seeds are making the farmer's life miserable. Even though he gets a good yield, there is no guarantee of getting a good price. The govt has to build a strong market link structures eliminating all the middlemen. Only this will ensure fair play to the farmer.
Now to the all important question of seeds patents. The global players have arrived and started looting the farmers in the name of royalty. Monsanto for example charges rs 1250/- on BT cotton seeds which includes Rs 800 of royalty. Earlier farmers used to get these very seeds for Rs 450/-. The Govt at last has filed a case against monsanto MRTPS(Monopolies and Restrictive trade policies commission).
These global players are illegally taking away the diverse genetic property of this land which helps in preparin ghigh quality seeds. They take the away in the name of research which the foolish govts readily accept to.

The Govt has to soon revise its policies. If not, the so called rich and elite will have to survive by eating currency notes as there will be no food to eat.
The following steps are immedialtely required.

1. Strong market linkage mechanisms which will ensure decent price to the yield.
2. providing good quality seeds and pesticides in time.
3. disbursement of loans to all the farmers at 7% inerest rates(dis bursement should exceed targets)
4. To provide water and quality power.

Unless these are addressed, the specicies called farmer will soon become extict and we'll only come to know of their importance only after that hapens.........................................


JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN

Friday, March 31, 2006

ENORMOUS TASK

In the last one year, I met many a wonderful people working for the betterment of society. But even with those many people, the development that is taking place is very limited. It is only now that i am realizing the enormity of the task.
Now a days, I am busy working with BHARAT UDAY MISSION (www.bharatudaymission.org).
Visit the site. We are working on some very good projects.

keep visiting........................

THE FIRST VICTORY

After many efforts, the first fruits of success. MCH has replied, The reply in their own words,

" With Reference to your letter cited,the following information is furnished under Sction 3 of the RTI act 2005. An amount of Rs 77,000/- was collected from the Indian National Congress Party through Cheque bearing NO:452841,dt.07-01-2006(A/C no:11638) of Central Bank of India drawn on Kalyan Nagar Branch in favour of Commissioner,MCH and the same deposited into MCH account vide challan No: 2182/39 at SBH, MCh branch. The breakup of RS 77,000/- is as follows,
1. Usage of 9 MCH arches for one week @ Rs 5000/- each.
2. Erection of Bunting,Bill Boards,etc at 34 locations @ Rs 500/- each.
3. Erection of flags at 100 locations @ Rs 150/- each.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this letter."

So there is the official word. Only Rs 77,000/- for using the entire city. YOu all might have seen with your own eyes as to how many flags and bill boards have been erected. If it is so cheap that by paying 77,000 if you can use the city, I sure will bet that every film producer would do that to promote their films. And even an ordinary rich person can do that if he is willing to become famous in one day by putting his posters all over the city.So by this we understand one thing thatEither the COngress party is at fault that they used in excess of what was allowed(if this true, then they have to pay up the remaining amount) or the MCH officials are at fault that they turned a blind eye towards all that was happening(may be there was something taken from under the table)
SO please let me know your views on how do we take this official information forward in punishing the guilty............

THE SECOND VISIT

On Saturday(25th FEB 2006), I was off again on my pursuit of filing more requests. I started early at around 10.30 am.

STOP 1: Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (10.30 am)

Subject: To know the status of my earlier filed request.

30 days have passed and still no signs that my request was even looked into.It started the same way again, tussles with officials of various departments. All of them blamed each other saying that it was the other's responsibility. I was frustrated. This was the second time, I was going through this. This time I was prepared to go the distance no matter what it takes(This may sound a little filmy, but this is true). I raised my voice saying that I will have to go to the commissioner if this continues. Finally they realised that i was not going to leave them unless they give me the information.One department official (clerk in the office of Asst Commissioner ADMIN) was very smart. He accompanied me to the advertisements department where the application was stuck. He told the officials there that I had met the commissioner and the commissioner was actually very angry at the issue not being looked into. (Actually nothing of that sort happened, that was only a trick by this clerk to get the work done as this clerk was responsible to give the information as he is the one who looks after these issues). Then they woke up, and assuring me that they would send the information to me in 1-2 days. I was a bit satisfied and continued from there.


STOP 2: Police Control Room, Traffic Department (12.30 pm)

Subject: To meet the DCP, traffic and file a couple of requests and also discuss about the traffic warden program.

I had to wait for nearly 2 and half hours to meet the DCP as he was very busy in the arrangements for Mr.Bush’s visit. Finally at around 3pm I went in and submitted a couple of requests.

Request 1: To know the amount of fines collected (official figures) from 1st Feb 2006 to 25th Feb 2006 from traffic offenders.

Again the first question, why do you want this information? He asked me whether it was part of my study etc. I told him that it was just like that I needed this information. In the mean time two other officials(one ACP and other DCP) entered the scene. One of them was very authoritative in his voice and kept asking me why did I need this information. He actually quoted an analogy that we eat only when we feel hungry. Finally I had to say to say something. I told him that I saw a couple of traffic constables taking money without writing a challan, so I wanted to check out how much is actually being collected. Then started the discussion (I would term it more as a Fight). The ACP was just fuming on me saying “ You are making a damaging statement on the entire police department. Why didn’t you complain to the higher officials when you saw that. Are you honest?”I was soon realizing why common public are so much afraid of the police. I was caught in between 3 police officials. But the DCP(Mr Anil kumar ,IPS) cooled down the atmosphere asking the ACP not to get too emotional. And he actually told him that “they are young people who want to know things”. The reason for which I went there was soon being lost in unnecessary discussions. But the DCP was a very good person from what I could make out. He showed the excel sheets where they compare fines collected in the previous 3 days and how do they analyse things. They actually deposit the entire sum in the Govt account daily. He told me that in 2005, they deposited around 10 crores collected via fines. One one day (24th Feb 2006), they collected over 5 lakh rupees. Those were staggering figures for me. It such was the amount that was official, the unofficial amount would easily be double. They can easily pay for the salaries of the officials through fines. He told me that I can collect the information on Monday. (That was very quick by any standards). He was very proud saying that the police was the best department where they take immediate action on any report of fraud by their personnel.By the time I left that place, Everything was fine and I could convince the ACP that he misunderstood me. So at last this was successful.


Request 2: To know if any permission was given by traffic police to park vehicles on the main road by those coming to the “Bottles and Chimneys” pub near begumpet airport.

I was always very pained by the way the so called rich and elite behave socially. They park their vehicles on main roads, break all rules and above all blame the illiterates and poor people for all that is going on. These people happily get away with offences. I was determined to take this to the police. The DCP directed me to the ACP punjagutta area for this issue. In the ACP’s office punjagutta, the people there took about 10 min to decide whether that place would fall in their limits. After deliberations, finally they concluded that it is indeed in their limits. After that they asked me when are they parking vehicles. I told them it was after 9pm and will continue till 1am. The police SI said that they usually don’t check after 10pm. The ACP there was very angry with the SI and directed the SI to take my request and note all my details. These days I feel very happy when I see less number of vehicles being parked on the main road. Still I am expecting the reply from them on what action they have initiated. There are some more locations in the city where there is exactly the same problem. (Ex: Coffeeday in jubilee hills on the way to madhapur)

STOP 3: Secretariat, AP Govt (4pm)

Subject: To know the status of my earlier filed request.

I was by then exhausted after all that went on in the day. Here in the secretariat, the people have misplaced my request and they were unable to find it. I was very angry and started serious discussion with the Secretary to the Govt(an IFS officer). He assured me that by Monday he would call me personally and let me know the status. I left the place after his assurance. They didin’t call me on Monday. I had to call them when they informed me that my request was forwarded to director of school education and they will provide me the information. This was far better than knowing that my request was misplaced.What I generally observed in all these offices is that the higher officials are a little better in the sense that they understand our concerns. But the sub-ordinates are the ones who are spoiling it. We need not blame them also as they are not very well educated about this law. Govt needs to first create awareness among officials. The Police department also was very receptive to the concerns. This was by far the best department in all that I saw.They called me up on the “fines” request and asked if I was available so that they could give me the information. I will collect it next week.

THE FIRST VISIT

I visited to MCH and secretariat on DEC21st 2005 to file applications requesting information as per RTI.My eriences.
1. Municipal corporation of HYderabad (MCH)
I had to virtually fight with everyone(from security guards toadmin staff) to make them understand that something called RTIexists. I ran around for abt 2hrs and finally submitted a petiiton.The quation is simple." HAs the congress party paid MCH for using MCH property duringAICC pleanry".They were reluctant to take the nominal fee of Rs 10/- They were treating them as bribe. Anyway they did not take it.I am sure that i will not get the required information. I am planningalong with loksatta( i contacted them also) to take it to the mediaonce i dont get the reply.
2. School education Dept.(Secretariat)
I had to wait for 90 min to meet the Joint secretary to Govt(anIFS officer) who happens to the the PIO(public information officer).The first question he asked me was " why do you want thisinformation?"I told him "just like that and also there is clear provision in theact that you need not disclose ur identity and the purpose"I paid the nominal fee of Rs 10/-.The information i requested was reg1. The details of dropouts in govt schools of hyd.2. dEtails of funds sanctioned for improving infrastructure3. DetaILS of computers given to govt schools.4. Details of library allocations.A wonderful xperience for me. I ran around thw whole day for this. Ihad plans of filing more petitions, but i was short on time.I am planning to take it up with loksatta and the media once i dontget the information.The funniest part was at both the places, i was the first personfiling this request and they knew nothing abt how to go about filingthis. Any how i am very happy that i have been able to make some employees of MCH and secretariat realise that RTI exists..

HOW To Go about filing Requests

Here I would like to say a few things,1. Some of the friends were of the opinion that we should take the help of media before we go to anyoffice(give a tip off to the media). I also thoughtabout it and let me tell you, if we go with the media, out of fear, the officials may accept and giveinformation. But what we need is that the purpose ofRTI should be served. Lets say an illeterate villagergoes and requests information, he should be given thesame importance as given to a media person.RTI will have served its purpose only when a commoncitizen with nothing behind him can get theinformation. When officials give information feelingas if it is their duty but not out of fear.2. Once we do not get what we requested for, then wecan take the help of media in highlighting their lethargy. This will serve better as govt officials willrealise the importance.

HOW TO GO ABOUT FILING REQUESTS?
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1. Get the department from you are seeking informationright. Then approach the department.
2. Enquire for the PIO(public information officer) oran APIO(asst PIO). Just write down whatinformation youare seeking on a paper. (there is no specific format,you can write it according to your wish).You need notdisclose your identity and needn't tell them why areyou requesting the information for. BUt you need togive the complete Address for communication.
3. Be very specific in your application. The morespecific you are, teh more chances of getting therequired information.(like how many,how much,figures,numbers etc)
4. Pay a nominal fee of Rs 10/-. Take the receipt withthe date and time with a stamp of the concerned dept.

MY EXPERIMENTS WITH RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005 (RTI)

I should say i was really impressed by only one act that the UPA govt passed. That is RTI.
In my view RTI is the most powerful tool that ordinary citizens have to wake up the dormant bureaucracy and bring in more transparency in Govt departments. Here we will discuss,share and spread the word about RTI.

My petitions to date:
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1. Peition with MCH on AICC plenary(reply received)
2. petition with Traffic police on fines collected (reply received)
3. petition with Traffic police on illegal parking at Bottles and chimneys in hyderabad
4. petition with School education dept of Andhra pradesh on the state of Govt schools in Hyderabad
5. petition with Mandal educational officer in warangal on the state of govt schools in warangal mandal.
6. petition with Reserve Bank of INDIA (RBI) on the amount of debts written off to corporate business houses.
7. Petition with MCH on propertyyax payment in Prashasan nagar of hyderabad

PHOTOGRAPHS OF MY VILLAGE VISIT

Venkatamma with her Mobile store



Venkataiah infront of his fruit shop


Thimmanna in his tailoring shop


Narsamma’s only daughter


Satyanarayana’s General Store

Mehboob’s Wife preparing Tea

THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING MY MOTHERLAND

In the past 22 years of my living, I never had such an emotional journey. A journey that was the first step towards understanding my nation. For a few years now, I had been roaming around with friends, running around malls, restaurants and multiplexes. I was missing something. My conscious kept reminding me that. I was moving away from my roots, my culture and most of all my nation. It was time for introspection. I had to understand my motherland, its culture that is alive in villages and not in these so called modern examples of globaliztion.

During the course of this first step of a long and unending journey, I was fortunate enough that I was shown the way by “BASIX” a Microfinance Organization run by
Dr. Vijay Mahajan. I had the oppurtunity to meet him in person on Dec 3rd 2005. I told him that I would be very happy if I am led by their team to some village visits and if I am given an oppurtunity to work in some project, which to my surprise, he readily agreed.

On Dec 24th,2005 I embarked on my journey. Here are a few people who in my view represent the real INDIA.

PLACE: A Village called Duppalli in Mahboonagar District of Andhra Pradesh
( About 130kms from Hyderabad)

I was recived by a BASIX employee ready with his motorbike to take me round the village. Here was I, a stranger from far away merely wasting their time with a Camera in hand as though I had never seen a village before. There they were taking me round the village as if I was their superior. I felt ashamed that I was merely wasting their precious time. This is the difference between them and us. They work for a cause, a cause that encompasses fellow indians. Of course we also do work for a cause, a cause that is confined only to our family, at the best to our friends and relatives.

Mehboob and his wife—Hotel


They run the most famous hotel of the village. By the time we reached there, it was nearing their daughter’s marriage. The hotel was temporarily closed and the preparations were in full swing for the marriage. They took a loan of Rs 30000/- from Krishna Bhima Samruddhi Bank (KBS) a subsidary of BASIX. The loan helped them expand their business. Their savings neared almost Rs 40000/-. All that was being spent on the marriage of their only daughter. She told me how the loan has changed their lives. They augmented their savings and are leading a more comfortable life.

Mehboob was out on some marriage preparation work. His wife offered us tea. The tea was very tasty and much more satisfying than the “capuccino’s” and the “coffee day” stuff. I took out some change to pay for the tea. After all they were running a hotel. She plainly refused to take the money. She said “ this is nothing when compared to what you people gave us”. I was so moved that not even a single word came out of my lips. Basix did not run a charity and give them the loan for free. They were a commercial bank catering to the needs of such people. All the more surprising was that I was being thanked. Neither did I help them nor was I a Basix employee. The fact that these people also live in skyscrapers, but different from those in which we live (skyscrapers of honesty,gratitude,caring nad most of all compassion) strengthened in my view.


Satyanarayana --- General Stores


He took a loan of Rs 15000/- from KBS. He now educates his two children. He recently opened a monthly savings account with KBS in his wife’s name and the insurance facility that comes with the loan is also in his wife’s name. The same story repeats, The story of how BASIX changed their lives.


Narsamma — Insurance Beneficiary


Hers was the most tragic story. Her husband used to do the cabling work in the village. He took a loan of Rs 5000/- from KBS. With the loan came the free insurance facility. (KBS has tied up with AVIVA life insurance for this. Kbs pays the premium from the EMI’s of loans they receive. KBS also extended this loan facility to cattle). She received a sum of around Rs 10000/- in insurance with which she paid off some of the debt. She still has debts in the range of Rs 10000/-.She is running a small general store for living now. BASIX has helped her clear a part of her debt.

When BASIX initially discussed this insurance plan with the villagers, they opposed saying “ Why should we pay for something which we get after death? Do we pay for
Dying?” But Narsamma’s case changed that perception. Noe they are much more interested in insurance plans and even started advising others. The BASIX employee who took me round says that villagers are easy to handle. They are not complex like us urban chaps. But they believe something only when they see it practically. Narsamma’s was one such case.

Narsamma has a little daughter whom she hopes to educate. May GOD help her.


Venkataiah

He is a Shepherd who took a loan of Rs 10000/- from KBS. He now runs a fruit shop parallel to grazing the sheep. He also has the same story to tell of how KBS helped make his living better.



Thimmanna ---Tailor


A Young guy in the village who runs a tailoring shop. He took a loan of Rs 8000/- to buy a new machine. Now he is able to earn more as well as save more.



Venkatamma


She runs a small road side mobile store that caters to the needs of ladies in the village. She does daily saving of Rs 20 in her savings account. She now has savings in excess of Rs 4000/-. She took a loan of Rs 4000/- from KBS.

All that BASIX does is to cater to the needs of those people who cannot approach the big banks for peety loans. These big banks need surities, which they cannot provide. The only option left for them is to approach the money lenders in the village who charge interests in excess of 30% a year and make them pay heavily if they fail to repay the loan in time.

BASIX introduced a concept called JLG (Joint Liability Group) where in people in groups of “4” are jointly liable. Each one of them is the surity for the other three. These JLG’s are free to be formed by villagers on their own. BASIX does not interfere in the JLG formation.

One accusation microfinance institutions(MFI’s) like BASIX have been facing is the high rate of interest they charge. BASIX charges an interest of 21% on loans and pays an interest of 8.5% on savings which is higher than any other bank. The defended by saying
“ Our target customers are the people who do not have access to government loans and who often fall into the trap of the money lenders. The interest we charge is much less than what they charge. And we also do not run a charity rather we are a commercial bank. We also have to pay our employees.” This I think is completely justified.

Now BASIX is concentrating on inculcating the culture of savings and insurance in them.

My first step was a wonderful experience. We all so called modern professionals need to change. We have to understand the real INDIA. Recognize their needs and lend a hand in their development. We have to make them a part of the much hyped “INDIA on the MOVE”

I have just started learning the alphabets of this complex language called INDIA. I would have accomplished my goal If I learn to make a sentence of my own in this language.