See Them Not, Don’t Hear Them Either

July 16th, 2010

What happens in the legislatures is often news. Perhaps that’s why the Karnataka legislators decided to throw all legislative propriety and norms to the winds, and let their baser instincts take over, and let the drama play out in everybody’s drawing rooms..

The ruling party threw the book of legislative norms and rules into the waste paper basket. A democracy works through consultation and bills are passed in the legislatures by the MLAs who vote on party lines, depending on the party’s stand on a bill. What if there is a deadlock in the legislature which does not allow any work to go on i.e. from any bills being passed?

The easiest way out is to prevent even the minimal discussions on the bills. Discussions take time… too much of it. The ‘Argumentative Indian’ won’t let anything like passing a bill being done so fast and so easily.

A “government was about creative tensions” if you go by what Kamal Nath, the man in charge of our roads and highways, said.
But, too much of it means the ’state’ can turn comatose. Karnataka legislators succeeded in doing just that.

But, the ruling party ensured that the job had to be done, and on time. While the opposition MLAs protested and were on a dharna, as they had done for the past few days, the ruling party got the job done.

They passed 18 bills, yes 18 of them, at one go. Perhaps a stroke of genius people would say. All bills passed by voice vote… the ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ being counted using some technology unknown to anyone yet.
Are they the ones people like me vote for? They did not discuss the bills… or probably did understand what the bills were all about. They had to pass it, and just passed it.

And, these are the people we expect to sort out our problems.

The CM and the opposition leader showed off their muscles in the House. Alas, the people who voted for them did not get to see their wrestling skills from being tested. Their respective partymen stopped them before they did. While the CM pulled up his pants and girdled his loins, challenging the opposition leader to a bout, the opposition leader Siddaramaiah showed of his biceps.

I have decided, the next time I vote it will not be a vote for the best educated or the least corrupt, but it will go to the physically strongest candidate. I, as a voter, will be able to gain most then.

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A Well-Timed Bandh?

July 5th, 2010

It’s ‘bandh day’ today. Everything in the IT capital has come to a standstill. But, it doesn’t seemed to have rubbed everyone the wrong way.

All my friends and acquaintances who are not journalists and working for IT/ITeS sector have had a chance to enjoy a looooong weekend.
The opposition parties that organised the bandh against the rising fuel prices made sure that only the poor people who eke out a living day-to-day suffer. Yes, the bandh is success. Yes, the ragpickers on the roads who need to sell their daily ‘collections’ to eat a decent meal, also had to undergo a forced hunger strike too. Yes, The UPA government may now relent!

Whenever there is a strike, or a bandh, it affects the Indian IT services industry bad. Hence, they have had contingency plans. But, this time seemed to be a little different. Not everyone seemed so very perturbed, either of its impact on businesses or industry.

A friend, an IT professional who works for an IT services firm which has almost all its revenues coming from the US, said the company is not worried of missing a day from the bandh. “Don’t you realise it’s the night of July 4, US Independence Day?” he asked me. No one loses US business by not working today.

So, it seemed a well-orchestrated bandh conducted in consultation with the IT services firms. No one can rub the other the wrong way. Both, the political classes and businesses need each other.

Consultation is the way forward parties may have realised if they want to survive, especially with those who can fund them.

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Flexing Inflation

July 4th, 2010

Circa 2020, June 18
The wife went into labour and had to be rushed to the hospital. I realised I had just about enough petrol to take me to the hospital. Nothing to get home… i.e. whenever I could.

While I was there in the hospital i.e. about 3 days, I was more or less out of touch with global realities.

There had been a major attack in the Niger Delta on a couple of major oil pipelines. There had also been a storm in North Sea, strong enough to damage a few oil rigs. As if nature wanted to prove itself, there was a storm in the Gulf of Mexico too damaging a couple of rigs and a pipeline.

Each of the incident was a trigger for the oil traders to bid higher and higher and higher. So, by the time the baby is born, and is ready to leave for home, I had just about enough money to buy petrol that would take me about half the way home.

The hospital too began to raise the prices by the day for its services. After all, power is the biggest cost for a hospital as a CEO of a hospital explained to me years earlier and energy costs are shooting up across the world. All this left my wallet near empty. I had begun to stop using my cards for the lack of online security.
The now liberalised Indian oil market is flexible enough to react to global oil price movements by the hour. The local Transport Corporation which raised the ticket fares the very next day after the fuel prices were partly deregulated in June 2010 without making an announcement, is by now flexible enough to have one fare in the morning and a higher fare in the evening because the global oil prices had risen. What if they had fallen? Well, classical Economics teaches us that prices are inelastic downwards.

Hopefully, my salary too is reacting to the flexible energy prices.

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