Friday, September 30, 2011

Will anything change!!!!

It's been a few weeks now, and everything seems to have fallen in place, for the Government, the Parliament, for the people of India, for the news channels and the internet. "India Against Corruption", seems to have shaken up a few people, actually, a whole lot of Indian population, and everyone seems to be talking about it everywhere.

I wonder if anything is going to change. Mind you, I am a very optimistic guy, so, don't think that I don't have any hopes. But, when you get to see, or hear about bizzare incidents happening almost every day, all around me, all this boils down to a very basic question.

Are we really ready for this change?

I seriously doubt. There was a case of a truck driver being beaten to death by some policemen because he refused to pay them a bribe. There was another incident, where a toll-gate attendant was shot by a person in a car, just because he didn't want to pay the toll-tax. I know a friend, who had to pay Rs 2,00,000 to a doctor for getting a certificate(his was a genuine case).

The policemen who brutally killed the truck driver are perhaps sitting in the comfort of their homes. The other person who shot the toll attendant, has probably applied for bail, and his application would be soon accepted. The doctor would have bought a load of gold and stashed it somehwere in his house. 

I really wish that one day, India would be on the list of the least corrupt nations of the world. But, I doubt that this will happen in a course of the next few years. It would take generations and decades all-together to bring about this change. It's not only about the laws, or the judiciary or the punitive actions by the authorities. There should be a change in peoples' mindset and their thinking.We should change the way we live each day. We should change the way we act each day.

Everyone from the Government that speaks against corruption, doesn't really understand how to tackle it. Or rather, they don't really have the will to eradicate corruption. I would agree that, 50% of the governement officials are corrupt, but the honest ones, who are still the half of the system, get branded as corrupt officials. Why is that so?

1. Until and unless I pay a bribe at the passport office, my application would continue gathering dust.
2. Until and unless I pay donation to some MP, I won't get admission to a private school/college.
3. Until and unless I pay a bribe, my tender would be rejected.
4. Until and unless I pay bribe, I would be the last one to be promoted.

I am not yet talking about the big corporate bribes that large businesses NEED to pay the big ministers to get approvals or licenses to carry on their business. That's another part of the story. A common man, would probably come across a government official, almost each and everyday, who would shamelessly demand a bribe to do what he is being paid for.

All of us must have seen the movie "Nayak", where Anil Kapoor was asked to be the Chief Minister of a state for one day. It inspires me a lot. I also feel that whatever has been portrayed in that movie, is very practical. Given a chance, a common man can do a lot better than most of the Chief Ministers of India. But, in real life, nobody would ever get that chance, and so, our Shivaji Rao Gaekwad will always be remembered as a character of fiction and fantasy of the bollywood.

Let's flip the story. If it were possible, just for a day, to ask Mr. Prime Minister, take leave from his office, to spend a life of a common man, what would he do? I am sure he will be begging for the day to end. 

It doesn't matter if he rides in a BMW. Take away his Z+ security, and let him drive on the pot-holed roads, and get stuck in traffic. Let him try to renew his vehicle insurance. Let him try to get a gas connection for his house. Let him try to get his PF amount withdrawn from the PF office. Let him try to successfully win a contract without bribing a penny. Let him try to dare and complain against a lazy government officer or a dishonest minister.  Let him try to register a complaint in the police station about his stolen TV. 

I am sure he will have a hard time. Just like each one of us go through all these troubles, every single day of our lives. I understand that a Prime Minister is not a super-man and he can't really solve each and every problem of our nation. But then, whatever I can see around myself, or read about in the news papers, I don't really feel that the Government is really trying hard. But again, that's not the point. Even after we would have all the strict laws and the Jan Lokpal setup, do I really feel that, magically, one fine morning, corruption in India would end?

My obvious response is a big "NO".

Until and unless we change, nothing's really going to change. Things like these have to change.

1. People let their children stay in prison for a day or two instead of bribing the police, even if their children are innocent.
2. People don't produce fake caste certificates to get their children admitted into good schools.
3. People themselves stop taking bribes or offering bribes.
4. People should encourage their children to be honest, not only to them, but to everyone else as well.
5. People stop asking for dowry. That's also a kind of bribe.
6. People stop giving dowry.
7. Teach humanity. Be more humane. Killing someone for Rs. 5000/-!!!!! That's not humane.

8. People should pay their taxes honestly, even if they feel that the Government is just eating up their hard-earned money.

So, what am I trying to suggest? As much as we ourselves need a radical change in our way of thinking and acting, our next generation should also be shown the way forward. Only then, the nation as a whole can change. Only then, would we be able to get this contagious corruption thrown out of our culture, our hearts, our minds and our nation. 

I have tried very hard to refrain myself for quite a long time writing on this topic. I am in a frustrated state of mind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let bygones be bygones

I stay in Bangalore, a thousand miles away from my home, where I spent my childhood. When my mind is blank, and I am not thinking about work or anything else, I ponder over the past. I know those days will never come back, but to even re-live those moments with memories is truly nostalgic.

Recently, there have been a series of power failures in my area. "Damn it!!! @$#%3 @##@$ @#@$". No other thoughts come to my mind when the lights go off. When it starts raining, I curse the rain gods for the untimely downpours. Everything seems to have changed now.

We used to wait for the power cuts everyday when I was a child. Just before the scheduled power cuts, everyone could be seen getting ready with their snacks, water-bottles and other paraphernalia and walk up to the terrace. Those were the days when I learnt and actually saw the Pole star, the other constellations that we read in our Geography books. We talked about a lot of other things. About animals, birds, the moon and the sky. We talked about school. I miss those conversations. And I am sure that my parents miss that too.

When I was a child, I used to love the rains. I loved getting wet. Everytime it started raining, I made it a point that I had a good excuse before walking upto my Mom, for not using my raincoat. I enjoyed those summer days when it was a routine exercise for everyone to get rid of the mosquitoes every evening by burning mosquito repellants.

We also used to go for a walk after dinner, or played badminton right after our dinner during the winters. The Saturdays and the Sundays had a host of TV programs lined up for us, and everyone had a reserved place for him/her and nobody was late. We had only 1 television set and only 1 channel.

Sundays were really fun, when each vehicle in the house, including my bicycle had their weekly bath.

And now, I let my bike collect all the dust and mud until I give it away for servicing. I curse the mud and the overflowing drains when it rains. I use All-Out/Good Night to drive away those irritating mosquitoes. Even if it's not raining, I put on my jacket, just in case. I don't even remember when was the last time I looked up into the sky. I don't play badminton anymore. I keep on switching from channel to channel and end up watching nothing at all.

Sometimes, I feel sad about all these changes. But, you know what? There's an saying for everything.

"Let bygones be bygones"

Monday, September 26, 2011

New ways of cheating

Recently, there has been a truck loads of new ways of cheating people. I have, once fallen into their trap but I realized very quickly. You should have heard about SpeakAsia scam which was recently in news. Hahaha, that's not the one I fell for. There has been a whole lot of similar scams in the past. People, smart people, sometimes fall into their trap and end up losing their hard earned money.

One of the terribly pathetic and ugly trap is a program which is being aired on NDTV Imagine channel. The program is "Gold Safe". This program, shows some images of well-known personalities and ask people to call in and recognize them. When I was in college, some 5 years back, I was lured into calling in. I must have spent at least 100 bucks that day. And, quite obviously, I didn't win a dime. Someone who has the ability of adding up 2 2-digit numbers without a calculator would never fall into their trap. But, that day, I just thought of giving it a try. I mean, who would not be able to recognize "Priety Zinta"!!!!! People were continuously calling in and blurting out seemingly absurd answers. The images have been always too obvious for someone to give a wrong answer.

The next one is in the form of an E-mail. There's a website which promises you really great discounts on some of their products. The website is "Bag it today". It seems to be affiliated to "The Indian Today Group". Atleast, the website shows it's logo.

Almost everyday, I receive a mail from this website. Here is a sample e-mail that I received today.

Welcome Kumar,

Congratulations! You have just received 5 products including Reebok Tracksuit,
Numero Uno Watch, Satyapaul Leather Wallet, Lotto Duffle Bag
Converse T-shirt worth Rs 10442 at Re 5.

The catch here seemed to be this: You could get all these things at a final price of Rs.2999/- only. Seems to be a really cool deal. But, be warned, this is too good to be true. Please don't fall for it. People have, and have repented. If at all, you want to see if it's a real deal, opt for "Cash on Delivery".

I am certainly not saying that all these websites/services that promise you discounts are fake and scams. There are really great services, such as where you would get real discounts and deals. But please don't fall into obvious looking traps.

One more scam worth mentioning is the "Free T-shirt scam" that made rounds on Facebook recently. I mean, it was quite obvious to me that it was a scam, but many people still went ahead and gave them their phone numbers, email addresses and postal addresses. None of them have received their free t-shirts yet.

The other category of scams, which I think nobody will ever fall for are those e-mails that you receive from complete strangers who have found a fortune somehow(people make up real good stories, I read it for fun), and want to transfer it to your country to avoid getting caught, and promise you a large stock of bills for your assistance. Don't ever fall for it.

I don't expect the Government to do anything about these guys. They are probably busy handling their own scams. The best part is, unlike the government ones, you could choose not to be looted by these private scamsters and swindlers.