Saturday, June 13, 2009

Death of Socialist Ideals

The recent drubbings of the Left parties in election and of the leftist ideal parties in the European Union election point to one thing, amidst such recession too the leftist ideals are not able to hold ground. Socialism which was considered as the most viable alternative to the rogue and oppressive capitalism is failing the test. Soviet Union did not survive and with Right to Property granted in China it cannot be called a socialist country though there is strong state control. What I want to discuss here in this piece is why the socialist loosed the battle despite offering world peace and harmony between countries based on mutual respect and trust. It lost though it promised that there would be no hungry people and that men would be equal, despite offering an equitable and just society it lost .Why??
Though I am not an expert and there may be thousands article written on it but I would just like to propose my idea. It lost because men are inherently wicked and such high ideals were just too much for him. It is good thing that there would be no hungry people around but to quell someone’s freedom of speech and his way of thinking just because it was not acceptable to society means that though he is not hungry but he is not satisfied and in some time rebellious feeling will begin to grow inside him. Not to mention that they had a worthy foe in America which was hell bent on making capitalism order of the day. Soviet Union were may be equal to America in terms of military power but were they prepared for the soft power that America was using against it. All over the world American lifestyle became synonymous with liberty, luxury and while the world was pursuing the great American Dream what was Russia offering us?? Bicycles, square meals a day, justice and fair society far too lofty ideas for a common man. While America was showing the world that they are free Russia was shrinking in a shell of its own.
Capitalism has many benefits too over socialism. It promotes competition, free thinking and encourage new ideas. Competition ensures that you have variety, have options. Free thinking lead to intellectual development and expression of the same. New ideas carry the world forward. In contrast in socialist society there is no competition and prices are fixed by the state, no competition and hence no option and no variety .You cannot say a word against the state and civil rights are nonexistent. Ya if that’s starting to sound like slavery don’t blame me this is the way thing is. We know of several brands like Nike, reebok, McDonalds and other all originating from capitalistic countries and none from socialistic country. It cannot be a coincidence. All of you, who would give China as an example, let me tell you it is a different form of socialism. Socialist government cannot survive for long because once people have ensured that they are well fed they yearn for free thinking and personal freedom and when this stage reached Soviet Union could not survive it. China on the other hand has learnt from the mistakes and learnt it well. First it turned its full attention on the countryside so that it has its share of support there because no revolution can succeed without rural masses. Secondly it provided them with economic freedom and security. Plus it has allowed foreign investment and with right to property it has taken another step in the direction of capitalism and if not capitalism at least mixed economy like India. For it know too well that they cannot entirely control people and that curb on free thinking and unbiased media wont last long if they do not deliver at the economic front. Though socialism did not survive excepting of course in some countries like Cuba and Venezuala they could not really exert influence the world like Soviet Union did and its good for self sufficiency but it cannot give prosperity , Chinese form of economy certainly can and in my opinion this is the way forward.

Path to Recovery

In recent months or may be from last year we have seen some tremendous ideological changes at the national level and more so at the international level. People no longer speak of reforms as some magic wand that will solve all the problems. Don’t get me wrong they are not against it either but they are apprehensive about it. It has lost its charm. If people do approve of reforms they ask for stricter regulation. Being a Keynesian is no longer a drawback. The reason for this tectonic shift is the ongoing recession. It is the worst that the world has faced after The Great Depression and hopefully the worst that I would see in my life time. Though the damage in India was not of the same magnitude as in America or Europe but it certainly was felt. I agree that banks did not collapsed neither do companies seek state support or filed for bankruptcy but there is decline in the foreign direct investment, GDP clocked its lowest in the last five year and there certainly is decline in the job sector, something which all of us are familiar with!! What was most frustrating in the entire experience was lack of information. Suddenly everyone was expert and even the experts were clueless about the impact. First there was denial (Even likes of Chidambaram said that our economy is decoupled from the world economy and that we do not depend entirely on exports, ours is domestic demand driven economy and that the recession would not affect us), then there were talks of credit card crises about to break out in US, talks of China proposing new world currency (how would that affect us, I have no idea), prices of houses going down and inflation was high thereby making it hard for government to infuse liquidity in the market and it being an election year government was in no mood to risk. It seemed like a bottomless pit and on top of that Obama was saying that it is going to be worse before it gets any better.
But that’s not the case with India. The worst is behind us and we can look ahead for better times. Sure recession is not over yet but we are well on our way to recovery. There are signs of recovery and I am not making facts up. The following points will illustrate my view.
1. Indian economy clocked 6.7 GDP in 2008-09 year while most economies around the globe contracted. This performance was better than those predicted by the IMF and other leading economic bodies which said that we will clock 5-5.5. The performance was even better than that predicted by even RBI which said 6-6.5. The unexpected but robust performance enthused investors round the globe about India’s future potential.
2. The Sensex is riding high again. Though I believe it is not a parameter to judge economic growth but it is a parameter to check how world perceives us. Its current bull riding on FII is an indicator that world sees us as a safe and profitable investment option. That means we can look forward to some increased FDI flow in the country and if we can get huge FDI in infrastructure then it will certainly augur well for the country.
3. The most visible signs of recovery are the increase in the direct tax collection which is 17%higher than last year’s may collection when economy was booming. This is an early but sure signs of recovery. If there is an increase in the corporate tax collection for first quarter it would certainly be an indication of revival.
Add to this the return of UPA with a thunderous majority and their resolve to carry out reforms has infused markets with new optimism. However there are few bottlenecks too. The government expenditure would have to rise if we to have to continue on the path to economic recovery. The yawning fiscal deficit is a hindrance to it. Though we know that Manmohan Singh led government is not blind to it but the flagship schemes and others social sector programs (very important though) is costing exchequer heavily. Unless we get huge FDI inflow we can see reduced expenditure in infrastructure and sectors like increasing land under irrigation. Both of them are very important for the long term and should be ignored at one’s own peril. What lies ahead for the government is a tough balancing act between social sector expenditures, infrastructure and yawning fiscal deficit. It would have to tread very carefully. Can we trust Team Manmohan for the job? I will bet my money on them..
Signing off

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Shit I am late.

It was just another day for me. Same college, same boring lectures, same chics .There was no incentive whatsoever to go to class. Except the fact that attendance would be taken and that u have to reach 75% or else prepare to study the subject once again either in the next semester or carry it.

It was PSW lecture. It had been two months and I do not think most people know the full form of it. It does not matter anyway. I was tired of this monotonous routine where u has to get up early and go to classes. It reminded me of my school days. I thought I was done with school ways when I completed my 12th standard. Alas this school camouflaged as college brought back the memories
of the school. I was immersed in thoughts like this and almost in somnambulance I completed my daily chores and went to attend the classes.

"May I come in madam" said I showing total respect.
"From where are u coming" she replied with contempt.
"From hostel" I said ingenuously.
It sounded like an interesting proposition to me but that attendance it’s such a pain in the ass.
"But madam I am only 5 min late"
Oh common madam its one present at stake plus I have got up now. Where will I go in this early morning??
"U know 5 min is roughly 10% ....."
I turned back. I was not ready to attend the class but that crap she was hurling at me made the attendance insignificant for the time being Had I feed her ego I might be allowed in but I was in no mood to tolerate her. She was pissed at me for my bravado and it was not only me who bore the brunt but some 15 students got thrown out only because I could not placate her ego.
"SCREW U" I said inwardly and went away.

The next day I woke up early since you cannot miss two lectures in a row it makes that goal of sufficient lectures to sit in exam a distant possibility. Having waked up early I got some real good time in hand. I shaved, took a luxurious bath, dressed properly and finally had breakfast. Earlier the usual procedure had been to wake up, paste and off to class. The change felt nice I must admit.

After that when I reach class, to my astonishment she was late and when she came she actually had the courage to segregate the group of 15 people who were late yesterday and started lecturing. This was the height of hypocrisy, one u comes late and two u start lecturing the one who had been late. To be frank she had no moral authority to do that. When she said a little too much we started protesting. One of us got up and said madam u r late u knows that. To which she replied yes so.
"Get out then" said the leader.
"What" she said obviously shocked.
"You get out or I will complain to the dean she then retaliated.
At this juncture the whole class pitched in and said we won’t attend your class no matter what not today at least
we started shouting late and get out get out.
She stood for some time and then finally years welled up in her eyes.
To be honest it felt really good .it felt like watching porn. It was getting better.

ALL OF A SUDDEN I fell from my bed and clutching my mobile I saw 9:45.
Gr8 so I have missed two lectures today.
"I am screwed I said to myself and went to sleep again."

Need for Prison Reforms

When we think of prisons we generally think of a high four walled structure fenced properly and manned my guards atop the watch tower. For those of us who has seen prisons only in movies tend to think of it as spacious place where food stinks but the inmates are hardened criminals. Surprisingly this perception is not true. The prisons are spacious neither are they full of convicted criminals. Most of the prisoners in India are those awaiting trial that basically means they are not convicted criminal. According to one research this amounts to around to 70% of the prison population. But these are poor people with no legal representation and hence the possibility of a status change right now seems very remote. Prisons were supposed to be one place where corrective actions were to be taken so that people who have been imprisoned, when they come out are able to live normal and happy life. But contrary to the purpose, it is performing just the reverse. Those who have been to prison are found to have paid several visits time and again. We cannot blame them either. Persons who have been to prisons, when they come out are treated differentially and nobody wants to give them a job. Unable to find a means of livelihood it is very easy for them to walk down the same path .As always the system is not without flaws . Apart from a large no of people waiting trial, inmates convicted for petty crimes(such as pretty theft) are placed along with lifers, murderers and rapists. Though I am not saying they are not good guys but i do want to say that such prisoners should not be imprisoned with the more seasoned ones as i am sure it does not have any good influence on them. Then there is this problem of overcrowded cells. Cells designed for one inmate are forced to have three since there is no space and the irony is that they are still under trial victims. The jails seem to be full of persons who should not have been in there in the first place. The judiciary system is so slow that most convict spend more time in jail awaiting trial then they could have been possibly sentenced for.

But none of it is going to change. This is because we continue to run jails by an arcane law designed by British a century ago. Just think of it, the last prison reforms came in 1920 and no further reform has been made despite recommendations from several committees and that also includes the top judiciary. The reason may be that these people don’t get to vote or they are not a part of voting banks the politician woo. State has enough money to waiver 60,000 crores of loan(which I still feel was an immoral thing to do) but they have neither the time nor the inclination to improve life of may be more than 2,00,000 people. To try to improve the life of this people wont take much. All they have to do is speed up the judicial process, set up may be some courts and promote some of the lawyers to the post of judges and oversee those cases that are awaiting trials. This is one leg of solution, another include introduction of some crafts or may be computer education or a literary program that might help them earn when they get out of prison and live a dignified life. The drama troupe in Berhampore jail is a case in point where some inmates are performing platy of Rabindra Nath Tagore. With some luck they might be performing outside jail walls in some time and possibly lead a normal life when they get out.