November 07, 2007

Emergency in Pakistan

Pakistan has been dragged into an emergency by yet another dictator. That’s not much news, considering the fact that the country's citizens have largely not seen what democracy is after its cessation from India.
However I wouldn't call it a "failed state" or anything like that, because it’s quite simple to write off a country but it’s difficult to set things right. I firmly believe many of Pakistan’s problems such as the Talibanisation of its North West Frontier Province, tribal warlords of Balochistan have solution not in the military might but by enforcing the voter's right.

Emergency: What is it?
I'm not sure when Emergency option was last used for the "right" reason. Let’s first analyse what we mean by Emergency and its effect on the country at large.
Emergency leads to
1. Cancellation of a citizen's Fundamental Rights such as - Right to freedom of expression, to assemble peacefully, to choose a profession of any choice etc
2. It gives ultimate power to the president/head of the executive.
3. Bills are passed without consultation in the legislature.
4. None of the rights can be enforced in the court of law.

Why does a state need this provision?
Emergency is a “necessary evil” for any country. Consider India for example. Being a large country (7th largest in the world) it is divided into states for administrative convenience. All its citizens, irrespective of which state they belong, enjoy the Fundamental rights (articles 13 - 21) as mentioned above modeled along the lines of Bill of Rights of USA. The Indian constitution is common to all, except for J&K which has its Ranbir constitution. However the framers of our constitution felt that there were some contingencies which warranted the country to behave like a unitary state and to restrict the rights given to its citizens. For instance during an Emergency, the state can virtually issue “fatwas” or directions to a citizen. A car manufacturer for example could be forced to produce jeeps which will be more useful to the military, though it is unconstitutional during normal times.

In India emergencies were declared thrice - 1962 war with china, 1971 Bangladesh war, the infamous emergency declared by Indira Gandhi between 1975 and 1977 for which the congress is paying a price to this day. Infact during the emergencies even the Right to life (article 21) was denied to citizens. This means that if a person was shot dead, it could not be heard in any court of law. It was the Janata Government which passed the 44th constitutional amendment act which made Right to life mandatory even during emergencies.

Pakistan’s situation
The military plays a big role in Pakistan. The military has taken to itself even developmental administration. In Pakistan, bridges, roads and other civil establishments are constructed by the military. Military plays the role of a “businessman” without restricting itself to protecting the borders. This situation exists, unfortunately, in many countries of the world say – Fiji, Thailand, Myanmar. In Myanmar the military even calls itself SPDC (state peace development council) and has been ruling since 1990 when it cancelled the elections in which Aung san suu kyi won.

In a country where military has such a pronounced role, coups is only a natural phenomenon. In the countries mentioned above too there have been many coups and are presently ruled by military heads. In such countries a mere change of a military head receives so much attention as compared to large democracies – for instance how many people even took notice of the fact that Gen.Deepak Kapoor replaced Gen.JJ Singh as the new chief of army staff in India? I was happy to see that this news occupied only an insignificant place in the front page of newspapers. That’s how it ought to be.

Democracy is the only weapon with which we can fight the evils of terrorism, social inequalities and other maladies. It is by giving representation and not by gagging the citizen that development can be achieved. Development without democracy is like the comb in the hands of a bald man. Simply useless!

August 02, 2007

Theres nothing 'Public' about 'Public Administration'

I am presently studying "Public Administration" (pubAd) for my Civil Service Examinations. The subject is very interesting for those who have an inclination towards management and administration (not the excel sheet variety of management ofcourse).

I figured out that the macro level theories of PubAd fit perfectly at micro level too - that is at the family administration level. Consider the spirit of Public Administration, it reads

"Authority without responsibility leads to authoritarianism; while
responsibility without authority leads to anarchy(lack of order)".

How profound is that. I tried applying this to families and found it to fit perfectly. The Indian families of yesteryears could be termed as Authoritarian to say the least. The head honcho of the family (the father) decided all important decisions and it was his nod that enabled us to go ahead with our decisions. In many cases the father even decided his offspring's career! The mother's job was confined to the kitchen and even here her authority was checked in terms of the approval for buying groceries by the head of the family. Clearly in many ways we find that fathers enjoyed real authority without much responsibility (he never actually got the groceries himself). Certainly that was an authoritarian setup with no room for equality.

The families of today, on the other hand, can be seen to tread in an entirely new route which quite untested. These families generally constitute a husband and wife of similar qualification and income. They have certainly broken all barriers of the conventional authoritarian regime that is characteristic of a typical Indian household by espousing the 'virtue' of Anarchy – a complete lack of order in the house.

It is not uncommon to hear of stories about the husband and wife having a 50-50 'work sharing agreement' back at home – the wife cooks breakfast while the husband cooks the lunch. Other 'deals' could be that each of them make breakfast every alternate day. - it follows the paradigm “I toast a slice of bread and you toast another”. I wonder whether the binding force in this relationship could be love, i would bet it is more a case of practical room sharing agreement due to space and money constraints that one has with his/her room mate.

The relationship is built on the false premise that in a family there is no need for a person to act as the final deciding authority. However the truth is that no organization can survive without a leader. Even the most flat hierarchic of the organizations such as a startup software development company needs a department head. An headless creature and a two headed demon are both expected not to survive long.

In this type of relationship there is no one in the family who calls the shots. This indecisiveness could soon eat away the air of 'equality' that once formed the basis of the relationship 'deals' or prenuptial Agreements(soon expected to arrive at the Indian Matriominal scene).

The authoritarian family setup is indeed bad. But anarchy is not the answer to authoritarianism. We have to find an alternate middle path.

June 08, 2007

Come Lets Patent

That the USA has denied reports of trying to patent yoga postures comes as a relief to many Indians around the world. Many ardent yogis who wonder how the US got the right to decide whether it would patent or not a divine exercise which has it roots deeply planted in India, fail to realise that India had to fight a legal battle in the WTO to safeguard her interest when USA patented turmeric and Basmati rice both of which are associated with India since time immemorial.

It is a known fact that America either beats or buys talent and from history we know that they have been more successful in buying out talent. Lakhs of Indian engineers, doctors and other technocrats who are serving in US holding their precious dollars close to their chest stand a testimony to this. USA dominates every nation using its borrowed talent and it becomes important to patent every piece of research to save itself from defection. The issue of evergreening the patents (continue to provide royalty forever) given to life saving drugs is only the tip of the ice berg. USA with its Super 501 and special 501 clauses threatens LDCs(least developed countries) to approve evergreening of such drugs so that these drug companies can continue to extract high profits from these poor nations. India was recently forced to amend her Intellectual property rights Act to fall in line. India had to budge as USA threatened to stop all import of Indian generic drugs which have a good market in the US.

Aren't patents unfair beyond a point? How can obsolete technology be patented beyond 20 years? How can obvious 'inventions' be patented? For instance, the mother of redundant patents, Microsoft has patented the radio button which lets you select one choice among the given alternatives. With the growing competition between the nations, it wouldn't be a surprise if the US ends up patenting our Kamasutra. You'd then be required to fix a camera in your bedroom and perform only those acts (postures) for which you have paid money. If you're found to venture into other 'unpaid' acts during your moments of intimacy, you'd be fined along with the relevant video showing your violation.

India can try her luck too by patenting Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism as they originated from our country. We could then charge people a nominal fee for practicing it. We could also get royalty from Srilanka, South East Asia as they have been 'using' our invention without paying. Those who continue to hold their dollars close to their chest could feel that this is a wonderful idea.

May 22, 2007

How insignificant is the human race?

One of the best ways to understand the relation between the earth and all that exists on it is to imagine that the earth is 46 years old. And when we write her life history, we find that we know nothing about the first seven years of her life, but the deeds of her later childhood are to be seen in the old rocks.

Most of what we recognise on earth, including all substantial life is the product of the last six years of its life(i.e 600 m.y). She flowered, in her middle age. Her continents were quite bare of its life till she was almost 42 and flowering plants did not appear until she was 45 - just a year ago. At that time the great reptiles, including the dinosaurs, came into existence and the breakup of the last supercontinent was in progress.

The dinosaurs passed away eight months ago and the early mammal replaced them. In the middle of last week, in Africa, some manlike apes developed into apelike man and at the weekend mother earth began shivering with the latest series of extremely cold ice-ages. Just over four hours have elapsed since a new species HomoSapiens came into existence and in the last hour it invented agriculture and settled down.Just about 30 minutes back the pre-harappan and early harappan cultures started developing. Just about 14 minutes back, Buddha delivered his first sermon at sarnath, and the Mauryan empire flourished 12 minutes back. Harsha gave all, whatever he had, the religious assembly at prayag about 7 minutes back, and Akbar made a pilgrimage to sufi saint Salim Chisti just about 2 minutes back. India became a proud independent nation hardly two seconds back.
Source: XIth standard Ancient india NCERT book.

Would you give me a soft loan of 1 lakh? i'll return it in one day :)

February 09, 2007

A report on earth

[Cartosat II of ISRO (Indian satellite research organisation) picks up weird signals while in orbit around earth. It carefully records these cryptic messages and sends it back to the ground station. After much labour, the message is deciphered and here it is for your readership]

Beep Beep. Sending a summary about the third rock from this obscure star (the earthlings call it sun). Our intuition is right! There is some form of primitive life form in this small rock earth.
Presently this habitat can be seen to be dominated by a species which is addressed to as the mankind. This species is spread all around the rock though not uniformly distributed. Since the star (sun) heats up the surface of this planet differently at different places, it can be seen that the species is differently burnt. The ones occupying the centre of the rock are burnt more than the ones living on the fringes. It is evident that the ones that are not as burnt as the ones living near the equator (centre of the planet) have a sense of superiority over the partially and the completely burnt ones.

Presently this species which has taken control of earth can be seen to convert all forms of life to its own self for no obvious reasons. But it has been quite successful in this mission – their numbers have grown close to 7 billion. The reason behind this cannot be attributed to a possible attack on our establishments near andromeda considering its technological backwardness. For example, this species has fixed an upper bound on the velocity of its vehicles at the speed of light and it considers taking a few snaps of itself from some distance from its surface a great achievement. Some sections of this species are however against such a ruthless conversion exercise. This group is also against consumption of other creatures and advocate on the dependence on green leaves and other such support mechanisms instead. Chief among the reasons for this insistence is that they argue that other forms of life have something called “emotions”. However an overwhelming majority of these creatures that preach this principle can be seen to be wearing accessories made out of skin of other thick skinned creatures that are not active after the skin is taken away from them. Perhaps these thick skinned creatures don’t have afore mentioned “emotions”.

The species is divided into two primary groups- one of them can be seen to go behind the other for an instant personal gratification. It requires a pair (one from each group) to produce another creature of the same species. About one of the groups, it can be clearly seen, the best way to reach its heart (organ of satisfaction) is through its stomach. The process is slightly complex for the other- it requires mining of rare metals, careful enrichment of their ores must precede melting and casting them into different shapes.

This mankind depends on dark rocks and fluid substance found beneath its surface to fuel its vehicles and some smoking chimneys (which are known as ‘factories’ among the earth folk). This act of mankind has upset the normal working of the system of earth. It has destroyed the protective covering of gas around the planet which is known as the ‘Atmosphere’. Some groups of this species have raised their opposition against this unscrupulous activity which could endanger its own sustenance in this planet. Some of these influential groups have been successful in preventing the setting up of smoking chimneys in some of the darker sections of the earth. It is an irony that these groups are based out of the same place on earth which causes maximum destruction to earth’s atmosphere. The reason behind using such a suicidal method of obtaining fuel is not known given the fact that sun (an infinite source of energy) is less than half a light year’s distance from this place.

About its culture, it can be seen that the whole mankind celebrates an event called the ‘new year’ by assembling at a common place and shaking itself to curious angles and gulping down fermented liquid. This ‘new year’ is celebrated on account of the earth successfully completing a lap around the sun and starting the next round. However it’s a surprise again as to how this species found the starting and ending point of an elliptical closed plane which has no beginning or end.
Mankind has been giving many paradoxes for our mission control to solve. However the Holocene phenomena could be predicted not to last for long to pose a threat to us since they are not even half as powerful and imposing as their Jurrasic counterparts that once dominated the same surface. Its genetic system is also corrupted with self destructing tendencies and hence will not cause much harm to us. However the only scope for its survival depends much on a person who presently lives in a place which hosts 1/6th of the mankind. This person is seen to be busy preparing for some examination presently.