Insight Mahiprasad

Friday, April 25, 2008

Why Not Pension Commision?

Every ten years on, a Pay Commission is set up to consider a pay hike for the Central Government employees. People look forward to this Commission with thirst. As is our present culture, this Commission is a replica of the Royal Commission created by our previous ruler, the British. A retired judge is entrusted with the job to head the Commission. All seem to be an old façade. Some jubilate, most cry out, after the Commission presents its recommendations. There is nothing new. We are infact, used to imitate others. The setting up of the Pay Commission is no exception either.

It is said that 4.6 million people are in the pay roll of the Central Government and as many as 3.4 million in the pension roll. Whenever the govt. declares new wages to its employees, it increases the pension as well. The Pay Commission recommends this increase of pension. Surprisingly, this increase in the pension does not follow any analytical process, as is done in the case of its employees. Pensioners are burdens to the exchequer, and so the govt. just throws a piece of bone towards their former employees while the present are given a frolicking treat. This has been going on since its inception. But enough is enough.

Are these old horses incapable of everything due to age? Can't they even walk to the streets of Raisina Road to flaunt their prowess? It's time for them to force the government to set up a Pension Commission, a la Pay Commission. Many pensioners think that whatever they receive, it is due to the generousness of the succeeding governments. But what they really forget is that they are the second most beneficiaries in numbers, next only to the Central Govt. employees. It's true, no one will support the view that the pensioners should get a large amount. But what to do with these big chunk of people getting a minimal amount to sustain themselves in an impoverished manner?

There is indeed a cure for our experienced and senior citizens. The government must set up a Pension Commission. Apart from fixing up minimum and maximum level of pension, the Commission would also look into the livelihood of the pensioners. There are all sorts of pensioners viz. former peons to former Cabinet Secretaries. Some poor, some can nourish themselves. Some are very old, but some look radiant enough to make most youth feel embarrassed to look at them. They can be given jobs on a contract basis. The Govt. can entrust many jobs to the needy and willful pensioners which at present are given to the either private entrepreneurs or are shelved due to shortage of employees. Employees in banks and other government departments are overworked, due to the new policy of the government to reduce man force. By paying little money to the pensioners, the government can save a lot. A mass of retired employees can therefore earn a bit, and meet their unfulfilled responsibilities. They will feel pride in doing work, and help in building the nation. If our senior citizens feel respected, it is sure that our young generation would rise more than they rise today.

Is anybody listening??

Shunning of Smoking

Shunning of smoking is not as formidable as it sounds to be. If this task is taken with due care, the number of smokers will decline sharply within a period of a decade. By introducing laws to prevent smoking from public transport, government offices, public places seem introductory; these are indeed a good way to begin with, but are not enough. Ads on the cigarette packets that have been creating awe, has done its job. Of late, a lot of new laws to be introduced are being discussed. One of these is the cessation of the manufacturing units that produce cigarettes and bidis in India. These are somewhat bankruptcy of thoughts. If smoking stuff are not available in the market, the people who smoke or the part of nation would go restless, that might jeopardize the basic concept. Moreover, this irrational law could bring in smugglers to look for a new avenue.

It seems there are already enough laws to force people to shun smoking. But has there been any real endeavour made to encourage people not to smoke? There are lot many ways of clipping smoking, but who really cares?

Think, no parent wants their child to smoke, no teacher like its students to smoke, there are numerous laws which bind the smokers, ads that give deadly picture to the smokers, then how come the number of smokers are increasing? Because, we are not touching the cause, we are just taking up the cudgels.

So now its time to go to the root and find the cause. It is well-known that most smokers begin the habit at a very tender age when they still move in the vicinity of school. It is the school which must accept the guilt that they are covertly responsible for the growth of this menace. It is therefore, time for the school to come up with new measures to abandon these bad habits amongst their young fellows, except of course the punishment.

The school can give extra credit to those students of class IX onwards who do not smoke. A non-smoker will not fail in the annual test. To join in any activity of sports in the school, one needs to be a non-smoker. A non-smoking certificate can be given to the students along with the character certificate while leaving the school. The same measures could be continued in the colleges, unto the age of 21. If the vile habit is restrained between 15 and 21 years, it is sure that the nation can boast for reducing the menace by nipping it in the bud.

Till now, non-smokers are the worst hit. It is time to pay back few incentives to those who do not smoke. Few alluring measures can be extended as encouragement to the non-smokers of all age. Concessional bus passes, a discount on railways and bus tickets for long distance travellers, different price for cinema tickets to the non-smokers will invariably add inspiration to them. Just to rely upon the enforcement of law to punish the smoker is self-deceptive. It is a age of encouragement, giving remuneration and self-belief and therefore every serious matters must be taken care of by a polite act and a graceful gesture.

(I am a smoker and think seriously about non-smoking)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Testing the Tester?

On one sunny morning, the newspaper headlined "tough paper, students look gloomy". It was actually the very next day of the physics exam of Class XII CBSE Board. Many students expressed their views, saying that the paper was hard, too many numericals which had taken the toll, and the paper was prepared cicumlocutely. It was not a one of case.

On the same day, there was a GRE test held in different parts of the world. On asking the students, who came out from the Gurgaon Test Centre, how did they appear? The answer was somber, "the R.C. was very hard."

A few days back, a brilliant student of 15 years old was narrating his views of the SAT examination, which he had appeared lately. He expounded the exam as "Seriously Attributed to Traumatise". He however explained it, "the Americans are very sharp, and this exam is for the best students only. The ones who appear, can answer 60% of the question asked, but the remaining 40% are mind boggling".

All the above exams are meant for getting admission to colleges of the next stages. These exams are mostly a persevering, screening process for the students, and have nothing to do with cudgeling out the cream out of the students. Even in doing these unbreakable screening processes, can the organization claim the transparency in the method? It's true, a miniscule few out of the millions are scoring a hundred percent score. Some of the questions are found to be really unanswerable. What is the difficulty if some more could score hundred percents. The heavens will not fall, if that has to happen. Any exam should place its standard to such a point so that the students appearing feel that the test given is an honest maneuvering of their skills.

To make these exams more transparent by the nature of the test, the Boards may initiate to ask few teachers, authors, randomly to appear in these tests. Like in the CBSE XII board papers of physics, a few physics school teachers should also appear in the physics test, along with the students. The score obtained by the teachers would be considered as the benchmark of that subject. Likewise, other teachers of different subjects will also have to face the board tests. It is prudent in calling for the renowned authors to appear in the tests for SAT and GRE and other such tests, not only to boost the students, but also demonstrate the fairness of these exams.

It is easier to prepare question papers by learned, matured people. Let these matured people face the dreadfulness of these papers and give evidence about the transparency of the test in particular, and education in general.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mantra of Winning

It was a spirited moment when the Team India clinched the tri-series in Australia in early March, beating the powerful Aussies hands down, in their own den. It's undoubtedly a great moment for the Cricket India, as they have beaten more than once to both unrelenting Australia and Sri Lanka in the just held series. The question now arises from many quarters whether India continues to hold the position that it has acquired? Some pundits say, India has broken the spine of Australia, and invariably remains numero-uno in the field of cricket under the leadership of M.S Dhoni. And some cricketing experts have mentioned that the new breed of cricketers are better fighter, not bogged down under pressure, and have the potential to play better at the highest level.

Does it sound realistic? No, perhaps. When Kapil's devils had brought the World Cup in 1983, didn’t we anticipate that Indian cricket would be different thenceforth? But what happened thereon? The same West Indies team whom we won over in the final, left the Indian team in the lurch immediately at our own courtyard. The Indian team looked as ordinary as before.

However, if we blink at the merits of Australia, the look of their canvas is inimitable from any angle viz. test series or one dayers. They became champion for the first time in 1987. It took them twelve years to win again in 1999. But thereafter, they didn't look back. They beat everyone, and won every series played anywhere. This is called consistency. We take another example. Sri Lanka bagged the Cup in 1996, and thereafter India played a couple of series against them. But we lost most of the matches, and thereby series. Sri Lanka was an unbeatable team during that period, until 1999 world cup began. That was also consistency, even if for a shorter period. And who can forget the glorious period of West Indies cricket? Can we reminisce any moment when we claim that the consistency was part of our cricket? No, we would not find any, honestly. Time to time, we had nurtured a lot of expectations from Kapil Dev, and then we followed the charisma of Saurav Ganguly for bringing glory to our nation for a period. The time went by, but the cherish period deludes us time and again. So, how long will Dhoni sustain the treasured moment of winning matches consistently? The scathing heart of the kangaroos and the effervescent Pakistanis will maneuver to dent the canvas made articulately by Dhoni, sooner or later.

If we recollect one match that was played in 1997-98 against Sri Lanka, we might find out the mantra of winning matches consistently. Before that, Sri Lanka was winning all the matches against us with clear conviction. Azhar was our captain, and the Indian team had players of the calibre of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble, Jadeja, Sreenath, and Robin Singh amongst others. That was considered to be a pretty good team. Still we were trounced at the hands of the Sri Lankan in every match. At the fag end of the series, suddenly most of our seasoned players fell sick or down with injury. The panic alarm unsettled the bellies of the selectors. "What will happen now, and who will face the dynamism of the prodigious opponent?' Somehow replacements were made with unknown players only to replenish the formality of the game. The forthcoming match was a foregone conclusion. Few over-enthusiastic spectators went to fill the empty stadium. It was a miracle to be seen. India beat Sri Lanka in that match.

Prior to twenty-20 world cup, we had no expectations from our team in that tournament, as we only knew Dhoni, Yuvraj, Sehwag and Harbhajan by face value. Even amongst them, Sehwag and Harbhajan were discarded from the then just concluded series in England. The rest of the players were inconsequential, and so there was no hope. But the miracle seemed to take the driver's seat, and India beat all the best sides including Australia, S.A., and Pakistan. Another miracle was in the offing within a few months i.e. the outcome of the series played in Australia. Only Tendulkar was seen in the team as the only veteran player.

So, what is the mantra? It is simple. Remember, some of our senior players are the best in the world, and so are they always under the scanner of the other teams. The opposition bowlers look through the lenses the techniques of Sachin, Saurav and Rahul, with the determination to upset them. Same strategy is applied in the case of our eminent bowlers like Kumble, Harbhajan and Zaheer. The opposition coaches study them, and their players hammer when our boys falter a bit. All our citadel collapses and the nation burst into fury.

We are a nation with a billion people, and we have a million cricketers. If we want to win tournaments, send new talents with one or two veterans each time. Give them enough when they come back winning, like given now. They would continue to play until any big tournament arrives. In the big one, send a new team, and so on, so forth. This way, we could avoid being scanned. Really, we do not need versatile players now, rather put forward vivacious players in tandem.

This way, our raw talents would tear asunder the mightiest, without any fear of their reputation. Let more poor fellows come to the fold, and fill up their kitty. Let the BCCI do not depend more on the white elephants.

Where cricket is followed like a religion, let it be flourished in our country. If our youth cannot perform well in football or hockey, do not curse them. Let the crowd join in where they can nourish themselves well and the country can boast its mettle in one aspect of the games, at least.

Real Democracy

The great political thinker, Aristotle, defined democracy in one sentence as "it is the government of the people, for the people and by the people." The people in power, however, smile and make inroads towards the power astutely, without having high respect for the definition the master propounded. The master, who had seen the power from a closer view, was not part of the power ever, and therefore, missed out many of the nitty-gritty of a democracy. One such nitty-gritty is from where does the real democracy build up. The great man had opinionated about the various institutions of democracy, but had he ever mentioned about how democracy would be instilled in the power hungry beasts?

Ever since the existence of democracy in the modern society, every country and politician, howsoever great they are, ingeniously exploit the term 'democracy' to its own benefit. Though the term was invented for the benefit of mankind. Now, we are tired of hearing the term 'the mockery of democracy' by the same politicians who at some part of time were the targets of the people whom they are calling the cause of mockery. Why it is thus happened?

Democracy is all, but full of farce and hypocrisy. Honestly, no man on earth is a real democrat. Wherever it suits, people call for democracy, and the moment it seems harmful for them to accept the demands of the people, they shun democracy in the name of development, law and order, and discipline. It is very common to observe after any sub-continental elections that political parties eschew values, morals and make immoral alignments in order to capture the power. We have not forgotten how President Bush was re-elected, when he was actually trailing behind the previous night. Throughout his tenure, he eulogises the democracy, but ironically he punishes the countries whose one man has opposed him. Russian President Vladimir Putin was elected only by a newly democratic format, but he forbade it the moment he was at the helm of affairs. Why it is thus happened?

Not only the term 'democracy' is often utilized as a good usage and in high esteem, but also our leaders expound it and ask people to follow a democratic path, while they seldom follow it. Why it is thus happened?

Surprisingly, what the Master didn't mention was that where actually the democracy should begin from. Doesn't it sound ludicrous that the people who were generally intolerants, biased, law-breakers, nepotistic in nature, would become democrats overnight, because they are elected to rule? It is easier to be elected by an influential person, for which one needs to know the skill of getting elected. It is however, equally difficult to follow the path of democracy. If one goes through the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Nelson Mandela, one would know how they also often deviated from the path when others had opposed them. It is therefore that centuries have passed, yet we seldom notice a real democrat walking the surface of the earth. Why it is thus happened? Is it so difficult to follow? Does democracy seem an utopia?

No, it is not. When a child is born, he looks towards his father as an autocrat at home. When stepping into school, he finds the teachers dictate with absolute authority. By the time he leaves the school, a long twelve years have passed. Very few teachers are found to be tolerant. Most students in a class observe that only handfuls are adored by the teachers. The rest get lower marks in the tests, and are ridiculed by the teachers all day. I have seen the teachers in India, America, U.K. and in the Arab world very closely. Except in U.K., the rest all are alike. They are intolerant, biased and easily provoked. Though, I have heard that the teachers in New Zealand, Finland and Norway are different.

The children by birth are intolerant, biased and easily be provoked. They are sent to the school for developing their behaviors along with enriching enlightenment. Unfortunately, most of them end up with little change in their attitude. However, the teachers in the colleges are more tolerant. But by the time the students reach the arena of colleges, their behaviors have already taken shape.

If we are to change the society and expect our leaders to shun their unruly attitude, we need to look at the schools and the teachers first, wherein our children learn the art of living. A teacher may be less educated, nonetheless his opinion, behaviour, and kindness are all that a student loves to imitate. If teachers become democrats in true spirit, the world would be a different place to live in. Enough is tolerated. Now, the time has come when hypocrisy will have no space. We really await to trust our leaders, and who else but the teacher can show the true light. And then, every word of the Master seems meaningful and the word democracy would be spelt with veneration.

Jones Act
Jones Act Counter