Friday, December 28, 2012

FDI –To kill middle man or middle class?

It is just 6 PM only but pitch dark outside. The entire North India is celebrating Deepavali and the sound of crackers and cold wave penetrating into ears and body. My evening walk land up me at a local market where millions of porcelain Lakshmi and Ganesh idols, made in China are flooded. Last month only I blamed US for getting its flags from China, but now the elastic purchasing power of middle class welcomed these Chinese products in Deepavali. Even the crackers could not divert my attention from the cute idols, thanks to the FDI. What is FDI? Is it something to be scared of or a phobia induced by something? Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is direct investment into production in a country by a company located in another country, either by buying a company in the target country or by expanding operations of an existing business in that country. FDI is done for many reasons including to take advantage of cheaper wages , special investment privileges such as tax exemptions , as an incentive to gain tariff-free access to the markets or the region. This is contrast to FDI in portfolio investment in the securities of another country such as stocks and bonds. Like every issues, political parties agrees to disagree for all issues. And there is no national consensus on allowing FDI in retail. Supporters of FDI push it as a much-needed policy drive that could arrest the economic recession, bringing in not only foreign funds but advanced technology and expertise, create infrastructure, offer better prices to farmers, generate ancillary industries ,create millions of jobs, and what not. However, majority of Indians, being skeptic, consider FDI as something like end of the world and will wipe out small farmers and traders, results in job losses and will wide open gates for cheap goods from countries like China, adversely impacting Indian industry. While both arguments have some legality, the two sides err on the side of extremes. FDI in retail is not an unmitigated disaster as projected by some, nor a magic rod leading to instant economic growth. If allowed with professional care and safeguards, it is in the country's national interest to allow FDI in retail. The both side are partially true only. I remember, two decades back, when I was employed in Bangalore, I’d to travel 2-3 Kms to just make a telephone call to my home which we cannot imagine now. Opening up the telecom sector to foreign investment has brought a communication revolution that embraces everyone. We make the advantage of this giant leap to canvass against the very same policy which brought telecom revolution. For decades, Indian roads have the privilege to see just 2-3 types of scooters and four wheelers. Similarly, there was the long wait even for outdated scooters and cars. When Pizza Hut, Domino's, McDonald's, KFC and other such international brands were allowed, there were stiff opposition and they were highlighted as anti-people and anti-Indian enterprises. We were told and in turn we conducted campaign that the local Haldirams, Bikanerwalas, Nathus ,Bengali sweets etc will soon vanish. Presently All these Indian companies have multiplied their outlets, spread their production line, upgraded their packing and presentation, and are doing exemplary business and many have Indianised their products also. Where else in the world would other than Connaught Place you find a McDonald burger with paneer and potato patties and coriander sauce? Even in a small city like Trivandrum we find Spencer’s, dominos etc. Have they wiped out any indigenous companies? Have they brought reduced business to any margin- free markets? While many starve, millions of tonnes of grain become rancid for want of adequate storage facilities. Ask how farmers in Punjab feel when their produce is not picked up and lies unsold. Can they negotiate higher prices? When the mercury rises, fruit don't last more than two days. Why we can’t find a solution till date? Recently we have seen series of raid in food outlets in many parts of Kerala.This includes shops in private, foreign and government sector. Who is to blame? FDI in retail or the shop owners? No one should underestimate the creativity of ordinary hawkers and small grocery owners. They know how to reach out to their potential customers. Today, in many areas of Delhi, vegetable vendors present their carts, laden with fresh stuff straight from the farm, as early as 6:00 am and this helps many joggers to pick up their daily requirement of vegetables from these vendors. Small grocery shops realize the value of home delivery; small stores also reduce a rupee or two on most items. This demand-and-supply relationship will remain unchanged in spite of the entry of big wheel like Wal-Mart. Even without FDI in retail, more than half of electronic and electrical items, machine tools, hardware, fittings and sanitary ware, lights and chandeliers etc sold in India are made in China. The Government can ask FDI to undertake R&D for better and higher-yielding seeds, build connecting roads, set up a chain of warehouses, cold storages, food processing plants and create green belts in the vicinity of stores as also schools, hospitals, sports and recreational facilities for their employees. The list is endless. Anyone claiming that FDI in retail will not create jobs is being dishonest. If there is a will, there is a way. Now its high time to think of the benefits of FDI. It will kill the middle men and not the middle class .At the same time we should understand that FDI retail come to India to make profit and not to donate money or achieve the good will. They should be allowed to make reasonable profit within the laws and frame work and in return we get more job opportunities and diverse products. I’m not overlooking the fact that when coca cola was banned in India in seventies, it gave opportunities to a number of indigenous drinks. This has given opportunities to many companies to improve their products also. Those who staunchly argue against FDI may please examine what effort done by authorities to boost up the market of coconut or even coconut farmers, who are lucky if at least five rupees is obtained. ? Mega stores of FDI in retail can also co-exist with small traders, grocery shops and corner vendors; they will attract customers from different sections, as has been the case in the restaurant business. Those raising the trouble against FDI in retail are the same persons who opposed FDI in the telecom, automobile and restaurant sectors. We had seen the same faces when computers and television came to this country, but with only one difference: there was no TV channel to air their discussion against it. I am writing this article with a hero pen made in China which costs about twenty in Bengali Market. Its presence has no way affected the sector, but only the FDI-the Fear Dominated Indians.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What is eco-friendly electricity?

When we say eco-friendly electricity, we generally mean its generation causes least disturbance to eco system, like electricity from wind,Solar,bio-gas etc.Even the hydro electric projects pollute the eco system, though marginally with the production of methane gas. Then what should be eco friendly electricity? What is the function of eco friendliness in transmission and distribution of electricity? All These thoughts would have remained utopian had I not made a trip to Kolkota, West Bengal in India. I have never been to Bengal earlier and that’s why I accepted the itinerary, though it was not flexible. This is an old city. Nostalgia of British raj is still here. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly. The colonial city was developed by the British East India Company . The city was the capital of the British Indian empire till 1911 when it was relocated to Delhi. Kolkata witnessed a fast rise as the second city of the British Empire in the 19th century accompanied by the development of a culture that was a merger of European philosophy with Indian tradition. The city is also noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from Indian struggle for independence to the leftist Naxalite and trade union movements. The city of Club football, Trams, The first in India where electricity generated for commercial purpose ie. Sindra Pong in the 19th century.etc. Labelled the "Cultural Capital of India", "The City of Processions", "The City of Palaces", and the "City of Joy", Kolkata has also been home to luminaries such as Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, Mother Teresa and Satyajit Ray.etc A lot of other credits are to be boasted of like the place where the cream of Indian society lives (d) etc…
The electricity sector in the city is in dilapidated situation. Near to the place where I had my lunch, the above electric post is seen erected. Mind it ,it took more than 15 minutes for me to ascertain whether electricity is flowing or not …… i.e. whether the line is live or not. The nearby posts are also silimar.I enquired the watchman of the Hotel, who in turn enquired with the electrician of the building. They pay all respect and attention to me as if I am from their power utility, came for inspection. The electrician led a 5 member team (Electrician- The leader, the guard of the hotel-Personnel security officer, Driver of my vehicle –guide, my host-the silent and the unfortunate person to witness all the out of Agenda works, and myself.)Finally we find the line live and there is no wonder for them to have an electric line like this. At one side huge amount is pumping to power sector by the Government of India, and at another side it is being wasted. It’s high time to realize that we are pumping the hard earned money to leaky buckets. Mere capacity addition will not help to tide over the power crisis in India. Equal effort should be given to reduce the electricity losses. As a thumb rule, for every addition of 100 MW to the system in India, The net result would be around 50MW only. Thinking all these, I travelled through the busty street of Kolkotta.This is a city ruled by a single political party for more than three decades together. No sign of flags of political parties are seen .Why? No explanation from my host who otherwise gave me a clear picture of labour unrest in the Industrial sector in the State. The scene of a bare footed Rickshawala, pulling 4-5 persons in the hot climate of about 35 degree pulled my heart. My thoughts travelled past as we crossed the Hooghly River. One of the most notorious incidents of the 18th century was the trial and execution of "Nuncomar" or, more correctly, Nanda Kumar (d. 1775), who had been the governor of Hughli and had been appointed collector of Burdwan in place of Warren Hastings, which resulted in a long-standing enmity between the two . In 1775, when Hastings was Governor-General, Nanda Kumar brought accusations of corruption against him, accusing him of accepting bribes and other abuses of power. These were taken up with enthusiasm by Hastings' rivals on the Governor General's Council. Whilst this matter was still awaiting investigation, Nanda Kumar was indicted for forgery of a deed, condemned and executed. There was a strong suspicion that the charges had been invented by Hastings, and that he had put pressure on the judges to pass sentence of death. At this date it was far from clear whether or not English law applied in Calcutta, and it was extremely rare for the death penalty to be applied for forgery even in England. Warren Hastings and the Chief Justice, were both impeached, and were accused afterwards of committing a judicial murder. Hastings Impeachment ended with his acquittal in 1795 after a seven year trial. Ok let’s forget about the past, don’t be a pessimist………. be positive or B positive? .In every name, I find the use of B, the second letter, though Bengalese are second to none. B for Bengal? B for Backward state? B for Banarjee, the Mamta? B for Budhadeb Bhatacharya? B for Basu, The Jyothy? With these mixed thought, I arrived the International terminal, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International terminal, Kolkota for my onward journey.Here also I find a B. B Stands for nothing else………….. Bose, the Nethaji.

The Oblations

The oblation (Shraddh) is the ceremonies and rituals performed for the departed souls of dead ancestors. It is believed that the souls will attain peace by the rituals performed during the anniversary days. It is Yama, the god of death in Hindu mythology, who explained the importance of Shraddh. The rituals are usually performed under the guidance of a learned person or priest. To remember the ancestors is something to do for the descendants. This can be done informally in one's own private time. The ancestry goes as far to the first humans. It then could go through the different stages of evolution. Before the first human and the first life form there was the interaction and compounding of matter to make the conditions to allow life to begin its progress. Before the existence of matter there was emptiness. These are all points derived from evidence, postulations and assumptions. Still, besides this many varied theories on this existence have been passed down by soothsayers, seers, oracles, scholars, and those who are involved in religious, spiritual, mystical affairs. All give more meaning and hold many interesting ideas on the details of creation, existence and interrogatives related to these topics.
The Solitude place at Haridwar where I usually offer oblations to my beloved father. The Ganges is believed to be the most sacred and is also a lifeline to millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs. It has also been important historically: many former provincial or imperial capitals (such as Patliputra,Kannauj,Kara, Kashi, Allahabad, Murshidabad, Munger, Baharampur and Kolkata) have been located on its banks. The Ganges was ranked among the five most polluted rivers of the world in 2007 with fecal coliform levels in the river near Varanasi more than one hundred times the official Indian government limits. Pollution threatens not only humans, but also more than 140 fish species, 90 amphibian species and the endangered Ganges river dolphin The Ganga Action Plan, an environmental initiative to clean up the river, has been a major failure thus far, due to corruption and lack of technical expertise,lack of good environmental planning, Indian traditions and beliefs,and lack of support from religious authorities.

Monday, May 7, 2012

SWEET MOTHER

Mothers are the sweetest gift of nature. There is no way we can ever really thank mother for all she does for us nevertheless we must make it a habit to keep reminding ourselves of the various sacrifices she made while raising us. Mothers' Day is the best time to say few words how much you love and care for your mum; though I don’t require any particular day earmarked to remember her. I wish I could tell you, mom how much you mean to me..... But there are no words to say how much I admire you.... How much I appreciate you how much I thank you for everything you've done Last year this day I talked to you ……… Time might have swept you away, but not the sweet memories

Sunday, February 26, 2012

THE STORY OF A WELL

When I think of a well, the picture comes to my mind is old deep well, without any motor pump used in our village in olden days. All the houses have their own well and there was no need of purification of water further. The water from well was as sweet as honey. During summer time, the level of water goes down and the villagers get a time to clean it. Its a skilled act to go down to a well having circular rings.

I still remember my father climbing down to a well whenever he wanted to pick anything which accidentally fell into it. As time passed, I too learnt how to descend in to a well. There is no projection or hooks to hang on, but mere balancing will protect the person from falling down. Now, as a city dweller, I cant see any well in the nearby places. I’m afraid people do not know how can a well be constructed or how can we descend into without ladder. The picture of old village well creates a nostalgia in my mind. That is why I said ‘yes’ when a friend invited to me to visit an old well in this metro city.
Ugrasen ki Baoli,(Ugrasen’s Well)
is a protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India. This is a 60-meter long and 15-meter wide historical step well on Hailey Road near Connaught Place,in New Delhi, India. Although there are no known historical records to prove who built Agrasen ki Baoli, it is believed that it was originally built by the legendary king Agrasen and rebuilt in the 14th century by the Agrawal community which traces its origin to Maharaja . Water temples and temple step wells were built in ancient India and the earliest forms of step well and reservoir were also built in India in places like Dholavira as far back as the Indus Valley Civilisation.

A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is usually drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump (e.g. from a water-pumping windmil. It can also be drawn up using containers, such as buckets, that are raised mechanically or by hand.
Hand dug wells provide a cheap and low-tech solution to accessing groundwater in rural locations in developing countries, and may be built with a high degree of community participation, or by local entrepreneurs who specialize in hand-dug wells. Hand dug wells have been successfully excavated to 60 metres and are inexpensive and low tech (compared to drilling) as they use mostly hand labour. Construction of hand dug wells can be dangerous due to collapse of the well bore, falling objects and asphyxiation, including from dewatering pump exhaust fumes.


In a village,one day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried sadly for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to rescue the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all took shovel and other tools and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of mud that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Donkey relaxing after coming out of well
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The “Living” Sculpture

Khajuraho is just a small modest village with no more than 3000 residents surrounded by the forestland. As Khajuraho gets a fair number of tourists from all over the world every year, hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops have sprung up in large numbers at the entrances to the two distinctive groups of temples here. Aeroplanes are not a thing of curiosity for the villagers anymore and the emblem of a warrior fighting a lion single-handedly and with his bare hands seen frequently at the temples is said to be the depiction of the valiant warrior-king who was the head of the clan of the Chandela Rajputs who built the temples. Chandelas are believed to be the descendants of the Moon God himself. The construction of the temples is said to have started in the mid- 9th century and continued until the early 12th century and due to the lack of records of the building activity, the names of the thousands of sculptors, architects and masons, who must have contributed in their construction has been lost forever into obscurity.


Chandela dynasty had already lost its glory by the time the last temple was completed. Khajuraho was the capital of the Chandelas for a brief period but for most of the part, it was their religious center. However, there have been many theories regarding the sculptures adorning the facades and interiors of the Khajuraho temples. Some of them believe these temples to be centers of tantrik mysticism, which regards sex as an important part of human development and the attainment of the Absolute.









Others believe that they were constructed as such to lure men and women back to the family and worldly life, which play an important part in Hinduism, from the austerities preached by the Buddha that were gaining favor with people of that time. Since thick forests surrounded these temples thus shielding them from the Mughal armies. T. S. Burt, the British engineer who re-discovered the temples in the mid-19th century found the sculptures offensive. However, the local villagers and tribals have regularly used the temples ever since they were constructed, especially, the temple of Matangeshwar Mahadev for worshipping. It was General Alexander Cunningham who worked hard to gather details about them for the first time in his Survey of India reports. It was his efforts that stirred interest in people about the place. Later, the roads were constructed, facilities were provided for and luxury hotels were planned here and thus, started the resurrection of Khajuraho

The Khajuraho temples do not contain sexual or erotic art inside the temple or near the deities; however, some external carvings bear erotic art. Also, some of the temples that have two layers of walls have small erotic carvings on the outside of the inner wall. There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings.


They portray that, for seeing the deity, one must leave his or her sexual desires outside the temple. They also show that divinity, such as the deities of the temples, is pure like the atman, which is not affected by sexual desires and other characteristics of the physical body. It has been suggested that these suggest tantric sexual practices. Meanwhile, the external curvature and carvings of the temples depict humans, human bodies, and the changes that occur in human bodies, as well as facts of life.


Some 10% of the carvings contain sexual themes; those reportedly do not show deities, they show sexual activities between people. The rest depict the everyday life of the common Indian of the time when the carvings were made, and of various activities of other beings. For example, those depictions show women putting on makeup, musicians, potters, farmers, and other folk. Those mundane scenes are all at some distance from the temple deities. A common misconception is that, since the old structures with carvings in Khajuraho are temples, the carvings depict sex between deities.


Another perspective of these carvings is presented by James McConnachie. In his history of the Kamasutra, McConnachie describes the thought-provoking 10% of the Khajuraho sculpture as "the apex of erotic art": "Twisting, broad-hipped and high breasted nymphs display their generously contoured and bejewelled bodies on exquisitely worked exterior wall panels. These fleshy apsaras run riot across the surface of the stone, putting on make-up, washing their hair, playing games, dancing, and endlessly knotting and unknotting their girdles....Beside the heavenly nymphs are serried ranks of griffins, guardian deities and, most notoriously, extravagantly interlocked lovemaking couples."
While recording the television show 'lost worlds' for the history channel at Khajuraho, Alex Evans, a contemporary stonemason and sculptor gave his expert opinion and forensically examined the tool marks and construction techniques involved in creating the stunning stonework at the sites. He also recreated a stone sculpture under 4 feet that took about 60 days to carve in an attempt to develop a rough idea how much work must have been involved.Roger Hopkins and Mark Lehner also conducted experiments to quarry limestone which took 12 quarrymen 22 days to quarry about 400 tons of stone. These temples would have required hundreds of highly trained sculptors.(courtesy)


The sculpture of a laughing elephant
The moment I stopped car near by ,a group of guides surrounded me .It seems none of them know the details thoroughly . But at last I succumbed one man. His English is as old as that of Chandela dynasty though they appear in jacket and sun glass. I stopped the car and asked him to go, the moment he told me that he would charge me extra if I go even one minute beyond the three hours as agreed. The guides are more interested in the tourist visiting the shops nearby rather than explaining the life that is depicted in stone. The narration in English by the tourist authorities is good and helpful. I joined with a group from abroad and find the guide highly experienced and informative.


….don’t depend on untrained guides though they may appear with jacket ,cap and sun glasses……
The stones have got life here. The facial expression of each sculpture is mesmerizing and stunning, revealing to the situation which is depicted. Unfortunately very few look on the face of the sculpture. It wonders me that few sculptors have on modern cloths –made as a part main stone –which remind you of the apparel and costume of a city dweller.
Sculptors with beard
Over the course of history, men with facial hair ie. beard, have been credited various qualities such as wisdom, sexual virility, masculinity, or a higher status; although beards may also be alleged to be associated with a lack of general cleanliness and a loss of fine-tuning. Biologists characterize beards as secondary sexual characteristics because they are unique to one gender, yet do not play a direct role in reproduction. When one of my friends often boast of the freedom and advantage of being a man whereas the women have a lot of genetic problems, the process of shaving of beard regularly comes to my mind.

In ancient India, the beard was allowed to grow long, a symbol of dignity and of wisdom. The nations in the east generally treated their beards with great care and veneration, and the punishment for wastefulness and betrayal was to have the beard of the offending parties publicly cut off. They had such a sacred regard for the preservation of their beards that a man might pledge it for the payment of a debt.
A beard can be explained as an indicator of a male's overall condition. My father used to tell me this when I watch him shave, when I was five or six. I respected beard men those days. As time passed, I started shaving almost every day and even carry the wound of a quick shave on my face; still I didn’t learn any lesson. I like beard and hate shaving.Many things came to my mind when I saw beard sculptors at Khajaraho.Wherever, erotic life is described along with values of life, the sculptors carry beards. Depending on our education, culture or country we live, grow up or work, we may be influenced by our surrounding and even pulled away or distracted from your own goal of life and true values.
How a Sculptors can be valued.? We have our own goals and destinations, and the sculptors stay humbly out of the way. The problem with sculpture is not that people today reject the characteristic of old cults and traditions, it's that we are moving along with the unexciting, modern art.Yes,value has a value only if its value is valued.

.