Author: The Bhaunkta Kutta

Life changing moment in Nepal

My regular life held me back from writing this. Last 2 weeks had me all over the place. I was a slave to my work and I think the clients. Finally got the moment to write when I am back in Kathmandu to do my further bit.

Giving you a brief account of what was an experience unlike any. You read about the relief camp at Bhaktapur. It gave an account of the urban relief camp. It was now time to go to the remote. Places where access was relatively difficult. We met Naveen, a friend of Pujan, engineer by profession and humanitarian in life. He was associated with an organization called “Work for Nepal”. Run by a bunch of young guys, working in varied fields, who had it in them to take off from work for their country. They had been working in the Kathmandu valley and the villages around. Naveen had visited a village called Tare Bhir and assessing the damage there and the need of the villagers, he thought it was best for us to help them.

Tare Bhir, is a village located about 2 hours from Kathmandu. The route is particularly treacherous as there is practically no route. The village is divided in various blocks, apparently that’s how it is in Nepal. Naveen had been to two blocks inhabited by about 27 families. There were half a dozen house completely damaged and the supply of essentials were almost disconnected.

Lorene had been able to raise some funds through her endeavor on Facebook. She had received donations from all over the world. The idea was to put the money in the right use. Lorene decided to donate 50000 Nepali Rupees (500 USD) to Work for Nepal. The money was to buy basic essentials to the 27 families in Tare Bhir.

We met Naveen at 10 and drove down to the work site of Work for Nepal. Jamal (an artist, interesting soul and a world citizen) had also joined us. Stories of his life will amaze anyone. The guys at Work for Nepal were busy packing relief materials they were sending off to another village.

The materials for Tare Bhir was bought by them and we were to pack them in 27 gunny bags. Each bag contained:

10 kg Rice

1 kg Dal

2 kg Chapped Rice (Churra)

1 lt Cooking oil

1 kg Salt

1 kg Washing powder

1 lt liquid soap

1 pack Mosquito coil

1 Tarpaulin

Sanitary Napkins

3 Tooth brush

1 Tooth Paste

Other than this we had taken toys and candies for the kids and some basic medicines.

Cost of each bag was over 2000 Nepali Rupees (1200 Indian or 20 USD). The amount donated was actually less than the cost of materials.

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The bags with relief materials loaded in the pickup van
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The bags with relief materials all packed to go
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(Standing 2nd onwards, Left to right) Naveen, Jamal, Lorene and me.

After packing we loaded the bags in a pickup car and was ready for the journey which was going to be a life changing experience. We were in 3 bikes and Jamal was in the pickup. On crossing Kathmandu we had to ascend a mountain as Tare Bhir was on it. I am told normally people would trek but as we were on bikes we were taking the road which didn’t really exist.

The pickup van stopped at the beginning of the trail and refused to go further as he didn’t want to take the risk of driving in the rough terrain. Lorene and I had moved further, driving a city bike on a non-existent mountain road. It was dusty and rocky. We slipped once and were flat down. Naveen had managed to arrange a jeep who knew a different way and was willing to drive to Tare Bhir.

It took us almost 3 hours to reach Ward 1 of Tare Bhir. We met an old lady and she took us into the village. There was a beautiful wooden canopy overlooking the valley. Naveen and Jamal had reached with the van and the villagers were plying the bags from the van to the village. We sat down and took some breath. The view was gorgeous and the people at their beautiful best. Before we could start any discussion we were offered some freshly brewed Raksi (A Nepali homemade wine that taste stronger than the strongest alcohol). We had some Raksi and asked all the villagers to join us near the canopy. We discovered there were no men in the village. Found out they had all gone out for work or to get building materials from the city. They had a strange excitement on their face. Some thought we were from the government, well that’s what they as any other citizen expect. But we weren’t and for a moment we were the messiah.

View from Tare Bhir
View from Tare Bhir
View from Tare Bhir
View from Tare Bhir

A member from each family was called and the bags were distributed. Lorene did the distribution. She distributed the bags to about 12 families. She had to explain the women about the sanitary napkins as they didn’t know about it. We had to caution them from not drinking the pink liquid in the bottle as it was liquid soap.

I had called all the kids to a corner and gave them candies and distributed the toys with them. They were in the age of 6 to 14. The children had a strange gloom on their faces. I tried talking to them and they were all shy, a striking contrast to those at Bhaktapur. After a little talking and playing they opened up and started talking. They all went to schools which they showed me was in a mountain I could see in the valley. They would trek miles every day, something I could not have imagined to do as a kid to study. They were way ahead of us. They wanted to study but the school was closed due to the quake. We decided to help building schools as the next project as these kids deserved it.

Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 1
Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 1

The people were unexpectedly hospitable. We were given a tour of the Raksi brewery. Well a little hut with a pot in which they brewed. We talked about the earthquake and the people were still living in the horror, but they said they had to still live and move on accepting it happened. This was something missing in Kathmandu. The men were back to work. The women were doing the work at homes and in the fields. A thing I liked about Tare Bhir and it’s the same for most villages in Nepal is that the villages are mostly self-dependent. They grow mostly vegetable which they consume. Most of them have solar electricity, water was from the stream nearby. The other essentials was what we were giving.

Naveen talking to the villages at Tare Bhir
Naveen talking to the villages at Tare Bhir
With an old lady from Tare Bhir. She was laughing on seeing herself on the phone screen.
With an old lady from Tare Bhir. She was laughing on seeing herself on the phone screen.

After distribution we packed up to go to the next Ward of Tare Bhir, our last destination of an already long day. The next Ward was about 20 mins drive downwards the mountain. We reached there to find that the village was still a little walk down. We met Shyam Lama, a resident of the village who was helping us to connect with them. Carrying the bags down would had been a difficult task so we called the villages to where the van was. The distribution was done in the same manner as the earlier ward. After the distribution of the bags we met the kids and distributed them the candies and toys. Spent some time with them. Family of Shyam Lama invited us for lunch to his uncle’s home. We accepted the invitation and walked down for about 15 mins to reach his house. We crossed fields of marijuana on our way. Opposite his house was Shyam’s house which was down to rubble by the quake. Nothing was left. Same was with 2 more houses in the village. Yet they were unfazed and their hospitable best. The women cooked us some fresh meal. Potatoes, chicken and beaten rice (Churra). We had some Raksi. We asked them out of curiosity about the marijuana, and was informed they fed it to the goats and cows as it increased the milk production.

Shyam Lama's house completely destroyed by the quake.
Shyam Lama’s house completely destroyed by the quake.
Lorene with the kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Lorene with the kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Me with the kids at Tare Bhir ward 2
Me with the kids at Tare Bhir ward 2
Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Kids at Tare Bhir Ward 2
Lorene distributing the supplies to the families at Tare Bhir ward 2
Lorene distributing the supplies to the families at Tare Bhir ward 2

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Marijuana plantation at Tare Bhir
Marijuana plantation at Tare Bhir

After a good meal it was time to leave. We started trekking up to our bikes. The eldest lady in the village came to calling us to thank us for coming to her village. It was a beautiful gesture. We left the village around 6, it had got darker and driving back was going to be a task. Took us more than two hours to get back to Courtyard.

Sunset from Tare Bhir
Sunset from Tare Bhir

Introspecting the whole experience I got more from the village than we gave them. It felt strange that being in such a comfortable I had more complains from life. The desire and lust was stronger than life itself. These people had nothing. Living in a little village with limited means and having lost so much in the disaster they did not complain. They were happy with the little they had and didn’t lust for a glossy life. I felt so small in front of them. Realized again that money was not life but life was money. I had a different perception of life and living. Thanks to the beautiful people in Tare Bhir my life was changed for the better and the journey of giving unconditionally was ignited.

As said we wanted to rebuild schools for the little ones who wanted to study not just for studying but also to escape from the fear of quake. We have started work on it with a lovely group of young people based in Nepal and all over the world. Details will be in my next post.

If you read this post and you feel for these beautiful people then please do anything you can to support them. They need your support in this moment of standing back in their lives. You may contribute through your own organizations or to the links below. Work For Nepal and Lorene are doing great work go check their Facebook pages. If you think what we have been doing is noteworthy then you can contact me.

LINKS:

Work For Nepal: https://www.facebook.com/groups/664523693677050/?fref=ts

Lorene’s: Help me help Nepal: https://www.facebook.com/events/457672224395633/

Hope and smile in Nepal

We had decided to join Khusi Hona team in their endeavor to help the needy at one of the relief camp in Bhaktapur. Slept in the tent that night to start our journey the next day. Was almost a sleepless night as the thought of quake while sleeping loomed. Woke up early to learn it shaked at about 4 am (2nd one in 2 days).

Khusi Hona is an organisation registered in Florida, US and primarily working towards upliftment of orphans in the Indian Subcontinent and some parts of South East Asia. They decided to put their expertise to help the quake victims in Nepal.

We met Geet from Khusi Hona who was leading the team to the relief camp. They were going to buy relief materials and then head to the camp. We decided to join them straight at the camp. Drove to Bhaktapur. The camp was setup at a school called Zenith English School in Bhaktapur. It had I think about 20 odd families. Khusi Hona had created a list of the families living at the camp and were going to distribute the materials to them. There were a team of about 6-8 people and we and another couple were joining them.

Relief camp at Bhaktapur
Relief camp at Bhaktapur

On reaching the camp Geet gave me a box of candies and some toys to take care of the kids while others will distribute the material to the families.

I called all the kids to one of the tents, luckily Hindi helped. Asked them to ‘Basun’ (Sit in Nepali). There were about 20 kids, the youngest was 18 months and I think the oldest would had been 12-13. The kids were excited about the fact they were going to get their treats. They had an excitement on their face and for a moment me and them had forgotten the devastation that had struck them and the despair caused to them. Seeing them no one could say they were recovering from a calamity.

Kids at the relief camp
Kids at the relief camp

Distributed them the candies and got to know the little mischief. They were not hesitant from singing for us or doing a lil gig. All of them used to go to schools and were a confident bunch. I tried taking a selfie and everyone was over me. We didnt feel we were strangers a moment before. Lorene had joined me in playing with the kids and the kids were as comfortable with her even though she had a language gap.

Selfie with the kids
Selfie with the kids
With the mischief bunch
With the mischief bunch

While I was distributing the candies a few old women asked for them. I told them it was for the kids. They responded they had a kid in them. A fact of life most of us forget as we grow. They were in sync with life.

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Lorene with the kids

The rest of the team were distributing the materials ranging from basic food supplies, to medicines, sanitary pads to the women, hygiene products like tooth paste, brush etc. I think they were a little disorganized. They had a list of the families and they were distributing the same things to all families. I think they should had packed everything in a bag for each family and distributed the bags. Would had been easy for them to store. Also a few things like they were distributing sanitary pads to old women rather than the teenage girls. Well its just a matter of perception.

Khusi Hona is doing a good job. However, I feel the people at the camps at Bhaktapur are over fed and well looked after being in the city and being taken care by a bunch of NGOs. There were some people who had joined the team that day that felt more like a photo op and I think they should avoid such people if their intent is, which I think it is, to do some genuine relief work. I still would urge people to donate to Khusi Hona, their intent is right and they are doing good stuff and for Nepal as they need them. Check the link to their facebook page for more info: http://www.facebook.com/KhusiHona and their website: http://www.khusihona.org

The experience at the camp left a void in me. I felt I was more traumatized by the quake, not even having experienced it. The people had a smile and calmness in them which was lacking in me. They had hope and confidence unlike the people I met in Kathmandu. I could feel they were ready to move on and get back to normal soon. It was a striking difference to the people in Kathmandu. I realized the more knowledge we have it adds on to the burden of recovering.

We got back and had another visit to a neighboring village fixed for the next day. Wait for the next part, the village trip was my moment of waking up.

It was a satisfying day and made me stronger as a human. I thought for once its everyone’s duty to get to Nepal and do their bit. Get a little karmic and do your karma guys. As I write this I have already planned my next trip to Nepal and help a few more people stand back and get started with their lives.

Nepal Quake – Hell in Heaven

Nepal, a neighbour that’s ngoas Indian as India can get, yet a character unlike India. It’s a place that has a special place for me and the reason I have been here for times unknown. Struck by a natural calamity that was one of the most devastating in the recent age.relie

Oindin 25 April when the earthquake hit I was at my home in Delhi with my parents. I sitting on the bed and felt the tremor. Told my mom. It was a strong one and lasted for ages. At that very moment I had the thought, considering the magnitude the epicenter must have been anywhere in Nepal, Afghanistan or southern India. I hoped it was not Nepal as it would be devastating knowing the topography and preparedness. Checked twitter and found the quake was of 7.8 magnitude (some people say it was 8.1) and the epicenter was in Barpak in Gorkha district about 70 km off Kathmandu. I knew that the fury was unfurled. The first day news said around 600 casualties and some damage to property. I knew it couldn’t be true and the reality will be known in times to come considering the remoteness of villages in Nepal.

My fear came true. Nepal was shattered and taken further years back in comparison to us. Read about it and saw pictures of the devastation. Couldn’t fathom what it would be like in Kathmandu and Nepal. The distinction as I believe Kathmandu is not even half close to the gorgeous other part of Nepal. I decided I had to do my bit.

On 16 May we took a flight to Kathmandu. The route from the airport to Courtyard made me think did they really exaggerate the quake? No damage was seen. Reached Courtyard and saw cracks in the hotel walls and stairs. People were sleeping in the outside and they had a fear unknown to me. I still didn’t understand the devastation. Went for a walk in Thamel (the main tourist locality in Kathmandu). Everything was shut. It was like a dead city. Got back to hotel and had a quake measuring 5.5. The scare continued.

We walked to Durbar Square. A big school was razed and temples severely damaged.

High School at Durbar Square
High School at Durbar Square
Temple at Durbar Square
Temple at Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square

Was late at night sitting with a bunch of people discussing their experiences. Some were in Kathmandu and one was at the Everest Base Camp during the quake. There was a strange calmness, the one that gives you a chill down the spine. That’s when I realized what the quake did. It had shattered the people more than the structures. Made them believe how tiny we are when it comes to gods fury. People were waiting for something bigger and more devastating.

We drove down to Bhaktapur the next day. It’s one of the ancient city of Nepal. Famous for its durbar square which houses some beautiful temples and monuments. We passed through relief camps built in public parks and even at the Kathmandu Golf course. Hundreds staying in tents living on supplies by the government and the NGOs. Read an article in the local newspaper, someone at a relief camp termed life at the camp as a picnic yet the thought of future scared her. Bhaktapur was not the same this time. The beautiful Durbar square was broken. Ancient temples got razed. Monuments were down and those still standing have been marked as unsafe to enter.

Street at Bhaktapur
Street at Bhaktapur
Warning outside a museum in Bhaktapur
Warning outside a museum in Bhaktapur

We went walking around Bhaktapur. There were lanes were 7 out of 10 houses were down. People had lost their houses and families. They knew nothing about how they would stand back even closer to where they were before. There was a strange sadness and gloom. Was driving back and saw people smiling and waving at me. Realized the sadness was my inner introspection.

I was ready to walk out and meet people. Walk out of my comfort and know the reality. Help them with whatever I could. Walk out to a learning I never thought I would get at a calamity struck zone. Walk to a new life for them and for me.

Met a bunch of guys doing some humanitarian work through an NGO called ‘Khusi Hona’. They sounded true and invited us to join them in aid distribution at a relief camp at Bhaktapur the next day. It was the start.

Flipkart and the Big Billion Day Ambush

Flipkart had been building the hype for its so-called Big Billion Day sale for over 2 weeks. I as million others was waiting for the so-called auspicious October 6. Auspicious as apparently the Flipkart founders started the company from an apartment numbered ‘610’. They definitely did a great job in getting people hooked to the whole drama. TV adverts to news paper reports on them employing over 5000 extra people for this one Big day and personal mails from the Bansal duo.

Come October 6, the mega sale started at 8 am. Offers even someone with no money could have bought. From pen drives for Rs. 1 to mobiles and tablets for Rs. 100. The had it all to make it a blockbuster. But then if only world was perfect. The products on knocked down prices made appearance for a few seconds. I read it they had been planning for the mega day for months, to see a little or no stock on offer.

Read on twitter that people were unable to even place orders due to technical glitches other than the products being out of stock. I managed to get my hands on a deal I thought made my day. A Samsung LED TV worth Rs. 73000 for Rs. 47950 (included a trade in of my old TV). A difference of over Rs. 25000. Who would had let go such a deal? The order was placed at about 2 pm. Received an email from Flipkart at 4. Thought was an order confirmation mail but found out it was a mail cancelling the Order. The mail gave the reason for cancellation which left me baffled.

Greetings from Flipkart.com!Thank you for your order OD000943973783348200 . You made an excellent choice by deciding to purchase one of the top selling products on Flipkart. However, due to high demand for this item and in order to provide all customers an equal opportunity to avail this great deal we had to cancel the following items in your Order.
ITEM QTY PRICE/UNIT
Seller: WS Retail
Samsung 40H6400 40 inches LED TV 1 Rs. 73500.00
The amount of Rs. 47950.00 will be refunded back to your bank account/card by Tuesday, 14 Oct’14.

So as you see, it was cancelled such that other people could have been given equal opportunity to avail the so-called “great deal”. I couldn’t understand what it meant. I didn’t place a bulk order which would had deprived others of the great deal. An order of one unit was cancelled so that someone else could get the opportunity to buy it? And for the sake of equality?? Wonder what equality means to Flipkart and the Bansals??? In my profession such is an act of inequality or discrimination or bias. It didn’t end here, a little after the cancellation the same TV was being sold for a higher price. I would had understood that they ran out of stock and cancelled. They were well in stock but wanted to sell the TV at a higher price.

I thought about the whole scheme of things, got to know of a few more people whose orders were cancelled after the payment was made by them. So Flipkart got my money against an order which was cancelled at their discretion, the money would be refunded after like 10 days, remains with them free of cost. They do not pay any interest or cost of raising the money from people like me and retains it for 10 days. Thinking about it, they got a cost free fund for 10 days, sort of short time debt but without any interest. Interestingly this collection would run into crores getting to know the number of people whose orders were cancelled after receiving money from them.

The entire issue was covered by DNA in an article “Flipkart draws wrath on its big billion day as it cancels order within hours”

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-flipkart-cancels-order-on-their-big-billion-day-promises-to-refund-amount-2023968

Details of similar instances was compiled by @Datoism in his post “The Flipkart Scam”

http://www.storify.com/Datoism/the-flipkart-scam/

In a perfect world the number of a particular product on offer would had been mentioned and the moment it ran out of stock it would had shown the availability as out of stock and no further orders would had been taken. The orders would had been on a first cum first serve basis. Everyone takes their chance and if they got lucky they would had succeeded in buying the product. But then this did not happen. Either they continued to show availability even though the product went out of stock or the deal was just an eyewash to attract people to get money from them without the intention of selling in such offer. Surprisingly, the consumers had no option to cancel the purchase, but they had the option which they exercised without any cogent reason.

The debate has been going on for a while on the effect of e-commerce on small stores. I am not against the whole e-commerce uprising, at the end it is for the benefit of the consumers. But then why regulate the small stores, why do adverts to make consumer aware while buying stuff from the small stores, whereas the e-commerce giants get to trade without any regulation to the detriment of the small traders. There are no regulation in India to check the sales being made by the e-commerce players. There is no regulation on their receipt of money and its refund. There is nothing to bind them to make offers which can be fulfilled. How is it different from people who sell stuff to increase height or make hair grow? Knowing it can’t be possible people get duped in them, same as getting duped into an offer which was probably impossible for Flipkart to fulfil. Isn’t that clearly illegal?

The whole incident calls for serious checks and balances. If e-commerce is for the interest of the consumers then there is a serious need for them to be regulated. The consumers need to be equally educated about the supposed harm they can be inflicted.

I, am not concerned about my order or the money. I know they cannot escape with my money, but the larger issue needs a serious address. The whole modus operandi is in the nature of an Economic Offence. It is clearly a misrepresentation made to the people at large and misappropriation of their money.

I, understand Flipkart achieved a fabulous sale on the Big Day, which was known after the curiosity created, but it will be interesting to know how many orders were cancelled by them after having received the money. How much money was received from such orders? If their intentions are genuine they should come out with these figures and not just bask in the glory of their achievements.

I, as a lawyer, intend to take up the issue, be it by representing to the Economic Offence Wing or RBI or a PIL for a proper regulation to control the misrepresentation and the loss caused to consumers. Surprisingly Flipkart is silent on the entire issue even though it being raised by hundreds on twitter. Well, any of you that wants to join the drive may contact me.

BEING RULED IN A FREE STATE

The ongoing year has been saddening and have arisen this fear of living in a country I always appreciated for the fundamental rights we as a citizens have been given under the Constitution  of this so called great country. I have always been one of the foremost promoter of India knowing that what we have as a citizen of this nation is ahead of any other country in the world. The freedom of speech of all has been the most important right I have always been proud of and relished so far. Its this right that has so far made me express myself and not feel strangled in a free nation. Being an active member of the system as a lawyer I have always believed our laws are made in such a way that doesn’t just makes us free people but also gives us the sense and feel of freedom and not feel feared and scared.

When we chose non violence it was the resilience and freedom of speech that brought us the independence. The fundamental right of freedom of speech is not something they inculcated today in our constitution but it has been from the very first day. Back in the 50’s also it was thought that it is the freedom of speech which will make us a nation of above others and make us strong to accept criticism and evolve from it.

I got a message today from Nabeel (@softykid) saying that he was scared he might be also a victim one day as he is on the more.  This got me to introspect the past year and its shocking to rewind back to incidents when a businessman is arrested for a tweet on a politician’s son or a man being arrested for taking a picture of a minister and young girls being arrested for expressing their views. Where are we heading to??? Is this acceptable?

Most of these recent incidents had been contentious for the reason of an amendment to the IT Act wherein Section 66A was inserted. On a plain reading of Section 66A it sounds strangely drafted. Things have been left for the interpretation of the complainant and weirdly our enforcement agencies are not competent enough to interpret it in consonance with Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. So if things are taken on the wordings of the Section 66A which says a mail message sent for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience to a person can lead to an imprisonment of upto 3 years with fine, how is the annoyance and inconvenience to be measured? If someone calls me a liar as I am a lawyer, it can be annoying for me, but then does my annoyance means a person be sent behind bars and ripped off his liberty and freedom? The interpretation of a Section has to be in consonance with the Constitution and nowhere violative of the basic rights and freedom provided to us under the Constitution.

I believe if the interpretation of a Section cant be done accurately and in the spirit, it is for our legislature to bring clarity to it. For me Section 66A is beyond the spirit of the Constitution and it will be a fit case for the courts to struck it down. I was reading the letter written by Justice Katju to the CM of Maharashtra and I totally agree with him that we are living in an arbitrary State where the entire system, be it the government or the opponent are hand in hand. I, at the end feel helpless that we are reaching a state of anarchy and justified violence and power. As always I still believe that we are the biggest fools living in this paradise who actually give power to these people who try to rule us in a free country. This way the time isn’t far when I will feel weak to call myself an Indian.

NATION OF FOOLS !!

OMG!! Heard Swami Agnivesh on one of the news channels saying that if the Council of Ministers are included in the Lokpal how can the Prime Minister not be a part of it when Article 14 of the Constitution of India say every one is equal. Unbelievably the people, most of them young, were clapping on this statement. I have now started feeling I am living in a nation of FOOLS. People who are unknown about what is being said, people who have no idea who is right and who is wrong, yet they are clapping their way to their own destruction. The Prime Minister is on a different position than the council of Ministers and thats why he is not equal to the other Ministers and so I wonder what in the wildest sense did Agnivesh wanted to say. Yes I am not calling Swami now as I dont think he deserves it by misguiding the people.

The other day Prashant Bhushan said that Naxalism is the creation of the government. I mean what on earth does this have to do with corruption. Its like saying because there is corruption my we dont have rains. I am amazed at the way things are turning everyday.

Kiran Bedi saying India is Anna and Anna is India.. For me Anna maybe nothing but an imposter but who is she to say that Anna is India for me? Yes for me as they are speaking on my behalf. I wish all of them could tell me when did I or the millions others gave them the right to speak on their behalf, gave them the right to be my representative. I had voted for my representative and he is doing his job. Maybe not as he should do but me along with millions had elected them. I can be wrong in my decision but a billion people cant go wrong together. As per team Anna we are a Nation of FOOLS. Why cant they say that they are the representatives of the people who are supporting them??

I am sick of all that is happening. I feel disgusted to see all the people following the wishes of a bunch of people without even knowing what they are following. I feel ashamed that I am living in a country where the media is biased to one side and they are the one forcing the people to join a cause which is not even the real cause. Why cant the media voice the critics too? I feel cheated that the cause against corruption is being equated to the Jan Lokpal Bill and the Parliament is being held on ransom. I feel sad that our opposition is dwindling in the middle without a stand when the entire Parliamentary system under the constitution is under threat. I am as disgusted by the way this movement is going on as I am with corruption.

I dont want these bunch of people so called forming the civil society to rule me. Yes they are in ways ruling me by commanding the government which has been formed by my contribution. I am not supporting the Government or Corruption. I am against the cause of the movement which had started with Corruption and has now become a movement for Jan Lokpal Bill. I am tired of living in a FOOLS PARADISE.

FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION OR FOR JAN LOKPAL BILL !!

The Second Struggle for Freedom, the uprising as its being called is truly remarkable. The way it has managed to get all our attention would bring shame to the best marketing gurus. I had followed the Anna Movement very closely last time. Was actively a part of it, protested with Anna at Jantar Mantar, spoke in his support, till I read draft of the so called ‘Jan Lokpal Bill’ (JLB). I had serious reservation in supporting the JLB and also the way it is being tried to be imposed. Yes imposed because it is detrimental to the future of our nation.

Most people supporting and agitating out on the streets demanding the enactment of the JLB are unaware what it is in black and white. The government has proposed a Lokpal Bill which is being said to be worthless. I agree to a lot of extent. But if the Government’s Bill is not worthy it doesnt make the JLB worthy, it too has some serious flaws. The JLB seeks to make an investigating agency which will have a supreme power to prosecute anyone on a complaint made by any person. The JLB seeks to question any decision taken by the Government. The JLB seeks to prosecute the Judiciary on any complaint. I think this is nothing but creation of a body supreme to rule the country. A body which if it wants can bring the country to a stop at its whims. What if this body goes corrupt? Its being said it cant go corrupt. This make me laugh thinking that the corruption at the end is a creation of we the people who are fighting against it today. Corruption is a wrong we have been committing just for own convenience. If we can elect corrupt people to the parliament then what will be the guarantee that the people elected as lokpals wont be corrupt?

The Judiciary which is being lauded lately for its role in bringing the Government and corruption in the dock, will unable to function with the JLB in its entirety in force. Think of a scenario that a Judge passes a judgment against some person and that person makes a complaint to the Lokpal that the decision of the Judge has been biased because of his being corrupt or because he has been influenced by the opposite party. The Lokpal starts investigating the complaint and even though the Judge has been honest and even if he is subsequently exonerated, he will be in the docks and go through a mental harassment. It will ultimately take away his boldness and affect his performance. The same would apply to the PM. I am not saying that a corrupt decision should not be checked, but then it should not take away the independence these authority have been entrusted with under the Constitution. It should not make it possible for them to be put on ransom.

Corruption is an issue we all wish had never been. The economic development the PM was talking of the other day in his statement would had been manifolds, we might have even probably been ahead of China had the corruption not been the inherent feature of your life. We all are sick of this and its even the wish of the corrupt that the corruption should be killed, after all even they face corruption sometime in their life. But the JLB is not going to kill corruption. It can not erradicate the corrupt, cause we all are an equal participant in corruption. We need to understand that until unless we change ourselves nothing can be corrected. If we don’t stop bribing, then even the Lokpal will have no effect. If we don’t elect with due application of our mind then we will always be ruled by the corrupt.

The bill drafted by the Government is definitely not strong, but the JLB created by a bunch of people who claim to be representatives of the civil society of which we all are a part of, is also not practical. If I had the option to select my representative as a member of the civil society I would surely not choose most of these people who are the self elected member of the civil society. We need a Lokpal bill but neither of the versions in its actual form, the law laid down should be practical and not something which can be a road block in the future.

I do support a movement against corruption, I do applaud the people agitating against corruption, I do want corruption to be history. But I dont support a movement to bring a bill. We have to understand that the issue is corruption and not just getting a law. As I had written in my earlier post comparing the movement to the Jasmin revolution, the movement should not be focused to the JLB but should be focused towards the bigger issue of eradicating corruption. We need to rise above corruption and lead to a path to a society which does not put us in stress. We need to act as a literate society and apply our own mind, surprisingly most of those agitating have no knowledge about the JLB. We should not flow with emotions and be puppets to some people. The movement is not about one person, it is about the cause. I would really request all those supporting the JLB to understand the Bill and to foresee the implications. Its not that we dont have laws to check corruption. Our existing laws are also stringent enough to curb corruption. The Prevention of Corruption Act is one of the most stringent laws we have, it is even applied strictly, but then there are certain provisions which makes its applicability difficult. What we lack is the proper application of the existing laws, the proper functioning of the entire system. What we need is laws towards the accountability of the Government officials and the Judiciary.

So let’s support the campaign against corruption, not a campaign for JLB. Let the things be done under the constitutional framework. Lets understand that just a bill is not going to curb corruption but it is us who has to change to bring corruption to a halt. So next time when you are caught for a traffic violation then don’t try to escape from the shorter route, be bold enough to face the consequences of your mistake.

Killing “We the people”

The Indian Constitution preamble
Image via Wikipedia

I had been in total support of Anna Hazare and his campaign against corruption, went to Jantar Mantar to show my support, shouted slogans – Anna tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain. Yes I was with him till the blindfold was opened. Felt I had been with a few good men in a dark room, a room where you cant see the difference in good and bad, its all good.

Corruption, a cause which is probably the most vulnerable to us, something we have made a part of our life as we were left with no option.

I think Anna Hazare is a great man who took the courage to raise his voice in a nation which gives us the freedom to speak but has also empowered those who can shut our voice. He made us to believe that we can be one when its needed.

We are proud of being the foremost democracy in the world but to fight corruption we decided to kill the democracy we are proud of. We all know that there is a bunch of wrong people sitting on the top and ruling us, but then we are the one who made them sit there. It is these people who by good or bad, wrong or right, has taken us to a distinct position in the world. We stand in a respectable position in the world only because of our democracy. We don’t feel it but the inherent rights we get from our constitution is what makes us live comfortably.

So the agitation was to form a joint committee to draft the Jan Lokpal Bill, the base draft to be taken is the one which has been drafted by some of the agitators. The draft talks of forming a collegium consisting of noble laureates and other award winners who are Indian nationals, ex judges and of one representative of people. We are supporting a system which is non democratic and are agreeing to the judgment and integrity of a few persons who have achieved something in their field of expertise with almost no representation of people. So who are the people? Its us, ‘We the people’ is what the preamble of our constitution starts with. So we the people are those who have supported something which kills the very phrase ‘we the people’.

We agitated for public participation in the drafting of the bill. Public participation to my knowledge means participation of we the people. So it was a bunch of persons who started the agitation, we the people supported them and then was conveniently made to consent for their participation in the joint committee. None of us knew who they were before the agitation started, most of us still don’t know who they are. Yet we agreed to them representing us.

The Joint committee now has 10 people, 5 politicians and 5 representative of the civil society. 5 politicians who were elected by the mandate of more than a million Indians and 5 people who self elected themselves. So who among these 10 represent the civil society? I was thinking out of the 2 groups whom would I support if I had to. I could not think of reasons to support the 5 so called civil society representatives. To think of it, the 5 politicians sitting there are not only more capable of drafting a better bill but they also have support of more people than all of us who agitated put together. Strange they are not a representative of the civil society.

If an important bill is drafted then before being placed before the parliament it is put before the public inviting their comments and objections. These comments and objections are reviewed by the drafting committee and then incorporated. Thereafter the parliament discusses the bill and make changes and pass the final bill. After being passed by both the houses it is assented by the President and then becomes an Act. The public participation is there throughout from the drafting till it is becomes an Act, beauty of Democracy. So I fail to understand what will be benefitted by having the 5 good men in the drafting committee?

I did agitate for corruption because we deserve to live free from it, I agitated to show that we know how to come together for a cause, I agitated for my self conscience. I did not agitate to change the meaning of democracy, I did not agitate to disbelieve the decision made by a billion people, I did not agitate to kill democracy. If I had to make a committee of 5 people out of the 10 in the joint committee I would had chosen the 5 politicians as I feel they hold the consent of more people than the 5 who self elected themselves. I do support the agitation, but I don’t support the outcome of the agitation. I had thought of it to be a revolution but it turned out to be just an agitation. I know, I was fooled to be a part of something that killed ‘We the people’.