Saturday, June 30, 2012

Break the nexus among clerks, agents, touts and police

To revamp the Tatkal scheme by Railways, the best move would be break the strong nexus among booking clerks, railway ticket agents, touts, the rail officials concerned with Tatkal scheme and the police instead of changing Tatkal ticket booking time from 8 AM to 10 AM will not improve the situation. From 10th of July, reservation of tatkal tickets will start from 10 am instead of 8 am and no authorised agents will be allowed to book them during the first two hours. At present, booking for both general and tatkal tickets open at 8 am, not only chocking e-ticketing sites but also triggering to long queues in reservation counters.At present, tatkal scheme is available in around 2677 trains which translates to around 1.71 lakh berths.In 2011-12, earning from the scheme stood at Rs 847 crore. The installation of CCTV cameras at ticket booking window to see irregularity is a good measure but the most important thing is to act against irregularities immediately. On this count, the railway officials have failed completely. Railways started the Tatkal scheme for the benefit of passengers in time of emergency when they have to travel immediately from one city to another and train is the only way of conveyance. But in reality, the tickets under Tatkal scheme rarely reached to the genuine passengers. They are booked the moment ticket window is opened and no room message started displaying on the computer screen. This is because of the connivance of ticket booking clerks, agents, touts and police. Though the railways have earned good amount of money through Tatkal scheme, touts, agents, booking clerks and police have also made handsome amount of money. And in between them, the genuine railway passengers who need ticket through tatakal scheme have suffered most. If the railways had made enough preparations to check any kind of malpractice in advance and they were really concerned with the plight of genuine passengers, this sort of mess would not have taken place. It is correct that the demand of ticket is very high and the supply is very low. But that does not mean that railways should leave its employee to make money out of Tatkal tickets. Ticket booking clerks have direct connection with authorized ticket agents and touts. The agents send their men and touts are already there around railway ticket counter who whisk away the genuine ticket seekers by creating a melee and chaos there and grab all tickets under Tatkal scheme. The Police who are deputed at the railway ticket windows to keep watch on any illegal activities remain mute spectators because they also take their share from them. If the news paper reports are anything to go by, these activities take place in broad day light right under the nose of high railway officials. Do the high railway authorities keep their eyes shut? Do they not read news papers reports that how Tatkal tickets found their ways to black market and they are sold at exorbitant rate?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Disaster management failure

The fire broke out in the Mantralay, which houses the offices of the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, several ministers and senior bureaucrats, and burnt fourth, fifth and sixth floor of the seven –storied building. The death toll in the fire has also reportedly reached to 5. The scene of the blaze of fire that engulfed the Mantralay looked as if there were no one to look after the building. Neither was any preventive measure in place nor any prompt action to control the fire was noticeable. The fire may be accidental and there may not be any possibility of sabotage but the way disaster management team acted and the inordinate delay in reaching of fire brigade trucks with water to douse the devastating fire has exposed the ill preparedness of the government to deal with these types of accidents. Fire brigade station is reportedly in Colaba and the Mantralay is a Nariman Point. To cover the distance from Fire Brigade station to Mantralay, the Fire Brigade Trucks took 45 minutes. By the time fire brigade reached, the damage was done and people inside the Mantralay scamper for security. Though the Chief Minister has ordered an enquiry into the fire, what about the important files of Urban Development ministry related to Adarsh scam which were gutted in the fire. In view of a number of cases related to land scam in Maharashtra, this fire might be an act of saboteurs. So, there must the thorough probe to know how the fire broke out in Mantralay and how a well-organised disaster management team could be put in place so that this type of accidental fire government buildings could be controlled without any damage to life, property and important files. After the terror attack on Mumbai in 2008, the security of the city was briefed up from all angles. But the reaction from the government machineries concerned to deal with the fire is anything to go by; it is the total failure of government. Mumbai is not only the capital of the state of Maharashtra but also the financial capital of India. So, it must be given utmost importance so far as the safety and security of the city is concerned. The fire in Mantralay has exposed the ill preparedness of the Maharashtra government to deal with the disastrous situation and the callous negligence of the disaster management team entrusted to take care of the building. Now, it can be guessed how safe is the common man and slum dwellers from any calamity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chasm widening between JD (U) and BJP

If the tone and tenor of the comments made by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on what kind of Prime Ministerial candidate should be from NDA is any thing to go by, it is certain that the gulf between JD(U) and BJP in National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is widening. His view gets strength from his approach towards building consensus around UPA’s Presidential Candidate Union Finance Minister Pranab Mulherjee. By advocating for prime ministerial candidate of secular credentials in the NDA, Nitish Kumar has established himself as leading secular political leader throughout his political innings so far even in the company of doubtful secular credentials. First of all, NDA finds itself in a fix what to do or what not to do in regard to nomination of its presidential candidate against the UPA presidential candidate Union Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. BJP being the leader of NDA has completely failed to bring round all its alliance partners to a unanimous view to fight presidential elections and show the consolidation of opposition parties in view of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. But in view of the towering political and administrative stature of UPA Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, even the alliance partners of NDA like JD(U), Shiv Sena and Akali Dal are favouring the consensual approach towards him. Bihar Chief Minister and top ranking JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar has hinted clearly that NDA’s prime ministerial candidate should be of secular credentials. His comments would likely to spell fresh trouble for BJP-JD(U) alliance because he has given a thumbs down to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi. Even as differences over the Presidential election continue to simmer between the two, Kumar has made comments which are contradictory to his ally's views. Nitish Kumar’s clear hint that Modi--who is being touted as the first choice of BJP for Prime Minister's post--does not fit the bill. Differing with the BJP view that the Prime Minister will be chosen after the Lok Sabha elections, he has also rightly said that the NDA will have to declare its nominee. The electorate should know who they are voting for and who will lead the country. The NDA should have a leader who can feel for the underdeveloped states like Bihar. Nitish has expressed his view against choosing someone who represents the developed states. He is clearly hinting against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.Though Kumar has not named anybody, he was apparently referring to Modi, with whom he does not enjoy a healthy relationship. Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi had a war of words recently when Kumar attacked Modi for saying Bihar had lagged behind due to caste politics. Kumar had then said Modi is like the pot calling the kettle black. Nitish said, “One whose hands are full of communalism does not have the moral right to malign others for casteism,"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Squandering public exchequer

This is the travesty of the UPA-Government that on the one hand Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh advocates for austerity in expenditure in view of the sagging economy and Planning Commission whose business is to keep vigil on the expenses incurred by states and central ministries spends public money lavishly on toilet renovation on the other. Planning Commission is headed by none other than Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia who is an economist in his own right and is expected to be well aware of the tight economic situation in the country. He is making mockery of the poverty prevailing in the nation. This is the same Planning Commission whose standard parameter of measuring poverty is most awkward, non-sensical and insensitive when it recommens that in rural area the people who have the income of Rs 26 a day and in urban area Rs. 32 are not poor. How insensitive to poverty is Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia can be judged from his defence of spending Rs. 35 lakhs of public exchequer on renovation and making swanky toilets at Planning Commission by saying that the expense is within the budget. Knowing the slump in economy, he spent Rs 35 lakh on building high-profile toilets at Planning Commission . High profile toilets appear to have caught the fancy of some UPA ministers. The issue of Rs 35 lakh toilet has come before the Cabinet meeting and many ministers also appear to have shown their keenness to have access to the swanky toilets. The Planning Commission, mandated to keep a watchful eye on expenses incurred by states and central ministries, has found it hard to justify spending Rs 35 lakh of public money on renovation of two toilets at its headquarters, Yojana Bhavan. The commission is under attack from all corners for wasting a large sum of public money in constructing swanky toilets at a time when the UPA top brass is preaching austerity measures to revive the sagging economy. It has termed the expenditure as a routine maintenance and upgrades work, and argued that it was unfortunate to call it a wasteful expenditure. It is most unfortunate for the nation to be ruled by a bunch of insensitive economists who have made mockery of the poor people during UPA-II. Main opposition BJP has rightly slammed the UPA government for talking austerity and engaging in wasteful expenditure. It was surprising for many that Plan panel deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has himself come out to defend the expenditure. The reports of wanton expenses raised eyebrows within the commission as well. Even some members of the Commission found it hard to agree with the huge expenditure. Entire nation is aghast at the insensitive attitude adopted by the UPA-II government towards the poor.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Internecine war in BJP

The recent internal tussle between two RSS protégés in the BJP has come to the fore through posture. One is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the other is tried and trusted organization man of RSS Sanjay Joshi. The poster has criticized Naredra Modi and adulated Sanjay Josh. Being in the seat of power for a decade and taking the hard-line view of the RSS to the extreme that reflected in the worst-ever communal riot in Gujarat during his chief ministership, Modi has been painted as larger than life size by the party. It has encouraged him to be intolerant, giving birth to bitter infighting and groupism in Gujarat BJP in the year of state assembly elections to be held in December. In the absence of the BJP leaders at the Centre who could be acceptable to all groups in the party and trusted by RSS, Narendra Modi has started imposing his will on it. The way he made his betenoire Sanjay Joshi to resign from National Executive by imposing his influence on party president Nitin Gadkari is reflective of his dominance in the party at the national level. He made Joshi’s resignation a point to ensure his participation in National Executive Committee meeting in Mumbai held recently. Sanjay Joshi had to resign and it was secured by Nitin Gadkari under the pressure of Modi. All this displeased senior leaders, including L K Advani and Sushama Swaraj very much. Advani’s blog has criticized the way BJP is functioning under the stewardship of Nitin Gadkai. BJP’s Mouthpiece Kamal Sandesh has also cast aspersion on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and criticized his intolerant behaviour. The main opposition party BJP is fighting with itself. There is no control and command of party leadership on leaders. There is free for all. In the given situation, it is painting itself to the disbelief of the people as alternative to the ruling Congress –led UPA alliance at the Centre. Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, doting parent of BJP, dictates how to run the political organization. BJP is its political wing. RSS tries to promote its Hindu chauvinist design promoted through BJP. After the announcement of retirement from active politics by its all time tallest leader former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, RSS started remote controlling the BJP in all its affairs. If that is not the case, a stature of state leader Nitin Gadkari would not have been made the national main opposition party president. There is no dearth of able leaders to lead the party in BJP but have no blessing of the RSS. RSS is not a political organization. It only wants to establish the rule of majority fanatic Hindu community which is fundamentally against the essence of the Constitution of India. It is a secular democratic country where people of every religion and caste have equal rights. There can not be any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and community in India. What can the people of India expect from the main opposition party BJP which is controlled and commanded by an organization which propagates only intolerance and autocracy?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cong needs quick action

Mere idealistic speech and strident posture against opposition and critics would do nothing to improve the image of the government if no action to check price rise and corruption is taken immediately. The impression of policy paralysis about the UPA-II has been created due to its shirking approach in taking bold economic policy under the threatening allies. UPA-II will have to re-enact the bold move of Nuclear Deal with US of UPA-I at the cost of losing its Left allies to halt the faltering economy. To fight the opposition with doubly force would be only possible if party Congress party organization is overhauled and re-structured at all levels. The common people have been disconnected with the Congress. Strong connection needs to be established with them to fight the opponents successfully. Congress Working Committee meeting did not present any plan of action before the people to fight out corruption and rein in runaway prices of all essential commodities, including the food inflation. Being the ruling party, the people look at it with hope to put pressure on the government to act quickly. All leaders present in the meeting looked concerned over the deteriorating credibility of the UPA-II among the people due to its failure to check price rise and corruption. Though Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi defended Prime Minister very badly against the onslaught of Opposition, Yoga Guru Ramdev and social activist Anna Hazare over the issue of black money and corruption, she did not throw light on the pathetic condition of the party organization through out the country. Due to the failure of the government to check price rise and corruption, the party workers dare not speak in its favour in public. Sonia Gandhi has called upon the party leaders and workers to defend the government boldly in public and propagate about its achievement in the last three years of UPA-II regime. But does she know that how many Congress workers are still with the party in a village of the country? Does she know how many times party’s central leaders and state party presidents visit block level organizational quarters at least once in a year to see for themselves the ground reality of the party? On the one hand Congress immediately needs to put pressure on the government to check skyrocketing prices of all essential commodities and take stringent measures against those who are found guilty even prima facie so that they could have deterrent impact on the other. The overhauling of organizational structure from block to state capital level needs to be done without any delay if the party boss is really concerned over its performance in the elections held recently. The main cause of deteriorating clout of the Congress party among the general and common people is that party government fails to act immediately on their concerns on priority basis. The people now have enough awakening to know the intent of the government. Its intent stands dubious. The message among the people is building up that Congress slogan that its hands are with the poor people is a sham. If this is not the fact, the UPA-II would not have making assurances after assurances to check the price without keeping them. It appears that there is nothing in the name of government to hear the pain caused by incessant price rise.