Amitabh Bachchan as Supremo

Today I had a talk with my elder brother, who had a bigggg collection of comics, from which I got the habit of reading. Suddenly he reminded me of a comic character superhero – Supremo, based on Amitabh Bachchan.

You would ask, Comic book, on a Film star?? Yes!!! The only reason could be, Amitabh Bachchan has had such a huge fan following that  a comic book was based on him, where the superstar doubled up as a superhero.

Amitabh Bachchan with his Comic book - Supremo

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Help Your Body – Help India

The world has been clamoring about the great Indian success story. The youngest entrant into the elite Trillion Dollar Economy club, India will become the youngest nation with an estimated 700 million people under the age of 35 years India in 2025. The distressing aspect however is the overall health scenario that is turning out to be the bane for this same young productive India. India is slowly and steadily acquiring the status of the global chronic disease capital.

Häagen-Dazs Icecreams generates hot wave

Got this article from a Forwarded mail by  a Dear Friend.

My friend Ramit (name changed on request) called me late Friday night. He sounded quite agitated. “You know, Haagen Dazs has opened its Delhi outlet”.  I reacted with a joke. “Good, now you can spend a lot more on an ice cream than you normally would. But why are you agitated?”

“Because I am not allowed to enter”, he said. Now, Ramit is not like one of the politician’s son or into drugs, the sort who are often in news in India’s capital for all the wrong reasons, nor is he the kind who will shoot someone down because she refused to serve him a cone of ice cream.

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No Vote – No Voice

Though we are still in the midst of a Recession, there was absolutely no shortage of money being pumped into the Promotion for this year’s Political Elections. All three areas of national interest were involved – Bollywood, the Cricketers and of course our rather compelling Politicians themselves. The circus leading towards voting day was as eventful as ever and feelings of anger, frustration, indifference, ridicule and fierce loyalty clashed against one another and created a furor!!! Great! But what about the voting?

Indian Flag, umennetOnly an estimated 50 percent of voters exercised their vote in Maharashtra. and just 43 % in Mumbai!! As usual the picture was brighter in the South and disintegrated gradually as it headed towards North India. Though a few more cities are yet to go, I don’t see how this trend will change overnight.  Likewise, in Maharashtra, the day began quite disturbingly but developed to see lazy voters crawling out of their homes past lunchtime to ink and get it over and done with. Though the ones vacationing were up bright and early whizzing off to new locales for the long weekend!

The point to be noticed however focuses on the group that’s not mattered much in the past but suddenly is being targeted as a crucial one – The YOUTH. Special effort has been made towards attracting new voters by which one is referring to those between the ages of 18 and 24. And with good reason – It is from this section that the voice to change our country is hoped to be heard…

The youth has always formed a potentially large electoral base, but this time is being given a great deal of attention. Most college campuses across India are conducting on-campus registration of students aiming towards a renewed interest from the youngsters in the country’s political framework.  Apart from holding voter registration camps, debates among students about whom to vote for, and what to look out for in a candidate is also being encouraged, sensitizing them about their voting responsibility.

Campaigns sounding like the latest hits “Pappu vote kar…” or then straight from the Reality TV Guru who says “This time I’m not telling you to shut up! Speak out about the elections” are all speaking to the same TG.

MTV Voting election umennet

But are the efforts paying off? An election officer in Mumbai noted that if there are 100 eligible voters in the age group of 35 – 45, 97 or 98 have registered. That number for young first-time voters stands at 60 or 65. So voting being the second step, the first one of getting registered remained unfulfilled by almost 40 % of Mumbai’s youth.

Why?

Well, some volunteers who tried to mobilize young voters on polling day, said that the kids were found confused, some disillusioned but majority I can bet are Ill Informed and Ignorant.

To quote one such well-read youngster “I did not vote and I will not vote”!

Firstly, this doesn’t speak much about commitment and loyalty towards one’s country. To block out reality and go on with life in your own comfort zone is close to committing a crime. Such individuals do not deserve to be a part of society as this type of mentality is dangerously contagious.

Another argument being put forth is that there is no one worth voting for. How does one arrive at that conclusion? Have they studied all the parties in detail, the candidates, their backgrounds etc? I doubt it. It’s just easier to dismiss and blame than get involved and find a solution.

It’s equally easy to criticize the roads, electricity, water, you name it…. without getting involved. So the person, who does not vote, should not be allowed to question the functioning of the country or speak derogatorily towards it.  No vote = no voice.

Secondly, no citizen in India claims that any Political Party is perfect. The maturity lies in finding one that holds most of the ideals which you stand for and possibly has an intelligent team working within it. Each member need not be perfection personified. And if we take a painful step closer to Real Life, we can even ask  – Who is? That is, how many of us are lucky enough to be associated with the perfect mate, friend, boss, maid… the list is endless. What is important is that we realize the good in each and encourage it. And not define the person (or party) with only the bad. Understanding the political game is not an easy task and very few scholarly people have been able to figure it out. A mere citizen need not speculate on what goes on backstage… It’s a dirty game and it’s the same….. ALL OVER THE WORLD!

It’s due to the complex diversity of our country and the new, emerging media that it seems worse back home. Plus it’s closer.

Added to which, how does anyone expect a perfect leader and system where we are seen breaking rules on a daily basis? Unless we change and learn to respect the laws and abide by them, we will never have a perfect, non corrupt system. It’s the way we sow our own seeds….

Lastly, how can things improve if the youth of our country don’t try to understand it and thereby improve on it? There is no real next generation of potential political miracle worker. Is it from this section of disillusioned and confused youth that we can expect to see some hope? It’s about time the youth proved that they are able enough to take over and do a good job, better than any other generation before them. Now would be a good time kids…

Should I Vote back this Government?

 

Its time of elections. For those who vote and even for those who prefer to abstain, there is always a clear stand about who should be the nation’s next Prime Minister. I recieved a mail, in this context, Just posting here.

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I have been witnessing a spate of  ‘feel good’ propaganda films of Congress on TV these days, transporting me back to the golden ‘Shining India’ times. The publicists have very cleverly used rural background in nearly all these advertisements. I have deep roots in my village and firmly believe that unless rural economies improve and people have decent incomes and dignified life, people will keep streaming into cities and all cities will slowly become mass slums – with people leading dog like lives in these slums.  

General Elections 2009 umennetFrom this point of view NREG scheme is welcome. But, unfortunately it has become like all socialist schemes – a money making racket for the middle men, mostly belonging to ruling parties. You just have to read Jean Drez’s interview in TOI to understand what I mean. Thus, all the hard earned money of citizens like me has been sent down the village nullahs by this government to garner votes. Just as farmer loan waivers have only benefited their big fat farmer friends and not those who are actually starving to death and giving up their lives. The numbers are mind numbing. It is ironic that the government which came up through the funeral pyres of unfortunate farmers couldnt reduce, let alone stop these suicidal deaths. 

But, for the present, let me speak as an urban citizen as most of the politicians take urban voters for granted, though they collect all legal and illegal money for official and unofficial purposes from cities. 

Mr. P. Chidambaram, who has been the FM for nearly the whole term and talks down to anybody who doubts his superior knowledge and intellect has done his best to nearly halt the liberalization process initiated by Mr. Manmohan Singh  in his earlier avataar, as a person possessed, to  undo whatever he had done as the yes man of socialist parasites during great 5 year planning eras. NDA had taken the momentum forward and took some bold steps in a very graded and planned manner to unshackle the economy  with stable policies. Thus, we saw an unprecedented growth trajectory, which Indian economy had never seen under Nehru rate of growth, taking our economy to a new orbit.   

This government of ‘aam aadmi’ has made the taxation system incomprehensible again By increasing the scope of service tax and TDS to include more and more ‘aam aadmi’ in the net and  empowering more and more ‘babus’.  

Just take an example – one first charges service tax then the payee deducts TDS. Then, one adjusts service charges that one paid against the service charges one charged!  We have FBT to penalize the companies who work harder and have people on the street to sell more and work harder. We also have various kinds of surcharges and cess to compound the confusion further. Thus, more and more paper work has helped auditors and babus, but not the ‘aam aadmi’ who sweats it out to earn is daily bread. Privileged classes like Doctors and Lawyers don’t fall into this spreading out of net. As an esteemed lawyer, he knows best why they shouldnt be brought into the net. 

Ofcourse, he has a soft corner for his rich friends, so periodically he allows them voluntary disclosures so they can sleep well. No such luck for poor salaried class. The driblets of concessions he gets in basic income tax are more than offset by reduction in savings incentives. Yes, our FM is smart! All the talk of less paper work for common man is a cruel joke on him/her. The attack is from both sides – income as well as expense. Our intelligent FM believed that Indians save too much and don’t gamble on things like stock markets – the Gods of modern economies – so incentives on all kinds of savings has been reduced. Ceilings on housing loan deductions have been reduced. In the process, we have also squeezed the infrastructure based savings through housing finance etc. Idea is to discourage savings and drain them on consumerist life style, the bane of western civilization. We haven’t learnt the lessons of history that real growth comes from real savings. Now, having been hit by recession, the truth may dawn on us, but at what cost?  

In return for all this pain, what have I got? Infrastructure? I think, I will die counting pot holes, dug up roads, horrible roads, drainage system, poor conveyance options. My power bills have gone up, thanks to ‘privatization’ without accountability. May be my kids will enjoy the fruits of this painful crawling growth, may be my grand sons/daughters? Highways stopped expanding. I wonder where is my petrol cess going? All trains seem to lead to Bihar where nobody pays for them. I still have to go through a loopy root to Bangalore taking 25 hours though the direct and shorter link is available. May be the bus operators offer good incentives to our rulers for not paying attention to this region. I still take 17 hours to go to Hyderabad while buses running on such poor highways take only 13 hours! I have no fast connections between Mumbai and Chennai. I am told that many of these are still single track routes. I sincerely believe that Railway ministry should be rotational so the whole of India benefits. 

Yes, air travel has grown multifold, courtesy a few brave men like Capt. Gopinath. From our government we have received two dozen foundation stones in the last month of its existence, so the sauve Civil Aviation minister and his generations to come will see his name plastered all over India. I think, after Nehru Gandhi family, his name would appear in maximum numbers all over India! But, till things improve, I will suffer with poor infrastructure  and always take a flight with prayers on my lips for safe landing. 

The lack of fiscal discipline and disincentive on savings, lack of infrastructure has magnified the impact of global recession much more than it should have. Had this government been prudent and carried on the good work already done by earlier govt., our economy may not have been in the shape that it is today. Here we have a government that likes to pat itself on its back for reaping the fruits of past government but eager to shrug off the failures on global trends! 

And now my honest and well meaning PM, who couldnt control his FM or put some simple home truths to him wishes me to vote for him. What for? To preside another term of anarchy of a cabinet where each minister is on his own trip and country is left at the mercy of such a cabal? 

Ratan Sharda (rnsharda@gmail.com)
29th March, 2009

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This mail was sent to me by:

Mr Sandeep Singh (sandeepconsultant@gmail.com)
Author: Business of Freedom- an initative for school of Indian Management
www.swastiks.blogspot.com

Disclaimer: umennet does not support/recommend any party that is contesting for the Indian General Elections, 2009. We are providing a platform for general public to interact the public and help them take an informed decision. It is upto an individual to vote for a party/candidate at his own discretion.