Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mumbai terror attack: What we can contribute

It is now one full week since terrorists attacked the landmarks of Mumbai. Amidst the 24 hour media coverage, for me, the haunting image of the attack has been our ill equipped policemen fighting the armed to the teeth cowards from hell. Think of the lone RPF constable at CST throwing a chair to distract attention of a terrorist so that he can fire from his obsolete .303 rifle. Think of ATS Chief Karkare trying to fit a useless bullet proof vest. Think of armed with lathi Mumbai police personnel trying to stop the Skoda of the terrorist at Girgaum Chowpatty. Think of the army man getting down from the army truck with a 5 kg battery and equally heavy communication equipment. Think of the NSG commandos reaching Taj in the morning of 27th in BEST buses. What would have happened if another terrorist had laid siege on the tin bus of BEST and deflated its tyre?

Most of our policemen bravely fought the cowards, but did they have a chance to succeed? We are a brave country but we have let ourselves down by failing to look after those who are responsible for our security. We have seen any number of talk shows on our TVs about how spectacularly the government has failed. We have lampooned our politicians. But after all this, what?

I propose that the Government of India immediately set up a Civil Defence fund of India where all of us can contribute according to our capacity. Let this fund be created under an act of Parliament with water tight regulations to ensure that the Achutanandans of this country cannot fiddle with this fund for their own agenda. Further, utilization of this fund can be linked to the police reforms which have been resisted by our ruling classes for the last several decades making policing a hand maiden of their nefarious designs.

The contribution to the fund can be made exempt from income tax. Its management can be done by a highly empowered and autonomous board consisting of eminent men and women who will oversee its utilization. The utilization should be restricted to policing infrastructure of the country: central para military forces such as NSG, CRPF, CISF, RPF, BSF and so on and the state police. A broad outline is given below:

Expensewise Percentage
Equipment for below: 60%
Firearms – Small and Large
Transportation: Armored vehicles, Boats, Helicopters, aircrafts
Surveillance-Radars, Sonars, unmanned aircraft
Safety Equipment -Bullet proof vests
Intelligence gathering Equipments
Training: 20%
For welfare of police martyr families: 5%
Exceptional bravery awards: 3%
Discretion of the board (for other items related to related to policing): 12%
Exclusions: Luxury transportation such as expensive cars for senior officers, luxury aircraft.

Supervisory Board
Leaders and Percentage
Eminent industrialists, business leaders from the private industry: 30%
Security Specialists viz. Retired IPS, Retired Armed Force Officers, Retired Intelligence Officers: 30%
Specialist in strategic affairs: 20%
Politicians: Union Home Minister and A person appointed by Leader of opposition in the Parliament (Shadow home minister): 2 in number
Other eminent persons like scientists, academics and the like: Remaining percentage
Exclusions: All serving officers of the government, Retired civil officers like IAS, revenue service etc (Police Service and Intelligence service being the only exception)

This has been done in the past. Our IITs and IIMs are a result of such farsighted legislation which the Arjun Singhs of this world have not been able to destroy in spite of their best efforts. Hence I am confident this can be done. Let us put pressure on the central government to enact such legislation in the coming session of the parliament itself. Once this is passed, let us contribute whole heartedly to this fund to make it a grand success.
When the terrorist strikes again, let this be a battle by well armed men. Let not another constable be seen firing from a first world war vintage .303 to combat the next cowardly terrorist. A few of us will recall the fearlessness in the eyes of the young CRPF constables who defeated the nefarious designs of the terrorists during the parliament attack. Well armed and well trained, our brave men can show how the terrorists can be tamed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dr Chandrakant Patil's supreme sacrifice for flood victims

Dr Chandrakant Patil was a young medical student at KEM college at Mumbai. He travelled all the way from Mumbai to the Kosi region of Bihar to serve the flood ravaged people. While serving the suffering humanity, he was struck by lightning and lost his life. Dr Patil comes from a rather humble background. His father is a mill worker and his mother is a house wife. His younger sister is a student. His family had great hopes from him as he was effectively the sole bread winner for them.
His supreme sacrifice is especially laudable since it has come at a time of increased regional chauvinism. It is like a balm to the divisiveness that we see all around us. We have been justifiably vocal in voicing our protest against the cancer of regional chauvinism. Now let us come forward to the aid of the family of a person who gave his life rising above such narrow sectarianism. It is through such gestures that we can combat the poison of divisiveness.We earnestly appeal to all of you to contribute generously. Guneshwar Anand (a guy known to me) has volunteered to collect the money on our behalf. You may send your contribution to the bank account of
Guneshwar Anand A/C No. 016501513442 ICICI Bank.
He will personally visit his family to hand over the money. Full details of this campaign can be seen at the blog

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Maharashtra not among top five destinations for Bihari migrants

According to a recent survey by ODI, UK, Delhi is the top destination for the migrants for Biharis. In spite of having the financial capital of India, Mumbai, in its midst, Biharis do not find Maharashtra even among the top five destinations for migration. Punjab, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are the other destinations preferred by the Biharis.

What is noteworthy is that this survey pertains to 2005-06 and hence a period which precedes the recent anti Bihari tirade. Another study by TISS and IPSS had estimated the migrants from Bihar to Maharashtra to a puny 2.3% and 3.5% of the new migrants to Mumbai respectively.

All this makes one wonder what is all this fuss about Biharis swamping Mumbai and changing its culture. Are these just political gimmicks?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rajdeep and Goa- lessons in media management

Have a look at the blog of the great moralist Rajdeep Sardesai.

The same Rajdeep Sardesai who does not hesitate to use terms like Biharisation to describe crime of any hue is disturbed that Goa's image is getting sullied due to Keeling murder.

It is a case of crime, of murder. If I am not mistaken, the primary duty of the state is to maintain law and order and prevent of crime. In Goa, most politicians, whether the CM or other ministers, have taken turn to publicly blame the parenting, family value and god knows what else for the crime. I have not heard even an opposition leader to point to the failure of the state to act in time. No one of any stature from the state government thought it fit to explain why the investigation was shoddy and why the accused was not arrested until the mother of the murdered made such a noise about the affair.

The great moralist Rajdeep does not see anything wrong in it. He is more worried about the image of his beloved state. I can only compare the news with the way the likes of Rajdeep react when a much smaller incident takes place in Bihar which they roundly condemn. Take the case of the minister of rural development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. Reader's will recall his family was accused of employing children for ploughing the field with pictures showing what was clearly giving 'henga' or 'chowki' Or the case of Anant Singh, MLA, wrongly accused of murdering a muslim girl which DNA tests proved was totally false. Or the thrashing of the motorcycle thief which was relayed ad infinitum on TV.

What are these if not instances of double standard - of morality being made into a hand maiden of convenience?

As a Bihari, it is perhaps best to take this as a lesson in image management. It is also an opportunity to analyse how Bihar's image has been tarnished by the media to suit their end of selling their channels and earning their ad revenue.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Focus on the migrant issue of Bihar

Nitin Chandra, a young film maker who is a native of Patna, is making a documentary on the on migration issue facing Bihar - agitation in Maharashtra as well as the lynching of Biharis by ULFA thugs in Assam. This is the link to the promo of the film

An article on the issue was written by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar himself in the Indian Express

I thought very thoughtful and balanced thinking in an atmosphere supercharged by histrionics

Management Institute at Patna - A dream becomes reality

A committed low profile state govt in India has been quietly working at improving the lot its people. The law and order is better, the roads are better and the primary health centers now have doctors and medicines which the people now find worth visiting. Last year's war with the floods (UN called it the worst in living memory) has been fought pretty well. Basic things like classes and examinations being held on time have been achieved.The state now moves to improve the educational infrastructure to the next level.
As part of this initiative, a management institute will start working at Patna this summer. Supported by the state govt, financially and much more crucially, with an emotional bonding now rarely seen between politicians and the people, it has behind it a vast body of experienced professionals, from Bihar and other places. Apart from teaching post graduate students, it will also have a research center for appropriate technology focussed on powerful ideas that can change the lives of the people.
The management institute, named Chandragupt Institute of Management, Patna (CIMP) has a constitution that will make it highly autonomous so that professionals running it can take it to the envisaged heights of excellence much like the Patna Science College and Netarhat Vidyalaya of yore. All the learnings of the past have been put into it to make it stoutly autonomous.The first director would be Prof V Mukundas, formerly of IIM A. A number of other faculty members, both serving and retired, as well as professionals from the industry, are working for it. The syllabus is largely drawn from those of IIMs and XLRI. The admission would be through combined admission test (CAT) of the IIMs.
Please do visit its website
Warm regards
Thakur Vikas Sinha

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Attack On Bihar

After recent attacks on biharis, uttarpradesh and north indians by goodns of Raj Thakrey there has been a sense of discomfort across India. Some of us are very upset and some want to revenge while most have offered to display Gandhigir. In this context our take is that we need not be aggressive but yes we must defend our brothers/sisters by all means. I would say that we should be "assertive". We should not be hesitant to celebrate our festivals like "chath" at all. At the same time we should make all efforts to mix up / assimilate local culture and festivals as well. Guess most progressive people and we biharis do as well,

As far as, Raj Thakrey and goons are concerned, they are best ignored and "defended against". This whole series of incidents against biharis is giving rise to emergence of bihari subnationalism. Which is much needed. However do not expect most of the well educated and well placed Biharis to speak-up or stand-up and be counted.

Most of them will just prefer to watch silently over TV or read newspapers and analyse for few weeks and then move on to their routine life. Some of the political kind will try to get some mileage out of it (this side or that side but their end goal is to benefit) . Those whose bread and butter is affected or those whose life and honor is being threatened will either react in self-defence or migrate to safer places. However some, especially the young students will see this as a wake-up call and they will react by their heart. We need to make sure that the reaction is on right track. We don't resort to the level of "goondas" on road. We must prepare to defend and support our people and at the same time, wake-up to the reality that there is no place like home. We must try to give our best to our current place (Maharashtra or Delhi or US) but at the same time should also retain our connections with the homeland and continue to give back to our parent society(bihar, jharkhand or india).

For almost 2 months i have been hopping from city to city (Patna, Munger, Rajgir, Nalanda, Tilaiya, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Delhi). If the socio-economic-political trends as observed by a non-expert are to go by then we are already on the path of socio-economic renaissiance. The dark days are over. Bihar is going through a churn and transformation that will really shake up the world. In the few weeks that I was in Patna, there were some or other othe trade-expo, seminar, socio-economic event going on. Patna's calendar was very busy and so was rest of bihar. National/International level sports events and positive events going on.

We truly are living in very very interesting times and the outlook is very positive. These attacks on Biharis are sad but hopefully yet another incident reflecting the "awakening" of bihari subnationalism. As long as we were willing to build the roads, work as maids and servants or IT/Management Coolies then the local "netas" were okay with us. However as soon as we started displaying some solidarity and display of our cultural heritage then the world has problems. Very soon the IT and Management "coolies" amongst us will also start showing their Bihari Identity without any disrespect for the local identity, the world will start respecting us. The display of strength of IMA (Indian Medical Association) was one good example. Many more such "skirmishes" will take place but in the end, we will emerge stronger.

Bihar is the most promising market for talent, mobile, pharma, tourism, agribusiness, innovation and many other industries. Smart money of Sunil Mittal, Ambani, Tata, Mahindra and others are already benefiting from the "market". Bihar-jharkhand is world's fastest growing mobile market, but soon they will start jumping in many other sectors as well

To sum it up,
a) Let us remain assertive and not be aggressive. Losers like Thakrey will lose steam soon.
b) Let us see the big picture and remain focussed on rebuilding Bihar2.0 and giving our best to India and world
c) Bihar is an opportunity for the smart brains to see and insecure societies/people to feel threatened
d) Let us remain connected to our roots
e) In whichever society we go we need to have strong local networks so that we remain safe