Thursday, May 26, 2011

Systemic Corruption

In my view the corruption is of 2 types - Systemic and Operational - we have been focusing only on the operational one, which has been our fundamental mistake for a very long time

By looking at 2 examples this would become clear - First - In Tamil Nadu the State Govt. earns enormous income (estimated to be Rs. 15000 crores per month) from Liquor sales (the liquor is distributed and sold by State TN). We have been only focusing on the scams with respect to Liquor manufacturing licensing and the associated corruption, the cost of the liquor when it was sold to Govt., the tendering process, etc. and the associated corruption, the accounting and the associated corruption, distribution and associated corruption. Now even if all the operational corruption is curtailed still the fact remains that the State Government's revenue comes from Liquor sales - which is what I would term as systemic corruption. With money from the poor labours (which they spend on liquor daily) we have roads, street lights and even Govt. festival celebration - isn't this a bigger shame. Dent in revenue will be witnessed if toddy is allowed, that's why Govt. doesn't allow the healthy natural sedative Toddy and promotes unhealthy liquor which costs 10 times

Second - Our central Govt. is making huge money out of Petrol - around 35% of the entire national revenue - if one reads various analysis post budget published in press - the income to Govt. - the pie-chart of how each rupee comes - there one can see that - 2 pieces of the pie, customs duty and import duty - one of these refers exclusively to petroleum. Another major source of income (the pie) excise duty - in which also the major portion is contributed Petrol and by other petroleum products (fertilizer, etc.) and by-products (naphtha, chemicals, plastics, etc.). For a nation which is not a producer of Petrol earns a whopping 35% national revenue (central Govt. alone) from petrol - this by itself is the prime reason for Govt. not promoting, not even encouraging Alternative source of Energy etc. - isn't this a classic example of systemic corruption.

One the one hand Govt. allows Iron ore export - revenue. Also iron ore import - again revenue. Food products export as well as food products import - Govt makes money from both export and import - duties, taxes, licensing fees, Corporate and income tax from both importers and exporters. - what a wonderful way to make money - isn't this the biggest corruption. And why we all don't know about these things because we don't know any other model of governance - know only the model of earn-spend - The model of Earn-Spend only generates the so called GDP.

The solar cell module of a simple solar water heater - costs around Rupees. 5000/- in India (manufactured in India) - whereas in China a similar module costs only Rs. 1500/- equivalent in retail. - where is Government's role in promoting this - this alternative energy product should in fact be encouraged even at the cost of or even loss to Govt's exchequers. - If each household installs a small wind-turbine and a 10ft x 10ft solar cell added with a portable anaerobic digester based natural gas (very similar to Gobar gas but portable one with out the need for Cow dung but works with Organic waste - costs around Rs. 30,000 - 40,000). If all these are subsidized and easily available - One need not look towards Government for energy for the rest of his/her life. If this happens then the Govt. will loose its controlling power over its subjects - the people - which is the primary worry of the Govt. in not decentralization of Energy production. (I'll be writing another article on this) and not encouraging alternative energy sources.

Similarly if the Government promotes Organic farming at national level - people's and environmental health will improve - fertilizer /pesticide sales will drop and the associated revenue to Govt. - Our central Govt. is not even banning the internationally banned Endosulfan - how would they promote Organic farming? - Isn't this a bigger corruption ?

The western ideology is that there should be no operational corruption but they don't care for systemic corruption rather they encourage and exploit - whether the Govt. revenue comes from liquor sales or Arms sales or Seeds patenting or occupation of other countries natural resources like Oil, Gas and even Agricultural lands or countless other white collar crimes

The TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL which publishes the corruption index don't care about these corruption - what double standards. This is like AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL which has double standards for Human Rights violation in the West and East. The biggest human rights violation is when one pays for drinking water, seeds and soon for clean air - yet the so called human rights activists don't care for these violations simply because these watchdogs are leashed and held by businesses which are ones responsible for systemic corruption. I the west it is led by Walmart, Shell, GM, Northorp and the likes and in India it is by Tata, Reliance, Bharti, Vedanta, Essar and the likes.

Gandhiji time and again repeated that it is individual simplicity leads to collective goodness which is what really matter not a so called freedom for namesake - where instead of a khaki (military) oppressor we have white collar (businesses) oppressor. The collective Revenues of the World's Top 1000 corporations are more than the collective GDPs of the G8. (this is for GDP crazy modern economists) - which simply means that the corporations have more financial muscle than the so called Elected /Democratic /people governments. In many western countries the military is controlled almost by businesses - which directly sponsors many military events including R&D and veteran programs.

If one visits - one can clearly understand

What is the solution for all these:

The principles of Gandhiji particularly the Gram swaraj model of Governance - very clearly documented and proven by the great People's Economist - Sri. J C Kumarappa is the solution clearly detailed in his book "Economy of Permanence" but ever since Independence our governance models were not even remotely connected to those principles. All countries are doomed to fail as all have the system developed by Adam Smith in some form or the other including be it communist or capitalist or socialist or military or dictatorship. For those who worship anything foreign the same principles were echoed by the world renowned Economist Dr. E.F Schumacher in his book "Small is beautiful"

But I don't think we have the right education, conviction and perseverance to adopt such a simplistic lifestyle at Individual level and alternative models of governance

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Collective stupidity

The number of registered vehicles in and around Chennai as on April 1, 2010 was 26,58,083, within a span of 5 months an increase of 5 lakhs vehicles were recorded and as on September 1, 2010 the number stood at 31,97,575.

That was the essence of news item giving us the facts - now some perspectives on these facts - which were not published:

It is estimated that over 40,00,000 vehicles ply in Chennai city as on today (with an estimated 15 lakh 4+ wheelers) - of these about 15,000 are city buses, 1.5 lakh vehicles are passenger auto rickshaws - WHO IS REALLY CHOCKING THE ROAD - a public vehicle or the private one ?? - Just one in every 15 vehicles on the road is an auto rickshaw and one in every 25 vehicle is a bus - certainly they are not the ones causing a traffic jam.

Except a handful none of the US /Europe cities have a vehicle population more than one million - in each of our 6 metros we have four million plus.

What these private vehicles do ??

- 1. They permanently occupy (consuming real-estate) a whopping 60 million sq.feet of space (either on the roads or parking places) - if this space is calculated as paddy fields - 800 tons of rice can be grown on the land per year that is being used to park all these 4 wheelers alone

2. On an average day they occupy 5 million sq.feet of space on the road (8% vehicles on road on an average working day - peak hours or Saturday is even worse) - more cars means more roads - no space for us to live and the civic administration spends money and time only on constructing roads

3. This huge population of vehicles consume a lot of fuel which is a different story by itself - BUT THE IMPORTANT FACT is that 600 million liters of water per month is used just for washing these vehicles alone - (100 lts of water per wash - one washing @ 3 buckets of water per vehicle in a week) - this much of water would otherwise be useful for about 5,00,000 people in the City - about 8 lakh people in Chennai are constantly under "water-stress"

4. Such high water consumption for washing vehicles itself amounts to so much energy waste with respect to - pumping water up from deep-wells etc. and electricity is produced with Coal /Nuclear plant leading to pollution and environmental problems - a vicious cycle

5. About the amount of fuel the we need to import - BETTER NOT TO TALK ABOUT IT (just because we equate everything to money this appears trivial - That fact is that even if the petrol price is Rs.300 a liter we would still buy and use it - just like a drunkard complaining of high liquor prices and still drinking)

6. About Pollution from these vehicles - BEST NOT TO TALK ABOUT IT - (One in 4 people in the city is suffering from some form of respiratory problem throughout the year - 90% of the cause points to vehicular pollution)

Why we are here ??

Multiple factors led to this state that we are in right now - Car from being a luxury now considered to be a necessity - it is truly a necessity ? if so, how big a car and with how much fuel efficiency, how many cars required per family (nowadays many households own 2 cars) - all these vital questions are forgotten

What we can do (rather what I do)

Using office bus /van or public transport for office commute; As much as possible we can share our 4/2 wheelers with others; Can avoid using car for long city drives - public transport is faster, cheaper and less tiresome; Can avoid taking car for a single person; Having a fixed monthly budget for fuel and sticking to it; Walking or cycling for short distance (1-2 km) travel; etc.

Already Chennai city roads are chocked not because of cars are plying simply because of parking on the road sides as no space left to park anywhere in city - the purpose of having a car itself defeats that very purpose - what an irony

The idea propagated by car companies and advertisers - that each one of us must own a car - is western ideal - which is not suitable for India and our huge population and certainly not sustainable - the east Asian model is most appropriate for India.

Where we failed - is it due to our myopic vision in the past - instead of demanding (I repeat demanding) public transport we demanded low car prices, loans and roads from Govt. - one can still notice that village folks do demand public transport to their village /locality

The situation if not worse, is equally bad in 10 other cities across India - and about 20 other cities are trying to catchup to this state of stalemate

Let us be Mindful that in another 5-10 years there will only be space for cars to parked in the city and not for people to live - those who can afford will convert whatever open space left in the city into road or parking space.

Car is a dream for another 100 million households in India - Is it wrong ?? - who implanted this idea into their mind - who to blame ?? - how can one convince that person who worked hard and saved to have a car all along - who can deprive his/her right to his own 4 wheeler - yet we all would collectively suffer due to consequences as Car /private vehicle population increases - isn't this a stalemate.

I'm writing this not because I don't have a car (I used to have one few years back - thus I'm also equally responsible) simply because I look forward to a social awakening to demand public transportation and self transformation towards simplicity