‘Manmohan ki Asha’

Sounds like a good movie title. But yes, that is pretty much how one can describe the situation where our PM seemingly tries, in vain, to reach out to our neighbours extending the handshake of peace. Each time met with a snub, from a neigbour who increasingly has got a measure of our response to situations of terror attacks.

The overtures to our neighbours have long ceased to have even the Yash Chopra movie style romance element, leave alone some degree of rationality, as our neighbour seems increasingly determined to pursue the tactic of trespassing our borders. Repeated attacks have met with meek responses by India. Emboldened, the Pak side, pretty much is emulating the Chinese on our North -Eastern borders, knowing in advance, that the costs of such audacity is almost zilch.

To say that, our side is being brave and acting responsibly, is downright foolish and cowardly. Applause from the international community is certainly followed by laughter in private. National interest is paramount in all countries. Any such tresspassing is dealt with sternly elsewhere. But here it is followed by useless ‘Biryani diplomacy’ or ‘ Cricket diplomacy’.

The weak footing on which the PM stands today is gaining coverage internationally too. What with Sharif’s alleged ‘ Village Woman’ remark to describe Manmohan Singh’s whining to US http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/nawaz-sharif-manmohan-singh-pakistan-pm-indian-pm-dehati-aurat-unga-meet/1/312284.html . Apparently it was made by Sharif at a private gathering with journalist which was chosen not to report by journalists there except one, who commented and reported on his local new channel which even drew mocking laughter but then the report was withdrawn considering the outcry it caused here. Now, the point is not whether the comment was retracted and denied but the audacity of the comment made in the first place.

It is not surprising considering the ever diminishing stature of the PM even here. His approval ratings would barely be in positive territory now. With just 6 months remaining to his tenure and the prospect of another term an impossibility time is running out for Manmohan and it would be his asha to salvage his lost pride and credibility.

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Mumbai Choked and Congested

Mumbai is the financial hub of India which contributes around 7% of the country’s GDP. It is also the most populated city of India with a population of around 20 million.

This obviously makes it heavily congested with traffic also. There are about 20 lakh vehicles in Mumbai and an average of around 750 vehicles per km in Mumbai. Such a large number of vehicles are sure to cause heavy traffic and one needs to have proper planning of infrastructure to overcome this. But there seems to be no planning in the city and so every day lakhs of local commuters have to take the brunt of heavy traffic while going to office and back home and waste loads of their precious time.

So the question is what can be done to reduce the traffic so that Mumbai stops choking due to congestion and breathes some fresh air.

The answer to this can be alternative means of transport. We all know that projects like monorail, sea links, metro rail, waterways etc. are in the pipeline but we do not know when they will be completed and people will be actually able to use it.

The mono rail and metro projects (phase 1) have already missed their timelines by a big way and we do not see them starting in the near future. The monorail and metro projects will certainly reduce the traffic on roads as people will use them as they are faster and comfortable just like we have the metro network in Delhi.

Mumbai is a union of 7 islands and so it makes sense to have a water way transport for people to commute from one place to another which are connected by water. We know that is an ambitious project but one that is certainly worth looking into. There are many people that stay near the coastal areas like Marve, Gorai, Versova etc. and other creeks who travel for work to areas like Nariman point which is very near to coast itself. So water ways connecting these places makes sense.

Another way to reduce traffic can be building more fly overs so that the fast moving traffic can be deviated to them and the other traffic wanting to get in the interior of any suburb can go from below them.

Also one simple but yet effective way can be to compulsorily have timers at all traffic posts so that the stopped vehicles are ready and already started once the signal light turns green and in this manner no time is wasted.

All in all there are many ways and means by which the traffic congestion can be reduced but for this to happen there should be a stop to red tapism and politics which delays all the productive plans to save their vote banks. It would be good if the politicians stop getting into petty politics and instead of planning to build statues they plan to upgrade the infrastructure. Only then we would be able to make Mumbai alike to Shanghai.

‘A’ great initiative by BCCI

Indian cricket has always been considered as one of the most talented teams around. But they also carried the tag of being “Tigers at home but lambs abroad”.

This mentality is slowly starting to change and it started under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly. But to be considered a champion team you need to be winning consistently.  This fact has now been accepted by the cash rich and powerful BCCI.

They have understood the importance of grass root grooming and better infrastructure facilities for training. BCCI has now slowly started to rebuild the stadiums across the country so that they have the latest state of the art facilities.

But no training can substitute actual match practise. So in order to have a great bench strength, BCCI has now started organizing India ‘A’ tours so that the reserves can get a feel of alien conditions abroad and they are ready to play at the biggest stage when called upon. Recently there was an ‘A’ tour to South Africa where the team performed very well and the youngsters got a feel of the bouncy conditions. It was followed by a series with NZ A side at home and currently a series is going on woth the WI A side.

Such tours gives confidence to the youngsters that they are in the scheme of things of the selectors and gives them the reason to compete for places in the Indian team. There is also the IPL and Champions league where youngsters get a taste of high speed T20 games and a chance to rub shoulders with great International cricketers.

All in all it is a win-win situation for Indian cricket.

We hope that the BCCI will continue with this initiate and keep spending their large corpus judiciously.

Summers withdraws his candidature

It seems Larry Summers has withdrawn his candidature for the post of Chairman of the Fed Reserve. Surprising bit of news this, considering that it was only as recently as Friday that it almost seemed certain that Obama would name him for the job.

BBC has this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24103970

CNN has this bit http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/15/news/economy/fed-chair-larry-summers-withdraws/?hpt=hp_t2

Summers served as the Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. He supported de – regulation urging the administration to repeal the Glass-Stegall Act (a legislation that essentially separated commercial and investment banking) as also resisted regulation of derivatives. Both of these had a role in the global financial crises of 2008.

Considering yesterday (15th September, 2013) was the 5th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman, it was only fitting that he withdrew his candidature which will pave the way for Janet Yellen.

India’s MoS for HRD tries to defend NFSB / LARR

India’s MoS for HRD Mr Shashi Tharoor has this http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/india-embraces-the-welfare-state-by-shashi-tharoor piece on the two most “crucial pieces of legislations’ of the Congress, i.e. NFSB and Land Acquistion (may be just before the elections we could see it being renamed with some of the dynasties famouus leaders).

We had earlier argued that how NFSB http://wp.me/p3FAl7-78 / LARR http://wp.me/p3FAl7-7d are just populists pieces of legislations.

Since it failed to promote policies that promote growth (India’s poverty alleviation coincided with high growth rates experienced by the economy), India’s growth collapsed and now we are stuck with an economy thats sputtering along @ 4 – 5% for next 2- 3 years may be. With elections round the corner, the government needs a facesaver, it hopes that these populist legislations would garner votes.

But sadly for the ruling dispensation, election after elections in states offlate, it has been noticed that states with high economic growth rates vote back the ruling party to power.

Inventor of ‘Dolby Digital’ sound dies

Ray Dolby, pioneer of ‘Dolby digital’ sound and audio systems, has died at the age of 80 in San Fransisco. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24075429

I wonder when would India produce such pioneering inventors (individuals as well as companies) who touch peoples everyday lives. Or are we doomed to be just the jugaadu kinds who will forever be on the fringes and not occupy centre stage in the world cutting edge innovation.