Sunday, May 31, 2015

Nature’s Fury

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

The massive earth quakes, the tsunamis, the heavy and unseasonal rains, the long droughts, the extreme cold, the extreme heat, and all what we call the unnatural events we term as natural disasters have always been a part of earth’s existence.  Our evolution into who we are today clearly chronicles the metamorphosis of humans and the mother earth herself.

We know that one massive land mass broke into today’s continents, which still constantly are moving and creating new boundaries.  The volcanoes and the earthquakes create and destroy the land and surroundings, and reshape the geography quite often.  In the billions of years of its existence, the earth has always evolved into something new and reinvented the conditions that fostered life in many forms.  Until the evolution of human beings in their current form who started to inhabit the land, the habitation of earth was in concert with mother-nature and its sustainability.  The living beings simply survived in the environment of their time and caused little disruption to the eco system.  The fury of nature and the cosmic connection simply determined the existence and survival of the living beings.

Only in the last hundred years or so the humans have either used up or abused much of the earth’s resources at such a rapid pace, much of these earth’s resources that took billions of years to create.  In fact not just on the land mass, we have already abused the oceans.  We dig, we drill, we bore, we cut, we clear, we kill, we pollute and we find very which way we can to destroy the very place we live.  We have only had motorized vehicles for a little over a hundred years, and we might be getting close to using us the oil reserves on earth in a couple of generations.  We are not only using up the reserves, but are also polluting and burning a lot of these reserves either being careless or using it as a weapon against one another.  It won’t be too long before we exhaust the oil reserves and start abusing some other natural resource in thirst for our energy needs.  Simply put in a very short span of life on earth, man is single handedly using up all the natural resources that the good earth took to create its inception.  The ingenious human mind has so far only been smart enough to use the resources, but still has yet to work on sustainability.

The biggest burden is also that the humans keep multiplying at an alarming rate.  We also keep making self-made rifts with color, religion, culture, language and whatever reason that can be found.  We keep abusing everything around us; be it human, living and all the natural resources.  We have eliminated more than 90% of the forests and vegetation, but seldom think of the consequences on the eco system.  We have continue to alter the earth at an alarming rate, and we create waste and trash everywhere.  All this while having no regard for the environment and its fragile eco system.  We really don’t appreciate the beauty and prosperity of our surrounding nature and the good earth.  It shows our utter disregard for the earth.  In just about a hundred years we have used and destroyed just about every available natural resource and dramatically altered the edifice of the good earth.

We complain about the dramatic changes to the dramatic changes to the environment and the extreme changes to the conditions with seasons.  In fact we have destroyed the natural protection that fostered the regular seasons, but fail to realize that we have caused the calamities that are effecting the earth.

While the human consumption and behavior influences the seasonal changes on earth, the earth itself has the ability to self-correct the disasters.  The real problem is at the speed humans are contributing to the drastic changes to the environment, the earth really doesn’t have the time to regenerate.  It is impossible to correct such accelerated abuse of natural resources.  Whenever there is natural correction to the abused environment, we always find ways to accelerate some other means to destroy the environment.  Then we start using the term nature’s fury.  We are smart enough to know that there is no unlimited of anything (including our own life span), and the resources we need take a long time to be created.  Unless and until our intelligence is directed at preservation and upkeep of our nature and our surroundings, and we develop the much needed respect for the mother earth, we will continue to deplete and destroy the precious resources that can never be recreated.  We can only complain about the nature’s fury.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Trivial Pursuit

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

Normal citizen of India is looking at the Modi government for actions on many of the poll promises that put him in the PM chair just about a year ago.  There is no magic to politics, and Modi and his BJP colleagues are no different than other master politicians in speech verses performance.  The election promises of a political party that is in the opposition are typically targeted at the weaknesses of the incumbent government, and the electorate already has the five year history (or in some cases more than one term) to make opinions on the ruling party, and also listen and make opinions to vote for the opposition.

Along with majority of Indians both in India and the NRI community, yours truly also strongly advocated opinions (and continue to express positive opinions) for Modi lead government for India.  There are may be a dozen major factors along with many more tangible and intangible reasons for voting for a change at the central government in India in 2014.  Modi and his team and their agenda that sets out the future of India, for both the very rich and the common man and in between the middle class.  The rhetoric, the speeches, the words of wisdom, the challenges for the new government, the wide reach of the media and internet, the many reasons of the nation’s needs and in my opinion the corruption at every level of government; all factors that needed to be changed and Modi hit one every one of the failing of the previous government, and we the people were listening to him and his party.  We really needed change at the top, and also change in the policy and administration of the country.  It did not matter who was listening, but just about everyone wanted to have the government do something to curb the corruption and start focusing on the common man agenda.

Modi was a successful CM, and administrator and also a man who is quite simple and reaches out to everyone.  His reach is enormous to everyone with ability to communicate, and in today’s connected society he is a superstar.  At times he is like a teenager who is constantly updating his profile on the internet pages, and much of it personal and meaningless for public policy.  He shares his private moments with his travels and other head of state, and most of them are filled with his personal anecdotes and his personal comments on where and with whom he is with.  Modi is the leader of the largest democracy on earth, and his reaching out to anyone on earth is unobstructed.  His personal equation with everyone he meets is quite warm and receptive.  It doesn’t matter which country he is in or who he is meeting with, the man is a charmer.  His travels and interactions globally has certainly put India and its leadership as a positive discussion across the world.  We finally have Indian PM that is a welcome visitor into the global audience, and he certainly is smart and savvy to embrace people, politics and culture of everywhere he is.  He is our own political superstar.

In a year at the helm of the country, Modi is well travelled and well engaged man of action.  His agenda is enormous and his public persona continues to expand globally as a man of substance and pro-development.

To review a year at the helm of India is quite trivial.  It is difficult to really look at the election manifesto and 12 months in power.  The election manifesto is typically a list of corrections to the failures of the incumbent government and adding a few spicy issues that are of importance to the nation at the time of elections.

The massive change in the perception on India and Indians across the world after Modi took over as PM is the curtailing corruption.  It is a universally known fact that Modi and his team have been quite vocal in curtailing the corruption, and in the last year there is no significant or major scam that is highlighted as associated to Modi government.  Personally, this is a major plus for Modi and his government.  The telecom, coal, public sector privatization, defense and any other areas where the government has taken major initiatives and auctions, there is no whiff of scams.  This is an election promise that Modi made, and if the current trend continues it is the most significant achievement of this government.  This is probably the most important contribution to the nation’s well-being and managing it resources.

Moving from a state capital to the nation’s capital, especially with the vast diversity of India and its needs. Modi definitely has some more learning to do on what his government says and what it does.  The reality of running a massive nation is much different than running a state, and we can see the management issues that have become common to Modi government.

To begin with a year is over in governance, and it is time to implement what is constantly being publicized as government agenda.  Also, for each project make public what was said and what is being done.  Outside of curbing corruption, there are a lot of initiative that the government must respond to, and put out the progress on each of them.  For sure the promise of returning black money to all Indians is simply impossible as India alone can’t force the global banking system to do something they have never done before, and also estimating the amount of money that is really stashed abroad is the most unimaginative poll statement any politician can make.  People are way too smart to realize that there are things the government can do and there are things that are impossible.  People would appreciate if the government fixes the laws going forward and curb the hoarding of unreported money, rather than trying to figure out imaginary numbers that were promised before the elections.

The government should stop announcing impossible expectations, and start publishing the report card on the already under process initiatives.  Take the next four years to better manage the country’s resources and continue to eliminate graft and cronyism.  By simply diverting the national resources to national building, people will respond to the next elections.  No matter how well you speak or how well you tell a story, the audience is limited to one sitting.  You will have to deliver to the expectations for people to continue to listen to your story.  In Modi’s case and his BJP government, the emphasis should be to continue to eliminate graft (100% graft free) and start publishing the progress of its many initiatives.  No matter what the progress the public will want to know where the government is in doing things that are of importance to the nation, and the public also is fully aware of the reality of life much more than what politicians give credit to.  Modi is always online and it will take his government very little effort to update the nation on everything they have said they will do in the last year.  Just keep us updated and we will judge the actions.  It’s simple to understand and appreciate facts, rather than play trivial pursuit with government’s actions.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Where Are The Billions?

Vasu Reddy From Chicago

It has been a year since elected BJP government with an absolute majority, and made Narendra Modi the prime minister of India.  The year has seen India and its public relations on an upswing, and Modi ass a leader with great public persona.  Modi himself has always been a media and publicity savvy and he connects quite easily and well with global leaders and common man with ease.  His personal equation with global leaders he has met is displayed with extraordinary ease to the tune of friendship.  It is quite a site to see leaders of the world display such camaraderie with each other as if they have been friends for a long time.  It is great to see Modi connect with the rest of the global leaders with such ease and simplicity, and it is quite extraordinary that all the global leaders develop such personal equation with a man who just shot into the international leadership such a short time ago.  It’s all good for the Indian psychology to have its leader treated in such a welcoming way by the global leaders.  The Indian diaspora across the world continues to give Modi a rock star welcome and there has never been such a spectacle of public display of support for Modi wherever he visited.  The endearing thing about Modi is his interest in local culture and traditions and people, and his constant pitching to the audience almost bordering a great salesman.  He continues to travel and receive the adulation from leaders and public from around the world, and also he continues to reach out the every person he comes in touch with.

In his year-long travels and visits Modi has raised pledges for tens of billions of dollars in commitments from just about every nation he has visited.  These are pledges by governments to make investments into India.  There are untold amounts of commitments by companies and NRI population to invest in India.  The entire world has looked at Modi and his government with great expectations for good governance and improving the economic and living conditions for all Indians.  The initiatives taken by the Modi government on clean India, river cleanup, make in India, sanitation and toilets, girl child support, infrastructure, smart cities and many other programs announced along with good governance, with focus on investment opportunities; all of which are good and very much needed development programs for India.

The fact is that the Indian population and the global audience continue to give positive response to Modi and his continued pitch for supporting India.  For the past year most of my weekly columns have covered Modi and his government and governance.  The issues that are focal point of Modi and his policy initiatives are well in line with what is needed by India.

With the end to the first year of office approaching, people want to grade Modi and his government.  To a large degree it is difficult to measure the success of the government in what they have accomplished.  Many initiatives Modi has announced are straight out of his party’s election manifesto.  They are programs that sound great and have great general acceptance.  But after a year in power, the country is looking for these programs to be executed, rather than constant barrage of promotions.  Modi continues to travel and sign agreements for billion and billions, but what has happened to the billions already committed in the past year?  What has happened to these massive commitments made to India?  Where is this money, and when will it be invested and what is the status of these projects and plans?

One of the most interesting and intriguing plans was to build 100 smart cities.  Not a single one has started in becoming a smart city at the end of the year.

The list of what happened is quite long.  There is no doubt that Modi’s good governance is in full swing and we have yet to hear of another scam in India.  Modi himself is hard working and definitely influences others to follow suit.  Modi certainly logs in long hours and his staff and ministers are getting used to working long hours.  But what has happened to the billions pledged into India and who is tracking them and their progress into the economy?

Modi is constantly updating his personal anecdotes on social media, and he is quite good in making statements on what he started.  It might be best for him to also track the progress of each of these things he announces.  He has the time to update the world on what he is doing and who he is meeting and how much pledges that he is getting, but a track on what is happening to these pledges and projects on a regular basis will help appreciate what is that we have really achieved?  It is really time for this government to stop the campaign mode and start the implementation mode.  It’s very simple to measure.  Publish every project, commitments made, who made them, what has been done to those commitments and what has been executed that was initially publicized.  Simple steps with; who, what, when, where and why? On every project that the government has announced.  Modi and his government should make it a practice to update the nation on progress of all these commitments, along with his selfies and personal anecdotes.  The nation deserves better and the government also deserves to do better.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Victim’s Rights

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Last week’s court proceedings in Mumbai about a Hit and run case from 2002, was major headlines all across the news and web channels.  Salman Khan, who has been accused of driving drunk and killing one and injuring others was in court, finally, and the hearings, judgement, bail and the ensuing drama surrounding the proceedings makes one wonder about the victim’s rights in a high profile case.

One of the survivor of the accident says “We don’t want to see Salman going to jail.  We bear no ill will towards him.  Our family has been hurt and destroyed because of this accident and we only want help with moving forward with our life”.  It was on 28th of September 2002 when this happened and many years have passed by and much has happened to the lives of those involved.  Salman continues to be a superstar and the pavement dwellers have lost a life and lively hood.  After so many years of coverage and hoopla the case finally got to court on May of 2015, and the arguments focused on if Salman was driving the car?

There is still no resolution on what will happen next despite the court hearings, judgement, bail and further opinion of a superior court on Salman’s sentence to a five year prison term, and granting him bail until further hearings.  The judicial system is definitely very slow in dealing with the case load they have.  Every case they have on the docket takes many years to simply come to hearing and much longer to final judgement.  Often the parties to the case, both sides of the argument are fuzzy about what really happened and the story changes many times in the time that is lost before things are argued on court.  The recollection of things that transpired gets changed and often difficult to assimilate as the time goes by.  When a celebrity is involved, the whole world would already have an opinion on what happened (as if they were there).  The press, social media and general public would have already have made up their mind on the accident and many times during the course of time would have changed their opinion on what they believe as facts (as if they were there in person), and changed their mind on the same many times.

What will not change is the life of the victims and the accused.  Whatever the cause of the accident; the difference is with the life of accused and the victims.  Someone died or got hurt, be it with negligence or accidental, whatever the cause it does cause damage.  The damage to property and the human suffering itself is immediate.  For someone to wait for decades to have closure and receive any compensation for the loss is more painful and damaging than the accident itself.

Most of the high profile accidents get a lot of publicity just because of the celebrity status of the individual involved.  What happens to the victims after the initial hoopla? What happens to the accused?  How does both the parties deal with the prolonged legal process?  The uncertainty is not just with the Indian legal system, but with just about every legal system in the world.  Even if the right facts come out after the prolonged wait and then the legal proceedings, who will actually get justice?

Does the victim who has lost life or suffered injuries and can no longer support his/her family get any justice by simply jailing the accused?  Is the system simply prolonging the suffering for the victim and uncertainty for the accused?  Why isn’t the government mandating the insurance to protect all the parties involved?  There are so many more loopholes to the process than just a prolonged and uncertain legal process.  The fact that both the parties to the case continue to suffer; one with human suffering and other with uncertainty.

Everyone involved and every system that is involved really needs wholesale changes in the process of handling the accidents; be it involuntary or voluntary.  Victims of prolonged delays in handling the case, and not having the insurance to help cover the accidents and health related issues should be dealt with, with at most care.  People who buy vehicles and pay for registering them must also be forced to pay for insurance to cover the damages and health related issues that follow the accidents. While we want to have a developed transportation system, we must also enforce the insurance that covers any loss of property or loss of life.  If we don’t then the entire population becomes victims of the system that simply doesn’t know how best to handle the vehicular accidents.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Nature’s Fury or God’s Way?

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

The natural disasters have become common and loss of life is in thousands due to the disasters striking close to populated areas.  Sea shores or mountains or plains or any habitable place on earth have become susceptible to what we call natural disasters.  The human losses have become bigger and bigger, as the natural disasters have also become bigger and bigger.  Hurricanes, Tsunamis, earth quakes and every imaginable weather conditions n extremes keep striking heavily populated areas of earth and also causing both property and human losses in large scales.  Billions lost in property damages and thousands killed in the process of losing everything in the way of the massive disasters.

The occurrence of a natural disaster is not a new phenomenon to the earth.  These things have been happening since the beginning of time and long before mankind has been in current form.  The recorded events of the natural disasters have happed on a much larger scale than those we are experiencing today, and we have enough evidence of drastic changes to the ecology of earth and wiping out massive life forms because of these natural calamities.

The loss of property and loss of human life these days has a correlation to the habitation by human beings rather than the disasters striking at any greater frequency than they were for centuries.  We have simply grown in huge numbers into billions of us on earth, and have ignored that the earth keeps reinventing itself and is a living and breathing planet on the whole. The fire, the wind the water and the land itself are fluid and active mechanisms that work together to keep our earth along with the living beings in the way we are.  God way is nature way, and we should all know it by now that we can never change the nature way of behavior.

While we grieve our fellow citizens of the world when the natural disasters strike, we don’t learn from the last disaster.  We continue to build in the way of attracting calamities and abuse the nature that we are supposed to take care of and worship.  We simply don’t care to look at what has happened before and what might happen in the future.  The history, the science, the learning and the experience of human life which is well recorded today, has never thought to take steps to avoid the nature’s fury.  We are certain that we will die, and we are also certain that we cannot control nature’s way of behavior.  We are certain of nature striking with uncontrollable force, and we don’t have any way to protect ourselves from running away from natural disasters, yet we still build and occupy the earth right where disasters are most likely to hit.  For centuries of certain natural happening we simply think that it will not happen to where we are, and we pay a great price in both life and property by not learning from the history that is so well documented.

Mother Nature has been the same since the inception of earth and long before life in its current form.  We have grown in unimaginable multiple and we abuse the nature in unimaginable fashion.  All most all the natural disasters can be tracked and traced but we continue to live in nature’s way.  With the science and technology where it is today the earth and natures behavior is 100% predictable, but we don’t heed to our own learning, and we simply believe that it won’t happen to us, but to someone else.  When nature strikes it is news but the warnings and the experience that we have are always forgotten or they are relegated to the news or google.

If we believe in god and mother-nature they have always been consistent.  They are predictable and always have been acting with great force and predictable natural changes.  We humans are also been consistent by thinking that nothing will happen to us and we keep putting ourselves in the way of nature and predictable earth movements.  God has his own way and we humans have our own way, except there are so many more of us and so much more of civilization in harm’s way that we measure in dollars and lives; which increasing get bigger and bigger with each passing year and with each passing natural disaster.  Weather we believe in god or not, nature and its way has always been what it is, and it is us humans who are always putting ourselves in harm’s way.

Pulse of the People Vasu Reddy From Chicago In the last couple of weeks I did predict that Modi will come back to be the prime ministe...