Monday, December 28, 2015

All Life Matters

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

The Christmas week has once again become a police verses community headline for Chicagoans.  2015 has really been an active police and politics and community challenge for the residents.  It’s not just Chicago, Ferguson, Baltimore and many other places in the USA, you will hear the slogan “Black Lives Matter”.  This year and this slogan have been synonymous with each other.

To start with the slogan should be “ALL Life Matters”.

With either the police using their power to protect or power to execute, perhaps using their guns with a bit more aggression than needed.  There is also constant aid of social media encouraging the public to record everything they see, and 24/7/365 media coverage providing launch pad for the eager attention needed and the drama of personal and political nuances that follows every tragedy.

It is to the public’s dismay that the law enforcement doesn’t have the equipment (cameras and voice recordings on the car or and on person) to clearly record and document these incidents.  While the public somehow has a way to record just about everything, police and law enforcement somehow can’t document what they do.  While the consistently spend excessive to their available resources (including the ability to borrow) and spending limits, along with underfunding education and basic infrastructure.  The elected governments appetite for waste, misuse and mismanagement never allows for spending public’s money as it should be.  Ill equipped police force is not a single city phenomenon, rather it is a national issue.  Also police vs the community is not an isolated issue to one city, rather a nationwide problem.

First, we need to give credit to the law enforcement for doing a good job or maintaining law and order in general.  USA is by and large a peaceful and law abiding society, and with very little big brother handling, we are a country of peace and quiet.  The value of the police to the society is enormous by simply being a part of the community and making the people realize the rule of law.  Do policing sometimes profile people based on who they are and how they look?  The answer to that is, Yes!  There is no question that the law enforcement profiling citizens based their experience with each member of the community.  It is in fact human nature to use experience of life to profile and form opinions.  There should be no prejudice in profiling, simply a matter of fact based on experience and how to react to each instance if that happens in real life.

Before we point to the police and their actions, the community issues and its participation in the overall impact to the city should be more in focus.  If you take a large city like Chicago and its suburbs, where do the police get the most 911 or emergency calls?  What are these instances of distress, medical emergencies, civil issues, accidents and or any other law enforcement related issues?  Where are the police most vulnerable to the risk of confrontation and violence?  What are the areas where the city experiences crime the most?  There are so many variables to respond to and what the police has to deal with in each call they have to respond to.  The perspective of the danger to life and the relevance of history of the neighborhoods, is very real for law enforcement.  Race or religion has nothing to do with danger to life and to the law enforcement.

If a city has a diverse population and it also has diverse law enforcement team.  The responsibility is to have equal protection under the rule of law.  It is a fact that statistics and history of each neighborhood is available to law enforcement, and how they plan their actions to support every neighborhood.  The police are no different from any other human being, and they will do what they can to save and protect life and also their own life in doing their duty.  For sure they will fear for their life as any other human being would be.

Communities can police themselves against unruliness.  The huge metropolis has hundreds of neighborhoods and majority of them live without incident.  Most of the population live in peace and follow the law, and thereby not putting themselves and also their neighbors in harm’s way.

All we need is very little investment into each person in law enforcement while they respond to crisis.  Record the events and make them public immediately.  Let the police be constantly trained on crisis management and how to deal with each instance when they really are walking into danger.  The duty is to protect everyone and every life, including their own life.  What will be an impossible law enforcement issue is public and community guessing the actions.  Perhaps police should have body cameras that work and public should follow the law, rather than continuously be disruptive and confrontational.  If everyone follows the rule of law we should have no accidents and violence and killings, simply peace and quiet.  It is impossible to serve and protect, if society doesn’t want to follow the rule of law, and communities don’t embrace the law enforcement.  At the same time the police show restraint in handling everyone.  Finally, the community should support and invest in the safety, security and equipment needed for the police to do their job.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Netas as Netizens

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Active involvement and easy accessibility to internet has made us global netizens.  Distance, Language, race or color, country and wherever we are (including the space station) or whatever we are doing, all we need is an internet connection to instantly share with the rest of world.  The very good (or bad) thing is anything we put out there is easy shared with anyone else on the net, making an instant statement on just about everything.

India has the second most mobile population (second only to China).  There are approximately 997 plus million mobiles in use in India compared to 1,276 million in China.  Added to that India has (a little user less density) approximately 375 million internet users compared to 668 million internet users in China.

The per capita income for China is $13,224 a year which is 86 rank in the world verses Indian’s $5,808 a year which is ranked as 125 in the world.  Neither countries are in the top 25 countries in the world in per capita, as they are with population, mobile users and internet users.

In the last decade communications have under gone a new paradigm across the globe.  Television. Satellite, telephone, mobiles, internet and every way we communicate has become cheap and available to almost everyone.  Communications have also made people quite accessible to each other, irrespective of where they live (barring a few countries with restrictions).  Internet has been especially instrumental in instant communications to millions, and the medium is being constantly used for blabber whatever comes to one’s mind in every available language.  Context, logic, research, reality, truth, and any human beliefs have become a matter of history when someone gets a chance to type into the internet.  No one seems to care as the old five minutes of fame has now become 5 seconds of fame, and the abuses keep coming as quickly as one can type.

Focusing on the Indian Netas (politicians and bureaucrats), mostly focusing on the folks in Delhi and the northern Indian states, the internet has become a place for mockery and stupidity on a regular basis.  We have cases of politicians simply typing tweets that are borderline lunacy.

After the last nationwide election in 2014, and the time after with a lot of new faces in Indian politics, Indians have been inundated with a lot of netizen netas.  Indian public is subjected to their relentless stupidity, simply because they have access to the internet.

Starting the observation with Modi and PMO, which provides updates on a regular basis, we get to see the daily dose of Modi’s whereabouts and his schedule.  This in today’s time and date is a good way to see what the highest elected office is doing on a daily basis.  It is in tune with any other democratically elected government and heads of state in the world.  The mostly generic information and pictures of PM, his schedule and meetings keep us informed of his office and activities.  The Indian PMO since Modi took office has been doing a good job of sharing his schedule and activities.  Where the PMO lacks is updating the public of the announced government programs and their status.  It would be a phenomenal change to the Indian politics if the PMO were to place every program announced by the government and where each program stands with implementation.  Modi will instantly become a leader par excellence if he is able to be transparent.

Many of the Indian parliamentarians, state and local level politicians are also active on the internet.  With the ability to write and post in local languages, these folks are ready to type away (with instant translation available to the rest of us) in whatever language and whatever they feel like (mostly crap) and at every opportunity they get, to attack their opposition.  It is unbelievable that these folks get elected, and many times several times to public office.  The language they use, the animosity, the illogical accusations and mostly venting on someone else in political office, typically with someone they have either worked together or will have to work together.

If we thought that these outbursts are limited to illiterate politicians (India has an abundance of them), it is not.  Lately we have had new politicians who are well educated and severed in high level civil services of the country before becoming politicians who make statements on the internet, which will be edited out on TV and the movies.  The simple access and no editor makes them go wild and type obnoxious statements.  India has forgotten its decorum and respect for public at large.

The choice of language and words spoken or typed have become so personal in attacks, children and women might not want to see any TV or get on the internet to follow these folks.  This is just because of the availability of the internet and the unedited ability to say or type.

It is perhaps the time to demand accountability and respectability from politicians.  We elect them and we also should be able to force decorum into the political process.  The offensive and antagonistic attitudes don’t add any value to the democracy or governance.

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Wish List – Five Things On My List for Santa

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

There is no particular order on my list of five wishes for Santa.  I really think they can be delivered.  Santa is in every one of us, so these can be delivered, particularly as if we all behave nice, there is no stopping the Santa in us.

Here is my list:
  1. World Peace
  2. Seasonal Weather
  3. Opportunities
  4. Clean Environment
  5. Happiness 
  1. World Peace – It is probably the most difficult wish to ask for.  We may have never had world peace ever since our existence.  But, I still want to wish for it.  As I get older, the more I worry about what is happening to the world. It’s just not people killing each other, but constantly finding reasons to go against each other.  People have really forgotten brotherhood.  “World Peace might be a lofty wish, but what do have to wish for more than world peace”.
It is really not wishing for much; just to travel without violence or fear, go to a restaurant without getting shot, drive without looking sideways, go and pick-up the kids, go to the bus stop, enjoy a movie or an evening out, go to an office party; most normal day to day stuff which we have gotten used to, and now all of a sudden worry about mass murder.  The stuff we thought as routine in life, for some reason or the other have become violent instances, where innocent life is taken for no reason or rhyme of the victims.  Refugees in millions, destruction of resources and property (in cases entire countries), targeting civilization and killing in the name of something.

World peace in on the top of my list to Santa.

2. Seasonal Weather – It is the middle of December 2015, and in Chicago we are have 60F weather and raining.  It’s crazy weather as we should have snow and freezing weather at this time.  Christmas is coming and there is no snow on the ground.  We are reporting record high temperatures in Chicago, the high in temperatures we have not had in more than a 100 years.  The only saving grace might be the rains that are keeping the moisture in place.  The same in Chennai in India.  They have had rains in December that they have not experienced in more than a 100 years.  There is a 10K mile distance from Chicago to Chennai, but the weather that had not been seen in a 100 years is happening in both places.  I really want to go back to a normal winter in Chicago; snow, very cold and very windy, and no the 60F temperature in December.  I am also wishing for a more seasonal rains in Chennai.

Hey Santa! You really can’t ride your sleigh in rain, can you?

3. Opportunities -  When people work they are busy.  Even small jobs lay focus on one’s mind to do things, be it routine or challenging and everything in between.  When at work or at school, or just having something to do, keeps a person occupied and away from idleness. Simply having the opportunity to work, study, volunteer and participate in life helps to be away from negativity, thereby helping the entire human race to be productive and positive.

Santa – Definitely you need to work on opportunities for everyone to do positive things in life.

4. Clean Environment – Cleanliness is next to godliness; the old saying.  We all like a clean home, clean clothes, clean surrounding (clean mind), why not we work on a clean earth.  Why not we develop a sense of belonging on earth and it is the only known place to foster human life.  We will have no place to live if we destroy the good earth.

Santa – Clean and green earth should make people nice, thereby deserving of your generosity.

5. Happiness – Oh Yes! Happiness.  It is really a state of mind.  Perhaps Santa can’t gift happiness to people.  We must make an effort to do this on our own.  We can certainly start with being happy with what we have and by simply being comfortable with who we are and what we do.  May be it is asking too much to do this, but we certainly can do it. 

We really don’t need Santa to do this for us.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Sustaining The Cities

Vasu Reddy from Chicago
vasureddy@aol.com

Although we constantly hear about rising global temperatures and shifting weather patterns, India seem to catch the worst of the rains and floods just about every year.  Somewhere in the nation the rains destroy the infrastructure and disrupt the life of citizens, in millions at a time.  This year has not been any different, in fact south India, especially Tamil Nadu has been seeing rains that it has not seen in a hundred years or more.

The floods in Mumbai and Chennai are really more manmade calamities rather than just once in a 100 year rains.  We have nothing new to add to people and infrastructure management that has been developed to match the exponential growth in population.  Oh Yes! these urban centers have created millions of jobs and billions of revenues, but the government never bothers to map the needs of the population and how to manage their requirements.  There is never a disaster management plan for any major event in India.

I really needed to think of anger management this last week.  The flood situation is so severe that there is no plan to do anything to help the people.  The whole country goes down when there are rains, and we call them heavy rains.  The last time I was really angry writing a column was when BBC aired a documentary calling it “India’s Daughter”.  The idiots who spoke of women in terms that were not worthy of any documentary let alone a BBC special on India.  The documentary although hyped did not get much support or acceptance to what it portrayed.  This time I am not angry but really sad, when I look at the rain havoc in Chennai and surroundings.

Today when we see anywhere in India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, politicians including the PM taking helicopter survey of the disasters, specially of the rain havoc, followed by severe floods and loss of life and property and infrastructure, makes you wonder what are they doing? sightseeing the disasters.

Right after the ridiculous Ariel survey, immediately comes a statement of anguish and then an announcement of relief from the center.  For some miraculous reason the guys in politics seems to be unaffected by any kind of natural calamities that get all the normal folks.  The politicians can travel at will, and dressed as if they just came out of the shower, have no issues with power or communications, all while the public suffers.  Politicians in power travel to disaster areas as if they are vacationing and make nonsensical announcements that really never address the concerns of people suffering the calamities.

If they really did address the concerns that plague the people, we will never have the same floods in the same place every time it rains, would we?

Also, with each disaster the announcement of 1000’s of crores of relief which no one knows how they will come to help the people, and when the money is released how will it help the affected?  We really don’t even know if all the announcements on 1000’s of crores of pledges by the politicians really are being allocated as promised and if there is a record of the reality of promises and spending towards people’s relief efforts.

In India the remnants of manmade and natural disasters stay put long after their time and continue to remind people of the misery that is bestowed upon them.

Is Modi and his management skills ready to be used in his plans to build 100 smart cities in India, to meet the country’s needs?  Most of the cities that are being severely affected y rains are in the list of 100 smart cities.  Can someone get off from their seats and start implementation of infrastructure that is required for a smart city? Communications, transportation, water management, electricity, sewage and waste management, banking and food, things that can be better planned and managed as a part of making a city smart; all these can be put in place to make the city smart.  If we have a plan for building and making 100 cities smart, why not start now.  What good is the wasted helicopter rides and unfunded 1000’s of crores being pledged.  Why not learn from what is happening with the nature and start building the infrastructure that will sustain, handle and eliminate future problems in dealing with the nature?

It can be smart for citizens to demand the politicians to invest in the cities, and invest in such a way that every aspect of natural and man-made calamities can be forecasted and remedies put in place.  Citizens, please get smart, and make your politicians place you, your living place, and your infrastructure given the smart planning, otherwise boot them out.