Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Odd Even Rule

It has been quite a few days since the first announcement of the odd-even rule to rid Delhi of the scourge of pollution. I have been trying to turn a blind eye to the proposal. However, the idea exchange published by The Indian Express has left me no option.

It has been realized by our ministers that drastic measures are needed to fight pollution. In fact, now that our ministers-in-charge are inspired by the Stockholm model, that day is not far when we Delhiites will cycle to work, see clear skies, and breathe clean air, and in the process bond with the fellow denizen who is now unseen as we are trapped by our cars, stuck in unending traffic snarls, only to reinforce to this fellow denizen our social status. Of course, all this good will happen only if we listen to our good hearted do-no-harm visionary armed-with-data ministers. And yes, a death or two of a rich fat myopic selfish car owning denizen, when he/she bikes to work alongside with the less privileged who have been riding the bike for lack of alternatives, roll of a die at birth that returned even when they had bet on odd, will take us to Stockholm heaven sooner.

While I am not surprised by what the ministers are up to, I am a bit saddened by the reaction to the policy. Of course, I have only a very small sample of reactions. The one reaction that is most common and that I find the most disheartening is that at least they are trying to do something. As if it is no longer important what is being tried as long as something is being tried. The intervention by the Govt. is arbitrary at best, and one that is backed by no support in data, and banks on force for it to have any chance of success at all. The only data that I have heard of is one which states that vehicles are hardly the big problem. In fact, the big problems are already covered under violations of the law, for example, burning of garbage.

In fact, based on the ideas shared in the idea exchange, it seems that our ministers are less interested in performing the less glamorous job of building pedestrian pathways, painting lanes, providing well lit streets, building cycle tracks that are safe, making sure that the lights at crossings work and are in sync with the other lights, garbage collection occurs so that none needs to be burnt, that the denizens have comfortable choices of public transport, and last but not the least, ensuring that flagrant abuse of law is stopped. They seem to be convinced that there is no point in doing much of it before they discipline us. They must shock us into action.

To me our dear ministers are most interested in the glamorous job of social engineering, rather than solving the problems on the ground. And they are certain that they will get away by simply stating that the situation is drastic and drastic situations call for drastic measures. To support their ideas they say that they have been told by competent sources that even small interventions like car free days have reduced the pollution by 50%! Dear ministers, if the situation is so dire why not make all government employees go on forced leave for a week or two. Let us poor and hapless denizens breathe.

Of course, all the grand plans must be cloaked in the veil of public action. So do hand us the app to tell you where the garbage is in this filthy city of ours. The filth only we can see and not your holiness. Oh of course, we shall also snap the crook who drives with an odd number on an even day and vice versa.

Dear ministers, your idea of bottom up seems to be one that believes in making an example, shaming, harassing us poor denizens into action to make your grand plan, which of course is for our own good, see great success. May I suggest, dear ministers, that bottom up change is achieved by setting examples at personal cost and not by making examples of others at any cost to achieve a grand vision of one's own. So please stop using words like public action and bottom up change.

Dear minister, may I dare suggest, that people, rich and poor, make tradeoffs and that those who go to work in their cars do not necessarily do so to uphold their status in the society. Same is true for those who burn garbage. While none of them are saints, and all of us are self-centered, maybe we ought to start with a position that these people are reasonable people and do not make their choices with the goal of harming the rest. So they do not pollute for the heck of it. They don't enjoy getting stuck in traffic snarls. They do not relish the stresses of commuting in Delhi. In fact, they would love more comfortable choices and have, without the need of force, embraced what is best for themselves and often also for the rest. The metro swelling at peak hours, the buses that are bursting at their seams are in contrast to your seeming supposition that Delhiites are unwilling to give up their car or their personal mode of transport. In fact, your diagnosis is way off the mark. It is more than likely that you have confused the symptom (of too many vehicles) for the disease. Maybe you want to give rest to your grand ambitions and get to work to solve the problems on the ground.

Why not take small and steady steps? If the metro can handle more, why wait till Jan 1? If more buses can be introduced and you are sure you can get bus lanes to work (let's make them bus and carpool lanes), then where is the need for another monstrosity of a law? How about removing at least some of the road bottlenecks? The average commute in distance is not that long in Delhi. It is the ridiculous amount of time it can take by road that exacerbates pollution. Often, this is because of a mix of bad engineering, lack of lanes, slow traffic occupying fast lanes, vehicle breakdowns, road work at the wrong hours, lack of organized parking (let's start with marking the parking spaces clearly), and  traffic law violations by a few. In fact, you may have observed that on some of the arterial roads many keep moving in a straight line. So, yes, not all people are a problem. Simpler measures that do not harass must suffice.

Oh, by the way, I am not saying that pollution is not a problem. I am also not saying that *we* should not do anything about it. I am also eager for new solutions. However, this idea of yours is at best a terrible one-size-fits-all that banks on no evidence and too much force. It is as if you are more interested in your whims see the light of day than working toward a less polluted Delhi.

Also, in case you didn't not already figure, if the policy is given a long run, the one to be hurt most is the not-so-rich car owner. Especially if he is law abiding. He will likely switch to a two wheeler to ferry his family or will be forced to sweat his way through overburdened public transport and fickle minded auto rickshaws to do his daily chores. The rich ones may already have more than one car or may simply buy another cheap one or the needed number plate.

Of course, dear minister, I know that your magical wand of whims will take care of any problems caused by your current whims. And please do make sure that I have the sweet reassuring voice of the chief minister ring in my ears to remind me that all this is after all for my very own good.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Education bill faces opposition from school authorities

Education bill faces opposition from school authorities: "Apart from these, 25 per cent seats in private schools will be given free."

This is fcking crazy! Why do they want private schools to wind up?

The government is ready to make up for the fee shortfall caused by reservation. But schools say it may not be enough.

"Schools have no other source of income. So we will be forced to raise the fees by 40 per cent," said Sumer Singh, principal, Daley College.

The Govt. has a mint or what?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Azad proposes 'late marriages' to curb population

Azad proposes 'late marriages' to curb population: "Azad proposes 'late marriages' to curb population"

Our rulers are still trying to curb population! What a pity.

Mallya calls prohibition 'farce', Modi govt snubs him

Mallya calls prohibition 'farce', Modi govt snubs him: "Mallya calls prohibition 'farce', Modi govt snubs him"

Very very well said by Mallya. In retort all the Govt. says is that Mallya should mind his own business. What jerks we have in the Govt! Can Mr. Jaynarayan Vyas (the Govt. spokesperson) give a better retort? He needs to remember that he lives on and spends tax payer money and is accountable for failed policies.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hinduism

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/books/review/Mishra-t.html

It is a book review. I haven't read the book, nevertheless it reaffirms my faith (as it is not founded on any research of mine) that there is no single defining thing called Hinduism, a thought that excites me greatly and lessens my frustration at the narrow mindedness of the current self-proclaimed saviors and knowledge bearers of Hinduism.

When will I get my next Amazon coupon!!?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Parties of the poor, for the poor?

What a fucking farce![link]

The Congress party Elections Manifesto 2009, in writing, promises to increase the number of days for which work will be offered under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as also the daily wage rate. As if this is not enough the party goes ahead to offer literally "free lunches" in community kitchens for a certain class of people. And it then promises to make available 25 kg of foodgrains at Rs 3 per kilogram!

Apart from being an inducement to influence the voters, this promise contains a threat to the foodgrains producers that their produce will be procured at artificially depressed prices. Artificially depressed prices over decades have resulted in mass suicides by farmers. This offer was repeated by no less a person than Ms Sonia Gandhi herself in an electoral speech in Karnataka.

In a meeting that he addressed in Wardha, in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Rahul Gandhi maintained that his party was essentially for the poor and that as long as one poor man remains in the country, he himself, Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh would be there to address his concerns.

Indian politicians have no incentive to see the poor come out of poverty, no incentive, absolutely none!

There is an old adage that goes against giving alms to the beggars; "Give him rather the implements with which to work and earn his bread."

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme condemns millions of people to a life of manual labour, digging pits and filling them, rather than starting an enterprise. Such mindless labour can actually be poverty creating rather than poverty eradicating.

[Via]

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hi-tech Talaq

Fiza gets rude call, hubby says talaq over phone: "Fiza gets rude call, hubby says talaq over phone"

Otis wants Gandhi articles back, immediately

Otis wants Gandhi articles back, immediately: "Otis said he would negotiate with India on the 'two proposals he had submitted – increase in the spending on the poor and fully paid exhibition of Gandhi's items in 78 countries to spread the apostle of peace's message of non violence.'"

The man and his proposals!

Master Madoff!

Master Madoff by Don Cooper:
"One disgruntled former student, Boston money manager Harry Markopolos, appeared on 20/20 four years ago commenting on the simple investigation he had undertaken regarding master Madoff’s activities and the facts unequivocally indicated fraud: Madoff didn’t make buys or sells, he was making consistently above average returns for his clients, etc.. . He implied that the SEC should have caught those simple, basic aspects of trading in securities. He even had the audacity to suggest that they didn’t because either the SEC was an over-bloated, inefficient bureaucracy and/or so incompetent they couldn’t do the simplest things and therefore a waste of taxpayer’s money and/or – and this is just mean-spirited and obviously a product of Mr. Markopolos’ resentment – the SEC was bought off by a billionaire. Oh right. Please, like that can happen. What would Mr. Markopolos suggest? We get the SEC out of the securities markets so there’s no moral hazard and people will take responsibility for doing the necessary due diligence themselves before investing? Hah! Then what would the master’s like master Madoff do? Freak."
Who will regulate the regulator? Sigh!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Man Who Rumbled Madoff

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (March 11, 2009) - The Man Who Rumbled Madoff: "Markopolos took the team's findings to the SEC in 2000, but federal regulators refused to pursue the case—that is, until the financial meltdown laid bare the fraud on its own and forced them to act."

Wonder why people trust regulators any more than the selfish capitalists....

Short Puts: India to develop spaceship that carries 3 astronauts. That's because 2 places are reserved for OBCs.

Short Puts: India to develop spaceship that carries 3 astronauts. That's because 2 places are reserved for OBCs.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ramadoss turns health messiah again, no hookahs

Ramadoss turns health messiah again, no hookahs: "After the ban on smoking in public places, health minister Anbumani Ramadoss is now taking on the hookah parlours."

This man needs to go! Why can't he worry about his and his family's health? Maybe we should get the essential stats of all of them and vote on a diet plan that he and his family should follow! All the best Ramadoss if that were to happen.

There is a lot of shit that is very dangerous. The smoke that comes out of public transport is a good example. What say Ramadoss, do we ban transport too?

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation has already brought hookah parlours under the purview of the Cigarettes and Tobacco Act.

The corporation has been conducting raids at various hookah parlours in the city and revoking the licenses of parlours that do not have proper documentation.

And of course earning a lot of money from all those parlors whose license is not revoked or will be reissued in the near future.

This world does not need dictators, however noble their intents be.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Building walls with US trading partners - The Boston Globe

Building walls with US trading partners - The Boston Globe: "Democracy is bolstered by prosperity and damaged by downturns. Since the pioneering work of Martin Lipset 50 years ago, social scientists have tried to understand why democracies and wealth go together. My colleague Robert Barro found that this link exists not because democracies increase prosperity, but because prosperity supports democracy. The appeal of democracy's enemies increases when democracies, like the Weimar Republic, are unable to deliver economic success." [Via]

The Saturday Profile - An Empire for Poor Working Women, Guided by a Gandhian Approach - Biography - NYTimes.com

The Saturday Profile - An Empire for Poor Working Women, Guided by a Gandhian Approach - Biography - NYTimes.com: "Freedom, one woman said, was “looking a policeman in the eye.”"

Caught between bails and ballots

So what will u choose, IPL or general elections? [Via:Cricinfo - Blogs - The Surfer - Caught between bails and ballots]:
"Repeatedly we are told that there is far too much at stake for too many people, for the IPL Board to even so much as contemplate the idea of such a postponement or a cancellation. But who are these stakeholders, and why should elected governments stretch their security apparatus dangerously thin in order to protect their interests?

The Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan players proved that cricket could indeed be a soft target for terrorists in this part of the world. While we may want to believe that India is a lot safer than Pakistan — and there is indeed some strong basis for this belief, 26/11 notwithstanding — this is not the time to traffic in illusions."
Well, honestly I am not sure voting makes any bit of difference in India. So, maybe, I would prefer watching a match instead of bothering to choose between the incompetent Gandhi family (where I base my judgement on their record to this day) and Shri. Advani.
The Indian Premier League is about many things. It’s about money, money, money, money, money… and then, of course, about a bit of cricket, of the frenetic kind, too.

Given that fact, this column has a suggestion to Mr. Lalit Modi, the IPL’s high-profile head honcho. He should request the Central Government of the world’s largest democracy to postpone the general elections scheduled for April-May. Well, actually he should go beyond that: he should demand it.
It is about money, only because it is the kind of cricket people come to a stadium to watch. It may not be the purest form of cricket but is the only form one with a 9-6 job can go to a stadium to watch without having to take a day off. Nobody is forced to go to the stadium. People can choose not to go to the stadium.

I am guessing that the Govt. must have been in the know of the IPL schedule given that the schedule was finalized before the general election schedule. I would be very surprised if the Govts (state and center) were not consulted before setting the dates. Organising such an event without Govt. permission should be impossible in India. Also, if the Govt. cannot keep India safe they should let the people of India know, the earlier the better. No life is so cheap to be left at the mercy of an incompetent Govt, a lot have already been lost. It is only reasonable that such an incompetent Govt. allows its citizens to find means of protecting themselves. It cannot force people to live in shackles because it cannot provide them with protection.

Also, the organizers of the IPL have a contract to keep, and I am not sure how I can sit on judgment for they wanting to keep their contract. The Govt. gets away with not keeping their election time promises, it is only good if others insist on keeping theirs even if it is for big money.
Those cheergirls are worth every penny paid to them: they not only get the fans into the stands well ahead of the contest but also help add colour and zest and life to our newspapers’ front and back pages _ and a few in between.
Well, even the newspapers are behind big money!

Now, this is what makes me furious:
There is a simple solution: postpone the polls, no matter what the Constitution says, no matter what the Election Commissioners may say. After all, can these blokes possibly bring in hundreds of millions to the kitty? Can they conceivably persuade Preity Zinta or Shilpa Shetty — draped in the finest their unabashedly expensive wardrobes can offer — to jive it live in front of TV cameras during the matches?
Unabashedly expensive wardrobes? Are Zinta and Shetty to live like the poor of the world? Will that make their cause more just or the poor any richer? They earn the millions because of investments they make of their own money. In contrast, wonder what the Govt. does with our money? Not much seems to change election after election, not even the sloganeering. Oh!, the sanctity of the constitution is at stake.
In a rational world, it would have been an open-and-shut case, a non-issue. If the governments of the States where the IPL matches are scheduled believed they would not be able to provide adequate security to the players because of the election pressures, then the Central Government should simply tell the Board of Control for Cricket in India that it would do well to postpone, or even cancel, the event.
In a rational world, the Govt. has absolute powers. Ya well!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Unions!

This is exactly what I hate about unions (in the comments of the linked article), the presumption on their part that every worker should be on their side. If you don't want to work for a certain pay, so be it. You want to protest, fair enough. But you cannot force people to follow suit. That's not the way it works! Each individual should have the right to choose who they want to fight for their rights.
Communications Workers of America authorizes strike of 20,000 AT&T workers, could happen soon: "I also am an emloyee and you CAN NOT cross the picket line, If and when there is a strike. You will not be able to keep your job if you do. You have to be a union member in good standing. I do believe that you need to educate yourself... You need to make sure that is really what you want to do if you have bills.. You need to support your union. And for all the people on here that are downing the union. I feel that we are deserving of what we are asking for. We work our butts off also. I for one have been in a wage freeze for some time. How fair is this? I think everyone should educate yourselves before you go off on the CWA. They are fighting for our rights as workers and I am backing them and I will be there picketing and doing whatever I need to do for US as workers."

God's laws?

God's laws or the Catholic Church's laws?
Nine-Year-Old's Abortion Outrages Brazil's Catholic Church - TIME: "Archibishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of the coastal city of Recife announced that the Vatican was excommunicating the family of a local girl who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather, because they had chosen to have the girl undergo an abortion. The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well. 'God's laws,' said the archbishop, dictate that abortion is a sin and that transgressors are no longer welcome in the Roman Catholic Church."

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dhoni's Mis-hit

India Today - India's most widely read magazine.: "Dhoni's Mis-hit"

When India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was, fresh off the Indian team’s first win in New Zealand, he began by saying he was “shocked and sad” that sportspersons had been attacked. Pressed further about Pakistan he went on, his responses containing these phrases, “I am glad I am in New Zealand and I don't have to worry about these things… Sides like us are quite happy not to be there, in this kind of a situation…. I am happy we didn't tour Pakistan, and that the government didn't allow us to tour Pakistan. It may or may not have happened to us. But overall I am happy to be here.”

It was the last thing out of his mouth and the first thing that got snapped up. The news channels were happy to call this typical of Dhoni “speaking his mind,”. It was all true, it was gut-feel “honest”. It is probably what every Indian cricketer and every player in the world felt privately at the time. But it was not appropriate.

I am not too sure what is inappropriate about saying that one is happy not to have been shot at.
On a day when some of his peers could have been killed, when a match official was fighting for his life and when seven innocent human beings had lost their lives, the over-arching sentiment from the captain of India called for something other than a statement whose sub-text essentially read: “Ooo, lucky, lucky us”.
He was happy not to be there as a result of decisions that were pretty much out of his control. How that translates to "Ooo, lucky, lucky us" is beyond me! Also, the Sri Lankan Board sending the cricket team despite warnings from security agencies is plain stupid.