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Some thoughts

Notes to IP

While policy formulation is crucial in it's vision and interpretation,
it is vital that a reponsive citizenry is set in motion. No policy is
going to be effective, unless :

1. the people are aware of this reference framework
2. people start taking responsibility in the course and health of the
3. people start taking responsive action in their daily lives. Indians
have this tremendous capacity to crib, while waiting for somebody else
to do something.
4. We need active awakening of our rights. People vote for quite
unknown entities. After which the elected MP or MLA is seen as a
"virtual god", who is nowhere to be seen, is too busy making his/her
own fortune and to hell with the electorate. This has to change.
People have to demand accountablity from their representatives. They
should make sure that the elected rep. is available at least once a
month to answer and account for their actions.
REAL CHANGE can only happen when the elected rep can have a healthy
regard for their electorate and vice versa.
Provision for recall and change should be made in our political
system, under a legal system.

Some of my thoughts on various issues :

1. Aspiration to be No.1

a. We need a major change in mindset. As a nation, we seem to be
followers. We do ( at least some ) a great job when we are told to do
so, or are pushed to the corner. Take the Supercomputing story for eg.
CDAC is doing a tremendous job. But this was not a core innovation.
Since the other guys couldn't give us one, we had to start from
scratch. This happens in all spectrums in our lives. We need to think
up original ideas, not be good at just implementing somebody else's
brainchild. The IT industry is a good example of this. We need to
examine this seriously. It also means looking at things differently.

There was a case of a self made inventor from Tamilnadu, who developed
a herbal fuel. There was skepticism all around, from the scientific
community included. While some discarded the idea firsthand, there
were others trying to find holes in the "invention". Somebody said
there was some oil content in this.

My point is this. If you look at it from another perpective, we can
think of developing this as an alternative fuel, so what if there was
a minor oil content. Imagine what the savings could have been.

b. There was an announcement of a new energy policy : utilising
hydro-power. This is a highly critical area. Our natural forests are
being decimated at an alarming rate. What does this so called
hydro-power generation mean ? What are the safe guards to an already
degraded environment? Why again are we not considering new ways of
energy generation ?

c. Our infrastructure focus should be on the best communication
facilities. More than 50% of the physical traffic on our urban roads
can be cut down if people could just be in touch on the phone, the
internet or other services. Video/Audio options being others. All it
needs is an new orientation in the way we live and work. The savings
on duplication of resources can be tremendous. All offices need not be
so huge, most of this is dead space anyway. It's unused for the better
part of 24 hours.

d. This network can be utilised for a major upheaval in the education
of our people. This can truly lead to a national concsience. Language
need not be a barrier, with the right software tools. Language has to
earn its rightful place as a means for communication, rather than as a
political tool where regional & parochial interests are served by
inflamming passions.

e. What do we as a nation need to produce ? More cars or better roads
? A car for everyone or excellent public transport, where you don't
need to take your one person driven vehicle on already crowded roads &
streets ?
A focus on sufficiency of food first for all, or encouraging highly
suspect cash crops, which turns huge tracts of land useless after a
few years ? Natural fertilisers or get into a rut of subsidising
chemical fertilisers which are slowly poisoning our land and people ?
Fast food cultures directly imported from the west or cultivate
healthy ways that can be the best in terms of consumption for the
people, sustenance for the people who grow this, and regeneration of
the land where this is produced.

We should define what will be the best path for us as a nation. It
cannot be based on what institutions from the West ( Be it the IMF or
the World Bank ) define as what is best for us.

In fact I am a firm believer that our Rupee should be strengthened to
a respectable level. People should come to us for the quality of what
we can offer. Not because we should be the cheapest. How long will we
keep devaluing our currency to be in the race for exports ?
The export lobby is the only one happy about devaluation. And this
sector misuses the benefits to the largest extent. There are numerous
cases of underinvoicing, collection of payments in other countries and
worst of all is the terrible work conditions of their labour force
here in India. Profits are made at the expense of a reasonable work
ethic, benefits and environment for our own people. Let me assure you
that the export lobby, who cry hoarse every time their "edge" is lost,
is not doing it out of respect or love for the nation.

This once again stresses the need for us to be innovators. To produce
goods and services the world hasn't seen. Let us not be meek followers
who are content to just produce for a few measly dollars.

I am always amazed at how hard indians work when abroad. The same
people who laze around while they were in their own homeland. If we
worked and put in half the effort, we can change dramatically. We need
to start valuing "time" as a crucial and vital component at the core
of all things. We have to have a healthy respect for our own time and
the time of others. As a nation we have this docile way of accepting
near about everything thrown at us. 

It's not uncommon for people to wait meekly for a couple of hours
extra for a fixed appointment and think nothing of it. Imagine the
productive manhours lost in just "hanging out". And of course some
semblance of self respect.

We need to think ahead of what our nation will be a century from now.
Or what will be left of it.

Rajeev Manikoth
Website : < www.geocities.com/MadisonAvenue/9086 >

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