The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Saturday 30 June 2012


They: Our lords, inheriting the power corridors of Delhi and the Indian states
Us: The subjects, always taken for granted, and so treaded and trampled at will

All in this Theatre of the Absurd – a half-baked democracy and an Indian polity in oblivion


They: Varsha, Parnakuti, Shivgiri, and many more – good names for houses, isn’t it? – Especially, when they suck in great count of green papers.

Maharashtra ministers have spent around Rs 13 crore for renovation of their official bungalows in the last two years. Big names of Maharashtra politics like Prithviraj Chavan, Harshavardhan Patil, Narayan Rane, Dilip Walse Patil, Sunil Tatkare, Suresh Shetty, alone count for over Rs. 6 crore of the booty.

An RTI query reveals Mayawati spent over Rs. 86 crore on renovating her bungalow which she is still occupying as the former chief minister. It is said some windows of the Mall Avenue address in Lucknow cost as much as Rs. 15 Lakh. 

Us: Home to almost 80 million homeless people and over 65 per cent of the below-the-poverty line population; we make ‘the India’ that our lords so comfortably trample.

India’s reducing count of the rural population is not the Arabian Nights tale of systematic, planned migration. Every major city in India has seen increase in slum population in the last decade. There is no land available in the urban metro India. Even if it is available with the cardboard houses, one needs to pay an astronomical sum.

We live in the absolute comfort of counting every penny every day, every month to meet that ever increasing electricity or fuel cost or the monstrous monthly rentals of India’s metros while our lords are stoically busy in mocking us. Like Prithviraj Chavan said it was just a routine renovation. Like our beloved Montek Singh Ahluwalia, on Rs. 35 Lakh toilets, said that it was just routine.


They: An RTI response obtained by the activist Chetan Kothari revealed that 59 official cars of the Union Ministers generated fuel bill of Rs. 3.76 crore between 2009 and 2011. This was when these cars mapped the Delhi roads only. It followed the 2009 austerity drive announced by the Congress party.

According to a set of data as displayed on the Transparency Portal of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, our lords and industrialists are getting one LPG cylinder every fourth day for their Delhi houses. It ranges from the high of 369 refills for Navin Jindal to the 26 refills for Oil Minister Jaipal Reddy in the year to May 31 as a report on the website of Business Standard says.  

Now it cannot be for their individual families. But if the arguments behind such high numbers are referring to the high number of visitors, then, Netas should be made to pay the commercial prices and not the domestic unit LPG prices they are availing.

Us: Government is reeling hard under the pressure and everyone, from our economist prime minister to his coterie of advisors to industrial proponents, is advising to cut the subsidies further.

After petrol, the major targets on demand now are diesel and LPG.

Manmohan Singh said that India needed to tighten its belts and needed to take corrective domestic measures while returning from Brazil after attending the Rio+20 Summit. Now don’t expect anything miraculous/dramatic. Be prepared to make your wallet even lighter.

Anyway, the discrimination has always been aesthetically skewed.

While our lords consume 369 LPG cylinders a year, we cannot get the next one booked before 21 days.

Diesel and LPG may go the petrol way soon. It is just matter of days.

Government is almost certain to cap the subsidized LPG cylinders for us. The rumour mill says we cannot have more than eight LPG cylinders per year at subsidized rates in coming days.

Here we are not talking about Kerosene, still the backbone of cooking in large swathes of small town and rural India. Kerosene, too, is high on price deregulation radar.


They: Bungalows and flats of Maharashtra’s ministers are defaulting on payment of dues. A recent RTI report reveals a sum of Rs. 1.2 Crore is due on our Maharashtra lords in the name of electricity bills. While the outstanding is Rs. 1.1 Crore, the rest is the usage bill amount for May 2012. Official addresses of Governor and 20 other ministers are sitting on unpaid water bills of Rs. 30 Lakh accumulated over two years.

Yet, there is no disconnection.

A recent RTI by Subhash Agrawal reveals that our parliamentarians enjoy immunity from disconnection of their telephone lines even if the bill runs in tens of thousands of Rupees. You know these parliamentarians have a cap of 1.5 Lakh free calls per year. Even then the MTNL outstanding due on present and former parliamentarians is astounding Rs. 7 Crore.

Imagine the multiples of 1.5 Lakh free calls per month!

Our lords are so comfortably free of the highs and lows (at taxpayers’ cost only) that every rising and lowering commodity price tag brings to our lives every passing day.

Us: As Delhi’s chief minister Sheila Dikshit recently said, Delhiites are to pay almost 25 per cent more for their monthly electricity usage. We are again slated to be the scapegoat as Delhiites would end up paying higher for the fault of the distribution companies. Also, a section of reports say the loss-incurring claims the distribution companies are doubtful and the companies are, in fact, making profits.

Many parts of India including the ‘Shanghai contender Delhi’ and India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh are crushing their citizens against irregular or non-existent electricity and water supply.

The basic amenities, like electricity, water, sanitation, transportation, that consume the lifetime of the common man with all the possible permutations and combinations exhausted in paying and repaying the bills, are nothing but blank figures for our lords as they don’t have to pay for their king-size lifestyles.

The common men, the taxpayers, pay for the ultra-luxurious living standards of their lords while counting the every passing moment of their less-than-ordinary lives.

And they, the lords, from those plush power corridors, frame policies for us.

Don’t pay your electricity bill or the phone bill on time and feel the pinch. Now, even they don’t inform and just disconnect the line. To avail the services again, make rounds to the offices. Pay under-the-table convenience fee and pay reconnection fee.


They: Indian states come with ministry portfolios like Homoeopathy, Ayurveda, Cattle and Livestock, Statistics, Potable Water, Irrigation Water and so on that will spontaneously bring a satirist smile to any face but our lords are so high and mighty that they don’t even put an ear to it.

In order to accommodate as many of the coalition partners as ministers as possible, foolish-sounding ministry-portfolios are created and taxpayers’ money is shamelessly wasted.  

Us: One of the measures of the austerity drives announced by our beloved next First Citizen of India was freeze on government recruitments. Now, cursed of the coalition politics compulsion and greed of being glued to the chair of power at any cost, they cannot downsize the number of ministries even though some of them are absolutely rubbish.

This sort of window austerity by our lords is just to tell the subject, the common man, that he needs to be ready to pay more for our his lords . The common man is the victim in the finality. It is he who applies for such government openings looking for that elusive government job.

A typical class-I government employee takes home an annual sum of Rs. 5-6 Lakh when he begins his career. And our lords spend crores in fuel bills annually. Their phone bills run so many hours that even any die-hard love-bird can’t possibly think of.

And the common man pays for that.


They: Due to some reasons only they know, members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture decided to examine the farming sector of the region around Chandigarh. Now North India is reeling under the heat. So the folks, 23 members of the committee, headed by CPM’s Basudeb Acharia, decided to land in a five-star hotel, to deliberate and discuss.

To help them accommodate better, some of them checked-in two days in advance. To feel at home, some even brought their wives and other companions to the place. They chose deluxe rooms of the hotel that cost Rs. 15,000 a day. It excluded other costs like transportation and meals.

The five-day June 15-20 ‘summer tour’ had sessions and visits to different cities. Our lords designed to extend the experience of pleasure by choosing Shimla as the destination for study tour.

The summer adventure cost Rs. 5 Lakh a day and was paid from the taxpayers’ money.

There are many parliamentary standing committees to help the parliament steer clear of the bumpy roads the complex work nature of the Indian Parliament provides. Seriousness in the tone the way these standing committees are defined becomes even more imperative after the fact that the Parliament has virtually ceased to work wasting majority of the working hours. Google for it and find volumes of analyses written on it.

So ample room for our lords to maneuver on travel and leisure front while window shopping in the name of the real job!

The Chandigarh exotica for our dear lords came within a month of the austerity measures announced by the Finance Ministry that put a total ban on meetings and conferences in five-star hotels.

There are good and secure guest houses in Chandigarh but probably the office memorandum of the Finance Ministry didn’t reach this group of the lords.

They: This early June, the Human Resources Development Ministry had two event lined up, Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) meet and the State Education Ministers conference. As usual with practices by our lords, a five-star hotel, Ashoka, was chosen as the venue.

This event, too, was held just within days of the UPA government announcing the austerity measures.  

Us: Apart from the ministries and related affiliates, the Finance Ministry note covers all other institutions run or funded by the government. I have not come across any report saying any ‘you and me’ violating these measures.

Our lords gave logics of earlier approval and ‘arrangements already made’ when it came to their sleeves. They said five-stars were chosen for security reasons. They said it would be too difficult to alter the arrangements as invitations were already dispatched.

Government of India is commemorating 150th anniversary year of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is heading the committee constituted for it. Last year, on birthday of the Mahamana on December 25, a function was to be held at Vigyan Bhawan and was to be attended by Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Kapil Sibal and others. Everything was done, cards were sent. And two days before the December 25 event, I received (and so others) another letter saying the programme was altered and the event would now be held on December 27.

I don’t mean to critically analyze here the dull event and how it was watered down but if this event involving the most elitist band of the ruling coalition could be altered, then why not these much smaller and scaled down five-star events.  When events involving such high-profile designations can be held at government auditoriums, then why not routine ministry specific meets and conferences.

All the events and programmes mentioned above had limited number of participants with no public interaction at the venue. Government can more efficiently provide security to such small group events at venues owned and operated by its different wings.

Summers are tough for many parts of India due to severe power crisis. Uttar Pradesh has been the perennial rough patch irrespective of who rules. This year, the government came with a bizarre solution - closing down malls and shops by 7 PM to save electricity and to reduce almost 15-18 hours of domestic power outage roster.

It was ridiculous and stupid. After hue and cry, the newly appointed chief minister decided for a rollback.

It is no hidden fact that areas of influential politicians in Uttar Pradesh are getting electricity 24/7 while the common man is forced to sweat out the most hours of his day.


They: The toilet saga doesn’t end at Montek’s Loonomics. The report of CPWD bungling into the billed amount of Rs. 35 Lakh for the Planning Commission toilets doesn’t absolve him.  60 smart cards were issued and access system was installed that cost around Rs. 10 Lakh. After the controversy, use of the access system through these smart cards was scrapped. Now who is answerable for this 10 Lakh? Also, reports say there were plans to install CCTV cameras to check pilferage in the Planning Commission toilets. Can you believe it?

Another brilliant example has been set by the former chief minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat. He got a single public toilet built in his constituency Margao. He emphatically used the chief minister’s seal to clear Rs. 20 Lakh for this ‘air-conditioned’ public toilet with sensor-operated air-conditioners.

It was his constituency’s public park and our lord did what pleased him. No questions taken!

Us: To promote hygiene and sanitary practices across the length and breadth of India, the government provides a sum of Rs. 2,200 to every needy household to build a toilet. Now that much can’t even fetch 500 bricks if we count the numbers by the prevailing market rate. In a country where 65 per cent of the population is living below the poverty line, it is nothing but a cruel joke.

And it seems cruel jokes sound like pleasure nodes to our lords as they keep on throwing more and more of them.

After much criticism, the government is considering to increase the amount to Rs. 9,900 per household. By this new benchmark, the Margao public toilet could have helped the government build toilets in 200 needy households and Montek could have helped the country with another 350 toilets.

A recent joint monitoring report of WHO-UNICEF for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) tells 60 per cent of world’s open defecators are in India and the pace with which India is working on the problem it will not be before 2054 that India specific MDG sanitation goals are achieved.


The situation is rightly reflected in comments of one of the lords (Jairam Ramesh) - "It is more important than the launch of Agni missiles. If there are no toilets then Agni is of no use" he said while launching bio-toilets produced by DRDO.

Spilling over, isn’t it?

Hail austerity!

According to a report published in daily Pioneer, none of the austerity drives announced in India have been officially withdrawn yet. But then they typically operate in the typical Indian way – the way our lords devise, based on their comfort level.

Austerity elsewhere – large scale cuts are announced – both at public and government level – it gives rise to mass protests, sometimes turning violent like it has been happening recently in Greece – it brings about structural reforms like happening in Eurozone crisis countries – it brings down the governmentS like Sarkozy lost for being an austerity advocate

Austerity in India – At best a lip-service – do lip syncing to look sounding sincere – announcing silly measures like the current 10 per cent cut in the non-plan expenditure and keep that, too, discretionary in nature – the cut announced by the finance ministry in this case excludes almost 72 per cent of India’s non-plan expenditure -  so anyway such austerity measures don’t leave any groundbreaking impact on the economy or on fiscal deficit of US$ 91 Billion than being silly overtures of looking sincere 

And they proudly continue with their tradition.


They: Now we know how rotten has become the state of affairs at Air India and the Civil Aviation ministry. Air India has consistently been in bad news, be it financial bankruptcy, or employees strikes or management mismanagement or government botch-up. These folks really need the austerity measures what Angela Merkel is demanding for Eurozone crisis countries. But they have the Manmohan wisdom.

So midst the financial gloom, the strike-doom and the austerity specter, they have decided to launch an elaborate campaign to promote the retiring Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi for his bid to the Presidency of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Zaidi is not the first case and this tradition of gifting senior most bureaucrats with post-retirement engagements is probably unique to India.

The polling is scheduled for November 2013 and the 16-month long campaign is designed to tour 36 member countries of ICAO along with holding many small and large receptions in Montreal, the head-quarters of ICAO.

The expenditure is expected to run into millions (the taxpayers’ money) for a position that a Times of India report says is largely nominal.

Us: With Air India and Kingfisher Airlines crises becoming chronic financial illness, the common passenger is being duped like anything. Airfares remain astronomically high on domestic as well as international routes. Thousands of seats are gone. Experts say even the lean season of July to September is slated to see unusually higher airfares. May-June saw airlines charging 20-30 per cent higher and it excludes the unbelievably high rush-hour charges. I ended up paying over Rs. 20,000 for a one-way Bangalore flight.

The fleecing airlines are beyond control. Apart from charging sky-high ticket prices, they have refused to pass-on the benefits of reduced air turbine fuel prices to the passenger. Where is DGCA?

And our lords have made the aviation sector of the country a bitter battle ground of personal egos and financial manipulations. The aviation minister has hardened his stands. Pilots are on indefinite hunger strike. Aviation sector is bleeding and passengers are oozing blood while parliamentarians are busy in passing laws that entitle them to get preferential king-size treatment in Air India flights.

Uninterrupted drama in the theatre of the absurd!

If we go with the Pioneer report that no austerity drive has been officially withdrawn yet, then who decides, if at all the austerity measures are followed, that it is the time to overrule?

The sham attitude has been the common among all the political parties of India but the Pioneer report presents one interesting observation about the present government.

When the UPA government came to power in 2004, it mocked the predecessor NDA government for wasteful expenditure especially on two counts. First was the purchase decision of Embraer Executive class jets from Brazil for PM and other senior government dignitaries and the second was induction of bulletproof BMWs in PM’s convoy. The UPA government rejected these initially and tried to score brownie points by giving verbose public statements. Manmohan Singh and Pranab Mukherjee led the charge.

Now if we go by the Pioneer report, we find that the government is comfortably using both, the Embraer jets and BMW cars, as decided by the NDA government.

Funny and ridiculous!

The austerity of ultra-rich buccaneer elites is overflowing and the public stands mesmerized enough to react on the ostentatious display. 

Heil Austerectomy! 

The spill-over is all so pervasive. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -