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.

Thursday 9 August 2012


I am not saying this. This is what Mr. Manmohan Singh thinks.

Communication is power – it is what taught to the students of communication during their academic years. It cannot be said how many of the pass-outs come to remember or understand this when they pursue their career and its realities. Yes, but many others do, in indifference to the pedagogical vibes. And one among the illuminated lot is the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, currently managing affairs of India, with help of a comfortably numb economy architect who has comfortably forgotten his skills. And to add to the spectacle, there is all pervasive Montekonomics.

It seems it has dawned upon the architect that communication is indeed Power and can help his boat another smooth sail in the upcoming general elections. Much has been written about the ignominy of the UPA-2 and how the top brass has been a mute spectator or even a factor in letting it happen. Rising prices and prevalence of corruption have left the common man cross. And mind you, politicians can ignore anything, but not a voter who is cross during the election period.

But these are tougher times exacerbated by the scamster-ministers and policy paralysis of the government killing the scope of any reformative action. So the escapist policymaking body that chose the debt-waiver windfall to the farmers before the 2009 general elections to help it sail through has again come across another such escapist idea. It was a so-called empowerment initiative then in 2009 though no one for sure can say how many were empowered. Take government of India data from the National Crime Records Bureau figures or figures from any other non-governmental body; you can easily see the increasing number of farmer suicides year-after-year, irrespective of the government largesse.

It is going to be promoted as yet another empowerment scheme targeting the below-the-poverty line population of India. Reports say the comfortably numb architect is to launch the scheme named ‘Har Hath Mein Phone’ (A phone in every hand) on the Independence Day (August 15). The architect has competent skill-support of M S Ahluwalia’s Montekonomics and of the most-outspoken-yet-least-substantiated UPA-2 figures, Kapil Sibal.

The UPA-2 managers have come to realize about electoral windfall benefits of the dictum that communication empowers. It doesn’t matter that prices are skyrocketing and more than half of the Indian population is still BPL. They feel giving the mobile phones to the 6 million BPL families would undo the vices the UPA-2 has been indulged in so comfortably. Reports say government managers are burning the midnight oil to sell this as the major empowerment initiative of the UPA-2. The timing of this announcement this year is sure to fuel the speculations that the government is in panic and is staring at the possibility of the next general election much before the scheduled time in 2014 but I think they feel it’s a risk worth taking. And they have chosen their subjects.

India is home to almost 80 million homeless people and over 65 per cent of the below-the-poverty line population. They survive on an average of Rs. 25 a day (government of India figures). Now if they get mobile connection with local talktime worth Rs. 200 free every month, what all can they do with it:

They can make calls to their local political representatives or administration that they don’t have anything to eat this evening and need support.

They can make calls to the lords that they don’t have anything to do to earn living the next day and if they can arrange something.

They can make calls to the lords requesting to arrange for the school admission of their children as even the government schools are not within reach of everyone from their lot.

They can make calls to request if they could be placed in a shelter home in extreme weather conditions as their huts become untenable.

Is there any other way to empower this section of the population that can’t even manage two meals a day than to meet their basic needs of day-to-day survival?

A big NO.

The comfortably numb architect has failed to see some loopholes in the project. I hope these words reach him in time so that he could iron them out.

Local administration and local politicians are the most apathetic bunch of the government machinery. The architect should allow some free talktime even for STD calls to empower the marginalized reach directly even to the PMO in case the local lords don’t act. 

Alternatively, he should ask the Montekonomics to create fund for meeting financial needs of the needy segment to help them with food and livelihood requirements.

Also, he must do away with any rider that the users might have to pay a monthly sum like some reports have mentioned. Now it is foolhardy to expect from a person to spend Rs. 100 a month on mobile phone when his monthly earning is Rs. 750.

Also, the comfortably numb architect should direct his aides to draft the empowerment message in a way to leave the maximum impact.

Silly statistical manipulations like ‘the six million BPL families to be given free mobile phone and services’ can send confusing signals when the country has over 500 million BPL population. Government estimates may produce confusing data about the BPL population but if we see the standard quality of life norms, 65 per cent should never be a surprise. In that case, there would be many more claimants than the beneficiaries simply outdoing the desired effect of the largesse killing the whole purpose of the exercise. Communication would work to empower the opponents then.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -