Thursday, July 28, 2011


Yeddyurappa has become the talk of the town, nay, state, nay the nation since quite sometime now. Yes you guessed it right, Yeddyurappa is the incumbent chief minister of the state of Karnataka, my home state. The fellow has been not only indicted but also strongly recommended to be prosecuted for serious graft and corruption, by the Lokayukta, in his final report having over one thousand pages resulted by an investigation that took over two years to complete. Lokayukta, - for the benefit of those who are not conversant with Indian political system, - is an ombudsman headed by a retired judge not below the rank of High Court of a state. This system, intended to make impartial investigation into corruption in public life, was put in place on public demand about a decade ago. But then, the Lokayukta is not given Suo Motu powers to prosecute the corrupt government servant or a legislator, because the law makers (legislators) framed the legislation so, - no power to take direct action against themselves but recommend the action to the incumbent Govt! We the the common citizens should only be happy because a chief minister of the state was included in the scope of the ombudsman despite very strong objection by the ruling class.

However, Yeddyurappa, in my well considered opinion is nowhere near a match to stalwart chief ministers like Mayavati of Uttar Pradesh, Karunanidhi and his rival the present chief minister Jayalalitha of Tamilnadu or the leader of this elite and privileged line of State Chief Ministers, Lallu Prasad Yadav of Bihar.

Anyway, at the very outset, my intention was not to discuss this political nonsense and idiocy when I started to write this blog. It is the sense of corruption, its place and the the reaction to it by the common citizens in this part of the land under the prevailing circumstances including old age friendships.

I made a new friend at the community park where I go for my regular walks in the morning and evenings some 7 or 8 months back. Soon I went on a five month visit to the U.S. and now it is almost one month after my return but we still sit together in the evenings after walk and chat. This man is a retired Govt. official, a gazetted officer in Forests Department. He has pleasing manners with a speck of innocence. I liked the way he took initiative in breaking the ice after a long period of mutual observation, and perhaps a peripheral visual appearance too.

I never make it any secret of my detest and disgust to bribe and corruption. Probably this man had noticed it during our initial talks. Soon he told me without any hint from me, that even though he was in a Govt. dept., which is no less corrupt than any other administrative departments, he hated to take bribe. But then when he helped a departmental man to get a transfer to his choice of place and this lower grade worker after his transfer came to him and forced a couple of hundred rupee notes in his shirt pocket, he felt it awkward but kept it as that same day his son who had applied for some educational institution for a professional course, and asked him  for Rs. 200/- towards prescribed fees which this man did not have! In the evening he paid that sum to his son. Was this man justifying bribe or was he trying to make a right impression on me? I did not bother, for, I have long been convinced that people can never understand my thoughts on morals and ethics in life. I simply take this other facet of nature that I can never understand!

This was before I left on a five month leave from my regular walks in the park. Now, this retired gentleman Govt. servant seems to have forgotten what he told me earlier and tells me that a three year stint to a particular place which has a vast forest land came to him as a boon and changed his fate as it was during this period he was able to redeem the pledged jewellery of his wife to own a house and marry off his two daughters to well placed boys (both govt. servants). And he genuinely prides in telling me that he never stretched his palm for bribe; everything came on its own way in the form of gratitude towards his selfless work! Moreover, I noticed that the events he described defied all logic of chronology.

One should be able to put his feet in my shoes and walk to know what I am, isn't it? I can never understand your sense of right and wrong, good and bad and just and unjust, unless I am born again as you, not me, right?  For this I may have to die first to all past, all values and all teachings I have accumulated in my head.... perhaps!

Yeddyurappa puts conditions to resign as chief minister of Karnataka to the BJP high command and the senior leaders of the party say him first to resign and then they will consider all his conditions! Die to your past sir, you will have a grand new life!

I do not speculate anything new to my state, nation or the whole wide world, the same thing repeats over and again at one or the other corner of the world in a different new form. That is the entire meaning of democracy, the best option of governance we have.

Corruption and bribe, a far and remote extension of survival instinct, is an integral part of life on earth. Bribe, perhaps, takes its form from the first human act of feeding the new born baby to stop its crying!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The week end

I am back from my U.S. trip a few days back. It took awhile to get into the routine mode. I had made proper arrangements to keep my utilities such as land line phone and broad band in force at minimum cost. This time the trip was of 5 months and the house was under lock. So, as soon as I came to Shimoga, I attended to certain pending works on priority. Everything was on track within a week.

There was a series of on line problems yesterday. First it was ICICI bank. When I tried to transfer some funds to a different account in Axis Bank, it failed; it simply informed me that my mobile number is not registered, but I was regularly getting alerts from the bank of my off line transactions such as cheques and deposits. There was even a couple of on line fund credits made by my daughter. And I got all alerts of these few transactions in my account. Now when the portal denied on line transaction citing that I have not registered my cell phone number, I was surprised. (Just before effecting a transaction on line they SMS a unique number to mobile to authenticate the transaction on line and the customer has to mention that number to complete the transaction.) My repeated trials gave the same result and I gave up. Let me go to Axis Bank and deposit the cheque to the account, I thought.

Soon after coming back to India, my eldest daughter from Hubli had advised me to do my such works on Internet whenever and wherever it is possible instead of taking pains to go physically and do the work. We old couple live alone here and have to attend all the chores ourselves. I thought it was a good idea she gave me to reduce physical strain. So I started with my on line bank account.

Next I tried to pay my AirTel Broadband bill on line. The site did not accept my log-in at all on repeated trials. And even when I clicked on 'Forgot' pass word?', the process failed repeatedly. Then I called the bill collector as usual and he came promptly. He told me the service is being underway on a major upgrading work on all India basis requiring 30 odd days and the process is in midway; only in the first week of August, everything will be fine he said!

After failing to pay Airtel on line, I tried to make my payment of BSNL land line phone bill on line. The Govt. of India owned portal pleasingly told me that there is no dues from me! I was holding the bill in my hand and following their instruction to make payments on line! The portal was repeatedly making merry by telling me that there are no dues! OK, let me go to their counter and make the payment as I used to.

I made a chakkar this morning (Saturday-yesterday)physically making payments and trying to put the on line things in place. First it was ICICI. The officer I approached was very cordial. There of course is a toll free number (call centre) to set right everything. But I have some speech recognition problem on phone, especially digitally created voices. The person at ICICI also dialed the same helpline and gave the phone to me as he was busy (Saturday - last working day of the week). I politely told him I have hearing problems and that was why I came to the bank office, he obliged smilingly despite the helpline taking a lot of looooooong minutes. Finally he got the account straightened, and on line transactions can be made after one working day, probably on Monday, he said. But I got the message on my mobile by around 3:30 PM that the account is enabled for on line transactions. The officer had told me that, because of security, as I did not do any online transactions right since I opened the account over six months back, the concerned Internet managers might have pushed my account to dormancy. That exactly could be the case as the SMS read that my account is reactivated.

Well then I took the chakkar to BSNL bills payment window. While paying, I asked the cashier why the portal was showing no dues to me when I tried to pay on line. The fellow simply told me, "I don't know sir, you go to the first floor". I climbed four long flights to the first floor, - yes, sure, four long flights to the first floor! There was only two windows, - one accounts section and the other inquiries for Mobile Service. I went to this and the officer there was cordial. But he did not know what was wrong with the portal and promised me that he would ask the concerned people to look into the matter. Thank God, he didn't ask me to climb another flight of stairs to next floor.

There were days when BSNL, then called the P & T department, a monopolistic Govt. Of India enterprise and one had to wait for a few years to get a connection after booking by paying an interest free deposit. Cell phones were not even dreamt of. Doctors and such other essential service professionals were provided a phone almost immediately after submission of application. without an extra charge, but an emergency connection was available to public on a payment of a hefty sum. The service was shoddy, and the department was filled with highly inefficient and arrogant people. The stink of inefficiency is still ruling the roost though the department was rechristened with a grand name - Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. As soon as my eldest daughter passed her medical degree, I made her apply as a doctor. I got the connection almost immediately. The ownership or the subscription was transferable after three years. Promptly I applied for a transfer of the phone in my name providing necessary documents as required by the Nigam for the transfer. But no the connection remained in my daughter's name till this date though I had made an application with necessary documents at least half a dozen times in these long 15 years! I still get the bills in my daughter's name! And the beauty is the connection is mentioned against my name in the directory! Reason? The computer accepts all changes except the name of the original applicant. Do you get an idea of the extent of the stink of inefficiency?

Well, it is a rather long deviation from the story of my week end.

Right at the beginning, the car gave some starting problems as it was not regularly run in these last six months and the battery is getting old. It somehow started and I drove it to my old office and cut off the engine and did all the work by walking; didn't want to take chances with the starting problem, by repeatedly cutting off the engine and trying to start again. Also unfortunately, I had worn a newly handmade footwear and the bite of the new leather straps is still soring!

That was it; I returned home by lunch time with some wonderful Neelam Magoes, which were selling at throw away price (Rs.15/- per Kg.) due to incessant rains in last four days, and some other sundry purchases. That was a strenuous but ultimately a satisfactory week end I had, right?" target="_blank">" />