Four Stray Thoughts : October 9, 2009

Here are my Four Stray Thoughts for October 9, 2009:

  1. Air Conditioned travel in Mumbai local trains: A news item today mentions that we could soon travel in air-conditioned local trains. I think such items are just rubbing salt into the wounds of daily commuters who are getting bruised and battered traveling in the local trains. During peak hours, they get bruised entering the train, while they are in the train and when exiting the train. Maybe an air condition might help to cool down their tempers down and also to soothe the wounds that they incurred while getting into the train. The report mentions that a feasibility report has already been done by a French firm for which the firm has already pocketed 8 crores. How very typical! Now the implementation of report is done or not is not the business of this French firm. Additionally, if there is one thing that we are experts at, it is estimating in thousands of crores about the money that will be needed to implement AC across our entire train corridor. The figure as per the report stands at 10,000 crores already with no clue about the timeline, etc. This once again goes to show how our administration is constantly working hard at devising ways and means to create grand projects on paper, get some money allocated, then push the project cost up and in the end deliver something that will not resemble things as promised in the original plan. I am wondering what would be the cost of running such trains. Don’t the Air condition’s need more power supply? Considering Maharashtra’s current pitiable state of power generation, this seems like a classic case of the government telling us that if we cannot give you bread, let us give you cake instead.
  2. Gods Own Country: I was watching a television program yesterday on the History Channel where a British travel guide  is on a tour of India. During the travels, he visits Kerala and his Indian host introduces Kerala as God’s Own Country. The British gentlemen gets a little confused and asks him why is Kerala  known as God’s Own Country? And the answer provided by the host was very interesting indeed. He said that Kerala is a laid back state and the people like to take it easy. They simply want to relax and are too lazy to even pluck the coconut from the trees. They wait for the coconuts to fall from the tree. So you see God is at work even here where he makes the coconuts fall for them instead of the people doing that work. So it looks like God is the only one working in this state and hence it is “Gods Own Country”. That remark struck a chord somewhere and it seems that why Kerala, the whole of India sometimes baffles us so much about how it manages to work, that our country itself is “Gods Own Country” and not just the state of Kerala. It is God who is working really hard here to keep things running inspite of our burning desire to descend into chaos.
  3. Here come the Flying Squads: The Maharashtra elections are due next week and the Government declared Tuesday as a public holiday. They are going out all stops to make sure that institutions, work places, entertainment places remain shutdown. The reason is to ensure that people go out and vote. They have even issued warnings that if any organization violates this diktat, then they will be punished with a fine, etc. Towards this they have said that Flying Squads of officers have been formed that will go about and conduct surprise raids to make sure that no one is violating the order. You can read it here. I find this interesting. When it comes to serving their purpose (i.e. the politicians) the government goes all out to ensure that rules are followed and ensured. They are even appointing teams to go out and conduct raids. But no such expediency and sense of purpose is shown, when it comes to enforcing law on a daily basis, performing civic duties, ensuring citizen rights, putting tax payers money to good use, etc. Why such double standards? In any case when the flying squads drop by, you can just show them the finger. If the finger has the black mark on it, I guess they will not have a problem.
  4. Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize: I do not think this is shocking news, it is a confusing piece of news. But then I have never been able to comprehend the research areas that the Nobel Prizes are being given for and on the same lines, I will never be able to comprehend this one too. War and peace, in any language, are two opposite words. If you want to give Obama the peace prize, even a child will tell you that as President of USA, he is the supreme commander of his military that is engaged in a War with insurgents in Afghanistan. Anyways, just like the Nobel Prize committee has ignored this War and Peace point, we can ignore it too for the moment. But what confuses me really is not whether Obama won an award and whether it was the right award for him, etc. I am willing to keep all that aside for the moment. But think about this, the nominations for the Nobel Prize for the year apparently end in the first week of February of the year. And around February 28, 2009, the committee met and mentioned that there were 205 nominations for the award. You can read it here and that includes Obama. If you recollect, Obama was ushered in officially as the President of the United States around January 20 of 2009. Which means that he did such a phenomenal amount of work in 7-10 days (and that better include some everlasting peace work) that the Nobel committee got convinced that he deserved the award. Meanwhile the war in Afghanistan goes on ……. and guess what? As I typed it I understood why he got the award. Isn’t this a War to bring about lasting Peace? Yes, indeed …. he truly deserves the award.

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