Four Stray Thoughts : December 14, 2009

Here are my Four Stray Thoughts for the day:

1. No water for new high rise buildings: The Maharashtra government has announced that no water supply will be made to new high rise buildings till 2012. This is because there was poor rainfall this year in Mumbai and that if there is not enough rainfall next year, then the situation will worsen. Hence the need to not provide water to new high rises that are coming up because it will put a strain on the already pressured water system. This reasoning sounds logical on paper but only the kind that children can come up with. Several reasons why this decision does not make any sense: a) They have said that if the new building is over 7 floors, then it will not get water. So what is the reasoning behind that? Where is it written that residents of a 7 floor building might not end up wasting more water b) Nothing is being done about water leakages that are happening all over the city c) What about the water that is being clearly stolen under the guise of water tankers and providing the water to slums because of a vote bank d) The final reason is that I simply do not believe what the government says when it mentions that in 2012 when some projects get completed, water supply will be restored. On what basis? Have you even calculated how many new high rises are coming up, how many families will be staying, what their water consumption pattern will be and how that will be magically addressed by the new projects.

In short, this is a new mechanism to charge the consumer more for what they want. We have seen this artificial shortage being created for electricity all these years. And it got solved magically once the consumer was told to pay more. The same fate awaits the water supply scenario in Mumbai.

2. The rich fund the temples: There is an interesting comment made today by Tarun Tejpal in an interview. The interview was about the education system in India. One comment in particular caught my attention since it resonated so well with my own convinction of what ails our educational facilities. The comment was “The rich in India fund shrines and temples, rather than invest in educational institutions or create something of genuine value to the young of the country.” This statement is a sad reflection of what is going on in our country. The United States which is known for its educational institutions, has seen individuals come forward and start/fund these institutions so as to attract the right people. Some people argue that just giving money is not going to solve it. Ofcourse it is not going to solve it. But when you generously endow an institution with capital, you will be able to build infrastructure in terms of laboraties, equipments. You can attract world class teachers and then by providing quality education that will take its alumni further, the alumni can actually be attracted to give back to the institutions and thus the cycle grows bigger. I am not saying that all the rich in India or those who are able are not giving back to their institutions. It is also incorrect to just state that blankly. There are brilliant examples of people and organizations that are working on that in India. But so much more can be done. Educational institutes should be our temples. They are after all the temples of learning as Nehru had mentioned. Imagine how much more difference we could make if instead of diverting money towards temples, we could use them instead for education.

3. It is the time of the year: The month of December is unique in several ways. In general there is a good feeling everywhere with people winding down a bit and realizing that one more year is over. It is a moment of introspection for some, while for some it does not matter. It is a moment to slow down to some, while for some it is the beginning of dancing and parties till the new year starts. It is a moment of no work for some, while for others it is a mad finish to complete the work before the year end. It is moment to decide on some new year resolutions for some, while for others it is a moment to reflect on not having kept a single resolution. In any case, I know one thing for sure and which is that most of us will make a resolution to get fit, lose weight and eat healthy in the coming year. No wonder the Health Clubs and Gyms see a huge spike in their membership in the month of January. I guess they cannot wait for the new year to start.

4. Too many cooks spoil the broth: As I write this, the climate summit is in progress in Copenhagen. It seems to me that there are clearly two polarized groups and no points for guessing that. It is the developed v/s the developing nations. There are a total of 192 nations at the summit and multiply that with the number of delegates from each nation, and you realize how difficult it will be to agree on a set of common resolutions. I have always believed that if the result of a negotiation is favoring one side, then it cannot be deemed successful and will never be binding. And that is exactly what is going to happen over here. However most world leaders are going to pay a flying visit to the conference at the end of it and are expected to put their signatures to paper. What they finally sign … your guess is as good as mine.

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