Thursday, June 20, 2019

As bad as it gets

My life as a dog - was one of my favorite movies. Although I watched it first only in my early twenties, I very much identified with the 12 year old Ingemar. That movie sort of created a panic urge in me to create happy memories with my family. I've not been that successful though. Just as it happened to Ingemar, I don't have many photos, videos or even many happy memories with my mom. And she is dead.

In my late 30s, I suspect I'm beginning to identify with the misanthrope character played by Jack Nicholson in As good as it gets. But that would actually be painting a much more rosy picture than it is. Perhaps you can imagine a movie - As bad as it gets, and assume that another Ingmar, Bergman is directing it. Yup, that depressing.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Lonely Path

An acquaintance committed suicide last Monday. Apparently she had been separated from her husband for 6 months and was living with her parents.

What surprised me was that she took this decision despite being a mother of a very young son. Must have been a rash decision or she felt her son would be protected by someone else.

In hindsight, she did look a bit troubled in the recent past. She always smiled and waved at our daughter, but she must have felt so lonely.

When our daughter told me that she had passed away, I didn’t believe it. I even started “looking for her” with our daughter to reassure all is fine. Few days later, when our daughter again said that this aunty had joined my mother, I realized something is amiss. On making enquiries, it turned out to be sadly true.

***


It does get pretty lonely in life. Right now, other than our daughter who is too young to consciously love or feel protective about me, I do not have anyone who can offer a 'protective cover'.

But I realize being an adult, and a father, is all about making this lonely furrow in space and time. And trying to offer this protective cover for her. But things get a bit complicated when one's presence is making things worse, more than the absence. So I guess, people have to figure this out, according to their situation.

I don’t mean to dismiss close family, friends, and other relatives who do care. But holding someone’s back, having the capacity to offer this protection, is a different proposition.

I wonder if other animals, both wild and domestic, may have a better grasp of this need for protection, because it is quite literal.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Why I'm voting for Krishna Byre Gowda

I’ll be voting for Krishna Byre Gowda of Congress as my representative in the Loksabha from Bengaluru North.

I wrote down the reasons for my vote on a recent flight, ironically to Ahmedabad.

I’ve been voting since 2001 TN assembly elections and till 2014 had voted for more than 10 different parties, but not Congress. In 2014, I voted Nandan Nilekani for MP. In 2018 Karnataka Assembly election, I shamefully voted for a nobody from Congress, because I badly wanted Siddaramaiah Govt to be re-elected.

So, this is the 3rd time in a row, I’ll be voting for Congress!! This is surprising for someone who was a BJP supporter all my youth, and still am absolutely disgusted by Congress dynasty politics. There is no politician I hate more than Rahul Gandhi.

Krishna Byre Gowda is the son of a former minister too, and ‘inherited’ the MLA seat upon his father’s death. In 2009, I voted against him in Bengaluru South because I thought he was a dynast.


But I have since followed Krishna Byre Gowda (KBG), to find that he is an incredibly nice person, an intelligent politician, and easily the best minister in the Karnataka Govt.

As agriculture minister, his work on farm ponds, agricultural equipment renting scheme, supporting millet farming etc were extremely important in a state that faced successive droughts. He also represented Karnataka in the GST council.

KBG is now bringing the same rigour to Rural Development ministry, reviving water bodies and focusing on NREGA jobs with Secretary L K Atheeq, who is a very capable administrator himself.

One winter day in 2017, with flights delayed due to fog, I saw KBG wandering alone in Bengaluru airport with a book in his hand. I thought it was ok to disturb him and we talked politics for nearly an hour!

I’m absolutely delighted to be voting for Krishna Byre Gowda.

***

I do usually encourage people to vote for the best candidate on the ballot and not worry about the parties. Not this time. Please do not vote for BJP. Anyone contesting on a BJP ticket, is displaying poor judgement at best, a bigot on average, or a Hindutva terrorist at worst.

Narendra Modi has led a shit government which has run the economy to ruin. No one believes the fake GDP numbers. India is growing at 5 percent or less. There is a massive jobs crisis. In a country with the most poor people in the world, Modi Govt’s economic performance is absolutely unacceptable.

Further, Modi and his Hindutva fascist scum have made life miserable for Dalits, Muslims, Kashmiris, non-Hindi speakers, Liberals like me, and pretty much anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their politics. I was a Boy Scout who hoisted the “National Flag” most of my life. Not anymore. Now, I cringe every time I’m made to stand for the “National Anthem” in cinema theatres.

I went and campaigned against Modi in Varanasi in 2014. But I wasn’t blindly opposing his govt these past 5 years. I supported Demonetisation of high value currency notes to increase tax compliance. But secretaries Hasmukh Adhia and Suryakanta Das implemented it so badly that it was comical, if not for the hardship it brought to a billion people.

I support multi-rate GST and was absolutely delighted when Modi briefly worked with PM Nawaz Sharif to improve relations with Pakistan. I liked the initiative to make people give up LPG subsidy. So far, I don’t think there is corruption in Rafale aircraft deal, except for the nepotism in giving offset contracts to Anil Ambani’s firm.

But that’s about it. This govt is a failure on all fronts. Nearly all his colleagues are incompetent. He has wrecked every institution of the Republic.

I’m an anti-Nationalist. But I do take people’s security seriously. What kind of a Nationalist lets Pakistan airforce bomb Indian military installations? 1 MIG lost with the pilot taken POW, 6 airmen killed by friendly fire on their MI7 helicopter. No discernible loss for PAF. This was the worst military defeat for India in my lifetime (I’ve followed news on Kargil War and Operation Parakram). And yet, the coward goes around claiming the February skirmish as victory!

Vote for any non-BJP party, independents, NOTA or even go on a holiday and skip voting. But please do not vote for BJP in 2019.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Martian on Earth

Growing up is mostly about living life with disappointments. So as you grow older, you dream less, try to wish for things that are feasible. But somehow I never seem to have mastered it. Big or small, my wishes usually don't get fulfilled.

Like wanting to join an external PhD program at an University stone throw away.
Like wanting to take my daughter to Disneyland before she joins school.
Like wanting to take my dad to Kashi to complete religious rituals for my mom who passed away.
Like wanting to do research in a Research Lab.

Professionally, I've long tried to embrace the suck, to make work personally satisfying, despite the odds.

But it is hard to do that in your personal life.

***

On an unrelated note, I've rediscovered watching movies on TV.

I failed to watch a single movie in Biffes this time, although I had registered like previous years. Movies, I guess are made by much more complex artists, last only a couple of hours and on TV channels, have an element of surprise that is not available in Netflix. Perhaps having been an [m]ad-man myself, and having dabbled with matrix factorization, I will never watch anything Netflix recommends.

So the other day, I watched (again) The Martian on TV. What do you do when you are the only person on a planet trying to survive? You solve problems. One at a time, till you go home, or die.

Guess, it applies to some of us here on Earth.


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Living the life

Its a pity that I haven't blogged about things in a long while. Isolation doesn't seem to help, with anything.

***

In recent years, I have read few biographies. I enjoyed Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson and the auto-biographies of Stephen Hawkins and Vinod Mehta.

Few weeks back, I started reading Abraham Lincoln's biography by Ronald C White. There are quite a number of authors who have written biographies of Lincoln. I chose this one based on a recommendation. But I'm not finding this version very interesting.

A chronicle of events in Lincoln's life is not as interesting as knowing more about Lincoln, the person. I wish he had a written his autobiography. The contemplative, storing telling Lincoln portrayed in Spielberg's movie was the one I was looking for.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Or so Lincoln apparently said. Power perhaps could be replaced with Responsibility for the common folk. Having been in a position to withstand adversity and bear responsibility, in the past year or so, I didn't find the former any easier. Lincoln himself withstood quite a few adversity. But not sure, if there is direct account from him, on how he managed to do that.

***

I don't have much to say on withstanding adversity or bearing responsibility myself. I don't think I managed either well. But if I have to offer a strategy, it'll be to trust one's instincts. Its possible that when under siege (not stress) our perspective is reduced to the most important things and hence our instincts more useful. Even otherwise, following one's instinct helps deal with regrets later.

Another useful strategy, surprisingly, I remember from a movie by Kamal Hassan. In Virumaandi, the character played by him will say something to the effect.
We don't seem to realize happiness, when we actually live it.
This is ofcourse looking back, when things have turned worse. It might be a good strategy to do more, say splurge, during moments of happiness and make it more memorable. Because, such moments may not come back and in hindsight, we may regret not enjoying those moments to the full.

***

Not sure, if I'll complete this biography of Lincoln. I hope to read more though and perhaps write more here too.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Beer Post

I have returned to trying beers for the past few months. I mean, try a new beer every week or so. This post is to rate and to remember what I have tried in the past.


4 stars for those i really liked.

Tsingtao - ? - China ****
Corona - ? - Mexico ***
Bierra Moretti - lager - Italy **
Budwiser magnum - ? - US? ***
Peroni - lager - Italy *
Asahi - lager - Japan ***
Baltika - ? - Russia *
Estrella Dumm - ? - Spain *
Bira - wheat bier - Belgium ***
Krombacher - pils - Germany ***
Angkor - ? - Cambodia **
London Pride - ale? - UK ***
Erdinger - wheat beer - Germany ****
Hoegaarden - wheat beer - Belgium ****
Heineken - ? - ? **
Budwiser - ? - US ***
Miller lite - ? - US *
Foster - ? - Australia *
Kingfisher Premium - ? - India *
Indus Pride? - spice beers - India **

Sunday, May 18, 2014

On the Liberal path ....

In summary, I think this election has been good for the Indian Republic.

The Conservatives have got a clear mandate from the people. An extremely corrupt and cynical party, Congress has suffered its worst defeat in history. Many political dynasties have been rejected. A nascent party arising out of a civil society movement has been given the best feedback possible from the electorate. That its heart (bringing in good people to politics) is in the right place, but irresponsible behavior (49 day bhagoda govt, silly contests in Varanasi/Amethi) will not be rewarded.

Having been a supporter of the BJP in my younger years, I have always felt the resentment of the Sangh towards outsiders who didn't agree with their Manuvaadi and later Hindutva ideology. With the ascent of Shri. Mohan Bhagwat, the purge of the outsiders began. I'm glad I took the cue and left the party in 2009. In hindsight, this clearing of the house and the determination to stand by their ideology has paid of. The tamasha of RSS not taking responsibility for the actions of its political wing, is no longer possible. This can only be good for our polity.

I admire (and hence fear) the steadfast loyalty of Shri. Narendra Modi to his beliefs. I have written about it in the past, but I think we now know for sure, what Modi stands for. It takes lot of courage to stick to one's ideology even when the stakes are extremely high. A silly example of this is Modi's refusal to wear a skull cap when he has no qualms wearing a Sikh pagadi and a tribal head dress in Arunachal. Hindutva doesn't accept Muslims and Christians as Hindus (Indians), while Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Apatani religion are 'unorthodox' Hindu (Indian) religions. We may not agree with this Conservatism, but not understanding this thinking can only be our fault.

On the Left, CPM model has completely collapsed in Bengal. For many years now, the movement left has deserted the parties and identified with Maoists, student unions and the likes of Ms. Medha Patkar, Ms. Aruna Roy, Ms. Arundhati Roy and Mr. Udayakumar. Now they see a ray of hope in the Aam Aadmi Party. I desperately hope that AAP gets better consul and takes a principled left-liberal turn, instead of being mired in ideological confusion. Anarchy is not a sustainable ideology. Swaraj (village self rule) and standing up for the downtrodden, to protect them from Corporate excesses and deliberate crony capitalism, is a worthy endeavor. Left liberal people have something concrete (AAP) to work on.

And finally, the (right) Liberals. We have always remained divided and hence paid for it. Considering Liberal parties have almost never won any election anywhere in the world, not willing to cooperate is a weird choice. Swantatra Party had 44 MPs in 1967. I just wish those who want to emulate Swatantra (Mr. Jaswant Singh who was a member, Loksatta Party which adopted the 5 pointed star, Swatantra Bharat Paksha) and the nascent Navbharat Democratic Party, all work together to provide a credible Liberal alternative to the Indian electorate.

On my part, I'm determined to continue supporting all Liberal forces in the country. I voted for Mr. Nandan Nilekani (who I think is Liberal, though somewhat left), campaigned for Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan in Malkajgiri (Loksatta President) and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi (because he was taking on Narendra Modi).

I'll continue to be a member of the Loksatta Party (still the only viable Liberal party in India) and support Takshashila Institution, Center for Civil Society, Center for Public Policy, Liberty Institute, India Enterprise Council and Freedom Team India in their activities.

As I said above, if there is one thing that we can learn from Mr. Narendra Modi, its his courage to stand by his beliefs. My belief in Liberalism (as a means to human organization and happiness) only became more resolved this election season. Looking forward to the future, with hope.


Pamphlet distributed by Together with Nandan team during their door2door campaign in our apartment complex, Bangalore South constituency. April 05, 2014.

Loksatta Party's Malkajgiri candidate Jayaprakash Narayan campaigning for the party's nominee in Jubilee Hills assembly constituency. April 19, 2014.

Aam Aadmi Party's Varanasi candidate Arvind Kejriwal campaigning in Sarai Dengri village, of Rohania assembly constituency in Varanasi. May 03, 2014.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

To prevent further sexual harassment, press charges.

Risking accusations of misogyny, I want to write about recent victims of sexual harassment.

1. Supreme Court interns allegedly harassed by a retired SC Judge don't want to press charges.

2. A journalist working for an organization which specializes in public exposes, was allegedly raped by her Editor but didn't press charges for a week and despite a national outrage and absence of a Sexual Harassment Committee in her office, still won't go to police herself.

3. A woman allegedly snooped/stalked by Gujarat govt officials at the instance of a 'saheb', is allegedly asking her father to write to NCW and GCW to claim that snooping was infact protection given to her and that there should be no investigation in this regard.

4. A senior executive of a IT services company which employs tens of thousands of high-skilled women, was accused of sexual harassment but was allowed to settle instead of being prosecuted. He went onto become the CEO of another company which also employs thousands of high-skilled women and was again accused of sexual harassment ... and again allowed to go without charges being pressed.

Now, I think about a quote allegedly from an accused in the Mumbai journalist rape incident. Apparently they had gang-raped 4 other poor women and warned them to never tell anyone and that this gave them the confidence to attempt again with this journalist. To their credit, the journalist or her male friend (i'm not sure), reported the incident to police.


What does this tell us? If victims don't want to go to police, what is the point of protesting or blaming the police who somehow have to protect women and children from half a billion men?

Sure, police stations are not known to be safe places for victims of sexual harassment. And I would like to see, among other things,

1. establishment of all women police stations with provision for women medical examiners and prosecutors,

2. online FIRs so that its registered before we go to a police station go give testimony/evidence and

3. More women operated transport (auto-rickshaws, taxis and buses) to reassure women of their safety.

But if SC interns won't press charges and a whole bunch of feminists keeping telling us that its up to the journalist to press charges or not against her editor, in an office which doesn't have SHC, I don't know what kind of progress we are expecting.

ps: The discussions and laws on this subject mostly seem to disregard men who get sexually harassed as children and in relatively less instances as adults.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A Statue to shame us all

Dams are built at a terrible cost. Thousands of poor people lose land, livelihood and their way of life, for a compensation. Eminent Domain by which we authorize the state to take over private land, to serve the greater common good of the country, must be used with great caution and respect.

The dams built across Narmada have been especially painful. Thousands of people in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra lost their villages to irrigate Gujarat. Hundreds of activists are protesting the callous way in which compensation was distributed and still hasn't reached some. I have been vary of Narmada Bachao Andolan but have never been unsympathetic to people's demands for just compensation.

Now, some people are building a statue of Sardar Patel on the bank of Sardar Sarovar Dam. I mean, a dam already named after Sardar Patel. Why the State is involved in such a statue building exercise is beyond me. How do we tolerate 2500 crore rupees being spent to build a freaking statue when thousands are still protesting to get compensation for terrible personal sacrifices? And why do we remain mute spectators to one man's misuse of the statue to further his political ambition?

Its quite depressing.


ps: I took the above photo while visiting Bhakra dam which is celebrating 50 years this October. I'm sure our statue builders will also begrudge this portrait of our then Prime Minster who was instrumental in building that dam.

My visit to Bhakra was quite a learning experience. A photo essay here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/balajiworld/sets/72157633199216696/

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Onion Price kerfuffle

I briefly looked into the Onion Price kerfuffle and this is what I found.

1. Onion does not come under the Essential Commodities Act 1955 and hence the union and state govts cannot per se stop hoarding or storage by farmers or traders. The Union govt can control export of Onions by increasing the Minimum Export Price (MEP) which it did recently.

2. After a similar inflation in December 2010, the Competition Commission of India asked the Bangalore based Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) to study the Onion markets. The report was published in 2012. http://www.cci.gov.in/images/media/completed/AO.pdf It found no smoking gun and hence no quick fixes possible.

3. Maharashtra, Karnataka, MP and Gujarat seem to be the major onion producing states and ISEC study in MH and KA finds collusion between traders, commission agents, wholesalers and some farmers, to control the supply of Onions to maximize their profits.

4. ISEC study's major recommendations are,

a. try and prevent secret biddings (illegal under Regulated Market act) which help some traders to get most of the onion produce,
b. empower APMCs to punish intentional hoarders,
c. break the cartel of commission agents by removing entry barriers.
d. discourage export control using MEP (affects farmers).
e. educate farmers on prices and procure directly from them.

Fixing the wrong machines: EVMs instead of ATMs

Early this evening I went to an ICICI bank ATM to withdraw some 'change'. Instead of entering 400, I entered 500 and pat came a single note!! I took it to a nearby medical shop and got a candy (tamarind flavor) instead of 1 rupee change!

I fail to understand why RBI and the govt have been unable to force retail banks to ensure liquidity in proper denominations. Why can't banks be forced to issue 20, 50 rupees denominations for say 500 rupees, per account per month on their ATMs?

When I was still in high school, my dad used to go withdraw money from a bank every month and will bring a bundle of 10 rupee bills (1000) and a packet of 1 or 2 rupee coins. I did that too from a Wells Fargo branch in Santa Monica (quarters) or the university quarter machines for my laundry.

But I wonder how easy it is for us (and the customer facing businesses) to get such change from an Indian bank. One of the last few times I went to a bank (HDFC Koramangala), I ended up carrying my bicycle inside the branch as a protest against their security not allowing my two wheeler to be parked in their two wheeler parking space.

While bank ATMs remain in their -5.0 version or something, some professional litigants and the equally indulgent judges are forcing the Election Commission to create a paper trail of some 250 million votes cast in our elections!!

No one except the most cynical politicos, have had a problem with our voter machines. Since these paper slips are not going to be issued to voters, wonder what is going to prevent Dr. Swamy from continuing to claim that EVMs are preset to vote for his opposing parties and print the paper slip likewise too?!! And as one former election commissioners observed, giving these paper slips instead to voters will be a constant nuisance with usual suspects protesting that they didn't press the button as recorded in the paper slip. Oh, well.

An Odd Republic: Supreme Court adventurism

Are you, like me, alarmed at the rate at which Supreme Court is putting pressure on the Executive, based mostly (according to me) on the whim of the presiding judges?

1. Declaring an amendment to Representation of People's Act enacted by parliament in 1989 as unconstitutional (which is ok) but simultaneously interfering with the Parliamentary privilege to decide when a convicted member can be disqualified.

2. Declaring AICTE as an advisory body and creating a regulatory vacuum for Engineering colleges. Messing with the Medical council before that.

3. Dictating that NOTA and Paper Trail are mandatory just because the Election Commission is pliant? Shouldn't political parties and Parliament have a say? At the very least, such measures cost money.

4. And dictating to the Executive what identity measure (Aadhar) it can or cannot use for welfare programs?

I myself think targeted welfare is wrong and will never work (like most economists say). I have written at length how Nandan's biometric card is a foolhardy exercise and will positively result in excluding the needy from getting welfare (as Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey have been arguing). I believe Direct Cash Transfer is immoral and will make welfare even more harder to reach the excluded poor (because of competition from undeserving rich people like the ones - most of them - lining up at their LPG distributor).

Its perhaps not even Government's fault that the bill to legitimize UIDAI was stuck in the standing committee. However for the SC to order the govt on whether Aadhar can be made mandatory for receiving welfare, seems clear misadventure in the domain of the executive and legislature.

But then our Supreme Court appoints food commissioners (?!!). We better learn to live with this odd republic.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

When Jayalalitha was convicted and became CM two times later.

I feel like a voter of a previous generation. I remember campaigning for DMK in 1996 (in 10th std, i was 14) in the infamous election to oust Jayalalitha. 4 years later she was convicted in the TANSI land deal case and sentenced to 3 years rigorous imprisonment.

Jayalalitha's conviction was in 2000 and just before the 2001 assembly election. A mob led by ADMK activists burnt a agricultural university bus in Dharmapuri and killed 3 girls to protest against this conviction. They await hanging in death sentences awarded later.

Because of her conviction, Jayalalitha could not contest the 2001 election. To save face she deliberately filed nominations from 4 constituencies and got them rejected by the Election Commission. In that election ADMK won in a landslide and Jayalalitha was sworn in as CM despite the conviction and her not being a MLA.

Supreme court declared her appointment as null and void. O Panneerselvam was made Tamilnadu's CM. (a friend used to call me Panneerselvam in college because of my political activities!!).

Then in 2003, Jayalalitha was acquitted by the High Court which quashed the trial court verdict in the TANSI case. She went on to become CM couple of more times including her current term.

Now, as people croon about Laloo Yadav and Rasheed Masood, I merely want to point out that trial court judgments can be erroneous. These politicians were elected by people. Its utterly immoral to unseat them before appeal, and undemocratic to render their constituencies unrepresented. This is not a Platonic republic. Democracy means accepting other people's opinion and patiently making our case so that a majority accepts our views.

ps: oh, yes. I too believe Jayalalitha, Laloo Yadav and Rasheed Masood are corrupt. But even as a 14 year old, I used democratic means to try and unseat one of them.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Rebutting Mr. K. Parasaran's claims of unconstitutionality in Bill LXII of 2013

As I have written before, I believe the Ordinance/Bill to suspend disqualification of legislators until their appeal is heard by a High Court is both constitutional and morally the right thing to do. Reading a learned lawyer like Mr. K. Parasaran's weak claims of unconstitutionality, further vindicates my support for the Ordinance/Bill.

My rebuttal of Mr. K. Parasaran's claims made here: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/measure-for-unconstitutional-measure/article5190528.ece

1. K.M. Nanavati vs State of Bombay (AIR 1961 SC 112):

The Order of the Governor to suspend the sentence and allow the officer to continue serving in the Navy, is not at all comparable to this ordinance. A convicted legislator starts serving his/her sentence and any relief in terms of bail or stay of conviction/sentence is entirely up to the trial or high court judges. In fact this ordinance stops a convicted legislator from taking part in parliament debates or drawing salary. Both these restrictions are in addition to the sentence imposed by a trial court. The convicted legislator cannot attend parliament unless the trial or appeal's court allows the prisoner to do so. To say that the Speaker should also disqualify the legislator, and render a constituency unrepresented in parliament, all before his/her appeal is heard, is arbitrary and judicial overreach. Mr. Parasaran's claim that this ordinance/bill interferes with the judge's power to set conditions while on appeal is totally false.
2. Indira Nehru Gandhi vs Raj Narain (AIR 1975 SC 1590):

The case against Ms. Indira Gandhi was about her election to Parliament. If the court rules her election void, she obviously is disqualified from being a legislator. This case cannot be compared to conviction of legislators in cases unrelated to their election or work in parliament. If the trial court doesn't even have the power to disqualify a convict from being a elector (only temporary inability to vote because of being in jail), how does it have the power to disqualify a serving legislator and render his/her constituency unrepresented in Parliament?

To summarize, no judge has the right to dictate to the Speaker/Chairman of an elected body on whether or not to admit a elected legislator from participating in the proceedings of Parliament. The court's right to impose punishments or restrictions on the movement of a convicted person remains unaffected. If the High court in Ranchi rules that the bail condition for Mr. Laloo Yadav while hearing his appeal is for him to stay in Ranchi, he cannot attend Parliament irrespective of what the Ordinance/Bill proposes to do.

I'm sending this post to Mr. Parasaran at his official mail id as a Rajya Sabha member: k.parasaran@sansad.nic.in
My earlier post on why I support the above discussed bill/ordinance: http://balajiworld.blogspot.in/2013/09/why-i-support-billordinance-to-undo-sc.html

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I support the bill/ordinance to undo SC judgment on disqualifying convicted legislators

Being a Libertarian is hard! I find myself isolated in supporting both the bill and the ordinance to undo the SC judgement on disqualifying convicted legislators.

1. Parliament should not give in to populism and unseat a convicted legislator without giving him/her a chance of one appeal. We can ensure that the appeals in case of convicted legislators are heard and decided within a month. Automatic and time bound appeals are common in many countries. The bill's provision that a convicted legislator cannot vote or draw salary while appeal is pending, is a reasonable measure.

2. An amendment to Representation of People's act has been in place since 1989 which was undone by SC. The SC has every right to interpret the constitution to say that there can be no discrimination between a sitting legislator and ordinary citizen. However SC judgement that a convicted legislator should be unseated before the appeal is decided is a violation of first principles and a case of legislating from the bench. Parliament has every right to pass a law to undo the judgement on disqualification. I don't think even a constitutional amendment is needed as some people suggest.

3. And just because its Laloo Yadav, doesn't mean that there is no need to pass an ordinance to prevent a later constitutional crisis. The crisis being a disqualified legislator getting acquitted on appeal and by then a new legislator getting elected and both fighting it out in the court. The parliament has a right, and in my opinion a duty, to pass a bill undoing the SC judgement (on disqualification, not contesting). 
While that parliament is asking citizens their opinion via a standing committee, why should some legislators be singled out to lose their seats because of potential erroneous convictions? Scores of other convicts are continuing to be legislators, one is infact a minister in Gujarat because of non-retrospective nature of the measures. Bringing the ordinance was a right thing to do.

4. Anyway in the hurry to be populist, we seem to be losing an opportunity to clean up politics. Making appeals automatic and time bound in the case of convicted legislators will infact lead to them actually serving their sentence. Current long appeal process, ensures convicted legislators stay away from jail or worse enables a change in government to sabotage the case with pliant public prosecutors.