Tuesday, May 20, 2008


The K – Factor

This K is not for Kashmir nor the K obsession of Ekta Kapoor Soaps, this is the new K-factor in the Indian Political Context … the Karnataka Factor … having spent a lot of my time in Bangalore, I had this inclination on what’s happening there in terms of political and social development. The elections provide a great deal on how our political system is working … Few of the things that really blew me off …

Karnataka is limited to Bangalore and is limited to the IT populations (!!) – given the fact that 50% of the IT population is from outside state and doesn’t have voting powers, focusing on just one small segment of the state population is suicidal. (surprisingly media is too obsessed with the Bangalore and IT factor)

There is no intention of developing the city infrastructure (roads, flyovers), water, electricity, local/mass transportation, etc. And there was no mention of developing Tier 2 cities like Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, etc – which can ease off little chaos present in Bangalore.

There was a mail chain floated about the awareness of Section 49-O of the election process – which indicates right to not to choose … given the current state of affairs in terms of election process, I have my doubts about the availability of the forms at all the booths, secondly the number of people exercising 49-O would be too less than total votes casted (or the winners’ votes) with the kind of booth capturing and malfunctioning of system, and lastly (not the least) half of the regular voters don’t find their names in the voting list they are supposed to go and vote!!! (Why NR Murthy (and family) didn’t go to vote – he did go, but couldn’t find his (and his family member’s) name on the voting list!!!). When people like Murthy won’t have their names – you can imagine the condition – and when you will exercise 49-O if you don’t have right to enter the premise!

My take on the whole of election process … there should not be more than 3 nationalized party for the election process. All the regional parties must be aligned to any of the three parties and must declare their stance on alliance before election. This goes for the individuals contestants too – this would increase the risk of losing and reduce the greed of being in the power (shuttling from one party to another just for sake of being in power)

The party manifesto should define categories (like education, infra, societal, municipal, agri, industrial, power, transportation, metro, etc) and stance and action plan (with time lines) on each of the categories. In addition to this – individual / regional parties can add / vary the manifesto on few of the detailed aspects (not on the broad out line).

I somehow liked the way UP elections happened last time (though the results were really shocking) – it was lot more credible than the usual ones – for once there was a lot more security and strictness during the poll. I wish that can be repeated everywhere.

Another aspect – which can be really off beat and has too many loop holes – online voting, voting from any booth (that can create possibility of multiple voting – but can be tackled using IT), and voting be anyone who has been staying in the place for more than a year in that place – this would enable significant non-local population which are dynamic because of their profession.

Comments / arguments welcome …

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Religious and Spiritual Tourism …

It’s time that India should look forward to developing the concept of Religious Tourism and Spiritual Tourism. In India, we have too many Gods and their incarnations and too many temples for each of them. In addition to this we have a lot of spiritual gurus (with due respect, starting from Osho, Ravi Shankar, Ramdev, etc) … who are gaining momentum across the world for their teachings.

Last weekend, I was on a religious tour in Rajasthan, accompanied by parents. Some of the things really startled me were the way things got commercialized in last few years – within the temple premise and streets outside on the approach to the temple … in addition to the main temple, there are plenty of smaller temples of related stories (mythical in nature) and India being religious mind – praying to all possible Gods and Goddesses encountered with …

By liberal atheist in nature, it was just a break from my usual stuff … but it pained me a lot to see the abuse of the sentiments of people by the commercialization of the feelings and resources. The pandits within the campus directly ask you for money, having their minimum set (and won’t take less than that) and won’t serve you with the required task - giving Prasad, putting a tika (mark with roli/sindur on forehead), tying the sacred thread on your hands, etc … and on the streets … they’ll provide you with complete plate with all the required accessories for puja, flowers, coconut, incents sticks, cloths (if required), etc with a high price tag … to add woes, the moment you step down the stairs of the temple you encounter another breed … an army of beggars … and this time I found a totally new way … these are gang of ladies (normally street cleaners) and their kids … they’ll not just ask, they’ll almost pester you and follow you till your door steps … and if you get into a restaurant, they’ll wait for you to come out … (really frustrating) … then you’ll find streets filled with sweet shops, accessories shops, flower shops, and … shops with photos/idols, books, and music cassettes with so called bhajans (in fact most of them modified a film song/tune into a bhajan) … and these shops are competing each other by playing loud volumes (who’s is the loudest) … there’s no steps to ensure cleanliness – in fact most of the garbage is because of these shops who clean their shops and dump the garbage in middle of the path/street …

Now the idea of religious tourism came into my mind by seeing the devotees!!! … various types/ kinds … I could make out only 5~10% of the people visiting the temples today are serious devotees … the rest are there because some other person has been their or said 10 things about it or has to make a mark (of being religious) in the society … barely following the rules and decorum of the temple premise … and then trying to show that they are one of the most religious creatures of all the lot … interesting thing to note was the way these were dressed – especially ladies – as if they are attending the kitti party of the neighborhood … with kids perplexed as to what is happening and finding space to breathe – distract themselves and their guardians … (you can see a big Q mark on their face as why they are there and why/what they are doing of supposed to do and why they are missing their friends/fav cartoon show… )

Now if it is commercialized – the other tradition regional cottage industry would gain a lot from it … (like historic tourism – tourist guide, we can have an army of pujaris to do the pujas …). Given that a lot of today’s youth is becoming religious in nature – who have no idea of the historic background (let it be mythical) … need that kind of support infrastructure to build upon them … this would not only add some revenues to the state but also boost the local service (hotels and restaurants) and cottage industry (textile, handicrafts, art, …)

Comments welcome …

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