have no bread ? eat ega.

a conversation between a babu and a citizen :

citizen: ega ? i still don't understand what it means .
babu: ( a little sarcastic) you needn't, because it would be cooked and delivered to your doorstep as egp.
c. what's an egp, does it contain eggs?
b. no, but it may contain grain as a nutrition supplement.
c. may contain ?
b. it depends, you see, on the availability of funds and stocks. and work.
c. work ?
b. yes, you have to pay in work for whatever you get in return.
c. work ?
b. like filling up trenches.
c. oh ?
b. and digging up trenches. or whatever you in the boondocks consider 'productive assets'.
c. so it's a dole?
b. definitely not. we tax the rich and pay for this programme.
c. (now really interested) you mean you tax the rich and pay us?
b. no, we tax the rich and make you work.
c. that means we would get all that you take away from the rich?
b. no, you might get the minimum wage.
c. who gets the rest?
b. what do you mean?
c. i mean who gets the rest of the money from the taxes after you pay me?
b. the pm says 'institutional mechanisms' would be set up to deal with that.
c. (disgusted) deal with whoever steals the money ?
b. no, to see that there is a 'timely transfer of resources' ?
c. who gets transferred ?
b. whoever fails to show 'transparency in maintenance of muster rolls and payment of wages.' ?
c. what ?
b.whoever says you worked for 30 days when you only worked for 3.
c. who ?
b. your programme officer.
c. why should he say that i've worked for 30 days when i've not worked for a day ?
b. because he's not transparent - he should tell you everything about the scheme the day you register.
c.( feeling he's the one that's transparent) nobody tells me anything.
b. don't worry. now everything has to be put down on paper and recorded. you'll also get a job card....don't pawn that.
c. and then?
b. you apply for work.
c. i can't write.
b. that's okay, the panchayat will help you.
c. what's in it for them ?
b. 50%.
c. you mean they take away half of what i get paid ?
b. no, you idiot. they get half of all funds for the scheme.
c. who gets the other half ?
b. the programme officer decides that.
c. i work for nothing ?
b.you get paid for whatever work you do.
c. (scratching his head, making rapid calculations on his palm) the officer gets 50% and the panchayat gets another fifty..please sir, what do i get?
b. (exhausted) you get paid for 100 days of work.
c. what work ?
b. (#$%..!) whatever work the panchayat assigns you.
c. (thinking of his past experiences) what if they don't ?
b. you get paid anyway.. at least a part of the minimum wage for not being given work after applying.
c. ( warming up to this idea) what if i gave you a part of that.. you know..so that i
keep getting whatever money..
b. (frowning) yes.
c. ...without being assigned any work..
b. (feigning anger) that's illegal.
c. (grumbling) i won't get any work because the sarpanch doesn't like me. i voted for the opposition..
b. you can complain.
c. what would happen then ?
b. the programme would be stopped in the whole district.
c. ( wondering how that would help ) who thought up this scheme..a sardar ?
b. oh, it has its supporters... a belgian who likes yatras.. an italian who doesn't... a bengali who didn't like the ias... ....
c. (lost in thought) i can ask sagar anna for help.
b. who is he?
c. he heads the racha (..konda dalam, he almost says, but stops )... maybe i can give him something..
b. who ?
c. the sarpanch.
b. i told you the whole programme would be stopped if there are any reports of corruption.
c. so how do i get any work?
b. you apply for it, you are assigned work and then you get paid for it.. every week ..or after two..weeks..maybe. you know how it is..
c. what if i don't get paid ? (now getting wiser) don't tell me ... i shouldn't complain..
b. i didn't say that..you could tell the gram sabha.
c. that's what i did when he siphoned off money from the housing scheme to build another floor on his house.
b. and ?
c. he hates my guts now.
b. so why don't you talk to the other leader then..the one you voted for..
c. no one listens to him now..they found fwp rice in his cowshed...
b. don't worry, they can't stop the payment..i'll be there.
c. what's in it for you ?
b. 50%.
the citizen walks away, thinking of sagar anna.


a vaartha.

he is a businessman with interests in textiles, cement, real estate and etc., his family is rich and owns a lot of property in and around hyderabad and gujarat, mostly acquired in the last three decades. he is also a rajya sabha mp from andhra pradesh.he manages his own group within the congress in the state. he also publishes a telugu newsdaily 'vaartha' from ten towns across the state. and a hindi newspaper called 'swatantra vaartha' from hyderabad and nizamabad.

so what made him think he had the right to demolish his government allotted bungalow in new delhi and construct a marble-and-carved teak eyesore in its place ? a two-storeyed concrete insult in an area where even the pm can't build beyond one floor?

girish kumar sanghi and his family have a reputation of being heavy-handed. they reportedly beat up even managers and editors who refuse to toe their line.and the power of a newspaper seals many lips. that's their way of getting business done. one year ago, a bus carrying workers from one of his factories was involved in an accident. the police arrived, and found out that the passengers were all poor schoolgirls who were returning from a night-shift at one of his factories. the opposition cried foul and then child labour. the labour minister said in the assembly : an inquiry had been initiated, but from the information he had, there was no evidence to support the charge that any child labour had been employed. so the television channels who had beamed the unhappy fact had performed the duplicitous act of conveying one thing to the people and another to the minister. we know that happens.

vaartha is the second most widely read telugu newspaper in a.p. that means, when push comes to shove, sanghi could be the second biggest arm-twister in the state. so i look around, and i urge you to do so too: and tell me how many sanghi parivars can you spot around the country. too many, in my opinion. so what, you ask, whatever news i consume in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon and the evening turns into raddi by the next morning.

we know what micro-organisms that live for less than twelve hours are capable of doing.

and there is hardly anything we can do about it. like someone i know realized when he came up against sanghi. one of sanghi's companies was building a pricey apartment building in one of the poshest areas of hyderabad. there was only one small lane that connected it with the main road. my acquaintance owned a plot that lay between the proposed complex of buildings and an arterial lane, bigger and better, to the main road. the arterial road, if extended to sanghi's complex (slicing the vacant plot that lay in the middle), would definitely add to the saleability of the complex.this is what the sanghis wanted.one day, a crew of municipal workers began demolishing a part of the wall dividing the complex and the plot. the plotwallah accosted them and he was told they were only clearing the road (?) that led to the complex. so the owner, because he wasn't aware of any plans to build a road, panicked and ran to his lawyer. the family had owned the plot for more than forty years and it had collected its share of the dust of disputes over the years. but his rights were almost clear. and there never had been a road proposed through the middle of his plot. the sanghis, in their ingenuity, had thought up one and certain babus, with a little 'persuasion' had dutifully agreed. so the plotwallah deduced he had to take certain 'clever' measures to protect his property, because he could sense big shadows lurking around his plot, before any 'timely' relief arrived from the court.so he approached another minor congress leader to stop sanghi from pushing the authorities to build a second approach road to his complex 'partitioning' the plot he had foolishly saved for forty years. he had very little time - a dirt path had been cleared through his plot and the road could be laid any day- given the 'urgency of pupose' of the municipal authorities.

the minor leader liked the idea of fishing in troubled lands in such an expensive district..so he sent along a couple of 'party workers' to scare off any possible invaders by brandishing their credentials as 'ruling party yuva' leaders. the owner, still not reassured, thought up the idea of making his plot truly 'unpaveable'. so he got a young friend of the family to haul in several truckloads of boulders ( the remains of the huge rocks that dot hyderabad which are now being blasted and cleared by truckloads everyday to make way for new buildings, despite several conservationists' protests) and plonk them on his plot so that it couldn't be cleared. the deed was done, and without much cost, because the truckers who hauled the rocks were looking for empty plots to dump the rocks anyway.the rocks were big, and despite the fact that they were only pieces cut from bigger boulders some of them stood as high as a man. they can't be cleared in less than a week, he thought.

he woke up the next morning to discover that he made the vaartha that day. featured on top of the front page, just below the masthead, was the news that he had grabbed a 'sarkari' road with the help of congress party goons.. while he had been enjoying the sound sleep of a satisfied landgrabber, the presses and other gears of authority had been busy.

the news made only vaartha, and no other newspaper.

certain babus among the municipal authorities who had all along supported the sanghis' bluff now expressed righteous chagrin at their non-existent road being grabbed. and took' immediate measures' to reclaim their lost road. a spanking new road, after clearing the rocks with much motivation and machinery, made its way through the plot by, not the next week, but the next morning. increasing the value of the apartments in the proposed complex by several notches.

this happened nearly an year ago. now, to answer my own question, sanghi probanly thought (when he was applying his special building skills in lutyens' delhi) that when he could always have the right of way in hyderabad, why couldn't he enjoy the same privilege in dilli ?

he knows what to do if stopped...start another edition of 'swatantra vaartha' in delhi.
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