shove some moral outrage in this direction

i've always contended that indian banks were nationalized to provide jobs to upper caste indians. that's the real priority sector. among all public sector employers, indian banks have the poorest record of compliance with reservation norms. the dalits and adivasis constitute less than 5% of all bank employees. the obcs, of course, would be much lower than that because the banks started shedding weight when mandal was brought in. tomorrow, if all these banks were to disappear, not one single truly marginalized individual in the country will really miss them.

why should they? those banks have never lent more than 10% of their total credit advances to the farmers, and most of those farmers were from the same social strata as the bankers, naturally. and when people from those same social strata tried to move into new, non-agricultural vocations, indian banks played a pivotal role in financing this transition. most of the other recipients of priority or directed credit, like entrepreneurs running small scale industrial units etc., were also from the same social strata.

85% of indians still do not have bank accounts: get that into your heads, progressive india.


3,000 drops in an ocean

i'd written to a friend (a year ago, while discussing a news report that said less than 3,000 inter-caste marriages were reported from across india in 2005-06- here's the link but it doesn't seem to work now):
just look at the numbers- on a single 'good muhurat' day more than 30,000 couples could get married in any of the top 10 cities in india. and inter-caste marriages don't number more than 3000 in the whole country in a whole year.
those are marriages reported to certain government agencies which provide incentives to couples who go in for inter-caste marriages- yes, the actual number could be higher, but how much higher? twice that figure? ten times that figure? would a number ten times that figure indicate a significant trend? i don't think so.

but across the media, you notice one significant trend: a growing tendency to paint the lower castes as the only people steeped in caste. for the media, the term upper caste seems to indicate a higher value system. does the above example reveal any significant change in people's attitudes, especially of those belonging to the upper castes, towards caste? does it show how the upper castes have progressed from caste to class and the lower castes have clung to caste as many sociologists, journalists etc., have argued in the recent past? have the surnames shastri, sharma, iyer, reddy, deshpande etc., disappeared significantly or fused together to form new secular identities such as sharma-reddy, deshpande-chaudhury etc., in significant numbers?

one piece of pseudo-knowledge that the media believes in strongly (as do the experts from other knowledge producing fields who write for it): the position of women becomes weaker as you go down the caste ladder. does it?
In a recently completed study in Mehsana district in Gujarat and Kurukshetra district in Haryana, undertaken with the support of HealthWatch Trust, it was observed that the last births had a stronger preponderance of boys than all other births. Although more than twice as many boys as girls were reported among the last births by most groups of women, among those women who belonged to upper castes, whose families were landed and who were literate, there were more than 240 males for every 100 girls in the last births (Visaria 2003) [...]
However, we observed some differences between women belonging to higher social groups and those who belonged to scheduled caste and other backward communities with regard to the influence of the in-laws in these matters. The high caste women had to inform and consult their in-laws but the low caste women had to obtain the consent of only their husbands for abortion. The influence of the extended joint family was not so strong on the decision of the women from lower caste groups. (italics mine).


indians do not qualify

picture this: a bank, in any indian town. outside the bank, a paanwallah, a sabziwallah and a small shopkeeper have been conducting business for over twenty years, ever since the bank was opened. it's a nice residential neighbourhood, and therefore neither the paanwallah nor the other two small businessmen live there. they live in a slum nearby.

will the bank ever lend any money to these three businessmen? so that they can move out of the slum? they've been working there, for the last twenty years, honestly and hard for more hours, every day, than any one in the bank itself. for twenty long years. does the bank trust them?

we can safely assume many of the employees in the bank know these three businessmen- some of them buy cigarettes, paan, others vegetables etc., some of them might even know that these three businessmen borrow money from moneylenders at very high interest, much higher than what borrowers from the bank pay. and also that they almost, always repay their loans on time. with interest. so, why doesn't the bank lend them money? they could definitely use it, reduce their costs, expand their profits and their businesses.

that's my question for all those sneering at american greed, gloating over the death of their banks, at their subprime crisis: why don't indian banks lend money to honest indians? the wikipedia says:
subprime lending is the practice of making loans to borrowers who do not qualify for market interest rates owing to various risk factors, such as income level, size of the down payment made, credit history, and employment status.
you see american capitalist greed, i see loans for people who do not qualify. in my view, the americans are human, you're definitely not. forget houses- 70% of indians do not have access to proper toilets. will indian banks ever lend money to those people? to groups who wish to build, say, community toilets?

no, you can't trust the indian poor. they will probably run away with the toilets.


kick the invidious telugus home

Raj launched a vitriolic attack on Mumbai Joint Police Commissioner (Law and Order) K L Prasad for his alleged remarks that "Mumbai does not belong to any individual".

"Prasad should remove his police uniform, badge and chair and come onto the street and then he will realise to whom Mumbai belongs," he said.

The MNS chief said Prasad's comments were unwarranted and that he would ask the Congress-NCP government in the state to deal sternly with such officers.
i hope prasad learns from that warning, and so do other telugus living in mumbai, bangalore chennai, new jersey, canada, chicago, st.louis, dallas, san fransisco, atlanta, detroit, washington d.c and elsewhere in the world. especially those living in bangalore and in north america.


nano ki amma

I guess, there may be other incentives/subsidies/dole-outs to make the "cheapest" car of the world - but I am not aware of those...
i'm over forty and i've a dirty memory:

back in the good old days, when you wanted to build a factory that made cars you had to stick to the strictest regulations. for instance, check regulation 00.00.01: the promoter should be the prime minister's son. and if you wanted to find land for the factory, no rules were bent for you. the chief minister of state x would himself look into the whole issue and personally deliver all papers and land to amma's office (i.e., your back office) within 7 working days (or six of your fun filled nights). back in the good old days, babus (and amma's chamchas) really worked.

compensation and rehabilitation used to be such clean, transparent arrangements: all points of contention so thoroughly discussed, deliberated and resolved by all parties concerned (you, your amma and amma's best chamcha, the chief minister) that the media could walk right past the process and see nothing. and neither could the people being compensated and rehabilitated (nor could you, actually, because nothing came out of your pocket). it used to be such a pleasure developing people in those days.

and finances weren't so easily available as they are now: the government was much more vigilant, the capital market more tightly regulated and the banks much more cautious. so you had to wait a long 24 or 48 hours after you'd identified your plot of land for the bankers to turn up, pitch their tents right inside your plot and gingerly fish out the millions you will one day not have to account for. your friendly, neighbourhood rbi governor did all the adding up later.

just because you were the only person in the country who could build a people's car didn't mean you'd get some special treatment from the government as the only person in the country who could build a people's car. you were treated just as normally as any other only person in the country who could build a people's car. but still people weren't prepared to wait (for a mere half a decade after they'd lent you money) for you to build the car. did the banias who'd lent shah jehan money to build the people's tomb for his wife pester him to return their deposits? no. they waited twenty two years for it to materialize and turn into the biggest tourist moneyspinner in the country (a couple of hundred years later). but some people couldn't wait for a mere half a decade ( and a decade)- could you honestly accuse amma of trying her best to help her son build the biggest, small people's tomb...er.. car? but some people did (good that amma retained some of the good governance practices from shah jehan's age to deal with such disgruntled people).

everything was done according to the letter of the law and nothing was disclosed even to the top brass (who knows? they might've wanted to play favourites considering you were the only person in the country who could build a people's car) in the government- that's how you build the people's confidence in industry, government and the whole process of development: by keeping everything confidential.

but the media still sniffed up foul play. what can you expect of some folks who do not understand the difference between business and government? business exploits, government takes care to see that no one is exploited. you'd exploit, even if you were the only person in the country who could build a people's car, so the government takes every care to see that your amma herself heads the government. if the government can't do business, it's best that its family and friends do it. that way, you can stand up straight if anyone ever accuses you of foul play and send them to jail. that's socialism folks, where no one's exploited and everyone shares the fruits of development equally- whether you're the only person in the country who can build a people's car or his amma or her best chamchas. and you don't even have to wait for any people's cars to be built for that to happen.


who benefits from food security?

definitely not the farmers in the country.

look at this scenario: the goi buys a quintal of milled rice at rs.1270 (assuming an m.s.p. of rs. 850 for paddy) in punjab. and sells it to food deficit states in the north east (say, mizoram) at rs. 565 a quintal. the mizo government sells it at fair price shops, adding (or deducting, actually) its own subsidy at rs. 5 per kg (or rs. 500 per quintal) to the poor. a subsidy of (rs. 1270 minus rs. 500) rs. 770 per quintal (or rs. 7.70 per kg)- the poor in mizoram should be happy, right? the poor in mizoram should be happier than that: because the subsidy isn't just rs. 770 per quintal (or rs. 7.70 per kg). it's much more than that.

according to an estimate, the goi (through fci) spends around rs. 760 on carrying and handling every quintal of rice. that's on an average. now, the distance between punjab and the northeast is much more than what could be considered average- wouldn't the costs be much higher? say, rs. 1200? wouldn't that mean that the total subsidy actually comes to, something like, rs. 1970 (or, rounding off, rs. 2000) per every quintal of rice?

now, what should actually cost the wholesale trader, not even the consumer, in mizoram rs. 2500 or more (per quintal, or, rs 25. per kg) is sold at rs. 500 (or one fifth the actual cost, not the price) to the poor in mizoram.

let's leave the poor alone (for this post) and consider the poor mizo farmer. would he be happy with this situation? if there weren't any pds (or msp mechanism operating) in mizoram, rice would probably be selling at rs. 40 a kg at retail stores in the state. and taking into account all other costs, the mizo farmer would probably be making rs. 20 a kg (or, rs. 2000 a quintal of paddy, at worst) instead of the rs. 850 (at best) a quintal he makes now.

why should he be happy?
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