Eradicating the Evils of Corruption

Corruption is a cancer eating into the vitals of our society. It does not allow the under developed and developing nations to transcend and become developed nations. Most developing countries are doing well on many fronts – except tackling corruption – which in turn affects many development projects and impacts the grassroots by depriving the marginalised of essential benefits.

The rich are growing richer at the cost of the poor.

What is needed is a one-stop solution for solving the evil of Corruption.

The solution has to change the face of our society and take it from the downward path to one of upward growth.

One ideal solution would be, to register every citizen uniquely using their biometric (all finger prints, all fingers or palm vein) and issue Multi Purpose Biometric Smart Card cum Debit Card, linked to a Cashless Money Account.

Every transaction of every individual and organisation will be made through the Biometric Smart Card and the transactions will be made transparent on the web.

A suitable ‘e-Administration’ communication and transparency tool should be available for tracking all communications and compliance online by anyone anywhere. This would minimise corruption, to the point of eliminating it. It will create a level playing field.

Total transparency and accountability needs to be made a way of life. Every transaction must be made public, for public scrutiny. This would deter us from doing any thing on the sly.

We need to create a new world order, where every citizen has an equality of opportunity, and allow every individual to explore their potentials to the maximum.

This would encourage everyone to contribute their full potential, for the growth of the community and society at large without impeding the growth of others.

– Written by Kris Dev, ICT and e-Governance Consultant with 30 years global experience in Asia and Americas.

Bangalore : ‘BYTE’-ing the dust ? – Part2

Part-1 of this series : Surviving the BYTE, recounted how Bangalore transformed from a city with calm and undeniable charm, to a commotion ridden beast. With both the locals and the non-locals complicit to it’s downfall, Bangalore seemed to be headed for doom. What with the backbone of Bangalore — IT, threatening to pull out and the IT Czars publicly threatening to desert the city unless they were satiated. Is Bangalore BYTE-ing the dust ? Not yet. Not even in the conceivable future.

Much has changed since 2004-05, when the IT Czars threatened a pullout. Not only did they come back to the city, they now have major expansion plans as well. The cultural tension between the locals and the non-locals, still exists ; but people have found a way around it. Bad infrastructure and politics, is endured — albeit grudgingly. Was there some magic pill for all the ill ? Yes, money. Apparently there is nothing like the sound of money. Despite the problems, the city has seen an un-abated flow of foreign equity investments. With it, the IT giants realized they cannot afford to not have a major presence in Bangalore. The jobs are still abundant, the local economy is booming, malls and restaurants are sprouting everywhere. Despite the glaring issues, Bangalore is working — very well at that, and the doomsdayish predictions from 2004-05 have abated and the death knells halted.

Of late, there are other new developments among locals — a new wave of outspoken, at times brash youngsters, who, affected by the changes they saw, are vociferous about their presence. In these youngsters, there is a palpable sense of linguistic pride and Kannada usage. Changes are elsewhere too : the once defunct Kannada movies is seeing a golden run — probably not seen since the glorious days of Puttanna Kanagal ; Kannada TV serials have iconic following ; art expos like ‘chitra santhe‘ have sprouted ; FM stations have a mixture of offerings, Kannada included ; when pushed back by non-Kannadigas, the local youth is fighting back — was not the case 5-6 years ago. This is seen as a much needed antidote to the city that has endured the BYTE’ing. Among the locals : veterans, youngsters and everyone in between included, seem to approve of this quasi-cultural awakening.

The Kannada awakening, culminating with outspoken demeanor : Orkut groups like ‘Gaanchali Bidu Kannada Maatadu‘ have created a sense of realization in the non-Kannadiga populace. They seem to get the need to blend in. Many cities would cringe with a 70% non-local population and Bangalore is no different. Bangalore has always had the reputation of being a cosmopolitan city ; it still is, else, it would not have been hospitable to the massive influx (and we are far from seeing the end of it).

Dwelling on the cultural/linguistic rift, why does it exist ? When threatened by a loss of identity in their own backyard, local populace views non-locals as outsiders thus forcing the local culture to stand up and show spine. That’s what is happening in Bangalore. Increased and vocal dis approvals, many rightly so, as in the case of Railways conniving to stack it’s offices in Karnataka with Biharis, and some, not rightly so, like reservations in software sector for locals (quite rightly rejected by the Czars), have increased. There is a definitive shift in the status-quo.

When a culture opens it’s doors, voluntarily or by the compulsions of economics, the onus is on the emigres to acknowledge the gesture, blend in and be a part of it’s success. Most countries mandate that. Why should it be any different when it is between states of India, where the cultures-language-cuisine is so different as in say, two European countries ? When you decide to come live in a different culture, is it too much to expect that you blend in and not stick out like a sore thumb ? If you do stick out, and more so as a group unto itself and hence a clenched fist rather — not just a sore thumb, with scant disregard for the host’s feelings, it is bound to stress the cultural fabric, no matter how venerable or how evolved the culture is. You see these fissures in Karnataka-TN or Maharashtra-Gujrat or USA-Mexico. Hence the quote, when in Rome, be a Roman..

There is no doubt, the non-locals ought to do more in Bangalore : blend in, learn the basics of the new culture, treat this as their home and not a pit-stop/alien land. Some signs of that happening are evident. We Kannadigas can do better as well. The Kannada awakening was much needed and is good. But we need to control the tone of it. I would much rather say ‘Jamba bidu Kannada Maatadu'(discard the false pride, learn Kannada) than a ‘Gaanchali Bidu Kannada Maatadu'(discard the arrogance, learn Kannada — though seemingly innocuous, gaanchali is oft used with prefixes that makes it potent, hence the disdain..). We are better than that.

Yes, there are changes, some for the better, some for the worse. But change is the only thing that’s constant. I believe most people in our country are fair and, are cognizant of the fact that, they, have a mutual stake in the success of one another. Given the above inevitability, there is an underlying dormant sense of camaraderie that needs tapped. Once done, it furthers individual development while contributing to the growth of our nation. We Bangaloreans, locals and non-locals included, have been the beacons of change in Software, Hardware and Bio-tech arenas. We can, again, be the change that unfurls the melting pot of India — Bangalore, and, be proud of it. All of this, without losing our identity or individuality – The whole being greater than the sum of parts.

Bangalore : Surviving the ‘BYTE’ – Part1

With an undeniable laid back charm, not so long ago, Bangalore was your quaint old south Indian city — a pensioner’s paradise and a garden city. Misty mornings heralded the start of beautiful, often sunny days. Laden with rich aroma of filter coffee, crisp morning air soon displaced this misty blur. The tune of suprabhata would fill the neighborhoods from some one’s old transistor. Close on the heels of milk and newspaper delivery, the ubiquitous darshinis(eateries) readied their fare for the morning commuters. As the Suprabhatas turned to news, a steady stream of traffic would fill the roads and the eateries.Good Morning Bangalore.

Passing the baton, the short-lived ‘peak hour’ bustle, would lead into a warm mid morning calm. As the postman did his rounds, retirees perused the newspapers on their patios, soaking in the morning’s tender sun. Ladies bartered sugar, coffee and gossip standing across the compound walls in the shade of the omnipresent coconut trees. Selling his interesting wares, a hawker or two would often lead to an emergency session of the street Parliament — cartels formed, deals negotiated, decisions made and the news of a good buy reaching the other end of the street in seconds ! Life was easy. The whistle of the pressure cooker, often the spoiler of such fun, ushered the lunch hour. Fresh cooked anna, saaru, palya would fill the noon air. Bon-Appetite. Lunch made way for a calmer afternoon good till the kids came running home.

Evenings were never dull either : kids playing at street corners ; teenagers chatting away endlessly at the front gates ; walks on Sampige or Margosa roads ; idyllic meetings of seniors in Jayanagar-4th block complex; savoring panipuriat Ramakrishna Ashram or Seshadripuram ; the street market bustle of Malleshwaram 8th cross or Gandhi Bazaar, evenings had their share of simplistic fun before a staple of TV and dinner. There was much to be happy about in this predictable, chaos free simplicity.

Though a generalization, Bangaloreans have always loved simplicity. They take great pride in their simple happiness pursuits. Simple, polite, family oriented are some qualities that are a commonplace in Karnataka as the Bisibele Bhath, Kodubale and Akki Rotti. Do not let the unassuming simplicity fool you, for quite a few successful people hail from Bangalore — after all, the software boom did not happen by itself.

Even in the most famous of it’s sons, Kannadigas have a sense of obeisance to an inner discipline and simplicity. To me, a prime example is Anil Kumble : while playing, he is one of the more grittier and determined cricketers our country has seen (remember his fractured jaw strapped into place by a thick bandage, an injured Kumble, returned to claim Lara’s wicket in the Windies tour of 2002 ), while off the field, he is possibly the nicest, most unassuming person you will meet. Kannadigas bring that attitude and charm to what they do.

The non-stoic stance, the welcoming nature, beautiful weather, abundance of scientific brainpower and the cost arbitrage to outsource led to a steady flow of traffic — of software companies. MNCs and software companies, people who wanted to be in these companies, their vehicles and their baggage in tow(emotional & cultural), made a beeline for Bangalore — cumulatively changing it for ever. This influx led to the software wave, crowning Bangalore as the numero-uno of the Indian software hubs — ‘The Silicon Valley of India’. This gold rush had not gone unnoticed and there was a huge stream of people trickling into Bangalore from various parts of India. Local businesses and non-local job aspirants alike benefited from this growth and wealth. Seemed like a win-win situation — till it got out of hand. With the crown and the wealth, came woes : uncontainained traffic, soaring real estate prices, failing infrastructure and, last but not the least — a melange of people.

Per reliable estimates, only 30 per cent of Bangalore’s residents speak the local language, Kannada, today. The last decade of IT boom that put Bangalore on the global map, also made it a city dominated by non-localites. There is, of course, no justification for saying that any region of India be inhabited by members of one linguistic community only, in case of Bangalore, the Kannadigas(and all it’s flavors). But often the reality is too twisted to be framed to such idealistic frameworks.

Very many of the new entrants did not do much to help the situation either. For most parts, they chose to live in their own groups, often not blending with the locals or picking up basics of Kannada ; thanks in part to a lack of need for it and, in part due to a misguided sense of linguistic pride — picking up Kannada tantamounting to reduced allegiance to their mother tongue. When in a new city, there is hardly any bad in seeking people who hail from your hometown — it is almost second nature. The problem started when these groups became vocal and abrasive to the extent that it made the locals feel unwelcome in their localities.

Early 90s set the stage for the future things to come when the discontentment poured into the streets during the Cauveri water disputes . The water dispute was the last straw and a reason. Violence marred the city. Chennai returning the favor, just added to the fire. The tension is very much alive even today and flows in the moment water levels in Cauveri recedes.

Like I have stated, many a times : ‘Politicians are like diapers — almost always full of crap ; if not, it’s just a matter of time’. Among these politicians, Karnataka is blessed with the worst of their ilk. Add to this, the woes of traffic congestion, rising real estate prices, bridges and flyovers built where one was not needed and eventually ending up impeding the traffic flow (after construction dragging on for years), IT Czars threatening to walk out on the city and the state. It was chaos.


Was it just chaos or, was it the sound of Bangalore’s death knell ? Is Bangalore BYTE’ing the dust? Read on in part-2 ..