Crossing the Lines

When Harbhajan Singh abused Andrew Symonds as “Teri M**key”, Symonds complained to the authorities that he was racially abused. But Harbhajan didn’t mean “monkey”, it was much more disgusting. We don’t know whether anybody explained it to Andrew Symonds but such expletives are common in North India and Pakistan. In the ambience of a tough cricket match such words are commonly used and therefore Harbhajan Singh got away without much trouble.

The alumni of famous Banaras Hindu University “fondly” recollect “Inter College Inter Hostel Gali” competition night, where the male boarders outshout  male students from other hostels. The “Galis” or abuses are directed at mothers and sisters. Talented young men of the University show their talents in framing innovative Hindi expletives but again using “mother” and “sister” words.

In January 2017 a video went viral which showed Vijay Shekhar Sharma ,India’s business icon celebrating the profits gifted by demonetization. In the video he was dancing and shouting expletives. We all know what those expletives are.

We are habituated to such words and normalize and get along. But somewhere we cross the lines.

Scene 1:

The senior professional was making a comparative analysis of two products,one product from his company and the other product from a competitor company “E****r”. The senior professional said “See guys, E****r has s*****d the product, pardon ladies”.  The lady professionals smiled and took it in good spirit. When the gentleman ended his long speech, another professional complemented him by saying “So guys, let’s s***w E****r ,pardon ladies”. There was smile all around again.

Scene 2:

The senior sales professional was lecturing about “passion” and to be “passionate” . He said “Passion is like …I will s***w a sixteen year old girl even at the age of sixty”. All the female employees in the room walked out.

No doubt in Scene2  the senior sales professional crossed the lines.

And perhaps Papon crossed the lines and I presume he can’t  escape the legal dragnet. But the media trial to project him as a pervert is not acceptable.


স্বচ্ছ সৰ্বেক্ষণ

গুৱাহাটীৰ বাটে পথে “স্বচ্ছ সৰ্বেক্ষণ” ৰ প্ৰাচীৰ পত্ৰিকা দেখিছো ।“ স্বচ্ছ সৰ্বেক্ষণ” শব্দ যুটি শুনি ধাৰনা হয় যে এয়া অসমী্য়া ভাষাত এক নতুন স্ংযোজন । স্বচ্ছ যাক ইংৰাজী ভাষাত কোৱা হয় TRANSPARENT বুলি । সৰ্বেক্ষন শব্দৰ অৰ্থ সম্পৰ্কে মই নিশ্চিত ন্হয় ।প্ৰাচীৰ পত্ৰিকা বিলাকৰ দ্বাৰা চৰকাৰে সম্ভব্ত পৰিস্কাৰ পৰিচ্ছনতাৰ বিষয়ে অবগত কৰিব বিচাৰিছে ।

দুখৰ বিষয় যে আমি অসমত এটা স্বচ্ছ(TRANSPARENT) ব্যব্স্থা অথবা পৰিস্কাৰ পৰিচ্ছ্ন্ন পৰিবেশ নাপালো ।

ভাৰত  চৰকাৰৰ  এটি  বিশেষ পদক্ষেপ “ স্বচ্ছ ভাৰত অভিযান” । এই অভিযান  অবশ্যে বিফল হোৱা বুলি কোৱা  অতি সৰলীকৰণ কৰা হব ।কিছুদিন আগতে মধ্যপ্ৰ্দেশৰ বানিজ্যিক চহৰ  ইন্দোৰ  ভ্ৰ্মন কৰি মই এই ধাৰনা লবলৈ বাধ্য হ’লো ।

ইন্দোৰ  চহৰৰ বাট পথ পৰিপাটী  তথা পৰিস্কাৰ । বিশেসকৈ মন্দিৰ বিলাকৰ  চৌহদ সমূহ অতি  পৰিচ্ছ্ন্ন ।

জানিব পাৰিলো যে ২০১৭ চনত ইন্দোৰ  ভাৰতৰ  সবাতোকৈ পৰিস্কাৰ  চহৰ  হিচাপে  স্বীকৃত হৈছিল।

এই  সাফল্য  নিশ্চিতভাবে মধ্য প্ৰ্দেশ (ভা জ পা) চৰকাৰৰ, তাৰ প্ৰ্শাসনৰ লগতে ৰাজ্যখনৰ জনসাধাৰণৰ ।

State Power Scenario: The Assam Tribune Editorial

While reading the editorial I felt that I had read it before also. It does not contain any fresh information. It is widely acknowledged that the power scenario in Assam is grim. The state owned power companies are not doing well.  It referred to some ADB loan to state power sector but there is no elaboration.

But the editorial does not mention a word about Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana or UDAY scheme which is considered as the key solution for the debt ridden loss making state owned power distribution companies. Government of Assam, central power ministry and Assam Power Distribution Company entered into an agreement in January last year bringing the state of Assam under the purview of UDAY scheme. The UDAY scheme presents a roadmap of turning around the state power sector. The Assam Tribune editorial was expected to highlight the progress made under UDAY scheme in one year.

At present the all India power scenario is also vexing. The country as a whole is facing a situation of excess capacity but inadequate demand,making power generation unprofitable business. Therefore to talk about self sufficiency in power generation is inappropriate, at least in the prevailing circumstances.

The Assam Tribune editorial is apprehensive about power tariff hike by the government in future. But the state is bound to hike power tariff as per UDAY scheme.

The editorial board is expected to do more research on issues of serious importance.

DIDI 1.25

How did she get the figure of 1.25 crore ? The leader of none other than Bengali Youth Federation , Assam made a candid statement that Muslims speaking Bengali language are not considered as Bengalis at least in Assam.

The Bangladesh origin Muslims are called “Miyas” in Assam. A section of Assamese intellectuals  coined a term “Na Asomiya” (New Assamese) to describe the community, but  the use of the term has never been widespread.

At a personal  level  many Bangladesh origin Muslims are known to me. All of them refuse to acknowledge that they are “Bengalis”, though their first language is various dialects spoken in  Bangladesh viz Sylheti and Mymensingiah.

Despite hostilities for decades the Bangladesh origin Muslims are  going to Assamese medium schools for their education in interior and difficult terrains such as river islands, remote villages in Baska, Chirang and Udalguri districts.

Also there exists an organization called “Asom Miya (Asomiya) Parishad”  the founders of which perhaps tried to establish that “Asomiya” (Assamese) is essentially “Asom Miya”.

Despite all that people of Bangladesh origin are a serious political threat to indigenous population of Assam only for their numerical strength and high birth rate and perhaps for the unabated influx from Bangladesh. If corrective measures are not taken, then the fate of indigenous population of Assam will be the same as the indigenous population of Tripura. The same apprehension is acknowledged by the Government of India, Supreme Court of India and many others and therefore we have things like Assam Agitation, Assam Accord, NRC etc.

If we talk about the undisputed Bengalis or Hindu Bengalis, they are also Bangladesh origin people but enjoy special treatment from the present ruling party. There is a commitment by the ruling party to grant citizenship to all Hindu Bengalis irrespective of their date of entry into Assam even if it violates the Assam Accord. Though smaller in number than their Muslim counterpart , Hindu Bengalis also constitute a significant part of the state population and they are a major political force.

We learn that since 1985(the year of signing of the Assam Accord) little less than 1 lac persons have been identified as illegal immigrants. The government says some of them are “deported back” some (most) are “absconding” and a few thousand are in detention camps at the cost of taxpayers money.

What was published on 31st December midnight is just a “draft” NRC. We don’t know what the final NRC will indicate regarding the number of illegal immigrants. Then again anybody can challenge non inclusion in NRC in courts.

How did Mamata Bannerjee come to know that 1.25 crore “Benaglis” will be thrown out of Assam is a mystery. So far I did not hear anything from her about the already detected 1 lac illegal immigrants in Assam. Though a state politician she has raised her voice against the injustice done to Rohingyas in Mynamar. But she has not called “Rohingyas” as Bengalis. Another point , Myanmar authorities don’t accept the term “Rohingya” and call them “Bengali” but Bangladesh refuses to accept them as “Bengalis”.

A friend of mine from Dhubri, who is also  a Bangladesh origin Muslim, WhattsApped me a message about the plight of Rohingyas. The message is reproduced below.


ৰোহিঙ্গা মুছলিম সকলক বচাবলৈ ভোট চলি আছে


এই মেচেজ টো যিমান share হব সিমান ভোট পাব।
গতিকে আপোনালোকৰ ওচৰত হাত যোৰ কৰি প্ৰাৰ্থনা কৰোঁ যে সকলো whatsapp গ্ৰুপ আৰু সকলো ব্যক্তিক যাতে send কৰে

The Whattsapp message is written in impeccable Assamese.

Demand Driven Financial Inclusion

In a recently published article, a former Principal Adviser and Head of the Monetary Policy Department, Reserve Bank of India  has made some important comments .

1)Supply driven financial inclusion does not work.

2)Banks’ lending activities through BCs are negligible.

3) The compensation in the case of the BC model is awfully inadequate compared to the services expected from them.

A panel discussion participated by eminent bankers and policymaker from NITI Ayog, Amitabh Kant, in a business news channel also highlighted some key points on financial inclusion.

Payment Bank, which is another state sponsored move towards financial inclusion was not mentioned in the article noted above. But in the panel discussion the host journalist raised the issue and correctly stated that payment bank as a business model is not working out to be viable. She asked the panelists if  payment banks may be allowed to do micro lending.

The answer to the question by a banker baffled me. According to him a payment bank can be a BC of a regular bank and carry out lending on behalf of the bank.

The contradiction in the answer is there in point number 2 noted above. Having watched the BC model closely for years I can reconfirm that banks, specially PSU banks are not using the BC channel for lending or micro lending purpose. I am also not sure if a regular bank will be happy to have a payment bank as its BC given that it is a competitor in providing basic banking services.

There is no doubt that many of these lowly compensated BC agents are providing excellent services in interior and unbanked locations. During demonetization these BC agents helped the government to keep the situation under control.  Therefore an implied conclusion that the BC model has failed is factually incorrect.

In the article noted above there is no reference to another government sponsored entity “small finance bank” which is one more concept to bring about financial inclusion. Unlike payment bank nobody doubts the viability of a small finance bank. Despite the presence of small finance banks and traditional MFIs ,poor borrowers are sometimes charged @ 24-34 percent per annum(indicated in the article noted above)

We are keen to see a “demand driven” financial inclusion model. Involving BC channel/ payment bank for lending activities may be a step in this direction.

ইতিহাস নে লোককথা

কেইদিনমান আগতে এজন মাৰোৱাৰী ব্যৱসায়ীৰ লগত  কথা পাতিব লগীয়া হৈছিল । কথা প্ৰ্সংগত ৰাজ নীতিৰ কথাও ওলাল । ধাৰনা হ্’ল  যে তেও এজন মোদী  ভক্ত । বিভিন্ন বিষয়্ত মন্তব্য ৰাখি তেও ২০০৭ চনৰ দুখজনক ‘ বেলতলা কান্দ’ ৰ কথাও ক’লে ।“ সেইদিনা খন ৰাজ্ পথত  বহু গৰাকী আদীবাসী মহিলা ধৰ্ষিতা হৈছিল । বহুজনক হ্ত্যা কৰা হৈছিল ”। তেও কৈ গ’ল। অনুভব কৰিলো যে মাত্ৰ দহ বছৰত ইতিহাস নতুন কৈ লিখা হ’ল ।

টেলিভিচনৰ বিতৰ্ক অনুস্থানত ‘পদ্মাবতী’ ৰ বিষয়ে কিছু কথা দেখিছো বা শুনিছো । পদ্মাবতী ৰ বিষয়ে স্কুলৰ পাঠ্যক্ৰ্মত কিবা আছিল নেকি আজি স্পস্ত্কে মনত নাই। সেই সময়ত বুৰঞ্জী বাধ্যতা মূলক বিষয় আছিল ।“অমৰ চিত্ৰ কথা” পঢ়িও কিছু কথা জানিছিলো ।

টেলিভিচনৰ বিতৰ্ক অনুস্থানত ভাগ লৈ জয়পুৰৰ ৰাজ পৰি্য়ালৰ লোকে কৰা মন্তব্য শুনি কিছু বিমোৰত পৰিলো । ইতিহাসৰ সাধাৰন জ্ঞানেৰে কব পাৰো যে জয়্পুৰ বা অম্বৰৰ ৰাজ পৰিয়াল দিল্লীৰ মুছ্লমান শাসক সকলৰ সহযোগী আছিল ।অসম আক্ৰ্মন কাৰী মোগল সেনাৰ সেনাপতি আছিল অম্বৰৰ ৰজা ৰাম সিংহ ।

লাচিত বৰফুকনৰ জীবন ভিত্তিত কোনো কথাচবি নিৰ্মান হ’লে তাত ৰাম সিংহক ৰাজপুত দেশ প্ৰেমিক হিচাপে প্ৰদৰ্শন কৰা সম্ভব নহব। আনহাতে ৰাম সিংহ মোগলৰ সেনাপতি হোৱা কথাটো মোগল শাসকৰ ধৰ্ম নিৰপেক্ষ চৰিত্ৰ বুলিও কোৱাৰ থল আছে।

বুৰঞ্জী ব্যাখ্যানিৰ্ভৰ । আনহাতে সৃস্তিশীলতাক স্বাধীনতাৰ প্ৰয়োজন ।অবশ্যে এই স্বাধীনতা কিছুমান দায়বধ্যতাৰ পৰিসীমাৰ ভিতৰত হে প্ৰযোয্য ।

Turbidity in Brahmaputra Water

I crossed the river twice over the bridge today and tried to assess if  water flowing in the river is more muddy. I failed to do because I could not recollect how much muddy it was when I travelled last. Based on what I read and saw in the media I was thinking of postponing  buying fish. So I called up my friend in Majuli hoping that he might have more insights.

The feedback is that the water is more muddy  than ever before. In some place fishes and cows died after drinking the river water (but the news is again based on what he read or saw in the media). Fishing is not banned by the authorities till date.

The turbidity of Brahmaputra water was in the news in early December 2017. We were about to forget, then a Member of Parliament from Odisha raised the issue in Parliament.  The government says that it is serious about the issue and will take “necessary steps”.

The actions and reactions on the issue are inconclusive till now. We have only talked about China, tunnels, dams and even earthquakes.  If newspaper reports are correct, water samples are being tested in laboratories of IITs, state Public Health Engineering department and many other places. The results are not yet made public.  But the state ministers have expressed different views on record (on the degree of the threat).

On the other hand there is an ad by the state government regarding a MoU with Isha Foundation on river rejuvenation. In fact I was expecting a similar ad on Brahmaputra dredging.

I understand Isha foundation spreads the awareness about the need of planting trees on river banks. It is a novel idea. But is it the solution for tackling the menaces of flood and erosion of Brahmaputra? In the past erosion had taken place in the state despite forest cover.

Another concern expressed by Isha foundation is about depleting rivers. But its stand on hydroelectric power  generation  dams is not known. We observe that Ranganadi river in Lakhimpur district flows only when NEEPCO releases excess water. In normal course Ranganadi river is dead due to dams constructed by NEEPCO.  Will Isha Foundation and Government of Assam clarify on this?

About Virushka, Tuscany & Five Star Culture

Marriages are made in Tuscany : “India needs  people to allocate some of their enormous wealth to finding ways to mitigate the hardship that people have” Ratan Tata said commenting about “Antilia” where Ambanis live.

The media is congratulating Virushka, but nobody seems to be critical about the money spent by them to get married.

The celebrities are not expected to be virtuous like Ratan Tata. But when I question myself, I fail to pat my own back. My net worth value is laughable, but when I got married ten years ago I spent as much as I could afford and at no point I reflected on the values propagated by Ratan Tata and other great individuals.

But Virat Kohli is already a Padm Shri.  He is a potential Bharat Ratna. Anuhska Sarma is an award winning actor and she is all set for major civilian awards.

Gini Ratio : Gini ratio is a measure of inequality of wealth distribution .It is believed that the ratio is at all time high level in India presently. Surprisingly Afghanistan , Pakistan and Bangladesh are doing better in tackling  inequality in comparison to India.

Tackling inequality is a state policy.  Individuals are free to spend the way they want.

Back home the government is blamed for promoting “Five Star“ culture. It is difficult to ignore the allegation. Venue of government meetings need not be in Vivanta or Raddisson Blue.

Pork Biryani @ Ahom Kitchen

Biryani is an Urdu word perhaps originating from Persian word “birinj” which means rice. The food was first served to the army of Muslim invader Timur. Another story says that Mumtaz (adored by Shah Jahan but  not so acceptable to the saffron brigade)one day felt that the Mughal army was not looking fit and energetic. So she invented biryani which perhaps reinvigorated the army.

Biryani is the national dish of Pakistan, while in India we are thinking of giving the status to Khichdi.

No doubt biryani has Islamic connection.

But pork is banned in all Islamic countries, perhaps for the religious belief that flesh of swine(pig) is impure. Again there are contradictions. The founder of Pakistan, MA Jinnah ate pork. Also Pakistani businessmen supply boar (wild pig, as domestication of pig is prohibited in Pakistan perhaps pigs are found there in jungles only) to western troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Having skipped breakfast, I was hungry when I entered “Ahom Kitchen” restaurant at Srimanta Sankardev Path, Guwahati  in the afternoon. To see”Pork Biryani” in the menu was a mouth watering and thought provoking experience. But the price tag stopped me from devouring the pork biryani and I settled for more economical items.

Though the state is ruled by the saffron party, we are essentially secular and therefore pork and biryani can coexist.

When Gabbar Singh Visited Madras

I don’t subscribe to RSS leader Tarun Vijay’s  view that South Indians  are black people. But I feel that South Indians are different from North Indians or East Indians in various attributes.

I  found it difficult to digest when I saw  my friend  from Chennai, Pradeep  enjoying curd mixed with onion. I had minor scuffles with Pradeep when I asked him why he can’t eat anything without coconut hair oil and why on his sister’s wedding day their father  was wearing a lungi (as per photographs shown to me). Pradeep was quick  to point out that it was coconut oil but not hair oil and his father was wearing a dhoti and not a  lungi.

A friend of mine told me that Madras (now Chennai) was coined by the British combining English words Mad and Race, based on their experiences with the people of east coast of south India. But I am unable to validate the story from any reliable source.

We must concede that among Indians ,Tamils have snatched the glory of intellectual superiority from Bengalis in recent times. Therefore someone like Subramanyan Swami can confidently say in a talk show that South Indians are more intelligent than the rest. South India presents the success story of post Independent India and South Indians have done it by virtue of their talent.

But what I find difficult to understand is Tamil Nadu politics and its mysterious connection with Tamil cinema. It began with Karunanidhi  in nineteen seventies when he became the Chief Minister of the state. Apart from being a Dravidian leader he was a screen writer in Tamil film industry. We learn that he used Tamil cinema to propagate his political ideas. Karunanidhi  in his nineties is still active in Tamil Nadu politics but I don’t know if his link with Tamil film industry is still intact. Today it is very difficult to defend him from allegations such as promoting dynasty, corruption and opportunism. In any case he is an undisputed leader of his party .

MG Ramachandran ,who  became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu  three times was primarily a hero in Tamil film industry. I am not sure if he is remembered as movie star or a Chief Minister.

J Jayalalitha who was the Chief Minister six times was originally an award winning actress. Till her death she was an unchallenged leader of her party despite serious corruption charges against her.

So  we keenly watch political moves by Tamil superstars Rajinikanth (another surprise, he is actually a Gaekwad) and Kamal Haasan—are they the future Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu?

Why then another Tamil star Vijay leave behind? So he made “Mesral”  and  reportedly talked about dry subjects like GST, digital India and healthcare. But the unbelievable fact is the commercial success of the movie. Figures indicate that the business done by the movie is at least ten times more than the revenue generated by the most popular Assamese movie of our times “ Mission China”.

What I read in economic surveys is that Tamil Nadu leads many Indian states in providing quality healthcare. I am also sure people engage in high quality debates on GST or digital India in Tamil Nadu. I wonder if a commercial movie can give more insights on GST.

No doubt it is easier to criticize the demonetization decision. But GST is through a consensus (except the ordinance, timing and event management part). Most of the opposition ruled states have opted for GST and are actively participating in GST council meets.  So if GST is flawed then the other political parties are also accountable. Rahul Gandhi is not absolved only because he says “GST is Gabbar Singh Tax”.