Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Saffron Perspective of Green Terrorism

An Indian National Congress rally in Mumbai.
Courtesy: Al Jazeera English  on Flickr | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Since, in India, the right wing political activism has been painted the colour Saffron, often without giving much thought and insight to its ideologue, I would like to term my views of ex-environment minister, Jayanthi Natrajan's criminal adventurism in office for as long as 3 years - Saffron Perspective of Green Terrorism.

This when Natrajan had no more than ludicrous reasons like "can't recall why final approval was delayed" in view of a project having clearances regarding Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) or "I wanted a holistic (probably doing a Manish Tewari) study of river basin" in case of a project cleared by Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) and hundreds of such projects.

Last month whenmuch dreaded Gujarat CM went ballistic over her policies by terming them a "Jayanthi Tax", little did populace know that his state alone suffered more than 1/3 of Rs. 3 lakh crore investment menace attributed to this one woman, who was at the helm of affairs in Pariyavaran Bhawan in New Delhi.

Her unilateral environmental vigilantism proved death-blow in an economic scenario where maverick troika of Manmohan Singh, P. Chidamabaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia toyed with policies to bring about an annual inflation of over 7 percent (in industrial parlance), resulting in candid slaps to the tune of Rs 2,100 crores under not-so-savvy tag of 'cost escalation' in major infrastructure projects entailing investments similar to Rs 30,000 crore. The gravity of these economic crimes is more evident and further manifests itself a social trouble when these resulted in holding back of power generation projects in a country which suffered a peak electricity shortage  of 4881 MW in September 2013 (it is another thing that Indian government is very active in pursuing electricity sales to neighbouring countries like Pakistan, failing in delivery at domestic front).

In her own admission, Jayanthi told Parliament that 330 projects were stuck in her ministry's office in August 2013. The whole disaster no longer surprises a disillusioned electorate which has suffered the, arguably, most corrupt government in independent India's history. This is no wonder under puppet leadership of a Sardar mired in  Coal Block allocation scam, while his 'high-command' goes on a bizarre dole drive with national treasury at her disposal.

Much to a self-respecting citizen's chagrin, it yet again took a rap, a thumb-up and probably tearing up of some 'confidential' under table deals by dynasty's scion, most probably in an image-building PR drive, to figure out Natrajan's maladies and force her resignation on the eve of prince/heir's FICCI adventure in late December 2013.

Reference: India Today - Jan 27'2014 edition, Special Report.

Friday, January 17, 2014


A bus travelling through vast fields.
Courtesy: World Bank Photo Collection on Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Late winter , air was still cold and dry. One would shiver given the harsh environment. They had begun gathering and load luggage in the bus. Meeting and greeting every new-comer. There are smiles and chatter all around but his is an anxious soul. He has made some plans for the trip but he could hardly include his fancies. As the night grows deeper, people start boarding the bus and taking up seats.

He is early to board and blocks two seats. As she enters the bus, he can do little to stop himself from wishing her to sit beside him. But as she takes a seat two rows away from him, not even recognizing his presence, he becomes a bit more sullen and decides to go to a lonely corner window seat in the back of the bus. He unconsciously wishes no one to be aside him and spontaneously, in his brain, decides to keep everyone away.

As the front seats in bus are no longer available, this damsel thin and clad quite candidly takes the seat beside him. Without being asked he tells her, "I am not closing the window, even when the bus is at full speed." She simply nodes and shrugs her shoulders and leans back in the seat while talking to a figure in bus's corridor. He keeps silence. Bus jostles and makes slow movement on city streets. The wind is hurting him, but he is adamant. He can still bear it as the city is still warm and his jacket is thick.

He is deep in thought. By now the bus is on city outskirts and moving swiftly as traffic has now dwindled down. The winds are coarse and blunt. He braves them in the face, keeping his pride intact. His back towards his co-passenger, he is not aware of the discomfort being caused to her. Suddenly, he feels a hand on his shoulder. He is suddenly mild and no more rigid, she whispers, "Please, close the window". Making no arguement, he just closes the window silently trying to plug the gaps that might leak wind to her. He is careful, yet aware not to let it be evident. Through the night he gazes at her, making just mild talk. His brittle surface giving into a warm interior.

By the day break, bus has reached its destination. The party is supposed to move to the train for their journey onwards. The hustle-bustle is back again. The night's silence lost. And the companions having moved as swiftly as they had come together just for a journey amongst hundreds of days. Train honks as the orange-red sun begins to warm the Earth on South-Eastern horizon...