Oct 302005

was talking to my grandmother and my periappa this mornin g. Both Chennai and AP seem to be floating in tons of water.

Both asked me why MSM doesnt’ seem to think that Chennai and Vizag deserve national coverage. Afterall, a whole chunk of the audience – especially the English viewing one – seems to be sitting there.

My grandmother said “they (the MSM) don’t consider anything South of Narmada to be part of India”

What she said rankled, but it seems true. I can understand the Hindi news channels not carrying too much on the floods – assuming that Hindi caters to a regional audience – but surely the English channels and papers could have done a bit more.

check out Jaggy’s photofeature on the floods in Chennai here.

Oct 302005

This from the DNA

A labourer’s wife has been sold off by his employer because of the former’s inability to repay debt in Gothada village of the district, police said on Friday.

Kanwarlal used to work at Karulal’s farm along with his wife, Shardabai. Kanwarlal used to take credit from the farm owner and the debt on his head had accumulated to Rs 5,000.

Unable to repay the debt, the labourer left his wife with his employer around three months back.

The victim kept working in the accused’s farm. Shardabai was sold off to Nandram Gayari 25 days back for Rs 10,000.

Upon learning about the incident, her relatives informed police. And the police have arrested Karulal and Nandram, while twoother accused were still at large.

My first reaction on reading this was OMG – how can this happen.
On the second reading – the reaction was, “is the case an exception or is it fairly normal”. obviously the ‘husband’ had no problems leaving the wife with the employer.
obviously the employer had no problems reselling the woman to the next person.
And no one blinks an eye lid.

Oct 292005

It has all the makings of a bad hindi film. The seemingly rich, powerful & shady businessman – called Singhal or Singhania or Chattwal – something over three syllables – finding his nefarious activities under threat. This character was usually played by an Amrish Puri or an Anupam Kher or a Danny.

He starts with bribes – dont’ do this come and work for us. we can show you the path to riches. join us and you will reach the stars kind of jazz. When that doesn’t work it is – do you know who I am and what i can do?. When that that doesn’t work he send his minion down to drop of minor threats. And then as the film reaches a certain point he ups the stakes – calls up (or sends a letter to, or a phone call) to the protoganist and says we know where you live, what you do, or where your kid studies (or somthing that threatens you and yours) .

The kind of threats that have been posted on Rashmi Bansal’s blog by people claiming to support IIPM are not funny. One by a fake blogger who claims to be the world’s top public intellectual has left this on her blog:

How is N*******? I spoke to her earlier this week, and discussed blogging… we agreed it was our little secret! We agreed to chat, and maybe go for a little ride, next week… 🙂

The name that has asterisk on it is her daughters’ name.

Incidetally this is one of the many blogs that has an identical opening post. If IIPM has nothing to do with comments like this it needs to clearly and publicly state that – because if any of the bloggers involved even fall down and scratch their knee, there are going to be a whole bunch of others who are going to turn around and point the finger at IIPM. And i guess that it is in their best interest to pray for and ensure the safety of the concerned bloggers so that their esteemed institute does not get accused of being anything more than being a diploma mill.

Oct 282005

When i was growing up in the 1980’s the big term around was “Brain Drain“. All those kids who went to the IIT”ss and then ran away abroad. Every family we knew had atleast one sibling in the states. Doctors, Engineers, Teachers, Scientists, Managers – you name it. It almost seemed that an entire generation had fled India’s shores for a better quality of life. And lets face facts, the quality of life in pre-liberalised India was not particualry khaas. It reminded me of living life in a Mrinal Sen Film (not that bad – but close).

Back in 1994, when i returned to India after living for almost a decade in London, a lot of people thought that i had completely lost it. I returned just after the Surat plague, and my friends there kept dissuading me about my return. Oh but you are English now, you won’t fit in there – they would say. I returned for a myriad of reasons the most important of all being professional ones. I didn’t see myself heading a main stream television company there, though i thought that given a certain level of performance i would be able to achieve that in India. Ambition, and the ability to achieve that ambition pulled me back. There were other reasons – i was hellishly homesick, missed my folks, missed Mumbai. But, all those would have gone on the back burner if i thought i could head a BBC or an ITV or a C4. I still can’t see an Asian woman heading one of those organisations. But, that is a different post.

In the last 4 or 5 years a number of people that i know have returned to India from abroad. in a way a reverse Brain Drain – the opportunities existed and they came back. Things may not be perfect, but atleast there the possibilty of achieving one’s aims.

So when I read today about the world bank study that linked continuing poverty to a brain drain – I wondered if brain drain was simply symptomatic.

The study’s findings document a troubling pattern of “brain drain,” the flight of skilled middle-class workers who could help lift their countries out of poverty, some analysts say. And while the exact effects are still little understood, there is a growing sense among economists that such migration plays a crucial role in a country’s development.

According to the report, the countires with the highest rate of brain drain are from Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America. These are also the areas with almost non existence governance. The only way people who can stay will stay, is if the conditions are condusive to their staying.

Jagdish Bhagwati – whom I have heard speak once, and whose essays on international economics have helped me enjoy a good nights sleep more than once – has the last word on this:

immigrants were often voting with their feet when they departed from countries that were badly run and economically dysfunctional. They get their government’s attention by the act of leaving.