Farmers’ Suicides – A new point of view


Sid’s Blog: P. Sainath and Farmers’ Suicides in India

Siddhartha Shome has written this insightful article regarding P Sainath and how his view on farmers’ suicides in India is extremely skewed. Brilliant read this one!!!

Cheers……Jam

Linklastic


Since it’s been a while since I have found time to update the blog (due to official and unofficial reasons), just thought I’d give some food for thought for readers who like browsing news websites –

The first link is a Times Online link for an interview with Mark Otty, new CEO of Ernst & Young worldwide. Interesting insights into the man’s personality and his way of thinking. This interview holds a special place for me as my first job was with Arthur Andersen, and I guess somewhere deep down in my heart, I will always remain an accountant/consultant. The interview deals with the changes that Otty has in store for E&Y and the probably challenges he will face.

The second link is an awesome column by the evergreen Thomas L Friedman in the New York Times regarding the vastly different paths that the Chinese Govt and the US Govt have led their respective economies down over the last seven years. He starts off with how just a few days before the 9/11 incident Beijing won the Olympics bid and how 9/11 changed the entire focus of the US Govt. Since then China has gone from strength to strength in infrastructure development and image-building while the US has focused on maintaining its security and economic interests over the world with military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. This article provides us with a reasonably unique perspective of a majority of the last decade for these two countries and economies.

The third and probably the most interesting link is that of the official Google comic released just one day before they made the new browser Google Chrome available for download by users. Touted by industry analysts to be the Internet Explorer killer, this piece of marketing by Google for their new browser is simply awesome. For someone like me who doesn’t understand as much technology as techies do, this comic presents the new features of Chrome in an extremely easy to understand format.

Until the next post, cheers, goodbye…………Jam

The generation of sin


The latest cover story of Businessworld titled “The Great Indian Sin Factory” highlights an important trend in today’s Indian working class – the proliferation of rampant smoking and alcohol consumption among middle aged Indian men and women.

While this is something that I have already noticed and have often wondered, the fact that Businessworld considers it important enough to devote an entire Cover Story to is a little surprising and disturbing at the same time. The article itself talks about young Indians for whom smoking and drinking have pretty much become as big a part of their lives as Microsoft Windows has become a part of almost every household desktop in India.

Nowadays the social stigma attached with a young woman smoking or a young man frequenting the pubs and nightspots of a metro is no longer there. In fact, it is considered quite Ok for youngsters nowadays to ‘chill out and let the hair down’. Now while I am on no higher ground that these people when it comes to smoking or alcohol (upto a few years ago, I could beat almost anybody in a ‘bottoms up’ competition when it came to Kingfisher Lager Beer guzzling), these things hadn’t yet been wired into my DNA in such a manner that they had become part and parcel of my life.

I guess growing salaries, and an ever increasing quantum of disposable income in Indian pockets have contributed to this. The article also talks about how prostitution and gambling are also getting more than their fair share of the Sin Rupee. While these two professions remain illegal in the country, enterprising entrepreneurs have found new ways to tap into the ever increasing need of Indians to engage in these activities are earning great returns of income for their ‘promoters’.

All in all, an interesting read for anybody who wants to plug into the newest generation of working Indians.

Cheers…………Jam

Child Labor and Technology


I had earlier put up a post on whether Child Labor should really be abolished. This post drew heavily from Amit Varma’s article in livemint.com and spoke about the recent raids conducted by the Delhi Police on various sweatshops in and around the NCR to recover small children from being exploited in various ways in these places. The question that I had posed there was ‘Ok, good, now that you’ve rescued these children, what next? What are you going to do to alleviate these kids’ position now? At least upto now they were able to get 2 decent meals a day because of their ‘jobs’. Now that you’ve taken that away from them, are they expected to take to the streets and beg for food?’

So when I came across this post in The Great Indian Mutiny titled ‘The Riddle of Child Labor’ which mentioned this brilliant article by noted Indian economist Bibek Debroy in the Indian Express, my interest was piqued.

Bibek in his article, talks about the origins of child labor way back in the times of the Industrial Revolution in England and the rest of Europe, and how even then, governments and monarchies did not have a concrete answer as to how to resolve this problem. History the world over, has proven that any kind of legislation and judicial measures to prevent child labor are only kneejerk reactions, and give rise to other more serious issues such as these kids coming on to the streets, and ending up as vagrants, thieves and prostitutes.

Now, is that the solution to child labor? I don’t think so.

In my opinion, what governments of today need to do is to first of all get the correct statistics on the exact numbers of children being employed in the unorganized sector before coming up with any measures to rid the society of this evil.

Bibek, in his article, has an interesting suggestion. He mentions the case of the Brazilian streetkids, who were forced out of the auto-mechanic shops into schools due to the technological advances made in the automobile industry, which ensured that their manual skills were rendered redundant. A kid had to have a basic education if he wanted to repair cars. Maybe technology companies can put in a concentrated effort to develop technology which make manual labor (especially the type that can be done by kids) redundant. This would probably automatically make the entire concept of ‘child labor’ redundant, is what Bibek argues.

While I mostly agree with Bibek on his views that maybe technology can make child labor redundant, I strongly believe in legislation being a strong deterrent at least initially. Anybody who breaks or flouts rules regarding this issue should be severely punished and an example made of them. This will make people think twice before they employ small kids in their establishments. None of us, as educated people should turn a blind eye to this issue, as this directly affects all our futures.

Hmm, food for thought, what say folks?

Cheers……….Jam

Related links:

Earlier post by yours truly
Amit Varma – Why Children Labor – (courtesy:
http://www.livemint.com/2007/11/07225940/Why-children-labour.html)
Bibek Debroy – No fairy tales, please – (courtesy:
http://www.indianexpress.com/story/247032._.html)
The Great Indian Mutiny – The Riddle of Child Labour – (courtesy:
http://mutiny.in/2007/12/12/the-riddle-of-child-labour/)

Freedom of speech and Blogging


Firstly, let me admit that I am not a big fan of splitting people up on the basis of religion, gender, race, color, country of origin, occupation, language, sexuality, etc. In fact, I’d like to believe that on most occassions I am quite neutral in all my dealings with people, and approach people and situations with an open mind, without prejudices of any sort.

Case in point, me being a regular reader of desipundit.com (as is evidenced by the fact that I have cross-linked it on my blog), I came across this linked article which was supposed to talk about “Amidst the hype and hoopla of NRIs returning to India, Vikas is not that sure of doing the same thanks to denial of individual rights”.

When I actually went to the article and read the same, what struck me as the most surprising was the intensely personal remarks that people had put up as comments to this post. More than being pro-Indian most of these comments struck me as being anti-US and more anti-NRI in nature.

Almost all the commenters here seemed to attack Vikas in a personal way, rather than bring out the facts of the issue. All of them brought out one-off personal instances and mild aberrations in the way the US Govt works, and the culture of the US.

To me this seems more like a case of sour grapes at least as far as the Commenters go.

As far as my opinions on the post go, I believe that all the folks involved, viz, Vikas and all the commenters probably need to have at least a little more factual information before they go ahead and make personal observations of the nature of “maybe I will not return to India”.

But then, hey, that’s a personal opinion put up on a personal blog, so I guess it’s all right. I am quite sure that the Creative Commons License or some website somewhere protects bloggers’ freedom of speech and the right to put up whatever you want on the internet. However, considering that some of these blogs are quite widely read, maybe, just maybe people need to be a little more sensitive to readers’ feelings before they speak up about issues like these. As the saying goes “With great power comes great responsibility”. So all you fellow-bloggers, remember, we have great power in our hands.

Cheers……..Jam