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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Posts Tagged ‘government’

A Perfect Constitution for Imperfect People

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 26, 2013

indian_flag

On this day in 1950, India formally adopted its Constitution and became a Republic. The unthinkable was achieved and an unknown future awaited 350 million people. A population that had been oppressed for over thousand years by hundreds of invading armies, was free. Indians finally had a country to themselves and for the first time in history, the right to vote. We became a democratic republic. Were we prepared for it? I doubt it.

My belief in the righteousness of the Indian Constitution is total and unwavering. A country as diverse as ours has been a stable democracy for over 60 years. We have faced no military coups or major religious conflicts. If that was not miraculous enough, we have grown into a significant economic entity and are headed in the right direction. Slowly, yes, but surely.  Everytime I look at the demographic spread of India, my respect for the founding fathers and their foresight only grows. The fact that we are still a united country is a testament to the greatness of our Constitution.

But what explains the ills that pervade the Indian society today? Why are we ranked so low in almost all human development indices? Why are women still not safe in India and why is there so much poverty and destitution in the country?  Any panelled discussion on the above topics inevitably ends up pointing fingers at our politicians and their corrupt ways. While I do not agree with the attitude of blaming our politicians for all the mess, I am particularly disturbed when the “civil society” raises doubts about our constitutional institutions. And this questioning of our Constitution and our system has become a fashionable trend lately. To all these people my answer is clear, “Ours is a perfect constitution”. We are “Imperfect People”.

In a democracy, the government and politicians are a reflection of the people. In India, I have absolutely no doubt about the verity of this. We have corrupt politicians and bureaucracy because we are corrupt. Women do not feel safe on our cities’ road because we in our houses do not respect our women. The devils that commit heinous crimes like rapes are no strangers to our land. They have come from among us. We do not have good infrastructure, because we refuse to pay our taxes. We have such economic inequality because our caste system has tuned us into accepting an unequal society. We have a population explosion problem because we “f#@ked up”, literally! I could go on and on.

The devil lies within us. Lets not blame the politicians or the constitutional institutions for our own failures. Lets be thankful that our great constitution gives us a chance to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. We can do this. Lets become the greatest human beings in the world, and leave the rest to the constitution.

Thats it. I’m done.

Posted in Philosophy, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

[Repost] Utopian Government: Plato…of Desire, Emotion and Knowledge.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 20, 2012

” Like man, like state…governments vary as the characters of men vary…states are made out of the human natures which are in them.”- Plato

One of my favorite ideas of Plato is the one where he puts forward the drivers of human behavior. Plato categorizes these drivers as desire, emotion and knowledge and sorts the populace of a state based on varying degrees of each driver in an individual. Clearly for Plato not all men are alike and these drivers are the scales for measuring their suitability for the role they would play in the state.

Desire(appetite, instinct, impulse) is associated with the loins and is heavily influenced by sexual needs. Emotion rests in the heart while Knowledge rules the head. These drivers and qualities are present in all men but to varying degrees.

Men that are ruled by Desire are bestowed with ambition and a lust for luxuries.Such men must comprise the industry of the state. Those that are passion personified due to high levels of emotional drives that instil courage in them must make up the armies and navies. The remaining that seek delight in knowledge and understanding must guide the nation.

“Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes ruler.” Wouldn’t be wrong to call Plato one of the earliest Communists.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

Why I Don’t Keep My Money With My Government

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 4, 2012

Image courtesy: Conor Ogle

A few years back, I started investing in a Government Savings Plan. The deal was that for 15 years, I would have to put a minimum amount into the fund annually, and after the completion of the maturity period I would get the principal amount back along with the accumulated interest. The real incentive was that my investment every year would be tax exempt.

Yesterday, I withdrew the money I had invested so far. I was penalized a small amount, but it didn’t change my decision. I had decided that I was not going to keep my money locked in with my government for a long period. The Government is not only injudicious in its spending, it is also taking me for a ride with its unfair tax policies. Let me elaborate,

1) Our President until 2 months back spent more than US$ 50 Million of taxpayer’s money and sovereign debt on foreign travels. Why is that a problem? Because in India, the president is only a nominal head with no powers at all in decision making. It is a post which is a legacy of the British Raj and contributes mere pittance to the running of our affairs.

2) In 2009, our government allocated Coal mines to randomly selected business entities at prices only fraction of the market price. The Auditing Agency in a recent study reported that by not auctioning the national resources, the government has cost the exchequer of our country close to US$ 33 Billion. The Coal blocks were allotted as per the whims and fancies of those in power.

3) Similarly, in another recent finding of the Auditing Agency, it has been alleged that another national resource, the 2G Mobile telecom spectrum was allotted to the private telecom operators on a first come first served basis instead of an auction. The loss to the country from this unpardonable act was close to US $ 32 Billion.

4) Recently, a group of District level politicians traveled to China on a state sponsored trip. The objective of the trip was to study the best Dairy practices and replicate the same back home. The group returned saying that they learned nothing that was better than what we were already practicing in India. Duh! Who said that China has the best Dairy practices in the world! That trip should have been to New Zealand, Denmark, US or the EU.

5) In India, only close to 3% of the population pays income tax. No, its not a typo. 3% it is and I am one of them. This figure is unpardonable after 65 years of self rule. This figure is low NOT because our laws are slack. It is low because our government mechanism is not efficient and honest enough to get more people to pay income taxes. Since India taxes both income and consumption, it is only these 3% people that get taxed from all directions. In no court of law can that be called fair treatment.

6) I fall in the income tax slab that ends up paying close to 30% as tax. I was taught in school that we must pay taxes for the development of the country, our infrastructure, education, health services, military etc. etc. But I don’t see any of that happening.

a) Most of the National Road Highways are developed as Public Private Partnership (PPP). So I end up paying a heavy toll fee whenever I use a highway. This means I am paying for that infrastructure out of the income I have left after paying income tax!

b) India did not win a single Gold Medal in the recently concluded London Olympics. A country of 1.2 Billion and not a single Gold. Clearly the government in not using my tax money to facilitate sports either.

c) Government hospitals are either non-existent or lie in ruins with the most unhygienic services. Not to mention the grave shortage of competent doctors in them. Not surprisingly, most of us have to visit private hospitals for treatments and spend more money from the money I had left after paying my taxes! So evidently, my tax money is not being utilized in providing me good healthcare either.

7) Apparently a lot of my tax money is going to pay salaries of government employees who’s efficiency and work ethics are a crying shame. The rest of my tax money is spent in giving subsidized food and other incentives to poor people to win their votes and come back to power. And all the while, sovereign debt keeps increasing while my currency keeps declining.

And this is why I do not want a big government. I do not question its intent. Socialism is a benevolent concept, but impractical. It works in small communities but not at a Federal level. Big governments cannot put a mechanism in place which will deliver services effectively. With time they will only accumulate so much debt that you can kiss your country goodbye. Do you think the Greeks own Greece, or that the Italians are the true masters of their country? NO! Leftist policies and attitudes have pawned these countries to others….and there is no getting them back!

Sadly, above stated facts have raised doubts in my mind about long term fiscal health of my country. I do not want to keep my money locked in with a government that doesn’t know how to manage its finances.

I have better odds at a roulette table.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Go ahead, make my day!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on August 31, 2012

The RNC last night was nothing less than a grand, grand show. But what stood out for me, and for millions others was when Clint took the stage. Yes, he brought along a bashing style that didn’t go down too well with the leftists and the “moral” police. He attacked O with a tenacity that many pundits find abhorring. However, what he said was profound. His message not only enthused the Republicans but will go a long way in swinging a lot of independent vote towards the GOP. He left an impact. A Sudden Impact!

“They were saying, I just thought, this was great. Everybody is trying, Oprah was crying. I was even crying.  And then finally — and I haven’t cried that hard since I found out that there is 23 million unemployed people in this country.”

A great dig at what herd mentality and collective emotions can lead to. In 2008, the message of hope and change brought about a voting pattern that disregarded policies and principles. Playing with people’s emotions and leveraging them works wonders in winning an election. But soon, facts emerge. Rationality prevails. Clint highlighted this point beautifully.

” But you thought the war in Afghanistan was OK. You know, I mean — you thought that was something worth doing.  We didn’t check with the Russians to see how did it — they did there for 10 years.”

Clearly attacks the tendency of the present government to not consult others with regards to policies that matter. The O government has been regularly criticized for neglecting bipartisan politics. Well, if the democrats don’t care to ask the republicans about legislations, why would they even think of asking Russia about how they messed up Afghanistan.

” Of course we all now Biden is the intellect of the Democratic party.”

Great tactic to bring Biden into the picture. Too often the VP gets lost in campaigns even though the VP’s thought process and role is absolutely vital in the government. If the VP is crazy, its a great idea to bash the crap out of him. Go after the weak links in the oppositions armor.

“I think attorneys are so busy — you know they’re always taught to argue everything, always weigh everything, weigh both sides.”

If there is one thing that O has lagged in during his term, it is decision making. Yes, it is a good thing to discuss matters with a diverse set of intellectuals. However, late action in many cases equals inaction. O has developed an image of being exactly that and a clever ploy that Clint used against him.

“It is that, you, we — we own this country.”

This line should go down in history as the one that wakes up every single citizen. “We own this country”. And you know what a big government does? It takes that ownership away from you. Huge debts translate into foreign sovereigns owning American assets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see how much of the U.S is currently owned by China and Saudi Arabia. Like they say in mortgage, you do not own a house until you have paid off the whole debt. So it is with national debt. You do not own your country with such a huge national debt. How comfortable does that make you feel?

Clint’s message was for all. He did not delve into sensitive issues but addressed general concerns that should unite the entire nation. He came, he saw, he conquered!

 

 

 

Posted in Political Marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

I Belong to the Centre Right…As of Now.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 30, 2012

The main responsibility of a government should be to protect its citizens and their rights. That’s it! Nothing more and nothing less. The size of the government and its spending should be just enough to fulfill these duties. Leave the rest to the people.

So which sectors must the Government control in order to “protect its citizens and their rights”? Here are a few that come to mind:

1) Defense

2) Internal Law and Order

3) Education

4) Healthcare

5) Environment

I advocate absolute control and ownership of these sectors by the government. No privatization at all! The implications of these domains to the character of the nation are too critical to be profit driven. Barring these, state’s presence in industry must be bare minimum to none.

 

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Utopian Government: Plato…of Desire, Emotion and Knowledge.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 19, 2012

” Like man, like state…governments vary as the characters of men vary…states are made out of the human natures which are in them.”- Plato

One of my favorite ideas of Plato is the one where he puts forward the drivers of human behavior. Plato categorizes these drivers as desire, emotion and knowledge and sorts the populace of a state based on varying degrees of each driver in an individual. Clearly for Plato not all men are alike and these drivers are the scales for measuring their suitability for the role they would play in the state.

Desire(appetite, instinct, impulse) is associated with the loins and is heavily influenced by sexual needs. Emotion rests in the heart while Knowledge rules the head. These drivers and qualities are present in all men but to varying degrees.

Men that are ruled by Desire are bestowed with ambition and a lust for luxuries.Such men must comprise the industry of the state. Those that are passion personified due to high levels of emotional drives that instil courage in them must make up the armies and navies. The remaining that seek delight in knowledge and understanding must guide the nation.

“Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted up by wealth, becomes ruler.” Wouldn’t be wrong to call Plato one of the earliest Communists.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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